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Blistering footage of a young AC/DC blowing the roof off the sucker in 1978
12:15 pm


Rock Goes To College

Perhaps I’m guilty of overusing words like “blistering” or “insane” when it comes to describing a live performance by AC/DC, especially when the perpetually shirtless Bon Scott is involved. However in this case both words perfectly describe this footage from the band’s appearance on the short-lived BBC television show Rock Goes to College back in 1978. The gigs filmed for the show were intimate affairs—limited to a few thousand fans which you really get a feel for when you watch the young hell-bent Aussies (Angus Young was only 23 at the time and his brother Malcolm just 25) rip through songs from 1978’s Powerage (as well as the band’s live record If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) from the same year), 1977’s Let There Be Rock, and 1975’s T.N.T. The resulting set is an absolutely titanic cross-section of the band’s already spectacular catalog. Also of note is the fact that in 1978 the band was still somewhat “under the radar” though they were already wildly popular in their homeland which makes this raw footage shot in the UK extra compelling.

See it after the jump…

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‘Plan 9 from Bikini Beach’: Glamourous beatnik ghoul girl ‘Vampira’ goths it up back in the 1950s

Maila Nurmi (aka ‘Vampira’) looking gorgeously goth at the beach with her umbrella, mid-1950s.
Maila Nurmi the captivatingly gorgeous Finnish model and actress with a tiny nineteen-inch waist, created an instant sensation when she attended a masquerade ball in Hollywood in 1953. She was dressed as the cartoon character created by longtime New Yorker contributor Charles Addams that would later become the inspiration for “Morticia Addams” in The Addams Family television series. After winning the top prize in the ball’s costume contest, Nurmi became “Vampira,” introducing—and often poking sly fun at—horror movies on her own local LA television program The Vampira Show on WABC. By the time that 1954 rolled around Nurmi was already a star. After doing time as a coat check girl in her early years, Nurmi was now rubbing elbows with everyone from Marlon Brando (who romanced Nurmi), to Surrealist photographer Man Ray (who shot her), to Antonio Vargas (who drew her) to James Dean (who wondered if she was possessed by something demonic). The evil “Maleficent” character from Disney’s animated Snow White was even based on her look (as confirmed by Disney), but her fame sadly didn’t last as long as it should have. She was cast in Ed Wood Jr.‘s Plan 9 from Outer Space in 1959, for which she was paid $200 but insisted on not saying a word of Wood’s lousy dialogue. It is for this mute role that she will eternally remembered.

After disappearing from the Tinseltown spotlight Nurmi continued to be a sort of real Hollywood vampire, even ghoulishly cavorting with the Misfits and performing with a pubk band called Satan’s Cheerleaders during the 1980s when she was in her sixties. At one point Nurmi got into some legal disputes stemming from the rights to Vampira’s image including one lawsuit Nurmi launched against Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson for ripping off her Vampira image, which was dismissed. Despite this, Nurmi’s “Vampira” character continues to endure since she conceived of her over 60 years ago. She was played by Lisa Marie in Tim Burton’s film, Ed Wood.

Somewhat rather underappreciated during her time, Maila Nurmi was lovingly profiled in the 2012 documentary Vampira and Me which featured newly restored kinoscopes of her TV appaearances. Some of the photos that follow (though tame) might be slightly NSFW because, bikinis.


More after the jump…

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Gothtastic pics of the alluring Carroll Borland as Dracula’s daughter in ‘Mark of the Vampire’

Actress Carroll Borland in a publicity shot for the 1935 film ‘Mark of the Vampire.’
Director Tod Browning’s deeply strange gem from 1935 Mark of the Vampire (alternatively known as “Vampires of Prague” and “Vampires of the Night”) was actually banned in Sweden and Poland following its release for possessing too many gory scenes. In Hungary numerous scenes—especially any that featured bats—were removed, which sort of makes sense given Hungary’s long history with vampire mythology. The film’s tale actually started off a whole lot weirder and part of its incredibly dark and sinister storyline ended up getting slashed.

