HILARIOUS & CRINGEWORTHY KNITTED SWEATERS OF THE 1980S
It’s November, and the temperature in my neighborhood in northern Ohio reached 77 just two days ago. It felt like the start of September really, just a lovely day to be outside. Not at all cold.
One of the benefits of the balmy winters brought on by catastrophic climate change is that there’s no risk someone will trick us into donning one of the absolutely amazing sweaters featured in a remarkable book of knitting designs from the fashionable 1980s. Wit Knits, which presented “lively and original” knitted sweater suggestions by George Hostler and Gyles Brandreth, came out in 1986, and the photographs showing off the finished designs are simply jaw-dropping in their silliness.
There’s a website devoted to these pictures, but its proprietor, rightly sensing that the visual impact of these doozies is the primary appeal, therefore “won’t post patterns, buy the book if you want to make them.” Harrumph. The book is, like everything else, available on Amazon.
The really peculiar thing about Wit Knits is that virtually all of the models are well-known figures from 1980s British television. I don’t know how Hostler and Brandreth were able to sucker such famous personages into agreeing to be involved with this, but perhaps it was simply a paid gig like any other. Maybe they got to keep the sweaters?
For instance: I can remember watching, on WNET Channel 13 in New York back around when this book came out, a delightful British show called Good Neighbors (it was known as The Good Life in the U.K.), and Richard Briers, here wearing the light blue sweater with the “wee Scottie” on it, was the lead actor on that show. Meanwhile, Joanna Lumley—then perhaps best known for her stint in The New Avengers, who later became an icon of decadence in Ab Fab—here is shown wearing a ridiculous sweater with a horsey; she also has a different one with what is most likely an owl on it. Lizzie Webb, who presented morning exercise routines on TV, is wearing a sweater with a kittykat on it. Most of the people here are like that.
In 1977, a local musician named Prince Rogers Nelson came to the attention of Minneapolis music agent/manager Owen Husney and his partner Gary Levinson. Upon hearing his music, Husney and Levinson immediately signed the 19 year old to a management contract and set about securing a record deal for the young musician.
To entice photographer Robert Whitman to take photographs of Prince for a press kit aimed at potential record companies, Levinson came by Whitman’s apartment and played him one song on his car stereo... an early version of “Soft and Wet.” Husney and Levinson then booked Prince into the Sound 80 Studios to work on recording a demo and Whitman came on board to make photographs of this young artist, who would one day become one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.
These photographs were created during three separate photoshoots that Whitman made of Prince during 1977. Whitman photographed Prince in his Minneapolis studio, Owen Husney’s Linden Hills Boulevard home and on the street of downtown Minneapolis, including in front of the mural of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony painted on the side of the Schmitt’s Music store.
These pictures, Prince’s first with a professional photographer, mark an instrumental moment in his career. The creation of the style and persona that has come to define the artist known as PRINCE.
These Rarely Seen Photos of Early Pride Parades Capture a Shifting Movement
By Wilder Davies
June 28, 2019 11:43 AM EDT
Amid the flurry of rainbow-laden corporate logos, sponsored events and news items about gay penguins, it is difficult to turn on a television or set foot in public during June without the reminder that it is Pride Month for LGBT and queer people. This week, New York City is hosting WorldPride in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, with an estimated 4 million visitors expected to participate. Pride has come a long way since its more radical origins, when marchers numbered in the thousands, corporations were far from getting the memo and the stakes in general felt higher.
But there is much to be gleaned from remembering how it once was. George Dudley, a photographer and artist who also served as the first director of New York City’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, documented scenes from pride parades in New York City from the late 1970s through the early ‘90s. His images of queer and trans people parading down the streets of Manhattan illustrate an ebullient and joyous atmosphere that feels not too dissimilar from scenes at pride parades today. The circumstances his subjects faced in their daily lives, however, were profoundly different.
Dudley made the photos in this collection during pride parades between 1976 and 1981. Unlike much of the publicly available photography taken at the first pride parade in 1970 and those that followed, these images were made not by a disinterested photojournalist but by someone deeply entrenched in the community. As a result, the photographs feel warm and intimate. They present the parade not as a newsworthy spectacle but as a gathering of people making themselves visible at a time when the world at large was not interested in seeing them.
