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For Sale: The Private Life of Marilyn Monroe

This is what it comes to when we die: a wardrobe full of clothes, shoes, some scattered notes, several albums of photographs and a few good memories to be shared by others.

When Marilyn Monroe died on August 5th 1962, she left behind a shitload of personal effects from which we can learn more about her private life than any biography or old movie magazine interview could ever reveal. This November, Julien’s Auctions are selling some of Marilyn’s personal belongings from the collections of David Gainsborough-Roberts, the estate of Lee Strasberg and the estate of Frieda Hull. The lots up for grabs include clothes, costumes, jewelry, photographs, memorabilia, private journals, and poetry.

Julien’s shortlists the sale as follows:

Highlights from Marilyn Monroe Property From The Collection of David Gainsborough-Roberts include a sheer black beaded and sequined dress worn by Monroe in her Golden Globe winning role Sugar Kane as she crooned “I’m Through With Love” in the award winning 1959 film Some Like it Hot; an elaborate embellished stage gown worn by Monroe as she sang “After You Get What You Want You Don’t Want It” in the 1953 comedy There’s No Business Like Show Business which was designed by one of Marilyn’s all-time favorite designers, William Travilla; a pink linen halter wiggle dress designed for Monroe by Dorothy Jenkins for the 1953 thriller Niagara

The Marilyn Monroe Property From The Estate of Lee Strasberg collection includes one of just a few pieces of fine jewelry ever owned by Monroe: a ladies platinum and diamond cocktail watch with movement reading “Blancpain, Rayvill Watch Co. 17 Jewels, Unadjusted Switzerland.” Other highlights in this collection include a beautiful 1950’s brown alligator ladies handbag from I. Magnin & Co. with matching accessories; a grey pony handbag from Mexico still containing three one peso bills; a number of other handbags, fur coats and stoles; a stunning ladies minaudière with the original box, featuring multiple compartments containing loose powder with cotton buffer, mirror, comb, two mercury dimes, eight Phillip Morris cigarettes and a tube of used Revlon lipstick in “Bachelor’s Carnation” with a date of 1947, a virtual time capsule of one of the star’s nights out on the town.

Déjà vu Property From The Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe includes personal items originally sold at Christie’s 1999 and Julien’s Auctions’ 2005 Property From The Estate of Marilyn Monroe auctions and other consignors.

Among these incredible treasures are many of Marilyn’s intimate writings which reveal her frustrations with acting, her fear of being unable to love another, and various poems including one which might be about suicidal feelings:

Stones on the walk,
every color there is
I stare down at you
like a horizon
The space—air is between us beckoning
and I am many stories up
my feet frightened
as I grasp towards you.

The auction takes place over three days on November 17th, 18th and 19th, Los Angeles in what would have been Marilyn’s ninetieth year. View the catalogs here and full details of the auctions here.
More Marilyn Monroe memorabilia auction, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
You can buy two locks of Marilyn Monroe’s hair. Seriously.
08:53 am

Pop Culture

Marilyn Monroe

Few actors have come to symbolize glamor qua glamor for generations like Marilyn Monroe. Her icon status is unassailable, and was already pretty much cemented during her lifetime—basically a female Elvis; her pop culture penetration is such that one needn’t have even seen any of her movies to have her most iconic moments embedded in one’s consciousness. And if you seriously haven’t seen any of her movies, good lord, see The Misfits NOW. Her tragic suicide (drama addicted tinfoil hatters and Norman Mailer would say murder) by barbiturate overdose elevated her status—revelations of her troubled private life made her as relatable as Elvis’ hayseed roots made him—making her both the sex symbol that the studio system cultivated and a martyr to that status, a badge for the culture industry’s still ongoing reduction of women to objects of desire, leaving some of its most talented figures to struggle for respect in a milieu where the only currency is fuckability.