Browning—who also gave us 1932’s Freaks and 1931’s classic Dracula—directed 62 shorts and films during his career decided to add a layer of WTF to the already off-kilter flick which was adapted from his own 1927 silent film London After Midnight starring another famous movie monster, the great Lon Chaney. Apparently the screenplay had been enhanced and edited by such a large number of writers that at one point it included an incestual father/daughter relationship (noted in the book 2009 book Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Reader’s Guide)  between Lugos’s character of “Count Mora” and the gorgeous Carroll Borland who played the Count’s daughter “Luna.” And since that kind of deviance (according to the screenplay) was against the “Vampire Code of Conduct” Count Mora is sent to live out his days away from the dark world he once inhabited. He then ends up committing suicide by shooting himself in the head out of remorse for his crimes.

In all about fourteen minutes of footage was cut in accordance with the morality police in charge at the time. Though Browning campaigned to keep the footage and storyline intact he wasn’t exactly a studio darling after the massive financial hit the studio took on Freaks a few years prior.

If you’ve never seen Mark of the Vampire, despite its jumpy storyline I highly recommend it to you if for no other reason to see the scene where the gothtastic Ms. Borland flies onto the set with the help of a massive set of white bat wings. A trick that according to reliable folklore took nearly three weeks to nail. Nice.

Borland and Bela Lugosi.

Borland and Bela.
More more more after the jump…

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Intimate photos of David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly & more from the set of ‘Labyrinth’

A candid moment between David Bowie and his look-alike stuntman Nick Gillard on the set of ‘Labyrinth.’
As Halloween approaches I’ve become more and more convinced that this year will bring a cavalcade of David Bowie fans dressed as various personas developed by the Thin White Duke over his long career. Even yours truly is planning on “becoming Bowie” on October 31st and I’m so committed to my quest to look like Aladdin Sane that I’m planning on dying my hair bright red for the occasion. Now that’s dedication.

My month long homage to all things Halloween also includes watching as many horror films that I can fit into a 31-day period (which isn’t a huge departure as I’m actually a year-round die-hard horror film fan) and this year it seemed fitting to throw one of my favorite films into the mix: David Bowie as the unforgettable villain “Jareth” in the 1986 flick Labyrinth. Originally director Jim Henson was seriously considering at other musicians for the role—Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson and Sting (as well as David Lee Roth and Roger Daltrey)—that would ultimately go to Bowie. Henson also gave thought to the idea that the Goblin King should be played by one of his Muppets. According to folklore it came down to Jackson and Bowie and after receiving a handwritten letter penned from Henson along with an early version of the Labyrinth script Bowie became convinced that he should take the role.

As with other movies that have achieved the cult status that Labyrinth has, there’s a fair amount of great behind-the-scenes legends associated with the film. Such as the use of juggler Michael Moschen who was responsible for helping Bowie make it look easy to twirl a crystal ball, and actor Toby Froud who played adorable infant kidnapping victim “Toby” (and the bane of Jennifer Connelly’s teenage existence). Fround actually grew up to be a puppeteer of sorts himself, a natural move as his father Brian Froud was responsible for contributing to the design of the set and the inhabitants of both Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal

Of course if you are of a certain age then you may even remember the massive marketing campaign that produced oddities such as Labyrinth-themed bubble gum (tastes like Hoggle?), a talking door knocker, and a bizarre hot pink phone card (released in Japan) with Bowie and Jennifer Connolly on the front. There was even a sweet belt based on the film that sadly never made it past the prototype phase made by Lee Jeans. The 80s were so goddamn weird and wonderful, weren’t they?

And now to the point of this post which is to show you some fantastic behind-the-scenes photos captured during the filming of Labyrinth (which celebrated its 30th anniversary this past summer) especially ones of our departed hero who has perhaps inspired your Halloween costume this year. In other good news, a new nearly 200 page book Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History promises to take an exhaustively detailed look at every aspect of the film from rare artwork, concept sketches and equally rare photos taken on the set. You can pre-order it here. So in lieu of what wonders the book will reveal I hope you enjoy looking through the images in this post as well as a video of Bowie as “Jareth” and juggler Michael Moschen trying to make Bowie look like he can do mystical things with crystal balls that follows.

David Bowie as ‘Jareth (aka, ‘The Goblin King’ the star of the 1986 film, ‘Labyrinth.

Jareth and ‘Baby Toby.’

