“Last week I went to IFA and was so glamorous that I heard a man in the outer room gasp out loud.” – Candy Darling I wanted a Sylvanian family. If you have no idea what this is – pause for a moment to google Jacc Batch, who is either living my six-year-olds dream or a hop skip and a jump away from Ed Geinsville. I wanted a Barbie. I wanted Ariel with the arse length hair who came with a fishtail and legs. Actually more than her I wanted Ursula – who I would take on by wrapping a white towel around my head and four or five sweaters tied around my waist, lipsynching poor unfortunate souls in the bathroom mirror, one eyeball always on the doorhandle. I was never told I couldn’t have a doll, but even as young as three…four I knew better than to ask. Instead I got a troll. Such is the tired old tale of so many of us baring the scars of the days before gender neutral school uniforms where the hot topic on every taxi driver’s tongue. Life gave you trolls. Ten years after receiving my first troll it probably shouldn’t have come as such a shock to my mum when – with the help of Manic Panic and a whole can of 30p hairspray I bleached and lacquered my hair into a pretty accurate facsimilie of my old Trolls’ crowning glory. “Greer wasn't allowed to play with dolls as a kid and every time she would get a doll her parent would like, you know, destroy it… make big deal out of it. But she was allowed to buy trolls and trolls were really popular like when she was like six and seven, so those were her first dolls that she could buy like a lot of and keep in her bedroom and not get in trouble for.” Paul Monroe is talking to me from Los Angeles, and I think we should imagine him sat surrounded by Diana Vreeland… Jackie O… Paloma Picasso… Candy Darling; the constellation of Greer Lankton’s guiding stars. He may well be, as Paul runs G.L.A.M – The Greer Lankton Archive Museum and is the current custodian of Greer’s gaggle of gangling, gorgeous dolls. “So she has a super strong connection with trolls and that's why they're in her work a lot. Like one of the things that I'm searching for is more of the trolls because she made lots of them, and they're just all over the place.” On the G.L.A.M Instagram the mission statement is clear: Putting Greer Lankton back into the conversation for good. “Well we've just this whole week had people packing everything for the National Gallery Show that opens in DC and then there's a show at the Met in April and then there's one at LACMA for the end of this year, there's a bunch of shows going on so we're just kind of like doing that at the moment.” Is that what you spend a lot of your time doing… looking after the archive? “Well I do that and then, you know, I decorate houses that Lena Dunham owns that's the other thing that I do…” How much of a full-time job is that? “That's a hugely full-time job! Like right now we are looking for like two more houses to buy and then, you know, I'll decorate them, and we'll go on for another like two or three years. So that's my side project, and you know she's the head of the the Greer Lankton Archive Museum she's all of our money. Really!? “She's the COO so, you know, she's a big part of everything.” Was the archive already together before you started using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest? “The physical archive was already in place. So putting it out on the internet was just another vehicle to like, you know, have it seen. And to get people interested in her because, you know, my whole plot has been very simple in just kind of creating like a sainthood for her. And like slowly putting things out over the last years and, you know, all the shows that I've done have been kind of planned out. And it's just to bring her work more into the focus of the universe, you know, that's basically what it's about, and so her life isn't like wasted in that kind of way.” Yeah of course. “So it needs to be seen. She made an enormous amount of work, I'm finding it like all the time… and it's very exhausting because now that she has become more known, sometimes people want, you know, like a 100,000 dollars for a doll that they bought from us for like, you know, three grand. So, there is a lot of greed.” One of the dolls lost on the subway of time is Sissy (formerly Missy) the slightly taller and skinnier than life size doyenne who Greer worked on and worked over for years. Picture Norma Desmond dressed by Manuela Pavesi. Sissy had a full set of human teeth and was house model for Einsteins Boutique’s ever changing window where Greer would display her dolls. Paul opened Einsteins in 1981* and it is in the back room of the shop where Greer gave Sissy her surgeries under the loving watch of Paul. * “Einstein's, 96 East 7th Street, is probably best known for Paul Monroe's whimsical hats and jewelry incorporating miniature pianos, candelabra, teapots, gondolas and such. But it also has clothing that ranges from a cotton big shirt to a pleated skirt meant to be worn by a man. In between are Julia Morton's dresses and suits for women that include a dress that may be worn upside