The New York Dolls first album cover was shot in New York. In this case, the back cover is more interesting than the front. It features a photograph of the band in front of Gem Spa, the legendary newsstand that is said to have invented the egg cream.
As for the front of the cover, Sylvain Sylvain explains:
"That first album cover was because of me. Mercury had taken us to an antique shop, and we were supposed to (pose) without our makeup, like we were dolls among the antiques. We looked like we do on the back of the cover. It was okay, but it had nothing compared to what the Dolls really were. I called up all my friends in the rag business and said, "Hey, I got $900 and I need a dynamite shot." These friends suggested (photographer) Toshi, who was doing Vogue covers. He got the crew and this guy named Shin for the hair and another guy for the makeup [credited on the record as Dave O'Grady]. That couch we were sitting on, we found that on the street and brought it up. We put the white fabric on it -- I remember tacking it on. It was really a trashed couch, with a white satin cover."
Gem Spa is located at the southwest corner of St. Marks and 2nd Avenue. In the 60's it served as a sanctuary from the 9th Precinct's hippie squad, in the 70's the New York Dolls took their photo in front of it and today the appearance hasn't changed much at all (though the clientele has). We're guessing lots of fans have recreated the shot, even the New York Doll's themselves recreated this shot!
[At Left: The photo from the New York Dolls back album cover, and Gem Spa today taken by Cindy Schreiber]