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Meet Rita, the blow-up party doll that took 1970s Germany by storm
08:13 am


Pop Art
Soda pop

In 1969, Swiss advertising agency Gerstner, Gredinger + Kutter (GGK) launched an innovative campaign for Germany’s most popular soft drink: Sinalco Kola (distinct for its “sherbet powder” taste). It starred a brightly colored, life-sized blow-up party doll named Rita. With striking red hair, curly lashes, lush shapes, and a Sinalco Kola in hand, the campaign slogan boasted “Rita ist lieb,” which in English translates to “Rita is sweet.” “She will follow you everywhere: to parties, seaside holidays, or even into the bathtub. She does not smoke, does not drink, does not scold. Rita is all yours and she is not an expensive girl: she comes to you through the mail for 6,60 Deutsche Marks.” Yes, besides this colossal beauty’s presence in magazine advertisements, insert posters, TV ads, and in-store displays all over Germany, you could also have an inflatable Rita sent directly to your home for about $4 US.

Within two years of the campaign’s launch, Rita had quickly achieved cult status and helped Sinalco garner tons of attention, but more importantly, a unique personification and lasting impression that would help separate their brand from ubiquitous competitors such as Coca-Cola. In March of 1971, several inflated Rita’s were thrown from the roof of the Rhein-Main-Halle building during a trade fair as part of a spontaneous marketing stunt. Dozens of excited Wiesbaden residents ran through the streets with their Rita dolls, continuing their celebration in local pubs and train stations. By the mid-‘70s, every hippie in Germany owned this eye-catching piece of plastic pop art, and Rita’s became very common at public gatherings: from crowd surfing at outdoor music festivals to political protests. A male counterpart to Rita was created: a macho, muscular, spandex wearing man pathetically nicknamed “The Guy,” but Rita proved that her popularity could never be matched.

Rita blow-up party dolls can still be found floating around Germany, occasionally someone will sell one on eBay. She typically goes for about 70 euros, who can score me one?


More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
The 1970s, when we all expressed our individuality via mass-produced t-shirts and novelty patches

American Motorcyclist Association.
I’ll ‘fess up to owning a Laurel and Hardy t-shirt when I was a child. I also had one with Humphrey Bogart saying something memorable from Casablanca. Damned if I can remember what it was now. This was as far as I would go with my counter-culture wardrobe. Most of my school friends were of similar mind. They opted for plus fours, smoking jackets and a fine selection of Arran-knit cardigans. Life was so different in Scotland then.

Of course, there were some who sported denim jackets decked out in assorted patches imported from America. These mass-produced novelties of old men saying things like “Keep on truckin’” or cartoon dogs offering advice about not eating yellow snow always struck me as frightfully quaint yet rather dumb. I suppose I was just confused as to what these badges were supposed to mean. But what did I know? I was merely an innocent child out of step with the current fashion trends.

Soon nearly every youngster across our fabled tartan nation was dressed-up like Joseph in his amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat or at least a brazen tatterdemalion. These patches all signified the same thing. I am unique. I am an individual. These are my likes and dislikes. And look, haven’t I got a wacky sense of humor?

Sad to say, all of this fun passed me by far too quickly and I missed out in the pleasures of actually becoming an individual. My taste in t-shirts was understandably laughed at by those far more in tune with the heady zeitgeist of the day. Laurel and Hardy could never compete with some twee tee saying Pepsi was the “real thing.”

Most of the fashionable peeps wore the American patches and t-shirts. Soon, these were rivaled by our very own homegrown patches declaring a love for the Bay City Rollers or tops saying “My girlfriend went to Arbroath and all she got me was this lousy t-shirt.” That kind of thing.

Those crazy delights of that faraway decade can be enjoyed with this fine selection of adverts selling counter-culture t-shirts and some ads and fine examples of the quirkier patches which were then available. If this whets the appetite then I suggest a visit to Mitch O’Connell’s blog which will leave you positively sated.
Hustler 1975.
Gilda Radner in CREEM magazine t-shirt ad.
More crazy delights from the heady 1970s, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Everything on the Internet is a LIE (except for this)
10:19 am


Cris Shapan

I reckon my pal Cris Shapan is a bonafide comedy genius. If he weren’t so dagblasted funny, then I honestly doubt I would laugh so much at his gags. But laugh I do, my painfully cramped stomach testament to the obtuse brilliance of his singular comedic vision. But he’s a funnyman with a difference, as you’ll see. He’s an entire comedy genre of one.

