Malcolm McLaren unleashed the greatest revolution of the last quarter of the 20th century. This was in part because McLaren was really a shop-keeper, a haberdasher, a boutique owner who knew his market and, most importantly, knew how to sell product to the masses.
Unfortunately, when it came to music, the talent was more than just product, and McLaren regularly mis-used and manipulated the musical talent (New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Adam and The Ants/Bow-Wow-Wow) for his own personal gain. It was the behavior of a man who couldn’t and didn’t trust anyone—perhaps because (as he claimed) he had been abandoned by his mother—an act of betrayal he never forgave. There is the story of how years later, McLaren was have said to have traveled on a London Underground train, only to find his mother in the same carriage. The pair sat opposite each other, with neither acknowledging the other’s presence, and each alighting at their separate stops.
McLaren was bewitching, relentless and always on the make. But for all his scams and incredible machinations, little is really known about the man himself. He re-wrote his biography so many times it is almost impossible to know what is the truth. He also carefully edited out those who had helped his success, and fabricated wonderful, picaresque tales of misadventure—-for example, the time he failed to have Nancy Spungen kidnapped, in a bid to remove her insidious influence over Sid Vicious.
In essence, Malcolm’s greatest talent was his own self-promotion—his unique role as a cultural PR man, who changed history. If there is anything to be learned from his particular type of genius, it is to make headlines out of even the worst situation. On his deathbed, Mclaren’s last words were said to have been: “Free Leonard Peltier.” As he had done in his life, McLaren had once again grabbed hold of someone else’s notoriety.
Ah, if only time machines had been invented already. We would each be free to zip back and visit the desired nightclub/live venue/social scene of our choice, to revel in a world we can now only read, or dream, about. I’ve thought about this before, of course, and most of my preferred time travel destinations were located in and around New York City in the 70s and the 80s.
But there will be many for whom the bright, shiny lights of NYC hold no attraction, and who would rather set the dials for the dark heart of Northern Britain in the early 1980s. These people will wear anything as long as it is black, enjoy nothing more than swaying to the heart-chilling sounds of The Cure, Joy Division or Bauhaus (possibly accompanied by nice pint of cider & blackcurrant juice) and can sometimes be spotted hanging out in mist-shrouded graveyards. Yes, you guessed it, these people are Goths, and if you are one of them, then here’s a treat for you: three films chronicling the early 80s British Goth club scene while it was in its infancy.
The received wisdom in the UK is that clubbing didn’t really exist here until after the acid house explosion in 1987/1988, with the notable exception of Northern Soul venues like The Mecca in Blackpool and the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. Well, these videos tell a very different story, displaying a flourishing alternative club scene that existed years before acid. Offering (mostly) untampered footage shot directly from the dance floors and stages of the best known Goth hangouts of the era, these films have the aura of gold dust about them. If that’s too bright and shiny for you, consider them excellent cultural curios that give a rare peek into a then-emerging subculture. These films, which vary in length from 8 minutes to over two hours, popped up on my Facebook feed this evening, so I decided to do the decent thing and group them all in a post for Dangerous Minds.
The first film is a BBC promo for the infamous London haunt The Batcave, which was originally broadcast on Halloween, 1983. Ok, the Vincent Price/William Castle inserts are cheesy as hell, but there’s some great footage of Alien Sex Fiend performing live to make up for it. The video was uploaded by the Batcave’s original DJ Hamish (aka h808) who says:
Oh yes, 1983, when the media were all trying to figure out what came after punk…. Remember that the Batcave was born of punks and glam rockers, trannies, psychos and people turned away from other clubs - we let anyone in, trainers or no trainers, businessmen and dustmen, strippers and nuns….
After the jump “The Height Of Goth” and footage from Devilles, Manchester…
A cross-dressing, gay priest buys an adult bookstore and uses it as a front to sell meth? You couldn’t make it up!
And before you ask, no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. From Irish Central:
Monsignor Kevin Wallin, a Connecticut priest now being nicknamed Monsignor Meth, is expected to plead guilty next week to participating in a conspiracy to distribute crystal methamphetamine in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Post reports that court papers filed on Tuesday show that 61 year old Monsignor Wallin is expected to enter a guilty plea, which will have him facing a mandatory 10 years in federal prison.
