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Kardashian human centipede shirt
07.29.2015
10:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
Kim Kardashian
t-shirts

Kim Kardashian human centipede shirt
Kim Kardashian Human Centipede shirt
 
I honestly don’t know where to begin with this collection of shirts by Cleveland, OH company, Rage On!. Except that I agree with their motto as their strangely wonderful shirts truly are “pushing the limits” of fashion.

In addition to the demure image of everyone’s least favorite famewhore, Kim Kardashian getting a little human centipede action with what looks like her sisters (I’m ashamed to admit that I think that looks like Kim’s sister Khloe at the end of the centipede chain), there are a multitude of other bizarre yet cool shirts in Rage On’s! collection that I think you will dig eyeballing. The shirts are an all-over print so according to Rage On!, “people will be able to accurately double take your awesome shirt and confirm their jealousy of you!”

Some images are NSFW - which is code for “you are about to see some fantastic shit.” The shirts themselves will run you anywhere from $50 - $60 a pop.
 
Ice T, Ice Cube, Mr. T shirt
Ice T, Ice Cube, Mr. T in a tea pitcher shirt
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Space brides of 1966!
07.27.2015
11:05 am

Topics:
Fashion
Science/Tech
Sex

Tags:
weddings
outer space


 
When I first saw this video, I was sure that it was shot in London—in 1966 that’s where the crazy fashion energy was, after all. But no, it wasn’t London at all, it was actually New York. I reckon that Matthew Weiner now wants to re-do Season 5 of Mad Men in its entirety just to find a way to work in these incredible bridal fashions. After all, that’s about when Don marries Megan, right? Such a wasted opportunity!!

A terrific find from Kelly Faircloth at Jezebel. The AP Archive headline for this clip is “Futuristic and outlandish fashions for brides from 1966,” but you really can’t beat Jezebel’s triumphant invocation of “SPACE BRIDES”!

These designs came from Edythe Vincent at Alfred Angelo—Vincent was actually Angelo’s wife, appropriately enough. I’m not 100% sure but I believe that the promotional text for this presentation ran,
 

Bridal gown for weddings in outer space! Styled by for Alfred Angelo’s “Bridal Fashions in the Year 2000” collection. Mod mini skirt of open air knit crochet stitch and vinyl plastic, with boots to match. The sky diver’s helmet lends an authentic feeling of jet propulsion for the forward look of the 21st century

 
Faircloth recommends scoring this wholly soundless bit of fashion footage (more than 8 minutes long!) with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Nailed it…...
 

 
via Pictorial
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Trollface Hitler in a Fedora,’ Hitler in dorky short pants and other photos banned by the Nazis
07.16.2015
06:36 am

Topics:
Fashion
History

Tags:
Hitler
fedora


 
Adolf Hitler, wearing a fedora, and looking remarkably like the Internet “trollface” meme is but one of several photos published in the new book The Rise of Hitler Illustrated that were purportedly “banned” by the Nazis for being unflattering to Der Führer.

Vintage Everyday reports that the photographs are from an early propaganda pamphlet titled Deutschland Erwache (Germany Awaken) written in the 1930s that Hitler later disliked. An English soldier found the photos and his family hung on to them for years. Now the photos are available for the world to see what a dork Hitler looked like in short pants.


“It keeps das hair dry in der shower.”
 

Hitler banned this picture of his ‘steely glare’ fearing it made him look stupid. It did.
 

“Hitler despised this ‘undignified’ picture of him in short trousers.” His knees must be so cold.
 

 

Not Hugo Boss’ best work.
 
More Hitler hijinks after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Metalhead arrested for wearing bullet-belt
07.13.2015
06:34 am

Topics:
Crime
Fashion

Tags:
crusty punk
bullet belt


Belt confiscated by Boston police.

A 26-year-old man wearing a belt of fake-bullets, “spiked fighting gloves,” and “spiked leather bracelets” caused what Boston Police described as a “real panic” as he rode an MBTA bus last Friday.

The Boston Police Department’s website describes the “real panic” on the MBTA bus, as alarmed passengers called 911 upon seeing the young man wearing “military grade ammunition” around his waist:

At about 4:20 PM on Friday July 10, 2015, officers assigned to District D-14 (Brighton) responded to a call for a person with a gun on an MBTA bus in the area of Cambridge and Harvard Streets. 

