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Charles Mingus goes to Bellevue
06.24.2014
08:46 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Jazz
Charles Mingus

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And I can hear myself saying, “No, don’t do it,” as I read Charles Mingus begging the guard at Bellevue to let him in.

As he tells it in his autobiography Beneath the Underdog, it’s the late 1950s and Mingus hasn’t slept in three weeks, his brain was like “a crazy TV set flicking picture stories in color and black-and-white.” He was wired, “sped-up,” walked the streets for hours with maybe-thoughts of visiting friends at Birdland but canceled the idea of dropping by to talk to someone anyone, who just might listen and help him unwind.

I decided if I called anybody they’d think I was only trying to get sympathy and attention. I kept walking across town, trying to think what in hell I’d done with my life.

Mingus considered his fifteen albums, the hundreds of recordings, the music he’d written and the music he’d yet to write, but still his brain sped on. Then he reached Bellevue with a big sentry guard standing on the other side of the gates, watching the musician approach. And that’s when I’m thinking, “No Mingus, don’t ask.”

I said, “Look, man, I haven’t slept in three weeks,” and he said, “This is no rest home, this place is for the mentally disturbed.”

“Look, man,” I said, “I am mentally disturbed. I’m a musician, I need help, and I once saw a film that said if you need help the first and most difficult task is having the guts to ask for it, so help me, man!”

The gatekeeper said, “I done told you this not where you want to go if you just sleepy. I can see from here you look a little tired, so go home, man, and go to bed. Ain’t crazy or nothing, are you?”

I said, “Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”

And he said, “Well, take my word for it, you don’t want to come in here. If I was to let you in first thing you’d say when I close that door behind you is “Lemme out, I ain’t crazy!”

Mingus shoulda listened. First thing over the gate, “Here’s that crazy one,” and buttoned-up tight in a strait-jacket—O, America, so this is how you treat genius?

Inside, Mingus can’t sleep, there’s snoring and crying and farting and still no peace. It’s near breakfast and soon the nurses will do their rounds and Mingus will have to get up, eat some food, take his meds, and listen to the blatherings of some racist psycho-doc.

Then I heard him say to another doctor, “Negroes are paranoiac, unrealistic people who believe the whole world is against them.”

I said, “Tell me, doctor, do you mean all Negroes on this earth or only the Negroes in this room?”

He said, “I see I’m getting through to Mingus now,” and I said, “That you are Herr Doktor. Tell me, is this paranoia we all have curable?”

And he said, “Yes, this is what I am so happy to tell you. I can cure this disease with a simple operation on the frontal lobe, called a lobotomy, and then you’ll be all right.”

As soon as he gets out of the interview with Herr Doktor, Mingus looks for a phone. He calls his friend Nat Hentoff and tells him where he is. He can’t talk long, there’s a Nazi doctor, “a prejudiced white cocksucker so high on white supremacy that he’s blowing the whole USA scene on integration singlehanded… Nat I’m scared. You gotta get me out of here!”
 

 
Getting in was easy, getting out’s the problem. A lawyer drops by and tells Mingus he’s under supervision for two weeks. They saw needle marks and they don’t believe these are for “reducing the fatty tumor” on his arm. The lawyer tells him to bide his time, get some rest, take it easy—as if these were options.

Mingus goes to the art room, does some painting, finds one by Thelonious Monk (an ax in an apple) and then starts writing down something that might make sense:

I have not vanished or given up music although to many it may seem that I have. For whatever reason, the only albums of my recordings that have been recently made available to the public are at least three years old. I have worked in a few jazz clubs lately but from the people outside New York who have liked my music I have gotten letters wondering where I disappeared to. Before and during this apparent layoff from productivity, however, I have been producing as always and perhaps more because there were few to hear my voice and my need is to express my thoughts and feelings as fully as is humanly possible all the time, I have worked and I have produced music that has not been played and I have written words that have not been read….

Mingus can’t concentrate, too much hubbub, he notices a kid opposite playing chess. A math genius who checkmates him every game. Next day, Mingus writes “Hellview of Bellevue,” a seven point list of what is wrong with the institution and its doctors. He’s had no sleep, but hasn’t lost his sense of humor:

4. Dr. Bonk keeps saying I am a failure. I did not come here to discuss my career or I would have brought a press agent.

He knows it was a mistake to have begged to come in and claims it was a protest over his own psychotherapist, and finishes number seven with: “I have learned my lesson. Let me have my freedom.”