If a James Brown T Shirt is good enough for James Brown, then it’s good enough for us. However we’re not sure that wearing a Jethro Tull T shirt did drive girls wild with desire in the seventies.
Here we have a draw full of T shirts from the past. From a Drac-tastic Christopher Lee-Tee that you could wear to scare your friends to a T shirt that you could wear to show the world how much you love Weetabix.
Kabukicho is an entertainment and red-light district situated in the busy Tokyo area of Shinjuku. At night the streets are buzzing with neon lights, as the host and hostess bars and clubs come to life. Meanwhile, in the criminal underworld, around a thousand gangsters (Yakuza) are said to operate in the area, giving this spot the nickname the ‘Sleepless Town’.
During the 1960s and ’70s, one curious photographer named Watanabe Katsumi prowled the streets while taking pictures of Yakuza, the pimps and the prostitutes who called Kabukicho their home.
Watanabe made his living by selling these photographs to his subjects, offering three prints for 200 yen—roughly around a dollar back then. A modest gentleman, Watanabe had a keen sensitivity to the natural posturing of his subjects, which allowed them to uninhibitedly reveal their identities. He saw Kabukicho as a stage, and his photographs document the performers. Here is a collection of images from his volume titled The Gangs of Kabukicho.
Sylvia Rivera, Latinx stonewall activist, is getting a monument in New York
50 years later, the city apologizes to the pioneers of the LGBTQ revolution.
This coming June 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the seed of what is now celebrated as the Pride Parade and Pride Month.
It was in that bar in Greenwich, Manhattan (NY), that the first major civil rights protest by the LGBT+ community took place after the New York police made one of their usual raids against LGBT+ youth.
That night, the lead faces of the resistance against the police forces were two transgender activists: the African-American Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who had Latinx roots.
The two women were committed to social causes since they had experienced extreme poverty, lived on the streets of New York, and had suffered for most of their lives from violence, police abuse, and discrimination even within the gay community itself due to their skin color, cultural identity, and even their way of dressing.
Now, 50 years after the LGBT+ fight for equal rights started, the state of New York organized WorldPride throughout the month of June, to celebrate the diversity and commemorate all of those who fought in Stonewall.
As part of the celebration, the state of New York raised the pride flag in the State Capitol for the first time in history — a challenging action since Trump administration banned the rainbow flag in all the U.S. embassies around the world.
And while Trump also bans transgender people from serving their country in the Armed Forces, New York announced they will build two statues in honor of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Hilarious Stock Photos From The 1970s
If you think that today's stock photos look staged or funny, wait till you see what they looked like in the 1970s! The photos by stock photo pioneer H. Armstrong Roberts give us a unique glimpse into the past. He founded one of the first major stock photography agencies in 1920, and it continues today under the name RobertStock.
The Great Blues Singer Gladys Bentley Broke All the Rules
For the Smithsonian’s Sidedoor podcast, host Haleema Shah tells the story of an unapologetically gay African-American performer in 1920s and 30s
March 14, 2019
In 1934, a midtown Manhattan nightclub called King’s Terrace was padlocked by the police after an observer complained of the “dirty songs” performed there.
The after-theater club near Broadway was where a troupe of “liberally painted male sepians with effeminate voices and gestures” performed behind entertainer Gladys Bentley, who was no less provocative for early 20th-century America. Performing in a signature white top hat, tuxedo and tails, Bentley sang raunchy songs laced with double-entendres that thrilled and scandalized her audiences.
And while the performance of what an observer called a “masculine garbed smut-singing entertainer” led to the shutdown of King’s Terrace, Bentley’s powerful voice, fiery energy on the piano and bold lyrics still made her a star of New York City nightclubs.
Her name doesn’t have the same recognition as many of her Harlem Renaissance peers, in part, because the risqué nature of her performances would have kept her out of mainstream venues, newspapers and history books. Today though, Bentley’s story is resurfacing and she is seen as an African-American woman who was ahead of her time for proudly loving other women, wearing men’s clothing and singing bawdy songs.
