Born into a conservative Jewish family in the 1940s, Rose describes her parents and family life: “We didn’t have money, by any means, by my parents always made sure that I went out properly dressed, my hair perfectly done, and we always had the very latest record player in our living room.”
Rose, age 5, Los Angeles, 1946
Rose, Los Angeles, 1947
Rose, age 13, Los Angeles, 1954
In 1954, sitting in a car with her aunt, Rose describes the moment she heard a new song on the radio that would forever change her life: “When I heard that singer, I didn’t know if he was black or white—I didn’t care—I was just crazy for his music!” So crazy, having worn the grooves out of all his records, when she couldn’t convince any of her friends to join her, the thirteen-year-old girl took a trolley car all the way across Los Angeles, alone, to see that same singer, Elvis Presley, perform at the Shrine Auditorium.
Rose, age 15, Los Angeles, 1956
In her freshman year in high school, Rose met and began dating a boy with a motorcycle, which led to her getting a reputation for being “loose.” She eventually broke the boy’s heart, and despite being a virgin, never shook the reputation.
High school graduation, Los Angeles, 1959
Most all of Rose’s female friends and family were married by the time they graduated high school. Rose’s parents allowed her to attend college, but the condition was that she be married by the time she graduated.
Wedding Day, 1964
Sheree & Dan on their honeymoon, 1964
Sheree, Dan & Matthew, June 1969
Rose, pregnant, with son Matt, 1969
Dan & Sheree, June 1970
Sheree and her first husband were both teachers. “We were just your typical suburban family,” she says.
Muir Wood, 1970
Los Angeles, 1979
In the 1970s, after divorcing, Rose returned to school, earned her Master’s degree in psychology, raised her two children, sharing joint custody with her ex-husband, got politically involved, discovered punk rock, and reinvented herself. Clearly.
In1979, Rose took her boyfriend to a Los Angeles high school to see an all-girl band, called The Go-Go’s, open for another local act, called X. Thoroughly disgusted by the unusual make up and dress of the bands and audience members, not to mention the broken beer bottles, glass and vomit covering the gymnasium floor, her boyfriend launched into a tirade about the terrible music, that The Who were the only rock-and-roll band that mattered, while, awestruck, Rose looked around, thinking it was the greatest show she had ever seen. The couple broke up soon thereafter.
Sheree Rose & Billy Zoom, guitarist of the band X, Los Angeles, 1979, crowned “East LA Punk King and Queen.
Having traveled throughout Europe in a VW Van with her ex-husband and two young children for an entire year in the early 1970s, Rose began traveling alone in the early 1980s, which eventually led her to staying at ashrams around the world.
Rose & Bob Flanagan, Los Angeles, New Year’s Eve 1980
Rose met Flanagan on Halloween, 1980, and recalls their first date: “We went out, and Bob told me he was a masochist. I didn’t know what that was.” But how quickly she learned.
Poets in New York, 1982
Sheree became the staff photographer of Beyond Baroque Literary Center in Venice (which is how she met Flanagan), and documented a group of poets, who traveled to New York to read, including Amy Gerstler, Ed Smith (far right) and Dennis Cooper (fourth from right).
Rose (center) at the Gay Pride Parade, Los Angeles, 1986
While returning to school for her Master’s degree in psychology in the 1970s, Rose got extremely involved in political activism on behalf of the Society of Janus, gay and transgender communities, while juggling her own political and sexual politics, upon being informed by one of her lesbian friends that she was “sleeping with the enemy.” (Men.)
Rose, Anne Sprinkle, Veronica Vera, 1988
Rose and Flanagan “wedding” photo, Beyond Baroque event, Los Angeles, 1989
Flanagan had cystic fibrosis, and, when they met, the two didn’t expect to have more than two years together before he died. As it turned out, they lived together for sixteen years, before his death in 1996.
Rose and son Matthew Levin (second from right) with Congressman Henry Waxman, Freedom of Expression March, Washington, DC, 1990
First Gay & Lesbian March on Washington, 1993, photo credit: Sheree Rose
Rose and Flanagan, New York, 1994, photo credit: Michael Del Sol
Rose & Flanagan, Berlin, 1995, photo credit: Christine Knegewski
After his death in 1996, Rose co-produced the documentary SICK: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 1997 Sundance Festival.
Rose and the Minister of Art, Tokyo, 1996
Rose stands with the Japanese Minister of Art in front of the “Bobaloon” sculpture, which had to be covered—its penis had to be covered for this photograph to be taken.
Rose, Los Angeles, 1998
Only three months after spinal surgery, Rose’s attended the first exhibit of her work in many years, a show that opened at Western Projects, on January 8, and runs until February 5, 2011.