This is guaranteed to be the best thing you will see all day or double—no triple—your money back…
In nearly every Toho film that Mothra has appeared in, two tiny little girl fairies, immortal beings called the Shōbijin, appear as well. They are psychically connected to and try to spread the positive environmental message of Mothra, fierce protector of the Earth.
What usually happens is that the Shōbijin get kidnapped. They sing a song called “Mosura No Uta”—not quite as well known as the Doctor Who theme to sci-fi geeks, but CLOSE—that will summon Mothra to rescue them and fuck up a lot of Tokyo in the process. Later “Fairy Mothra” was created from a little piece of the kaiju Mothra, to be the bodyguard and transportation for the Shobijin. Or something like that…
In the early Mothra films, the Shōbijin were portrayed by The Peanuts, identical twin Japanese pop stars Emi and Yumi Ito. Because their voices were so very, very similar, when they sang together there was a natural sort of “reverb” effect to their harmonies. They recorded an English album with covers of “California Dreamin” and “Proud Mary.” They were also featured on The Ed Sulivan Show.
This clip comes from the 1964 Toho film Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster. The Mothra fairies appear on TV show called “What Are They Doing Now?” performing this wistful little number titled “Why Are You Weeping, Happiness?”
As a fan of both disco music and cult cinema I was surprised to never have heard of this, and now I’m wondering if any of our readers have seen it? In case your memory needs jogging, it stars Casey Kasem and some dude called Fabian, and a lot of the action seems to revolve around a discotheque which is onboard a jumbo jet. Here’s the original trailer for further investigation (this film may just be so bad it’s good, or it may just be so bad):
San Francisco Bay Area hip-hop media/political activist Davey D recently brought together veteran comedians Dick Gregory and Paul Mooney for an interview on his OLMNews show. The result is a rare treat of an hour with two of the fucking funniest septugenarians ever.
Most of us recognize Mooney from his “Ask a Black Dude” and “Negrodamus” skits from Chapelle’s Show, but the man’s work goes way back. Before those appearances, he was best known as Richard Pryor’s writer for albums like Live on the Sunset Strip and Bicentennial N****r, and Pryor’s two TV shows in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Mooney also wrote for Good Times, Sanford and Son and In Living Color, for which he created the character of Homey D. Clown.
By intertwining his political activism with his comedy, Gregory became the pre-eminent black comedian that boomers could call their own. After sweating it out through the ‘50s on the black club circuit, Gregory got his first break appearing at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in Chicago in 1961. He released a dozen albums and a clutch of books throughout the decade before putting his career on hold to dive into advocacy for a ton of causes and eventually a Presidential run for the Freedom and Peace Party. He’s recently made a welcome comeback onto the stand-up scene.
Watching these two conspiratorially minded cats is a pure joy, especially with Mooney’s infectious laugh in the air. Topics include: Obama and change; King Kong and In the Heat of the Night; stereotypes & minstrelsy; Bruce Lee and Sarah Lee; the Oscars and Denzell Washington; Herman Cain and the Federal Reserve; Snow White & child labor; Men in Black, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and shape-shifting; Jimmy the Greek; Christians, guilt & the Eucharist in the black church; black spending power; and “white folks are nervy.”
During a high school theatre outing to New York in 1981, I managed to sneak away for a while to buy a few punk-rock records in the East Village. Walking down St. Mark’s Place, I saw a guy sporting the most outrageously high bleach-blond pompadour I’d ever seen. He was wearing a pink Teddy Boy suit and pink brothel creeper shoes. His companion was a busty blonde who looked like Dolly Parton, and dressed just like her, too. Even in the context of New York at that time, they were two groovy, glamorous celebrities from the future.
A few weeks later, I saw a photo of the flamboyantly dressed duo by Amy Arbus in the Village Voice, which must have been shot on the day that I saw them because they were wearing the same clothes. His name was John Sex and hers was Katy K. His profession was listed as “lounge singer/male stripper” and she was a fashion designer (Katy K did – and maybe still does – make stage clothes for Dolly Parton).