Years before Gladys Bentley performed in midtown Manhattan, she arrived in Harlem around 1925. After leaving her hometown of Philadelphia as a teenager, she arrived in New York during the Harlem Renaissance and was absorbed into a vibrant artistic and intellectual community.
Who Was Flo Kennedy? Learn All About the Fiery Black Feminist and Civil Rights Activist
Bridging the worlds of Black Power and Women’s Liberation, the flamboyant and fierce Florynce “Flo” Kennedy became a catalyst for change through her tireless activism and legal finesse.
02.09.2021 by Hannah Militano
Merging the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements, the vivacious, cause-driven activist and lawyer Florynce “Flo” Kennedy brought new meaning to intersectional feminism, embodying genuine inclusion like no one before her. Known for her incendiary wit and eccentric style, she was typically seen in her signature cowboy hats, playful peace sign earrings, and statement sunglasses as she spoke out against the discrimination and mistreatment of marginalized communities with a backbone that defied convention. Ahead of the late activist’s birthday this week, L’OFFICIEL looks back on the unsung feminist hero’s significant contributions to social justice.
As one of the first Black women to graduate from Columbia Law School in 1951, she didn’t get there without a fight. When she was initially refused admission by the university, she was assured that it was not due to her race, but to her gender. After threatening to sue, she was accepted and went on to be one of a mere eight women in her graduating class, and the only Black woman. She once wrote on the subject, “I find that the higher you aim, the better you shoot.”
Three years after graduating, Kennedy opened her own law firm, eventually representing jazz artists Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker to reclaim funds withheld by record companies. Although the attorney won her cases, she became disenchanted with practicing law, pondering the extent of its means to make an impact on society. Going on to represent civil rights leader H. Rap Brown and members of the Black Panther Party, Kennedy began to shift gears towards political activism. This transformation from corporate lawyer to political revolutionary came naturally to Kennedy, who, in her youth, once organized a boycott against a Coca-Cola bottler who refused to hire Black drivers.
By 1966, the activist founded the Media Workshop as a means to combat racism in advertising and journalism. Implementing her legal finesse, Kennedy went as far as filing a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church for interfering with women’s reproductive rights. Shortly after, she organized a faction of feminist lawyers to challenge whether or not New York State’s abortion laws were constitutional, causing a more progressive shift in the law the following year. Also known for coordinating less conventional demonstrations, Kennedy is credited with spearheading the “Great Harvard Pee-In of 1973” where protestors poured jars of their urine on the steps of the university’s historic Lowell Hall to call attention to its lack of female restrooms.
In 1971, the renegade founded the Feminist Party, which would go on to back the pivotal Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm for president. Lecturing across the country with speaking partner Gloria Steinem, Kennedy was known for bringing white feminists to Black power conventions, integrating the movements of Black Power, Women’s Liberation, and gay rights, to work together as one, bringing new perspectives to a variety of intersectional issues.
A founding member of the National Organization for Women and the National Black Feminist Organization, People magazine once dubbed the political pioneer, “the biggest, loudest and, indisputably, the rudest mouth on the battleground” of progessive causes. During press conferences with Steinem, Kennedy would always call into question why reporters would relegate questions on women’s rights to Steinem, and questions regarding racial discrimination to herself, noting their divisive nature. Whenever the two were posed with the ignorant question of whether or not they were lesbians, simply because they were two women speaking out for gender equality, Kennedy would quip back, “Are you my alternative?”
Who can forget Glamour Shots- that huge (albeit scary) trend of the '90s- feathers, soft lighting, huge hair, overdone makeup, and lots of satin gloves. Glamour Shots were dominated by big hair and bare shoulders, and in an era of way too much hairspray and truly horrible prom dresses, it was hard to look good. They offer anyone a chance to look as glamorous as a movie star, however the results of these "make-over" sessions are often unintentionally hilarious
Who can forget Glamour Shots- that huge (albeit scary) trend of the '90s- feathers, soft lighting, huge hair, overdone makeup, and lots of satin gloves.
