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This incredible fetish photo history book will have you tied up for months!
02:18 pm

Pop Culture


It’s amazing when you consider what we might now view as quaint, familiar photographic imagery was once a serious no-no. We’ve all seen photos of Betty Page bound and gagged to the point where it’s no more shocking than a LIFE magazine cover image. When John Alexander Scott Coutts aka “John Willie,” publisher of the original Bizarre magazine and the author/ artist of the iconic art comic The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline started, excuse me, basically invented fetish photography as we now know it, it was a punishable crime.

Possibilities!, a massive 472 page coffee table book of John Willie’s photos, published by J.B. Rund’s Belier Press is the be-all, end-all last word from the world’s greatest expert on the subject.

Belier Press has been in existence since 1974 and the publisher’s own story is as interesting as the subject of the books he puts out. J.B. Rund was a young teen running around in the original rock ‘n’ roll era (1955/56) looking for second hand rock ‘n’ roll 45s to buy cheap from juke box distributors in Times Square. One of these stores also had “adult books” and this is where the author first saw a John Willie photo. The afterward of this book goes into great detail about this discovery period and the history of Belier Press. Belier Press has published all kinds of books, not just fetish photography, though I can say that the first time I ever saw a photo of Betty Page was on the cover of Belier’s Betty Page Private Peeks volume two. He also put out R. Crumb’s Carload o’ Comics, The Complete Fritz The Cat, all of the reprints of the Irving Klaw catalogs (Bizarre Katalogs), Eric Stanton and Gene “Eneg” Bilbrew and other fetish artists in Bizarre Komix (24 volumes!), The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline and the recent deluxe reprint. An amazing run.
Possibilities! has more than 1,360 photographs basically giving a visual history of John Willie’s fetish coming of age and, in fact, the birth of what we take for granted now as an art form, a style, a distinctive look and feel all which can be traced back in these photos to something that sparked excitement in one man’s mind (and loins) and the fact that he wasn’t afraid to act on that idea, even though for all he knew he may have been one of the only people on earth to feel this way.
John Alexander Scott Coutts (or JASC as the author refers to him) was born in 1902 in Singapore, the youngest of four children of William Scott and Edith Ann Spreckley Coutts. His father, wanting to go into business for himself moved the family to St. Albans, Hertfordshire, a northwest suburb of London in June 1903. As a very young child Coutts was drawn to a particular type of children’s fantasy literature called “Fairy Books,” where he developed an attraction for “damsels in distress” and the want to rescue these damsels. At around this time he also showed a talent for drawing.

To quote the author:

At about the age of puberty he became aware of another attraction—for women in high heeled shoes—which had a strong sexual connotation for him. In his fantasies John wanted these women in high-heels to be tied-up (in order to rescue them?).

In September of 1921 Coutts entered Sandhurst (the Royal Military Academy), graduating in 1923 with a commission as Second Lieutenant and joined the Royal Scots regiment. In 1925 he married Eveline Stella Frances Fisher, a nightclub hostess who he decided needed “rescuing.” They were married without the required permission of his regiment and against his the wishes of his father (who cut him off), so he moved to Australia in late 1925 or early 1926. The marriage disintegrated soon after. One day in 1934 Coutts stumbled upon McNaught’s, a shoe store on King Street that had a sideline catering to shoe fetishists. He also discovered in that establishment the existence of a weekly British magazine called London Life.

London Life was, as Rund puts it:

...a weekly British magazine that openly dealt with a range of fetishes, but in a conservative manner that would seem quaint by today’s (lack of) standards. Suddenly John Coutts realized that he was NOT alone!

At this point he was introduced to a locally based organization for shoe fetishists, possibly called “The High-Heel Club,” run by a retired ship’s captain who went by the name “Achilles.” He then met Holly Anna Faram around 1934, a woman that shared his his interests in bondage & high heels. She became his first model, and his second wife.

“Coutts was frustrated by the refusal of London Life to print any of his letters on the subject of bondage and arrived at the conclusion–in 1936 or ‘37–that he could produce a superior and more liberal publication, which in 1946 would come to called Bizarre.

