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In bed with Andy: David Bailey’s banned ‘Warhol’ documentary

Among the reasons given for the banning of David Bailey’s documentary on Andy Warhol were: its possibly breach of the Vagrancy Act and a suggested sex act that was not “conducive to road safety.” These were the stated opinions of lawyer and judge Lord Justice Lawton and the sports journalist and broadcaster Ross McWhirter.

McWhirter was one-half of the famous twin brothers Ross and Norris McWhirter who compiled, wrote and edited the Guinness Book of Records. It was McWhirter who initiated the bizarre events that led to Bailey’s film being pulled from broadcast in January 1973, and temporarily banned until March of the same year. McWhirter was responding to the press previews for Bailey’s film that appeared in the Sunday papers on January 14th that described the film as “shocking,” “revolting,” and “offensive,” with the worst scene (erroneously) described by the Daily Mail as showing:

...a fat female artist [who] dyes her breasts and then rolls about on canvas ‘painting’...

This was Brigid Berlin making one of her famous “Tit Prints,” which was cited by Lord Lawton as a possible source of offense.
Director and subject.
David Bailey had spent about a year working on his documentary about Andy Warhol—it was the last of three films Bailey made for Lew Grade’s television company ATV, the other two were profiles of photographer Cecil Beaton and director Luchino Visconti—and he had spent considerable time with the often monosyllabic and elusive artist, and had interviewed many of Warhol’s Factory entourage including Candy Darling, Paul Morrissey, Fred Hughes, Jane Holzer and art dealer Leo Castelli. Bailey had given over directing duties to William Verity, while he spent his time asking questions and getting close to the film’s subject.

When ATV gave a press screening for Bailey’s Warhol, little did they consider that the negative response of the press would lead to the film being banned. When Ross McWhirter read the press previews, he was sufficiently disgusted that he saw an opportunity to strike a blow for the silent majority—for whom he believed himself to be the obvious spokesman. In fact, he was over-reacting to some hearsay about a film he had not seen.
On Monday 15th, McWhirter prepared to take out an injunction against the Independent Broadcasting Authority—the TV watchdog—for allowing Bailey’s film to be screened. On Tuesday January 16th, he issued a writ against the documentary to stop it being broadcast. However, McWhirter’s writ was dismissed during a one-minute High Court hearing. Like all zealots, McWhirter was not one to have the law stop him, and he appealed the High Court’s decision.

McWhirter’s actions gained support from an unlikely quarter: one of the ITV broadcast regions Anglia decided, after is chairman Lord Townshend and two members of the channel’s planning committee had watched the documentary, not to screen the documentary as Bailey’s film was:

...not of sufficient interest or quality.

McWhirter’s appeal was heard at 17:00hours on Tuesday January 16th, the day Warhol was set for broadcast. The Appeal Court consisted of Lord Justice Cairns, Lord Justice Lawton, and was presided over by Lord Denning. Although he had not seen the programme, McWhirter claimed in his writ that the press previews were sufficient to suggest the show would cause considerable offense. Any programme that was considered to be offensive to “good taste and decency” was to be banned under the guidelines of the Television Act of 1964.

Causing offense to the viewing public was not McWhirter’s only concern over Bailey’s film as his writ went on to describe some of its possible dangers:

At one point there is a conversation between a man dressed as a Hell’s Angel and a girl. In that piece, the girl discusses sex with the man and says she would like to have sex with him on the back of a motorcycle doing 60 miles an hour. Apart from anything else, that does not sound as though it is conducive to road safety.

Like McWhirter, none of the Lords had seen Bailey’s film, however this didn’t stop them pontificating about its possible criminal intent. According to the Guardian newspaper, Lord Justice Lawton was deeply concerned over Brigid Berlin’s breast painting:

...the viewers of Britain were to be shown pictures of a fat lady doing something that sounded to him very much like a breach of the Vagrancy act, apart from anything else…

The offending “tit printing” scene.
However, it was the IBA who received the greatest criticism from Lord Denning for their perceived failure to view the documentary before transmission. This, as it later turned out, was a major oversight by Denning and co. as they had failed to ascertain whether anyone from the IBA had actually watched the film—which in fact they had. IBA General Director Brian Young, Head of Programmes Joe Wellman, together with their deputies, had all watched Bailey’s film and suggested cuts and had even insisted on the addition of an introductory voice-over.

Still this did not stop the appeal judges voting 2-1 in favor of an interim injunction that temporarily banned the film from being screened on television—a documentary on craftwork was broadcast instead.

Watch David Bailey’s ‘Warhol’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Simpsons Tattoo’ collects the very best Springfield-inspired body art
05:08 am


The Simpsons

The Instagram account The Simpsons Tattoo is surprisingly delightful. I’m not shocked that a lot of people have body art inspired by the show, but it is a little unexpected that 1) these tattoos are done so well (as opposed to tragic crust-punk poke-and-stick) and 2) there are so many deep cuts (no pun intended). Fan tattoos of most cartoons tend to obsess over main characters and pivotal moments, but Simpsons fans may just be a more esoteric breed; so much of the work curated here features secondary, or even tertiary characters. Some of them aren’t even a character, but a bit of iconography (the diagram of the blowfish is particularly inspired).

What’s even more entertaining is your ability as a viewer to identify the most random reference—I haven’t seriously watched the show in years, and I laughed out loud in recognition of some of the one-off jokes that someone was daring and committed enough to permanently adorn themselves with.


More Simpsons ink after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The world will never run out of ‘newly uncovered’ David Bowie videos
02:57 pm


David Bowie

One of the questions we used to get asked a lot in the early days of this blog is if we thought we’d ever “run out of stuff” to feature here. After nearly six years if the seemingly bottomless pit of newly uncovered David Bowie videos alone is anything to go by, the answer is a definitive “No.”

Or perhaps I should write “Non” as these two er… newly uncovered clips, via the David Bowie News website, come from France originally. French photojournalist Philippe Auliac first shot Bowie at Victoria Station in London in 1976, the infamous incident (or non-incident as the case seemed to be) where the thin white duke was supposedly doing a fascist salute standing up in a car à la der Fuhrer. Since then he’s shot Bowie several times over the decades and he was kind enough to share his stash of Bowie vids with the world, which haven’t been seen since they were originally aired on French television in the late 1970s. (Two are embedded here, there’s a third, an interview at the Plaza hotel in New York here).

For your chance to win a print of one of his classic Bowie shots signed by Philippe, (as seen in his David Bowie - Passenger book) click over to David Bowie News and answer this question: On what date was Philippe’s shot of Bowie at Victoria Station taken?

After the jump, two ‘newly uncovered’ David Bowie videos

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
CNN declares war on annoying politicians with its own ‘Too Many Cooks’ parody
08:59 am


Too Many Cooks

OK, this is borderline awesome. On its official YouTube account, CNN yesterday released a pretty darn good parody of Too Many Cooks, the one-off viral video that Adult Swim released late last year that poked fun at cheesy 1980s sitcom opening credit sequences. In CNN’s version, which repurposes both the title and much of the theme music of the original, the video appears to be a comment on what is sure to be a crowded and noisy primary season for the election of 2016. With no presidential incumbent in the race, the Democratic side, in terms of official candidates, features little more than the presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, although that may change (and there are theoretical challengers floating around), while the Republican side really does lend itself to a “Too Many Cooks” treatment.

The video is a good excuse to throw every embarrassing clip they could find into a single video—for instance, Marco Rubio reaching for a glass of water, John McCain dancing a weird little jig, and so forth. Since the whole point of the video is to surpass anyone’s reasonable attention span, the video lasts a little under six and a half minutes (about half of the original “Too Many Cooks”) and features pretty much every notable political figure since the mid-1990s who is still active (and a couple that are not).

CNN’s version stays surprisingly faithful to the original, as you’ll see when you give it a look.

via The Daily Dot

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Pussysparks’ and her NSFW St. Patty’s Day power tool shenanigans
09:00 am


Cirque de la Femme
power tools

TV viewers in Chicago who were expecting local TV channel WGN to celebrate the holiday with the usual panoply of shamrocks and leprechauns draped in green received quite a jolt last Friday morning when Shana Vaughan-Gabor, a performer with Cirque de la Femme, took the stage. Vaughan-Gabor’s thing is, to be delicate about it, simulating the act of pleasuring herself with an angle grinder, an act that generates an impressive stream of sparks.

Amusingly, Vaughan-Gabor’s nickname is “Pussysparks,” and she is also a professional dominatrix. It might have been a good idea if WGN had read her CV before booking her for the show.

In the video below, as Vaughan-Gabor starts up with the sparks, reporter Pat Tomasulo inanely shouts “I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet a woman like this! Lord knows, I can’t do that on my own!” while the off-air hosts say things like “Oh no, stop…. What is going on!?” Even better, after the sparks are overwith, Tomasulo shouts to a group of children gathered around him: “Hey kids, what did you guys think of the lady shooting sparks sparks out of her midsection?” (Answer: “Creepy and stinky.” All right!)

Later, WGN anchor Larry Potash took to Twitter to apologize for the “unintentional porn” that took place during the show. Methinks he doth protest too much: It’s NSFW, for sure, but that still doesn’t make it porn.

In any event, Cirque de la Femme got some free publicity, which is A-OK with me.

via Chicagoist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Broad City’: The early years
04:28 pm


Abbi Jacobson
Ilana Glazer
Broad City

If you bothered clicking on this link and are reading these words right now, then chances are fairly good that you and I have something in common: we’re both probably fans of the wonderfully loopy Comedy Central show Broad City, created by the very talented and very funny duo of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Admittedly, though, the first episode… I didn’t get it. Then I watched another one—I was stoned—and then another and by the third one I was thinking that Ilana Glazer is probably one of the greatest natural comedians since… Gracie Allen. (Compare and contrast Glazer’s ditzy pothead Bodhisattva with Gracie’s holy fool in this (live) episode of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show where Gracie sees a psychiatrist and you’ll see why I say that. I’ll also add that I think “Ilana” is one of the best and most originally delineated comedy characters since Chris Elliot’s “Chris” in Get A Life or Julia Davis’ evil hairdresser “Jill Tyrell” in that bleakest of the bleak BBC sitcom Nighty Night).

Which is not to slight the presence of Abbi Jacobson, the straight woman of the Broad City partnership. Jacobson’s one of the best “reactors” working today—she’s as good as Martin Freeman in that department—and her character’s continuously foiled aspirations in life are some of the greatest examples of a comedy style I like to call “pathetica” in recent memory. Her passive, sighing, trying-to-be-a-good-sport reactions to things like being asked to clean up “puke” and “pubes” at work, the guy who she’s infatuated with wanting her to peg him, and any and all of the ridiculous schemes that Glazer’s character wants her to go along with, are pure gold. Without someone at least semi-reasonable to bounce off of, “Ilana” would simply appear to be a lunatic with no grounding in reality, but Jacobson is so real and her acting so understated that she ends up elevating everything to another level. It’s her “interpretation” of whatever’s happening—seeing the situation through her character’s eyes—that adds another onion skin layer of complexity of what transpires on Broad City. Great comedy is alchemical in nature and Broad City has exactly the right ingredients for greatness.

Broad City feels wholly organic—Glazer and Jacobson met taking improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade—and there’s nothing forced about their chemistry. The brilliant Hannibal Buress—Bill Cosby’s favorite person, NOT—is also a part of the cast as “Lincoln,” Ilana’s friend with benefits, a pediatric dentist.

If you’ve not discovered the indiscreet charms of Broad City yet, you should, it’s one of the very best comedies on TV today (it’s exec produced by one of America’s greatest Americans, Amy Poehler, surely a mark of distinction out of the gate). If you are a Broad City fan already and you’ve not checked out the Broad City web series that ran for several years on YouTube that led to the TV show, then you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Actually, it just seems like a lot, but the webisodes are pretty short—two to five minutes each—and you can just watch them one after another. They’re excellent, just like the show but… shorter. Each one has at least one huge laugh.

More early ‘Broad City’ and more after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Sexist nightmares from real casting websites
08:20 am



Two things that almost any amount of media consumption should teach even the most obtuse viewer: (1) Most everyone on TV and in movies is crazy attractive, and (2) Men get the lion’s share of the good parts. Combine those with a soupçon of ageism and you have instantly created a toxic environment in which only sexy, young women are likely to be cast in any given role.

If TV shows and movies are going to end up that way, some or most of those tendencies have to be made explicit during the creation of the product, and casting is one of the primary places that happens. In our world you can’t just say out loud that a woman’s bra measurement matters more than her acting ability, .... but sometimes casting agents do it anyway!