Glamour Shots were dominated by big hair and bare shoulders, and in an era of way too much hairspray and truly horrible prom dresses, it was hard to look good. They offer anyone a chance to look as glamorous as a movie star, however the results of these "make-over" sessions are often unintentionally hilarious!
Remember the bad photos you got from Olan Mills and other photography studios back in the 1970s and ’80s? What background would you use? The autumn leaves, the southern grove or the fake library with all the books, that was the worst
ON 1970S LEE JEANS LION HEAD ADVERTS
“Lee can change your image” they certainly can, especially if you’re wearing a huge scary lion mask. These six adverts come from an advertising campaign from the Jeans company in 1971. We’re not sure where the idea for the adverts came from, however we guess it must of been an interesting day at the office when they came up with the idea.
Modern music is littered with tales of bands who never quite realised the success they were due and arguably most of the records played on the Rare Soul scene are the sound of broken dreams; recording artists who started off with high hopes but were denied commercial success for one reason or another. Here we are going to look at an artist and band who never had massive commercial success at the time but have since been sampled over 70 times and have become a huge part of hip-hop folklore.
The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend is an album released in 1971 on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label (named after label owners Curtis Mayfield and Eddie Thomas the manager of Mayfield’s band The Impressions) but which never troubled the charts and sunk without trace only to be rediscovered years later by the nascent hip-hop scene and has since been sampled across dozens of releases. The story leading up to the release of the album is one we wanted to share and is ultimately one of broken dreams.
Baby Huey started life in Richmond, Indiana in August 1944 as James Thomas Ramey. His early years are unremarkable except for suffering from a glandular disorder that seriously affected his weight to such an extent that he weighed 25 stone (350 pounds) when he was in his late teens.
In 1962, 18 year old James Ramey moved to Chicago and adopted the stage name Baby Huey (an enormous and naïve cartoon duckling popular in the US during the 1950s). He hooked up with guitarist Johnny Ross and keyboard maestro (and trumpeter) Melvyn ‘Deacon’ Jones and the trio started a band calling themselves Baby Huey and the Babysitters. The band became popular on the local Chicago live music scene with their energetic performances making them stand out. It was said Baby Huey could move on-stage like James Brown which is no mean feat for anyone let alone someone of his size. In addition, he was by all accounts, a really good band leader in terms of controlling and organising the band. They managed four single releases in the early 60s – ‘Beg Me’, ‘Monkey Man’, ‘Messin’ with the Kid’ and ‘Just Being Careful’. The band though were more noted for their live performances and with Baby Huey’s impressive (and barefoot!) stage presence they stood out as an exciting and mesmerising live band.
FRANK ZAPPA, SERIAL KI$#ERS AND THE ALL-GIRL DANCE TROUPE L.A. KNOCKERS
I’ve learned many things here writing for Dangerous Minds—one that there is always more to a picture than meets the eye. Which is why I took it upon myself to find out more about mid-70s all-girl dance troupe/cabaret act, L.A. Knockers. Their act was a fan favorite in the Los Angeles club scene where you could find the girls performing at The Starwood, The Troubadour, The Comedy Store, The Matrix Theater, and the Playboy Club. The shows curated exclusively for the Playboy Club included a strange sounding sixed-up comedic version of a 1978 medley by The Village People, “The Women” featuring members of the Knockers dressed as John Travolta (in Saturday Night Fever mode), Dracula, Superman, King Kong and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. And that was just for starters.
The members of L.A. Knockers would grow through the dozen or so years they were together and they performed all over the country to packed houses, but most often in Las Vegas and Reno. Knockers’ principal choreographer Jennifer Stace would bring the dance-magic to the group as did choreographer, Marilyn Corwin. Corwin worked her disco moves with The Village People, for the movie, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) and with Frank Zappa during some of his live performances. The Knockers caught the eye of Zappa, who, according to an article published in 1981 in Italian magazine L’Espresso, wanted to take the Knockers on tour with him, a claim that perhaps at first sounded like it had no legs, but it much like the Knockers, actually did. On New Year’s Eve in 1976, Zappa played a show at the Forum in Los Angeles which included members of the L.A. Knockers dressed like babies in diapers and white afro wigs. Hey, even Frank Zappa thought they were cool as f, which, without question, they were.