Cris Shapan’s comedy is all about the little details. He might have the most exactingly detailed comic mind on the planet. His work is complex, multi-layered and maniacal. It also brutally takes advantage—in the nicest way possible, mind you—of how gullible people can be on the Internet. You see, prior to when he started working on various cult television programs—you’ve seen his stuff on Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Kroll Show and Baskets—Cris was a corporate art director working for evil entities like American Express. Taking what he learned employed on the darkside, his idiosyncratic output—clearly inspired by a misspent youth obsessively reading National Lampoon—creates counterfeit realities that are bust-a-gut funny, but often sail right over the heads of the very people sharing them on Facebook (who quite often unwittingly announce this fact as they post them. Which then makes his gags TWICE as funny, of course).

Nope, the members of Spooky Tooth never did a print ad for Birds Eye frozen vegetables, but try telling that to their Wikipedia page! And poor Brian Eno having to deny that he did an advertisement for Purina in the mid-70s with his blasé cat Eric. Stevie Wonder never did an Atari ad, either, sorry to break it to ya pal. It never happened.

And that guy on Facebook posting one of Cris’s album cover parodies and announcing that “My dad had this record when I was a kid!” (and all of the Facebook “Me, too-ers” as well)? He’s either a bold-faced liar… or else he truly does “remember” his father owning a record that has never existed. And maybe he ate some Potato Fudge while he listened to it… Why assume the worst in people, right?

For this special April Fool’s Day post, I asked some questions over email of the man, the myth Cris Shapan

Richard Metzger: I know who you are, but for the sake of all the young, impressionable minds out there reading this, how would you describe yourself?

Cris Shapan: I’m a hack. I started decades ago in movie advertising, did a bunch of years in corporate art departments, and then 13 years ago I answered an ad on Craigslist and wound up working on Tom Goes to the Mayor at Tim and Eric.  Since then I’ve been bouncing around on the fringe of edgy comedy, on shows like Awesome Show and Kroll Show and Baskets, doing silly art & deliberately awful effects.  It’s a high-pressure gig for an artist, but it can also be a whole lot of fun.

With your Photoshop skills you can “edit” the past—in a very Orwellian sense—and it’s frightening to see how fucking gullible people can be. I recall we posted one of your Alan Hale parody album covers and idiots on Facebook were commenting “I used to have this record!” “Me too!” and “I still have mine!” Ummm… no you don’t.

Cris Shapan: Yeah, it’s scary to see something I did purely to entertain friends become someone else’s reality.  Some claim to remember or even own something that never existed.  Others will repost a parody ad as real, especially if it reinforces some agenda they’re touting (sexism in advertising, the past was a horrible place, frankenfood, etc.).  People read the fake ad copy and leap to the wildest interpretations, often expressing outrage at something that never actually happened.  It’s just bizarre.  Some people are so convinced these parody pieces are genuine that they’ve gone in and modified Wikipedia pages to reflect their existence, which of course compounds the stupidity.

At what point did find it necessary to “debunk” some of your gags?

Both Dangerous Minds and The American Bystander (the only humor magazine in existence, I think) had run my ad for a product called “Johnson’s Winking Glue.”  The premise alone should have established this as a parody; it was for a product that ostensibly glued your eye shut so you could wink properly.  A few months later, some dickhead blogger reposted the ad as factual without citing the source, and it went viral on its own to the point where Snopes got involved.

Did they get it right? They’ve got a real reputation for accuracy.

Cris Shapan: Yes, thank goodness for the fine folks at Snopes - I mean that, they’re like the Sheriff of Internet Misinformation.  Not only did they track me down, but the author tracked the ad back to a photo gallery on my Facebook page.  Of course, I’ve never tried to pretend these are real or hide my tracks, so they didn’t have to Sherlock themselves too hard.  I’m glad they understood these were parodies…It pisses me off so much when people debunk my humor as a ‘hoax’ - it’s like debunking MAD magazine or Waiting for Guffman.
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Sexy sci-fi lobby cards for ‘Heavy Metal’
01:15 pm


Heavy Metal
lobby cards

In the early 1980s, cable TV was an important and marvelous new development for Young America. For one thing, MTV was on it. But there was also soft-core porn and other adult programming, and parents often weren’t conversant enough with the technology (or the TV schedule) to prevent their offspring from watching things they probably shouldn’t. For a male preteen such as myself around 1982, there wasn’t much on the premium cable schedule I was interested in watching more than Heavy Metal. A sci-fi cartoon for adults that was both scary and sexy? With music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, and Cheap Trick?? You have got to be fucking kidding me. I was 12 years old and had no way of seeing an R-rated movie. But I could dial up Cinemax when my parents weren’t around…...... 

I think I dimly understood that there was a “magazine” out there called Heavy Metal that was for adults. I definitely did not know that so many of my favorite Canadian entertainers (think SCTV) were involved, including John Candy, Eugene Levy, Ivan Reitman, and Harold Ramis, although I’m certain I would have recognized the name “John Candy” in the credits.