In the decade in between coming up with the idea of Bizarre magazine and getting the finances to put that project together, he came up with the idea of selling high-heeled shoes, though he actually wanted to market his photographs of women wearing those shoes and not the actual shoes themselves. But it didn’t work out that way.
In 1937 Coutts got access to “The High-Heel Club” mailing list and started his career as a photographer. He also acquired the right to use the name “Achilles.” At first, using the list, he offered rather pedestrian photos of women wearing high-heels. He then added Holly Anna Faram who turned out to be an amazing model and started offering bondage poses, but in a veiled manner. Like many artists, writers and musicians Coutts was not a good businessman and not very good with money, a problem that would follow him throughout his life.

Early in 1938 he placed a series of ads in London Life magazine for his sexy shoes, charging what he felt would be too much for any potential customer (wanting to push his more reasonably priced photos instead) and naturally people started to order them. Now he had to do something, or return the money. So Coutts added shoe maker/designer to his list of accomplishments. He also put the money together to make his dream magazine but World War II broke out and that ended that dream, at least for a while.

In 1940, John Coutts volunteered for service in the Australian Army (listing his religion as “Pagan”). In 1945 he decided to move to America to once again attempt to bring his Bizarre dream to life. At the end of that year he travelled to Canada on a merchant ship to subsidize the trip. In Montreal he found a printer that not only had an allotment of paper (remember this was wartime), but was willing to take on the job. At that moment both “John Willie” and Bizarre were born.
As far as Coutts’ new name was concerned and what it meant—“Willie,” of course, being British slang for the male sex organ—but “John Willie” was also a Cockney rhyming slang term for a little boy, so ummmm… take your pick! At last he was on his way. Willie moved to New York City in 1946 or ‘47, trying to work on Bizarre with not a lot of luck. He postponed publishing after four issues and started again in 1951. He sold the magazine to a friend in 1956 after publishing 20 issues. He also did business with infamous fetish photographer and mail order dealer Irving Klaw, famous for his Tempest Storm and Betty Page photos, bondage photos, fetish cartoon serials and of course, the photos by John Willie. Klaw made two color full length films (Teaserama and Varietease) which survived and can be seen on one DVD from Something Weird Video.
To quote Rund again:

In April of 1961, after moving to Los Angeles, Coutts/Willie was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, followed in May by a confrontation with a Postal Inspector concerning his photographs. He then decided to put an end to his activities as “John Willie” and destroyed all of his negatives as well as his mailing list sending this announcement to his customers:

“On this occasion I will forgo the usual editorial “WE” (which is more businesslike) and instead, as this is the last letter you will ever receive from me I am reverting to “I”. I got sick (it happened very suddenly) and had to undergo a major operation (of course I’d have no insurance). As a result, there will be no more “Gwendoline,” and the whole business will be closed as of June 25th. (I have a few weeks grace—I hope.) I would like to inform you that on that date everything, but everything, including the mailing list will be destroyed… It’s been nice to have known you and I wish you the very best in your games of fun and nonsense.”

This was followed by a quotation from John’s favorite book (his “Bible”), The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, from which he had also quoted at the beginning of each issue of Bizarre: “Ah, with the grape of my fading Life provide, And wash my Body whence the Life has died, And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt, So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.”

John Alexander Scott Coutts passed away on August 5th 1962, at a doctor friend’s house in Scottsdale Arizona, on the same day that Marilyn Monroe died.

Little could Coutts have known the impact his art and life would have on the future of human sexuality. This impact is mostly due to Bizarre magazine and his The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline, both of which have been documented. According to author and publisher J.B. Rund:

The former (Bizarre) in the disappointing reprint of the magazine. The Latter (Gwendoline), together with a substantial amount of previously unpublished and uncollected artwork, in The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline, (Belier Press, 1974 and 1999). And to a lesser extent, as a photographer, which heretofore has been poorly and disrespectfully done. The present work will expand on this other talent, and provide an extensive—but not a complete—record of his prodigious output in that medium.

The photos in the book are culled almost completely from just two sources, the author/publisher’s personal collection and that of the Kinsey Institute. It’s separated into three huge sections, geographically (Australia, New York, Los Angeles) which match his life’s timeline and it’s just incredible to see it all in one massive artistic survey. The notes, introductions and afterward are riddled with the most minute details that seem to leave no stone unturned. If you have even the slightest interest in pop culture, photography, women in distress, art, bondage, or the history of alternative culture, then you owe it to yourself to own this book—the only one you’ll ever need on this subject. Trade edition available from Belier Press for $70. Deluxe limited edition of 150 numbered copies each in a custom made cloth slipcase containing an ORIGINAL print of a photograph taken by John Willie in Los Angeles circa 1958-61, a different photo in each book, plus reproductions of two previously privately circulated photographs taken by Willie in Sydney circa 1938 (not in the book). Plus John Willie Speaks–John Willie Sings!?!, an audio CD, just under forty-eight minutes, consisting of a monologue from Within A Story, his only known speaking part in a motion picture from 1954, and excerpts from the only known interview with Willie from 1961-62, excerpts from A Bawdy Recital–Poems, songs and stories performed by John Willie in 1962. Whew! A serious bargain if you ask me, as only Belier Press could whip up.