Any story worth reading must include a twist, and this is where the part about the Hillside Stranglers, the horrific serial killers and cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, comes in. Twenty-one-year-old Lissa Kastin, an original member of L.A. Knockers would become Bianchi and Buono’s third victim. In 1985’s The Hillside Stranglers by Darcy O’Brien, the author notes that Kastin was not “an attractive enough victim” for the degenerate cousins who were put off by her “health nut looks” and “unshaved legs.” In some true crime circles, Kastin would be referred to as “the ugly girl” among the Hillside Stranglers’ female body count thanks to a photo used by the newspapers—an image that looked almost nothing like the young, rising star.
Below are some incredible photos taken by Elisa Leonelli which lovingly chronicle the L.A. Knockers’ decade-plus career in showbiz as well as a compilation video of the troupe performing live which you simply must see. Some of the images which follow are slightly NSFW.
How punk and reggae fought back against racism in the 70s
Syd Shelton’s photographs capture the Rock Against Racism movement that confronted racism in 70s and 80s Britain.
When Syd Shelton returned to London in 1977 after fours years living in Australia, he was shocked at how much things had changed. "The recession had really hit and the Callaghan government had attacked living standards for working people - very similar to what's happening right now," he explains. "Whenever that happens, there's always a rise of something like the National Front." Syd was desperate to fight against the hatred and was lucky to meet one of campaign group Rock Against Racism's founders, Red Saunders. Before long he was their unofficial photographer and designer for their newspaper/zine Temporary Hoarding. With an exhibition of his work from that period opening up at Rivington Place next month, we caught up with Syd to hear about some of Britain's most tribal and transformative times.
Vintage High School Photos of Celebrities
William Dorsey Swann - First Drag Queen
It’s a little before 11 PM on April 12th, 1888 in downtown Washington DC. President Grover Cleveland has just finished up a speech on what will become American Somoa, his wife Frances is already asleep, and, four blocks east, at the intersection of F and 12th Street, thirty Black, gay men are having a party. It’s William Dorsey Swann’s thirtieth birthday, or “The Queen,” as her friends call her drag persona, and everyone has come in their finest silks. Swann leads the dancing. His friends, near nude, sing along, but all reverie comes to a halt when the DC police show up. Before cops can get in, The Queen throws herself in front of the door, barricading the entrance and resisting arrest. Her terrified friends flee through the back or throw themselves out second-story windows. When all is over, twelve have been taken in, including Swann, and up to four hundred people have risen out of bed to gawk at these men in long wigs as they’re marched down to the police station. Their names will be pu
blished in the paper tomorrow, but journalists will bear no mention of how Swann has just become the first person to take physical action in the name of queer liberation. She has begun a hundred-years long legacy of queer activists, all building off the back of The Queen as she stands in the doorway, protecting her loved ones, yelling “you is no gentleman.”
F and 12th is a Walgreens now, but before the superstore, before Stonewall, before Rupaul publicly decimated Jimmy Fallon for calling him a drag queen, there was William Dorsey Swann, the very first “Queen of Drag.” Born around 1858, the fifth of thirteen children, Swann began his life enslaved on a plantation in Hancock, Maryland. After the Emancipation Act of 1862, Swann’s family purchased a farm in Washington County. Migrating toward DC in the 1880s, Swann carved out a community for himself, all Black, gay men, many drag artists, but Swann was the architect, the first to give “drag queens” their name.
During this time, female impersonation was seen as an offshoot of blackface minstrel shows. Audience members could easily make the jump from mocking Black men to mocking Black women, and White men were known to dress up as African American women and perform “wench” songs. So it’s particularly noteworthy that Swann, a Black man, would have such power over the styles of a genre largely dedicated to perpetrating racist stereotypes against him. He designed costumes for iconic DC drag queens like Alden Garrison and Louise “Mother” Diggs.
Swann’s drag balls took place at members’ houses, many of whom worked for wealthy White families during the day. Because he suspected informants within the scene, the venue would often change at the last minute, and invites were given out in secret at the local YMCA. Raids were a constant in the DC drag scene.