As I say, I never saw the movie in the theater, but if I had I might have spotted some of these handsome lobby cards while entering. I suspect that Heavy Metal has not dated all that well, but I’m impressed at how effortlessly these striking images, after more than 30 years, communicate Danger - Sex - Adventure - FUN.


More ‘Metal’ after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Jazz great Charles Mingus takes on the bootleggers in this amazing self-produced comic strip
11:32 am


Charles Mingus

Around the time that he became an authentic jazz superstar in the mid-1960s, Charles Mingus became obsessed about avoiding exploitation at the hands of “distributors and retailers.” Mingus was unusually DIY for his era, and he made concerted efforts to secure an unusual amount of control over the production and distribution of his music, a process that included setting up an organization called Charles Mingus Enterprises with a Charles Mingus Record Club. Mingus tried to self-distribute his albums via mail order, and to that end hired artists and layout people to make newspaper ads touting his albums.

As Gene Santoro writes in Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus:

Janet Coleman and Susan [Mingus’ fourth and final wife] and assorted others helped with Charles Mingus Enterprises. Some, in the Beat tradition, drew cartoons for ads and the album cover. But Charles and Susan ran it. Mingus wanted to sell only by mail order, so he couldn’t be ripped off by distributors or retailers. He wouldn’t lug stock and collect checks. It would be straightforward. It was his.

He planned to put ads in the burgeoning counterculture papers, many, like the Village Voice, started by Beats. He wanted the ads to look homemade.

However authentic Mingus’ annoyance on this subject, it seems that this phase didn’t last all that long. In this online forum you can read the musings of several Mingus fans reminiscing about the Mingus’ mail-order album Mingus at Monterey, which came out in 1964—it’s noteworthy that they don’t talk about any other mail-order albums, just that one. In commenting on that album, Wikipedia even mentions that it was released on Mingus’s “short-lived mail-order Jazz Workshop label.” And the Internet is not teeming with images of the ads Mingus put out—far from it.

Mingus had a full comic strip put together in a vaguely Dick Tracy-ish style; it appeared in the Village Voice in December of 1966. Its title was “Charles Mingus Fingers the Record Hi-Jackers”—in the strip, a female beatnik named “Chris” goes into a record shop to inquire about getting ahold of some LPs by “Charlie Mingus.” Sure enough, the shop owner does have some, and sells six of them to Chris. In the final two panels (one doubling as a kind of mail-in coupon), Chris meets Mingus on the street and reports to him on the store’s nefarious bootleg trade. Chris says to the jazz great, “That cat dropped six of your albums on me! Do I get to collect that $1000 reward when you turn him in Ming?”

As one can see from the signature at the bottom left, the strip was executed by Gene Bilbrew, an African-American cartoonist whom some credit with creating the first black superhero, the Bronze Bomber. Bilbrew had once been an assistant to comics legend Will Eisner. Later on Bilbrew worked as a fetish artist at Irving Klaw’s bondage-oriented Movie Star News/Nutrix company; Klaw also discovered Bettie Page. 

At the bottom of the strip is a cut-out coupon to enable the reader to order Mingus at Monterey, “the latest Mingus Town Hall 1964 album,” and/or Music Written for Monterey.

Santoro describes it thus:

The plot: a beautiful woman helped him ferret out bootleg record dealers by going into shops and asking for his records, which were going out of print. He appeared with her, to urge readers to buy his stuff only through the mail. He was drawn wearing his khaki army shirt with many pockets and a snapbrim fedora.

In the strip, Chris mentions a $1,000 reward that Mingus is willing to pay. According to Santoro, Mingus included a similar mention in a different advertisement in the Village Voice, which took the form of a “Legal Notice” indicating a “$500.00 Reward for evidence which secures conviction of any person selling these records.”

Read the strip after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Love and Rockets: Punk flyers by Los Bros Hernandez

Los Bros Hernandez (Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario) have been a force in the world of comix ever since they began publishing Love and Rockets, their seemingly endless trove of stories inspired by the Chicano punk scene in and around Oxnard, California (or “Huerta”) in 1981. Love and Rockets has long been a key touchstone for the SoCal punk scene, even inspiring the Bauhaus offshoot way off in England to appropriate the comic’s name.

Gilbert and Jaime were the most prolific of the siblings. Both of them were into the punk scene, but Jaime was more into it, and he also stuck with the scene longer. In an interview with Chris Knowles, Jaime credited the DIY ethos of punk with inspiring their own decision to self-publish:

In the beginning, we didn’t know what kind of audience we would have, or if we would have an audience. At the same time, we were like, “Well, fuck it, we’re going to do it anyway. We knew this was good. We know these stories are worth telling. So, we’ll get there without your help.” I was cocky enough to pull it off! You know, the whole punk do-it-yourself thing was also because it helped me grow up a lot. I mean, it wasn’t just the music scene, it was just… I just saw the world in a big scope for the first time, and I was 18 to 21, those years, so it was just very eye-opening, and I’m glad it happened at that point.

