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Free Pussy Riot: A statement by Nadya Tolokonnikova


 
An extraordinary essay by Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonikovoy has appeared on the Free Pussy Riot website. You can follow a blow by blow description of what is taking place at the Pussy Riot trial on Twitter. Kafkaesque? It’s that in spades, see for yourself. I thought it was important for this to be read by as many people as possible, so I am reproducing it here in full (but not block quoting it, because it would be a mile long)—RM

Art and the Human Manifesto of Nadya Tolokonnikova

The punk band Pussy Riot, which I belong to, is a musical group that conducts unexpected performances in different urban spaces. Pussy Riot’s songs address topical political issues. The interests of the group members are: political activism, ecology, and the elimination of authoritarian tendencies in the Russian state system through the creation of the civil society.

Since its origin in October 2011, the band played concerts in the subway, on the roof of a trolleybus, on the roof of the detention center for administrative detainees, in clothing stores, at fashion shows, and on the Lobnoe Mesto on Red Square. We believe that the art should be accessible to everyone; therefore we perform in diverse public spaces. Pussy Riot never means to show any disrespect to any viewers or witnesses of our punk concerts. This was the case on the roof of the trolleybus and on the Lobnoe Mesto, and this was the case at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

On 21 February 2012 Pussy Riot band performed its punk prayer “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In the early March 2012 three members of the group were imprisoned because of the music and political activism. The themes of our songs and performances are dictated by the present moment. We simply react to what is happening in our country, and our punk performances express the opinion of a sufficiently large number of people. In our song “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” we reflected the reaction of many Russian citizens to the patriarch’s calls for vote for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin during the presidential election of 4 March 2012.

We, like many of our fellow citizens, wrestle against treachery, deceit, bribery, hypocrisy, greed, and lawlessness, peculiar to the current authorities and rulers. This is why we were upset by this political initiative of the patriarch and could not fail to express that. The performance at Cathedral of Christ the Savior was committed not on the grounds of religious enmity and hatred. Equally, we harbor no hatred towards Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christianity worships the same as we do: mercy, forgiveness, justification, love, and freedom. We are not enemies of Christianity. We care about the opinion of Orthodox Christians. We want all of them to be on our side - on the side of anti-authoritarian civil society activists. That is why we came to the Cathedral.

We came with what we have and can: with our musical performance. During this performance we intended to express our concern: the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church - the patriarch - supports a politician who forcefully suppresses the civil society, which is dear to us.

I would like to emphasize the fact that, while at the Cathedral, we did not utter any insulting words towards the church, the Christians, and the God. The words we spoke and our entire punk performance aimed to express our disapproval of a specific political event: the patriarch’s support of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who took an authoritarian and antifeminist course. Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better. Our emotions and expressiveness came from that desire. If our passion appeared offensive to any spectators, we are sorry for that. We had no intentions to offend anyone. We wish that those, who cannot understand us, would forgive us. Most of all, we want people to hold no grudges against us.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ann Magnuson’s ‘The Jobriath Medley: A Glam Rock Fairy Tale’
06.26.2012
01:01 pm

Topics:
Art
Music
Queer
Superstar

Tags:

Photo: Austin Young; Make-up: Travis Pates

Usually when we get requests for Kickstarter, we have to say no because this entire blog would just be Kickstarter links, but Ann Magnuson’s “The Jobriath Medley: A Glam Rock Fairy Tale” project is different because they’ve actually already done most of the thing they want to raise money for, so you can just go online and buy it basically.

For years now, Ann has done a loving musical/spoken word tribute in her live cabaret shows to obscure 70s glam rocker Jobriath Boone (rock’s first out and out “fairy”) and recently she and longtime collaborator Kristian Hoffman have recorded it, with a small orchestra. The new project “combines good old-fashioned storytelling with extraordinarily pretty songs from Jobriath’s phantasmagoric catalogue. Think Mother Goose on LSD!”

Ann writes:

Kristian Hoffman and I both bought the Jobriath albums when they first came out in the early 1880s. Uh, I mean early 1970s. Me as a baby glam rock hillbilly hippie back in West Virginia, Kristian in his suburban enclave in Santa Barbara – where he would sometimes appear along with his best friend Lance Loud on the first TV reality show, AN AMERICAN FAMILY. (FYI: Lance also appears as a character in a pivotal TRUE story told in our glam rock fairy tale!). Oh, and Morrissey also bought the Jobriath albums when he was also a teenage glam-rock-groupie-budding-music-critic-future-rock-star in Manchester England England! (That’s a HAIR reference, by the way. Did you know Jobriath played “Woof” in the original L.A. production? You will when you hear The Jobriath Medley!) Morrissey would later reissue select songs from Jobriath’s two solo albums on the CD “Lonely Planet Boy”. But when we created The Jobriath Medley in 1996 we were unaware of the Morrissey connection (until that Japanese import showed up with the photo of The Moz holding the original Jobriath LP under his arm. A culturally significant moment that was quickly integrated into the text performed at the next live performance of The Jobriath Medley.)