No dice. The next day Mingus writes a song “All the Things You Could Be by Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother,” which he later records. His visitors make him realize what a mistake he has made, but then he thinks, maybe he can use his time in Bellevue to help others. He talks to “Chess,” the kid math genius:

“Why don’t you and me and The Dancer get all these nuts together and start up a school? Look around at these poor bastards, look at all that confusion. Between the three of us we got a university—math, chess, languages, music dancing.”

They dig the idea, the nurses dig the idea and arrange a room and a blackboard, but the cartoon Herr Doktor Bonk raised his eyebrows and said:

“Mr. Mingus is going to organize Bellevue for us. May I comment that compulsive organization is one of the prime traits of paranoia.

You can almost hear the scalpel being sharpened. Mingus leaves the room and keeps his head down for the duration. Days go by, then Mingus finds himself in an office opposite a nurse who tells him he can make a call and have someone collect him.

“We are only trying to help you here at Bellevue.”

Later, when Mingus thought about his naivety in seeking treatment at Bellevue, he wrote:

“All of us who stay sane, stay inside our own cages all the time.”

Bellevue’s had its fair share of talents behind its doors: Eugene O’Neill, William Burroughs, Norman Mailer, Malcolm Lowry and Charles Mingus. They were all lucky, they got out, and some say “Chess” the math genius was Bobby Fischer.

Charles Mingus performing in Belgium, Norway and Sweden, with Eric Dolphy (sax,bass clarinet and flute), Clifford Jordan (tenor sax), Jaki Byard (piano), Dannie Richmond (drums) and Johnny Coles (trumpet). Tracks: “So Long Eric,” “Peggy’s Blue Skylight,” “Meditations On Integration,” “Orange Was The Colour Of Her Dress,Then Blue Silk,” “Parkeriana,” “Take The ‘A’ Train.”
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Mingus’: Powerful and heartbreaking documentary portrait of the Jazz giant

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Starfish and Coffee’: Prince jams with The Muppets, 1997
06.24.2014
07:49 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Prince

Prince and the Muppets
 
In 1997 Prince appeared on ABC’s Muppets Tonight, on which he seems totally at home. This was the 1990s, so his Purple Badness was still in his “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” phase—there’s even a joke about it here. This is the full video, complete with Dutch subtitles for your convenience. After a few amusing bits of business, including a weird one where Prince plays briefly with “The Hoo-Haw Ha Ha Ha Hayseed Band,” the real goodness begins around the 13:30 mark.
 
Prince
 
At the commissary, Rizzo the Rat challenges Prince to write a song about that day’s breakfast menu, and the result is “Starfish and Coffee.” It’s not exactly “Little Red Corvette,” but it’s pretty delightful.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Check out the earliest known Talking Heads recordings, 1975
06.24.2014
07:34 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Talking Heads

Talking Heads
 
In 1975, David Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz recorded these fascinating demos for CBS; that the Talking Heads would have to wait until late 1976 before Seymour Stein signed them to Sire should tell you what CBS thought of these tracks. Byrne and Frantz had been making music as The Artistics as far back as 1972 at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1974 the two of them plus Weymouth headed to New York, where they shared an apartment and soon began doing gigs at CBGB’s. Sometime in 1976 they snagged Jerry Harrison, recently of The Modern Lovers, to be their keyboard player.

According to Ian Gittins in his book Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime: The Stories Behind Every Song, “Psycho Killer” was the first song that Byrne ever wrote, in 1974. I didn’t know that, but I feel like I “knew” it just by listening to Talking Heads: 77.

These have been available for a while now; you can find them on Discogs as a “Not on Label” LP. You’d have to say these sound remarkably good, wouldn’t you? I could listen to this all day.
 

Playlist track listing:
Psycho Killer
[deleted video]
Thank You for Sending Me an Angel
I Wish You Wouldn’t Say That
With Our Love
Stay Hungry
Tentative Decisions
Warning Sign
I’m Not in Love
No Compassion

 
Of these, “Psycho Killer,” “Tentative Decisions,” and “No Compassion” appeared on Talking Heads: 77, and “Stay Hungry,” “With Our Love,” “Warning Sign,” and “Thank You for Sending Me an Angel” appeared on More Songs About Buildings and Food. The “fan club” limited edition release of 500 copies features several more songs: “Sugar On My Tongue,” “I Want To Live,” “The Girls Want To Be With The Girls,” “Who Is It,” “The Book I Read,” and “Love—> Building On Fire.”
 