35mm contact sheet from ‘Labyrinth.
More after the jump…

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Ass-kicking ‘Faster Pussycat’ heroine Tura Satana during her younger days as a burlesque dancer

Bad girl rule-breaker Tura Satana’s name is pretty much synonymous with the film that propelled her to fame as the ass-kicking, man eating “Varla,” Russ Meyer’s 1965 Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. And if you know anything about Satana’s background you already know that she lived up to one of her famous lines (which I’m riffing on here) in the flick by never trying anything. She just did it.

Born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaido, Japan in 1938 (or 1935 according to some sources) both of Satana’s parents were performers. Her father (who was part Japanese and part Filipino) was an actor who appeared in silent films. Satana’s mother performed in circuses as a contortionist and was of a mix of Native American and Scottish descent which further contributed to Satana’s exotic and unique look.

After moving to the U.S. in 1942 when Tura was only four, she and her father were sent to an internment camp in California for Japanese-Americans where they lived for two years until they reunited with her mother in Chicago. As the feelings of resentment toward the Japanese were still high following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 Tura (as well as other U.S. residents of Japanese descent) was the object of harassment and routinely subjected to bullying at school. At the age of ten Tura was brutally gang-raped by a group of teenagers. Despite her age and the horrific magnitude of the crime the five assailants were never prosecuted for the despicable assault. As a response to help protect his child, Tura’s father apparently tutored her in various martial arts such as Aikido and Karate so that she would always be able to protect herself. According to Satana herself for her portrayal of Varla she drew from the internalized rage from her rape which would further immortalize her face-smashing character in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.

Tura Satana as ‘Varla’ in Russ Meyer’s ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’
At thirteen, her parents entered her into an “arranged” marriage with a family friend John Satana that would end only nine months later while Tura was starting her career as an exotic dancer. Not long after her marriage ended Satana found her way to the city of broken dreams, Los Angeles and was quickly discovered while performing her special blend of burlesque dancing mixed with martial arts moves. She got her first acting role in the 1959 ABC television series Hawaiian Eye. This led to many other acting roles one of which was with one of Satana’s rumored love interests, director Billy Wilder in 1963’s Irma La Douce and a role that same year opposite Dean Martin (where she played a stripper) in Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed. And if super-groupie Pamela Des Barres is to be believed (detailed in her 2008 book Let’s Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies), it was Tura herself who taught The King, Elvis Presley (another of Satana’s boy toys) his signature dance moves. 

Satana ditched her dance routines when California changed the laws governing exotic dancing which allowed clubs to require dancers appear topless and instead turned to straight jobs such as nursing, and in her later years even working as security detail for a Hilton casino in Reno, Nevada under the name “Tura Jurman” after marrying former police officer Endel Jurman in 1981. I’ve posted a variety of incredible photos of Satana from when she was known as “Miss Japan Beautiful” (a nickname that would follow her throughout her career) that were taken during her days as a burlesque dancer for you to oogle below. I’ve also included footage from Tura showing off her dance moves in the 1973 film The Doll Squad. Naturally since this is Tura Satana we are talking about, please assume that many of the images that follow are NSFW. Much like the woman herself.

Tura Satana in ‘Burlesque Magazine’ when she was only nineteen, 1957.


More Tura! Tura! Tura! after the jump…

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Cheesy Rider: Dennis Hopper sells Fords with a little help from his anti-establishment cred

“We blew it” said Peter Fonda’s Captain America to his sidekick Billy—Dennis Hopper—at the end of Easy Rider. He was right. The freedom the counterculture movement touted as some kind of utopian future in the 1960s was just an ad man’s gimmick by the 1990s. In this case quite literally when director/writer/co-star of Easy Rider Dennis Hopper popped up on British TV selling Ford cars. The concept of personal liberty and the open road was repackaged not as the living of a life but as the purchasing of a lifestyle.

Everyone’s gotta make a buck to survive—even Dennis Hopper—and this is a neat ad in which nineties Hopper meets his Easy Rider sixties doppelgänger. But while Hopper was clearly happy to be making a buck selling the latest, grooviest Ford Cougar—he was also in effect saying: “I’m happy to sell out any anti-establishment, free-living, counterculture message my much-loved cult movie may once have contained.”