“Grandma, tell me more about the 70s…”

Don’t worry kids, you’ll learn all about that decade of debauchery when you hear The Jobriath Medley! But suffice it to say that back in the early 1970’s everyone was blow, blow, blowing away in platform shoes, glitter eye make up, downing Quaaludes and red wine while being insanely & dangerously promiscuous as we dressed up in glad rags we found in thrift stores so we could emulate the movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s that we watched on The Late Late Show on TV. We were making like Liza Minnelli in CABARET (“divine decadence darling!”) and all we wanted to do was live our lives like we were in a Ken Russell movie!

Jobriath, just like David Bowie and Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls among many others, was one of those flaming creatures in the glam rock 70s who didn’t care what other people thought about them. Maybe they really were spacemen from Mars or androgynous aliens or strangers in a strange land OR just glorified hippies dressed up like Christmas trees…

With Kieran Turner’s fab documentary Jobriath A.D. (I loved it) turning a new generation of music fans on to Jobriath, there seems little doubt that Jobriath Boone will be “the Klaus Nomi” of 2012/2013, so jump on the bandwagon NOW and support Ann and Kristian’s DIY tribute to the lonely planet boy.

The Kickstarter page for “The Jobriath Medley” has a number of really great packages for any budget, from a digital download or CD all the way up to one of a kind paintings (Ann is quite expert in painting “fake Basquiats”—I mean to say that she’s fucking genius at it—and one of the packages offers a Basquiat-glam rock themed original artwork).

Dangeorus Minds readers will appreciate knowing that Sparks’ Russell Mael has contributed backing vocals to Ann and Kristian’s cover of Jobriath’s “I’maman.”

Read more about it on Kickstarter.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Lonely Planet Boy: An interview with ‘Jobriath A.D.’ director Kieran Turner

Jobriath: Rock’s Fairy Godmother

Bongwater: The Power of Pussy

Below, Ann talks Jobriath:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Tonight, A DJ Will Save Your Life: An interview with Performer Extraordinaire The Niallist
06.21.2012
07:25 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop
Music
Pop Culture
Punk
Queer
Superstar

Tags:

The_Niallist
 
‘...I’m from an old school that believed that music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews.’

Niall O’Conghaile aka The Niallist is talking about the music that inspired him to become a musician, a producer, a DJ, a one-man-disco-industry, and a Performer Extraordinaire.

Niall makes music that moves you “physically, mentally and emotionally. Dance music, for want of a better term!” But it’s always been about more than that.

Let’s turn to the history book…

When Brian Eno was working with David Bowie in Germany, he heard Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” in a record shop. Eno bought the single and ran, holding it aloft, back to Bowie in the studio, where he announced, like a pop John-the-Baptist, ‘I have heard the future.’

Niall is part of that future and his musical output is quite phenomenal and brilliant.

But it’s not just music that Niall has made his own, you’ll know him as a star blogger on Dangerous Minds, and perhaps through his work on the blogs Shallow Rave, Weaponizer, Menergy and his site, Niallism.

Niall also DJs / organizes club nights with Menergy and Tranarchy, and is the keyboard player with Joyce D’Ivision. All of which, for my money, makes The Niallist one of the most exciting, talented and outrageous DJ/producers currently working in the UK. Not bad for a boy who started out spinning discs on one turntable at school.

Now, it’s strange how you can spend much of your working day with someone and yet never really know that much about them. Wanting to know more about the extraordinary Niallist, I decided to interview him for (who else?) Dangerous Minds, and this is what he said.
 
DM: Tell me about how you started in music? Was this something to moved towards in childhood?

The Niallist: ‘Yeah, music is something I remember affecting me deeply as a kid. My sister, who is older than me, was a huge Prince fan and naturally that teenage, female, pop-music enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I would read all her old copies of Smash Hits and create my own scrap books from the magazines, even though the bands were, by then, either non-existent or pretty naff.

‘My brother was into more serious, “boy” music, which I didn’t like as a child, but which I really appreciated when I hit puberty. He had a big box of tapes that was crucial to me, even though he didn’t like me borrow them, but he had pretty much all Led Zep’s albums in there, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Bowie, The Stone Roses, and I particularly remember him getting a copy of Nevermind when it had just come out, which was a key discovery. That box smelt of Dettol and musty cassettes, and to this day the smell of Dettol still takes me back!’

What were your early tastes in music? What were those key moments when a song a record made you realise this was what you wanted to do?

The Niallist: ‘Well, Nevermind was definitely one. I think that record started a lot of people on a musical journey. But also, I really identified with Kurt Cobain, as he was an outsider in the pop music landscape who spoke up for gay and women’s rights, which really struck a chord with me. He was a man, but he also wasn’t scared of being seen as feminine. He was a pop star, he looked scruffy and spoke with intelligence and passion. He was different. As someone else who was different, and a natural outsider, I guess I saw music as maybe a place where I could fit in and still fully express myself.

‘Call me hopelessly naive if you will, but I’m from an old school that believed that music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews. Looking back on the early 90s now, it seems like an incredibly politically-charged time for music and pop culture. Public Enemy, NWA, Ice Cube, Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill, The Prodigy with “Fuck ‘Em And Their Law”, Pearl Jam telling Ticketmaster to fuck off, Spiral Tribe, massive illegal raves, Back To The Planet, Senser, Rage Against The Machine, the fact that RuPaul was a pop star, even Madonna’s Sex book and Erotica album for God’s sake! If you weren’t politically active or at least aware back then, you were terribly uncool. That spirit seems to have disappeared from music altogether now, which is sad.’
 

 

 
More from Niall, including his Top 5 picks, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Wonderful interview with Muhammad Ali on Irish TV in 1972
06.19.2012
03:23 pm

Topics:
Politics
Race
Sports
Superstar

Tags:


 
Muhammad Ali is a riveting storyteller and has undeniable presence in this entertaining, gutsy and inspiring interview conducted for Irish TV on July 1972. Interviewer RTÉ’s Cathal O’Shannon does a fine job of navigating the enormous personality of Ali and much of what the boxer has to say is painfully true and often way ahead of its time.

The interview took place while Ali was in Dublin to fight Al “Blue” Lewis 16 months after suffering his first defeat at the hands of Joe Frazier.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Phantom of the Paradise’ Tribute Concert & Paul Williams live at Cinefamily!
06.12.2012
01:57 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music
Superstar
Television

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Holy-motherfucking shit, our friends at Cinefamily (here in sunny Los Angeles) have outdone themselves (yet again) for what looks like an incredibly fun time this coming Saturday night:

An Evening With Paul Williams
Why are there so few songs about rainbows? Because Paul Williams wrote the absolute definitive one for all-time with “The Rainbow Connection”, and no one else since has dared to go near the rainbow zone. This one feat alone doesn’t make a career—but the theme song to “The Love Boat” and huge chart hits for The Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, Helen Reddy and Three Dog Night sure do, as well as the smash soundtracks for Phantom of the Paradise, Bugsy Malone, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and A Star Is Born, all in conjunction with an incredible acting career in which he’s played boy geniuses (The Loved One), sleazy businessmen (Smokey And The Bandit) and monkey dudes (Battle For The Planet of the Apes). WHEW!

Short in stature but towering in talent and charisma, Paul Williams was one of the faces of 1970s American pop culture—you couldn’t tune into late-night TV without seeing his joyful, bespectacled grin. Deserving of every accolade every bestowed to him, Paul is a national treasure, one fully deserving of rediscovery. Join us as we sit down with this living legend for a juicy career-spanning convo, moderated by Steven Kessler (director of the brand-new doc Paul Williams: Still Alive) and peppered with rare archival footage of Paul at his best! 

Phantom of the Paradise Tribute Concert
One of the most intense, baroque and satirical films of Brian De Palma’s filmography deserved an equally shimmering, catchy and reference-laden rock score—and that’s exactly what Paul Williams bestowed upon De Palma’s 1974 movie musical masterpiece Phantom of the Paradise. Starring in the film as well as singing several of its cult-hit earworms, Paul cemented an unforgettable legacy as “Swan,” the Svengali-like evil spirit chairman of Death Records—in addition to penning other soulful, memorable numbers for his co-stars, tunes that giddily run the gamut from glam rock sleaze to doo-wop parody, singer-songwriter sensitivity and beyond. The Phantom songbook is instantly hummable and forever meaningful to lovers of pop pastiche—and after our live Q&A session with Paui, it’s time for a full-on live tribute show to this epic showstopping soundtrack! The evening’s vocalists include Eryn Young, Django and Sam Stewart, Sierra Swan, Tim Young and Heather Porcaro—and the band is manned by Tim Young, Kaveh, Aaron Sterling and Steve Porcaro. Thrill to this ace team’s renditions of “Faust,” “Old Souls,” “The Hell of It” and more!

An Evening With Paul Williams begins at 6:00pm and the Phantom of the Paradise Tribute Concert begins at 8:30pm, Saturday June 16th. Get tickets here.

(The evening prior, Cinefamily will be screening a Paul Williams double bill of The Muppet Movie and Phantom of the Paradise. Info here.)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Paul Williams sings in his ‘Planet of the Apes’ make-up

Below, Paul Williams sings “Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song” on The Muppet Show:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Peter Sellers Gives Britt Ekland A Birthday Cake To Remember
06.08.2012
06:22 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Pop Culture
Superstar

Tags:

britt_ekland_peter_sellers_presents
 
A short clip from Come to London, British Pathé‘s featurette highlighting some of the attractions available in the Swinging Sixties’ capital. This is worth watching for the water-bike, but especially for Peter Sellers giving Britt Ekland a birthday cake in 1966.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Paranormal Peter Sellers


 
Via British Pathé
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
It Girl: Life-size zombie Edie Sedgwick sculpture
06.08.2012
12:29 pm

Topics:
Art
Fashion
Pop Culture
Superstar

Tags:


 
Although it doesn’t explicitly say so anywhere, it seems pretty obvious to me that this life-size sculpture “Broken girl” by Adnagaporp is meant to be Warhol Superstar Edie Sedgwick. 

Well, a zombie Edie, anyway.
 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Robin Gibb R.I.P.
05.20.2012
08:16 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Superstar
Television

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Robin Gibb passed away today (May 20) after a long brave struggle with cancer. While we all suspected it was only a matter of time, his death still hits hard. The fact that Gibb managed to keep death at bay as long as he did is testimony to the man’s inner strength and courage. It almost looked like he might beat the disease. After all, he had done it once before. But it was not to be.

Spirits Having Flown is a NBC TV special (named after the Bee Gees 1979 album) that was filmed during the height of their Saturday Night Fever fame. The show includes interviews with David Frost, the group at work in the studio and live performances, including guest appearances by Willie Nelson and Glen Campbell.

Spirits Having Flown  is lightweight but energetic fun. It’s also been hard to find, having never been released on VHS or DVD. By no means a great document (it was produced by Robert Stigwood), it still provides enough moments of Bee Gee goodness, both on and off the stage, to please fans and admirers of the Bee Gees’ music - classic pop songs that transcend trends and will endure.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rock n’ roll bliss: 90+ minutes of The Patti Smith Group on German TV
04.29.2012
02:23 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Punk
Superstar

Tags:


 
Holy shit!  Here it is: The Patti Smith Group’s entire 1979 performance on German TV’s “Rockpalast.” While this has been readily available on the ‘web in bits and pieces, I’ve never seen it uninterrupted and looking this good (other than on a bootleg DVD I own). This is very very cool must-see stuff. Patti fans rejoice!

01 Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
02 Hymn
03 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger
04 Privilege
05 Dancing Barefoot
06 Redondo Beach
07 25th Floor
08 Revenge
09 5-4-3-2-1-Wave
10 Pumpin’ My Heart
11 7 Ways Of Going
12 Because The Night
13 Frederic
14 Jailhouse Rock
15 Gloria
16 My Generation

Watch it while you can.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Dangerous Minds fully endorses Sharon Needles
04.27.2012
03:26 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Queer
Superstar
Television

Tags:


 
...to win Season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, RuPaul’s Drag Race is THE best reality show on TV right now. No, wait, let me rephrase that: RuPaul’s Drag Race is THE best reality show in the history of TV. Yes, I’m fucking serious.

It feels a bit like coming out all over again, to admit an obsession with a show so frivolous and outrageously camp as RDR. But I’m not ashamed, no siree. I couldn’t give two hoots what any of the detractors say, Drag Race is fun, funny, glamorous, touching and educational. It delivers on so many levels that it puts the bigger, mainstream reality shows to shame, a fact acknowledged by Pamela Anderson, who has stated that the talent on Drag Race easily outclasses that on American Idol.