 
via Open Culture
 
Thanks to Will Kreth!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Watch The Cult’s transformation from mall-goth to hard rock in these 1986 concert clips
06.24.2014
06:28 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Cult


 
Like most suburban ‘80s kids, I found out about The Cult via MTVs saturation-play of “She Sells Sanctuary,” which managed to break out of the alternawhatever programming blocks to find a place in regular daily rotation. I really did adore the absolute shit out of the album that spawned it, Love, and so I backtracked to their excellent prior album Dreamtime. But hearing concert recordings almost completely ruined even those great albums for me. Their live energy made the studio recordings seem so tepid and anemic by comparison, I nearly stopped listening to them.
 

 
Of course, they famously and drastically ramped up the energy with their next album, Electric, but while I enjoy that album a great deal now, I was disappointed when it was released. I saw them as Judases, pandering to bonehead wallets by copping arena buttrock tropes. Of course, I was just being an overly tribalistic kid. The reality was that this was a band finding itself in its desire to rock the fuck out, and didn’t see any point in hiding it since they were already trying to tap that sort of energy in their relatively fey gothic flowerchild era, and one could make the case that they foresaw the underground’s phasing-out of mall-goth trappings in favor of heavier sounds. A pair of 1986 performances gives a taste of that transition.
 

 
That was a TV appearance, with all songs culled from the Love LP, though bafflingly, the big puttin’-asses-in-seats single “She Sells Sanctuary” isn’t included. They’re still firmly in the gothy-pop realm, though the energy there noticeably bests the LP.

Now check this out. This is a concert from Finland, later that same year, when the band was working on their next album. It was to be titled Peace, but the original recordings were was entirely jettisoned. Def Jam’s Rick Rubin re-recorded the material, treating it like an AC/DC album, and it eventually saw release retitled Electric, with the band awkwardly beginning to affect an attempted badass persona. But pay attention to the version of “Love Removal Machine” that they play. It’s the rejected original, and it’s pretty well unrecognizable to fans who’ve only heard the LP/single version. Those original scrapped tracks have been released as the limited Manor Sessions EP, and on the Rare Cult box set, but both of those are now rare, out of print collectibles. That material was at last made available again last year, under the title Electric Peace, which as you’ve surely guessed is a 2XLP containing both versions of the album.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Dreamtime: The Cult live at the Lyceum, 1984

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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See a young Björk rocking out in ‘Rokk í Reykjavík’
06.23.2014
03:02 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iceland
Björk


 
Rokk í Reykjavík is an Icelandic film made for local television in 1982 that seems like a cross between Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization and Urgh! A Music War. Like Urgh! it’s a steady stream of band after band, nineteen total, some very good, some awful running the gamut from confrontational SoCal-style hardcore to Joy Division and Wire imitators to one group who look just like Loverboy! Like the Decline trilogy there are lots of interviews with incredibly nihilistic youngsters. (One pint-sized Darby Crash wannabe discuses how a meddling social worker made glue sniffing difficult in Reykjavik, but this led them to discover that gas huffing provided an even better high!)

Seen in Rokk í Reykjavík is Tappi Tíkarrass an incredibly tight punk/pop band led by a young (and super cute) Björk Guðmundsdóttir who have a Talking Heads meet B-52s meets ska meets Gang of Four vibe. Their name, should you be wondering, translates as “Cork the Bitch’s Ass!”
 

 
Also of note here is Purrkur Pillnikk, the punk band of Björk’s future Sugarcube bandmate Einar Örn Benediktsson. The old man chanting a poem at the start is Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson who was instrumental in forcing the Icelandic government to recognize the country’s pre-Christian Norse religion. Sveinbjörn can be heard performing Ásatrú marriage rites for Genesis and Paula P-Orridge on Psychic TV’s Live in Reykjavik double album.

For me, though, other than seeing the young (and super cute, did I mention that?) Björk in action, it’s the WTF avant garde antics of Bruni BB that steal the entire show. Directed by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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What does a snail eating sound like?
06.23.2014
01:08 pm

Topics:
Art
Environment
Music

Tags:
Nick Abrahams


 
Filmmaker and visual artist Nick Abrahams will be presenting “Lions and Tigers and Bears,” an exhibition of photographs, installations and artworks inspired by the lush magic of the British countryside. The show which opens at The Horse Hospital in London on Friday examines our changing relationship with nature by inviting the spectator “to use their own imagination to bear on sounds and images which are both extraordinary and overlooked.”
 

