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Frank Zappa makes an appearance on awful 70s game show ‘Make Me Laugh’ (Spoiler: He doesn’t)
06.17.2015
01:09 pm

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Music
Television

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Frank Zappa makes a 1979 appearance on Make Me Laugh, an awful looking game show hosted by Bobby Van. Zappa nearly wordlessly promotes his then new Sheik Yerbouti album and wins a member of the studio audience a lot of consumer items (a garish bed spread, Samsonite luggage, a washer/dryer combo, plush recliner, etc) by not laughing at the idiotic Gallagher and another completely unfunny comic.

A typical celebrity guest on Make Me Laugh would be someone like Dr. Joyce Brothers or Charles Nelson Reilly. You can clearly tell that Frank hated every second of this.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘TV Wipeout’: Cabaret Voltaire’s rigorously post-punk 1984 video compilation resurfaces
06.17.2015
12:36 pm

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Music
Television

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John Coulthart has unearthed an utterly marvelous find from the early days of mass-produced video music content—Cabaret Voltaire’s TV Wipeout, a “video magazine” that was released on VHS in 1984. Watching it today, TV Wipeout is an excellent approximation of late-night avant-garde music programming from the early 1980s like Night Flight, albeit less scattershot and more rigorously postpunk in perspective. Of course, Cabaret Voltaire were often featured on Night Flight themselves.
 

TV Wipeout, videotape cover
 
As Coulthart explains, “This was the fourth title on the Cab’s own Doublevision label which was easily the best of the UK’s independent video labels at the time.” The compilation has plenty of gems. TV Wipeout features an interview with David Bowie on his latest movie, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, excerpts from two Andy Warhol movies (Heat and Flesh), concert and documentary footage from the Fall at their creative peak, a video by Residents discovery Renaldo and the Loaf, footage of Marc Almond covering a Lou Reed song, and excerpts from cult classics like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Eating Raoul.

The footage of the Fall was taped at the The Venue in London on March 21, 1983. Their rendition of “Words of Expectation” is interrupted by an astonishing clip of the Fall’s manager, Kay Carroll, tearing the Factory’s Tony Wilson a new asshole for using some Fall music on a video without their permission.
 

(Click for a larger version)
 
On the next-to-last video, Marc & The Mambas cover Lou Reed’s “Caroline Says II” off of Berlin. For the first half of the song, Marc Almond is holding Genesis P-Orridge’s infant daughter Caresse in his arms until she starts to cry.

Coulthart also found a pretty hilarious interview in which Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder had the following to say about TV Wipeout (source: Cabaret Voltaire: The Art of the Sixth Sense by M. Fish and D. Hallbery):
 

Q: The next Doublevision was the TV Wipeout video which was a sort of disposable magazine compilation. It contained a fairly wide variety of contributors, from people like The Fall and Test Dept to some more mainstream groups like Bill Nelson and Japan.

Mallinder: The point was that Virgin Films were quite happy to work with us; they even gave us money in the form of advertising revenue for using some film clips from the Virgin catalogue. We were then able to camouflage them into the whole set-up and make them look as if they were part of the whole nature of the video compilation.

Q: One of those clips was a particularly inane interview with David Bowie. Was its inclusion merely a selling point?

Mallinder: Yes, it was purely that. There are a lot of people who will buy anything with David Bowie on it. So we said “Fuck it, why not use that as a selling point!” Actually the interview is appalling, it’s terrible. Our including it was almost like a piss-take. We were saying “you really will buy anything with David Bowie on it if you buy this”.

 
Coulthart asserts that some clips of Cabaret Voltaire and Japan are missing from this playlist, but I think that’s not right, at least if the list posted above is right, it’s just the Japan track that is missing, and you can find that one here.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Cha Cha’: Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich star in ‘lost’ punk film, 1979
06.17.2015
08:20 am

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A girl's best friend is her guitar
Movies
Music
Punk

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Thanks to digital media the line between “rare” and “forget it” has become more like a chasm. The meaning of rarity has changed—it’s kind of funny to see something on YouTube marked “rare” —um, if it’s on YouTube for the whole world to watch at a click I’m not sure how it qualifies as “rare” anymore. It’s similar, though not precisely equivalent, for online marketplaces like discogs.com—if you can find an item with a simple search and buy it with a click, it’s far from inaccessible. It may be priced out of a given coveter’s reach in accordance with its scarcity, but that’s a far cry from having to crate-dig at record conventions in the forlorn hope that the Holy Grail just jumps in your hands someday.

But as if to thumb its nose at the age of ETEWAF, the 1979 Dutch film Cha Cha is practically impossible to see in its entirety. I’ve located exactly one NTSC VHS copy on GEMM, and I’m unaware of a US DVD (the Dutch have been more accommodating on that front). It’s on YouTube—in 15 parts!—but the first part has been yanked on copyright grounds, and 3 & 11 are just straight up missing. I suppose it’s cool that at least some of it can be seen.

