web analytics

(VIDEO) The Juicy SILENCE=DEATH Stories You Never Knew

There was no way I could attend a recent conference with Avram Finkelstein, one of the artists behind the iconic SILENCE=DEATH image, and not make him sit down with me and spill all the juicy details about the creation of that image. He agreed, and boy howdy, he did not disappoint (video below).

Read my lips original imageSome of his best stories, in fact, weren’t even about the most famous poster for which he is known. As part of an artist collective that met privately during the earliest years of AIDS and then as an adjunct committee of ACT UP New York, Avram was in the middle of the action during an amazingly productive and creative time. You’re going to recognize most if not all of the striking social messages they created.

My favorite backstage detail is probably that of the gay pseudo porn star whose image they “acquired” (i.e. stole) from an old magazine. They used the photo for an incredibly successful campaign you will certainly recognize and everything was going swimmingly… until Avram received a startling phone call. What happened next, as the online meme goes, will surprise you and then break your heart.

These images rest in the history books now, but Avram has a fascinating way of keeping these stories exciting and immediate. I can’t wait for you to meet him.


p.s. <sigh> I have now upgraded to a super duper audio system for recording future interviews. Just sayin’.




  1. Dave Lara June 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

    This is such a frigging important piece of history. It must be required watching in any activists learning process. Thank you both so much for capturing it.

  2. Nancy June 30, 2014 at 10:09 am


    This interview was so impressive. I learned so much and appreciate more the activism of these pioneers. Thank you for posting this brother.

    Love you, Nancy (Sis)

  3. Robert June 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    lots of memories. thanks for sharing this “other side of the story.”

  4. Don June 30, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    It took 6 months for the collective to produce the poster?
    Man, that brought back a lot of memories from that era.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.