45 Crazy Covers From “Hara Kiri”, the Magazine So ‘Stupid and Nasty’ That Was Banned by the French Government
In 1960, Georges Bernier and François Cavanna created the monthly satirical magazine Hara Kiri. The magazine, specifically the covers, are insane. Art directed by Fred Aristidès, it’s perverse, bizarre and still shocking fifty years on.
The magazine was one of a few magazines published back in the early 1960s that helped further along the proliferation of adult-oriented satire magazines like its American counterparts MAD and National Lampoon. Since the European outlook on humor was, let’s say, much more “open-minded” than in the U.S., Hara Kiri was able to blaze a trail bound straight for the gutter when it came to its unique brand of depraved comedic imagery.
Hara-Kiri editions, subtitled “Journal bête et méchant” (“Stupid and nasty newspaper”), were constantly aiming at established powers, be they political parties or institutions like the Church or the State. In 1961 and 1966 the monthly magazine was temporarily banned by the French government.
Take a look back at Chicago's Tri-Taylor neighbourhood in 1971
Take a look back at Chicago's Tri-Taylor neighbourhood in 1971
TUE 11TH DEC 2018
Chicago has long been infamous for gang culture and crime, from Al Capone to the present day the second city has often been riddled with violence and fear. But what can sometimes be missed is the humanity between those flashing moments of infamy.
One such place which battled this juxtaposing seem which tied up the city was the Tri-Taylor neighbourhood. Located on Chicago’s Near West Side the area was famed for its gang culture which existed not only in the wealth of poverty but in the throes of gang turbulence.
In 1971, just a short time before the area was due to be demolished one man took his camera around the dangerous streets and captured is joy, its despair, and its life.
Lou Fourcher was a graduate student in 1971 as he took to the streets armed with his camera while participating in the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Valley Project. His son, Mike, reported to Lee Bey: “He was a fish out of water in this neighbourhood,” Flashbak points out. “He told me many times that he got most of the pictures because he managed to talk a local gang leader into walking him around. I think the work he did at the clinic, the Valley Project, was an inspiration for him, since he later went on to run non-profit health , like Erie Family Health Center in Humboldt Park and New City Health Center in Englewood.”
Take a look at some revealing images of an area that most people would know as simply ‘The Valley’.
100+ Vintage Japanese Movie Monsters That Will BLOW YOU AWAY With Their Fabulousness
BY JAMES ST. JAMES ON AUGUST 20, 2018 12:18 PM
I don’t know, I don;t know… You could pair ANY of these outfits with a stunty little wig and some 301s and you’ve got a FABULOUS look for DragConNYC… Just sayin’.
From 'Dreamgirls' to 'Abbot Elementary,' Sheryl Lee Ralph isn't leaving the spotlight
From 'Dreamgirls' to 'Abbot Elementary,' Sheryl Lee Ralph isn't leaving the spotlight
March 23, 20234:37 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
She was the first to play the role of Deena Jones in the original production of "Dreamgirls" on Broadway...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAMGIRLS")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As The Dreams, singing) We're your dreamgirls. Boys, we'll make you happy.
SUMMERS: ...The second Black woman to win an Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SHERYL LEE RALPH: I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like. This is what striving looks like. And don't you ever, ever give up on you.
SUMMERS: ...And earlier this year, the third to perform "Lift Every Voice And Sing" at the Super Bowl.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
RALPH: (Singing) Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
SUMMERS: It's kind of hard to imagine that about 15 years ago, actor and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph had considered walking away from show business. Opportunities had seemed to dry up. She was focusing on her family life. But then she tells the story about a chance run-in with a casting director who told her to get back in the game and remember who she is.
RALPH: You know, the reason I tell people you've got to believe in yourself is for that time, I stopped believing in me. I stopped believing in my ability.
SUMMERS: I spoke to Sheryl Lee Ralph about how she rediscovered her ability and where it's led her, starting with how it felt to perform at the Super Bowl live.
