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When Quentin Tarantino played an Elvis Impersonator on ‘The Golden Girls’

In 1988, before Quentin Tarantino had sold his scripts for True Romance or Natural Born Killers, leading the way to secure a deal to direct his first film Reservoir Dogs, he appeared for a few seconds as an Elvis impersonator at Sophia’s wedding in an episode of The Golden Girls.

Tarantino discussed the appearance in a 1994 Playboy interview:

“Well, it was kind of a high point because it was one of the few times that I actually got hired for a job. I was one of 12 Elvis impersonators, really just a glorified extra. For some reason they had us sing Don Ho’s ‘Hawaiian Love Chant.’ All the other Elvis impersonators wore Vegas-style jumpsuits. But I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis. I was the hillbilly cat Elvis. I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out.”

Indeed, Tarantino’s Elvis look doesn’t seem too far off from the look he sports in his 1987 unfinished directorial debut, My Best Friend’s Birthday, in which a character he plays in the film seems obsessed with Elvis (a theme that would carry on through other films in Tarantino’s body of work).

See QT in action as Elvis after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘The Rock and Roll Singer’: On tour with the legendary Gene Vincent in 1969

Never underestimate the power of imitation.

Elvis Presley never toured Britain. The only time the King set foot in the UK was during a brief stopover to refuel the army plane that was taking him home at Prestwick Airport in 1960. With no Presley tours, ever, there was a wide open gap for homegrown talent to fill.

First there was Tommy Steele. Steele was good—but he had no edge. He was wholesome showbiz—the kind of rock ‘n’ roll singer mothers adored. He did stage shows, TV light entertainment shows and even made a movie with Benny Hill. Then came Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Duffy Power, Vince Eager and Dickie Pride. Each one of these acts was managed by Larry Parnes, a pop impresario and manager known as the “Beat Svengali.” Parnes created his own homegrown roster of rock ‘n’ roll acts. He produced their records, booked their gigs and made a helluva lot of money. His stars? Not so much. Most of his singers never received any royalties—Parnes was able to do this by having power of attorney over his acts.

The fans screamed. The records sold. But the kids still craved real American rock ‘n’ roll stars. Bill Haley and the Comets toured—but they were old and not so hip. Buddy Holly hit it big with a tour in 1958. But when Holly died in a plane crash not long after, most American rockers weren’t so keen on flying to the UK to tour. Then came Gene Vincent. Finally the British fans would find their replacement for Elvis Presley.

Gene Vincent had the bad boy rep. He looked like trouble. He was known for trouble. He was said to have wrecked his leg in a bike crash which left him wearing a “steel sheath” for the rest of his life. His biggest hit was “Be-Bop-a-Lula” in 1956—which was the best Elvis song that Presley never recorded. It made Gene Vincent famous. He toured the US with his band the Blue Caps. He made TV and movie appearances but never quite followed up the success he had with “Be-Bop-a-Lula.” The taxman came after him. Vincent allegedly sold his band’s equipment to pay off the debt. It was the start of a pattern that was to frame the rest of his life.

Vincent was going nowhere fast when an offer came to tour England in 1959. TV producer Jack Good booked Vincent on to his pop show Boy Meets Girl. Good hated Vincent’s look. The singer arrived in his trademark green Teddy Boy jacket with “GV” emblazoned on the pockets. Good dressed him in black leather—leather trousers, leather jacket, leather gloves, jet black t-shirt. and sparkling medallion. It was the image that defined bad boy rock ‘n’ roll.

His appearance on Boy Meets Girl made Gene Vincent a legend. He was booked to tour the UK. Sell-out gigs across the country and then in Europe. The Brits couldn’t get enough of this Yankee rock ‘n’ roll singer.