I have always thought Easy Rider was an archly-conservative movie. It didn’t offer any credible alternative to the society Billy and Captain America wanted out of. Instead, they chased after fast money and cheap drugs and met an early death.

And Hopper’s nineties revisit? It’s well-made and cool, but on a superficial level—which kinda sums up that entire decade, right?

Bonus making of the ad video with Dennis Hopper, after the jump…

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That time Werner Herzog lost a bet and had to eat his shoe

You’re only as good as your word. That’s what I was always told when I was young. Never say something unless you mean it. That was another. Both taught me that words had meaning, purpose, importance—their own intrinsic value—a kind of verbal contract.

(I believe you lovely Americans phrase it “Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash.”)

German film director Werner Herzog is a man of his word. You can trust him. You know if he says he is going to do something—well, hell, he’s going to do it. Or at least try his damnedest. And here’s the proof…

Sometime in the late 1970s, Werner Herzog made a bet with a young filmmaker named Errol Morris. Herzog said he would he eat his shoes if Morris ever got round to making a film. Herzog had listened to this young wannabe filmmaker go on and on and on about the kind of films he was going to make—one day. Of course he did, but no one knew that then. Anyway, somehow all Morris’s talk about his great big movie plans never seemed to come to fruition. It was this seeming lack of purpose that irked Herzog and led to his now legendary bet.

Herzog met Morris at Pacific Film Archive (PFA) on the University of California, Berkeley campus. Morris was studying philosophy but ditched it in order to spend time hanging out with all the other filmmakers congregating round the PFA. It was here Morris first met and became friends with Herzog.

Morris was movie buff—he particularly liked film noir. He also had a great interest in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the true exploits of killer Ed Gein upon which the film was based. Herzog shared this macabre interest.

In 1975, Morris and Herzog hatched a plan inspired by their joint fascination with Gein. The pair agreed to travel to Gein’s home in Plainfield, Wisconsin, where they would disinter the killer’s mother to find out if it was at all possible for Gein to have dug her up. Of course, being a man of his word, Herzog traveled to the location and waited patiently for Morris to arrive. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Morris was a no-show. This led Herzog to abandon their joint venture.
Herzog on his way to eat his shoes.
In 1976, Herzog returned to Plainfield during filming of his movie Stroszek. Here he found Morris living in a small apartment next to Gein’s house. Morris had spent almost a year interviewing residents about the cannibal killer.

Herzog offered Morris work on his latest feature. He also gave Morris an envelope crammed with $2,000 in cash to go and finally start making a film. Morris rejected the money, tossing the envelope out of a window into a parking lot. Herzog went out to the lot, retrieved the money, and told Morris never to do that again. This time Morris took the money.

He used it to research a new film idea about a particularly “gruesome form of insurance fraud” where individuals have a limb amputated in an accident to claim megabucks insurance money. Morris visited “Nub City”—the place where all these fraudsters lived. But he gave up on the idea after receiving death threats. Instead, he decided to make another documentary, this time about a pet cemetery in Napa Valley. This was Gates of Heaven.

When Herzog heard Morris had given up on his amputation film and was now talking about some new idea about dead animals, he wagered Morris that he would eat his shoes if Gates of Heaven was ever made. Whether this was meant as a joke, or a bit of encouragement, or was in fact a genuine bet is a moot point: Herzog (as we know) is a man of his word. He made the bet. Morris had made his first film.

Now Herzog would eat his shoes.

Watch Werner Herzog eat his shoe, after the jump….

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Damn fine teeny-tiny ‘Twin Peaks’ dioramas

A diorama based on Agent Dale Cooper’s dream about the ‘Red-Room’ from David Lynch’s 1990 television series ‘Twin Peaks.’
An artist based in Babenhausen, Germany named “Kristina” is currently selling her super-small DIY Twin Peaks diorama sets that come in three different versions based on scenes from the original television series that made its debut over 25 years ago.