 
Last year Nick made “Ekki Mukk,” a short film collaboration with Sigur Rós that won the British Council Best UK short film award for 2013. That short (see below) forms part of the “Lions and Tigers and Bears” project and also inspired Abrahams’ 7-inch single of the same name:

The single and exhibition include 3 key audio recordings – that of a snail eating, a fox sleeping, and sounds recorded around a tree. The sounds evoke mysterious worlds – the tree is the Martyrs tree in Tolpuddle, under whose branches the first trade union in England met in 1834, to fight for better pay and working conditions… the snail is heard eating, amplified to a level which we can hear and sounding something like a chainsaw – what else would we hear if we could listen closely enough ? And a sleeping fox…. what does a fox dream about ?

A fourth recording features the voice of Shirley Collins, a living national treasure and seminal folk singer, who reads a prose poem by Nick Abrahams, leaving us in the world of fairytales.

A feature film of the “Lions and Tigers and Bears’ project is currently in development. Nick says there will be a live snail race at the opening (6pm to 9pm) and to “please come, bring friends (although not more snails, they can be rather ‘me me me’).”
 

 
The Horse Hospital, The Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD
 

 
Below, Abrahams’ stunning music video for “Ekki Mukk” by Sigur Rós:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Animal Farm: The tragic and disturbing story of Bodil Joensen, ‘Queen of Bestiality’
06.23.2014
11:07 am

Topics:
Animals
Sex

Tags:
pornography
bestiality
Bodil Joensen

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Get beyond the obvious sensationalism of this documentary on Bodil Joensen and you will find a tragic and disturbing tale of the woman who was dubbed “Queen of Bestiality.”

Born in rural Denmark in 1944, Bodil Joensen was raised on a farm where she had an horrific and brutal childhood at the hands of her religious nut-job mother. Regularly thrashed and denied any emotional comfort, Bodil found solace with animals. The suffering of her childhood became worse when she was raped while waiting for a train home from school. Her mother blamed her daughter for the rape and punished her for her sins. This brutality only pushed Bodil to identify more closely with animals than with humans, leading to her first teenage sex act with the family dog.

At fifteen, Bodil ran away from home and began work on a neighboring farm. She took great interest in the insemination of pigs, which eventually led to Bodil starting her own successful porcine insemination business.

In 1969, Denmark became the first country in the world to legalize pornography. The change in the law led Bodil to approach pornographer Ole Ege, offering to make a film, originally a “documentary.” This led Ege to co-produce Bodil’s first film A Summer’s Day a documentary on her sex life with animals, directed by Shinkichi Tajiri.

A Summer’s Day was the first bestiality film ever made and (surprisingly) it won Grand Prix at the pornographic film festival Wet Dreams in Amsterdam 1970. Amongst those on the judging panel was feminist Germaine Greer. The award made Bodil an underground porn star, and she went on to make 40 bestiality movies.

These films had a limited market and it was not until the arrival of home videos in 1980’s that the porn industry made a fortune out of distributing and selling back catalogs of hardcore films.

With strict pornography laws in the UK, these films were smuggled into the country and distributed via sex shops and by mail order. In 1981, four of Bodil’s films were edited together along with a similar film called Animal Lover to create Animal Farm (also known as Barnyard Fun.) Being caught in possession of this movie in Britain was punishable by a prison sentence.

As the film made money for its producers and distributors, Bodil herself was in a painful and tragic decline. By now a severe alcoholic, Bodil was addicted to painkillers, and was supporting her daughter and maintaining the upkeep of her farm by working as a prostitute and performing in live sex shows with animals.
 

 
Though in a relationship with a man, Bodil still took emotional solace from her animals, especially her favorite dog Spot. In an 1980 interview, Bodil talked about her life and love for her dog:

Things went completely out of hand when Spot died. I started taking sedatives. But when someone referred to them as “loony-Smarties” I threw them in the fireplace. Instead I started drinking and eating excessively. I gained 30 kilos. Doesn’t look well on something that was going downhill anyway.

Spot was a real German shepherd that I got from an animals hospital ten years ago. She had been beaten. She never became anything but a little, weak dog. I’ve never been able to talk to other girls. I’ve always been with men. Spot was my female friend. She understood what I said. Was happy when I was happy. Was sad when I was. When we were alone in the house without light and heat we went to bed together. Shared a biscuit. And then we talked, until we fell asleep.