Watch Gene Vincent on the road in 1969, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Show Me Your Soul’: Amazing ‘Soul Train’ documentary from French television
09:24 am

Pop Culture

Soul Train

Show Me Your Soul: The Soul Train Years is a 2013 documentary produced for French television by filmmaker Pascal Forneri (who also directed the critically-acclaimed 2010 documentary Gainsbourg & his Girls). It uses wonderful rare footage, archival photographs, and brand new interviews to take the very first in-depth look at the history of Soul Train. Forneri not only highlights the amazing soul and R&B artists who performed on the program over its 35 year, 1,100 episode run, but also the real stars of the show: the in-studio dancers who would set the standard for future generations of contemporary urban dance.

Several recurring Soul Train dancers are spotlighted in this documentary who provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the show came together. Most of the dancers were not professionally trained, they would spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to fly themselves out to Hollywood from cities all over the U.S. to be on the show. Those determined few who didn’t make the cut at the audition would sneak themselves onto the studio lot by any means necessary: including one dancer who got onto the set by hiding himself in the trunk of a car. As the show’s popularity in American households increased, so did the dancer’s popularity: week after week they’d try to outdo one another. First by their dance moves which became more and more wild, then by their fashion choices. Some dancers were so eager to get in front of the camera that they started bringing in props (a man known as “Mr. X” became famous for his dance routine that included a large, oversized toothbrush). Dancers began getting recognized on the streets of their home cities as if they were veritable celebrities.

Visionary host Don Cornelius always stated that Soul Train was a home for soul artists regardless of their race, and featured a long list of white artists who appealed to black audiences: Gino Vannelli, David Bowie, Beastie Boys, Elton John, Teena Marie, Hall & Oates, Pet Shop Boys, and Spandau Ballet were amongst the many white artists who appeared on the program over the years. As music trends slowly began to change, Don Cornelius struggled to keep Soul Train true to his original vision. When disco went mainstream, Cornelius made sure the show focused on only the most soulful disco artists that were being played on the radio. When rap music went commercial, however, Cornelius could not hide his contempt for the genre and made it very clear from the beginning that he wouldn’t get behind hip hop. Forneri documents this well, showing footage of Cornelius hanging his head in disgust following a performance by Public Enemy. As he slowly approaches Chuck D. and Flavor Fav for an interview he begins with a very long pause, and then exclaims, “That was frightening.” In the middle of a Kurtis Blow interview, Cornelius awkwardly admits on television “It’s so much fun, I mean, it doesn’t make sense to old guys like me. I don’t understand why they love it so much but that ain’t my job is it? My job is to deal with it and we’re dealing with it,” which was followed by uncomfortable laughter from the studio audience.
Watch ‘Show Me Your Soul: The Soul Train Years’ after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Follies on Ice: Showgirls, men in drag, an ice-skating chimpanzee, a robot, and Elvis

A vintage photo of skater Hans Leiter in drag performing in the Ice Capades in 1960.
Over the last few weeks for reasons I can’t quite attribute to any one event or reason whatsoever, I’ve been obsessively seeking out photos from vintage ice skating shows such as Holiday on Ice, the Ice Follies, and the Ice Capades. And like pretty much all of the Internet rabbit holes I dig for myself, it produced some pretty great results when it came to the old-school images I found of ice show stars in all kinds of crazy situations over the last sixty or so years.

Despite the fact that I’m from Boston, a true hockey town and lived only a couple of blocks from an ice skating rink, Cherrybomb can’t skate. And I’ve always been envious of people who can. Ice shows were very popular when I was growing up and I attended my fair share as a youth, but they were always of the kiddie variety and while there were ice skating clowns, I do not recall seeing full-on showgirls with feather headdresses or ice-skating jugglers tossing lit torches around on the rink. Perhaps if I had I would have run away with the cool kids in the Ice Capades because both of the previous scenarios still seem way more appealing than an office job.

Ice skating shows date all the way back to the 1930s and the Ice Follies’ performances began in 1936. The Ice Capades made its debut in 1940, and Holiday on Ice got its start a few years later in 1943. The Holiday on Ice show would travel around the world and after getting its start in Ohio, they took the show to Mexico City, South America, Asia, Africa and even Moscow while the Cold War was still in play making the show the very first U.S. entertainment/attraction to perform in the Soviet Union while Nikita Khrushchev looked on.

