Grace Jones Iconic Looks
STRAY CAT BEAT GIRL: MEET THE ELECTRIFYING ‘ARETHA FRANKLIN’ OF JAPAN, AKIKO WADA
The arrival of the “beat girl” archetype in Japanese culture back in the 60s came with numerous girl rockers taking the helm of bands, cranking out garage rock sounds and pop-inspired hits some of which would go on to sell more than a million copies (such as the 1965 smash sung in English by Emy Jackson “Crying in a Storm”). Of the many that were a part of this movement, one of the most notable was a woman often referred to as the “Japanese Aretha Franklin,” Akiko Wada.
Born Akiko Iizuka (according to her website) to Korean parents, she soon adopted her maternal uncle’s name (Wada) and started skipping school (before dropping out of high school entierly) to enjoy the nightlife of Osaka. At the age of seventeen she had added “runaway” to her growing rebellious teenage resume after a trip to Tokyo. Wada’s “look” was perceived as “unconventional” even during her childhood. In elementary school Wada was already over five-feet tall and by the time she stopped growing she stood approximately 5’9. Not only did Wada sound more like a man she was also taller than most of her male counterparts on the hit parade. Due to her unique looks and vocal style she was often referred to as being “butch.”
It’s important to note here that being labeled as “butch” is a distinct inference of homosexuality. And being gay in Japan isn’t merely frowned upon, it is also considered an “unacceptable” lifestyle (though there has been some progress over the last two decades). Despite assumptions regarding her sexuality Wada has been married to a man (photographer Koji Iizuka) for the past 35 years.
Wada would embark on her recording career in 1968, singing on an astronomical number of records (somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 singles) since the release of her first single “Hoshizora no Kodoku” (“The Solitude of the Starry Sky”). Fast-forward to 2016 and the unstoppable Wada shows no signs of slowing down. Her latest release “All Right!!!” came out in July of this year—three months after her 66th birthday.
Wada also appeared in a few memorable films, a few which audiences outside of Japan may be familiar with such as the 1970 Japanese chick biker-flick (the first of the long-running franchise) Alleycat Rock: Female Boss where Akiko gets to play the cycle-riding biker girl “Ako.” Wada would reprise the role of “Ako” in the follow-up film, Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo. Wada has also hosted her own TV show, Akko ni Omakase (“Leave It To Akko”), as well as a radio show DJ Akko No Panic Studio. I’ve included a number of cool tracks from Wada’s vast catalog for you to listen to below and the groovy trailer for Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (which was lovingly remastered back in 2014 by Arrow Films) that features Wada looking larger than life, rocking out in a sweet brown pantsuit.
A front-row seat to the rise of punk rock Photographs by Ruby Ray
Story by Ryan Prior, CNN
In January 1978, photographer Ruby Ray was at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom sweating with the crowd and swaying to the driving rhythm of the Sex Pistols.
The band epitomized the new punk spirit in rock, injecting a new destructive energy at a time when the wider world of corporate rock was glossing over the genre’s rebellious roots. Chaos was their governing impulse.
“At the time there were only about 200 true punks in San Francisco,” Ray told CNN, but this concert drew 2,000. “It was an incredible show, a huge show,” Ray said.
It was also their last show.
The night after the Sex Pistols broke up, Ray was photographing a show at the Mabuhay Gardens club where another punk scene stalwart, the Bags, were playing a set. Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious was there. He found a piece of shattered glass and jumped up on the stage, which was only about 2 feet off the ground.
He ran the glass across his shirtless chest, drawing blood, in an attempt to seek attention and upstage the band.
Ray later raced backstage where she saw Vicious laying down with a woman and smoking a cigarette. She asked if she could photograph him, and he said, “Sure, hurry up,” Ray recalls.
Ray’s new photo book, “Kalifornia Kool,” depicts the San Francisco punk scene between 1976 and 1982. That period, when she was in her 20s, “was bold and daring and wild.”
Her book is a living record of the ‘70s punk scene, which almost by its very definition, was ephemeral.
“A lot of (the bands) didn't get recorded,” she said. “Industry didn't like punk rock.”
Punk thrived in the underground, and without the aid of corporate overlords it required a democratic do-it-yourself spirit — fiery passion overruling the need for any kind of expertise. The vibe on the scene, Ray said, was always, “Sure, you could start your punk band.”
But Ray and her friend V. Vale didn’t start their own punk band. They started their own punk magazine.
Vale hatched the idea for the publication Search and Destroy while working at City Lights, a famed San Francisco bookstore known for first publishing Beat poet Alan Ginsberg's “Howl and Other Poems” — a book that was nearly a holy text among counterculture kids of the mid-20th century.
It was Ginsberg, in fact, who walked into the store and handed Vale a check that helped bankroll the magazine's first issue.
Vale found Ray, where she was working at Tower Records, and she agreed to become a photographer for the fledgling ’zine.
At its peak, the all-volunteer magazine hit a circulation of 10,000 and had readers as far as London, Paris and Berlin.
The young punk journalists put it together in their living room. Once they had all the stories and the photos, the group had a layout party, putting the template for each page together with scissors and paste.
Amazing Cat Cartoons from Songs
Amazing Magazine T-Shirts from the 1970s-80s
We’ve covered the amazing 1970s T-Shirt fad in a previous article – but it’s high time for another round. Nothing brings back the pop-culture memories better than the humble tee. That’s because it proclaimed the wearer’s identity – what he or she was “into”, no matter how obscure a niche.
Capitalizing on the fad, magazines of all varieties offered their readers an opportunity to wear their brand. From Billboard to Screw magazine, an endless spectrum of titles were emblazoned on our chests for the world to see. Let’s have a look…
Sixto Rodríguez: the Improbable Fame of an Artist
His uncertain fame and public recognition made Sixto Rodríguez confront the delicate balance between personal fortune and the authenticity of talent.
The music world is famously cruel. Throughout history, once and again we have seen cases of composers, interpreters and singers whose talent has only been recognized after their death, in that posterity which, so we are told, does justice to everything and leaves stanting only that which transcends the beating of critics and time. Such is the case of Sixto Rodríguez, an American singer born to Mexican parents who had a short music career (recording a couple albums in the 1970’s and going on a brief Australian tour), and flirted briefly with fame but soon was pushed aside by a wave of new faces and voices.
The son of migrants who left their country in the 20’s, Sixto was born in 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, to a lower middle class family who raised him in poverty and yet cultivated in him an interest in the underground culture, both of which would later be reflected in his music. Somehow, Rodríguez resolved to be a successful musician from very early in life, and in 1967 recorded his first single, “I’ll Slip Away,” with a small record company with a big name: Impact. Three years later he signed with Sussex Records, which was part of the better-known Buddha Records, with which he later recorded Cold Fact (1970) and Coming from Reality (1971); both influenced by Blues and Rock.
Before this, which he considered a failure, Sixto decided that his music career was over. His decision, however, was perhaps too hasty, as he soon gained unexpected popularity in South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia, which goes to show the capricious nature of success: met with disdain on one continent and revered on a remote other.
With his unexpected following, Rodríguez went on an Australian tour with the Mark Gillespie Band, and even started to work on his next album, Alive, whose title was a sort of wink at the strange rumor –perhaps inspired by his few years of silence– that he had died. But after his Australian tour he again went into obscurity, dedicating his time to studying for his BA in Philosophy at Wayne State University in Ohio and his new and unexpected profession in demolition. What perhaps is most surprising is the revelation his daughter made in the 1990’s: that Sixto Rodríguez was a musical icon in South Africa, a figure with a cult Internet following and loads of fans despite the fact that he had only, decades ago, distributed a couple albums to the country.
Capitalizing on the discovery, Rodríguez, almost 60 years old, went on a six-concert tour in South Africa, even producing a documentary about the experience: the Dead Men Don’t Tour: Rodríguez in South Africa 1998. It was a sort of final resurrection of the musical success Rodríguez had been looking for his whole life. With the re-release of his albums, new international tours scheduled as well as television appearances, this brilliant man is now battling between keeping the authenticity of his music and living out a long-lived dream.