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Boss Babes: A Coloring & Activity Book for Grown-Ups
09:06 am



Since the Women’s March on Washington is coming up on January 21, I thought that it be a good time to blog about this coloring book: Boss Babes: A Coloring & Activity Book for Grown-Ups. The fun-filled book is by Michelle Volansky and it’s an ode to strong women.

BOSS BABES is a coloring and activity book filled with fun facts and whimsical black-and-white line drawings celebrating female powerhouses from Beyonce to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dolly Parton to Malala, Tina Fey to Serena Williams. On every page is a portrait to color or an activity to complete: Connect the dots to conjure J.K. Rowling’s patronus. Complete the Beyonce crossword (12-DOWN: Who run the world?). Decorate Flo-Jo’s nails, decode Cher’s most recent tweet, design a new jabot for RBG, color in Frida Kahlo’s flowers, and more!

Even though it says in title that it’s a book for “grown-ups,” I think it would be an awesome activity book for little girls (and boys, too). Kids are wiser and hipper nowadays, so I’m sure they’d totally get the references in it. Be warned, though, there are a few “naughty” words.

It’s a 96-page paperback activity book and sells for $10.95 here. Dig it.


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Sex Around the Clock’: The darkly sleazetastic pulp art of R.A. Maguire
09:03 am



Illustrator R.A. Maguire was a prolific genre paperback cover artist noted for romance novels and westerns in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but he built his reputation as one of the most skillful and evocative renderers of femme fatale figures for pulp crime/erotica novels, beginning in 1950.

On returning to the US after his military service in WWII, Maguire worked a connection to become a student of Frank J. Reilly’s at the Art Student’s League in NYC. Reilly was a noteworthy illustrator in his own right, but is much better known for perfecting a method of teaching anatomy that impacted generations of professional commercial artists and eventually earned him his own eponymous school. Maguire was recommended to Reilly by the father of a friend, and he related the experience thusly:

It was a miracle because there were so many people waiting to get in. I hadn’t even heard of Reilly at all so it was quite a bit of luck that I got in. I knew quite a bit about the Pratt in Brooklyn but not much about the Art Student’s League. It was actually a democratic institute run by students. The League is a classic school. You read an artist’s resume and 9 out of 10 of them studied there on 57th Street.

I remember my first day in class and I was relegated to a seat in the back of a class of about 60 people. It was a dark and rainy day and they had an elderly black man sitting and I could hardly see him. From where I was and because of the day, all I could see were his eyes and his teeth when he smiled. I was all ready to go home. But I stuck with it. The next week we had a classic woman model. It was 9 months to a year before you could learn how to draw classically as Reilly wanted us to do. We always tried to laboriously copy the model and you just cannot do that. You have to learn from the way the model poses, the line of action, and that took almost the whole year. Very few failures. An astonishing performance rate. Reilly said he could teach you in about a year and it was true.

Maguire’s career in pulps followed almost immediately from his graduation from the ASL, beginning with the October, 1950 issue of Hollywood Detective.

By his death in 2005, Maguire had painted over 1,000 book covers, which were collected in the book Dames, Dolls, and Gun Molls. The web site R.A. Maguire Cover Art has undertaken the ambitious endeavor of not just collecting his covers, but also his original paintings and the reference photos from which he worked. Many of the images shared here were culled from that site, and are mildly NSFWish.


More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Murder, death, KILL! Vintage horror pulp novels from the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond
08:36 am



The cover of ‘Rock A Bye Baby.’ A horror novel from 1984 by prolific horror writer Stephen Gresham.
A huge tip of my hat goes out to the exhaustive blog Too Much Horror Fiction (is there such a thing? I think not) for inspiring this post. Curated by the self-described “neat, clean, shaved & sober” Will Errickson, the site has been cataloging and reviewing vintage horror novels since 2010. As a bonafide horror junkie, I’ll never understand how I didn’t know about this site until today. If you’re a horror nerd like I am and were perhaps not hip to Errickson’s dedication to the books that helped shape our youth, then welcome to your new Internet time-killer. Zing!