There was almost nothing these ice shows didn’t do including showcasing male comedians dressed in drag performing skits, and the inclusion of ice skating chimpanzees that performed with the Ice Capades—specifically a little chimp named “Jonny” who was a particular crowd favorite known for not only his ability to skate but for his ice skating stunts like doing cartwheels and jumping over obstacles like Evel Knievel. And if that’s not weird enough for you, at one time the Ice Follies featured a seven-foot, four-inch aluminum and plexiglass ice skating robot named “Commander Robot” in the 1969 version of the show.

Below you’ll find some shots of all three shows, as well as a short video of “Jonny” the chimp and Las Vegas-worthy footage of Holiday on Ice from 1977. Who needs drugs when you have these wild, contact-high inducing photos to look at?

Holiday on Ice 1974.

Paul Castle the “Mighty Mite” performing in the Ice Capades in 1959.

“Jonny” the ice skating monkey and a Holiday on Ice performer taken on the show’s 25th anniversary, 1968.
More mirth and mayhem on the ice after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Banana: After 50 years the ultimate Warhol Velvet Underground mystery is finally (almost) solved!!

It was fifty years ago this week that the future began with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and his banana. The destruction and rebuilding of rock ‘n’ roll music as it then existed commenced. This was all taking place even though only a few people knew about it at the time. The right few, as always. I have to think that anyone reading this knows the history of the Velvet Underground so I’m not going to rehash it here.

In the thirty years since Warhol’s death, the human race has bought and sold more “Andy” than Andy himself could possibly have dreamed of and more. Much more. Too much even. Year after year there are more Warhol books, toys, giant banana pillows, clothing lines, shoes, Andy Warhol glasses, movies, action figures (or maybe inaction figures, this being Warhol), pencils, notebooks, skateboards—literally everything ever! There’s been more most post mortem Warhol merchandising than for practically anyone or anything you can name. Even more than for Elvis, Marilyn or James Dean who had head starts.

Warhol and his entourage were infamous speedfreaks—speedfreaks with cameras, tape recorders, and movie gear who talked a lot and didn’t sleep much—and his every utterance was recorded, long before museums, historical posterity and millions of dollars were the reasons.

With the advent of the Warhol Museum, Andy’s every movement, thought, and influence has been discussed, dissected, filed and defiled ad nauseum. Every single piece of art he ever did can be traced back to an original page in a newspaper, an ad in the back of a dirty magazine, a photograph, a Sunday comic, or an item from a supermarket shelf and they’ve ALL been identified and cataloged.

Except for one.

Just one.

Probably the second most popular of Warhol’s images, standing in line right behind the Campbell’s soup can, is the banana image found on the cover of the first Velvet Underground album. Thee banana! But where did it come from? Everything else was appropriated from somewhere. What about this one?

I KNOW where it came from and I have known for around thirty years. Oddly enough it only just now occurred to me (when I looked up Warhol’s death date) that I found this thing, which I am about to describe, mere weeks before Andy’s untimely demise.
I grew up in the sixties and I’ve loved the Velvet Underground since even before the advent of punk. And I love Andy Warhol, too. Just look at my Facebook profile photo. I have shelves of books on Warhol and all things Velvets and have amassed quite a collection of Warhol and Velvets rarities. My favorite book of all time is Andy Warhol’s Index from 1966, a children’s pop-up book filled with drag queens, the Velvets, 3-D soup cans and even a Flexi disc record with Lou Reed’s face on it with a recording of the Velvet Underground listening to a test pressing of their first LP. The one with the BANANA.
The author’s Facebook profile pic. Duh.
Andy Warhol’s number one right-hand man in the sixties and the person who turned the Factory silver (among many many other things including being the primary photographer of the Factory’s “silver years”) was Billy Name (Linich). An online comment described him this way:

You can’t get more inside than Billy Name in Warhol’s Factory world. In fact he lived in the Factory - and to be more specific he lived in the bathroom at the Factory - and to be even more specific he stayed in the locked bathroom without coming out for months (years?).