We recommend the now very popular documentary Searching for Sugar Man, by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul, in which all of the above is profusely and endearingly put.
Two Teens Hitchhiked to a Concert. 50 Years Later, They Haven’t Come Home
Mitchel Weiser and Bonnie Bickwit were never heard from again after leaving for 1973’s historic Summer Jam at Watkins Glen. Five decades on, their family and friends still want answers
ERIC J. GREENBERG
They were never seen again.
Or were they?
Fifty years ago last week marked the disappearance of 16-year-old Mitchel Weiser and 15-year-old Bonnie Bickwit, two gifted students who are the oldest missing-teen cases in the country.
Initially dismissed as romantic runaways who would return home soon, the pair’s fate remains a mystery. After decades of police bungling and false leads, investigators have tracked several theories over what might have happened to them. Amid recent information about a possible suspect connected to their disappearance, Mitchel’s and Bonnie’s friends and families are now calling on federal and state officials to provide the necessary resources to solve the coldest of cold cases.
“A task force is exactly what we need to solve what happened to my brother Mitchel and his girlfriend Bonnie,” Susan Weiser Liebegott, Mitchel’s sister who has been searching for him for the past half century, tells Rolling Stone. “Quite frankly, it is the only way to solve their case.”
“This could be our last chance to bring justice and some measure of peace to the family and friends,” adds Mitchel’s childhood best friend Stuart Karten.
The couple were apparently last seen leaving Camp Wel-Met, a popular summer camp in the Catskills region. Bonnie, a longtime camper, had taken a job at the camp as a parents’ helper. Mitchel stayed in Brooklyn, having snagged a prized job at a local photography studio. On the evening of Thursday, July 26, he boarded a bus at Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan heading for Bonnie’s camp in Narrowsburg, a town in Sullivan County about two hours away.
Their plan was to hitchhike 150 miles northwest to attend an outdoor concert dubbed “Summer Jam” at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway. The show featured rock counterculture legends the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and the Band, and is still considered one of the most-attended U.S. concerts to date.
Their plan was to hitchhike 150 miles northwest to attend an outdoor concert dubbed “Summer Jam” at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway. The show featured rock counterculture legends the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and the Band, and is still considered one of the most-
attended U.S. concerts to date.
On November 10, 1969, Sesame Street made its broadcast debut.
The very first lines were spoken by Gordon (Matt Robinson), a Black schoolteacher who’s showing a new kid around the neighborhood, introducing her to a couple of other kids, along with Sesame Street adult mainstays Bob, Susan, and Mr. Hooper, and Big Bird, whose appearance had yet to find its final form:
Sally, you’ve never seen a street like Sesame Street. Everything happens here. You’re gonna love it.
The milieu would have felt familiar to children growing up on New York City’s Upper West Side, or Harlem or the Bronx. While not every block was as well integrated as Sesame Street’s cheerful, deliberately multicultural, brownstone setting, any subway ride was an opportunity to rub shoulders with New Yorkers of all races, classes and creeds.
Not six months later, the all-White Mississippi State Commission for Educational Television voted 3 to 2 to remove Sesame Street from their state’s airwaves.
A disgruntled pro-Sesame commission member leaked the reason to The New York Times:
Some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly integrated cast of children.
The whistleblower also intimated that those same members objected to the fact that Robinson and Loretta Long, the actor portraying Susan, were Black.
They claimed Mississippi was “not yet ready” for such a show, even though Sesame Street was an immediate hit. Professionals in the fields of psychology, education, and medicine had consulted on its content, helping it secure a significant amount of federal and private grants prior to filming. The show had been lauded for its main mission – preparing American children from low-income backgrounds for kindergarten through lively educational programming with ample representation.
Kids growing up in sheltered, all-white enclaves stood to gain, too, by being welcomed into a television neighborhood where Black and white families were shown happily coexisting, treating each other with kindness, patience and respect. (Sonia Manzano and Emilio Delgado, who played Maria and Luis, joined the cast soon after.)
Even though Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee also moved to pre-empt the innovative hit show, the government appointees on the Mississippi State Commission for Educational Television who’d ousted Sesame Street found themselves outnumbered when Jackson residents of all ages staged a protest in front of Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s HQ.]
The Delta Democrat-Times published an editorial piece arguing that “there is no state which more desperately needs every educational tool it can find than Mississippi:”
There is no educational show on the market today better prepared than Sesame Street to teach preschool children what many cannot or do not learn in their homes….The needs are immense.
After 22 days, the ban was rolled back and Sesame Street was reinstated.
That fall, the cast made a pitstop in Jackson during a 14-city national tour. Susan, Gordon, Bob, Mr. Hooper and Big Bird sang and joked with audience members as part of an event co-sponsored by the very same commission that had tried to blackball them, and left without having received a formal apology.
Sesame Street has stayed true to its progressive agenda throughout its fifty+ year history, a commitment that seems more essential than ever in 2023.
Below, Elmo, a Muppet who rose through the ranks to become a Sesame Street star engages in an entry-level conversation about race with some newer characters in an episode from two years ago.
The Groovy Imitation Bands of 1960s Japanese Rock
MAY 28, 2014
When the Beatles arrived in Japan in June of 1966, they caused as much pandemonium when they did when they triggered Beatlemania in the United States in 1964. A total of 8,400 policemen were mobilized for security at a cost of 90 million yen and more than 6,500 Japanese teenagers were taken into custody. They had been in Japan for 102 hours (and were paid 60 million yen).
Japan had its very own ‘beat era’ during the 1960s that was heavily influenced by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, American hit music and psychedelic rock. It spawned an entirely new music genre known as ‘Group Sounds’ (GS), which saw over a hundred bands release vinyl records on major labels that imitated Western rock musicians. More than often, Group Sounds records did covers of the supergroups such as The Beatles, The Beegees and The Rolling Stones, translating the lyrics into Japanese. But the colourful, outfit co-ordinated bands also recorded their own Western-inspired moody ballads and syrupy pop songs. Some of it was not so good, but some of it was pretty groovy stuff with an added exotic edge of being sung in Japanese.
The best part about this is trying to imagine what exactly a shoe belt would look like.
Most Japanese musicians felt that they could not sing rock in Japanese. There were debates between bands over whether they should be singing in English or Japanese and the confrontation became known as the “Japanese-language rock controversy”. It was decided that Japanese rock music should be sung in Japanese which likely spawned the origins of modern J-Pop.
The Obscure World of Kitschy Christian Vinyl
Bob Dylan nearly crossed over to the Christian music industry in the late seventies. He had just announced his conversion to Christianity in ’79 and proceeded to release a total of three albums based on his newfound faith. He spent several years touring and preaching from stage, but was never fully accepted by Christian music fans who were suspicious of Dylan’s failure to leave behind the secular music world and become the face of the Christian sub-genre. Nor did his mainstream fans want to listen to him singing about Jesus. By the early 80s, Dylan dropped the religious references from his music and went back to being Bob Dylan. But oh, what could have been…
The contemporary Christian music industry is a funny one. Since its rise in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the Jesus Movement, it has never been short of critics claiming it “violates all that God has commanded in the Bible” and pointing out the obvious conflict between commercialisation and ministry. Nevertheless, the Jesus movement churned out a large number of bands in a very short period of time, most of which remained in music obscurity..
“Jesus music” most notably saw its emergence in hippie centres of the sixties like southern California, Seattle and Chicago. Thanks to long-haired hippie preachers who could speak in tongues while tripping on LSD, large numbers of hippies and street musicians began converting to born-again Christianity. Where many young people had been left disillusioned by a decade of free love and drugs, the Jesus Movement offered the kind of salvation the traditional church couldn’t.
Once converted, the musicians continued playing the folk and rock music they had always been playing, but began infusing lyrics with a Christian message. They played for whoever would listen, collecting money at the passing of a basket known as a “love offering”. Initially, it was a means of sharing their faith and encouraging others to convert and the music was relatively simple. Without using bible clichés, there was the basic message of salvation and the value of a Christ-centered spiritual experience. Some bands talked about the imminent Second Coming of Christ, a prominent theory amongst hippie evangelicals. Few, if any made a living from playing, but there were a few to become rock stars in their own right.
