Attention Ministry diehards! (If there are any still out there.) Al Jourgensen recently announced that three hundred lucky Ministry devotees will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pay for the privilege of a big bath of Ministry love (including “access to band rehearsals” and “access to band’s soundcheck before show”) all while staying at the swanky Freemont Country Club in downtown Las Vegas at the end of May.
The whole affair is called “Ministry Boot Camp,” and it’s basically a massive Ministry fantasy weekend in which you can spend three nights in a fancy hotel room and have a Q&A session with Jourgensen, attend a Ministry show in the “VIP area,” get shit signed (one item only, greedheads!), and so on.
The full weekend has a tiered pricing structure in which you can pay $2,000 to become a Ministry “Sergeant,” $3,000 to become a Ministry “Major,” or $4,000 to become a Ministry “Colonel.” (I love the military metaphor, it’s just like joining the KISS Army!) The three packages are distinguished by how nice a room you get and if you can pick your roommate and stuff like that. But all three packages receive the following:
Three nights accommodations at The Golden Nugget (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
$50 food and beverage credit per day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Welcome reception with the band Friday night
Access to band rehearsals Friday & Saturday night
Access to band’s soundcheck before show on Sunday night
Access to full live show on Sunday night with VIP area
Q&A session w/ Al Jourgensen and Ministry
TBA daytime activities with Al Jourgensen and Ministry
Meet and greet with Al Jourgensen and Ministry including individual photograph and signing of one item (With Sympathy excluded)
Ministry merch goodie bag
Remember, don’t bring a copy of With Sympathy and expect Al to sign that shit! It ain’t gonna happen.
Upon reading this announcement, a friend wondered, “Does this mean he didn’t meet his Patreon goal?”
Turns out, that witticism may be dead-on accurate. Late last year (sometime in November, it seems) Jourgensen actually did start a Patreon crowdfunding project with the stated goal of generating $5,000 a month—as of now the page has stalled at $525.44 per month (which is still kind of impressive).
A few years ago we ran a post on one of the most mind-bogglingly awesome books ever written or conceived by mortal humankind—I refer to Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus, republished by Rizzoli in 2013. To this day it remains one of the most popular posts we’ve ever done, the degree of interest in this peculiar, fantastical volume of fanciful schematics, all in an invented language and alphabet, was quite stunning.
Similarly, The Voynich Manuscript, which dates from the early 15th century, is also written in an alphabet that nobody can decipher. The Codex Seraphinianus was written in the 20th century by a writer who is still among us, but the Voynich Manuscript isn’t like that. For centuries a great many people have tried to crack its elusive code, but nobody has been able to. So you get a very similar effect, marvelous illustrations of botanical fantasies, tagged with captions we can’t comprehend.
The Voynich Manuscript
Both of these are awesome coffee table books or just books to peruse idly and get your creative juices flowing.
A friend recently called my attention to this 2011 post by the Holy Books blog, which offers readers a chance to download the two books on PDF. It’s obviously been around for a while.
The 2011 doc ‘The Book That Can’t Be Read’
After the jump, a fascinating Terence McKenna talk about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript; Rudolf II, the “mad king” of Bohemia; The Winter King and Queen; Doctor John Dee; Edward Kelley; Roger Bacon; and the book’s possible ties to alchemy and the Rosicrucian Enlightenment…
A book cover for a fetish publication called “Dolly Slave” by Carlo, late 1920s/1930s
I’m sad to say that I wasn’t able to dig up much information about the artist featured in this post, a French fetish illustrator from a century ago who went by the moniker, “Carlo.” However, Carlo’s illustrations themselves are very well-known in the world of vintage fetish. His strong sadomasochistic images and bondange-themed drawings adorned erotic magazines and the covers of naughty novels. Carlo’s first illustrations may have been seen in French erotic print as far back as 1909, and he was fairly prolific from about that time, and well into the 1930s.