And so to quote this definitive “insider” Billy Name on the history of the banana:

...bananas had been a Warhol theme earlier in the Mario Montez feature film Harlot mostly as a comedic phallic symbol. In the general hip culture, Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” was going on [mellow yellow; roast banana peels in an oven, and then roll and smoke them]. The high was called “mello yellow.”

The specific banana image Andy chose came from I know not where; it’s not a Chiquita banana or Dole fruit company, because Andy’s banana has ‘overripe’ markings on it, and the fruit companies use whole yellow bananas on their stickers. Anyway, Andy first used this particular banana image for a series of silk-screen prints which he screened on white, opaque, flexible, Plexiglass (sort of like 2 feet x 5 feet). First an image of the inner banana “meat” was screened on the Plexi in pink, and then covered by the outer skin screened on and cut out of a glossy yellow sticky-back roll of heavy commercial paper (ordered from some supply warehouse). Thereby each banana could be peeled and the meat exposed and the skin could be replaced a number of times, ‘til the sticky stuff wore out. Naturally this was intentionally erotic Warhol-type art.

When thinking of a cover for the first Velvets album, it was easy for Andy to put one of his own works on the cover, knowing it was hip, outrageous, and original and would be “really great.” Andy always went the easy way, using what he had, rather than puzzling and mulling over some design elements and graphics for cover art that don’t really work. His art was already there, hip, erotic, and cool. The Plexi silk screen art definitely came first, in 1966. The album came out in ‘67. I do not recall any other design being thought of or even considered. The back of the album cover was a pastiche amalgam of photos from Andy’s films, Steven Shore, Paul Morrissey and myself and was messy and mulled over too much.

So here we are on the fiftieth anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and its mysterious banana cover art, and I felt that I have held this secret for way too long. I always wanted to use this in a book or something but it never happened.

This thing was hanging on my kitchen wall for three decades, in New York and LA and is now in secured storage for reasons which are about to become obvious. This is how I found it: One day in the mid 80s I was cruising around the Lower East Side aimlessly—as I had done most of my life up to that point—running into friends, looking at stuff people were selling on the street, stopping into Manic Panic, Venus Records, St. Marks Books, and any junk shops that caught my eye. There was one on Broadway that I had never seen before right down the street from Forbidden Planet and the greatest place ever, the mighty Strand Book Store. I went in and there was a lot of great stuff for me. I found some old records, a huge stash of outrageous and disgusting tabloid newspapers from the sixties which I kept buying there for a couple months afterward, and some cool old knick-knacks. I knocked into something on a crowded table full of junk and heard a big CLANG on the cement floor. I bent down to pick it up. It was one of those cheap triangular tin ashtrays that usually advertised car tires or something mundane. I picked it up (it was face down) and when I turned it over I was surprised to see…THE BANANA!!

It was an ad for bananas printed on a cheap metal ashtray.

Don’t you like a banana? ENJOY BANANA. Presented by WING CORP. designed by LEO KONO production”

I thought wow, this is cool! But over time I realized that I had quite literally stumbled across a true missing link. I figured I’d use it for something big one day, but I never did. UNTIL NOW. Ladies and germs, Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground fans and scholars, without further ado I bring you THE MISSING LINK! A true Dangerous Minds mega exclusive! (As Jeb Bush would say “Please clap.”).

A primitive, pounding Moe Tucker drumroll please for the reveal of THEE BANANA…after the jump

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
The psychedelic beauty of The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ trading cards

I had four #3s, two #64s and a shitload of odds and evens in between but not enough to have a full house or anywhere near a complete run of Beatles’ Yellow Submarine trading cards. My brother was the real collector. I was just accessorizing. He was dedicated. I was too young. He almost had a whole set but was missing a #8, a #14 and two others which I now forget. No one else seemed to have these either which made the fun of collecting such fabulous, brightly colored cards seem ultimately pointless, like reading a murder mystery with the final chapter missing. My brother didn’t care whodunnit?—he just wanted to have something our father thought was “bad.” According to him, the Beatles were drug-addled, long-haired beatnik communists—he’d even heard they sang about wanting to be back in the U.S.S.R.