A tiny David Lynch is included with this version of ‘Red-Room’ diorama.
Available in her Etsy store Boxartig you can pick up what Kristina refers to as “Dodos” of Agent Dale Cooper’s dream about the Red-Room, a scene from Lydecker Veterinary Clinic that features Agent Cooper and a Llama getting acquainted; and a grim miniature recreation of the body of Laura Palmer resting on the beach wrapped in plastic. While they are pricey ($58-$94 bucks a pop) they are really well done and it’s my hope that the talented German artist will continue to create others as I’m quite sure the one’s currently available at Boxartig will quickly disappear (the Lydecker’s Vet diorama already has).

Images of Kristina’s tiny homages to Twin Peaks follow.

A diorama based on the Lydecker Veterinary Clinic in ‘Twin Peaks.’

More after the jump…

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Patti Smith on Bob Marley, comics, and opening her own pot cafe when she ‘grows up,’ back in 1976

‘The Two Faces of Patti Smith.’ photograph by Guillemette Barbet and art design by John Holmstrom.
Over the weekend I was yet again getting in some good quality time with my lovely copy of The Best of Punk Magazine and came across an amusing and highly entertaining interview by a musician and performer that undeniably embodies the word “hero” the multi-talented punk powerhouse Patti Smith.

In the interview that appeared in Punk (Volume One, Number Two from March of 1976) Smith agreed to talk to the magazine in the backroom of legendary Long Island club My Father’s Place where she sat on the grungy floor before her gig later that night. Of the many highlights and wide variety of topics covered in the lengthy chat include her love of comics, Bob Marley, her vivid dreams about Jimi Hendrix and her not-so-secret plan to hijack The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (who Smith very much admired) and turn it into “totally stoned TV every night.” If you are at all a fan of Patti Smith (who was 30 at the time of this interview), prepare yourself to adore her even more. Here’s Smith on her love of two things that go great together—comics (or “comix” as Punk likes to spell it) and rock and roll:

I was a painter. All I cared about was art school and painting. I used to be an artist before I became an artist. You know the French love comic strips. Comix are considered art. Comix are art. I mean the only two arts—comix and rock n’ roll are the highest art forms.

If that last passage got you daydreaming about what it would be like lounging around with Patti Smith in France in some cafe reading comic books and while listening to Alain Kan belting out David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” then get in line. As the interview progresses Smith talks a fair amount about Bob Marley while lamenting the current “grass shortage” in New York (never forget!) and her dream of opening a pot cafe that pretty much sounds like the best plan ever:

I’m gonna have a cafe when I grow up where it’s just gonna feature coffee and dope and mint tea and great music. What I’m gonna do is work to legalize marijuana and hashish. We’re gonna start a string of cafes where you smoke, drink coffee and listen to great music—like McDonald’s.

More Patti Smith, after the jump…

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Baby-faced goths: Rare photos of early Bauhaus gig in Chicago’s meatpacking district, 1980

Peter Murphy putting on his makeup before their first Chicago gig at ‘Space Place’ in 1980. Photo by Brian Shanley.
Chicago-based photographer Brian Shanley was on the scene when Bauhaus landed in Chicago for the first time (a staggering 36-years ago this month) and was was able to get up close and personal with the band during their gig at Space Place, an industrial-looking nightclub in Chicago’s meatpacking district.

According to Shanley he was allowed to photograph Bauhaus during candid moments and even got close enough to capture the Godfather of Goth, vocalist Peter Murphy, putting on his makeup. After the show Shanley partied with Bauhaus which included a rather life-defining moment in which he watched a VHS copy of John Water’s Pink Flamingos with the band, which they had never seen before. Damn.

It’s also worth mentioning that Murphy was a mere 23 years old at the time and the band had yet to release their debut album In the Flat Field. Their first single, goth blueprint “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (you can hear a live recording of the number at Space Place, here) was already deeply implanted in their fans’ brains. If you’re a fan of Bauhaus, Shanley has a large array of gorgeous black and white photos for sale.

And since we are speaking of Bauhaus, the group’s drummer Kevin Haskins is about to publish a coffee table book titled Bauhaus - The Archives. Haskins has amassed a huge collection of Bauhaus artifacts since the late 70s including vintage setlists, fan club fodder and handwritten lyrics—most of which have never seen the light of day, like the photographs in this post. Pre-orders for Haskins’ book are going on now with an expected ship date sometimes in November, 2016.


More after the jump…

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