“Slave” a fetish book cover illustrated by Carlo, late 1920s/1930s
Here’s what I do know about the somewhat mysterious “Carlo”—he was French and he seemed to be very, very well acquainted with the world of hardcore BDSM. His style is very much in line with another French erotic illustrator who was active at the same time known as “Esbey.” Both artists’ work appeared in several publications put out by Select-Bibliothèque, one of the very first publishing houses to put out fetish-oriented material, as well as other French publishing houses that catered to the thriving fetish community in Paris back in the very early 1900s (”spanking fiction” was especially popular back in those days, mon dieu!).
When I first saw Carlo’s work, it was hard to conceive that this kind of high-level kink was a thing so long ago. I mean, we’re not just talking whips, chains and stilettos here (although there is no lack of those accessories, either): Carlo’s world as he portrayed it to be in his illustrations is full of sophisticated bondage contraptions, and S&M gear and scenarios that would make Caligula blush. And if it would make Caligula blush, it’s safe to assume what you are about to see is NSFW.
If this is your kind of thing (I don’t judge and neither should you), try to track down the 1984 book Carlo, by Robert Merodack.
“The Triumphant Leather”
More vintage BDSM smut from ‘Carlo’ after the jump…
In the ‘70s, Warner Brothers records released an amazing series of compilations. They were officially dubbed the “Loss Leaders” for exactly-what-it-says-on-the-box reasons; for a paltry $2, you’d get a double LP (some were single-platter, at least one was a triple), packaged with an ample book of liner notes and stuffed with songs from superstars, cult artists and new signings alike. The idea was that though you bought it for the huge hit or rare track by Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, or whoever, you’d also end up hearing left-field stuff by the Fugs, Deaf School, Talking Heads, Wild Man Fischer, Captain Beefheart, et al ad infinitum. If any of the lesser-known tracks connected with listeners, that would translate into more records sold at full price. They made dozens of those comps, and a great many of them were compiled and liner-noted by Barry “Dr. Demento” Hansen. They were available by mail-order between 1969 and 1980, when the campaign abruptly and sadly ended.
(It merits mentioning here that the final Loss Leader, 1980’s Troublemakers, features Gang of Four, PiL, DEVO, Wire, and John Cale, and so might be of extremely high interest to a hell of a lot of this blog’s followers. I’d even venture to guess that that very comp could be the very record that made a few of our readers realize they were mutants to begin with.)
Warner resurrected the “Loss Leader” idea in name only for a couple of giveaway comps in 1995 and 1999, but the cheap-o label sampler idea was such an obvious winner that indie/underground labels began to take up that torch the ’80s, and some of those collections have become legendary. In 1997, Matador records released a ridiculously generous 2XCD comp called What’s Up Matador, which sold at a very low retail price. The idea was the same; Teenage Fanclub, Pavement and Guided By Voices would sell the comp to people who would hopefully then get hip to quality lesser-knowns like Bardo Pond, S.F Seals, and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 (and by the way, getting hip to Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 wouldn’t be such a terrible use of your time), and hopefully those smaller bands enlarged their audiences.
That comp came out when I was neckdeep in my college radio years, and naturally it got a ton of spins during my airshift, but what I wasn’t aware of—because I was a dumb dipshit who never even once bothered to read the liner notes—was that What’s Up Matador was also a completely bonkers video compilation. No mere digest of promo clips, the video was shot as a fake children’s TV show, with preposterous “educational” segments by the label’s roster of weirdo musicians, hosted by the then-renowned TV smiler Bill Boggs (I recognized him from a late night satellite dish infomercial). Segments include a pedalboard demo by Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, a marvelous storybook history of Matador illustrated by Railroad Jerk’s Marcellus Hall, a damn near obscene theremin demonstration by Jon Spencer, and a hilariously stilted fake interview with Liz Phair. The video was written and directed by Clay Tarver, guitarist for the Matador band Chavez (one of my top-tier favorite overlooked ‘90s bands, as it happens), who was kind enough to take some time to talk with me about it.