The Fab Four were not the kind of “heroes” the old man wanted us to admire. That kind of respect was meant for the likes of Don Bosco or Jean-Baptiste Vianney. I couldn’t see why we couldn’t have both? My brother never did get the full set. A year or two later, the old man, in one of his rages, ripped every one of these cards into itsy-bitsy pieces—just to let us know exactly what he thought about our “rock ‘n’ roll.” By then, it was Glam Rock and Heavy Metal. The Beatles were oldhat.

In 1968, Anglo released 66 Yellow Submarine trading cards. They were sold in a variety of four different packs—one for each of The Beatles. Today one of these cards can fetch a minimum of five bucks right up to a max. of around $250. A whole set won’t give you much change from $2,500 (£1,800). So, our old man was really ripping up the family inheritance all those years ago. And though he feared the influence of the free-living Beatles he had no clue what threat lurked in our predilection for Black Sabbath and Dennis Wheatley novels.

I never saw the film until a deacde later when it cropped up on TV one long summer evening. It seemed overly arch. A film to be appreciated by an older in-the-know audience rather than little kids looking for a psychedelic sugar rush. Though I’ve tried to gather the whole 66 cards together, there are a still few missing—mainly the early numbers like #6, #8, #10 and #12. Thereafter, they just run in order to the end.
More ‘Yellow Submarine’ trading cards, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Helix’s topless heavy metal dance party
10:25 am

Pop Culture

Heavy Metal
Traci Lords
Porn Stars

Do you remember Helix?

It’s okay if you don’t. They were Canada’s answer to…Dokken, I guess. The band actually started in the early 70s but didn’t really get cooking until 1983 when they ditched their denim-on-denim look for studs and leather and scored their first big hit with the kinda-great-but-mostly ridiculous guitar anthem “Heavy Metal Love.”  They hopped the money train from there and rode the glam metal wave for the next decade or so, touring with everyone from KISS to Aerosmith to Alice Cooper to Rush. But they were always considered tamer than a lot of their contemporaries, even with the requisite druggy bass player problems. So when the next album, 1984’s Walkin’ On the Razor’s Edge rolled around, they decided to go full-tilt porno. How’s that for edgy? Not even Mötley Crüe made videos with underage porn stars.

They were different times, man.
Around that time, Playboy’s cable channel was commissioning nudity-laced cuts of music videos to show between whatever softcore bullshit they were airing at night. Power-popper Dwight Twilley’s 1984 clip for “Girls” is probably Playboy’s most well-known music video, featuring a bunch of Playboy bunnies recreating the teen sex comedy classic Porky’s, but they also made a racy R-rated version of the already iffy video for Helix’s cover of Crazy Elephant’s “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’.” Both the MTV and the Playboy cut of the video features a satire of the Miss America contest called “Miss Rock Fantasy” starring Slumber Party Massacre star Brinke Stevens and (ahem) a sixteen-year-old Traci Lords.  And yeah, she’s topless. Even by 80s hard rock standards, it’s pretty tasteless. Not surprisingly, even the PG version was banned from most cable channels. It ultimately found a home on the dayglo lycra-abusing porno Electric Blue 26.

Naturally, it’s a “big box” VHS.
Helix frontman Brian Vollmer was interviewed by cable TV culture vultures Night Flight about the video. He admitted it was probably too much.

“Uh, looking back on it, in hindsight, it probably was sexist and we’re tending to get away from that.”

And then he went right back to signing some groupies’ boobs.
More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
‘Circus’ by Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan. Illustrated by Joe Coleman. Narrated by Ken Nordine
03:16 pm

Pop Culture

Narrated by Ken Nordine

Cover illustration by Daniel Nayari

Stories for Ways and Means is a new book that features original “grown up” children’s story collaborations by some of this era’s most compelling storytellers from the worlds of music and contemporary art. It’s being published by the long-running indie record label Waxploitation run by entrepreneur and photojournalist Jeff Antebi. The Stories for Ways and Means project lends support to several non-governmental organizations and nonprofit groups aiding children’s literacy causes around the world including Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, 826 National and many more.