The film stars Dutch rocker Herman Brood, who was quite well-known in Europe, but his biggest impact in the US was a lone Top-40 single that peaked at #35 in the autumn of 1979.
 

No photo, like me in my senior yearbook.

Brood was kind of the Amy Winehouse of his time, renowned as much for his unabashed drug abuse as for his music, and his addiction issues are likely to have led to his 2001 suicide. In Cha Cha, for which he has a writing credit, he plays a character with parallels to his own life—“Herman” in the film is a bank robber who decides to go legit, and his dubious “straight” career choice is singing in a New Wave band. In real life, Brood served time for dealing LSD before forming Herman Brood & His Wild Romance in 1976. From the ever-useful Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars:

One of Holland’s most outlandish musicians, Herman Brood was a drug-dealer turned rock phenomenon who found success with a variety of acts—his main priority being to stay in the papers as long as possible. And this didn’t stop at his death…

A distinctive art-school figure with his shock of black hair, pianist Brood joined the Moans, later to become rock-revival act Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers, before going on to sing with no lesser musicians than Van Morrison and John Mayall, until his dealing in LSD led to his imprisonment in 1968. Once back in the outside world, Brood’s subequent projects put him in the esteemed company of a post-Focus Jan Akkerman, and new-wave femme fatales Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich, with whom he starred in the 1979 movie Cha Cha. His main band were The Wild Romance, who found some commercial success, although even this was hampered by the singer’s wayward behavior with narcotics and prostitutes.

 

 
Brood was romantically involved with Hagen for a spell, And Hagen’s contemporary “Herrmann hieß er” (from Unbehagen) was an addiction song that was almost certainly about Brood. Cha Cha even featured a Hagen/Brood wedding scene. That never did happen in reality, though evidently it was a plan at one point. From the May 14, 1979 entry in Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter’s Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982:

Lene Lovich & Nina Hagen are reportedly in Amsterdam filming a movie in the making called Cha Cha with Dutch rock star Herman Brood. The film is about a bank robber who wants to go straight, and sees the easy path to that end is becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star. East Germany’s Nina Hagen shocked music fans with an announcement that she was not only leaving her band to go solo, but was also planning to marry Herman Brood.

 

 

 
While finding the film itself is a vexing matter, the soundtrack album is far more accessible. It’s quite good, full of spiky uptempo punk and post-punk, and in fact, it’s how I found out the film existed—I found the soundtrack LP for $5 (thank you, Hausfrau), and figured that was a reasonable price for a comp of Brood, Hagen, and Lovich tracks, peppered with a ton of Dutch and German bands I’d never heard of. Just be careful—Brood had a 1978 LP also called Cha Cha, which has no track overlap with the soundtrack album, and nothing in common with the film but the title.

Enjoy the trailer for the film, and if you should endeavor to procure a copy, happy hunting!
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The savant who has the power to identify records simply by looking at the grooves
06.17.2015
06:05 am

Topics:
Music

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Yesterday Dangerous Minds brought you some incredible close-up electron microscope footage of a needle moving across the grooves of a record.

That footage jogged a fuzzy childhood memory of watching That’s Incredible!, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not style program that aired on ABC from 1980-84, and seeing a man who could identify music simply by looking at the grooves on a record.

I had to consult the Internet to make sure I didn’t dream that up, but this man does in fact exist and his name is Dr. Arthur B. Lintgen.
 

 
A 1982 TIME article describes Dr. Lingten’s bizarre talent:

With the label and other identifying marks covered, of course… Lintgen simply holds a disc flat in front of him, turning it slightly this way and that and peering along its grooves through his thick glasses. After a few seconds he calmly announces, as the case may be, “Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring” or Strauss’s Atpine Symphony,” or “Janacek’s Sinfonietta.”

A passionate music buff and audiophile, Lintgen (pronounced Lint-jen) has been regaling friends with the stunt for five years, ever since being challenged at a party and finding, to his surprise, that he could do it.

Performing recently for a television crew from That’s Incredible! he scored 20 for 20 in a demonstration set up by Temple University Musicologist Stimson Carrow.

Lintgen, who has been called a savant, applies his encyclopedic knowledge of classical music to the “quiet” and “loud” portions of the disc, which show up as darker or lighter “grooves,” to make an educated guess as to what a particular piece might be. A 1981 New York Times article explains:

How does he do it? All is explainable—up to a point. First, Dr. Lintgen is a dedicated audiophile with an extensive knowledge of the record catalog past and present. He can identify only music that he knows, and he guarantees a high rate of success only in orchestral music ranging from Beethoven to the present.

“I have a knowledge of musical structure and of the literature,” he said. “And I can correlate this structure with what I see. Loud passages reflect light differently. In the grossest terms, they look silvery. Record companies spread the grooves in forte passages; they have a more jagged, saw-tooth look. Soft passages look blacker.

Acclaimed skeptic James Randi tested Lintgen and concluded,“certainly, Arthur Lintgen comes as close to (a real magician) as I ever hope so see!”

More on the strange talent of Arthur Lintgen after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
50 years ago today Bob Dylan totally blew our minds with ‘Like a Rolling Stone’
06.16.2015
11:23 am

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History
Music

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It was 50 years ago today that one of the truly momentous events in rock history took place when Bob Dylan recorded “Like A Rolling Stone” in New York City at Columbia Records’ Studio A. Within weeks of its release on July 15, 1965, the song became a massive hit, where it nestled on the Billboard charts for several months.

“Like Rolling Stone” was a game changer. It opened the doors for a new kind of music that fused folk with electric rock and brought a kind of sophisticated lyricism to top 40 radio that hadn’t really been heard up until then. The only comparable rock and roll word-slinger was Chuck Berry. To my ears, Berry was Walt Whitman to Dylan’s William Blake. You’re free to pick your own bards.


Dylan in Studio A.

I remember hearing “Like A Rolling Stone” for the first time in the kitchen of my childhood home when I was 14 years old. The memory is as vivid as most of the life-changing moments of my life, which generally revolve around sex, drugs and rock and roll. When the song came on the cheesy plastic radio in our kitchen, time stopped and I was swept up inside some sort of mystical swoon that was mind-expanding and emotionally transformative. I didn’t realize it at the time but this was one of those moments that sent me down Blake’s road of excess where “you never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.” I have yet to to find, on a spiritual or intellectual level, “what is more than enough.”  And I hope I don’t. It was Dylan, among a handful of other visionaries, that got me searching.

Here’s Dylan performing “Like A Rolling Stone” at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. He’s roundly booed by a vocal majority of folk music squares. Others in the crowd, were quite aware, however, that they were watching the future of rock and roll.
 


Microscopic footage of a needle moving across the grooves of a record
06.16.2015
09:42 am

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

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You would think that if you have an electron microscope and a record player, you’re most of the way there to being able to record close-up footage of a needle traversing the grooves of a long-player record.

Well, you would be wrong. It was actually quite a challenge, as the Applied Science YouTube channel recently demonstrated in vivid and mind-blowing detail.

Among the difficulties that Ben Krasnow, the man behind the Applied Science channel, had to overcome were that a small square of the vinyl LP had to be carved out in order to fit it into the microscope chamber, and the LP had to be coated in a conductive material (evaporated silver) to avoid a circumstance whereby the electrons fired at its surface by the microscope would be absorbed, trapped, and eventually repelled.
 

 
I don’t really understand any of this, but the video explains it very well. Also a new stylus also had to be constructed, because the magnets in the original cartridge would have deflected the incoming electrons. And guess what, they needed to make a custom tonearm as well.

Even more astonishingly, the little movie that resulted isn’t a regular movie at all, it’s pretty much stop-motion animation on a microscopic scale. You see, the video image generated by the microscope has is of a low resolution, so Krasnow painstakingly saved individual images at a higher resolution, moving the LP piece 50 microns at a time until he had amassed 60 frames. Then the frames were put together in PhotoShop to make an animated GIF, which plays about 1/400th of actual speed.

The result is some fantastic footage for those audiophiles who’ve always wondered…. just how the heck does this work, exactly?
 

 
via What Hi-Fi?

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Propaganda: The aesthetics of evil and why GOTH was a thing that had to happen
06.16.2015
05:44 am

Topics:
Fashion
Media
Music

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Founded in 1982 by New York photographer Fred H. Berger, Propaganda magazine was, at the time of its final issue in 2002, the longest running and most popular chronicle of gothic subculture in the United States. From its infancy as a punk fanzine, it grew in scope, covering the esoteric obsessions of its “Propaganda Minister”—post-punk, death rock, fetish fashion, body modification, BDSM, vampirism, horror literature, androgyny, and paganism were all tossed into its smoking cauldron. Over time, these disparate influences became codified into what we know today as “goth” culture. Never billing itself as a “goth” zine per-se, Propaganda had as much to do with developing the aesthetic of goth as any black-clad scare-band you’d possibly care to name.

Nancy Kilpatrick’s The Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined called Propaganda “the only subculture publication known to just about every goth on the planet” for good reason. Its importance to that scene can’t be overstated. In fact, you could say that goth had to happen with Propaganda acting as a two-way mirror, both projecting and reflecting the dark music, fashion, art, and literature of its post-Cold War audience.

I didn’t discover Propaganda until the early ‘90s, when it seemed to be everywhere. I remember, at the time, being impressed that a zine so specifically targeted to a relatively small subculture was turning up in major newsstands and bookstores, even in the tiny South Carolina town where I lived. This was pre-Internet Age, when getting such significant distribution would have been a major struggle.  The striking, brooding images in those ‘90s issues, Propaganda‘s heyday, are burned into my mind. The models in Propaganda seemed to me, at the time, to be the most (depressingly) glamorous people on the planet.

I was able to pin down the man behind many of those images, Fred Berger himself, to talk to him about the magazine, its history and legacy, and where the gothic subculture has gone in a post-Propaganda world.
 

Propaganda publisher, Fred H. Berger, October 1985. (Photo by Wayne Arents)
 
Propaganda magazine, from the earliest issues covered punk and post-punk music as well as alternative—what could be described as “fetish”—fashion. You witnessed and reported on what became the birth of “goth” as we know it today, back when it might have fallen under the umbrella of “post-punk” or “new romantic” or “death rock.” At what point do you think disparate forms of music, literature, art, and fashion came together to form “goth”?

Fred H. Berger: I discovered goth when I saw Bauhaus in the vampire film The Hunger in 1983. For the two years prior to that, Propaganda was a hardcore punk fanzine. Propaganda’s first gothic issue was Issue No. 3, Summer 1984. It wasn’t called “goth” then – it was just “underground” or “darkwave.” I don’t think the term “goth” came into wide usage until later in 1984, and it applied to bands like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Although Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy said, “We are not a goth band,” and Siouxsie said, “There’s no such thing as goth.” I don’t think they wanted to be labeled, preferring to be whatever they wanted to be, which I can fully understand. In the ‘80s Propaganda covered the New York underground club scene, which featured mostly European bands – primarily British but also Dutch and German such as Clan of Xymox and Xmal Deutschland which were darkwave – not goth. And New York’s underground clubs such as Danceteria, the Cat Club and The World featured more fashion shows and performance art than bands, and much of that was of the fetish and avant-garde variety. Sure it was experimental, kinky and dark, but it wasn’t really goth in that vampiric and melodramatic sort of way. American goth grew more out of West Coast death rock with bands like Christian Death and London After Midnight. I didn’t come in contact with that until 1989, at which time the New York alternative scene was fragmenting with more people getting involved in the rave and clubkid scenes which I had absolutely no interest in. I was somewhat aware of what was happening in L.A. and headed west to see what it was all about. And that was when Propaganda became immersed in what you would call “goth” in the truest sense of the word – ankhs and rosaries, black lace and velvet, capes and corsetry – it was like a scene out of a Vampire Lestat novel. And it was all about bands, versus New York’s preoccupation with art and fashion. The biggest L.A. goth club was Helter Skelter, and in San Diego it was Soil, and in San Francisco it was House of Usher. By 1992 I’d been to all of them and saw that there was a distinctly California style of goth as opposed to New York’s more avant-garde and fetishistic variety and London’s Batcave scene which was heavily influenced by punk. Propaganda covered the West Coast scene so extensively that by the mid-‘90s the whole country adopted it as the quintessentially American version of goth.
 

Issues one through five of Propaganda, charting the transition of coverage from punk to what would become “goth.”
 
As “gothic culture” developed, how much credit would you take for creating the feedback loop that codified the tenets of that culture? Obviously you were reporting on your own personal interests. How much of that reporting became reflected back in terms of narrowing the definitions of what it meant to be a “goth?”

FHB: Propaganda reported on the punk, goth and industrial movements in a selective way according to my own personal tastes and interests, and I also introduced certain elements based on that subjective criteria. David Bowie and ‘70s glitter rock introduced me to androgyny, and that is something which I focused on throughout most of Propaganda’s 20-year existence. The ideal which I sought out, and also fabricated to some extent, was that of a gender-ambiguous, painfully thin and ghostly pale creature based on Ziggy Stardust, but of a darker, more sinister persuasion. That darkness would be rooting in certain taboos, such as vampirism, demonism, fetishism, homosexuality and Nazism – things that would shake up mainstream society. But it was more about the aesthetics of evil (“forbidden fruit” if you like) rather than the actual practice of it. I thought evil had a sensual and stylistic edge over virtue, but I’ve personally always lived by the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Propaganda never advocated Satanism, occultism, Nazism, sadomasochism or homosexuality, but that didn’t stop some people from making accusations to that effect. Being an aesthete, I see things from a stylistic standpoint, but people who aren’t often read a lot of political and philosophical meaning into the imagery. I proclaim my innocence with regard to any agenda other than art, but there were some who never accepted my “artistic license” defense. Even so, Propaganda was the biggest, most popular and most influential goth-industrial-postpunk publication in the United States throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. It was carried by all the mainstream retail chains and was reviewed in mainstream newspapers and magazines. Sure a few people were offended, and were very vocal about it, but for the most part Propaganda was seen as iconoclastic and artistic, and not directly associated with any of the maligned “isms” which it referenced for dramatic effect.
 

Propaganda Issue No. 15
 
The idea of one person’s aesthetic being the launching point for what becomes a cultural uniform is fascinating to me. I’m reminded of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, whose personal style was basically lifted from The Leatherman’s Handbook—and that style becomes copied by legions of adoring (mostly straight) fans, and eventually ends up being the “uniform” for heavy metal in the ‘80s. Is it fair to say that your personal aesthetic, which was reflected on the pages of Propaganda in your photography, became a “uniform” for kids who were attracted to the music, art, and literature covered in the magazine?

FHB: Well, “my” personal aesthetic was composed of an amalgam of different influences, which can probably be described in cinematic terms as a confluence of The Night Porter (1974), The Road Warrior (1982), and The Hunger (1983). I never intended to determine what the “uniform” should be; I was only shooting what I liked and it just caught on. Nor was I really conscious of the fact that my work was having that much of an effect on the goth-industrial look, but occasionally people would tell me “you created the goth look” or “Propaganda set the style.” But more often than not those comments fell on deaf ears because I’ve always been somewhat oblivious to accolades (and criticism), being more introspective than reactive. But when the mainstream press started to give me credit for practically founding the goth movement I decided to change direction and opted for an increasingly queer and fetishized heroin chic sensibility. That happened in the mid-‘90s and remained Propaganda’s basic aesthetic until the termination of the magazine in 2003 and the website in 2005. I continued to work in the queer and fetish publishing fields until 2012, but stopped when I finally realized that everyone is a photographer and a writer now courtesy of this 24/7 wired world of blogs and social networking and file sharing where all intellectual properties are considered public domain and no one wants to pay for anything anymore.
 

Propaganda Issue No. 11.
 
Propaganda seemed ubiquitous in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The magazine had an incredible distribution for being geared to a very specific, relatively small subculture. How were you able to achieve that sort of wide reach? And how much of your buying audience do you suspect were cultural voyeurs?

FHB: Propaganda was born into the zine revolution of the early ‘80s, when all you needed was a few hundred dollars to start a magazine. The first issue had a print-run of only 300 copies, but in the ‘90s Propaganda’s press runs averaged about 22,000 copies. That doesn’t sound like much, but the magazine had amazing distribution - it seemed to be everywhere that it needed to be - hip college towns and urban centers, affluent suburbs and even isolated rural pockets of alienated youth. And my distributors told me that Propaganda had an unusually high percentage of sales – typically 80 to 90% per issue which was about double the average for other youth-oriented music and lifestyle magazines. Propaganda had a very strong cult following, and many fans preserved their copies in plastic sleeves and still have them to this day, and they often refer to them as “holy relics.” This cult status also applied to the Propaganda videozines, 10,000 of which were sold from the early ‘90s to early 2000s. And the buzz around all of this was accentuated by numerous release parties at the country’s leading goth-industrial clubs which collectively gave the impression of Propaganda being this massive multi-media enterprise. Propaganda’s heavily trafficked website and foreign expansion enhanced its image that much more. But contrary to appearances, it was all produced on a shoe-string budget with a small part-time staff and a workaholic editor-in-chief (yours truly) operating out of a 1-bedroom apartment. As for voyeurs, I really can’t say – the only one I can identify for sure is myself.


The photos in Propaganda are, if I may apply an overused term, iconic—some of these images are forever etched into my mind. You had a very clear aesthetic and a sharp eye. What were your influences as a photographer? 

FHB: During it’s twenty years in print, Propaganda had about fifteen contributing photographers, as well as stock houses, movie studios and record labels that provided us with images, but I still managed to take about 1/3 of the photos that appeared in the magazine. About half of my photography was purely journalistic, covering musical performances, fashion shows and the club scene. The other half was a body of work which I created using models, some of whom became what people called “Propaganda super models” – John Koviak, Wayne Arents and Scott Crawford for instance became household names. Most of my top models were male androgynes – which was my aesthetic ideal, and they had thousands of male and female fans. In fact some straight guys accused me of turning them gay because they were so incredibly beautiful. Part of that was the models themselves, who were in their late teens to early 20s and were naturally very attractive; the other part was my styling and art direction. Some of my models were such chameleons that people often did not recognize them from one shoot to the next. I even had a couple of female models who posed as boys and no one detected the ruse. But only one of my female models achieved super model status – Tia Giles. She and my best male models appeared in numerous photo shoots in the magazine, and also acted in the Propaganda videozines which featured my art films as well as music videos provided by various bands. Many of my influences were literary, with the most inspiration coming from gothic horror authors Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite as well as queer counterculture authors Jean Genet and Yukio Mishima. But there were also historical figures and events that inspired my Propaganda photography and filmmaking such as Joan of Arc and Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the Holy Inquisition and the Holocaust.
 

Propaganda Issue No. 3
 
I remember watching SNL when Goth Talk was a recurring skit, and in one episode they aired a parody video featuring Rob Lowe—and I remember thinking AT THE TIME, “this is totally ripping on Propaganda‘s videos,” and wondering what the people behind the magazine thought of that. Have you seen the skit I’m talking about?

FHB: I remember Rob Lowe in Goth Talk and I thought it was painfully hilarious. Although I don’t remember thinking it resembled any footage I had shot. My films dealt with witch burnings, war crimes, lesbian vampires, and human sacrifice. You may have noticed a similarity to one of the band videos, but I did not produce those – they were submitted by the bands for inclusion in Propaganda videozine.
 

Rob Lowe as “The Beholder” alongside Azrael Abyss and Circy Nightshade on SNL’s “Goth Talk.”
 
As a lifer, what do you think of the shift in gothic culture away from the original “death rock” aesthetic to the more “techno-goth” style—musically, and fashion-wise—I’m talking the shift from black lace and corsets to synth dreads and steampunk goggles. Furthermore, how do you feel about Post-Irony Age events like “Bats Day” at Disneyland or gothic cruises?

FHB: Well, I’m not “a lifer,” in fact I never was a “goth.” My appearance, my home décor, nothing about me comes across as goth. Upon first meeting me, people from the scene often expressed surprise at how non-goth I was. I come across as a pragmatic photojournalist – very businesslike. Actually, referring to my relatively bland persona and lifestyle, one of the Propaganda staff members said, “You are the least likely and least worthy person to be in charge of the country’s #1 goth magazine.” Yes, everyone called it a “goth magazine,” but in reality over it’s 20-year run it was about 10% punk, 15% darkwave, 30% goth, 15% industrial, 5% glam, 5% metal, 10% fetish, and 10% queercore – more or less in that chronological order from 1982 to 2002, although there was considerable overlap between genres. Moreover, after terminating Propaganda I became a freelance writer and photographer for a number of gay, fetish and transgender publications for the next ten years. In November 2013 I launched the Propaganda magazine Facebook page which has thus far acquired over 21,000 followers, but I don’t plan on maintaining it past the end of this year due to the rising cost of Facebook fees which commercial and promotional pages have to pay to reach their fans and customers. As for the shift in gothic sensibilities, I’ve seen the dark rock phenomenon go from Alice Cooper to Christian Death to Marilyn Manson and Black Veil Brides, and there has been a common thread of melancholy, melodrama and men in makeup, with just a hint of irony. And from the Blade movie franchise and the Hot Topic boutique chain to Disneyland and gothic cruises, there have always been attempts to corporatize and trivialize it. I’m not a purist, and I’m certainly no one to pass judgment on anyone else, but it seems to me that the more things change the more they stay the same.

The final question is simply, what’s next for Fred Berger and Propaganda?

FHB: Well, the Propaganda magazine Facebook page has allowed me to pay the bills over the past 18 months via the sale of Propaganda’s back inventory of magazines, VHS videos, calendars, and T-shirts, as well as various publications that feature my photography and writing. But that inventory will probably be exhausted this Fall at which time it won’t pay to maintain the page. Because Facebook charges commercial and promotional pages to reach their fans and customers, they need to sell something just to pay the fees. So when I have nothing left to sell, it will no longer be feasible to maintain Propaganda’s presence on Facebook. Although recently I have been contacted by a couple of companies that want to market Propaganda T-shirts and re-release the Propaganda videos, which is a promising prospect. I’m also starting to develop a Propaganda magazine page on Tumblr which thus far doesn’t charge any of its users. The other advantage of Tumblr is it doesn’t censor erotic imagery. So we’ll see how these things develop. But in retrospect I feel as if I’ve done everything and gone everywhere I ever wanted to, and whenever people suggest that I do this or that, I simply tell them, “been there, done that.” I’m quite content to leave my legacy just the way it is.

And what a deliciously dark legacy it is. Back issues of Propaganda are available directly from Fred Berger via the Propaganda Facebook page. Below is a selection of Berger’s work for the magazine:
 

Issue No. 13, “The Doomsday Issue.”  Model: John Koviak (Photo by Fred H. Berger)
 
Much more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The last days of Ziggy Stardust: Backstage with David Bowie, 1973
06.15.2015
03:06 pm

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Music
Television

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In May 2002, not all that long ago, but still pre-YouTube (which launched in 2005), the Museum of Television & Radio presented the first-ever video retrospective devoted to the career of David Bowie, at least as it was documented over the medium of television. I want to say that it was five separate programs of four hours each over the course of several days, but it may have been four. I saw the ones up to the Let’s Dance era, the point which my interest in Bowie admittedly wanes.