CLAY TARVER: I had been doing some video work, and when Matador was going to put together this compilation, I pitched this video idea because I wanted to do more of that. I really racked my brain about what would be the most ridiculous thing to do, and the idea I started with was to do a sort of Reading Rainbow type show. It seemed funny to me to have someone like Jon Spencer sitting down reading to a bunch of kids, but to do it in a way that made more fun of Jon Spencer than it did the kids. Then it all came together when we cast Bill Boggs with the idea to make it as straight as possible. The guiding creative principle was to make it not winking or campy, but to do it like a real show. Bill knew Matador was a hip thing, and while we didn’t want to fuck with him or make him the butt of the joke, we also didn’t want to correct him in those moments when he wasn’t entirely clear on how sarcastic this would be, that we were making fun of indie music as much as we were making fun of kids’ shows.
I also got an illuminating earful from Matador label honcho Gerard Cosloy…
GERARD COSLOY: We wanted to do a Matador compilation similar to things like the Warner Brothers Loss Leader comps, Blasting Concept, Wailing Ultimate, as a cheap introduction to the wonderful world of Matador, and we needed a concept. We had the idea to do an accompanying video just cobbling together a bunch of videos from the period, but that wasn’t very ambitious, so we wanted to have a narrative to it. We kept thinking about infomercials and instructional films, and we also thought about very awkward situations, like how this could be for children, like a child’s primer on the world of Matador, or record manufacturing and whatnot, just to add to the incongruity of the whole thing. Clay understood the idea right away. Some of the vague inspirations included the WOR TV show Wonderama, Uncle Floyd, Major Mudd, these sorts of kids shows with very poor production values, that are a little too earnest and a little wrong.
We were initially thinking of going for the laugh factor instead of playing it deadpan, and one of us—meaning me—had my heart set on Richard Bey, who was a shit-TV fixture on the East Coast from that era, who had a very exploitative, silly show. I thought he’d be perfect because he was so smarmy and creepy and weird, the least hip human being in the entire world. Having him in front of a room full of kids talking about music would be wrong in every conceivable way. His casting agency wanted some astronomical amount of money for him, they wanted something like $15,000. I think we budgeted something closer to $3,000. The agency suggested Bill Boggs, which was kind of incredible, because in a lot of ways he was a much bigger coup with a way more respected resume. He’s hosted daytime TV, he had a late night show in New York, I think he was the original executive producer of The Morton Downey Jr. Show. His credentials a both a totally generic host and as a guy who’d worked on really wacky TV was impeccable. He was just perfect for the job, because he was so deadpan that it made for much better comedy. Bill gave it a measure of gravitas—and it doesn’t make any sense, because there’s no way you could watch this and think it was real!
In conjunction with the launch of a new “This Day In Matador History” web site that seeks to engage music fans with the label’s now 27-ish years of output, the What’s Up Matador video is being released online for the first time ever today. Until now, it’s been a VHS collectable, and it was bundled as an add-on to the later Everything Is Nice DVD. As it happens, the mechanics of the cassette format led to a fucking hilarious manufacturing error in the video’s initial run.
Here’s that story in Gerard’s words, it’s pretty amazing:
GERARD COSLOY:The video duplication company that was in charge of manufacturing and packaging the VHS tapes was also handling the Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance videos, which were very very popular, he sold hundreds of thousands of those—God knows to who. There was a manufacturing error, and I don’t know exactly how many, but a good portion of the early shipments of What’s Up, Matador, people got their videocassettes, put them in their VCRs, and instead of seeing Bill Boggs, Ira Kaplan and Liz Phair, they were seeing Michael Flatley dance routines! We had a number of kinda angry consumers, and I hope that we got them all the right videotapes once the dust eventually cleared, but it was a long time ago. There was some ill will over that which probably cost us some word-of-mouth. I think we tried to explain to people that the Flatley tape was like $60 and they only paid $15. Our customer service back then wasn’t very sophisticated.