By the early 80s, the myth of Warhol and the sexy, druggy, doomed denizens who were his Factory’s superstars had spread pretty much everywhere, even to the remotest redneck corners of America (like my West Virginia hometown). For a certain type of kid, what they imagined Andy Warhol’s social life to be provided the impetus to move to New York City and reinvent themselves like the people in the photograph, who were associated with Club 57, a nightclub in the basement of a church where all the young art-school types hung out. They seemed like the second generation, drawn in by that Warhol myth but doing their own things.
East Village painters, musicians, performance artists, filmmakers, clothing designers and DJs had a second home at Club 57, run by Susan Hannaford, Tom Scully and performance artist Ann Magnuson, who was the manager, “den mother” and today the most emblematic person of that time and place. This trio provided an artsy/campy playground for the neighborhood misfits; Club 57 was a Fellini-esque salon for art shows, demented parties and elaborate DIY theme nights done on the cheap. The inspirations for the kooky neo-Dada Club 57 gestalt were things like The Sonny & Cher Show, kids TV shows, monster movies, 60s fashion, New Wave music and of course, Andy Warhol, its patron saint.
By the time I got to New York in 1984, Club 57 was gone, replaced by bigger clubs like Area and Danceteria, but the people who were a part of that scene still ruled New York nightlife. If you were at a party or art opening and people like Keith Haring, John Sex, Ann Magnuson, Joey Arias, Kenny Scharf, Fred Schneider and Jean-Michel Basquiat were there too, you knew you were in the right spot – they were the downtown royalty of the time. Within a few years, however, Hollywood had come calling for some and art-world fame and fortune for others. Then the ravages of AIDS truly ended the era.
Some 25 years later, museums are starting to catalogue and preserve the East Village 80s for posterity. A huge exhibition of paintings, photographs, sculptures, posters, party invitations, costumes and more, culled from the personal collections of Ann Magnuson, Kenny Scharf, Joey Arias, Howie Pyro and others – and curated jointly by Magnuson and Scharf – opened at the Royal/T gallery in Los Angeles in late 2011. Magnuson and Scharf are currently trying to figure out where the exhibition will travel next.
Richard Metzger: Nightlife scenes rarely form out of thin air; how did Club 57 come together?
Kenny Scharf: Keith Haring, John Sex (then known simply as John McLaughlin), Drew Straub and I were basically wandering the streets in the middle of the day, students at the School of Visual Arts. After having a 50¢ drink at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, we went next door to Club 57 and saw a great jukebox, so we stayed. When the music began, Ann appeared from behind the bar – yes, a bar serving alcohol at a youth club under a church – and we all started wildly go-go dancing. Thus our immediate bond began!
Ann Magnuson: The core Club 57 crowd definitely cohered in the church basement, but many of us first met at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. I met Susan Hannaford and Tom Scully the year I arrived in NYC – 1978 – and we formed an alliance that produced the New Wave Vaudeville Show together. That was the show where Klaus Sperber metamorphosed into Klaus Nomi. Almost everyone involved with the vaudeville show migrated over to Club 57. Kenny brought in his fellow SVA students like Keith Haring, Wendy Wild and John Sex. I knew Jean-Michel Basquiat already.
Kenny Scharf: Ann and Klaus Nomi came to my first show in 1979 at the Fiorucci boutique, and she asked me if I would like to show some art at Club 57. Soon after, I had a show called Celebration of the Space Age, where we served Tang and Space Food Sticks.
Ann Magnuson: Others were simply drawn in off the street by the posters for the Monster Movie Club. The original Misfits came in that way. The jukebox drew people in who liked to dance. Club 57 basically became a magnet for anyone interested in punk rock, obscure horror and exploitation films, 60s fashion and alternative neo-Dada theatre experiences. It was truly a neighbourhood hangout so anyone in the East Village who cared to could drift in and out. Some stayed longer than others.
Richard Metzger: Club 57 seems like it was running parallel to punk/New Wave in NYC, but not necessarily a part of it. How much overlap was there?
Ann Magnuson: Oh, Club 57 was definitely part of punk and New Wave. And everyone who went to Club 57 went to the Mudd Club too, or Max’s, or even Hurrah’s uptown.
