I'm very familiar with kern's work - it's a bit of a funny niche market - because his work (here referring to his EARLY work-which REALLY - are his films) was more about conveying an attitude of nihilism - one specific to the new york punk scene of the late 70s. I see his work (and Mapplethorpe's) forming a nexus whose missing element was probably the work of Jimmy DeSana (a contemporary of mapplethorpe - but both preceded Kern, and inspiration for Cindy Sherman). I think it would have been better perhaps to look more at this work - the kind you'd see festooned on album covers, etc...
Contextualization: Jimmy DeSana
But I guess the whole deal with niche 'markets' like this is simply the fact that it wouldn't mean much to you if you weren't part of it... kind of like a fred picker photo is for other people (i.e. people find meaning in the work through a common love for something - and in that case it would be the zone system)