I was once on a porn set. It wasn’t how I had imagined it would be. I was part of a production crew making a documentary about online porn. We were in the upstairs bedroom of a small terraced house in the north of England. Outside all the houses looked the same: red-bricked back-to-backs with cobbled lanes. Quiet streets, half-net curtains hung in windows. In a small bedroom a man who looked like Benny Hill wearing a blonde Beatle wig was directing two young girls in bikinis to cover their bodies with various food products. He was filming their antics for his web channel, telling the girls to squirt more mayonnaise down their cleavage, splatter more beans on their bottoms, get that ice cream all over their chins and so forth. Downstairs Benny’s wife sat by a coal fire patiently knitting, and sipping weak sweet tea.
Behind the fantasy set of latex curtains, paddling pool, ketchup bottles and assorted props was a small dingy room—the kind seen in Britain’s black & white kitchen-sink dramas of the 1960s. The smell of congealing food was nauseating but the girls who were smeared with it were laughing and joking and egging each other on to be more outrageous. Their onscreen activities seemed very unsexual. I was seeing the whole absurd scene—the bare floorboards, the peeling wallpaper, the small tripod lights—not the close-up titillation being broadcast to an excited online audience paying by the minute.
This dissociation between the pornographic image and its creation—between location and use—form part of Jo Broughton’s photographs of empty porn sets.
Broughton was studying a foundation art course at Thurrock, Essex, when she was sent for work experience to London, as she explained in an interview with Jean Wainright.
I thought what I was being sent to was a glamorous fashion shoot when in actual fact I walked into a studio in Hoxton to a nurses set being set up and a girl walking out of a changing room wearing suspenders and stockings, the full monty kit. Quite an abrupt Yorkshireman approached me and asked if I’d ever seen a “fanny up front” and I squeaked “No” and he replied “Well today’s your lucky day”.
[Fanny is British slang for “pussy” not rear end—the difference of meaning once disconcerted English jazz singer Cleo Laine when her American doctor said he was going to give her “a jag in the fanny.”]
Jo was supposed to be doing two weeks work, but dropped out of college and stayed with the studio for two years.
For a long time I had quite a problem with what was going on there, I was quite conflicted. I was green as grass; I’d never ever walked into something like that before…
..It was very contradictory in some respects to have this space where I was safe and had a connection to people that were “family” and yet it’s perceived as very unsafe to other people: it’s a safe industry because they work very safely but it isn’t your desired environment, I wouldn’t desire it for my child to work as a pornographic model. My conflicting emotions stayed with me and I hid it very well, where I’d been and what I’d been doing, for a long time.
She worked as a studio assistant.
...my job was to paint the set, make lots and lots of tea and to sweep up. I was just the dogsbody, to put up the lights; always give Steve a “pop”, meaning I’d have to dump the power on the light packs for him to do the light test. I had to put up the poly boards and all the normal stuff you do in a studio with the content of a sexual nature, which actually was very tame and quite tongue in cheek now.
Having left college and finding herself temporarily without a place to stay, Jo started sleeping on the studio sets at night. During the day she was working as a photographic assistant at major Sunday broadsheet the Observer. Because of how people perceived porn, Jo could tell no one what she was doing or where she was staying.
When I was working as an assistant we would get phone calls all day, somehow people had got hold of the studios number and they would scream obscenities down the phone and make threats. People were repelled and absolutely disgusted by the subject of porn; you just didn’t mention that you worked in the porn industry. So in order not to be tainted by that brush, I didn’t dare mention it when I was at The Observer because you just didn’t knew how people would take it, take what you did.
Then Broughton enrolled at Royal College of Art. She also continued visiting the studio every week and began working as a cleaner there.