Officers learned that the driver had pulled the bus over as passengers began calling 911 when a male suspect boarded the bus with what appeared to be military grade ammunition strapped around his waist.  The driver stated that the passengers were in a panic, fearing that the suspect was about to pull out a weapon. 

The suspect, later identified as Kevin Young, 26, of Watertown, exited the bus and was stopped by police on Penniman Road at which time it was discovered that the ammunition was fake.  Officers recovered 69 replica bullets in all.  The suspect was wearing what was described as spiked fighting gloves and spiked leather bracelets.

The suspect was placed in custody and will appear in Brighton District Court on charges of Unlawful Possession of Ammunition, Unlawfully Carried Dangerous Weapon and Disorderly Conduct.

The suspect appears to be a member of the crust band Hexxus. “Bullet belts” have been a staple fashion accessory for punks and metalheads for decades now. A post on the band’s Facebook page is encouraging the group to do a “benefit” for legal fees.
 

 
Hexxus’ Bandcamp page is currently empty. This is your fifteen minutes, guys. You might wanna get on that.

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘They call me Jurassic Mod’: Brits of a certain age, still deep into their subcultures


Isobel Varley
 
For his series Rebels Without A Pause, British photographer Muir Vidler captured the most daring and stylish renegades “of a certain age.” Muir seems to specialize in surreal portraiture, extreme events and settings with the odd flash of quiet. Other series include Israeli death metal fans, a circumcision party in the Maldives, and a beauty pageant in Libya, complete with a cameo by the late Colonel Gaddafi. His elder rebel study however, has an intimate feel, with little sense of spectacle to the staging.

Take for example, Isobel Varley (above), who held the Guinness World Record for the most tattooed female pensioner up until her death just this last May at the age of 77. Varley only started getting tattoos at 48, but went on to cover every square inch of her body except her face, her ears, the soles of her feet, and parts of her hands—even her scalp is tattooed, underneath the cute blond coif. Varley isn’t the only local celeb either. You can see video below of one of Muir’s most charming subjects, Paul Elvis Chan, who used to perform his Elvis impersonation act before a delighted audience at his Chinese restaurant.

My favorite though is Danny Lynch—aka, the Great Stromboli, who did his fire-breathing act for Muir with his adorable wife in the background. Muir remembers her as very hospitable:

Yeah, she was going into the house to make a cup of tea. She said, “Cup of tea darling?”, I said OK, then all of a sudden he was blowing fire and she was dashing off to put the kettle on. With the dog and the station wagon in the photo too, it was a very suburban backdrop.

Isn’t it so terribly quaint?
 

 

Mick and Peggy Warner, whose son is a Teddy Boy
 

John G. Byrne, gay skinhead since 1969
 

Sid Ellis, who says “In my spare time I either go to fetish clubs or do needlepoint. I like medieval tapestries.”
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Groovalicious Peter Max fashions from 1970
07.01.2015
11:20 am

Topics:
Art
Design
Fashion

Tags:
Peter Max


 
Of all the designers in the world, probably none are as exclusively associated with the late 1960s and early 1970s as Peter Max. His symmetrical, kaleidoscopic and highly colorful “Art Nouveau had a baby with Haight-Ashbury” approach was perfectly suited for the days of The Dick Cavett Show and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Alas, trendiness giveth, and trendiness taketh away—while he has never really stopped working, his work will never not be associated with that era.

I stumbled onto this fantastic spread of Peter Max clothing that appeared in Seventeen magazine in April 1970, and they kind of blew my mind. I’m assuming that fashion-conscious people are aware of these already, but I had never seen them before. I have so many questions—were these clothes actually popular? Do they pop up in thrift stores ever, or are they just too expensive for that? Does anyone wear them today? Pics please!

You can click on any of the full-page spreads in this post to get a much closer view—trust me, it’s worth it.
 