The seventies saw major music industry giants including Time Warner, ABC, CBS and MCA invest and start labels in the Christian music market. Jesus music festivals mimicking more moral interpretations of Woodstock began to emerge in the summer of the seventies, attracting large crowds. The industry began maturing and slowly transforming into a multi-million dollar enterprise committed to very un-Godly things such as increased market share, profit increases and commercial marketplace strategies. By the end of the 1970s the term “Jesus music” fell out of use as the movement was replaced by the industry.
Did Glam Rock Wrestling Give Bowie and Elton Their Style?
BY FRANCKY KNAPP
OCTOBER 30, 2019
Before Ziggy played guitar, Adrian Street pounded the ring (and the makeup counter) in silver tights. The pro-wrestler changed the game forever in the 1960s when he decided the game needed more panache. More glitter. More glam. He emerged from his chrysalis, that of the former coal miner and man’s man that he was, like a human disco ball. Not that he was shedding his working class roots, mind you. This wasn’t about forgetting who you were, but showing the world who you could become. Today, we’re revisiting the world of glam rock wrestling, from the 1960s into the 1990s. There will be baby oil. There will be glitter. And boy oh boy, will there be some glamourous headshots – starting off with the evolution of Adrian, AKA, “The Merchant of Menace”…
It’s said that Elton John, David Bowie, and Marc Bolan all found major inspiration in this androgynous trailblazer’s wardrobe…
If it weren’t for Adrian, we would’ve never had the incoming stream of wrestling glitterati in the 1980s, which thrived in the era of hair metal (and spray). “The Rock ‘N Roll Express” was formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1983, starring Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. Get ready to take some style notes, my friend…
Of course, every great duo needs an opponent. Or two. But who would dare challenge the Rock ‘N Roll Express? Ladies and gents, we now welcome “the Fabulous Ones” to the ring…
They were glam rock, but definitely opted for the less-is-more look and quite frankly, we think they would’ve made excellent subjects for a kitsch painting by the artist George Quaintance.
“Gay Semiotics” Revisited
Hal Fischer speaks about his seminal 1970s-era examination of the “hanky code” used to signal sexual preferences of gay men.
In 1977, San Francisco photographer Hal Fischer produced his photo-text project Gay Semiotics, a seminal examination of the “hanky code” used to signal sexual preferences of cruising gay men in the Castro district of San Francisco. Fischer’s pictures dissected the significance of colored bandanas worn in jeans pockets, as well as how the placement of keys and earrings might telegraph passive or active roles. He also photographed a series of “gay looks”—from hippie to leather to cowboy to jock—with text that pointed out key elements of queer street-style.
LIFE With Rock Stars . . . and Their Parents
A gallery of rock legends -- Clapton, Zappa, Elton John, Grace Slick and more -- and their totally square, totally sweet parents.
They had fame, reams of money and fans willing to do wild, unmentionable things just to breathe the same air — but in its September 24, 1971 issue, LIFE magazine illustrated a different side of the lives of rock stars. Like other mere mortals, they often came from humble backgrounds, with moms and dads who bragged about them, fussed over them, called them on their nonsense and worried about them every single day.
Assigned to take portraits of the artists at home with their sweetly square folks, photographer John Olson traveled from the suburbs of London to Brooklyn to the Bay Area, capturing in his work the love that bridged any cultural and generational divides that existed between his subjects.
Here, LIFE.com brings back Olson’s nostalgia-sparking photos — Marvel at the decor! Gaze in wonder at the shag carpets and bell-bottoms! — and shares his memories of hanging out with pop culture icons of the Sixties and Seventies, as well as their mums and their dads.
John Olson on Frank Zappa: “Everyone had told me that Frank Zappa was going to be really difficult, and he couldn’t have been more professional,” Olson told LIFE.com.
Zappa on His Parents: “My father has ambitions to be an actor,” Frank told LIFE. “He secretly wants to be on TV.”
Zappa’s Mom on Zappa: “The thing that makes me mad about Frank is that his hair is curlier than mine — and blacker.”
Grace Slick: Grace Slick’s mom Virginia Wing, wrote LIFE, was a “soft-spoken suburban matron” — pretty much the opposite of her wild child. “Grace and I have different sets of moral values,” Mrs. Wing told LIFE, “but she’s her own person, and we understand each other.”
Elton John: In 1970, Elton John was just three albums into his prolific career, and still had countless hits — “Rocket Man,” “Daniel,” “Bennie and the Jets” and “Candle in the Wind” among them — in his future. “When he was four years old,” his mother said of her prodigiously talented son, “we used to put him to bed in the day and get him up to play at night for parties.”
Ginger Baker: The world knew him as Ginger, on account of his red hair, but his mother christened him Peter, and to her he was always “my Pete.” As she told LIFE magazine: “He would bring people over and they would say, ‘You realize your son is brilliant,’ and I’d say, ‘Is he? I wish he was a bit more brilliant at keeping his room tidy.'”
Brad Elterman’s Rock & Roll Photography
BY ROLLING STONE
DECEMBER 4, 2020
When Brad Elterman met Miley Cyrus, the photographer felt as if he’d gone back to his early days on the Sunset Strip, where he’d cut class as a teenager to take a candid shot of David Bowie walking down Fairfax Avenue and followed his runaway muse and friend – Joan Jett – from the Tropicana Motel to the Santa Monica Pier. “When I was taking her picture – It’s interesting. She turns her head a certain way in a certain pose, and she really reminded me of Joan back in the seventies,” he tells Rolling Stone.
It’s a fitting comparison, as Miley’s newest album Plastic Hearts features Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on the track “Bad Karma.” Jett isn’t the only seventies rocker to appear, either, as Billy Idol and Stevie Nicks both feature on the anticipated album. “There are moments just like a throwback to 1976, 1977, when I was there with Miley,” says Elterman. “I mean, It’s forty-plus years ago. It’s so surreal.”
Shedding a light on the psyche of war: Zippo lighters from U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam give a unique insight into life under fire
Some show the fear of death and regret of leaving loved ones behind to fight on foreign soil, others hint at the hatred for both the enemy and the government that put them in harm's way... others still show a remarkable sense of humour.
A unique collection of 282 Zippo lighters from the Vietnam War era were recently put up as a single lot at Cowan's Auctions in Cincinnati, Ohio. The lot was the culmination of years of painstaking research by American artist Bradford Edwards, who picked up many of the distinctive lighters on site in the former war zone during the Nineties. See image for book of these.
“Love and Rockets” Is Still Independent
Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s collaboration began with a simple proposition: each brother would be able to do whatever he wanted.
By Sam Thielman
December 14, 2022
Jaime, Gilbert, and Mario Hernandez self-published the first issue of “Love and Rockets” in 1981. The brothers financed the initial eight-hundred-copy run with a seven-hundred-dollar loan from their youngest brother, Ismael, and stapled its pages together at Mario’s house in Oxnard, California. They sent a copy to Gary Groth, the publisher of the artsy, angry trade magazine The Comics Journal, hoping for a review. A month later, Groth called the brothers and asked to publish the book himself. He reissued the first “Love and Rockets” in July of 1982. After the second issue came out the following April, Marvel Comics began calling Jaime with offers of work. But the Hernandezes were California punks. Marvel was the mainstream, and they prized their autonomy. Jaime declined. For four decades, the brothers have produced the series and its many spinoffs—as of this writing, a hundred and thirty-six issues in all—by themselves.
