In 1987, bike messenger Giani Siri self-published The New York Tarot, a 93-card deck with photos of New Yorkers and city scenes used as art for the traditional major and minor arcana characters. Largely unknown and never widely available, the deck is both a time capsule and a love letter to New York in the 1970s and ‘80s.
The sepia-toned images feature “NY’s resident alien” Quentin Crisp as Strength, pagan journalist Margot Adler as the High Priestess, Hugo-winning science fiction novelist Samuel Delany as the Hanged Man, and high-wire walker Philippe Petit as The Fool. There are also non-human icons: Lady Liberty is the Empress, the Unisphere is The World, the Moondance Diner is (what else?) the Moon. And there are the thoroughly unknown, untold people and corners of a New York more than three decades past. Giani herself is featured as the Queen of Swords.