down, a backless dress with an attached cape ($86 off the rack, $124 custom made) and a jacket bordered with jewels on fake fur.” From The New York Times, November 29, 1985 “Imitations of Barbara Streisand living in a cheap flea bag hotel!” – Candy Darling Greer was born in Flint, Michigan in 1958, given the name Greg by parents who with the help of their church congregation; paid for sex reassignment surgery. Greer’s father was later minister at Greer and Paul’s wedding (where Teri Toye was maid of honor and Nan Goldin wedding photographer.) On a piece of paper found in Greer’s archives she wrote “Greer Lankton. At 8:00am on August 14th 1978 I had sex-reassignment surgery by Dr. Richard Murray in Youngstown Hospital Southside Unity, Youngstown, Ohio. I was 5’8” and weighed 130 lbs”* *From “A Selection from the Greer Lankton Archive of the Mattress Factory” at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory Although it is easy to look at the ever mutable gang of creations as a result of Greer’s (by some reports; involuntary) sex change, that doesn’t take into account the fact she was sewing together dolls since childhood. At the age of twelve she made a life-size boy with shoulder length hair and a bellybutton. This tweenage companion was later cut up and reassembled into “Dee Dee Delux” an outrageous, fat queen who Greer would sometimes actually step inside and wear*. Dee Dee was eventually given a gastric band, wire-wool dreadlocks and a new name: Princess Pamela. In all of her blue fleshed crimson lipped glory Pamela caught the eye of Iggy Pop who couldn’t resist taking her home to live happily ever after. *Googling “Why Did My Eyes Have To See This?” will bring up a clip of Nick Zedd’s (Cinema of Transgression) “The Bogus Man” showing Greer dancing inside the DeeDeeLux doll with all the lurid panache of Divine. “You know who she was like? She was very English, and she was very like Oscar Wilde, do you know that kind of feeling?” Well of course… hear no evil, speak no evil, and you won’t be invited to cocktail parties. “Like, it's a knowing kind of cockiness she was so incredibly witty, like super witty. She was really super sweet and would not be like the kind of person who would say something rude to you, but she would say something rude when you left the room, you know. But everybody thought she was like the sweetest. She was basically very much like a child with a really great wit and style. She had a super English quality about her without a doubt. She was very refined and she was really into British culture… like the queen.” It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection. “You know, she was like obsessed with celebrities like John Collins and Elizabeth Taylor. Anyone who went to the excess part of stardom. Like either it was extra fat or extra skinny or extra fucked up and she was all in. And then her other key thing too is the bellybutton.” Yeah? “She has a lot of work like her final project at Pratt was called umbilicus and she had made like a 20 foot large interior of a bellybutton. And I think she really liked bellybuttons a lot because of all the weird connections to like birth and mother plus she got a lot of sexual satisfaction out of her bellybutton.” I want you all to jam your fingers into your navels right now. “And she used to do family castings like she'd go over to somebody's house and do their whole families bellybuttons, like that was her art that she did on the side to make money. A lot of people haven't really discovered that yet in her work which I think is interesting. I think it kind of freaks them out.” I think in this day and age the bellybutton is freakier to people than a cunt or an arsehole. Maybe it’s the final frontier. “Yeah it is, they can't figure it out. Greer’s finger was always in her bellybutton it was really irritating! You know, what's kind of weird too is like at the time period like in the early 80s Madonna was always talking about bellybuttons then too.” Yeah I was going to say*. *In his best selling shit eater “biography” of Madonna “Journalist” Andrew Morton wrote about this and I remember reading it aged 14 and being so turned on by Madonna’s naval gazing that I affected a bellybutton fetish from that day forth. The same “biography” wrote about how Madonna turned up to dance class in a leopard leotard sliced in half and safety pinned back together. None of my clothes ever quite recovered. “And she was really into bellybutton sex and the whole world is so freaked out that she would talk about her bellybutton.” I remember one of the interviews I read with Madonna she said she likes being pressed really hard in the bellybutton just when she's about to cum. “Yeah, yeah.” God bless Madonna. “Yeah it's crazy, her and Greer were friends and they had a big bellybutton discussion once at a barbeque, it was really cute. Greer adored her, I couldn’t stand Madonna because when I was in high school she was a waitress at the restaurant we used to go to and she was the worst waitress in the world, she was the kind that would like stand on the table to get everyone's