RALPH: Oh, my God. First of all, it's like being in the Colosseum. This is like being in the middle of this massive gathering of human beings and just them, the 70,000 of them in that one space. There's almost a deafening din, you know, that sound. And I got up there and sang my song. And I loved the moment. I loved the moment.
SUMMERS: You know, I was a bit surprised to hear you talk about almost stepping away from the business in the early 2000s. I mean, I'm in my 30s. And I have to say, you were a primetime TV staple for people like me and my friends as Dee Mitchell, the mother to Brandy's character on "Moesha" for six seasons. So I'd love to know a bit more about what made you consider stepping out of the spotlight then.
RALPH: You know what? It's so - it was so strange. I had gone through a divorce, and I was definitely going through that, and my children - you know, you want to keep your children stable. And for some reason, after "Moesha," things just kind of slowed down. And I thought, well, you know, maybe this is where I quit. And, you know, I'll be that person, you know, the one that used to be. And I had that fateful run-in with the casting director who said, you know, you've obviously forgotten who you are. And I was really - I was like, wow. Wow. But the moment I doubled down and started to believe in myself and dreamed bigger dreams for myself and put in the work towards making those things happen, wow, everything is very different, very different.
Stars With Cars
Was Diane Arbus the Most Radical Photographer of the 20th Century?
A new biography and Met exhibit show how she sacrificed her marriage, her friendships, and eventually her life for her career as an artist living on the edge.
By Alex Mar
In 1956, Diane Arbus was 33 but still child-faced and quiet, girlish in a pageboy cut and Peter Pan collars. She was married to the man she’d met at 13 in Russeks, the massive fur store: Diane, the daughter of the wealthy Jewish owners, growing up on Central Park West; Allan, the city-college dropout five years her senior, working a menial job in the shop’s ad department. The pair had since transformed themselves into a duo of fashion photographers, shooting for magazines from Vogue to Harper’s Bazaar for nearly a decade. In a series for Glamour dubbed “Mr. and Mrs. Inc.,” they were profiled as an adorable working couple: The accompanying image shows Allan staring straight at the viewer, while Diane, her hair curled into a flip, eyes downcast, leans her head against his cheek. After long hours in the studio, she’d hurry home to cook dinner for her husband and their two young daughters.
But Diane was growing dissatisfied. She dreamt up the concepts for their shoots — then spent her days handling the models, pinning their clothes in place, a role even Allan admitted was “demeaning.” Besides, she’d begun asking herself, what could she possibly learn by posing a person in borrowed clothes, inserting them as a human fill-in-the-blank into some art director’s fantasy?
Allan had given his wife her first camera after their honeymoon, and slowly, steadily, Diane was developing an independent relationship to photography. She wanted to work in a more intimate way, far less tame and composed. On one assignment that spring, after a day spent posing little girls on a swing set for Vogue, Diane stepped back. Raising her voice only slightly, she made an announcement: “I can’t do it anymore. I’m not going to do it anymore.” She was done with the contained environment of the studio; she needed to move out into the world.
Diane committed herself to wandering New York City with her 35mm Nikon, following strangers down the street or lying in wait in doorways until she saw someone she felt compelled to photograph. This was the onset of a lifelong addiction to experience, which would feed her and consume her in equal measure. Around this time, she asked her husband to develop a roll of film, and she labeled the negatives’ glassine sleeve with a fine black marker: “#1.”
We label things in private as a promise to ourselves. We number things as an act of imagination — not unlike the way the Dutch mapped a grid of 12 avenues and 155 streets onto the mostly empty island of Manhattan. #1 — the beginning of something.
Kira Roessler – Bass Player, Roadie, Fan, Academy Award Winner
Kira Roessler might not view herself as a groundbreaker and even downplays the fact that she has been paving the way for women in male-dominated fields for most of her adult life. She is a bass player, singer, and songwriter and is best known for her work with Black Flag and Dos. During the period that she was the bass player for Black Flag, she was also attending UCLA and majoring in Economics and Engineering. She has since gone on to become an Emmy Award-winning dialogue editor and part of an Oscar-winning team.
Kira was born in Connecticut and started taking classical piano lessons at six years old. Her older brother Paul also took lessons, and being three years older than Kira was better. Kira, who is competitive, became frustrated and quit.