Due to her deification, trade in her image remains a brisk business over a half century after her death. The celebrated portraits of her by Andy Warhol adorn practically every consumer product that can be emblazoned with an image. And Monroe memorabilia need have only a tenuous connection to the icon to make waves—the replica of her Seven Year Itch dress worn by Willem Dafoe in a Snickers ad is expected to fetch thousands in Julien’s “Icons and Idols” auction this weekend.

But some memorabilia is significantly more, um, personal.
Lots 724 and 725 in the aforementioned auction are actual locks of Monroe’s hair. Their provenance is fairly compelling, if a bit creeperish—they came from the collection of one Frieda Hull, one of a group of six New Yorkers who basically made a hobby of stalking Monroe after her move there in the mid-‘50s. An astonishingly good sport about this, Monroe often posed for photos with and eventually befriended the group, known as “The Monroe Six,” even inviting them to the home she shared with her then-husband, playwright Arthur Miller. Can you even imagine that happening today? A clique of persistently invasive superfans would seem more likely to be assailed by goons than invited to the country for a picnic.

A lock of Marilyn Monroe’s blonde hair given to “Monroe Six” member Frieda Hull by one of Monroe’s hairdressers. The “Monroe Six” was a group of young fans based in New York City that frequently found out where Monroe would be through the press or by staking out her residence. The group became well known to Monroe who frequently posed for and with them in photographs.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Teenage Sophia Loren was deemed ‘too provocative’ to win the title of Miss Italy, 1950

The path to success is often circuitous, filled with detours, wrong turnings, dead ends and log-jammed highways. Perseverance and a great desire to succeed are requisite. Where one starts off is sometimes far removed from where one arrives.

Sophia Loren was a mere fifteen-year-old when she stood in line with the other young girls hoping to win the glittering prize of Miss Italy in Rome 1950. The Miss Italy beauty contest was devised as a “pick-me-up” for the defeated and beleaguered Italian nation after the Second World War in 1946.

Many of those early Miss Italia winners and contestants became well known in Italy and abroad. In 1947 alone there were four contestants who later went on to Italian entertainment fame: Lucia Bose (the winner that year), Gianna Maria Canale (second place), Gina Lollobrigida (third), and Eleonora Rossi Drago (fourth).

In 1950 the competition was broadcast live on radio. This was the year Miss Loren made her appearance under the name Sofia Scicolone.  However, the teenage beauty was considered “too provocative” to win the contest and the judging panel awarded Miss Loren the specially devised title of “Miss Eleganza 1950.”

Maria Bugliari won the title of Miss Italy but her success was small potatoes when compared to the long and brilliant career Sophia Loren achieved as an actress from then on.
More early photos of Sophia Loren, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Chemical Generation: Boy George investigates how Ecstasy changed the world

It’s the analogy of a young happy couple moving into their first home. They decorate it. They like to fill it with those things that best represent their tastes, likes and overall loveliness. Sometimes they might add an extension, put in new windows, or knock down a few walls. One day the couple moves on to another house and a younger couple moves in. The fashions wrought are soon changed—but the structure of the house generally stays the same.

Every generation makes some claim to having changed the world. There may be some truth in it. Still however the furnishings may change, overall human nature usually remains stubbornly the same. Similar loves, hates, fears and worries never too far beneath the skin—or that fresh new coat of paint.

Folk singer Pete Seeger once claimed music could unify people and bring them all together as one big happy family—eliminating differences and highlighting shared pleasures. There was a similar belief held out for drugs in the 1960s when Harvard professor Dr. Timothy Leary urged everyone to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Poet Allen Ginsberg thought if every politician dropped acid then world peace would result.

But can the hedonistic pleasures of drugs and music ever really change the world?

In the 1960s, Baby Boomers claimed they had revolutionized the world—made it better, more peaceful, freer. Weed, LSD, birth control and music had liberated everyone. Yet this belief is often founding wanting by the wars, oppression, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and some truly awful music produced during that decade and ever since. Pop music may have been widely available but LSD was only there for a certain elite—if you lived outside of a metropolitan area, your drug of choice then was probably alcohol or aspirin.

