Artwork archives: early portraits of the bad boys I loved.

This is the sequel post to the one about my earliest portrait drawings.

You can see that one, with many of the boys and girls I loved as a teen, here. They are drawings full of hope and joy, of people I adored. The drawings below are more painful ones, of boys who were far deeper into addiction.

Sheepdog from memory summer or fall 1983 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI met Sheepdog in the summer of 1983.

Sheepdog from memory summer 1983 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesHis physical beauty mesmerized me like no other boy before or since.

We were in the 80s good friends, once lovers, and also people who harmed each other grievously and witnessed each other’s most horrific addiction lows.

I made both of these drawings from memory, the summer I met him, and they are surprisingly true to his absolutely stunning Pre-Raphaelite beauty.

The X-Men movie actor Caleb Landry Jones reminds me of Sheep, with the kind of male beauty that twists like a hook in my heart. Male beauty was my downfall for so much of my life, and I’m only goddam lucky that hooking up with my husband initially for his beauty worked out so well.

Richie drawing end June 1987 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Sometimes, I made really bad choices, in the ’80s.

In the spring of 1987 I was twenty, and spiraling. A terrible compress of grief, bitterness and nostalgia drew me together with Richie, aka HASTE, a boy who had been a close friend of my late great love Robert Johnston Sawyer. Richie was an Irish drunk.

Drawing of Richie on manila envelope prob mid 1987 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesRichie and I drank together in a way people who are trying to die drink together.

There was rage and pain and violence. We drank his and hers flat half-pint bottles of warm vodka in the New York summer morning, while he did the New York Times crossword in ink. His father was a sportswriter there. We read Nexus together. It was horrible.

Richie at 20th st by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx summer 1987I drew him in ballpoint, drunk, with so much anguish in my heart I could hardly see.

I drew him sleeping, which was the only time we weren’t hurting each other. It was like a ghastly funhouse mirror of the summer before, when Rob and I had been so intensely loving to each other.

When I was blackout drunk in the summer of ’86, Rob used to say I was reminding him of Richie: “Lights out, nobody home.” A year later, there I was, Richie and I, too drunk to walk. He was the only boyfriend I’ve ever had who my mother actually hated.

Sketchbook 1987 Richie sleeping by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesSketchbook 1987 Richie sleeping by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Richie was there when I had my first alcoholic seizure, and got me through it.

He was familiar with them, and had Dilantin for them, so he gave me some. He held me tightly while I shook and jerked.

Richie drawing July 29 1987 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesRichie was the one who wrote “Richard is God” on this drawing, obviously.

The drawings are really damn good, because I was so drunk I pushed through a lot of fear that held me back. But that is not worth very much, compared to the pain I see when I read my journal from that year.

Richie sleeping 1987 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Richie saved my life when I overdosed on methadone that August.

He could not wake me on a summer afternoon, and he got my mother and she called the paramedics. I was revived, I lived, and we went to Victoria‘s birthday party that night, where my condition caused her terrible distress. Richie was also the only boyfriend I ever had that Victoria hated! The eventual breakup was a disastrous mess, but at least I did leave him.

graffnycsub16 haste tag I spoke to him once more, the first summer I was sober, in 1989.

I called him from St. Paul. His father had died, and Richie had gotten sober. I wish him that still, and that is all. So many of those Acid Writer boys from that summer of ’87 are dead, so many of them died so young, and Richie did save my life.

And I have been clean and sober 33 years as of last Thursday.

Some of these drawings had never been scanned or uploaded; until now, no online record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.



6 thoughts on “Artwork archives: early portraits of the bad boys I loved.

  1. Yvonne Neldel

    I am so touched by your story, thank you for sharing it. And what beautiful drawings you made watching the men around you:they are a true sign of passion, kindness but also sadness. You are gifted, keep on the drawing work! And once more i am convinced by looking at your drawings: art is a life saver. Stay safe and concrats to your 33 years of soberness. With kind regards from germany, Yvonne

  2. Pat Ketchum

    Such memories, and yes I did really dislike Richie. No doubt because I saw my raging alcoholic self in him. I’m so happy that he got sober. I didn’t see that coming.

    1. Suzanne Forbes Post author

      I think I saw my even more raging alcoholic future in him, and part of what made me willing to go to treatment a year and half later was seeing that future. Yeah his father died drunk and it affected him a lot, so he hit the rooms, he told me when we spoke in ’89.


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