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1980s nightclub invitations from ‘Downtown’ New York

Keith Haring, invitation for “Larry Levan’s Birthday Bash,” 1986

It’s… interesting—and a reminder of how fucking old I’m getting—that I’m starting to see promotional ephemera from nightclub events I attended (or worked at) in my… younger days turning up in museums and art galleries. Good thing for me that I have boxes of these types of invitations that I’ve kept sitting out in the garage. Twenty years from now, I’ll spend my dotage as an eBay seller specializing in… shit I’ve kept.

What’s slightly worrisome, though, is how little of some of these events I call recall in any detail. I’ve heard older friends of mine say things like “Well, it was the sixties!” (or the seventies) but even so, the 80s were a seriously decadent (and dangerous) time to be young and living in New York City. I have always lucked out and been at the right place at the right time, I like to think.

Without putting too fine a point on it, drugs were better then—especially cocaine, which, sorry is just a joke now, kids—and super easy to get your hands on. People were more extreme then. As someone who (luckily) lived through it all, it’s very easy for me to see why so many of today’s young people romanticize the East Village or “Downtown” scene—which will never, ever, happen again (at least not there)—It’s because it was better then. It just was. All the elements, including cheap rent, came together then. A perfect storm, culturally speaking.

It didn’t last that long—Manhattan nightlife is all rich kids and bankers these days—but if you were there you know what I mean. And if you were there, perhaps like me, you’re starting to find that a lot of it’s pretty damned foggy by now, so it’s good to have exhibits like this one, online at Marc Miller’s Gallery 98, which specializes in this sort of artifact, to jar our memories.

This mix of ambitious high art with popular entertainment and performance emerged first when two clubs, CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, helped launch Punk in all its many and varied creative directions in the late 1970s. By the 1980s dozens of new nightclubs and bars including Area, Club 57, Danceteria, Limelight, Mudd Club, Palladium, Paradise Garage, Pyramid and the Tunnel consciously strove to be part of the art world by presenting new music, art, film, video, fashion, and performance.  It was a period in art not unlike that of Paris in the 1890s when the cafés of Montmartre helped mold the fin-de-siècle aesthetic. Gallery 98 presents here a selection of nightclub invitations and posters from this exhilarating moment in the 1970s and 80s. For artists and performers it was a golden age with clubs needing to book events seven-days-a-week.  To attract the trendy crowd, artists were recruited to paint murals and design publicity; curators were hired to organize exhibitions; photographers were booked to present slide shows and document events; filmmakers and video artists were paid for screenings; and performers were engaged to make music, stage cabaret shows and host interactive events involving audience participation.  Out of this milieu, stars were born: performers Ann Magnuson, John Sex, Joey Arias, Phoebe Legere; artists Colette, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Mark Kostabi; curators Baird Jones, Neke Carson, Carlo McCormick, Michael Alig.  And in the wake of all this activity came the thousands of cheaply produced but creatively designed cards and posters that the artists and clubs created to publicize events in this pre-Internet era. Presented here is a small sampling of nightclub ephemera available through Gallery 98.  All items are for sale.


Take for instance this invitation for a 1989 party for British filmmaker Derek Jarman at Mars, a four story club on 12th Ave. I worked as the doorman at the fourth floor VIP room (Vin Diesel worked the front door) and I recall working at this party, and indeed still have the invite below in my possession. The thing is, I have no memory whatsoever of seeing or meeting Derek Jarman there, which is weird, because you’d think I would. Perhaps it was because I was outside of the party and not in it, but I don’t know because the invite aside, I’m drawing a complete blank! [I should probably take this opportunity to mention that I was perhaps the very worst—or best, depending on how you look at it—VIP room doorman in all of NYC nightlife history. How do I know this? Because I let every single person who walked up to the rope inside. Every one of them. The sole exception was when some idiot timidly asked me “You don’t want me in there, do you?” and I just silently shook my head “no” and he turned around and fucked off. Had he just kept his mouth shut, the rope would have parted for him.]