Similarly in the 1980s the raved up Ecstasy Generation claimed they had revolutionized the world with their raves and pills. But was it true? Did gurning and dancing and getting sorted for E’s and wizz really change society that much? Access to drugs was far easier, sure a byproduct of the Baby Boomers in the sixties looking for new experiences. The illicit production of ecstasy was enormous, which meant more people could sample the goods. By the mid-1990s, the Observer newspaper estimated that some 52 million ecstasy tablets were taken every weekend in the UK alone. And this in a nation of 63 million people!

Did rave culture have a greater effect on the world than hippies in the trippy sixties? If so how and what exactly (if anything) changed?

Superstar, singer, DJ, and famous former druggie Boy George is the ideal host to investigate these questions in this fascinating documentary The Chemical Generation. The ever radiant George examines the acid house, rave and club culture revolution, with considerable reference to the generation’s favorite chemical: methylenedioxy-methamphetamine—MDMA or ecstasy for short.

First broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 in 2000, The Chemical Generation tells the story of British club and drug culture from the early days of Acid House. Interviewing those on the front line—promoters, bouncers, drug dealers, clubbers, DJs (Danny Rampling, Judge Jules, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong, Lisa Loud, Mike Pickering), top cops (Ken Tappenden, former Divisional Commander of Kent Police) and those cultural figures who have written about ecstasy culture (Irvine Welsh, Dave Haslam).

As an introductory note, a brief history to rave culture in the UK goes something like this:

In 1987 four working class males, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker found themselves in clubs across Ibiza, listening to the music which was to make them legends in the dance scene and transform the face of youth subculture in Britain. Not only did they discover the musical genre of Acid House, played by legendary house DJ’s Alfredo Fiorillo and Jose Padilla in clubs such as Amnesia and Pacha, they were also crucially introduced to the drug MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy. Johnny Walker describes the experience:

“It was almost like a religious experience; a combination of taking ecstasy and going to a warm, open-air club full of beautiful people - you’re on holiday, you feel great and you’re suddenly being exposed to entirely different music to what you were used to in London. This strange mixture was completely fresh and new to us, and very inspiring”

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Six degrees of Marty Feldman
10:41 am


Marty Feldman

Marty Feldman said his distinctive looks were “the product of a thyroid condition caused by an accident when somebody stuck a pencil in my eye when I was a boy.” Whether true or not, it made Feldman instantly recognizable and in a way led to his breakthrough role in America as the scene stealing Igor in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. Feldman later quipped he was the only man to appear in a horror film without make-up.

Feldman was a hero, a rebel, a maverick. A comedy genius who co-wrote with Barry Took some of the best British TV and radio comedy during the 1960s. When he moved to Hollywood in the 1970s, his movie career started brightly and ended dismally—he died during the making of his last feature Yellowbeard.

Born to Jewish immigrant parents in Canning Town, London in 1934, Feldman was a wild and rebellious child, constantly in trouble and expelled from several schools. He later claimed he had a lot of violence which he eventually exorcised through performing in shows.

He was anti-authoritarian. His attitude was “ya-boo-sucks.” England, he claimed, was a country that had “produced a great number of passionless mass murderers” or “little bank clerks, the neighbourhood doctor. They all have the sort of bald, bony heads and wear pebble dash lenses and raincoats.” When considering this, one has to ask, what he made of West Coast America with its serial killers and shopwindow sincerity?
A tip of the hat to Marty’s comedy hero Buster Keaton.
He left school with no prospects but a great desire, a burning desire to do something creative—anything creative. He followed the beatnik trail to Paris. Feldman loved jazz. He played trumpet. He was apparently so bad he was once described as the “world’s worst trumpet player.” Whether true or not, jazz was the first avenue Feldman tried to map. He met his idol Charlie Parker in Paris. But the great jazz legend could only talk about snooker much to Feldman’s chagrin.