attention, you know. And she was covered with thick black hair on her arms and that used to really gross me out. But Greer was a huge fan of hers, she loved her. I mean she was nice and all, but I never really got it.” “You shouldn’t look so disapproving Lavinia. It makes you look older and age will come soon enough to destroy that pretty face. A thing of beauty cannot remain so forever” – Candy Darling “She was very explicit about me having to be her slave for eternity. You understand that, right? Like, she was very much into the dreamy world of like I'm going to kill myself and be a big star and you're going to have to be responsible.” But Greer died in 1996 and this was one year after the first Internet Explorer was released and she was only 38 years old and she died in an apartment in Chicago and her dolls her art her things her wedding dress were thrown into a skip. So many of her peers dead or strung out on dope… no global social network of misfits and hipsters to canonize Greer and raise her up in a gilded palanquin. There are horror stories online regarding Greer’s last days, as told by friends and acquaintances of varying degrees of dubiousness. Culture juggernaut Roberta Smith wrote Greer Lankton’s obituary in The New York Times. But there is still no monograph. *On a Blogger thread, “Brain Injured Motorcyle Romeo” shares a story about Greer’s Chicago days. “Greer was actually my next door neighbor on Bryer Street in Chicago from June 1992-June 1993. She lived three doors down from me on the second floor and I used to see her Jane's Addiction, "Nothing's Shocking" styled dolls in the window. I did not meet her until the day I moved out, a year to the day, as she was the only one on the floor who'd let me use the phone. She showed me her photo books of her NY life and stories of drag queens, Dee-Lite and the NY scene she [ran] with. She told me how she ended up in Chicago and why she survived when no one else did (she was afraid of needles). There's a sad irony to all of this and I really wish I'd have purchased that doll that I saw in her window every day, the Siamese Twins in blue jackets. Does anyone know where you can get her work? If I know better, my thought is some idiot probably just threw them out when they cleaned out her Chicago apartment. RIP Greg/Greer. And thanks for being kind enough to help me out of a jam when no one else in the building would.” Posted by MJRydsFast, November 9, 2009 “I don’t know what you might have read, but sometimes people like to say that she killed herself. She didn’t overdose, her heart exploded. It was a whole different kind of medical thing but, you know, people like to put a different stamp on things. So, it wasn't like she killed herself and it was a suicide… which is, you know, part of the dreamy misspeak around her name… it was more just her body had given in. She was very like sickly all the time I mean she just had a really bad immune system and constitution and the sex change was really hard on her body because she couldn’t take hormones. So, you know, the psychological part of not having any hormones in your body from like 20 to 38 is like pretty intense.” I ask Paul if it is painful to be spending each day with pictures of Greer… the archive… making all of that personal work so public. “No, my whole thing is that I'm really good at denial. So, I in my weird brain have just made it like Greer's still alive, so I really don’t have any kind of like problem with it. I'm just kind of keeping her alive in the way where it just feels like she's still alive. It doesn’t really feel personal to me… On this one level it feels like I'm a little bit removed from it, and on the other one it just feels like, you know, she would like this picture to be out today.” “Well now they can drool over me cause I’m famous and I’m beautiful (in my 82 Ibs. Of makeup.)” – Candy Darling
It’s not like Greer had not experienced success or recognition in her lifetime. Alongside the ever evolving Einsteins’ windows she had solo shows at Civilian Warfare, showed at MoMA PS1 and was included in the Whitney and Venice Biennials.* *Jeffrey Inscho (director of The Studio at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh) has uploaded a video to Youtube of Greer at the 1995 Whitney Biennial, talking about her bust of Candy Darling. In the video Greer wears a metallic pink lame blouse with a Chanel bag on one shoulder. She looks like a goddess. After a period of relative obscurity, Greer completed one more major show in the months leading up to her death "It’s all about ME, Not You" for Mattress Factory* Greer died before the show came down and thankfully the gallery were able to preserve a large selection of Greer’s artworks that may have been thrown way. *Open a tall gate and pass through a narrow alley beside a "white trash" house. It is clad in white siding with old windows and an astroturf patio littered with fall leaves. Ruby slippers, at the end of legs in striped stockings, emerge from under the house. Inside, Greer Lankton recreated the Chicago apartment where she lived and worked.