I’m sure a few of the books I’ve featured in this post will be familiar to you—such as the cover of the 1976 book The Fury which was the basis for Brian De Palma’s 1978 film of the same name starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes and Amy Irving. I’ve also included a few H.P. Lovecraft paperbacks featuring fantastic cover artwork that will bring you right back to those times you spent spinning those revolving metal book racks around hoping to find a cover repulsive enough to freak your parents out with. If this post gets you pining away for this kind of vintage goodness then you’re in luck as many of these books can still be found on auction sites such as eBay and Etsy. Some of the artwork that follows is slightly NSFW.

The 1976 cover of a reprint of the novel by Jack Finney ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ Finney original penned the book, which has been adapted into several notable films, in 1955.

‘Evil Way,’ 1990.
More macabre book covers after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Vintage publications attempt to diagnose transvestism, masturbation & other sexual ‘deviations’
10:20 am

The wrong side of history


The cover of the 1960 book ‘Transvestism Today: The Phenomenon of Men Who Dress Like Women.’
According to a note on the back cover of the 1960 book Transvestism Today: The Phenomenon of Men Who Dress Like Women, viewing the book was only for the eyes of those affiliated with the medical community, psychoanalysts or students currently pursuing degrees in “psychology or social studies.” Written by the rather prolific Dr. Edward Podolsky and noted “hack” Carlson Wade, the duo authored many books together on sexuality and psychology. Including The Modern Sex Manual in 1942 which divulged some rather stunning revelations such as the “abnormal” act of masturbation can “dull” the feeling of intercourse:

Masturbation, if it has been indulged in excessively before marriage maybe be a cause of lack of orgasm during coitus. In women, masturbation brings into play abnormal channels of nerve stimulation, and as these are not stimulated during the normal act, the woman fails to achieve and orgasm. In most cases if masturbation is dropped completely and normal sexual activity substituted for it, the normal channels of nerve stimulation will in time bring about a normal enjoyment of the act.

It seems all that is missing from the good doctor’s assessment is that you might also go blind while pleasuring yourself. Podolsky and Wade’s Transvestism Today book is chock full of photographs of famous drag queens such as the alluring Parisian “Coccinelle” (born Jacques Charles Dufresnoy). Coccinelle was notable for many reasons including being the roommate of Salvador Dali muse Amanda Lear and the first French-born man to undergo sexual reassignment surgery which was performed in Casablanca in 1958.

When it comes to Wade’s contributions to the literary world, in addition to to his many collaborations with Dr. Podolsky (including six manuals from 1963 referred to as their “Epic Sexual Behavior Series”) he is also responsible for a series of sleazy pulp paperbacks such as a book on Coccinelle published in 1963 titled She-Male: The Sex-Reversal True Life Story of COCCINELLE. There was also a claim made by Bob Blackburn, the executor of Ed Wood’s estate (on behalf of his second wife Kathy O’Hara) that Wood was actually Carlson Wade and had written the 1958 book by Wade Conquering Goddess. And just because I love to throw our DM readers a good old-fashioned curveball, Wade also penned loads of trash under the name of “Ken Worthy” among other pseudonyms. But as I often do, I digress. Why don’t we take a look at the table of contents from Worthy/Wade/not-Wood 1967 book The Queer Path, shall we?:

The Table of Contents from Wade Carlson’s book ‘The Queer Path,’ 1967.
Moving on, here’s more anti-gay rantings from Worthy/Wade as published in 1965’s The New Homosexual Revolution lest you have any doubt of the author’s feelings about the gay community of the 1960s:

As the ranks of the homosexual is constantly swelling by greater and greater acceptance of this condition as an ‘illness,’ the ranks of the male prostitute is also swelled.

I’ve included images of both pages from both authors’ books as well as other salacious imagery that I’m sure will make you wonder if Dr. Podolsky perhaps got his degree out of a box of Cracker Jacks.

A page from ‘Transvestism Today: The Phenomenon of Men Who Dress Like Women.’

An illustration accompanying Carlson Wade’s article on the ‘strange erotic impulse’ of ‘Vampirism.’
More after the jump….

