“Instamatic Karma” Frames a New Picture of John Lennon
By Gretchen Kelly
Imagine being single after being the famous “other woman” in John Lennon’s life. What’s the biggest challenge?
“Finding a man who doesn’t compare himself to John Lennon,” laughs May Pang.
Pang’s new book, Instamatic Karma is a photographic record of the time she spent with John during the time that has officially been called his “Lost Weekend.”
“The “Lost Weekend” was not so lost,” Pang says. A single mother of two, jewelry designer, photographer, writer and entrepreneur, May has just published Instamatic Karma (St. Martin’s Press). The book is her picture album from those days in the early seventies when she traveled to Los Angeles with Lennon, sanctioned and originally suggested by Yoko Ono as John’s companion on his adventure outside of their marriage.
“John was creating, seeing friends, even connecting with his son Julian for the first time in a long while on this ‘Lost Weekend,'” remembers Pang. “He did the Walls and Bridges album and spent a lot of time with Julian.” May points proudly to a picture in the book that she took of father and son curled up together in an airplane seat. “I was very proud that I was part of that,” she says. “John and Julian spent some really meaningful time together during the time we were a couple.” Pang and John’s first wife, Julian’s mom Cynthia, became friends during those years and have stayed that way over the years—bonded by a love for John and his son and the shared experience of being a “rock god’s” companion. “She is a lovely, vibrant lady,” Cynthia writes on the back of the book. “She was a good friend when my son and I needed one, and is a dear, close friend now.”
Cynthia has remarried and May herself married record producer Tony Visconti and has two children with him, a boy and a girl, both in their teens. Today, she is a divorced single mother with an ongoing career as a feng shui jewelry designer and plans to expand her work into writing non-fiction for other women who are faced with romantic challenges.
“My friends say I give great relationship advice,” says May. “I’d like to do a column for women where I help them see themselves as the most important person in their lives.” In the meantime, May is on tour talking about a man whose presence dominated much of her young life and who continues to influence her today.
What was the legacy from her time with John that she cherishes most? “John was an unforgettable man,” she muses. “He was truly larger than life. You don’t meet someone like that more than once. John used to say to me, “It’s going to be hard for you after this, everyone will be compared to me.””
Flipping through the book at these vibrant pictures of Lennon in the prime of his life, it’s easy to see how compelling he was, both as an artist and a man.
“One thing that people keep saying is, “Hey, I never knew John was so hot,” Pang laughs. “He looks healthy, tanned, fit. There’s this one picture of him with his motorcycle…I was looking at it and thinking, “Damn, he was hot.”
To see more, log on to www.instamatickarma.com.
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