Spot is the only living creature that has loved me for being just me. She didn’t expect to get anything back. She soothed me when I was ill. I’ve experienced a lot with Lassie [one of her other dogs], and like him a lot. But it’ll never be the same as with Spot.

Lassie has been unfaithful to me. He’s an every-girls-dog. Spot was mine. Completely mine. That’s why I had such a shock when she died. And started drinking, and eating myself fat in no time. I live with my man for 10 years and my eight year old daughter. Still I feel like the loneliest human being now that Spot is dead.

In those days I earned easy money in a tough line of work. I fell and fell. “When will I reach the bottom?” I often ask myself these days.

In 1985, after being traumatized and exploited for most of her life, Bodil Joensen died of cirrhosis of the liver.

This documentary made for Channel 4’s The Dark Side of Porn season is certainly not suitable for everyone. It is a dark and disturbing film, but one of the worst parts relates not to the subject matter directly but to the seeming callous indifference of those producers and friends who used Bodil but let her life crash so tragically. Those who reflexively think porn is “healthy” should have a look at this film and see what the reality of a career in lower depths the sex industry can be like.

Although this documentary did run on broadcast television in the UK, it still contains images that some may find offensive or disturbing. You have been warned.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Young man gets stuck in giant vagina; 22 firefighters come to his rescue
06.23.2014
10:24 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art

Tags:
Vagina
Vulva


 
For shits and giggles an American exchange student thought it would be hilarious to pose in a giant marble vulva at the University Institute of Microbiology in Germany and act like he was stuck. His friend gladly shot the photos. Problem was the young man actually did get stuck and had to be rescued by 22 firefighters.

The 13-year-old $173,000 statue, designed by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara, was said to be recovering well. The name, “Pi-Chacan,” means “making love” in a Peruvian Indian dialect.

According to reports from The Herald Sun, the vulva is doing just fine and there was no damage to it.

As a side note: I know many dudes who wouldn’t mind being stuck in a giant vulva. Stone or not.


 

 
via Herald Sun and h/t Jezebel

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Anarchist icon Emma Goldman’s warning about capitalism from jail, 1893
06.23.2014
10:08 am

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
Anarchism
Emma Goldman

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Red Emma’s mugshot

When state senator Wendy Davis held her 11-hour filibuster in Texas last year to block Senate Bill 5 and its restrictions on abortion, it was hard not to think how much better (and entertaining) anarchist firebrand “Red Emma” Goldman would have been if she’d have been the one speaking for so many hours. Davis incited a loud but well-behaved demonstration outside the capitol building in Austin. If Emma had been the orator, there would have been an actual riot. And fires.

Journalist Nelly Bly did a series of profiles of well-known anarchists for The New York World in 1893. She visited 25-year-old Emma in the notorious Tombs jail in New York City shortly after her arrest for inciting a riot at the Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia. Emma was demurely waiting for her friends to bail her out prior to the trial, where she was found guilty and sentenced to a year at Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary. After the obligatory description of Emma’s appearance and clothes (“a little bit of a girl” with “pretty and girlish” hair and dressed in “modest blue serge Eton suit, with a blue muslin shirtwaist and scarf” ), Bly elicited a prescient quote about, among other topics (like free love and marriage), capitalists:

Everything wrong, crime and sickness and all that, is the result of the system under which we live, she continued earnestly. ‘Were there no money, and as a result, no capitalists, people would not be over-worked, starved and ill-housed, all of which makes them old before their time, diseases them and makes them criminals. To save a dollar the capitalists build their railroads poorly, and along comes a train, and loads of people are killed. What are their lives to him if by their sacrifice he has saved money? But those deaths mean misery, want and crime in many, many families. According to Anarchistic principles, we build the best of railroads, so there shall be no accidents… Instead of running a few cars at a frightful speed, in order to save a larger expense, we should run many cars at slow speed, and so have no accidents.’

‘If you do away with money and employers, who will work upon your railroads?’ I asked.

‘Those that care for that kind of work. Then every one shall do that which he likes best, not merely a thing he is compelled to do to earn his daily bread.’

‘What will you do with the lazy ones, who would not work?’

‘No one is lazy. They grow hopeless from the misery of their present existence, and give up. Under our order of things, every man would do the work he liked, and would have as much as his neighbor, so could not be unhappy and discouraged.’

