My childhood TV idol was cowgirl named Sally Starr. On Channel 6, at 4.pm every day she’d present cartoons like Popeye and The Three Stooges on her show. She’d wear fringe, shiny silver stars, a cowgirl hat and boots, as well as guns and holsters. She was blonde and beautiful. She was known throughout the Delaware Valley as “Our Gal Sal”. Her signature catchphrase was “Love, Luck and Lollipops”. Gosh knows we don´t have enough of any of those things anymore.
When her show was cancelled in 1971 it drew the largest mail protest in the channel’s history. We got to meet Sally Starr in 2005. It was a surprise for my mother’s birthday. Sally Starr had a pizzeria back then. That was before it burned down. We went and sat and talked with her for a while. She was quite old but she arrived dressed in her cowgirl outfit. The first thing she did was invite both me and my sister to sit on her lap. It was a highlight of my life.
It was around the same time began reconnecting with my inner cowgirl. I revisited a place that was stuck deep in my memory: the rodeo at Cowtown. I hadn’t been there since I was very small.
Originally established in 1929, the rodeo at Cowtown is the oldest weekly rodeo in the United States, and yes, it’s in New Jersey. Today it is still run by fourth generation family members, Howard Grant Harris and his wife Betsy.
Both of them were kind enough to grant me access to the event over a period of many years. I really got started shooting there in 2007. I got to know the riders and the inner workings of the rodeos. On a Saturday night in summer, I’d be climbing on top of the chutes for my shots. I also found a few special places around the rodeo arena, where I more than once came eye to eye with a bull. That’s how I became a cowgirl rodeo photographer. Sally Starr died at the age of 90 in 2013, but her memory will forever live on. It’s my dream to become an accredited PRCA photographer. Need to get to some other rodeos, too.
American Rodeo, an exhibition of photographs by Janet Greco, 2007-2011, opens on Sunday, 9th October, at Or Verd Barcelona. 158 Diputació, Barcelona.
View the full set here on Saatchi Art where you can also buy the limited edition prints online.