 

 
More Max after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Top Secret: The goofy retro ‘undercover’ fashion guide for East German secret police spies
06.25.2015
07:44 am

Topics:
Fashion
History

Tags:
communism
East Germany
Stasi


 
“Ostalgie” is a German portmanteau of “Ost,” meaning “East,” and “nostalgie,” meaning “nostalgia,” because yes—many former East Germans remember life under communism quite fondly, and for a variety of reasons. There’s obviously some sentimentalism regarding one’s youth, (oppressive government or not, people like to reminisce on their salad days), but there was also distinctly East German culture, community, art and aesthetics. Combine all that with low unemployment and the absence of destitute poverty, of course people will miss some aspects of the lives they led on the other side of the Wall. This is not to say there isn’t an ambivalence to Ostalgie; for example, I doubt anyone much misses the Stasi.

The Stasi—the East German secret police and intelligence service—were notoriously covert, despite their massive numbers. In 1989, they employed 91,015 full-time agents and 173,081 informants—that’s 1.6% of the population of a country of 16.1 million. Now all the information on the Stasi has been declassified, and you can actually look at their materials in the utterly fascinating book, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives. You can see documentation of training, raids and spy equipment, but my favorite part is the extensive collection of fashion recommendations for undercover agents.

There is a strange Ostalgie to the comically retro hair and clothes, but the sheer exhaustiveness of fashion represented is amazing. Some—like the above—actually manage to look like a farcical cartoon of a spy, an impression I assume didn’t resonate as such in East Germany. Others—like the one below—actually mimicked tourists, which is arguably even more conspicuous than a flashy fur coat. It’s when the looks are less ostentatious, though—reservedly classy ladies, hip youths clad in blue jeans and leather jackets, work uniforms etc.—that the photos feel truly ominous; these are people you’d never pick out of a crowd, people you’d never even notice. They might even be—and probably were—your neighbors.
 

 

 

 
More from the top secret Stasi “look book” after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
British pagan festival costumes are avant-garde high fashion surrealism
06.18.2015
07:19 am

Topics:
Fashion

Tags:
fashion
folklore
pagan


 
I am in love with this pagan portraiture series from photographer Henry Bourne—and frankly a little jealous! While we Americans are left with trace amounts of pagan iconography like Easter bunnies and Christmas trees (all retrofitted to modern Christianity, of course), in the UK, Celtic, Germanic, and early Christian rituals are still celebrated with weird costumes and face paint! I’m also pleasantly surprised to see that they’ve manage to avoid the hippie raver trappings of something like Burning Man—it all looks very “Leigh Bowery does the English countryside.” The amount of work that must go into these seems considerable.

The fascinating thing about these festivals and rituals is that people don’t really remember much about them, or even how old the traditions actually are. For example, the use of black face paint is said to be a reference to chimney sweeps—but that’s a somewhat modern profession—post-industrialization, actually. And one festival makes inexplicable use of reindeer antlers, but no one knows why. The whole thing seems to just be an excuse for (at least seemingly) normal people to do something avant-garde under cover of “tradition.” Bourne’s pagan series has been compiled into a book, Arcadia Britannica: A Modern British Folklore Portrait.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Sexy Ouija board platform heels
06.16.2015
08:21 am

Topics:
Fashion
Occult

Tags:
Ouija board
platform shoes


 
Fashion norms that oblige women to destroy their feet by wearing high heels are obnoxious, and yet…. one still can’t deny the allure of these amazing Ouija board platform heels and wedges. They have at times been available for purchase at the Etsy store of Miss Fiendish Apparel in the U.K. Unfortunately, none of the Ouija board shoes are for sale right now, but some of them were sold as recently as 2014, so maybe if we promote her Etsy store with a little viral magic she’ll, er, “boot up” her store again.

Miss Fiendish has been on Etsy since 2011. Her personal statement reads in part:
 

I love the dead,the strange,the ugly,the horror,the freak show and the carnies,the tattooed grandmas,the conjoined twins,these are all completely beautiful and fascinating to me..

Graveyards,abandoned buildings,i can see the beauty in horror and also the lighter side of it too..the creepy,the kitsch,the B-Movie that’s so awful that you have to laugh at it,tongue in cheek humor…


 
In addition to the shoes, Miss Fiendish also makes ouija board ankle ties, as seen here:
 

 
My favorites are these “bloody zombie” heels with the ankle tie accents…. wow!
 

 
The variety in the styles is pretty stunning…. More after the jump…

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

Tags:
Goth
Propaganda


 
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
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