“Love and Rockets” is rightly recognized as the blueprint for a mini-boom of alternative comics for adults in the eighties and nineties. Daniel Clowes’s “Eightball,” Peter Bagge’s “Hate,” and Chris Ware’s “Acme Novelty Library” would likely not exist without its example or its patronage. (Clowes’s early work was excerpted in its pages.) The Hernandezes—sometimes credited as Los Bros Hernandez—have worked in familiar forms, drawing sweeping serialized melodramas, one-page gags, and enthusiastically obscene sexual confession. But from the beginning, the brothers have used the latitude of indie comics to tell stories underrepresented in those forms. They draw queer and trans and bisexual characters—some of whom are also white Latino or Afro-Latino—whose personalities do not seem to have been focus-grouped. Small children are as complex and interesting as adults. (Owen Fitzgerald’s “Dennis the Menace” stories are a notable influence.) Characters fret about their sexual preferences. They argue about the ethics of passing for white, and the ethics of berating each other for passing for white. They make split-second decisions about how to deal with bigotry, sometimes badly, sometimes well. Some worry about proxy wars in the Global South, which directly affect them or their families. Others find themselves harassed by cops, sometimes cops in riot gear. Many of their Reagan-era fears, like the immigration police, are depressingly constant.
“Love and Rockets: The First Fifty” gathers every issue of the series the Hernandezes published between 1982 and 1996. The brothers were in their twenties when the earliest issues came out, and the collection doubles as an autobiography, tracking the maturation of two great artists over their first years-long surge of creativity. From their first stories, the Hernandezes’ ambitions are clear: they are trying to establish the styles of their lifework. Their parallel stories rarely intersect but they seem to emerge from shared experience and mutual inspiration.
The initial proposition of “Love and Rockets” was simple: each brother would be able to do whatever he wanted. Every issue has at least one story by Jaime and one by Gilbert. (Mario’s contributions to the comics tapered off, but he has made sporadic appearances in the meantime.) Each brother uses roughly half the magazine’s sixtysomething pages, but they also make room for one another. One month Jaime will take up a larger share, and the next month Gilbert will be in the spotlight.
The forgotten story of Pure Hell, America’s first black punk band
The four-piece lived with the New York Dolls and played with Sid Vicious, but they’ve been largely written out of cultural history
An essential part of learning history is questioning it, asking what has become part of our cultural memory and what might have been left out. When it comes to the history of punk music, there are few bands who have been as overlooked as Pure Hell.
The band’s story began in West Philadelphia in 1974, when four teenagers – lead vocalist Kenny ‘Stinker’ Gordon, bassist Lenny ‘Steel’ Boles, guitarist Preston ‘Chip Wreck’ Morris and drummer Michael ‘Spider’ Sanders, set out to follow in the footsteps of their musical idols. A shared obsession with the sounds of Iggy, Bowie, Cooper, and Hendrix inspired them to create music that was louder, faster and more provocative than even those artists’ most experimental records. Pure Hell’s unique sound led them to New York, where they became characters in a seminal subculture recognised today as punk. As musicians of colour, their contribution to a predominately white underground scene is all the more significant. “We were the first black punk band in the world,” says Boles. “We were the ones who paid the dues for it, we broke the doors down. We were genuinely the first. And we still get no credit for it.”
The title of the ‘first black punk band’ has, in recent years, been informally given to Detroit-based Death, whose music was mostly unheralded at the time but has since been rediscovered and praised for its progressive ideas. But while Death were creating proto-punk music in isolation in the early 1970s, Pure Hell was completely entrenched in the New York City underground scene, living and performing alongside the legends of American punk. Arriving the same month that Patti Smith and Television began their two-month residencies at CBGB and leaving just after Nancy Spungen’s murder, Pure Hell’s active years in the city aligned perfectly with the birth and death of a dynamic chapter of music history. “I don’t want to be remembered just because we were black,” says Kenny Gordon. “I want to be remembered for being a part of the first tier of punk in the 70s.”
Being just 155km from Greenwich Village, Philadelphia was somewhat of a pipeline of New York subculture – Gordon remembers his teenage years at the movie theatre watching John Waters films like Polyester and Pink Flamingos, and hanging out at Artemis, a spot frequented by Philly scenesters like Nancy Spungen and Neon Leon. “I heard (The Rolling Stones’) ‘Satisfaction’ and knew it was the kind of music I wanted to play,” recalls bassist Lenny Boles. “I was too poor to afford instruments, so if someone had one, I would befriend them.”
Some of these are actual vhs screenshots and some are art made into that.
OXZ were the first Japanese punk band to take on the patriarchy
OXZ were the first Japanese punk band to take on the patriarchyMika, Hikko and Emiko on confronting their country's conservative values and paving the way for women punk rockers in the 80s.BY
Gauze, The Stalin, Guitar Wolf; these are some of the bands responsible for exposing Japanese youth to punk music in the 80s. All of them had a familiar taste for chaos that closely aligned with hardcore punk in America — hard, fast and heavy riffs formed the basis of their music. Nudity, nihilism and violence were often part of their live performance. You can see it for yourself in some of the grainy archival footage that’s been uploaded to YouTube. But among those early pioneers of Japanese punk was another group, OXZ (pronounced Ox-Zed), whose legacy you might be less familiar with. That’s because they were a band of three women, who weren’t offered the same social capital as their male counterparts at the time.
Formed in Osaka in 1981 by Mika (vocals/guitar), Hikko (bass) and Emiko (drums), OXZ was one of the first bands to challenge the mechanics of Japanese punk and ensure it wasn’t simply defined by machismo and the male gaze. Mika and Hikko went to the same high school, they met Emiko at a venue in Osaka, and soon realized they all had the same desire to play in a punk band. However, at the time it was almost unheard of for women and young girls to embrace the more aggressive style ascribed to punk. While they often played in high school cover bands, there were few allowances for women who wanted to write and perform their own original music, especially during the boomer-era. It simply wasn't acceptable to trade having a family and keeping a tidy home for the looks, lifestyle and ideals of punk rock.
In a booklet that accompanies Along Ago: 1981-1989, a new retrospective of the band’s material that’s being released this month by Captured Tracks, music historian Kato David Hopkins writes of the band’s beginnings: “there were very few women in the underground music scene at that point, and none of them dressed like punks or dyed their hair, or showed much interest in declaring complete independence from the usual rules. So in 1981 when Hikko, Mika, and Emiko first appeared together as OXZ, they were an intentional shock.”
Discharge, GBH and other scrappy bands rose up out of a scene where gigs were like wars.
In the late 1970s, Mike Stone changed punk for ever from the boot of a BMW. He had started Clay Records from a tiny record shop in Stoke-on-Trent, and after initially distributing the releases from the back of his car, Clay’s hardcore punk bands Discharge and GBH made the UK charts and are now considered pivotal influences on numerous metal styles from thrash metal to black metal, grindcore to an entire genre named after Discharge, D-beat.
Both bands have been covered by some of thrash metal’s biggest artists – Anthrax, Slayer, Sepultura and Metallica, whose frontman James Hetfield credits the British bands as “the beginning for me … I loved Discharge and GBH and still do.”
Discharge founder Terry “Tezz” Roberts was a schoolboy in Stoke when the band started in 1977 with his brother Tony (“Bones”, guitar) and bassist Roy “Rainy” Wainwright, following instructions in Sniffin’ Glue fanzine: “Here are three chords. Now start a band.” Forty-five miles away in Birmingham, GBH singer Colin Abrahall – still spiky-haired at 58 – saw the Ramones play at Birmingham’s Top Rank and decided: “The day I leave school I’m going to become a punk.”
The Birmingham scene was centred around the currently disused Crown pub near New Street station, which had once hosted the first Black Sabbath gig but by the late 70s was a punk-rock hotbed where GBH played (initially as Charged GBH), rehearsed, and even built the stage. “Everyone in there seemed to be in a band,” says Abrahall, when we meet pre-coronavirus crisis in their Digbeth rehearsal room, surrounded by posters from 40 years of his band. Birmingham was erupting with chart-bound pop – Duran Duran, UB40 and Dexys Midnight Runners – but the punk scene was DIY.
“I bought a bass guitar off a kid at school for £18,” says the singer. “Our first drum kit was an electric fire.” Hair was spiked up with everything from “Vaseline to egg whites, which made your head stink, so I discovered soap. That was great unless it rained, in which case we’d run around with Tesco bags on our heads.”