(I was going to include Emma’s famous blintz recipe, which she included in a letter to her long-time friend and lover Alexander Berkman, but to obtain a copy you have to donate $10 to the Emma Goldman Papers at the University of California at Berkeley. Other writings of hers can be found for free at the online Anarchist Library.)

Newsreel footage of Emma at a press conference upon her return to the U.S. in 1934:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Grayson Perry: Rebel in a dress
06.23.2014
08:18 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Grayson Perry

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Grayson Perry by Richard Kelly
 
“Art is colors and shapes and looking good, that’s what Art’s about,” says artist Grayson Perry in this interview with Laurie Taylor form the excellent Sky Arts series In Confidence.

Perry, who is best known for his beautifully crafted ceramics that are illustrated with images of “explicit scenes of sexual perversion—sadomasochism, bondage, transvestism” and his fabulous tapestries, goes on to explain how he thinks “Art kids itself it’s some dangerous teenager.”

Perry is certainly a true rebel, for rather than opting for the supposed controversies of conceptual art popularized during his years as a student, he chose pottery as his “prime medium” as he explained in the biography Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl:

I was attracted to pottery because it was naff; that was the subtext. I was aware of ceramics being the underdog and that was one of its saving graces. It’s very British; pottery will never become bad taste. It will always have that woody, nutty, wholesome, truth-to-material-ness around it. It was never going to be a flashy, gay, window-dressing art, it was always going to be humpy, heterosexual and earthy. However trite and dilettante the images I put on the clay, the material would bring it, literally, down to earth. One of the great things about ceramics is it is not shocking so I thought, ‘I can be as outrageous as I like here because the vice squad is never going to raid a pottery exhibition.’

 
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Perhaps not, but Grayson often decorates his high quality pottery with imagery that is at odds with their attractive appearance. This technique was evident from his first work in 1983:

I had seen the ceramics at the V&A, returned to the evening classes and asked the teacher, ‘Have you got a plate mould? I’d like to make a plate.’ The very first one worked reasonably well—because I put a coin over Jesus’s cock it appeared as if he had had an enormous wet dream while being crucified. So I made my first ever plate, which was called, Kinky Sex.

 
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Perry often includes autobiographical imagery on his ceramics, in particular the adventures of his transvestite alter ego “Claire.” Perry’s interest in dressing-up and fetishism started at the age of seven when he made a noose out of his pajamas, which he attached to the headboard in his bedroom and tied around his neck.

I don’t think I wanted to commit suicide—maybe I was suicidal—I don’t know. It was very dangerous. That was my first sexual experience.

The first fetish story I read was about a man who went, dressed as a woman, to visit a prostitute. The prostitute strapped him to a crucifix and he had a noose tied round his neck with a stool under his feet that he stepped on and off to be able to have the experience of hanging.

 
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From fetish stories found in pornography left carelessly around his mother’s home,  Grayson moved onto his own “bondage games… set in a prisoner-of-war camp where [he] would be bound and humiliated by the prison guards.” Eventually, Grayson found an outlet for his feelings in transvestism, which he described in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl:

If the unconscious can’t get what it wants emotionally in a normal way, it will find an alternative pathway to get it. If you can’t express your feminine side as a man, something decides, ‘Well, you’d better dress as a woman.’ If you can’t get a hug from your dad, you wrap yourself up very tightly in the bedclothes instead, though you don’t equate the one with the other. It’s your subconscious’s cry. It’s a predisposition, sensitivity or an emotional vulnerability in a person and if that person is brought up in a harsh environment soon the fetish world comes along offering a solution. As a child, not for a moment did I think, ‘This is because of my parents.’ Until I was an adult it never occurred to me to equate my sex life with any lack in my childhood parental experiences. My body and mind only whispered, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, try that.’ It would be a turn-on and the reward was a bit of a stiffy and a bit of a feel.

Grayson Perry was a deserved winner of the Turner Prize in 2003, and like his art he is an immensely likable, delightfully subversive and highly intelligent man.  Somewhat improbably, Perry has been taken to the British bosom as a “national treasure” and as an English eccentric (think Boy George meets a naughtier Damien Hirst). The artist was selected to deliver the BBC’s ultra prestigious Reith lectures in 2013 and was given a CBE (while in drag) in January by a “giggling” Prince Charles. Even better, according to Perry, was a casual reference made to him on the long-running BBC soap opera, Coronation Street.
 

“Democracy Has Bad Taste,” the first of Perry’s Reith lectures
 
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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