He adopted the jazz life—smoking weed, eating bennies and shooting junk. It wasn’t for him. He returned to England and worked in fairgrounds. He then started working in repertory theater where he met his future writing partner Barry Took.

Feldman and Took were among the most significant comedy writers in England during the 1950s and 1960s. Together they wrote classic comedy sitcoms like The Army Game and Bootsie and Snudge. While for radio, the world will be eternally grateful for Round the Horne and the creation of two Polari-speaking omi-palones Julian and Sandy.

Feldman also co-wrote two of British TV’s best known comedy routines—the “Class Sketch” for David Frost’s show (which starred a young John Cleese) and “The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch”—which is now best known as being part of Monty Python’s oeuvre. It was inevitable that Feldman would one day make the transition from being a much sought after writer to a much-loved performer. He joined John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Tim Brooke-Taylor for At Last, The 1948 Show before having his own award-winning series Marty in 1967.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
What a drag: Amazing behind the scenes photos from the set of ‘Some Like It Hot’

Chicago: It’s 1929 and you’re a down on your luck sax player called Joe, when you and your buddy—a bass player named Jerry—witness a mob slaying—the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, no less. This is waaaaay bad juju—made worse when one of the gangsters—bossman “Spats” Colombo—eyeballs you. Spats don’t want no witnesses. So you and Jack are now dead men walking. You hightail it with hot lead snapping at your heels. No money. No jobs. And some mobster wants you dead. What are you gonna do? Take a Greyhound west? Mail yourself east? Join a monastery? Nope. You only got one option, kid—get dragged-up and take a job with the all female jazz band Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators on a train ride to Florida. Seems kinda logical.

This is what happens to Tony Curtis (Joe) and Jack Lemmon (Jerry) in Billy Wilder’s hit 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. When the pair manage to disguise themselves as women they hook-up with Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), whose life has always been the “fuzzy end of the lollipop.”

Loosely adapted from a script by Robert Thoeren called Fanfares of Love—first made in France in 1935 and then remade in Germany in 1951—Some Like It Hot has been voted the best ever comedy film more times than Marilyn flubbed her lines during filming—a mere 47 takes for her to get “It’s me, Sugar” right.

The film is a classic because of the quality of the performances from its three leads, the razor sharp script by I. A. L. Diamond, and the supreme quality of direction from Billy Wilder.

Interestingly, Marilyn Monroe had a clause in her contract that stipulated she would only appear in color movies. This was intention until the make-up used to disguise Joe and Jerry as women gave their skin a hideous green cast. Black and white then became the only option. Curtis and Lemmon tested out their new feminine look by wandering around the studio and then entering a ladies’ room to put on make-up. No one (apparently) guessed they were men.

Seeing full color photographs from behind the scenes of Some Like It Hot gives the movie an added depth—an intimate sense of what was happening during so many of the film’s most memorable scenes. This is why these kind of photographs appeal so much—they give a separate yet concurrent narrative to a favorite movie. These beauties capture Curtis, Lemmon and Monroe at posed yet unguarded moments in their working time together—when Monroe was drug-addled, emotionally vulnerable and having an on-off affair with Curtis—by which, he later claimed, she became pregnant.
More on location photos from ‘Some Like It Hot’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
That time when David Bowie’s ex-wife tried to become a TV superhero

Angie Bowie as Wonder Woman
Angie Bowie as “Wonder Woman”
Back in the mid-70s when David and Angie Bowie were pretty much the hottest couple around, Angie auditioned for the lead role in the ABC TV series based on the DC comic book character, Wonder Woman. The part would go to former Miss USA Lynda Carter who would star in the much loved ABC Wonder Woman television series during its nearly four-year run after its debut in 1975.

Not only did Bowie audition for Wonder Woman (using her modeling name “Jipp Jones”), she also managed to acquire the rights to create a TV series or perhaps a film based on the comic book characters Daredevil and Black Widow from none other than Stan Lee. Armed with some pretty cool photographs taken by Terry O’Neill (with actor Ben Carruthers in the Daredevil costume), Bowie was sadly unsuccessful in getting anybody interested in producing the project and, outside of O’Neill’s photos, it never saw the light of day.
Angie Bowie as Black Widow
Angie Bowie as “Black Widow”
Angie Bowie (as Black Widow) and actor Ben Carruthers (as Daredevil)
Angie Bowie (as Black Widow) and actor Ben Carruthers (as Daredevil)
In Bowie’s autobiography from 1993, Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie, the model, actress and mother to one of The Thin White Duke’s two children, director Duncan Jones, wrote about her experience auditioning for the part of Wonder Woman back in 1974. A role she might have lost because she wasn’t wearing a bra when she arrived for her screen test:

First I showed them the photographs, which totally flabbergasted the director- things were going well so far- but then, before I went to my dressing room to don the stipulated turtleneck, some woman from the studio came up to me. “I see you’re not wearing a bra,” she said. “You have to wear one for the screen test. It’s mandatory.” I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t worn a bra for years. “Well, if that’s what you want, okay,” I said. “But I think you’re going to have a problem finding one small enough

Angie Bowie as Wonder Woman
Bowie also writes that after shooting down a “casting couch” come-on during the audition process, she came to the realization that she was never really being considered for the role. Apparently the whole thing was a bit of a PR stunt to help promote David Bowie’s “1980 Floor Show” edition of The Midnight Special, which Bowie also detials in her autobiography. 

More photos of Angie Bowie looking hot as hell as Wonder Woman, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Elvis Presley drug paraphernalia up for auction
08:52 am


Elvis Presley

Julien’s calls itself “The Auction House to the Stars,” and not without reason—an auction they’re holding this week, “Icons and Idols 2015: Rock n’ Roll,” features a metric shitload of guitars, amps, and even a couple of autoharps owned by Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Jim Morrisson’s Tallahassee mug shot, Michael Jackson memorabilia that includes his fang mold from the “Thriller” video, a Jimi Hendrix rehearsal cassette, and even handwritten song lyrics by Johnny Cash (about those last two THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING UP YOU GUYS I’M JUST SAYIN’).

But nothing in the auction, however badass, has anything like the lurid appeal of some of the Elvis Presley lots. There’s one of Elvis’ Cadillacs. There’s a gold-leaf piano. Bafflingly, there’s even a Chai necklace. Pretty sure The King wasn’t Jewish, but hey, I’m sure he’d be welcome in the tribe. There’s a lot of great Elvis stuff on the block at Julien’s for the discerning 1%er who has it all. but the real winners here are his drug paraphernalia.

Sadly, his notorious final prescription (reproduced on the back cover of Death of Samantha’s Laughing In The Face Of A Dead Man EP, I’m compelled to mention) is not among the lots offered for bidding here, but there IS a prescription written by Elvis’ infamous personal physician George “Dr. Nick” Nichopoulos, for the muscle relaxer Maolate.

Lot 127

There are two pill bottles here, too—empty, smartass—one for Valium, one for the antihistamine Naldecon. In 2007, an Elvis Naldecon bottle sold for $2,640. This one’s expected to go for $4,000—$6,000.

Lot 128

Lot 129

Finally, if you have the projected $1,000—$2,000, you can brandish Dr. Nick’s very own golden ID card identifying him as a member of Elvis’ entourage. That has to open SOME doors, no?

Lot 126
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Who was that mysterious middle-aged bald guy that appeared in like EVERY early ‘80s MTV video?
10:15 am

Pop Culture


When MTV first debuted in 1981, few people believed in the fledgling network and its concept of airing music videos 24 hours a day. Their launch was plagued with technical problems and the station itself was starved for content.