Unbeknown to either band, the man who would bring their music to the world was undergoing his own awakening in London. Mike Stone, pushing 30, wasn’t exactly a punk rocker. The former mobile DJ was working for the fledgling Beggars Banquet label when chancing on the Lurkers (who he’d subsequently manage, then sign to Clay) playing in a basement made him want to get involved. “They had the same energy and excitement as the Who,” he says over a coffee in Stoke. “I’d watched the Who open-mouthed live in Leeds when I was 15. But music had become stagnant – punk was what was missing.”
Stone relocated to Stoke after meeting and marrying a woman who lived there. He started a shop, Mike Stone’s Records, and a label called Clay Records at 26 Hope Street, funding the latter with £1,000 from a relative and naming it after the city’s potteries. Today, the site – now a disused fast-food joint awaiting demolition – looks lonely and unloved. Back then it was a dynamo of musical revolution, the wheels of which were initially set in motion by a 17-year-old girl.
What's up Tiger Lily the Wild Story of the Tax Scam Label run by Morris Levy
Morris Levy was born in New York City on August 27th, 1927. As a teenager, Levy started working in nightclubs which were controlled by the mob. In 1949, he opened Birdland, a venue that would go on to become one of the most beloved jazz clubs in the world. In 1957, he founded Roulette Records, a label that subsequently issued a number of hit records, including “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and the Starliters, and “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Levy learned early on the value of music publishing, and would often add his name to songwriting credits, even though he didn’t have a hand in their creation and had no musical talent.
In his book, Me, the Mob, and the Music, Tommy James says Levy never paid him royalties, despite the fact he had recorded quite a few hits for Roulette. James does concede that he was given artistic freedom, which he wouldn’t have had if he’d signed with another label.
A number of mafia figures were regular visitors to the Roulette building, including Gaetano “Corky” Vastola, a New Jersey gangster and one of the owners of the label. Tommy James also frequented the company’s office, observing enough to learn why Levy had a reputation for using strong-arm tactics.
It is always reported that there are five major crime families in New York—Gambino, Genovese, Colombo, Lucchese, Bonanno—and that’s mostly true. But back in the sixties, there were six families. All of the above and the Roulette family. It was not for nothing that Morris Levy was called the Godfather of the music business. People from all over the industry called him or came to him to sort out problems. If somebody from Atlantic Records or Kama Sutra found out that their records were being bootlegged, they called Morris.
It seemed like once a month Morris would grab [his associate and bodyguard] Nate McCalla and a few baseball bats, which were in his office, and take off for somewhere in New Jersey or upstate New York. It was a ritual. “KAREN,” he would yell out to his secretary, baseball bat in hand. “Call my lawyer.” And off they would go. (from Me, the Mob, and the Music)
There were a number of subsidiary labels connected to Roulette, including Tiger Lily Records. The company was incorporated in 1976, and released over 60 albums that year. Levy gathered content from seemingly anywhere he could find it, using such cast-offs as demos, outtakes and live recordings for the Tiger Lily LPs. He even reissued a handful of albums that originally came out on the Family Productions record label, which wasn’t affiliated with Roulette. The majority of the artists on Tiger Lily would be unknown to the general public. In my view, this was done, in part, to ensure a plausible deniability if the I.R.S. was to come calling. “Tax scam records” were meant to bomb, giving investors the maximum amount they could deduct on their taxes, while spending as little cash as possible. By putting your money into an artist that showed promise, a case could be made that, ‘Hey, we took a chance, but nobody bought it.’ This also meant that the label looked for artists that exhibited a certain level of talent, resulting in a number of Tiger Lily albums by obscure acts who had exceptional material.
One of the easiest (and cheapest) Tiger Lily albums to acquire is L.A. Jail, a collection of Richard Pryor stand-up recordings. There has been much speculation about whether Pryor authorized this release, and there are a couple of clues that he was, at the very least, aware of the LP’s existence.
Vintage Back to School Ads and such
Fabulous Images Documenting the Phenomenon of Voguing in New York’s House Ballrooms in the Late 1980s and Early 90s
Voguing came out of the extraordinary house ballroom scene that emerged in Harlem, New York in the 1980s where men competed against one another for their dancing skills, the realness of their drag and their ability to walk on a catwalk runway like a model. These wild years of voguing and the house ballroom scene are vividly captured at its height in hundreds of amazing, previously unpublished photographs.
In 1989, Malcolm McLaren had his only number one hit with a single called “Deep in Vogue.” Early the next year, Madonna had one of the biggest hits of her career, with the single “Vogue,” and when Jennie Livingston’s film Paris Is Burning arrived in cinemas the same year, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the mainstream got hip to New York City’s extraordinary ball culture, from which the film and McLaren and Madonna’s songs had arisen. Paris Is Burning documented a gay ballroom scene that emerged in Harlem in the mid-1980s, which drew African American and Latino gay and transgender communities to compete against one another for their dancing skills, the verisimilitude of their drag and their ability to walk on the runway.
French-born photographer and documentarist Chantal Regnault began documenting the house ballroom and voguing scene in the late 1980s, capturing it at its height between 1989-1992.
“1989-1992 was the peak of creativity and popularity for the ballroom scene, and when the mainstream attention faded away, the original black and Latino gay ballroom culture didn’t die. On the contrary, it became a national phenomena as Houses started to have “chapters” all over the big cities of the United States. But I was not a direct witness to most of it as I moved to Haiti in 1993.”
Chantal Regnault was born in France. She left Paris after the 1968 uprisings and lived in New York for the next 15 years. At the end of the 1980s she became immersed in Harlem’s voguing scene. Also around this time, Regnault developed an interest in Haitian voodoo culture and began to divide her time between Haiti and New York. Her widely published photographs have appeared in major magazines and newspapers, including Vanity Fair and the New York Times.
Bizarre 1959 ‘Cigarette Psychology’ Article Explains 9 Ways People Hold Cigarettes And What It Says About
We all know the dangers of smoking cigarettes these days, and we don’t condone it. However, the 1950s were a different time, where the advertising and cultural pressure to smoke was intense. Smoking was seen as the epitome of cool and sophistication, and people were largely unaware of any negative consequences.
This article, from a 1959 issue of Caper Magazine, shows a few examples of what psychoanalyst Dr. William Neutra hypothesized after observing the ways people chose to smoke. According to his psychoanalysis, the body language of the method an individual uses to hold the cigarette shines a light onto their character traits, exposing their personality type, moods, and insecurities. If you are a smoker, perhaps you recognize some of these yourself?
Scroll down below to check the character analysis as vintage magazines saw it for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments!
c. 1960 - Working at Krystal
ervice with a smile. Hopefully.
by Alex Q. Arbuckle
These images from the Chattanooga History Center were produced as training materials for new hires at Krystal restaurants, a fast-food franchise founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1932.
With a menu centering around the bite-sized Krystal burger, the restaurant aimed to provide fast and courteous service to customers in a hurry.
Along with an orientational training film, these photos were shot as examples for employees of how and how not to present themselves behind the counter.
In 1954, Krystal Company presented a breezy educational film detailing how staff at its Krystal restaurants should behave and dress. Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on October 24 1932, Krystal was keen to embrace the staff, aka ‘The Krystal Family’, and have them do things ‘the Krystal way’. This was ‘The Counter Code’.
Zelda, who we see in the lead photo, was breaking rules. Tutored in the Krystal way to ‘act natural’, she soon stowed her cigarette, set her disagreeable eyebrows free and her unblinking gaze on producing the great American burger; fighting the good fight against salmonella and starvation. Zelda’s not smiling in the portrait because she’s not sure about cameras and the kind of men who operate them and process amateur film in their home basement darkrooms. But she’s a happy girl and ready to serve.
Inside Nadia Lee Cohen’s New Book of Chameleonic Self-Portraits
The British photographer’s latest publication Hello My Name Is … sees her transform herself into 33 different characters, inspired by name badges belonging to unknown individuals
DECEMBER 14, 2021
Hello My Name Is … , Mrs Fisher, 2021Photography by Nadia Lee Cohen. Courtesy of Idea
Nadia Lee Cohen is surely one of the most exciting image-makers working today. Born in London but based now in Los Angeles, she released her first book Women last year – a staggering study of contemporary womanhood created over a period of six years. Published by Idea, bound in gold cloth and featuring 100 cinematic portraits, it was a groundbreaking debut. And now she’s back.