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Welcome to the broken pyramid of your brain: The wild, weird & beautiful art of René Brantonne
09:29 am



René Brantonne’s cover illustrations for French pulp paperback publisher Fleuve Noir are a riot of imagination, lysergic color and unparalleled weirdness. Born in Creteil France, Brantonne started his career as a young artist for hire in the 1920s creating movie posters for French releases of American films. For a brief period, Brantonne lived in the United States continuing his work as a poster artist for Hollywood studios. He returned to France and from the mid-1950s until his death in 1979 produced hundreds of covers and illustrations for sci-fi and adventure novels and popular comic books.

Of the work I’ve seen and enjoyed by Brantonne, it’s his work for Fleuve Noir’s Anticipation series that I find the most exhilarating. The art is filled with energy, movement, wit, trippy perspectives, occult intimations and colors that will slap you silly. And some are the stuff of nightmares in which the future is a constant battle between man, machine and the unknown. The future depicted as a giant shoe crushing humanity like a bug or the grinding wheels of progress (Metal de Mort) making mincemeat of our flesh and bone. Brantonne’s vision was everything but idyllic. If the machines don’t get you the giant serpents will.

Welcome to the broken pyramid of your brain.


René Brantonne.

More visionary weirdness after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rare Frank Herbert ‘Dune’ calendar from 1978 works for 2017!
10:15 am



This is actually kind of cool if you can find one on eBay or Amazon: A Frank Herbert Dune calendar from 1978 that totally works for 2017. The illustrations for the calendar were done by artist John Schoenherr. Now this is a pretty great find, so I highly doubt you’d want to muck it up by actually using it as wall calendar. Maybe you might? I’d say this is more of a collector’s item.

According to I09:

...these images were commissioned for the 1978 Dune calendar and wound up in the book The Illustrated Dune. These forgotten illustrations and paintings were given to Omni to print in their July 1980 issue (along with 2 that were never printed in the book).

I looked online and found a few for sale. They’re not cheap. Here’s one on eBay with a “buy it now” for $125.00. I found another one here on eBay selling for $129.00. And here are few on Amazon.


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Diabolical images of Hell and its demons from the 15th Century
10:09 am



For such a beautiful book containing such rich and powerful religious iconography there is surprisingly little known about Livre de la Vigne Nostre Seigneur other than it is a French book written circa 1450-70 and is an illustrated treatise “on the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ” and “the Antichrist, Last Judgement, Hell, and Heaven.”

The book’s title Livre de la Vigne Nostre Seigneur is an “allusion” to:

...a vineyard often evoked in the Old Testament, planted by Yahweh and symbolizing the people of Israel. The image is taken up in the New Testament [Matthew 20-21], Jesus comparing the Kingdom of God to a vine whose Christians are the winegrowers.

The manuscript is illustrated throughout with stunning miniatures produced by many different hands depicting a diverse range of demons carrying out their dastardly deeds in Hell.

These “medieval demons”:

...undertake a much broader variety of activities—none of them good—and as observable here and elsewhere in the Livre de la Vigne imagery, their physiognomies often incorporate a baroque set of negative pictorial signs, which may include dark skin; deformity; bestial features such as fangs or beaks, horns, hooves, and tails; ugly grimaces; and supernumerary bodily orifices.

Demonic attributes, such as military weapons, pitchforks, fleshhooks, and flails, are associated with warfare, agricultural labour, and torture; and the torments inflicted by demons upon the damned include some of those familiar to medieval viewers from earthly spectacle, including public punishment.

Writer and researcher Jenny Judova notes the “most interesting aspect of these demonic depictions is”:

...that according to F. Carey (The Apocalypse and the Shape of Things to Come, p.93) ‘many of the details of the pictorial depictions follow the account in the text, which incorporates the description (in Latin ) from the book of Job 41:5-12:

(41-5) Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. (41-6) His body is like molten shields, shut close up with scales pressing upon one another. (41-7) One is joined to another, and not so much as any air can come between them: (41-8) They stick one to another and they hold one another fast, and shall not be separated. (41-9) His sneezing is like the shining of fire, and his eyes like the eyelids of the morning. (41-10) Out of his mouth go forth lamps, like torches of lighted fire. (41-11) Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, like that of a pot heated and boiling. (41-12) His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh forth out of his mouth’

Jenny also points out the manuscript’s depiction of the Devil is “to some extent based on scripture and not social expectations of what the devil should like and artistic imagination.”