Kenny Scharf: We all went to CBGBs and the Mudd Club, too, but Club 57 was really ours.
Richard Metzger: It seems like there was a lot of that Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney ‘Hey kids, let’s put on a show!’ spirit at Club 57. What are some of the ‘happenings’ that occurred there?
Ann Magnuson: We didn’t let anyone tell us ‘no’. We didn’t allow poverty to stop us from realising our wildest imaginings. One of my favorites was Putt-Putt Reggae, where we built a miniature golf-course out of boxes pulled from the trash and made it resemble a Jamaican shanty town, and the DJ played dub music. We had a hash-brownie-fuelled slumber party with go-go boys that the church father walked in on…
Kenny Scharf: It was terrible to leave town even for a few days for fear of missing something.
Ann Magnuson: Keith Haring curated the Erotic Art Show. There was a photo of a giant phallus at the entrance, and when I saw the church father coming towards us I had to head him off. It’s amazing we got away with what we did. In fact, a special neighbourhood meeting was called to complain about us. The neighbours asked Father John why he ‘allowed evil people in the church’ and he said, ‘That’s where evil people should be, in a church.’ God bless him!
Kenny Scharf: One night, I think it was Elvis night, we started a street brawl where I ended up hitting an off-duty cop on the head for punching a girl I knew in the face. It was dismissed because he was arrested on the court date for murdering his boyfriend.
Ann Magnuson: Another event was called Radio Free Europe, because I was obsessed with these communist fashion and lifestyle magazines I had found, and the neighbourhood was predominately Polish and Ukrainian anyway, so why not? I debuted my Russian pop star character Anoushka there (with her band Polska ’66). We gave (Russian accent) ‘free beet and potato at door’ to the members.
Read the rest with more images) at Dazed Digital. The interview appeared in print in the March issue of Dazed & Confused.
“Tromba Fredda” (“Cold Trumpet”) is a 1963 short surrealist film directed by Italian film maker Enzo Nasso.
Chet Baker silently wanders through an Antonioniesque landscape in a Felliniesque state of wonderment as his improvised trumpet solos alternate between earnestly offering the obvious and mocking the artiness of the whole affair.
Terry Ork in his punk rock bunker. Unlike most record execs, Terry was content with a cheap 14th street stereo system. The kind the people who bought his label’s records could afford.
Terry Ork’s loft was a safe house for unsafe music. With money he made working at my favorite store devoted to the movies, the long gone Cinemabilia, Ork funded one of the few really great DIY labels to come out of New York City, Ork Records. Releasing 45rpm records by Television, Alex Chilton, Mick Farren, The Feelies and The Marbles, among others, Ork had a great feel for what made Manhattan’s downtown music scene special.
I would go to Cinemabilia to thumb through the movie books, magazines and posters. I really loved the place and I grew to really like Terry Ork. We’d shoot the shit on film and that’s what I knew him as, a film geek. Although I was a musician with a decidedly punk outlook, I had no idea that Terry had an indie label until one day when I was in Cinemabilia he handed me a record with the Ork label on it. The record was a single by Television called “Little Johnny Jewel” and it occupied both sides of the seven inch vinyl. My already high esteem for Mr. Ork escalated into the stratosphere.
The films of Jean Rollin are a feast of perverse and exotic imagery shot in the soft-focus style of a David Hamilton photo essay and paced as languidly as a Terence Malick film…but with sudden eruptions of grand quignol gore worthy of Herschell Gordon Lewis and lots of beautiful and bloody nude bodies
Rollin’s fractured fairy-tales are inhabited by lustful vampires who often seem more alive than the aspic gelée flesh of the women they’re feeding upon. Using mostly amateur actors that float in and out of the frame like zombies pierced by tranquilizer darts, Rollin opts for something ghostly, chilly and ethereal, often with little regard for narrative tension. The heat comes in the splatter of blood and cum. It’s as though sex is the primary sign of life among Rollin’s cast of the living dead, the almost dead, and the barely living.
