thirstory

Thirstory: Richard Gere Pumps Our Gas

By
Photography Herb Ritts

Published August 21, 2020

Welcome to Thirstory, where we whet your appetite with pages from the Interview archive that were almost too hot to print. This week, we take a pit stop at Interview‘s October 1983 cover shoot featuring Richard Gere. 

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By now, everyone and their mother has seen Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood. If you recall the plot, the lead character Jack Castello takes a job as a gas station attendant only to moonlight as a male escort, which eventually leads to his big break on the silver screen. That storyline was inspired by the real life tales of Scotty Bowers, but what if we told you there was another gasoline-fueled Hollywood origin story that involves a different American Gigolo?

Back in 1977, Herb Ritts, then an amateur photographer, met up with his good friend, the equally unknown actor Richard Gere. One day, the two were cruising together around San Bernardino, California when their car got a flat. As legend has it, the two ambled into a gas station, and while they awaited service, Ritts started shooting his pal. Three months later, the well-oiled images landed in the pages of Vogue, Esquire, and Mademoiselle.

Soon, Ritts became a sought after celebrity and fashion portraitist, while Gere turned leading man. Six years later, the pair reunited for Interview’s October 1983 cover shoot, with Ritts behind the camera. The photos were nothing short of magical, but the editors couldn’t resist running a shot from the infamous gas station series. Between Gere‘s tight jeans, white tank, and exposed armpits, we’ve never been so thankful for a flat tire.