The Bodleain Library has uploaded a large selection of images from Livre de la Vigne Nostre Seigneur which can be viewed here.
More images of Hell’s angels, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The annual Dangerous Minds last-minute shopping guide for rock snobs & culture vultures
08:50 pm



Each year around this time, I put together a “last minute” list of cool things meant to aid the friends and loved ones of rock snobs and especially hard-to-buy-for people-who-have-everything during the holiday season. I would imagine that I’m probably in the top 1% of the top 1% of the infuriatingly difficult to gift—trust me, I already own it and I probably got it for free from a record label—so I feel uniquely qualified to be of assistance here.

The mammoth, slick, classy, near definitive career-spanning 10-CD Marc Almond package, Trials of Eyeliner: The Anthology 1979-2016, is easily the very best box set of the year. Hell, it’s one of the best box sets ever released, period, if you ask me. From Soft Cell’s greatest hits to each and every one of Almond’s single releases, some hidden gems, collaborations and demos, this is the ultimate Marc Almond collection. Why would this make a good gift and for whom? For a gay uncle or brother who loves music, it’s a solid choice, but it’s a great pick for anyone who loves music, really. Marc Almond is a genius, one of our greatest living vocalists and this is a box set to lose yourself in, a true musical journey and an exceeding rare pleasure to discover for the very first time. For someone whose musical tastes would intersect favorably in a Venn diagram triangulated by Nick Cave, Scott Walker and Maria Callas. It’s also not that expensive for a 10-CD set, often selling on Amazon for around $60. It would be a bargain at ten times the price. Here’s a longer review.

Action Time Vision, a new 111-track “story of independent punk 1976-79” from Cherry Red Records is the sole obscure punk box set that anyone will care about in the future. Let’s face it, once you get much beyond the Sex Pistols, the Damned and the Clash—and precious few others—there wasn’t really a whole lot of truly great punk rock music that was produced during the punk rock era. What came after punk was a deluge of amazement and creativity, whereas the vast majority of “classic” punk bands, well the essential “A list” stuff could be rounded up into one good box set. Action Time Vision is the onion layer beyond that one good box set, boasting material not from all the usual suspects. Some of this stuff is truly thrilling and will send your rock snob giftee (or you yourself, if that’s who you’re buying for) spanning out to look for more from below-the-radar groups like the Hollywood Brats, Poison Girls, Swell Maps, Rezillos and others.

For someone who you are fond of, but not so fond of them that they merit a freakin’ box set, may I (strongly) suggest Beyond the Bloodhounds, the debut album by the incredible new talent, Adia Victoria? Earlier this year I described her music as “an authentic 21st century Southern gothic blues” and asked “Would you press play if I described Adia Victoria as ‘Jeffrey Lee Pierce reincarnated as Ronnie Spector’?” before answering my own question: “You’d be a fucking idiot if you didn’t, now wouldn’t you?” When a new artist arrives this fully formed, you should pay attention. This one has the makings of a future icon. She’s gorgeous and she plays a mean guitar. By a narrow margin, I rank Beyond the Bloodhounds as my top favorite album of 2016. A+.

Just one half-notch below Adia Victoria’s debut comes Häxan, the new longplayer from Dungen. I was nuts—absolutely crazy—about last year’s Dungen alum, Allas Sak, and I pretty enthusiastic about this one too. Dungen can do no wrong in my eyes, each and every one of their albums is a thing of finely crafted beauty, something I hope they themselves are fiercely proud of, because they should be. Dungen make beautiful music for a world that needs more beautiful things. Häxan is their soundtrack to the Russian silent animated feature film from 1926 The Adventures of Prince Achmed. It’s pure magic from the first note to the last. Note that this would be something especially good to get on vinyl.

Then there’s the latest from Luke Haines, Smash the System. This album fucking rocks and contains the very best song of 2016: “Black Bunny (I’m Not Vince Taylor).” In fact, let me offer you the best musical advice I could possibly offer you: Buy every album by The Auteurs and every solo album by Haines (and his books). Start with After Murder Park, then get New Wave or How I Learned to Love the Bootboys. Don’t miss out on the oddball terrorist punk funk of the Baader-Meinhof album. But get ALL of Luke Haines’ output, first for yourself, and only then should you worry about other people. You’re welcome.