I’d had these conflicting issues about these models seen as meat and I was doing all this feminist work and then I became Steve’s cleaner every two weeks. I became this… I don’t know how to describe it, this Igor character, cleaning up after someone. But also, I felt more humanistic towards the models, the industry and suddenly I started becoming more comfortable with it myself. I started to see this more human aspect because I’m seeing bodily fluids and I’m washing things and I’m in contact with almost what the untouchable is. You know, washing dildos and whatever, you’re there, at that point. And suddenly I started to laugh and see the funny side of it and going in and putting the radio on and seeing the set week after week after week, it would change. It made me laugh because you see the set, there’s so much work that goes into those sets and yet it’s still the same subject; tits and arse.
Broughton started photographing the sets at night. She was interested in revealing the reality behind the artificial glossy sex of porn mags.
I’m letting the audience in to see what I saw and also to take the power out of it almost. It is to say this is false, which I suppose pornography is, it’s false. I like the fact that there’s a brick holding up the poly-board that reflects the light, the ambiance coming in, the floor boards coming in. For me it’s really important to have those elements, also it shows humanistic elements of imperfections. Because in the magazines that its published in that would all be cut off and straightened and it would all be very glossy, so that was important. Also, I wanted to show the space I had this relationship with, that was important to me as well. This space doesn’t really know what’s going on, a table doesn’t know it’s a table, a porn set doesn’t know it’s a porn set and that’s almost what I was trying to do.
Each of Jo Broughton’s photographs was taken on a porn shoot. The bed sheets are crumpled and stained, stockings and shoes lie on the floor, discarded sex toys and lubricant are visible. The frame is devoid of people, only the evidence of sexual performance and the illusion of passionate intimacy remain.
William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece, The Exorcist, was a landmark in horror cinema, a cultural phenomenon, and (if adjusting for inflation) the ninth highest-grossing film of all time.
The film makes minimal use of music—a stylistic choice which gives the film an air of stark realism despite the supernatural events depicted onscreen. Of the minimal music used in the film, most famous is Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells,” which went on to become a smash so huge that it essentially birthed the Virgin empire.
Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells,” used as the main theme for ‘The Exorcist.’
Before Friedkin settled on Oldfield’s prog masterpiece, he had originally commissioned a score from Lalo Schifrin, who had famously done soundtrack work for Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry, and the instantly recognizable Mission Impossible TV show theme.
Composer/conductor, Lalo Schifrin
Schifrin’s atonal Exorcist score was very much in the vein of Krzysztof Penderecki (whose “Cello Concerto No. 1” of Polymorphia was used in the film’s final edit) with the addition of Bernard Herrmann-esque “fright stabs.”
This score was used in an advanced trailer which some have called the “banned trailer.” As the stories go, this trailer literally made audiences sick when it was shown. It’s unclear if the sounds and images were simply upsetting or if the flashing images actually caused seizures in some viewers.
Schifrin, speaking to Score Magazine revealed some of the history of his work and Friedkin’s reaction:
The truth is that it was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, but I have recently read that in order to triumph in your life, you may previously have some fails. What happened is that the director, William Friedkin, hired me to write the music for the trailer, six minutes were recorded for the Warner’s edition of the trailer. The people who saw the trailer reacted against the film, because the scenes were heavy and frightening, so most of them went to the toilet to vomit. The trailer was terrific, but the mix of those frightening scenes and my music, which was also a very difficult and heavy score, scared the audiences away. So, the Warner Brothers executives said Friedkin to tell me that I must write less dramatic and softer score. I could easily and perfectly do what they wanted because it was way too simple in relevance to what I have previously written, but Friedkin didn’t tell me what they said. I´m sure he did it deliberately. In the past we had an incident, caused by other reasons, and I think he wanted vengeance. This is my theory. This is the first time I speak of this matter, my attorney recommended me not to talk about it, but I think this is a good time to reveal the truth.
Finally, I wrote the music for the film in the same vein as that of the trailer. In fact, when I wrote the trailer I was in the studio with Friedkin and he congratulated me for it. So, I thought i was in the right way… but the truth was very different.
Reportedly, Friedkin was so displeased with the partial score that Schifrin had submitted that he literally threw it out of the studio window—mirroring the second story window ejections of Burke Dennings and Father Karras in the film. It’s no wonder Schifrin called it one of the “most unpleasant experiences” of his life.