The walls are painted in deep colors. Stars cover the ceiling. The room is inhabited by the dolls and figures Lankton made during the course of her life – Raggedy Anns, one of whom is anorexic, a morphine addict on a cot surrounded by pill bottles. Throughout the room are very personal shrines Lankton has created, to Patti Smith, Candy Darling, to Jesus, and others are for the artist herself. From Mattress Factory’s description of "It’s all about ME, Not You" exhibited from October 19, 1996 - June 29, 1997. Greer is sometimes lumped in with “Outsider” and “Folk” artists … perhaps because of the compulsive, personal nature of her work. Perhaps because of her use of appropriated junk. Perhaps because of the craft evident in the dolls… One show currently touring America “Outliers and American Vanguard Art” includes Greer as an outsider “which is kind of stupid because she's always shown as fine art. But, you know, they want to discover her in any way, so I just let them do it.” I ask Paul what he thinks of the rising vogue for outsider art in the commercial “Art” world. “I think the term is just ridiculous I think it's a financial kind of political term and that it has nothing to do with reality. Because there is such a thing as like, outsider art… to me it is like, you know, a lady that's at home and she has kids and she makes art and it could be amazing and fantastic but she's not trying to have an art career. That to me is outsider art; a person who's not trying to have an art career. So, to say that Greer didn’t have a career by calling her an outside artist kind of gets on my nerves.” Greer graduated from the Pratt Institute. “She had a degree and she showed from the time she was 21, you know, like one of her first shows was with Hans Bellmer it's not like she was a nobody. I know if she was around to witness those kind of things, she'd be really pissed off because she wouldn’t consider herself an outsider artist. It's like how is she any different than Nan (Goldin), you know? There is no difference. “My friends have many pet names for me like Marlene D-Train to Queens, Mamie Van Doorway or Diana Doorways.” – Candy Darling It was through pictures in a greasy library book that I got to know Greer (And Paul. And Cookie Mueller. And a whole velvet underground of beautiful creatures I so desperately wanted to belong to as a teenager.) Nan Goldin’s photographs were like stained glass windows to another world. I wonder how many other little dollies swapped their trolls for Nan Goldin, Nico and narcotics. We’re such clichés. I tell Paul how – years before I know who he was I had one of his wedding photographs pinned to my wall. “There's probably like maybe a couple thousand people who have told me over the last like 10 years that they've had that photo tapped up on their bedroom wall… That photo to me doesn’t feel like I own it, it almost feels like it's a photo of a time period. And because I'm also a fan of Nan's work when I look at it I kind of see it for like, wow, that's a great photo that she took.” Nan gave Greer and Paul the photographs as a wedding gift. “And she doesn’t own them, so it becomes like a problem for her which is really exciting because, you know she's a pig beast, right? You know, she's a horrible beast of a person! Yeah, she's like a spoiled brat and she's always been this way it's not like it's something new or money changed her or anything. She's wonderful too but her main personality 90% of it is horrible brat.” What gorgeous blasphemy. “And they are from the same moment, same period. Greer was actually a huger artist than Nan when it comes to like how it just was in New York at the time period. But, you know, that’s why we would go to Nan's slide show is to see pictures of our friends and then to also, you know, see like weird people that she photographed that were in movies and things like that, you know what I mean? She was smart in the way that she photographed people. She didn’t just photograph strangers. They were all kind of accomplished like downtowner weirdos. You know how you had the Nan Goldin picture on your wall? Greer and I both had the Peter Hujar picture of Candy Darling on our wall. You know what I mean like every one of my age kind of had that picture on their wall.” “Maybe by the time my nails are a decent ladylike length I will be rehearsing for a play…”– Candy Darling When I was researching Greer I found an old online message board: “MotherboardsNYC” going back to 2002 (isn’t it amazing how these things are still up there?) There are people searching for information about Greer and her work from back before you could just search a hashtag. Around 2006 Paul joins the discussion and like Eva Peron from the balcony, addresses the descamisados, the drag queens and the teenage boys too young to have pressed their noses up to glass at Einsteins to catch a peek of Greer, Paul Sissy, Diana, Candy, Pamela… Her favourite color was Baby Blue. 