Today Cohen releases her second book, Hello My Name Is … , which, also published by Idea, sees the photographer transform into 33 different characters. Each one is inspired by name badges belonging to unknown individuals that she’s collected over the years. It’s a masterpiece not only of photography but of the process of transformation; of styling, hair, make-up and prosthetics. She even collected objects for each persona, making them into fully realised characters. There’s Jackie, the shaggy-haired Barbara Streisand fan; Mrs Fisher, the floral-festooned British royalist; and Jeff, the plush, portly and Nixon-supporting cowboy. Martin Parr and Paul Reubens AKA Pee-wee Herman have provided texts for the book, which is published in a limited edition of 1,000, just in time for Christmas.
Here, Cohen delves into the process of creating this publication and explains why she dedicated it to “the 99¢ store manager”.
Ted Stansfield: I’d love to start by talking about Los Angeles, where you live. What is your relationship to the city? And how did your fantasy of it compare to the reality when you first arrived?
Nadia Lee Cohen: I still feel like a spectator even though I’ve been in Los Angeles for over five years. I hope I always view it like that. Before I came here I had that British naivety towards Hollywood and assumed it was a very glamorous place filled with palm trees, movie execs and Lindsey Lohans. I drove to Hollywood Boulevard on one of my first nights, in a car I had bought for $800 (which turned out to be the body of a BMW with the engine of a Nissan – very apt for what I am about to describe) and was so excited to see the Walk of Fame in the flesh. I remember asking someone if I was actually in Hollywood and they told me to fuck off. I had arrived to discover bad lookalikes, filthy streets and gawping tourists. On the sad side there was also homelessness, chronic mental illness and prostitution, all lit up and sparkling with the neon lights of Hollywood; the fairground of American decay on parade and no sign of Lindsey Lohan. The discovery of this underbelly might not sound all that appealing; and even though it wasn’t what I expected, it turned out to be the reason I love Los Angeles and why it became a sort of dysfunctional muse.
TBT: Epic Photos of Black Excellence From Harlem in the '70s GET INTO THE GROOVE WITH THESE EPIC PICS OF HARLEM IN THE 1970S.
The Day the Black Supermodels Stormed Versailles
BY FRANCKY KNAPP
JULY 17, 2020
There’s a “Battle of Versailles” they don’t teach you about in history class; the event that transformed the world’s most iconic château into a star-studded battle royale between French and American fashion designers in the fall of 1973. The guest list was legendary, with Josephine Baker, Princess Grace, Andy Warhol in the audience to name a few – but it was America’s own runway line-up that was revolutionary. Never before had so many Black models collectively worked the catwalk, from Pat Cleveland to Billie Blair; Alva Chinn, Charlene Dash, Barbara Jackson and so many other names that were a tour de force, ringing in new era for models of colour and what promised to be an inclusive new fashion industry in the making…
Prior to the 1970s, American couture in general had not yet reached the same level of international clout as that of the French. “The Battle of Versailles” as it was officially named, was cooked up as a friendly fundraising tête-à-tête between the two countries – a clever social event to raise money and restore the deteriorating castle grounds – but it would ultimately earn American designers the global respect they sought and redefine the fashion industry forever.
On one end of the ring, you had the “Five Kings” of French fashion – Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, Emanuel Ungaro, and Hubert de Givenchy; in the American corner were its rising designers Oscar de la Renta, Halston, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, and Stephen Burrows – the latter of which was a particularly important presence…
At the time, Burrows was a young Jersey kid who made it big, and one of the first African American designers to sell internationally. His colourful designs were at the heart of the New York City disco scene for both men and women. But suddenly he was about to take on the likes of Yves Saint Laurent with the world watching….
Burrows, who is still out there doing designing and being generally fabulous on Instagram, was especially beloved for his space age colour blocking designs and “lettuce edge” cuts.
The Best And Worst Rock Album Covers From Communist Russia
Before the Iron Curtain rusted away, the Russian pop music scene was as vibrant as a Moscow hooker’s eyeliner. In the gallery of cover art and subjects featured below, look out for moustache power ballads, a human strobe, a Susan Boyle look-alike, the white Michael Jackson (with glove) and a Russian Cliff Richard:
The Song Change That Got Elvis Costello Banned From Saturday Night Live – 1977 In 1977 Elvis Costello changed the SNL schedule and became a legend
An appearance on TV show Saturday Night Live has been a career defining moment for a number of musicians. Sinead O’Connor famously ripped up a photograph of the Pope to draw attention to abuse by the Catholic Church, and found herself on the receiving end of threats of violence and protests. On December 17 1977, it was the turn of Elvis Costello and The Attractions to offend all the right people. When the Sex Pistols were unable to appear on the show as planned, Costello got the call.
Elvis and the band would play Less Than Zero from their recent album My Aim Is True. The song is about the despicable former British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley. In the liner notes to the Rhino edition of the album, Costello writes:
“Less Than Zero was a song I had written after seeing the despicable Oswald Mosley being interviewed on BBC television. The former leader of the British Union of Fascists seemed unrepentant about his poisonous actions of the 1930s. The song was more of a slandering fantasy than a reasoned argument.”
On his first visit to the United States, Costello found that American audiences didn’t understand the song, writing in his 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink: “I’m not sure if anyone in Cleveland had ever heard of Oswald Mosley or gave a damn about him when we played Less Than Zero that night. It was just some rock and roll music with a fashionable-sounding title.”
So here was Costello and his band playing that song on SNL. And not long after it had begun. Costello stopped it. “I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “but there’s no reason to do this song here.” Instead, Costello and the band gave full throat to Radio Radio, a song that takes aim at the commercialization of radio and corporate broadcasting.
I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badlyI want to make them wish they’d never seen me
– Radio Radio, Elvis Costello
It wasn’t until 1989 that Costello was invited to appear again on Saturday Night Live. in 1999, as part of the show’s 25th anniversary celebrations, Costello recalled hat 1977 show by bursting onstage while the Beastie Boys were playing Sabotage and telling them to stop. He and the Beasties then launched into Radio Radio:
“They’ve run that clip forever,” Costello told Details magazine, “and every time anybody does anything outrageous on that show, I get name-checked. But I was copying Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix had done the same thing on the Lulu Show, when he went into an unscheduled number. I remember seeing it and going, ‘What the hell’s going on?’”
INDIE ROCK AND NEW WAVE HITS REIMAGINED AS PULPY 1950S EPHEMERA
There’s a fellow out there named Todd Alcott who has put together an enchanting series of prints reimagining popular songs by some of the most vital musical artists of the 1970s through the 1990s as various graphical items mostly dating from before the rock era—e.g., pulpy paperbacks, “men’s life” mags, lurid sci-fi posters, and so on. They’re quite wonderful and you can procure them for yourself in his Etsy store. Each print will run you £19.78 (about $26) for the smallest size and prices escalate from there.
One endearing thing about Alcott’s images is that they are so clearly driven by the most beloved albums in his own collection—and his taste is excellent! So he transforms multiple songs by King Crimson, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, the Stones, David Bowie while also hitting a bunch of other faves (NIN, Nirvana, Fiona Apple) just the one time.
Alcott told Ayun Halliday of Open Culture that “these are the artists I love, I connect to their work on a deep level, and I try to make things that they would see and think ‘Yeah, this guy gets me.’”
My favorite thing about these pop culture mashups is Alcott’s insistence (usually) on working in as many of the song’s lyrics into the art as possible. That does admittedly make for busy compositions but usually in a way that is very true to the pulp novel conventions or whatnot.
According to his Etsy site, Alcott is also available for custom jobs should inspiration strike you!
Sexual Innuendo in Vintage Comic Panels
PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ‘SUPREME BEATNIK CHICK’ WHO INSPIRED PATTI SMITH
In the early 1950s, a young Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken arrived in Paris to begin his career as a photographer. By day he worked for Magnum, by night—inspired by Weegee’s photographs in Picture Post—Van der Elsken documented the emerging underground youth culture of the city’s Left Bank.