The Associated Press reports that Connecticut authorities said the Wallin had meth mailed to him from co-conspirators in California, and made more than $300,000 in drugs sales out of his Waterbury apartment in the second half of last year.
Wallin had also purchased a bookstore - one that sold primarily pornography and sex toys - which he used as a front to launder money.
Wallin served as the pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nine years until he resigned in June 2011 citing health and personal problems. Prior to that, he served six years as pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Danbury until 2002.
While still serving as a priest, many noted his “off-kilter” behavior in early 2011. One church worker said that Wallin had grown “disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the Church.” The same worker, along with others, said the priest had long had sex with men and was a cross dresser.
On January 3, federal agents arrested Wallin, and on January 15 a grand jury indicted him and four other people on drug charges. All are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing meth and 50 grams of actual meth, a crime that carries 10 years to life in prison upon conviction. Wallin plans to plead guilty to that charge.
This would be funny if it weren’t also creepy and sad. As if the Catholic church needed any more scandal!
Dangerous Minds, it’s time that introduced you to my good friend, and member of the Tranarchy family, Mr Kurt Dirt. Usually we keep him in the basement so as not to freak out the visitors, but he’s been scratching at the trapdoor lately, so we’ve decided let him loose for a while.
Kurt is a bit of a sick puppy. After years of gigging on the live circuit, Kurt decided to pack all the “band” nonsense in and go it alone (though he still puts on one mean live show, featuring bare back gorillas, dancing demons and women in cages.) He makes music that sounds like vintage late 80s/early 90s Wax Trax, and cites Fad Gadget, Big Black and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult as his major influences. By some incredible kind of osmosis, though, he somehow manages to take all those influences and make music that’s even MORE camp than the originals, which is surely some kind of magical feat.
Another one of Kurt Dirt’s major influences is the soundtrack to Tetsuo, and on the topic of films soundtracks, Mr Dirt has just finished scoring the upcoming Troma release Return To Nuke ‘Em High and is about to start work on the score for the sequel. Kurt Dirt and Troma films is a match made in heaven (or, rather, the deepest bowels of hell.)
That Troma influence is loud and clear in his new video, “Love Sick”. Taken from his debut solo release, the Rat Burger EP, this clip takes the viewer into a disgusting nether land of licking used diapers and literally fucking skulls. Yep, it’s pretty sick, all the more for the authentic, scratchy, video look. Kurt says:
I just wanted to make the most horrible thing I could really, something that makes you feel like you shouldn’t be watching it. I choose to shoot it on 8mm video8 handy cam so that it would have worn down, tenth generation look of a video nasty era VHS movie. You see horror movies these days like saw etc that are 1000 times more graphic but they just feel way too clean, like your watching an MTV video. Visually I’d say we ripped off Hershell Gordon Lewis, Troma, Tobe Hooper and Harmonie Korine the most.
Kurt Dirt “Love Sick” (NSFW)
You can buy “Love Sick” (and the Rat Burger EP) and get more info on Kurt Dirt at KurtDirt.net.
After the jump, two more Kurt Dirt videos from Rat Burger, “I’m Filth” and “Beat Me Up Buttercup”...
At the age of 18 I thumbed my way from Northern Virginia to Los Angeles. Picked up by long-haul truckers, who introduced me to Black Beauties, and an ex-con in a Rambler American who generously shared his Lucky Strikes, I managed to make the trip in three sleepless days and nights. When I got to the City Of Angels, I made my way to The Source restaurant, a hub of hippie activity that I was anxious to experience. The place had a rep for being a very cool gathering place for spiritually-inclined hipsters, Laurel Canyon rockers and Hollywood celebrities. John and Yoko frequented the joint. They liked the menu’s wide selection of salads and protein drinks. Woody Allen satirized the place in a scene in Annie Hall when he orders bean sprouts and “mashed yeast.”
The Source had energy and its long-haired white-robed staff generated some genuinely good vibes. For a hippie from the downcast East Coast, The Source radiated a sunny magnetism that drew you in and made you feel that the future might be golden. And for awhile, The Source was golden. It made money (as much as ten grand a day) and it made converts to the Aquarian Age philosophy spun from the ego of the restaurant’s massively charismatic owner, Jim Baker (Father Yod).
Baker was a former WW2 war hero, martial arts expert, bank robber and an acquitted killer (two quick karate chops, two dead bodies). He possessed the well-honed patter of a con man and an unquenchable lust for life. When he discovered the hippie movement, it was like a hardboiled character out of a Jim Thompson novel wandering into Richard Brautigan’s world of LSD, poetry and hippie pussy. A few hits of Orange Sunshine, some classes in Kundalini yoga and the scent of patchouli-basted pubes propelled Baker into a spiritual phantasmagoria that transmogrified the warrior into the cosmic Father Yod.
Baker attracted a following of young hippies looking for alternatives to their suburban alienation and middle-class angst. In Father Yod they found both a guru and a sense of paternal security. He established a commune of about 150 flower children, the Source Family.
Transfixed by his personality and lulled into blissful acceptance of his “Enlightenment For Dummies” distillation of the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, Alan Watts, Swami Satchidananda, Krishnamurti etc., his followers got a brain-addling dose of the cosmic warm and fuzzies. Throw in some exotic rituals involving group sex and ganja and you had one very happy cult-like collective with the usual misogynistic tendencies lurking under the groovy free love surface. Yod ended up with 13 submissive wives, most in their late teens and early twenties. He was 50 years old and he knew how to nasty.
Despite Baker’s power-tripping ways, the Source Family was to many of its members the real fucking deal. In the downhome archival footage that comprises much of the new movie, The Source Family, you can see genuine happiness on the faces of Baker’s followers. In filmed interviews conducted in recent years with core members of the family, few have any serious regrets. Many attribute their successes in life (several are millionaires) to Baker’s teachings. Some, on the other hand, do bear scars, most of whom are women. Their deep love of Baker was betrayed by his lust for the seemingly endless flow of teenyboppers streaming through his bedroom door. Baker displayed the classic behavior of many new age gurus during the ‘60s and ‘70s. From Rajneesh to Chogyam Trungpa, these cosmic poonhounds couldn’t resist the power and glory of the peach-fuzzed meat pit of mortal delight.
The Source Family is a fair-minded film that benefits from a motherlode of footage and photographs taken over the course of several years documenting the group from its beginning to its bittersweet end. Behind the scenes at the restaurant, home births, group gropes, concerts by the Source Family’s psychedelic rock band (Sky Saxon was briefly a member) and various westernized tantric practices were filmed by one of Baker’s wives, Isis Aquarian, who also wrote a very fine book on the commune. This makes the movie uniquely intimate and powerful (even Baker’s death is filmed).
The Source Family is opening theatrically and on demand in May. I urge you to see it. It’s refreshing to experience a movie about American counter-culture, particularly the hippies, that doesn’t present its subject with a snicker and a sidelong glance. This is an honest exploration of something real and significant: the search to find what we already are but have forgotten, the search for the self. It ain’t easy and it can get sloppy, but it’s the only game in town worth playing.
In Alejandro Jodorowsky’s masterpiece El Topo , a cosmic gunslinger goes in search of his spiritual master in order to kill him. The idea being that in order to really be free, we must be free of our masters, our gurus. In the case of Jim Baker, he didn’t wait for his students to kill him. He did the job himself. After years of proclaiming his Godhood, he awoke to the revelation that he was a mere man and had nothing left to offer his followers. He calmly flew off a mountain cliff in a hang glider that he had no idea how to operate. The God literally crashed to earth and died nine hours later. The coroner found no broken bones or internal bleeding. His body was whole and intact. For three days his corpse was attended to by his beautiful young wives. As in life, Father Yod died with a contented smile on his face.
The Source Family band, Yahowha 13, has a growing reputation among fans of psychedelia and it is well-deserved. The following tune, “Fire In The Sky,” is pretty amazing. Positively Beefheartian. It’s from the rare and highly collectible album Savage Sons Of Ya Ho Wah.
Another piece from my old Disinformation TV program, this 2001 segment highlights the activities of the Surveillance Camera Players, a New York-based troupe of Situationist-inspired thespians led by prankster/activist Bill Brown.
Aleister X is strange. Not like your Nicki Minajs and Katy Perrys who think that throwing on a blue wig with matching contacts is a radical departure from the norm. No, Aleister X is genuinely strange.
It’s hard to get a handle on this mysterious performer/recording artist. Even after interviewing him, the easiest way I can find of summing him up is to say he’s like a hip-hop Lux Interior, from England. Even that doesn’t do him or his work justice. While on paper it reads as being self-consciously “out there”, through whatever artistic alchemy he possesses, Aleister X reigns in a whole world of disparate influences and really makes them work.
X has just released a new album titled Half-Speed Mastered on the Steev Mike label, and it’s a belter. Hack your way through the dense undergrowth of noise, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and hyperactive beats and you will be rewarded with deep pools of warm harmonies and gorgeous textures that befit an album influenced hugely by living in southern California.
It seemed only right that this occult-influenced English rapper living in LA would be featured on Dangerous Minds, and so here he is, answering questions exclusively for us.
Dangerous Minds: You are a man shrouded in mystery. Can you explain to the readers of Dangerous Minds who Aleister X is?
Aleister X: Yes I can. What most people don’t realize is I’m actually Lou Barlow (Dinosaur, Sebadoh, Folk Implosion).
DM: If you could sum up your aesthetic in 140 characters or less, what would it be?
AX: Without the character counter this will be difficult, but okay, sure: Post-Bitchin’ and
DM: Where does the album name Half-Speed Mastered come from?
AX: Back in The Davis, now defunct CBS Records made these special remastered “Audiophile Pressings” of certain albums. Known as Half-Speed Mastered from the process of allegedly mastering at half-speed, giving the albums an extended range, bigger sound. But I think they just put that logo on the album jackets and doubled the price, which is a very cool move.
DM: Half-Speed Mastered is like a mixture of experimental hip-hop, J-Pop restlessness and Californian psychedelia. Those seem like strange bedfellows but you’ve made it work. Musically, what were the main influences for the album?
AX: The Association, The Mammas And The Pappas, Kool Keith, Bruce Langhorne’s Soundtrack to The Hired Hand, Manny Fresh, KISS, Schoolly D, (early) Cornershop, DJ Screw, ZZ Top, Bad Company, AC/DC, CSN&Y, AWK, PTV “Godstar,” Blowfly, Foreigner, the real Van Halen, soundtrack to Pusher I, II, III, just to name a few.
DM: You’ve also mentioned California itself being an influence on the album, and the lyrics certainly suggest that. What are your favourite parts of Cali, and what in particular about that culture has had an impact on you?
AX: I just love the whole LA/Southland vibe. All The Industry history, the way locations have been used in films and TV so much they become meta-experiential, existing in the collective imaginations of the world, and my personal relationship to that. I love the Cheeseburger Culture, Fun Hog Culture, Rad Culture, Porn Culture, Creep Culture, Cult Culture, Home Invasion Culture, Cop Show Culture, Laid Back Culture, Awesome Weather Culture, all that cool shit California is known for. And the darkness surrounding and connecting it all. But it’s all SoCal to me.
DM: And what are the things you don’t like about it?
AX: Carl’s Jr, Silicon Valley, Wine Country, The Beach Boys, and Northern California.
DM: Robert Anton Wilson is one of the major influences for practically everyone at Dangerous Minds, and I see that you are also a fan of Discordianism. What is it about this “ideology” (term used loosely) that you like?
AX: RAW is a major influence on me as well. I love the blurry lines between fact and fiction. The mysterious secret origins of the original manuscripts surrounding The Principia Discordia is the most powerful thing about it. A lot of shit started with that.
However, the timeline for shit starting looks like this: Lovecraft - Cubism – Surrealism – Crowley – Himmler – Hoffman - Welles – Discordia – Illuminatus! Of course this is a Western–centric timeline, but that’s where the Mis/Disinformation Arts were perfected. Discordianism “liked” me first!
DM: Because I’ve only received the promo version, I can’t see who did the sleeve for Half-Speed Mastered, but I like it. What can you tell me about it? And is that Donny Osmond in the middle?
AX: I’m really glad you like it. You’re the first to even mention it. It’s actually a painting of the photo on the back of the KISS ALIVE album, done by American artist, Space Boss Corp, in 2005. The rumor was one of the kids in the photo was Tesco Vee, but that’s not true. I read in KISS Unmasked bio it was just some random nobody. But he was the first kid to ever make a banner for a band and hold it up at a rock concert.
DM: Tenuous link alert: the use of a “white square” on your sleeve makes me think of the “controversial” sleeve for David Bowie’s new album. What do you think of it? I think it’s lazy but I love Bowie’s current fuck-off attitude to press and promotion, and the industry in general, especially compared to his contemporaries like Lou Reed.
AX: David Bowie is a true master and has influenced everyone and everything. I’m happy to hear of his “fuck-off” attitude to press and promotion. He’s smart. He sees what’s going on. The artist has to do everybody’s fucking job now. Every single artist is working around the clock for free trying to get on Starbucks’ label. Why should David Bowie work for nothing? Lou Reed took a lot of shit for that album he did with Metallica. He ate crow. He’s Lou fucking Reed! He should’ve told those troll bitches to fuck-off too. And everybody thought Bowie made Lou soft! I like what I’ve heard of the new Bowie album. Great videos too.
DM: Beyond music itself, who are your main influences as an artist?
AX: Orson Welles (especially “F” For Fake”), Ray Johnson, Howard Hughes, Penn & Teller, Chris Burden, Christo, RAW (the man AND the WWE event), Steve Martin, Cheech And Chong, Tony Clifton, Eddie Murphy, Sacha Baron Cohen, Bela Lugosi, to name a few.
DM: Have you got any more videos/tours/releases planned for 2013?
AX: I’m musical guest on “The Chris Gethard Show” March 20. I’m releasing a massive double follow up to my 2011 release “Black Skull Music Mixtape Vol I” and “Half-Speed Mastered,” over 23 tracks. Just in time for summer. Possibly a limited US summer tour with Belgian breakcore artist, Sickboy. Possibly other shows. I don’t know how to book tours. I need some fucking booking agents with guts to realize the potential. I put on a great show. I’m a true entertainer, not just another bearded indie band of clichés. I’ve got fans all over the US and world begging for me to play. HELLO! (If yr in a bearded band of clichés, no hard feelings).
Alesiter X “LAX”
You can buy Half-Speed Mastered here. For (a little) more info on Aleister X visit his website, though I would recommend you subscribe to his entertaining Twitter feed for more regular updates, and check out the many videos on his YouTube channel.
The enigmatic fellow who goes only by the moniker “Jim The Dancer” has been making YouTube videos for a few years now of his totally off the wall freaky dancing. Some of them have been viewed 5 times, while others have been seen a few thousand times. He doesn’t seem to care. He just keeps making them. There are well over 400 by now.
Jim’s motto is “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” I can’t argue with that, but lest you think I’m mocking his, er, singular art form, I’m really not. I’m laughing with Jim, not at him. It takes guts to act this fucking idiotic and not care. He’s clearly having a good time with it.
Hey, people thought Jack Smith was nuts fifty years ago. Today his work is celebrated in museums.
Jim’s musical selections are pretty off-kilter, too.
First up, Jim The Dancer interprets Lalo Schiffren’s opening theme for Enter the Dragon. This one was put up just a few hours ago and has only had one view.
I LOL’d when I saw that he had done one to Mud’s “Tiger Feet”:
Perhaps TOO much more Jim The Dancer after the jump…
The clip is described by its creators, director PJ Raval and CHRISTEENE herself, aka artist Paul Soileau, as being the 7th installment of the CHRISTEENE video collection, where rabbits roam free across the sinister landscape of CHRISTEENE’s fuck fantasy.
Sinister is the word. There’s something almost primordially creepy about this video, which IS safe for work, but possibly not fit for human consumption. With “Big Shot,” CHRISTEENE has not only upped her own game, but that of the entire “online drag video” sub-genre.
I have to admit, I was terribly disappointed with Sharon Needles’ last music video ‘This Club Is A Haunted House’, and this is partly the reason why. Needles, the winner of the last season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, sold herself as being an edgy, outsider queen and, in her own words, “the future of drag”. Unfortunately her video was actually rather tame (and strangely, her music contains no trace of her favorite act My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult.) ‘This Club Is A Haunted House’ simply pales into insignificance when compared to the this disturbing clip, which musically manages the neat trick of sounding both retro and very current.
CHRISTEENE’s debut long-player Waste Up, Kneez Down is available now and comes highly recommended, being as musically exciting as it is creepy-as-hell.