“Family! The New Tribal Love Rock Musical” with Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson at Danceteria, 30 West 21st Street, New York

A Seconds magazine party for the NY Debut of “Serial Killers” by Richard Kern at Madam Rosa’s, 24 John’s Lane, New York, 1987

Kembra Pfahler at Pompeii, 104 East 10th St., NYC, 1985

Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson “Request the Pleasure of Your Company at a Mad Tea Party,” which they hosted in character as Dali and Gala, Danceteria, 1985

The opening night invite for AREA’s “American Highway” theme, 157 Hudson Street, New York, 1986. The club changed its highly elaborate decor every six weeks or so, so scoring these opening night invites was a matter of some importance. Plus, if you were on their mailing list, you tended to “mysteriously” get onto the mailing lists for other clubs.

Girl Bar, a popular lesbian night out, one of very few at the time, happened at Boy Bar on St. Mark’s Place once a week.

There’s a picture of me, age 23 perhaps, with really long hair in one of the issues of Project X

James White’s Sardonic Sincopators, at Save the Robots, 1986. Save the Robots was a super sleazy afterhours club. If you were there, chances are you were fucked up, not likely to be sleeping anytime soon and probably up to no damned good.

Finally, both sides of a business card for former Yippie leader Jerry Rubin’s afterwork networking parties. He threw these parties at different clubs, including the Limelight, where I was working in 1985, and they were the fucking worst parties ever, with the worst crowd and the worst tippers and these parties simply sucked. Rubin’s networking parties, I do have vivid memories of, none of them good.

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Shut Up, Devil!’ smartphone app: The power to silence Satan ... in your pocket!
02:21 pm



Inspired by his own book Silence Satan, ministry leader Kyle Winkler of Kyle Winkler Ministries (catchy name) developed an app to help get those damned demons out of yer pretty little head. The app is called “Shut Up, Devil!” As Winkler explains, it’s a “weapon for spiritual warfare.”

He even touts that, “Soon, you realize that you’re no longer under attack, but you’re on the attack. And over time, issues you once dealt with will no longer plague you. And the lies the Devil launches at you, will no longer influence you.”

Seriously, just buy this man’s app and all will be right in your world! Get thee behind me, Satan!

Below, Winkler gives a handy tutorial on how to use his app. I think that Satan is already onto him and causing mischief. See how Kyle is about a half second out of sync? It’s the debbil!

via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Free Four’: The first Pink Floyd song to get significant FM radio airplay in America, 1972
12:13 pm


Pink Floyd

Although I would imagine that memories of this tend to be hazy... for many—most—Americans aged 50 and older, it’s fairly likely that the first time they heard Pink Floyd (unless they were serious musos with subscriptions to Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone and Creem) was via the 1972 single “Free Four” (as in “One, Two, FREE FOUR!”) their first song to garner significant FM radio airplay, making it into the top 50.

“Free Four” comes from the group’s Obscured by Clouds soundtrack produced for Barbet Schroeder’s La Vallée (“The Valley”) film. It’s the second song the Floyd would record (after A Saucerful of Secrets’ “Corporal Clegg” in 1968) about Roger Waters’ father, who died in WWII. Now largely forgotten,“Free Four” is a jaunty little number, apparently, until you pay attention to the lyrics, which are as biting and as bitter as anything Waters has ever written:

The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime.
You shuffle in gloom in the sickroom
And talk to yourself till you die.
Life is a short, warm moment
And death is a long cold rest.
You get your chance to try
In the twinkling of an eye:
Eighty years, with luck, or even less.
So all aboard for the American tour,
And maybe you’ll make it to the top.
And mind how you go.
I can tell you, because I know.
You may find it hard to get off.
You are the angel of death
And I am the dead man’s son.
And he died like a mole in a fox hole.
And everyone is still in the run.
And who is the master of foxhounds?
And who says the hunt has begun?
And who calls the tune in the courtroom?
And who beats the funeral drum?