In 1954, Van der Elsken compiled a volume of photographs Love on the Left Bank that followed a young Beatnik girl “Ann” through the gangs of bohemians, musicians and vagabonds who hung around the bars, clubs and flophouses of St Germain-des-Prés. Ann was in fact “played” by Vali Myers—an Australian artist, model, muse and associate of Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet, who Patti Smith later recalled as:
...the supreme beatnik chick—thick red hair and big black eyes, black boatneck sweaters and trench coats.
As described on its first publication in 1956, Love on the Left Bank was “a story in photographs about Paris”—a freeform impressionistic tale of Ann and her life among the “young men and girls who haunt the Left bank”:
They dine on half a loaf, smoke hashish, sleep in parked cars or on benches under the plane trees, sometimes borrowing a hotel room from a luckier friend to shelter their love. Some of them write,or paint, or dance. Ed van der Elsken, a young Dutch photographer, stalked his prey for many months along the boulevards, in the cafés and under the shadow of prison walls. Whatever may happen in real life to Ann and her Mexican lover, their strange youth will be preserved ‘alive’ in this book for many years.
Ed Van der Elsken‘s photographs changed perceptions about youth culture and anticipated the changes a younger generation brought to culture during the 1960s. Love on the Left Bank is available again, having been republished by Dewi Lewis publishers.
CLASSIC HORROR FILMS GET THE VINTAGE COMIC BOOK TREATMENT BY SPANISH ARTIST NACHE RAMOS
‘Long live the new flesh!’ A digital design based on David Cronenberg’s 1983 film ‘Videodrome.’
Outside of the fact that he is a talented artist with a deep love of classic 60s, 70s, and 80s horror, unfortunately, I do not know, nor was I able to dig much up on self-professed “comic enthusiast, music freak, horror lover, and videogame collector” Nache Ramos. But here’s what I do know. Ramos is based in Alcoli (or Alcoy), Spain where he has been a graphic designer and illustrator for over a decade. His art has been used to decorate snowboards made by Wi-Me Snowboards, and for Australian snowboard company Catalyst. In 2018, he won a Guns ‘N’ Roses contest which asked fans of the band (via Twitter), to create artwork based on their 1987 album Appetite for Destruction. Other than well-deserved accolades for his submission, I’m not sure what Ramos got as a prize, but I suppose gaining exposure to G’N'R’s 6+million Twitter followers is very much a good thing. This was also the same year Ramos moved from using traditional artistic mediums to creating his work digitally. This brings me to Nache’s nostalgic interpretations which infuse the look of old-school comic books with Ramos’ love of science fiction and horror films he grew up with.
Like any horror fan worth their VHS collection, Ramos digs the films of director John Carpenter and has created several digitally designed homages to Carpenter’s films in vintage comic book style. Others include David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (pictured at the top of this post), Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Richard Donner’s bone-chilling 1976 film, The Omen. If this all sounds good to you (and it should), Ramos also accepts commissions via his Instagram. You can also pick up very reasonably-priced prints of Ramos’ super-cool fictional movie posters on his Red Bubble page. I myself picked up Nache’s take on Videodrome. Scroll on to see more of Ramos’ fantastic faux-vintage comics.
There are certain things you don’t know you’re missing in life until you’re exposed to them, right? EXP TV just might be one of those things. It’s got an aesthetic that hovers around the same territory as Everything is Terrible! and Vic Berger, it even reminds me of Mike Kelley’s stuff, but that’s only going to get you in the ballpark. Which is good enough, but you just have to click on the link and see for yourself. It’s a barrage of strange imagery and is really quite an inspired—not to say elaborate and work intensive—art project. And just in time for a pandemic. Bored with Netflix? Have enough Amazon Prime? Maxed out on HBO Max? You need to tune in, turn on and drop your jaw to the floor at what’s screening on EXP TV.
EXP TV the brainchild of Tom Fitzgerald, Marcus Herring, Taylor C. Rowley. I asked them a few questions via email.
What is EXP TV? What should someone expect to see when they get there?
EXP TV is a live TV channel broadcasting an endless stream of obscure media and video ephemera from our site at exptv.org. We stream 24/7.
The daytime programming is called “Video Breaks”—a video collage series featuring wild, rare, unpredictable, and ever-changing archival clips touching on every subject imaginable. Similar to how golden era MTV played music videos all day, daytime EXP TV streams non-stop, deep cut video clips filtered through our own distinct POV.
What treasures would reward the loyal Video Breaks viewer? Ventriloquist dummy sales demos, Filipino Pinocchios, LSD trip-induced talking hot dogs, Liberace’s recipe tips, French synth punk, primal scream therapy seminars, Deadhead parking lots, empty parking lots, Israeli sci-fi, scary animatronics, teenage girls’ homemade art films, Belgian hard techno dance instructions, Czech children’s films about UFOs, even Danzig reading from his book collection. And that’s all in just one hour!
We’ve been collecting obscure media for decades, but we’ve sorted through it all and cherry-picked the funny, the bizarre, the relevant, the irrelevant, the visually stunning, the interesting, the infamous, the good, the bad and the fugly. We’ve done all that so the viewers don’t have to. They get to kick back and experience the sweet spot without having to dig for rare stuff themselves or sit through an entire movie waiting for the cool part.
Our Nite Owl programming block features specialty themed video mixes and deep dives on everything under the sun: Bigfoot, underground 80s culture, Italo disco, cults, Halloween hijinks, pre-revolutionary Iranian pop culture, midnight movies, ‘ye ye’ promo films, Soviet sci-fi, reggae rarities, psychedelic animation and local news calamities. On any given night you could watch something like our Incredibly Strange Metal show followed by a conceptual video essay like Pixel Power—our exploration of early CGI art.
"I’ll be your drain tonight.” How’s that for an opening line? Unforgettable? Perverse? And yet somehow... tempting? Keep in mind that it’s being delivered by a man in his early 60s.
By Bob Nickas
Stills from Tonetta’s music videos for “Sweet & Sexy” and “Grandma Knows Best.”
I’ll be your drain tonight.” How’s that for an opening line? Unforgettable? Perverse? And yet somehow… tempting? Keep in mind that it’s being delivered by a man in his early 60s, with a platinum-blond wig screwed to his head as he shakes his moneymaker for the camera in his Toronto apartment. Although the “Dancing With Myself” factor may be precipitous, Billy Idol has nothing on this guy. In his “Grandma Knows Best” video he’s totally buff, squeezed into a little black bikini bottom, with his hair cut short and spiky. His styling decisions are nothing if not deliriously twisted. For “Sweet & Sexy,” his face is obscured by what looks like a white porcelain doll mask. Visual and sonic collisions can be eerily inspired. Dressed in a belted lady’s swimsuit and singing about Jesus, he’s a gnarly Serge Gainsbourg meets a silvery Jeanne Moreau by way of 1960s French yé-yé. Equally cool and disturbing, this is Tonetta, one Tony Jeffrey, an artist, songwriter, performer, and contagious force of nature. In a world of parrots, Tonetta actually lip-synchs to his own lyrics. “What’s a caveman to do?” he wonders. “Eat, drink, and screw/ That’s all I want and all I know/ I was blessed with a ten-inch pole.” While Tonetta has been recording his irresistibly catchy songs since ’83, the videos made at home have only been spilling out over the past two years, quickly finding a devoted if not bewildered cult audience via YouTube. Any artist would give his eyeteeth for the kinds of comments that are regularly showered on Tonetta: “I’ve never had this feeling before… I’m horrified but can’t seem to look away… like a car wreck.” “I’m blasting this and dancing in my underwear! Tonetta connection!!!” The most succinct is also the most undeniable, simply stated: “This cannot be unseen.”