The Shiver of the Vampires, Requiem for a Vampire, The Demoniacs, Fascination, The Night of the Hunted, Lips of Blood, and The Living Dead Girl fetishize blood, sex, dungeons, coffins and diaphanous nightgowns with the obsessiveness of a blood sucker foraging through the dumpster behind a blood bank.
Here’s a fun documentary about the fabulous Mr. Rollin. Be warned: this is definitely NSFW, although it was made for British TV.
From the Daily Mirror newspaper, 1978 (uploaded by Cornershop15)
This 1978 essay on the cultural meaning of disco by the respected British musicologist Simon Frith (author of Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music and Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure and the Politics of Rock ‘n’ Roll) was recently unearthed and re-published by the ever excellent DJHistory.com.
It goes some way towards highlighting the difference in appreciation of the genre on both sides of the Atlantic—it always seemed to me that disco never had the cultural impact in the UK that it had in the States, possibly because of the distinct ethnic and social heritage of the music—while Britain had to wait another ten years to experience its own genuine dance revolution.
What is common on both sides of the Atlantic, and of interest to anyone who likes disco music or lived through these years, was the sneering derision the genre faced from rock listeners and their corresponding press. It took another 20 to 30 years to rehabilitate disco’s reputation, and it’s interesting to read these very criticisms usually levelled by the music media coming from a self-professed disco fan:
In public I’m into punk like everybody else (saviour of rock ‘n’ roll’s soul and all that) but privately I’m a junk rock junkie and the junkiest music of all is disco. Everybody hates it. Hippies hate it, progressives hate it, punks hate it, teds hate it, NME hates it, even Derek Jewell hates it.
Disco is music for the disillusioned. It isn’t art: no auteurs in disco, just calculated dessicating machines. It isn’t folk: no disco subcultures, no disco kids seething with symbolic expression It isn’t even much fun: no jokes, no irony, only a hard rhythmed purposefulness. Disco is the sound of consumption. It exists only in its dancing function: when the music stops all that’s left is a pool of sweat on the floor. And disco’s power is the power of consumption. The critics are right: disco is dehumanising – all those twitching limbs, glazed-eyed, mindless. The disco aesthetic excludes feeling, it offers a glimpse of a harsh sci-fi future. ‘What’s your name, what’s your number?’ sings Andrea True in my current favourite single, and it’s not his telephone number she wants, but his position in the disco order of things. The problem of pogoing, I’ve found, is not that it’s too energetic for anyone over 30 years and 11 stone, but that it requires too much thought.
Popular music has always been dance music; disco is nothing but dance music. It has no rock’n’roll connotations; off the dance floor it is utterly meaningless, lyrically, musically and aesthetically. Every disco sound is subordinate to its physical function; disco progress is technological progress. The end doesn’t change but the means to that end, the ultimate beat, are refined and improved – hence drum machines, synthesisers, 12” pressings. And disco is dance music in the abstract, content determined by form. Popular dance music of the past, in the 1930s say, was a form determined by its content. The content was developed by dance hall instructors and sheet music salesmen and band leaders whose rules of partnership, decorum, uplift and grace, can still be followed in ‘Come Dancing’: the music is strictly subordinate to the conventions of flounce and simper. In contrast, when Boney M, German manufactured black American androgynes, sing for our dancing pleasure, ‘Belfast’, it means nothing at all. Any two syllables arranged and sounding just so would do and how we dance to them is, of course, entirely our own affair. There are no rules in disco, it’s just that individual expression means nothing when there’s nothing individual to express. I trace disco back to the twist, the first dance gimmick to be taken seriously and the first dance step to be without any redeeming social feature. I blame disco on Motown, the first company to realise that if the beat is right, soul power can be expressed without either the passion or emotion that made it soul power in the first place.
You can read the rest of the essay here. In the meantime, here’s something by Andrea True Connection. It’s not “What’s Your Name What’s Your Number?” as mentioned in the essay itself, as I’ve never been a big fan of that track. Instead it’s an earlier gem by the band that predates the awfully similar sounding “Is It Love You’re After” by Rose Royce by a good three years: