“From every act of pleasure comes an equal act of perversion!”
In The Curious Dr. Humpp, a demented Argentinian doctor (who gets his instructions from a talking, megalomaniacal brain-in-a-jar that is all that’s left of his late mentor) kidnaps attractive and horny couples—as well as a few hippies, strippers and lesbians, natch—and uses them for his own nefarious ends.
Dr. Humpp and his team of goofy, rubber-masked zombie henchmen (and a buxom blonde nurse who likes to be smacked around) keep them prisoners in his creepy island mansion. They are injected with an aphrodisiac drug that turbo-charges their sexual desires and they have orgiastic group sex as the doctor drains a “sex particle” fluid from their bodies. The resultant libido smoothie prevents him from doing a Dr. Jekyll and turning into a blood-thirsty monstrous Mr. Hyde
“The strength of human body-fluids taken during coitus … they help me go on!”
The original early 1960s Argentinian film—which must have been pretty racy to begin with—was spiced up with additional sex footage when a North American distributor picked up this tawdry cult item in the early 70s. The name was probably meant to call to mind the XXX box office smash, I am Curious Yellow, although the two films have absolutely nothing in common, except for perhaps a high nipple count.
“Sex dominates the world and now I dominate sex!”
I doubt that I’d have ever heard about this kooky celluloid atrocity had it not been for these two brothers, slightly older than me, who went to my parents’ church. When I was like ten or maybe even younger, my parents were visiting their parents and they showed me how they lived behind a drive-in movie theater. But not just any old drive-in showing Herbie Rides Again or Jaws, but one that often screened R and even X-rated movies!
Picture the scene. Here’s Malcolm McLaren revelling in his role as the pre-eminent tousled-haired punk impresario. He’s busy reinventing himself as Fagin to a band of snotty-nosed street urchins—The Sex Pistols. They’re going to change the world. Bring down the establishment. Create a level playing field. Music will never be the same again. It’s all bubbling through his head like a soap commercial. But first he must teach this band of young punk rockers all about stage presence.
McLaren took the Pistols to a local bar—let’s say it was the Tally Ho or the Hope and Anchor, although really it could have been anyone of the many venues favored by pub rock bands at the time. Inside, McLaren and co. squeeze among the crowd unnoticed, up by the side where they watch the band onstage. Out of them all, it’s Johnny Rotten who is taking the most interest—particularly in the lead singer—a man called Ian Dury.
He notes the way Dury stands—stooped over the microphone counterbalancing his club foot and withered arm—the result of childhood polio. He notes the way Dury spits out the words—glaring at the audience. Dury’s dressed like a music hall act—thrift store clothes, drainpipe trousers, Paisley scarf and a razor blade earring. Give it a month and Rotten has taken some of Dury’s style as his own—even down to the razor blade earring.
The band McLaren and his ruffian charges watched that night was Ian Dury and the Kilburns—the spinoff band from the better known and more influential Kilburn and the High Roads. Kilburn and the High Roads was a ragtag band of musicians, art students and misfits: Ian Dury (vocals), Keith Lucas (guitar), Humphrey Ocean (bass), Rod Melvin (keys), David Newton-Roboman (drums) and Davey Payne (saxophone).
Formed in 1970, Kilburn and the High Roads was one of the most popular bands on the pub rock circuit that flourished in London and its environs during the 1970s.
Pub rock wasn’t for novelty acts or hopeful amateurs—despite how snide music journalists used the term in the 1990s to denigrate bands like Oasis. Pub rock was music played by serious musicians who just wanted to play their music to an audience—any audience.
Let’s also remember that there were not all that many venues where bands could play back in seventies Britain. The ones that were available were usually booked-up months in advance by headline acts. It was therefore bars like the Hope and Anchor, the Tally Ho and Dingwalls—small venues, crammed with sweaty, boozed-up young men and women out for a good time—that offered bands a place to play.
The great Ian Dury performing with Kilburn and the High Roads, after the jump…
Absinthe-scented candle that only Oscar Wilde could love. Get yours here.
“Vices Canisters” by Jonathan Adler are high-end booze-scented candles. That’s right. If you ever wanted to give someone a gift that reminds them of their last hangover your prayers have finally been answered.
Ever wondered what Vodka ‘smells’ like? Get it here.
What I find most amusing about Adler’s pricey candles are the descriptions associated with the various vices that attempt to describe the experience you will enjoy with the help of the candle’s unique scent. Here’s the overstatement attached to the Absinthe-scented candle that tells you what the candle “feels” like:
Feels like—the Left Bank, unbridled hedonism, a conversation with Oscar Wilde.
Well if Adler’s $42 dollar candle can help conjure up the ability to have a witty conversation with Oscar Wilde then I’m sure this candle will be especially popular. And I don’t know but the last time I checked the vodka in my glass didn’t smell like much of anything (except maybe desperation), but according to the scent profile for Adler’s vodka candle it should smell like zest lime slices, pink grapefruit, tonic spritzer, crushed cilantro, gin accord, bamboo water, fresh musk, and sheer woods. I don’t know what bar that drink is served up in but aside from the “fresh musk” I’m in. If you’re not so much a boozehound as you are a connoisseur of herbal delights, Adler has you covered. His hashish scented candle (that combines black currant, green apple, wormwood, patchouli, and moss) will double as a posh stash box adorned with pot leafs once it’s all used up. If you’re already shouting “shut-up and take my money” I’ve included links below each of the candles images where you can get them. Like I said they aren’t cheap and each one will run you from $37 to $68 bucks a shot.
Finnish photographer Perttu Saksa‘s series “A Kind of You” takes a heartbreaking look at the old tradition of street performing monkeys in Jakarta. The portraits expose the onlooker to monkeys in tattered children’s clothing and freakish doll masks. You’ll also notice the monkeys are on short chains.
The gripping portraits force you to come face-to-face with the sad reality of what’s done for human entertainment.
“Modern city culture has turned the old tradition into [an] eerie and haunting act of cruel street theatre where animals become something else, never able to reach our expectations,” says Perttu Saksa about his series.
In 1989 The Beach Boys were riding a huge wave success, “Kokomo” had just become their first number one U.S. hit in 22 years. The success of “Kokomo” was largely due in part by producer Terry Melcher, who co-wrote and sang vocals on the track that was certified gold and sold over a million copies worldwide. The only child of singer Doris Day, Melcher is perhaps more famously known for being the target of the Manson family murders which were carried out at his former residence at 10050 Cielo Drive.
In 1991 all living original Beach Boys members (except Brian Wilson, still under the care of his abusive psychologist Gene Landy) returned to the studio with Terry Melcher to record their follow-up to “Kokomo” with the album Summer in Paradise. This marked the first and only Beach Boys studio album that Brian Wilson had no participation in whatsoever. Produced entirely on a Macintosh Quadra computer, Summer in Paradise was recorded using a Beta version of Pro Tools with a rhythm section that was almost entirely synthesized. Despite its effort to be “the quintessential soundtrack of summer” the album quickly turned into an unmitigated disaster: musically, lyrically, and commercially. Al Jardine was suspended from the band in the early stages of the recording due to a “severe attitude problem,” however he was reinstated in final weeks leading up to the completion the project.
From the albums very first track, a cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” followed by a re-recording of the Beach Boys first ever single “Surfin’,” it is immediately brought to any listeners attention that something isn’t quite right. The bands signature sound has become overwhelmingly saturated with treble and reverb, and The Wrecking Crew‘s musical instrumentation heard on previous recordings has been replaced with programmed keyboards and drum machines.
The albums third track finally gets into some new and original material with the quasi-rap number “Summer of Love”, originally intended to be a duet between Mike Love and Bart Simpson for a planned Simpsons movie. John Tobler, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of The Beach Boys called “Summer of Love” quite possibly the worst set of lyrics Mike Love has ever concocted. “We’ll be bay watchin’ everyday, just off the Malibu surfin’ U. S. A.” The track appropriately turned up in a 1995 episode of Baywatch. The Beach Boys fearlessly reference the shit out of their dozen gold albums that came before: in fact the album’s titular song Summer in Paradise references not one, not two, but three Beach Boys song titles (“Fun Fun Fun,” “Help Me Rhonda,” and “Barbara Ann”) all in the very first verse.
More fun, fun, fun with the Beach Boys, after the jump…
Rock lore loves to romanticize the drug casualty. Of course it’s wrong, but it’s so hard to resist imagining the tantalizing might-have-beens that surround the likes of Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Skip Spence, all of whom suffered from mental illnesses almost certainly exacerbated by their enthusiastic drug use. Pot and acid have inarguably inspired creativity by breaking down the artificial walls between categories that exist only in our minds, but there are people who can’t handle that and lose it. And it’s really not so romantic, especially when the artists who fall through that crack never got the chances that Spence, Barrett, and Erickson had at recognition.
Ugly Things’ Mike Stax has authored a new book, Swim Through the Darkness, to be published in September by Process Media, which tells the tale of Maitreya Kali, born Craig Smith in 1945. He should have been a really goddamn big deal—he landed an easy entry to the L.A. music scene in 1963 when he successfully auditioned to be one of The Good Time Singers, a ten-person folk band assembled to serve as backing vocalists, musicians, and skit extras on The Andy Williams Show. Smith was an instant standout in the ensemble, making up for novice guitar playing with fine singing, an ebullient screen presence, and a toothpaste-commercial smile. In this clip, he’s the first to appear, bounding out of the starting gate ahead of the pack. He even gets lines.
The Good Time Singers in 1963. Smith is the one with the teeth, back row, second from right.
While Smith’s contributions to the Good Time Singers LPs he preformed on were limited to background vocals, he was quietly and unbeknownst to his bandmates pursuing a career as a songwriter in his own right. When the group’s tenure on William’s show ended in 1966, Smith intended to split off and start a duo with his bandmate Lee Montgomery, but that was not to be—Smith instead began auditioning for TV roles. Neat trivia item: Smith went to public school with Micky Dolenz. Smith and Dolenz both auditioned for The Monkees and for a more dramatic music-oriented series called The Happeners. I doubt I have to tell you that Dolenz became a Monkee. Smith’s audition for The Happeners was successful and he was cast as a lead, but though those who saw the pilot raved, the show never got picked up. According to TV Obscurities:
A “musical-drama,” The Happeners told the story of a Greenwich Village folk-rock trio making their way in New York City. Singers Suzannah Jordan, Chris Ducey and Craig Smith were chosen to portray the trio after 2,000 auditions in New York City and Hollywood and each episode was to include five original songs written by Bob Bower.
According to The New York Times, it cost Plautus between $6,000 and $7,000 to buy the airtime to show the pilot. Morris told Broadcasting that “at first, ABC was most interested. It tested well, and [ABC president] Leonard Goldenson called it ‘the finest pilot I’ve ever seen.’ But when sponsorship was not immediately forthcoming, the network withdrew.”
Despite near-unanimous acclaim, the pilot, alas, is not available for viewing online.
Disappointing though that experience was, it wasn’t an entirely pyrrhic victory for Smith, who embarked on a fruitful creative partnership with his Happeners co-star Chris Ducey. Together, they formed the eponymous duo Chris and Craig, which in turn morphed into the classic lost psych band The Penny Arkade, who received the patronage and production skills of The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith. Check out the Penny Arkade tune “Swim,” followed by the extremely rare Chris and Craig song “Our Love has Come Today,” which has long existed only as an acetate in Chris Ducey’s possession, and has never been heard by the public until today.
As a contributor to this blog, I spend a lot of my time poking around looking for suitable subjects that might please and edify the DM readership. When I come across an item uniting William S. Burroughs, Wilhelm Reich, Jack Kerouac, orgasms, heroin, Jean Cocteau, and even tangentially Kurt Cobain that has not been written about all too much, I can be sure I’m in the ballpark of a good DM post.
In 1977 OUI magazine published an item by William S. Burroughs with the title “My Life in Orgone Boxes,” in which he explained that he built his first orgone accumulator in 1949 on the farm of a friend named Kells Elvins in Texas. Among other things, in the article Burroughs addresses Jack Kerouac’s fictionalized version of Burroughs’ device as presented in On the Road but insisted that the account was “pure fiction.”
That Burroughs used an orgone accumulator is (a) pretty well known, and (b) not very surprising, given who Burroughs was. But let’s back up a moment here. What is an orgone accumulator, anyway? (It’s sometimes called an orgone machine or an orgone box.) Reich was in the first wave of post-Freudian thinkers, and he attributed his discovery of “orgone energy”—that is to say, energy with the capacity to charge organic material (cellulose), unlike electromagnetic energy—physical manifestations of sexual energy—as occurring in January 1939, after working off of Freud’s theory of the libido.
One of the first experimental orgone accumulators. Note the stack of Reich/orgone publications propping the door open. Much larger version here.
The orgasm formula which directs sex-economic research is as follows: MECHANICAL TENSION —> BIOELECTRIC CHARGE —> BIOELECTRIC DISCHARGE —> MECHANICAL RELAXATION. It proved to be the formula of living functioning as such. … Research in the field of sexuality and bions opened a new approach to the problem of cancer and a number of other disturbances of vegetative life.
Check that out: “the formula of living functioning as such,” wow. Reich’s idea was that orgone energy was virtually everywhere and pointed to both the aurora borealis and the blue tint seen in sexually excited frogs as evidence. As he put it in The Function of the Orgasm, “‘Biological energy’ is atmospheric (cosmic) orgone energy.” Then:
The color of orgone energy is blue or blue-gray. In our laboratory, atmospheric orgone is accumulated or concentrated by means of an apparatus specifically constructed for this purpose. We succeeded in making it visible by arranging certain materials in a specific way. The blocking of the orgone’s kinetic energy is expressed as an increase in temperature. Its concentration or density is indicated on the static electroscope by the differences in the speed of the discharge. The spontaneous discharge or electroscopes in non-ionized air, a phenomenon designated as “natural leak” by physicists, is the effect of atmospheric orgone and has nothing to do with dampness. The orgone contains three kinds of rays: blue-gray, foglike vapors; deep blue-violet expanding and contracting dots of light; and white-yellow, rapidly moving rays of dots and streaks. The blue color of the sky and the blue-gray of atmospheric haze on hot summer days are direct reflections of the atmospheric orgone. The blue-gray, cloudlike Northern lights, the so-called St. Elmo’s fire, and the bluish formations recently observed in the sky by astronomers during increased sun-spot activity are also manifestations of orgone energy.
It was later realized that Reich’s device for enhancing sexual stimulation with electricity was more or less a modified Faraday cage.
As Burrough writes in the OUI article, in addition to the one he and Elvins built, Burroughs also made a smaller version, a “potent sexual tool” constructed “from an Army-style gas can.” Burroughs used the smaller tool inside the larger box, “held the little one over my joint and came right off.” Then, in an aside, Burroughs explains that Jean Cocteau used to ejaculate without using his hands as a kind of party trick. Some trick!
Divine on Facebook alerted me to these custom-made Divine Vans by Sink or Swim Custom Kicks! I visited the Sink or Swim Custom Kicks! website and couldn’t find any pricing information. If you’re interested, I’d reach out to them via their “contact” which is at the bottom of their homepage. I’d also message them on Facebook about ordering, pricing and shipping.
I wish I had more information, but I simply don’t. Interestingly, Divine’s look was created by Divine, John Waters and a fellow named Van Smith. Smith, who died in 2006, designed all the costumes and did the makeup for every John Waters film from 1972 to 2004. Vans need to do a Van Smith Vans tribute next.
A 2010 movie poster for the 1968 film ‘Head’ by Wayne Shellabarger.
Back in 2010 Criterion had the fantastic idea to have director Jim Jarmusch select a number of notable artists including Daniel Clowes, R. Crumb and Hunter S. Thompson’s pal Ralph Steadman to design movie posters for various Criterion releases. The posters made their debut during an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival which Jarmusch curated in 2010.
A poster for the 1963 film ‘Shock Corridor’ by Daniel Clowes.
If you’ve not seen the artwork that Clowes created for two films in Criterion’s collection directed by Samuel Fuller—1963’s mental hospital fever-dream Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss—you are in for a treat. I’ve assembled a number of the posters done by a wide range of artists that pay homage to films by Wes Anderson, Hal Ashby and David Cronenberg just to name a few. In 2014 Criterion published a massive book Criterion Designs that features a collection of artwork created for films in their catalog including many of the ones featured in this post.