MTV co-founder, Les Garland, details the shaky beginnings in a New York Post interview:

There was some fear, because we didn’t get the instant distribution some people thought we would. We used to hear, from cable operators and advertisers, “nobody’s gonna watch music on television 24 hours a day. That’ll never work.” Heard it from people in [our own] management, too. It was closer to touch-and-go than people realized. There were threats of pulling the plug.

Given the newness of music videos, the channel had only around 250 to choose from at the beginning.

One demographic that may have been initially counted out, but who undoubtedly contributed to the success of early MTV, was elementary through high-school-aged kids who had loads of free viewing time on their hands. Kids who would end up spending hours a day obsessing over this new medium—a medium which moved so much faster than what they had been used to seeing, having grown up on network television. MTV ushered in the age of ADD.

I was one of those captivated kids, and what a fascinating time it was to become “musically aware” with this brand-new, content-starved format repetitively pumping-out clips from whatever handful of (mostly new wave) acts that were forward-thinking enough to devote the time and energy to shooting videos. Suddenly bands you would NEVER hear on the radio, were appearing on TV screens nation-wide and the kids were eating it up.

In those early days of obsessive MTV viewing, I began to notice this one guy. This one middle-aged, balding, bespectacled man. This one guy who was conspicuous for his squareness among pretty boy rock stars and hot models. This one guy who seemed to be in like EVERY freaking video. Was he a video director inserting himself Hitchcock style into his clips? Was he a record label president? Was he the bands’ coke dealer? Who the hell was this guy?

And so, for more than thirty years this man has been in the back of my head as “that ubiquitous middle-aged ‘80s video bald guy.”

I was recently tooling around You Tube, watching the video for Haircut 100’s classic hit “Love Plus One” and had my memory jarred. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “there he is!” “There’s that guy! The headmaster from the Bonnie Tyler video! The guy who struts down the street next to Joan Jett! The dad from the Squeeze video! The shaky-handed martini-drinker from the Billy Joel video! WHO IS THIS GUY!?”

This being 2015, and having the luxury of google and the Internet, I went to work searching for something, anything on this mystery man. Amazingly, I turned up nothing—except for other people asking the exact same question: “Who is the guy in every early ‘80s video?” 

So, next I contacted Nick Heyward of Haircut 100—because, again, we live in the future and you can just instantly access ANYONE. I sent Heyward a photo and asked “do you remember who this guy is?” Heyward replied almost immediately:

He was the wardrobe guy/actor/extra. Nice chap. Pop was a closely-knit family in those days.

There was a lead, but not much. Searches of “‘80s music video wardrobe guy, bald” turned up nothing.

From there, I took my quest to MTV’s Mark Goodman, to see if he had any inside information. Goodman responded: “No clue who the dude is but pretty funny you spotted him. You must have lots of free time!” So, great, childhood icon, MTV’s Mark Goodman, thinks I’m a total loser.

Subsequent sleuthing started to reveal a connection between the various videos that the pervasive bald guy was appearing in: a production company called MGMM.

MGMM was THE go-to company for music video production in the early ‘80s—mostly because they were one of the first companies to specialize in it. The company’s partners Brian Grant, Scott Millaney, Russel Mulcahy, and David Mallet were essentially the top directors in the burgeoning field. Their content DOMINATED early MTV, which, as we noted earlier, was quite sparse early-on. The most ground-breaking, iconic, most memorable music videos of the first three years of MTV were by-and-large all produced by MGMM. So the clues began to come together. Could the mystery middle-aged bald man be a costumer for MGMM?

Attempts to contact former partners of MGMM went mostly unanswered, but someone from David Mallet’s production company did get back to me with a name. That name was “Michael Baldwin.” Finally! A name to go with the pate!

Mallet’s company did not wish to comment any further or give additional information—and of course there’s stuff I’m still dying to know. Was it a goof among the production to have him turn up so often, or was it simply a matter of being short-staffed for extras? How many videos did he appear in? I know of at least 20. Were there more? Unfortunately, I can’t ask Baldwin himself—his Facebook page indicates that he sadly passed away due to an illness in October of 2014.