After the jump, hear the full terrifying (and rejected) Lalo Schifrin score for ‘The Exorcist’...
“He Touched Me” sure was a popular theme back in the day. I had no idea it was this popular, though. Whoever this “He” is—if that is, in fact, his real name—he apparently touched just about everybody. This asshole knew no boundaries either, whether it be male, female, adult, child, the elderly, couples and even… entire families, he’d touch ‘em! These album covers are heartbreaking cries for help. Why didn’t anyone pay attention?!
Here’s a visual guide to show you just how many people He has “touched.” F*ck this guy!
The guillotine used during Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies tour in 1973
Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith will be auctioning off some of his career memorabilia including what Smith says is the guillotine used during the tour in support of Billion Dollar Babies in 1973. Nice.
Neal Smith’s mirrored drum kit
Other items of note in the auction held by Heritage Auctions which is set to begin sometime in early February are Smiths’ mirrored drum kit that he used during the Billion Dollar Babies tour, and a load of glammy clothing Smith wore on stage in the late 60s and early 70s. Some of my favorite items from the auction follow.
Okay, so it’s Monday… That’s bad enough already, but it’s also a Monday in January and much of the eastern part of the US of A is totally blanketed in snow and freezing cold, so maybe you had to brave the elements to get to work, or maybe it’s a winter wonderland “snow day” for you and you’re sitting at home. Either way, I can’t help but to think, no matter your circumstances right now, this very moment as you are reading this, that your life will be improved by these recently posted video clips of Blondie’s Debbie Harry guesting onstage with James White and the Blacks at the Hurrah’s nightclub in New York City in 1980.
First up, Debbie and James duet on a cover version of Chic’s “Good Times.” For the first few minutes of this, I wasn’t really feeling it, although admittedly I got so lost just looking at Debbie Harry’s face that I could have been listening to a jackhammer. Eventually the groove kicks in and then… I felt good. James White squeezes off an outrageously skronky sax solo here.
Tired of the pointless expressions of ego that masquerade as modern (post-modern? post-post-modern?) art nowadays? You might have an unlikely ally in a woman who will sit naked on public display for a couple of days at the end of this month as a peculiar “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” protest against the vapidity of the art world.
Dr. Lisa Levy is a licensed psychologist who has decided to become a performance artist in order to give the art world what she feels is a well-justified kick in the shins. On January 30 and 31, for her show “The Artist Is Humbly Present,” she will sit, unclothed, on a toilet across from an empty seat, which spectators are welcome to inhabit.
Both the title of the piece and the piece itself are obvious callbacks to Marina Abramović‘s 736-hour show at the Museum of Modern Art, The Artist Is Present, which garnered a great deal of attention in 2010. In the show Abramović sat motionless and speechless in a large MoMA atrium with a table and an empty chair in front of her. She was wearing clothes throughout and was sitting on a regular wooden chair.
Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present
Levy’s quotations on the annoying art world are pretty priceless:
“Ego and pretense has seriously fucked with the quality of work being made in the art world.”
“(I’m) tired of the bullshit trendy art dialogue about how the art world is driven by rich people who want shiny work and don’t care about meaning as well.”
“I was really pissed and aggravated about the pretense, competition and the amount of bullshit in the art world.”
“I think ego interferes with art making, it makes the artist self-conscious. The most direct way to make the artwork is the least egoic way possible.”
Levy says that the show is “kind of a joke” before lapsing into the same kind of blather that actual big-deal artsy-fartsy types engage in: “I’m most excited about the experience,” said Levy. “I am really curious to see how the people will react. It’s a social experiment, like a lot of my work.”
Hmmm. Almost like you are doing something both pointless and extreme to shake up people’s assumptions, right?
If you want to go visit Levy’s MAD Magazine-style art protest, you’ll be able to do so at the Christopher Stout Gallery in New York City on January 30 and 31.