When Kira was 14, her brother’s progressive rock band lost their bass player, and Kira was determined to replace him. She was able to borrow a bass and practiced 6-10 hours a day (six on school days and ten on weekends). She even kept a log. She was never good enough, but when she was 15, Paul discovered punk rock through friends of his who were in a band called The Germs. So she followed Paul into the vortex.
Kira and her brother moved into a house with a garage converted into a rehearsal space. They jammed with people and started their own punk rock band. They went to gigs and met other people who played. Kira’s first gig was at age 16 at the Whisky A Go-Go. By the time Kira joined Black Flag in 1983 (replacing founding member Chuck Dukowski), she had played in several bands in Los Angeles.
When Kira joined Black Flag, she had already completed three years of her BS degree at UCLA. She informed the band that she needed to finish, but that she would take quarters off school to tour. It took her two years to complete her last year at UCLA because Black Flag did four US tours and one European tour in ’84 and ’85. It was madness. Kira would literally get dropped off from the tour at UCLA for classes. It seemed like every time the band was recording; she was studying for midterms or finals. So when she would drop to the floor exhausted from playing, she would get the books out.
As with many musicians on the road, Kira faced some difficulties. The hardest part about the touring for her was her right hand. She suffered an injury a week into joining Black Flag that never really healed. When the gigs were over, you could find her backstage with her hand in an ice bucket. She never let the injury stop her, but it certainly made her grumpy at times. The second hardest part of touring for Kira was the feeling that life is going on without you back home and the lack of stability. Relationships of any sort were affected, and there was no ‘home’ when she got back. She concludes this is why she’s a relative “homebody” now.
Kira’s tenure and life on the road with Black Flag ended with the 1985 tour. With only two gigs left on the tour, she called home and found out that a tour had been scheduled in the fall concurrently when she was to be attending UCLA to complete her degree. She knew at that point that she was going to be asked to leave. When the band returned home, she was indeed asked to leave.
Kira was featured on five of Black Flag’s studio albums. She left the band at the conclusion of In My Head Tour and graduated from UCLA in 1986. After Black Flag, she went on to form the two-bass duo Dos with Mike Watt, whom she was married to from ‘87 – ‘92. She contributed songs to the Minutemen’s final album and now works as a dialog editor, recently being part of an Oscar-winning sound editing team for work on Mad Max: Fury Road.
You May Be Cool but You’ll never be Cordell Jackson “the Rockin’ Granny” Cool
NOVEMBER 21, 2018
Somewhere in between Willie Nelson and Jimi Hendrix was Cordell Jackson, an American musician thought to be the first woman to produce, engineer, arrange and promote music on her own rock and roll music label. She was making music reminiscent of the Velvet Underground before the world was even introduced to rock & roll. The Mississippi-born, ballgown-wearing guitarist played with more energy than any Indie band worth their salt today, and during live performances, Cordell would strum on her guitar so fast that she would often break her guitar picks by the end of the song. At the height of her career, she appeared on David Letterman and MTV news and became known as “rock-and-roll granny”.
Jackson started playing the guitar at the age of 12 in a bible belt town where “girls didn’t play guitar”. She began writing her own songs in her 20s after moving to Memphis, the capital of rock & roll. “They didn’t have a name for “rock & roll then”, Cordell later told MTV news in 1989. “I just always played it fast”.
In the 1960s and ’70s, she worked with local artists, dipping into gospel and releasing a compilation album of her ’50s rock recordings. In 1983 she came out with an instrumental LP on her label, Moon Records, called “Knockin’ Sixty.” Jackson became something of an icon on the Memphis music scene. She lived in a yellow house and drove a yellow car and opened up her house for tours every summer. Her first music video, which helped her gain nationwide fame, was filmed at that very house.
Jackson’s Moon Records label was the oldest continuously operating label in Memphis at the time of her death in 2004. It’s never too late to rock out with this forgotten music legend, so give Cordell Jackson a search– you can find her on Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major platforms. She plays from her soul and is … how shall we say– the bomb-diggity.
1990s Teenagers and Their Bedrooms Walls