her skin was flawless like paper. She used Shiseido face powder and Chanel lipstick- usually RED. Heavily mascarred eyes. And the finest of penciled brows. She would sit at the mirror for hours perfecting them. For scent she wore a mix of Kiehl's Chinese Flowers and Chanel Number 5. Her nails were either Tiffany blue or cherry red. 
Greer had a closet full of Gernreichs, Puccis and Chanels and she loved denim. Greer loved polka dots, anything sheer and the color cream. She piled on the jewelry faster than I could make it. Greer loved big pearls and rhinestones of every color. 
She wore Maryjanes in the day and kitten heels at night. Nearly always with a black sheer stocking.
At home with me she wore an old silk chiffon Balenciaga gown with layers of tattered tulle beneath. Outside in public she liked to be nearly nude. she loved to expose her perfect breasts usually wearing a see through blouse with a beaded mini skirt. The skirt would be constructed from one of those 1960's beaded shells. she would sew up the arm holes and be able to use the neck hole as a waist band. Greer was a very skinny girl!
Greer was a natural blonde, who highlighted her hair to a creamy gold tone, and her hair was as smooth as pure silk.
She loved Hot Tamales, ice coffee and dope. She practically lived on Ensure, vanilla flavored. And she would giggle like mad at the sight of a Pink Frosted Dunkin doughnut. she was hardly ever without a cigarette or a joint in her hand. Winston Lights in the Gold pack were her then favs.
she loved Candy Darling, Diana Vreeland and Sunny Von Beulow’s glamourous ways. Greer lived GLAMOUR HARD. I never once saw her when Glamour wasn't oooozing out of her. Even in her darkest hours, the dignity of glamour was always about her.

Greer loved New York. She loved stalking the Upper East Side ladies for dieting tips. We would follow certain beige icons through the small food stores spying their goods. 
Greer loved Serendipity, with all its Warhol mystique and the eye high hot fudge sundaes.
She loved Sutton Places Boars Heads Park and Tompkins Square. we moved into the Christodora so she could be close to the trees. Greer loved to be in nature. 
She loved to fuck outside too, when we would be in Palm Beach she loved to fuck on the beach right outside the Kennedy compound or in the doorway of the Chanel boutique after midnight. 
Greer fit right in in Palm Beach, her look her walk her manner.

Her favorite movie was Freaks, and she devoured any info on Marilyn, Garbo and Lliz. She was a constant reader of bios, and loved any doomed socialites life. Her favorite song was Patti Smith’s Horses. She loved Nina Simone, Iggy Pop and Madonna. 
Greer had a huge collection of dolls, her favorites were the whimsies and trolls. She kept boxes of clippings for inspiration. They were over flowing with photos of midgets anorexics and the obese. And she was crazy for models and eccentrics like Edie Peggy Twiggy Divine.

Greer was her happiest when she was working on Dolls, high in the tub, or garnering praise from admirers.
I was the happiest with her in my arms.

She had an incredible wit charm and grace. And a talent beyond anyones imagination. She was the master of any artistic endeavor, she was untouchable with her knowledge and skill. Her work was breathtaking, Godlike. *posted on MotherboardsNYC in 2006 by Paul Monroe