In hindsight, i.e. seen from the vantage point of just a few months later, the MTR program, “David Bowie: Sound + Vision” was obviously a way to screen some of the material that had been sourced for the selection of the 2 DVD set, Best of Bowie, but not used. It was as motley a crew collection of diehard Bowie heads as you could possibly assemble who turned up, but I doubt that any of us had seen all of it. For instance, although every Brit has seen the famous “Starman” performance from Top of the Pops, I, being an American, had never seen that one before. And this despite making it one of my primary missions in life to acquire bootleg David Bowie… everything. Many of the British Bowie fanatics in the audience had never seen “The 1980 Floor Show” broadcast on The Midnight Special, whereas this was the first time that I—and most Americans my age and older—had ever clapped eyes on Bowie’s peculiarly alien rock messiah presence via the cathode ray.

Some of the things shown at MTR made it to the Best of Bowie DVD as extras and Easter eggs—like the ridiculously contentious interviews with talk show host Russell Harty, who always seem to go out of his way to “welcome” Bowie to his program with an outright insult, a backhanded compliment or the impolite suggestion that he was either a has-been (this in the midst of the astonishingly creative period that begat Young Americans, Station to Station and Low) or only touring because he was broke.

One thing from the MTR screenings that didn’t make it to the DVD, but that one can view on YouTube, is this amazing segment from the news program Nationwide, about the hysteria incited among Britain’s impressionable youth by the “man with a painted face and carefully adjusted lipstick.”

Three days after the program aired on BBC, Bowie announced the retirement of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars from the Hammersmith Odeon’s stage.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Amazing ‘Mod Wedding’ with Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground & Nico, 1966
06.15.2015
09:59 am

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Art
Music

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Picture it: You’re a steady couple in Detroit, it’s the mid-‘60s and you’re hip sort of people, and you get a chance for Andy Warhol, Nico, and the Velvet Underground to participate in your nuptials, making it the world’s first-ever “mod wedding.” What could be better?

This actually happened. The date of the wedding was November 20, 1966, and it was one of the concluding events of a three-day festival held in Detroit called the Carnaby Street Fun Festival, at which the Velvet Underground and the Yardbirds played. The lucky couple were named Gary Norris and Randi Rossi.

In 2011 some ephemera from this event I would love to get a look at were auctioned off at Christie’s, including a five-page “press release” called Pop Goes the Wedding, and an invitation to, ahem, “The Nation’s First Mod Wedding to Unite Two Typical Mod Teenagers in the Bonds of Holy Matrimony.”

In a bio of Al Abrams, the noted promoter who dreamt up the Carnaby Street Fun Fair as well as the idea of having a wedding of this type, it states that Norris and Rossi were not the first couple selected for the event: “The pair earned the chance to exchange their vows in the highly publicized ceremony after the original couple, who had won the wedding competition on the popular Detroit radio station WKNR, had to withdraw.“

Here’s Steven Watson in Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties discussing how the event came about:
 

Perhaps the most conspicuous of [the band’s] Sixties events was a Detroit fair called the Carnaby Street Fun Festival. … As a centerpiece, a Motown publicist [almost certainly Abrams] thought up the idea of a Mod Wedding. Since Andy Warhol was “the father of Pop Art,” he became the perfect choice to play the father of the bride. A columnist for The Detroit News dug up a couple to get married—a twenty-five-year-old clothing salesman and his nineteen-year-old, unemployed go-go dancer girlfriend. While Gary Norris and Randi Rossi were married before a crowd of forty-five hundred, the Velvet Underground played “Here Comes the Bride,” and a roadie pounded on a car with a sledgehammer. After the ceremony Andy signed some Campbell’s Soup cans and threw them into the crowd, and he and the bride cut the six-foot cake with a sword. “It would be in better taste if you had those people throwing up on each other,” Dick Clark told the event’s organizer.

 

 
Reaction at the time had more than its share of eye-rolling disgust. This account by Linda La Marre appeared in The Detroit News the next day; in addition to being pretty well written, it achieves a mocking, derisive tone I’ve seldom encountered in a news story before. The article can be found in Clinton Heylin’s essential compendium All Yesterdays’ Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971.
 

“Mother’s Mod Lament”

by Linda La Marre

The Detroit News, November 21, 1966

Holy matrimony was replaced by unholy pandemonium in what was billed as a wedding yesterday at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

It was a marriage in the Mod Tradition. The country’s first. And let’s hope it’s not what’s happening, baby.

Wearing a white minigown, eight inches over her knees and white, thigh-high boots, Randy Rossi, 18, became the bride of clothing salesman Gary Norris, 25, amid a melange of simultaneous “happenings.”