Some of the featured musicians contributing to the project include Frank Black, Laura Marling, Del the Funky Homosapien, Gibby Haynes, Alec Empire, Kathleen Hanna, Devendra Banhart, Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, Will Oldham, Gary Numan and ska great guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

You can order the Stories for Ways and Means book at

The animated video below, “Circus” is based on a short story by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. It was illustrated by painter Joe Coleman and narrated by the voiceover legend Ken Nordine. It’s really neat.

Thank you kindly (and happy belated birthday) Sean Fernald of Hollywood, California!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Elvis busts that look nothing like Elvis
10:33 am

Pop Culture


Look, I get that time rolls on and that nostalgia kills. I get it, I do. Your average millennial is not all that concerned with rock n’ roll in general, nevermind who the “King” of the greatest American art form of all time is, or was. But I do. It’s Elvis. Elvis Presley is still the fucking King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. And all I have wanted for the past ten years is an Elvis bust that looks enough like him that I don’t have to explain why I’ve got a statue of, like, a generic fat guy with greasy hair in my living room.

Back in the 70s, before he gasped his last pill-shoveling breath on his golden toilet, Elvismania was at its apex. Most American homes had some evidence of Elvis worship, be it a crying Elvis black velvet painting, a ‘68 “Comeback Specal” commemorative ashtray, an Elvis Golden Hits box set, or a giant gaudy Elvis bust. My Canadian uncle Al had one of the latter, a memorial ‘77 Chalkware edition rushed out shortly after his death. That particular model became the standard-bearer. They even made a lamp out of it. It didn’t really look like Elvis, but you got the drift with the scarf, at least.

Elvis(?) lights the way
There were many others before and after, some as recent as the late 90s. Some are even animatronic. None of them capture the essence of the man who was, lest we forget, as close to a God as any American has ever gotten. I’ve been searching for a decent Elvis bust for years, but so far it’s been a disaster. Here’s a few of the travesties I’ve encountered.

Creepy 50s greaser with jaundice making duckface for a selfie, or the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Grumpy old neighbor Elvis wants you to move your car
More Elvi (that’s plural) after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
‘We’re going mad’: The Smiths young and miserable on a bus with a bunch of kids in 1984
10:17 am

Pop Culture

The Smiths
kids TV

The Smiths have two enduring legacies. Their music is the first, of course, particularly their run of perfect early singles, a collection of gloomy, fragile, almost hilariously depressed bummer-pop songs. The second is their singer’s gloomy, fragile, almost hilariously depressed public image. So, what’s the least likely place to find Morrissey in the summer of 1984? How about frolicking in a park with a gaggle of excitable children?

We are so far away from the time and place this video was first produced that it now seems like a warped parody of itself, like a hip late-night comedy sketch from some obscure corner of cable TV or a surreal dream you had after spinning all your Smiths albums and drinking straight gin all night.

This clip is from ITV’s breakfast television franchise TVAM in Britain, presumably from 1984. It aired during their Saturday morning kid’s line-up, SPLAT. “Charlie’s Bus” was a recurring segment on the program. It allowed kids to interview and interact with various celebrities. On this particular day, a bunch of bemused pre-teens mixed it up with The Smiths, who they have clearly never heard of. And why would they have? They weren’t exactly a kid-friendly band. I mean there’s a song on their first album about notorious kid-killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, for chrissakes. But here we all are, on Charlie’s Bus on a sunny afternoon.

The kids want to know how The Smiths got their name. Johnny Marr explains that he wanted to call the band the Rolling Stones, but Morrissey thought that was too much of a mouthful.

Kid: “Where are we going?”
Morrissey: “We’re going mad.”
Kid: “I thought we were going to Kew Gardens.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
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