The three CD Momus collection, Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986-2016 is another sure-thing, cast miss, all-killer, no-filler that will delight just about any rock snob. The smarter they are, the better they’ll appreciate what the eyepatch wearing Scotsman has on offer culled from the past 30 years of his output. Momus is not a household name, although he should be. If I didn’t already own this and someone gave it to me, I would not only be super happy, I would think that it reflected well on the giver’s musical tastes. (More on Momus here)

Rhino recently released an “elevated edition” of Jethro Tull’s mighty Stand Up album remixed for 5.1 surround by Steven Wilson. If you have someone on your shopping list who is an aficionado of 5.1 music (or happen to be one yourself) this is another must-hear effort from Wilson’s audio lab. I was already a big fan of Stand Up, but in surround, it’s simply sublime. Even better the edition—which comes packaged like a hardback book—includes a 5.1 mix of their classic “Living in the Past” single and DVD footage of the group playing live in Sweden in 1969

In terms of books, there’s only one that I’m going to recommend this year and that is The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell edited by Douglas Walla. This is the best art book of 2016, and to my mind there can no other competition. How could anything else possibly outweigh it? Nothing can. A stunning compendium of beautiful art and ideas by the late visionary artist. There’s no one with a brain who wouldn’t be thrilled to get this for Christmas.

Movie posters make awesome gifts and they show that you’ve really thought about the person you’re giving it to (provided of course, that you did really think about them and didn’t just buy a ratty Home Alone 2 poster on your way home from work from a homeless guy.) My favorite poster store on the entire Internet, the Los Angeles-based Westgate Gallery is currently running a big 40% off sale (that’s almost half off) which continues into the new year so you can spend your “Christmas money” on exquisite poster art curated by someone with a particularly good eye. If you know a movie, or a particular actor or actress that your intended giftee is into, something from Westgate Gallery during their 40% off sale would make a fantastic gift. Hundreds upon hundreds of amazing images there, you can surf around for hours. Featuring a large selection of Italian Giallo, “golden age of XXX” and cult film favorites.

Which brings me to DVDs. This year if I had to pick the sort of offbeat film that I would be happy to get on DVD, I’d chose Candy, the star-studded adaptation of the Terry Southern-Mason Hoffenberg farce—yes it’s a terrible movie but the cast includes Ringo Starr, James Coburn, John Astin, Richard Burton, Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando as the horny guru Grindl. And then there’s Otto Preminger’s Skidoo, a Hollywood attempt at a counterculture comedy where Jackie Gleason plays a retired mod hitman who accidentally takes LSD and Groucho Marx is “God.” It costars Carol Channing and most of the unemployed villains from TV’s Batman. Nilsson did the soundtrack and—get this—sings the credits. But I had you at Jackie Gleason dropping acid, didn’t I?

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Website plays William S Burroughs reading random snippets from ‘Naked Lunch’ every time you refresh
08:44 pm



It’s axiomatic that William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch is one of the landmark accomplishments of 20th-century American literature. All the more striking its author’s commitment to stochasticity: He insisted that its 25 chapters could be read in any order. (A later Burroughs novel Dead Fingers Talk from 1963 took random bits from Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded and combined them into a new work with a semi-coherent plot.)

Possibly related was Burroughs’ disavowal of any fixed memory of composing the work. In his 1960 preface to the book, titled “Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness,” Burroughs wrote that “I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch.”

In a most Burroughs-ian gesture, this year a “single-serving” website calling itself 23Skidoo came into being, with the promise of supplying readers with “23 random paragraphs from Naked Lunch” every time the refresh button is activated. The reader is invited to take in the newly forged juxtapositions while the inimitably phlegmatic voice of Burroughs reads from the work.

Curiously, in keeping with the general air of experimental mindfuckery, the Burroughs audio never matches the passages reproduced on the page, at least as far as I could discern. I believe that there does not exist any recording of the full novel read aloud in Burroughs’ voice—sometime during the 1990s, Hal Willner and James Grauerholz persuaded Burroughs to record portions of the book. So that might explain the discrepancy—the visual texts draw from the entire novel, but there are limitations as to how much of the book can be presented in Burroughs’ voice, so no attempt was made to match them up.

At the top of the page one sees the instruction “the ticket explodes again each time you load the page.”

At any rate, a fun, bracing project, perfect for distracting oneself from the holiday bullshit, or indeed any form of bullshit. Enjoy.

via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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