While terms like “creepy” and “scary” come up with some frequency, Tonetta clearly offers something people are missing in their increasingly predictable lives, whether they know it or not, or care to admit. Tonetta’s redefinition of “guilty pleasure” isn’t simply a matter of permission, of allowing an audience to have a good time without any of the attendant and boring remorse: He gives himself permission. In a repressive society, doing exactly what you want is tantamount to the greatest crime of all; the ever-prolific Tonetta, particularly at his age, is a genuine role model, not a goody-goody type like Naomi Campbell or Tiger Woods or even Sir Elton John. When most people are busy rolling over and playing dead, Tonetta jacks up addictive hits like “Drugs Drugs Drugs” and “Yoassismine.” Pull the ninja mask over your head, break out the leather vest, oil up your six-pack, and get ready to wail on that toy guitar. Forget zoning out to a coma in the corporate atrium of MoMA, this is performance art, as messy, invasive, and unrelenting as the day is long. But just when you thought he couldn’t take you higher, there’s more. Tonetta, it turns out, is also an unexpectedly fine draftsman whose frisky imagination is at the service of curious drawings that skim the surface of the unconscious and plumb the depths of the everyday.
It’s also the life work of Marion Stokes, who built an archive of network, local, and cable news, in her home, one tape at a time, recording every major (and trivial) news event until the day she died in 2012 at the age of 83 of lung disease.
Stokes was a former librarian who for two years co-produced a local television show with her then-future husband, John Stokes Jr. She also was engaged in civil rights issues, helping organize buses to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, among other efforts. She began casually recording television in 1977. She taped lots of things, but she thought news was especially important, and when cable transformed it into a 24-hour affair, she began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time.
She’d feed a six-hour tape into the recorders late at night. She’d wake up early the next day to change them (or conscript family members to do the same if she wasn’t home). She’d cut short meals at restaurants to rush home before tapes ended. And when she got too old to keep up, she trained a younger helper named Frank to run the various recording equipment.
But the majority of her days were structured around paying attention to and saving whatever was on the news. “Pretty much everything else took a back seat,” says her son, Michael Metelits. “It provided a certain rhythm to her life, and a certain amount of deep, deep conviction that this stuff was going to be useful. That somehow, someone would find a way to index it, archive it, store it–that it would be useful.”
How many tapes are we talking about? How did that work? How did the family live like that? It’s just an amazing, amazing story.Stokes bought VHS tapes by the dozen. As she recorded, she made stacks so high they would fall over. The project took over several of the apartments she owned. “It was just a logistical nightmare–that’s really the only way to put it,” Metelits says. When people asked her why her home was filled packed with televisions, recorders, and tapes, she’d tell them, “I’m archiving, that’s all.”
Phil Black (1902-1975)
Phil Black (1902-1975) was the promoter of the 'Fancy Dress' Balls at the end of the Harlem Renaissance era; and pioneer Promoter of the 'Funmaker' Ball (from 1944-1975), which continued for several years after his death (in his honor).
Phil Black was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania circa 1902. Details of his early life before he emerged on the nightlife scene remain a mystery.
In 1924, dressed as female (adopting the stage name 'Cora'), Phil Black went to 'Cakewalks' Club with a buddy; and they won first prize as the best couple. Friends told him that he was as good as the professional female impersonators; and the star that would become the infamous Phil "Cora" Black was born. Black started with bookings in the Pittsburgh area; and then joined a touring group, 'Shufflin Sam.' For six years (1927-1933) he played in and around Atlantic City, often as the only African-American member of the troupe.
In 1934, Phil Black was based in New York City; appearing in Greenwich Village and Harlem. The following year, it is believed that Black took the reins as the primary promoter for the infamous 'Hamilton Lodge' Fancy Dress Ball, held in Harlem's 'Rockland Palace Ballroom', the same 'Rockland Palace' that would house Phil Black's famous 'Funmaker's' Ball.
In 1944, Black played Montréal for four months; and, later, in 1948 he is credited with promoting boat rides on the Hudson River. He created the 'Funmaker' Drag Balls (circa 1944). The 'Funmaker' Balls were produced by Black until his death in 1975; popular affairs that were profiled by 'Jet Magazine' in the mid 1950s. His events became the standard for the Voguing Balls; that emerged - in Harlem - around 1972.
This 1960s Documentary Sheds Light on the Dawning of New York’s Drag Scene
It was two years before the Stonewall Riots. The American Medical Association still classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Coming out as gay could mean job loss, social ostracism, or far worse. The whole notion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race or Pose, of millions of people clogging the streets to celebrate Pride, would have seemed like a ridiculous dream, even a cruel joke, a half-century ago.
But passionate desire has a way of surviving—even thriving!—regardless of the odds. So it was that, undaunted, drag performers from all over the country converged in New York City in 1967 to participate in the Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant held at Town Hall. Luckily for us, and for history, the pageant—and the events leading up to it—were filmed, and the result, The Queen, now benefiting from Kino Lorber Repertory’s 4K digital restoration, opens in New York on June 28 at IFC Center and expands nationally afterwards.
The movie was directed by Frank Simon and narrated by Jack Doroshow, aka Flawless Sabrina, who was also the organizer of the pageant. (Sabrina was arrested three times in 1968 while promoting the movie in Times Square.) There’s a rough cinema vérité quality to the film, which went on to be screened at the International Critics’ Week of the 1968 Cannes Film Festival. The contestants, perfectly ordinary-looking men, are transformed with stuffed bras, wigs, chiffon cloaks, evening dresses, and stilettos into living homages to the biggest female stars of the time: Ursula Andress tresses piled high; Barbra Streisand page boys; Diana Ross–manques in a mod mood. We peek backstage as the contestants are getting dressed; we scan the audience for glimpses of the judges, a collection of louche Manhattanites that included Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol, George Plimpton, and Terry Southern, ready to award points for walk, talk, gowns, and even bathing suits.
30 Laughable His-And-Hers Fashions From The 1970s You Wouldn’t Wear In Public Today
The 1970s saw the founding of Apple Computer, Inc., the resignation of President Nixon, and... a lot of his-and-hers matching outfits that would get ridiculed to shreds in the street today. There are only so many belted tank tops and leopard onesies a person can tolerate, and the 70s fashion pushed the boundaries of this limit, for sure.
“Kings Of The Road” by Syd Brak, 1985.
34 years ago, art director Paul Rodriguez of the Athena art retailer company (established in 1964) had an epiphany—and his vision would go on to become the best-selling poster in British history. Shot by photographer Spencer Rowell in London in May of 1986, Rodriguez’s conception of a shirtless male model holding a newborn baby boy, “Man and Baby” (better known as “L’Enfant”) sold five million copies. Rodriguez got rich, Rowell bought himself an airplane and the model, Adam Perry, claimed that the touching yet titular photo got him laid three thousand times. One of Athena’s other superstars was illustrator Syd Brak.
Before relocating to London in 1978, Brak was working as the assistant art director for advertising firm J. Walter Thompson in his birthplace of South Africa. After making the leap to London, Brak’s work caught the attention of Athena in the early 80s. Long before “L’Enfant” became the it image of the 80s, Brak’s 1982 airbrushed “Long Distance Kiss,” would become the number one selling poster in the world. Here’s Brak on his early work with Athena:
The popularity of “Long Distance Kiss” was the first in a kiss-themed series Athena had Brak create to break through to the teenage girl market, who, in Brak’s words, “aspire to maturity and sophistication.” Brak’s glossy, airbrushed images featuring spikey glam rock-colored hair and equally eye-popping David Bowie-esque makeup helped fuel the boundary-pushing looks of the New Romantic movement. They are also reminiscent of looks created by two popular makeup artists from the early 1970s, Pierre La Roche, and legendary Australian makeup artist Richard Sharah—both of whom worked extensively with Bowie, Steve Strange of Visage, Gary Numan, and Toyah. The decade of the 80s belonged to Brak and other airbrush artists, as the medium took over art in that decade, appearing on everything from book covers, to albums, VHS tapes, and of course, posters. Brak was one of the most popular/in-demand artists of the decade. If you are a child of the 80s, Brak’s artwork will be instantly recognizable to you, much like the artwork of Patrick Nagel, intrinsically linked to the neon decade as well.
TRICIA NIXON’S WEDDING TRAVESTIED BY THE COCKETTES, 1971