Baldwin was indeed a costumer, and an accomplished one at that. His website displays some stunning examples of his work, and clearly it was what he should be remembered for rather than his myriad of video cameos. That website is well worth a visit for Baldwin’s audio commentary on the gallery photos of his designs. He did a lot of work in the early ‘80s dressing pop stars, and obviously dressing sets with himself. But his work goes all the way back to the early ‘60s. He was even responsible for costumes on the Rolling Stones famous train-wreck Rock and Roll Circus. The guy had an impressive career outside of his bit parts in music clips.

As much as is left still unanswered, at least we can finally answer the question of “Who is that ubiquitous early ‘80s music video bald guy?”

His name is Michael Baldwin.


More Michael Baldwin than you can shake a stick at, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The fabulously flatulent sounds of the world’s foremost hand-fart virtuoso
10:54 am


Hand Fart Master

Manualism, or as we like to call it, “hand farting,” is the use of one’s clasped hands as a musical instrument. By pushing air through the hands, the manualist is able to produce a juicy, flatulent sound. It’s not really difficult for one to make such farty noises by putting his or her hands together, but perfecting tone and pitch in order to make those noises “musical” is a significant challenge.

John Twomey coined the term manualism to describe the art form. Though the technique had been around since at least 1914, according to Cecil Dill, who is widely considered the originator of the practice, Twomey was the first superstar of the craft, having performed “Stars and Stripes Forever” on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1974.

A couple of years ago we posted about this kid who performed a hypnotic hand-fart cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” While that kid clearly has a bright future ahead of him in the manualism game, he’s an amateur act compared to Gerry Phillips of to Troy, Michigan—as you can see right here:

Just call him “Queef Richards.”
Phillips, who has spent 45 years perfecting his technique, is a hand-fart virtuoso. His You Tube channel boasts over 150 videos. His most popular video, an unbelievable hand-fart cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper,” has over 3.4 million views. The guy is a hand-fart phenomenon.

Phillips claims to have discovered his talent at the age of nine. In the time since then, he has perfected his technique to such a degree that he can hit notes—in perfect pitch—from baritone to fartsetto (yeah, I said it) with incredible speed and accuracy on a par with the world’s greatest musicians. In fact, Phillips may be too good. He stopped producing new videos four years ago, and a 2011 interview may offer an explanation:

Most songs are repetitive and boring. When I find a song that is technically hard to play and has great lead solo or I just have too many people requesting it, only then will I do it.  I feel I have done just about everything I set out to play. I always thought that when I could play “The Green Hornet Theme” or the full “Fur Elise” that I would be as good as I could get. That is why I haven’t made any new videos lately.

Imagine being so good at something, achieving such heights of accomplishment, that there was no point in continuing with it. Now imagine that thing is hand farting.

Phillips’ videos really are a treat to watch, though—not only for his astounding talent, but also for the ever-present look on his face, which manages the paradoxical combination of the smugness of knowing he’s really fucking good, while at the same time seeming to be humbled by the realization of the butt-trumpeting ridiculousness emitting from his magical hands. If humblesmug is a thing, it can be witnessed on the visage of Gerry Phillips.

The Iron Maiden cover we mentioned is a good starting place to revel in Phillips’ masterful talent, but there are so many more must-see hand-fart renditions on his channel—a channel which is quite remarkable for the musical diversity displayed. It’s so all over the map. I personally recommend his hand-fart covers of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn,”  Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene 4,” The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia,” and the Sandford and Son theme song. Phillips is definitely pulling from all over the place in his inspired musical selections—he even does “The Gonk,” that goofball song that plays in the Dawn of the Dead shopping mall (which he performs while dressed as a zombie!).

Here are some undisputed must-hear classics from Gerry Phillips’ hand-fart hit parade:

More flatulent grooves after the jump…..

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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