Gillian Zoe Segal

The photographer and author of New York Characters on farts, the infamous Dr. Zizmor, and losing her husband to the kindness of strangers.

Segal is the photographer and author of New York Characters, a superb collection of profiles of the city’s most bizarre and lovable citizens

DOB: 27 August 1969

Occupational title(s), both real and desired-in-another-lifetime: Photographer, Author, Soon-to-be Mom, Diva

Honestly, what was it like to meet [New York dermatologist] Dr. Zizmor: He is a legend, and meeting him only enhanced the aura of ‘Dr. Z.’ As eccentric as his subway ads, Dr. Z, like many great New Yorkers, is a true original. But don’t confuse his subway persona for some joker in a white lab coat. This guy has a very successful and serious dermatological practice. There is a real method to his advertisements’ madness. He designs them all himself and his test for deciding which advertisements to use is hilarious: he asks his friends, ‘Do you like this ad?’ and if they say ‘That is the worst ad I’ve ever seen,’ he runs it. With a waiting room filled with acne- and boil-ridden patients, it’s clear that he’s created a real brand name. I’d let him pop my zits anytime!

Favorite book(s): Anything by Ayn Rand; Kissing In Manhattan, by David Schickler; The Palace Thief, by Ethan Canin; Diane Arbus: A Biography, by Patricia Bosworth

Heroes: The New York City Fire Department

Best not-well-known settings for photography in New York: Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, Jackson Heights’s Indian neighborhoods

What makes you laugh: Farts

A favorite anecdote of yours explaining why you love or hate New York: Outsiders think New York is an intimidating, always-make-sure-to-check-your-pockets type of a town. Yet my forgetful husband has now left his cell phone in the back seat of a taxicab on five separate occasions and each time some thoughtful New Yorker has found it, taken the time to track my husband down, and returned his phone. In fact, my husband left me for the fifth guy who found his phone and now lives down in Chelsea. (That last sentence isn’t true, but it could be, and that’s why I love New York!)

Charity worth giving to: The Cancer Research Institute

Five words that sound great: You are in perfect health!



Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin