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  • Early photos of Boy George, Steve Strange & more at the club that launched the New Romantics

    01princessjgeorge78.jpg
    DJ and singer Princess Julia with George O’Dowd aka Boy George.
     
    Billy’s was a nightclub in Soho, London, where every Tuesday for most of 1978 two young men—Steve Strange and Rusty Egan—ran a club night playing tracks by David Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk. The club was in a basement underneath a brothel. From this small cramped space a new generation of artists, writers, performers and DJs first met up and planned the future together. Punk was dead. It was uncool. It had gone mainstream. The teenagers who came to Billy’s wanted to create their own music, their own style and make their own mark on the world.

    Among this small posse of teenagers were future stars like Boy George, Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Marilyn, Martin Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), DJ Princess Julia, Jeremy Healy (Hasyi Fantayzee), Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife) and an eighteen-year-old Nicola Tyson who would go onto become one of the world’s leading figurative painters.

    It’s rare that someone is savvy enough to ever take photographs of a nascent cultural revolution. But Nicola took her camera along to Billy’s and she documented the teenagers who frequented the club that launched the New Romantics and a whole new world of pop talent.
     
    07unknownfriendsiobhan.jpg
    A blonde-haired Siobhan Fahey with at friend at Billy’s long before she joined Bananarama and later Shakespeare’s Sister.
     
    011unknonwsteve78.jpg
    Club host Steve Strange (in cap) with an unknown friend.
     
    See more photos of Nicola’s photos, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Like the ‘Wicker Man’ on heroin: Nico and a young Iggy Pop in ‘Evening of Light,’ 1969
    01.20.2017
    01:29 pm

    Topics:
    Music

    Tags:
    Iggy Pop
    Nico


     
    Promo video for Nico’s “Evening of Light” directed by François De Menil in 1969, but probably finished much later. There was a tantalizingly brief clip of this in the Nico: Icon documentary. Not the album version of the song appearing on The Marble Index, this alternate take was released as part of The Frozen Borderline: 1968–1970 compilation in 2007.

    The story is told in Richard Witts’ (fantastic) Nico biography, Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon, that De Menil, heir to the Schlumberger Limited oil-equipment fortune via his mother’s family, who knew Nico via Warhol associate Fred Hughes, had become besotted by the Teutonic ice queen and proposed making a film with her.

    At this time Nico was having a brief affair with a 21-year-old Iggy Pop, who she had met through John Cale, then producing the first Stooges album in New York. (Iggy once revealed to a French interviewer that Nico taught him how to “eat pussy.”) Nico told De Menil that he had to follow them to Ann Arbor, Michigan if he wanted to do it. De Menil obliged, shooting the film behind the house where the band lived.

    The way Witts tells the tale is that De Menil seemed to want to get revenge on Iggy because he was Nico’s boyfriend, directing the Stooge to wear white mime makeup and frolic around in a doll-strewn field to embarrass him, but to my mind, this film—and Iggy’s participation in it—is absolutely stunning.
     

     
    In an Australian interview Iggy told his version of how the film came to be:

    “There were no videos and I didn’t know why she wanted to do this. She had a friend from a very, very wealthy dynasty called the de Menil family who are patrons of the arts in the USA. They have a couple of collections in Houston, they’re very powerful there, it’s oil money. They also contribute to the arts and the major museums in New York City.

    “One of the sons, François, was a Nico fan. There was a nexus in New York between the disaffected and super rich kids and the Warhol group, where the art was interested in the money and the money was interested in being arty. She was supposed to do a film with this guy for a song called “Evening Of Light.” She told the guy at the last minute “actually, I’m going to Ann Arbor to live with The Stooges.”

    “So he had to drive out with all of his stuff, which was very, very scarce at the time, there were no local rentals for this sort of stuff, and we did this video in a potato field for this beautiful song “Evening Of Light” that she sings accompanied and produced by John Cale, who throws all his art school tricks at this song and very effectively.”

    “To me it evokes the old Europe, the feeling around twilight when the church clock is ringing six and the kids are playing in the square and there’s a kind of a peace at hand and a kind of a crack between the worlds and a kind of a feeling that you’re part of this ongoing generation of Euro culture. That’s how I heard it. John was astute enough to make sure this all musically collapses into some pretty scary violence.”

    That it does…

    Turn it up loud for the full effect!
     

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    ‘Look Look,’ the XTC home video companion
    01.20.2017
    10:47 am

    Topics:
    Music
    Television

    Tags:
    XTC


     
    Before YouTube’s algorithm served up the XTC home video Look Look a few weeks ago, I knew of it only as the last line in the discography that concludes Chris Twomey’s fan bio Chalkhills and Children. The lone entry under “VIDEO,” sharing the book’s last page with Johnny Japes and his Jesticles’ single, “Bags of Fun with Buster,” its position in the band’s oeuvre is unexalted. But Look Look deserves better: it brings together all the videos (or “promo films,” if you prefer) XTC made between 1978 and 1982, the period of quality encompassing White Music and English Settlement.

    I don’t remember seeing any XTC videos other than the one for “Dear God” when I was growing up, though I was always searching for them. MTV was too busy making our country stupid with a diet of shit and garbage. (Waiter, I can’t eat this shit—it tastes like garbage! But I did catch “Towers of London” maybe, once, late at night?) Released in PAL format in the UK and NTSC in Japan, never issued in the US, Look Look did me no good until it surfaced on the web.
     

     
    The tape is about to turn 35, so I would not hold my breath waiting for it to come out on DVD. Anyway, its considerable charms are well-suited to YouTube. These low-budget videos are livened up with such props as bounce houses and banks of TVs, such special effects as rear projection and chroma key, and such unlikely characterizations as Andy Partridge’s evil clown in “Making Plans for Nigel” and Colin Moulding’s straitjacketed puzzle-factory dweller in “Ball and Chain.” Snippets from interviews with Partridge and Moulding set up a few of the clips. Oh, and look look for Richard Branson in the “Generals and Majors” video, playing one of the song’s villains.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    ‘Screw our president’: Protesting kid explains why he started fire at alt-right Trump celebration
    01.20.2017
    10:20 am

    Topics:
    Activism
    Class War
    Heroes
    U.S.A.!!!

    Tags:
    Connor


     
    A large protest raged outside the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last night where the alt-right’s “Deploraball” celebration was being held. Some protesters started a fire to burn signs and chanted “Nazi scum” as hundreds of Donald Trump’s biggest fans entered the party.

    Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins asked one young protester named Connor— dubbed a “fire-starting child” on Facebook— about the fire.

    “My name’s Connor and I actually kinda started this fire,” the boy responded. After Jenkins mistakenly called him “Carter” the young, media-savvy kid set him straight.“It’s Connor,” he repeated, then informed the Fox lackey that he started the fire because:

    “I felt like it and screw our president.”

    Connor is my new hero.
     

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Salvador Dalí figurines
    01.20.2017
    10:02 am

    Topics:
    Art

    Tags:
    Salvador Dali


    ‘Soft Self-Portrait with Grilled Bacon’ by Salvador Dali

    A few weeks ago I blogged about these amazing and affordable Hieronymus Bosch figurines. As I was looking for images of the Bosch toys, I stumbled across affordable Salvador Dalí figurines as well. I decided to wait a little bit before blogging about them, but there they are now!

    Sadly, there’s not as many as there were in the Bosch collection. I looked high and low, and these were all I could find. They’re really cool nevertheless.

    I’ve posted a range of different figurines and where to purchase below each image if you’re interested.

    ‘Burning Giraffe Woman with Drawers’ by Salvador Dali
     

    Elephant from the ‘Temptation of Saint Anthony’ by Salvador Dali
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    ‘It’s fun to smoke dust!’ Satanic panic preacher gets mashed-up with Queen
    01.20.2017
    08:53 am

    Topics:
    Drugs
    Music

    Tags:
    Queen
    Gary Greenwald
    backward masking


     
    From renown mashup artist, DJ Lobsterdust, comes this brilliant ode to 1980s Satanic Panic hysteria over “backward masking,” a process which many preachers insisted was being used to brainwash young music consumers into devil-worship and committing various other sins. These preachers claimed that backward subliminal messages were placed in rock songs, either by the design of the artists, or perhaps, demonically in order to seduce young people with Satan’s spell.

    One so-called expert on backward masking in the ‘80s claimed that Richard “The Nightstalker” Ramirez was driven to commit murder from hearing the backward messages “I’m the law,” “my name is Lucifer,” and “she belongs in Hell” on the AC/DC album Highway to Hell. In 1990 Judas Priest was taken to court by families who claimed that two young men in Nevada had formed a suicide pact after hearing hidden messages in the song “Better By You, Better Than Me.” The case was dismissed by the judge for insufficient evidence.

    I remember being in Catholic school in the 80’s and hearing constantly about backward masking. A song which was touted as one of the “clearest examples” of backward messages being placed into popular music was “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. It was claimed that playing the chorus backwards gave you the hidden message “It’s fun to smoke marijuana.” To be honest, if you use your imagination just a bit, it does kiiiinda sound like Freddie Mercury is saying that… but really only if you’d ALREADY BEEN SMOKING marijuana.

    A great deal of the backward masking hysteria was spread by cable TV evangelist Gary Greenwald, who hosted a religious television program called The Eagle’s Nest. Greenwald crusaded against rock music, both on his program and through a series of popular audio tapes (which were the subject of great deal of sampling and laughing at by punks and metalheads in the ‘80s). Greenwald claimed most rock music contained demonically-inspired backward masking. He has also railed against action figures and Saturday morning cartoons, which he believed were influenced by the occult.

    Listen, after the jump…

    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    Abattoir Blues: In ‘Blood of the Beasts’ death has a cruel beauty
    01.19.2017
    04:07 pm

    Topics:
    Animals
    Movies

    Tags:
    George Franju


     
    George Franju’s 1949 film Le Sang Des Bêtes (“Blood of the beasts”) is one of the most beautiful and horrifying movies ever made. Filmed in the backstreets of Paris, Franju contrasts bucolic scenes of fog-shrouded streets, canals, deserted junkyards and children playing, with the nightmarish events taking place within two slaughterhouses. Marcel Fradetal’s stunning black and white cinematography turns the horrific into a brutal kind of poetry that if it had been shot in color would be unbearable.
     

     
    Observing the workers going about their gruesome work with emotionless efficiency is the most disturbing aspect of the film for me. How much of our humanity is sacrificed for a plate of meat? Franju’s intent may have been no more than to compose a work of visual art, but as I watched Le Sang Des Bêtes I couldn’t help but be reminded of the fact that France was still reeling from the effects of years of savage warfare.

    In these images of animals being murdered I am aware of the thin line between man and beast, killing one is not so very much different from killing the other. Is not the abattoir a concentration camp for animals? Is the flesh of the beasts any less sacred than our own? Or have we arrived at the place where nothing is sacred? And if so, isn’t that Hell?

    Outside the walls of the abattoir we watch life go on, while inside we watch it come to a cruel and bloody end in Le Sang Des Bêtes.
     

    Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
    Lucifer, Satan & other Devils: The Occult art of Rosaleen Norton, the Witch of Kings Cross

    08nortonwitch.jpg
    ‘Lucifer and the Goat Mendes.’
     
    The most notorious witch in Australian history was an artist named Rosaleen Norton (1917-79) who scandalized her ultra-conservative homeland with her outrageous bohemian lifestyle and strange occult beliefs during the 1950s.

    The press dubbed Norton the “Witch of Kings Cross”—a low-rent artists’ quarter and red light district in Sydney, New South Wales. They claimed she was an evil Satanist who revelled in perverted Black Masses and unnatural orgies with her sex-mad coven. It was true Rosaleen (Roie to her friends) liked sex with both men and women. She enjoyed sex and saw no shame in admitting that she did. She also practised sex magick and made no secret of its powers. But Rosaleen was no Satanist. She was a pagan who followed her own particular belief in Pan.

    From earliest childhood Rosaleen felt she was different—and felt compelled to prove this indeed was the case. As her friend and biographer Nevill Drury later recalled:

    [Rosaleen] revelled in being the odd one out, purporting to despise her schoolmates. She argued continuously with her mother. She ‘hated’ authority figures like headmistresses, policemen, politicians and priests. She had no time at all for organised religion, and the gods she embraced - a cluster of ancient gods centred around Pan - were, of course, pagan to the hilt. She regarded Pan as the God of Infinite Being.

    ~snip!~

    Pan was undoubtedly a rather unusual god for a young woman to be worshipping in Australia. But then Roie was different. And she was different in an age when it was quite a lot harder to be different than it is now. She was bohemian, bisexual, outspoken, rebellious and thoroughly independent in an era when most young ladies growing up on Sydney’s North Shore would be thinking simply of staying home, happily married with a husband and children. Roie was not afraid to say what she thought, draw her pagan images on city pavements, or flaunt her occult beliefs in the pages of the tabloids. To most people who read about her in newspapers and magazines she was simply outrageous.

    Rosaleen was certainly outrageous. She was expelled from school for drawing pictures of vampires, pentagrams and demons during art class, which were claimed to have terrified her fellow classmates. In 1952, when a collection of her work was first published in book form as The Art of Rosaleen Norton three of the images contained therein—“Black Magic” (which depicted Rosaleen herself having sex with a panther), “Rites of Baron Samedi” and “Fohat” (which depicted a demon with a large muscled snake for a penis)—caused such offence that the publisher was prosecuted for obscenity and the pictures removed from all future printings. In America the book was deemed so pornographic that all imported copies were destroyed by custom officials.

    Worse was to follow in 1955 when a woman named Anna Karina Hoffman was arrested for vagrancy. When questioned by police, Hoffman claimed she had participated in horrific Satanic black masses organized by Rosaleen. It was this accusation that led the tabloid press to dub Rosaleen the “Witch of Kings Cross” and promulgate the series of trumped-up news stories about her lurid (s)excesses.

    However, the following year, one of her lovers, the highly respected composer Sir Eugene Goossens was arrested by Australian customs for attempting to bring some 800 pornographic images into the country—many of them marked “SM” for “sex magick.” The ensuing investigation by officials was heavily detailed by the press. It destroyed Goossens’ career and further denigrated Rosaleen’s character.

    Still Rosaleen continued on her own way—painting pictures, following her own religious beliefs, enjoying a varied and active sex life and even dropping LSD to “induce visionary states” to enhance her awareness as an artist.

    It was this visionary aspect which was at the heart of Rosaleen’s art:

    From an early age she had a remarkable capacity to explore the visionary depths of her subconscious mind, and the archetypal beings she encountered on those occasions became the focus of her art. It was only later that Roie was labelled a witch, was described as such in the popular press, and began to develop the persona which accompanied that description. As this process gathered momentum, Roie in turn became intent on trying to demonstrate that she had been born a witch. After all, she had somewhat pointed ears, small blue markings on her left knee, and also a long strand of flesh which hung from underneath her armpit to her waist - a variant on the extra nipple sometimes ascribed to witches in the Middle Ages.

    ~snip!~

    Roie’s personal beliefs were a strange mix of magic, mythology and fantasy, but derived substantially from mystical experiences which, for her, were completely real. She was no theoretician. Part of her disdain for the public at large, I believe, derived from the fact that she felt she had access to a wondrous visionary universe - while most people lived lives that were narrow, bigoted, and based on fear. Roie was very much an adventurer - a free spirit - and she liked to fly through the worlds opened to her by her imagination.

    Roie’s art reflected this. It was her main passion, her main reason for living. She had no career ambitions other than to reflect on the forces within her essential being, and to manifest these psychic and magical energies in the only way she knew how. As Roie’s older sister Cecily later told me, art was the very centre of her life, and Roie took great pride in the brief recognition she received when the English critic and landscape artist John Sackville-West described her in 1970 as one of Australia’s finest artists, alongside Norman Lindsay. It was praise from an unexpected quarter, and it heartened Roie considerably because she felt that at last someone had understood her art and had responded to it positively. All too often her critics had responded only to her outer veneer - the bizarre and often distorted persona created by the media - and this was not the ‘real’ Roie at all.

    Today no one would I doubt if anyone would bat an eyelid at Rosaleen’s lifestyle or beliefs—which shows how much our world has evolved. This year marks the centenary of her birth which should bring a new assessment of her life and work and introduce a new generation to the artist behind Australia’s most notorious witch.
     
    06nortonwitch.jpg
    ‘Black Magic.’
     
    09nortonwitch.jpg
    ‘Self Portrait with Occult Animals and Symbols.’
     
    More of Rosaleen’s art, after the jump….