A new Tumblr called Casting Call Woe has smartly decided to shine a spotlight on this odious side of the entertainment industry. Sometimes the sentences are amusing, like the way they try to put a positive spin on “We’re looking for a hot bimbo to play this professor,” but a couple of them are super creepy.



More of these groanworthy examples from real casting websites after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
John Waters on ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’!

There’s no way that the director of Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Hairspray, and Female Trouble could live in a boring house; viewers across the country got a good glimpse of the home of John Waters when the intolerable Robin Leach and the crew of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous paid a visit to his house in the suburbs of Baltimore.

Pretty much every moment of the episode is solid gold. Waters plays up the occasion for maximum humor, while also treating viewers to a glimpse of his favorite Baltimore watering hole, the Club Charles.

John Waters is amazing as always, but some of the best lines here are intoned in Robin Leach’s patented plummy shriek: “It is the house of a man who wrote the book on schlock value and plays it for all it’s worth! ... The man who calls the shots swears he has three all-time idols: Anita Ekberg, Liberace, and Francis the Talking Mule!” (In between those two statements we see Waters’ receptionist inform him that Mother Theresa is on the line, to which Waters responds with an irritated, “Tell her I’ll call her back!”)

More Leach: “It’s a fine line between parody and the macabre: A jar of dirt from the lawn of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy sits next to polio vaccine!” I was trying to figure out the timing of this…. there is a reference to some more profitable movies Waters has made, so I suppose it has to be after Hairspray in 1987.

Also, check out Rookie Mag’s gallery of pics taken at Waters’ home.

(Poster by Sarah Hedlund)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pimpin’ ain’t easy: Miles Davis on ‘Miami Vice’
08:20 am


Miles Davis
Miami Vice

One thing about Miles Davis, he’s difficult to mistake for anyone else on the planet. With his high forehead, pinched features, and ultra-raspy voice, he’s so incredibly distinctive a person that it rather impedes any endeavors he might make into vanish into a role in an actorly way—he’s always unmistakably “Miles Davis.” For whatever reason (probably $$$), in 1985 the most restless and innovative jazz musician of the 20th century decided that he wanted to take part in an episode of Miami Vice, at that time one of the hottest shows on TV. Watching the episode, it’s easy to see the appeal the show must have had at the time, the plot is threadbare and the acting attitudinal, but you get the trappings of an R-rated crime thriller without having to think too hard about it.

Davis appeared on season 2, episode 6, “Junk Love.” The idea is that Crockett and Tubbs arrest the owner of a whorehouse, a dude named “Ivory Jones”—played by Miles. They realize that a local druglord (of course) is obsessed with one of his prostitutes…. do you really want me to go on? The key here is that Ivory is a scumbag but collaborating with the local constabulary, which means we get plenty of scenes of him hanging out with Crockett and Tubbs. It’s a challenge to watch Don Johnson and not perceive him as doing a Kevin Costner imitation, but Costner wasn’t very well known yet. Most of Davis’ dialogue is semi-incomprehensible, but you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the genius behind Bitches Brew croak, “Watch that big cabin cruiser, he has a thing about them.”

Musical cues include Robert Plant’s “Little by Little,” Wang Chung’s “True Love,” and Bryan Ferry’s “Slave To Love.”

This episode is, unfortunately, only available on Hulu—actually the Cloo network, but it amounts to the same thing.

Thank you Joe Yachanin!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Dennis Hopper on ‘The Johnny Cash Show,’ The LSD-25 remix
01:24 pm


Dennis Hopper

The year was 1970 and Dennis Hopper was still riding the wake of the internationally huge cultural phenomenon of Easy Rider. Clearly, the cat could get away with just about anything including appearing on Johnny Cash’s weekly TV show reading Rudyard Kipling’ poem “If.” Now most of us pop culture obsessives have seen this clip of Hopper on the Cash show. It’s pretty pervasive on the ‘net and you may have already stumbled across it. But some smart cookie by the name of “Gints Apsits” has played around with the Hopper footage and created something that might resemble where Hopper’s psychedelicized head could have been at this particular point in his life.

Not only do words infect, egotize, narcotize, and paralyze, but they enter into and colour the minutest cells of the brain. . . . Rudyard Kipling.

Perhaps we’re watching Hopper watching himself through the eyes of his gas-huffing character Frank Booth. Or is that too damned heavy meta?


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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