However, Jaime eventually got disillusioned by the inevitable conformity that hit the punk scene: “I’d be watching a band, and all of a sudden, I’d be pushed from behind, and I’d look, and there’d be this wall of guys, just because I wasn’t wearing the same boots they were wearing. That’s when it just wasn’t fun anymore, you had to watch your back!”

Jaime and Beto’s enthusiasm for local punk bands led the two of them to design the occasional flyer for acts like Fear, Dr. Know, Youth Brigade, and Angelic Upstarts.


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Groovy 1968 Frank Zappa advertisement from Marvel Comics’ Daredevil #38
03:12 pm


Frank Zappa

One of the primary reasons that the quite mind-blowing, entertaining, and enjoyable Monkees movie Head did so poorly at the box office in 1968 was that it represented such a sharp break from the family-friendly sitcom on which the group had built its following. The movie featured lots of utterly confusing footage, at times on an antiwar theme, that was mostly the kind of thing college-aged pot smokers like to see, but it amazingly garnered a G rating, at least initially. As Joseph Brannigan Lynch wrote on the occasion of the Blu-Ray release of Head:

Partly to blame was the marketing campaign that was almost as avant-garde as the film itself, but even worse was the fact that many theaters (successfully) demanded the film’s G-rating be turned into a Mature rating, simply because the film structure allegedly resembled an acid trip.

One of the many fascinating people involved with Head was, of course, Frank Zappa, who wanders through the movie with a Hereford Bull in tow and chides Davy about how “white” his music is not to forget the youth of America. One wonders if Columbia Pictures’ famously miscalculated ad campaign was in any way influenced by a similarly odd campaign for one of Zappa’s albums a few months earlier.

In March 1968, the Mothers of Invention unleashed their third mind-bending cultural intervention, known to all and sundry as We’re Only in It for the Money. In a curious move, Verve Records, no doubt directed by Zappa himself, apparently selected the pre-teen comic book audience to be one of the target demographics to promote the album to. Specifically, Daredevil #38, which came out the same month as the album, and featured a remarkable full-page ad promoting the record.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Vintage guitar ads featuring hot chicks with big hair

Vintage ad for B.C. Rich guitars 1989.
Today’s post from yours truly is going to take you on a trip down memory lane to a time when magazines were the main communication device for rock and roll. Though some great rock oriented print magazines do still exist, for at least four decades from the 60s through the 90s magazines were what you spent your money on so you could be sure to get the recommended daily amount of rock and roll information, get fan club info, and pull out centerfolds of a young David Lee Roth to hang on your wall—right next to whatever else covered up the ugly wallpaper in the room you spent your teenage years in.

If you’re a guitar loving gearhead and also a fan of girls, then you’re going to get an especially good kick out of the images in this post that feature the famous “Dean Girls” who helped sell guitars for Dean in a series of ads in the late 70s and 80s, as well as some racy images used by B.C. Rich. All of the images in the post have pretty consistent themes that include bikinis, big 80s hair and lots of skin. Oh, and there’s guitars too. Though there’s really nothing particularly risqué about a girl in a bikini holding a guitar, some of the images are probably NSFW. YAY!

Aria Pro II ad.

One of the girls from guitar maker Dean and their series of ads featuring scantily clad ladies. This one is known as the Dean “Rip Girl.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Young Club’ winter 1972: 21 pages from this incredibly retro German mail-order catalogue
08:58 am



Karstadt is the largest department store chain in Europe. Go retro shopping there in 1972 using your imagination and pages from this 700+ page Winter catalogue which somehow turned up at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Did most European women wear wigs in the early 70s? That certainly seemed to be the case going by the evidence here.

This long-standing mail-order service run by Quelle was in operation until October 2009 before going out of business.

Jetzt kaufen, solange der Vorrat reicht! (Buy now, while supplies last!)



More pages after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry in 1980 TV ads for Gloria Vanderbilt jeans

Until the mid-70s, the only kinds of blue jeans anyone really wore were Levis, Lee or Wrangler. Then came designer jeans like Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt.

To take on the big three jeans companies, these upscale upstarts needed cutting-edge celebrities to flog their togs: Calvin Klein famously used Brooke Shields and Natasha Kinski in his memorable advertising campaigns. Gloria Vanderbilt’s teen line, “GV Jr.” by Murjani had style icon Debbie Harry of Blondie for the spokesmodel.

In the first one, you’ll notice Lounge Lizard John Lurie on sax and Harry saunters past some SAMO wall tagging (SAMO was the graffiti name used by a young Jean-Michel Basquiat). Eagle-eyed No Wave trainspotters will also notice Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips and James Chance as they watch this over and over again…

Another Gloria Vanderbilt jeans commercial with Debbie Harry after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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