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Angry woman: Lydia Lunch’s gun is loaded
    01.19.2017
    02:12 pm

    Topics:
    Art
    Feminism
    Politics

    Tags:
    Lydia Lunch


     
    During the decade of the 1980s, I saw Lydia Lunch perform maybe fifteen+ times and I caught some pretty seminal performances of hers, including the premiere of Fingered, the gleefully violent porn film she made with Richard Kern and South of Your Border, the two-person theatrical play she did with Emilio Cubeiro that ended in a blood-covered, naked Lydia trussed up on a giant “X” onstage pissing all over him!

    To truly appreciate the aggressively confrontational nature of her powerful one woman shows—just her and a mic—you had to be in, or very near, the front row. As with fellow in-your-face monologists like Eric Bogosian and Brother Theodore, it was fucking scary and rather intimidating to be anywhere near the stage for one of her rants, but I always figured why not get all of the Artaudian benefits from having someone scream in your face for an hour at close range? If anyone can deliver on the cathartic promise of Theatre of Cruelty, it’s Lydia Lunch. Audiences leave her shows limp. I mean, what do you say in the cab going home about a show that unexpectedly ends in blood-stained golden showers? (Incidentally, she drank an entire six-pack during the play’s penultimate scene. What she unleashed on Cuberio the night I saw the show was not merely a trickle, I can assure you. Good times!)
     

     
    Lunch’s The Gun Is Loaded video, an angry nihilistic rant about life in Reagan’s America, long out of print, is now available to watch free online via MVDVideo (who also put it out on DVD). I actually saw this show twice when she did this material at the Performance Garage space in New York (and yes, I was in the front row both times). Here’s how the filmmakers describe the project:

    THE GUN IS LOADED is a 37-minute performance video featuring former punk rocker, political satirist and sexual provocateur Lydia Lunch.

    This video trails Lydia in 1988 through a series of staged sets and location shots in New York City as she fires her spoken word manifesto directly into the eye of the camera, and in haunting voice-over.  Underscoring Lydia’s onslaught is cinema verité footage of bottom-rung Americana: racecar crowds, dead-end streets and meat packing plants effectively illustrate her ruthless examination of “the American dream machine turned mean.” J.G. Thirlwell’s ominous score magnifies this brutal desolation.

    Identifying herself as “the average, all-American girl-next-store gone bad,” Lydia vivisects her own sustained damage as a product of this emotionally ravaging environment.

    Co-director Joe Tripician wrote to me on about the piece:

    This was partially shot at the Performance Garage, but without an audience. Lydia asked me and my former partner Merrill Aldighieri to record her show, but we wanted to expand the production from its theatrical base and exhibit her in an outside environment. So, this video is also a document of the ‘80s NYC street life—from the 14th Street Meat market to Wall Street. We called it a “video super-realization” of her spoken word performance.

    In the video she fires her venom directly into the camera lens, and in an intimate voice-over. J. G. Thirlwell supplied the original music score - a one-of-a-kind aural onslaught.

    It was released on VHS in the late 80s, but has never aired on TV. The one response we received was from PBS, who called the video in their rejection letter “exceptionally unacceptable.”

    They were probably right about that…
     
    Watch ‘The Gun is Loaded’ after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Finally! ‘Vampire Repelling Garlic and Holy Water’ soap!
    01.19.2017
    01:03 pm

    Topics:
    Amusing

    Tags:
    vampire soap


     
    Here’s what you never asked for: Garlic and Holy Water Vampire Repelling Soap by Pojo’s Pure Vermont Soaps. Is it really made with garlic and holy water, you ask? Yep.

    According to Pojo’s FAQ section:

    Q: Is this a real product?

    A: Yes, of course!

    Q: Does it really prevent physical vampire attacks?

    A: Nobody who has used this soap has ever been attacked by a vampire.

    Q: Does this soap actually smell like garlic?

    A: Yes, Garlic & Holy Water Vampire Repelling Soap contains garlic oil and no additional fragrances, so it does have a distinctive garlic odor.

    The soap is $10 per 3 oz bar (or two for $16 or three for $21).  Apparently there’s a 100% money-back guarantee if you fall victim to a vampire. However, “this product does not prevent or reduce the risk of spiritual or psychic attacks.” Good to know.

    via Geekologie

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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