Andy Warhol, of soup can painting fame and the “father of Pop art,” arrived from New York to give away the bride. With him came his rock & roll group, the Velvet Underground, vocalist Nico, and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Warhol’s gaudy lighting effects.

Some 4,500 shaggy-haired wedding guests swarmed the arena for the prenuptial rituals. Electronic devices screamed, guitars and drums throbbed and a fiddle added to the din as ppurple and orange lights splashed dots and squares across the stage.

“Hey, we’re really witnessing something, it’s history, history!” a young girl shouted.

Huddled on the sidelines were the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Rossi of Mt. Clemens, the bridegroom’s mother, Mrs. Thelma Norris, of Taylor, his sister and brother-in-law, the Robert Wionceks, of Dearborn.

“It’s not the kind of wedding we had planned for our daughter,” Mrs. Rossi said, as eerie screeches emitted from the stage.

“He’s old enough to know his own mind,” Mrs. Norris added, while Nico, clad in a lavender pantsuit, cupped the mike in both hands and began moaning some song.

After an eternity of noise, a black Rolls-Royce with the bridal couple slowly backed into the arena. The pair wisely chose to stay inside the car a few moments.

Warhol’s psychedelic sounds, which seek to create the same illusion as mind-expanding drugs, succeeded.

Gerard [Malanga], the whip dancer, slithered and spun across the darkened stage. Another member of the cast hopped atop a wrecked DeSoto, bashing it with a sledge hammer.

“If I take to love, will I find you gone,” groaned Nico. Warhol ascended the platform, paint bucket and catsup bottles in hand. Contents of both containers were carefully applied to a girl wearing a white paper dress throughout the proceedings.

The bride smiled as she marched up the platform steps. The bridegroom wore a gray checked, Beatle-type suit, black boots, green and white flowered tie. He looked sober.

The couple volunteered for the Mod wedding, which concluded the three-day Carnaby Street Fun Festival. Their reward, a free honeymoon in New York and screen test with Warhol.

After giving away the bride Warhol sat serenely upon a box of tomato soup, autographing cans. A color film of Nico’s face flickered on and off the back curtains as she read a few appropriate, but indistinguishable sentences from a yellow book.

Another member of the cast paraded with a five-foot Baby Ruth candy bar balloon, Warhol’s gift to the newlyweds.

 
My favorite bit in there is La Marre’s description of the music: “Nico, clad in a lavender pantsuit, cupped the mike in both hands and began moaning some song…..”

This online forum on VU supplies a detail that nobody else I consulted had. La Marre reports that Warhol gave the bride away, but on this forum, a user named “taxine” asserts that Nico officiated the wedding. I’m not sure if she did or didn’t, but the photo taxine supplied seems to bear it out. The quality could be a little better, but this sure as heckfire looks to me like Warhol giving the bride away while Nico officiates:
 

 
Rob Jovanovic’s Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground furnishes an illuminating quotation from Moe Tucker that clarifies the identity of the man with the sledgehammer: “That was lunacy. ... We were playing but [Paul] Cézanne was recruited to beat the hell out of a car with a sledge hammer, during the ceremony and during our set. I don’t know what the significance was!”

Jovanovic suggests that the Yardbirds also played the wedding and covered “I’m Waiting for the Man.” The Yardbirds did play all three days of the Carnaby Street Fun Festival, but nobody else mentions the detail of the Yardbirds playing the wedding—I think what actually happened is that the Yardbirds played the festival and during at least one of their sets (six sets, two per day) they played “I’m Waiting for the Man,” but they weren’t playing the wedding and didn’t cover the song at the wedding per se. At least that’s the impression this chronology gives.

Here are a few more pics, including a great action shot of Cézanne destroying the car with a sledgehammer.
 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Elvis Presley, Perry Como… Minor Threat? Granny panties, now for hipsters!
06.15.2015
05:10 am

Topics:
Fashion
Music

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According to the Internet, 2015 is the year granny panties come back into style.

Whether this is a result of a healthier body-positive society or simply hipster “normcore” irony infiltrating the undergarment market, it’s certainly a clear-cut case of “everything old is new again.”

Here’s a trend we’d really love to see come back: granny panties embroidered with little 45 rpm records—you buy six of them and get a free single!
 

The music fan in this photo may want to consider using a pair over her greasy mitts, as her record handling skills leave something to be desired.
 
The 1958 Sears catalog ad features an unbeatable deal: You buy six adorable pairs of embroidered panties, and you get a free record of your choice: Elvis Presley, Eddie Fisher, or Perry Como!
 

Now, we’re not sure how many underthings Eddie Fisher or Perry Como were moving, but we’re pretty sure Elvis was causing lots and lots of panties to need replacing back in ‘58.
 
Fast-forward to 2015’s granny panty offerings after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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