And I’m not even a reality TV fan. I hate it! You know how these competition shows seem like such a fucking lie cos all the contestants are MOR dweebs hand-picked for their inanity, and the judges spew out bullshit platitudes when the truth is they have no clue how to control the market forces of the entertainment industry? That has always bugged me, as has the premise that somehow a mystical team of background operatives can bestow superstar status on an individual of their choosing. Well, Drag Race is different. Very different. First off, it’s a show about competing drag queens. Case closed. But in case you’d like me to explain further, don’t worry, I fully intend to…
 

 
Right away, out the window goes that hypocritical, bullshit false humility that stinks up reality TV. Being a show-off is always frowned upon on these shows, and a confident extrovert is generally framed as being “arrogant.” It’s a fundamental mythos of the entire reality genre (you know the score, the loveable loser who would still be lingering in a factory or waiting tables if it wasn’t for the grace of Simon Cowell to descend from his throne and bestow fame upon them.)  Realistically the judges and producers need someone who is easy to manipulate and control, but they also need someone who is comfortable in front of an audience and a few cameras yet who knows their place and won’t outshine the real stars, the judges themselves. 

Drag Race contestants are not random losers plucked from the braying horde to be made famous, these girls have been picked to compete because they are FABULOUS, and they are not scared of showing it off! RuPaul herself actively encourages showing-off, with a peacock-parade at the end of each show, and a lip sync competition between relegated queens to see who stays on. These are goddam drag queens after all, and showing off is in their bones, their genes, their very make-up. Seriously, who’s ever heard of a shy drag queen!?

RuPaul doesn’t promise these performers the world on a plate. No, she offers them a slot performing on a cruise liner. That and princely sum of $100,000. The queens are expected to bring their own talents to the table and to show us how hard they can work them, rather than having to bow to the judges nit-picking advice and barely-hidden agendas.

But it’s not even that that’s got me hooked. It’s Sharon Needles herself.
 

 
Here’s the other major lie of reality TV, one that is getting thinner and more see-through as the years go by, and turning off more and more fans of the genre. The lie that they actually produce stars. Seriously, in the ten years now that reality TV has dominated the airwaves, it has yet to produce one genuine superstar. One performer or personality that you can tell will still be around and claiming the spotlight once the promotional budget has run out or the new series has started. Well, step forward Sharon Needles.

Needles (real name is Aaron Coady) is a 31-year-old performer based in steely-grey Pittsburgh, a punk-rock goth queen who exudes wit and warmth and always looks simply phenomenal. Aaron describes Sharon as being “beautiful, spooky and stupid” and she quickly went from being Drag Race‘s rank outsider to head of the leader board, winning a record four challenges with a style that is equal parts Donatella Versace and Lux Interior (Sharon quotes Amanda LaPore and GG Allin as her drag idols.) She is television gold. Seriously, this is the first time I have ever watched anything like this and actually thought “Wow - this person really does deserve to be superstar.” It’s a slightly strange sensation, and is exactly what has made this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race so captivating. 

Needles is not a queen without controversy, either. Within the world of drag Sharon is seen as a freak because she does not conform to “fishy” standards (looking convincingly sexy as a female) and even though she looks fantastic she has had to struggle to prove her worth to the other Drag Race contestants, not to mention to audiences and venues in her native Pittsburgh. But Sharon’s outsider/underdog status has actually worked in her favor. In the insular, catty scene of drag and female impersonation, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that to the straight world grown men dressing as girls is always going to be seen as freaky, no matter how fishy they are. Sharon’s open embracing of her own beautiful freakishness has endeared her to audiences both gay and straight alike.

Sharon’s outsider status has also brought to the fore stories of Aaron’s childhood bullying and social exclusion, from not only the straight world but also the gay scene itself. Aaron is an eloquent speaker against discrimination and bullying of all kinds, and Sharon’s warm acceptance of all of nature’s little oddities is a refreshing change from mainstream gay society’s focus on the shallow beauty of the image. In an era of institutionalised discrimination against homosexuals, where the battle for our basic human rights is still very much happening, Sharon Needles is the unlikely hero that we need. That we ALL need, regardless of gender, orientation, color or any of that. If you’ve ever felt even a little bit at odds with society and its relentless conformity, Sharon Needles is the fierce bitch for you.

A genuine one-off with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to burn, Sharon Needles is a true star. In fact, she’s exactly the kind of contestant you don’t see on reality TV shows because they are just too good! And that’s why we here at Dangerous Minds would like to throw our full support behind her in the race to become America’s Next Drag Superstar.

VOTE NEEDLES 2012.

This video is a compendium of Sharon Needle’s best moments in the earlier stages of Drag Race, mixed with performance footage from the streets and bars of Pittsburgh:
 

 
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Logo TV, and the winner of Season 4 is announced on Monday.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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