And who would have thought that about a year later, the purveyors of this depressing ditty would unleash one of the top selling albums of all time? You’ll note that “Free Four” sounds like Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” played by The Kinks with Marc Bolan on second guitar and sung by Paul McCartney.

“Free Four” picture sleeves are among the most collectible of all Pink Floyd records.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Demonic and dramatic handmade masks of dragons, owls and horned demons
10:26 am



It’s probably a bit too early to start thinking about Halloween (or, you know, you could just wear one to work for “casual freaky Friday”) but these handmade resin skull masks by Etsy shop aishavoya are pretty damned incredible.

Each mask is hand painted, so each paint job slightly varies. Masks are lined in fabric and the straps are leather but can be switched with a synthetic leather upon request.

The masks are hand-sculpted, supposedly lightweight, somewhat flexible and apparently can fit “a wide range of face shapes and sizes.”

I’ve added links underneath each photo. Each mask runs around $180.00.

Dragon Skull Mask

Horned Demon Skull Mask

Curly Horned Demon Skull Mask

Owl Bird Skull Mask
h/t Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Gordon’s Gin makes Gilbert & George very, very drunk
09:59 am


Gilbert and George
Gordon's Gin

Are Gilbert and George the Ralf und Florian of the visual arts world? As imperfect as that analogy may be, I’m sticking with it. In this 1972 short, titled Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk, Gilbert and George paid homage to their beloved gin & tonics. It conforms to a style one might call “high deadpan”: as sweeping music by Elgar and Grieg plays, the viewer is treated to a single static shot of G&G consuming several G&Ts in front of a stately window, presumably revealing a London thoroughfare; meanwhile the sentence “Gordon’s makes us drunk” is intoned many times (as time passes, the word “drunk” is modified by the word “very” and “very, very,” etc.—perhaps the number of times “very” is said correlates to the number of G&Ts they’ve consumed?).

In 1973, G&G published a multiple in an edition of 200 called “Reclining Drunk” that utilised melted down Gordon’s gin bottles. One of these will typically sell today for around $7000 at an art auction.

You have to admire the commitment to conceptual rigor here, not to mention to the glories of inebriation. (I love the touch of adding their names to the Gordon’s Gin label.) It might not exactly be as exciting as Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, but I like it.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Karl Marxio Brothers: An 8-bit ‘Marxism for Dummies’ for the digital generation

Dialectical materialism as explained by 8-bit philosophy, a kind of “Super Marxio” or “Marxism for Dummies” for the digital generation. Why bother with boring old Das Kapital when you can bluff your way through the exam with this four-minute video?

More low resolution gems of useful information on Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, Sartre, Zeno, Descartes and Kierkegaard can be found here, or better still, read the books.

H/T Nerdcore

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The happiest man in the entire world
08:32 am


happy man

You know, I was going to write, “I’ll have whatever he’s having,” but I don’t want to assume that this is some drug-fuelled, MDMA-induced bliss. Why can’t a topless, bearded man in tiny shorts just be happy? Why can’t he just be high on life? By the 0:09 mark, he’s already really cooking. This is the interpretive dance equivalent of a shit-eating grin.

I need to be happy like this. So do you. We all do.

This all took place at Northwest String Summit Festival in North Plains, Oregon.

via Arbroath

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Racist mechanical toys of the late 19th century
06:51 am



This 1882 toy catalog from The Automatic Toy Works company in New York City depicts some impressive mechanical playthings, boasting “artistic designs, strength and durability of construction and elegance of finish.” The document, now preserved by the Library of Congress, is a fascinating record of what constituted early tech toys, and among the models advertised are a drummer boy on a cart, a crawling baby and a rearing bear.

Oh, and a “heathen Chinese.”

Yes, advertised even more frequently than animals or genial human figures are grotesque racial caricatures. Even the seemingly neutral depictions—the benevolent-looking “Celebrated Negro Preacher”, for example—are followed up by a counterpart like “Brudder Gardner,” who looks downright monstrous. There is one ugly face in the catalog that could be white—the politically-charged “woman’s rights advocate,” though the cross-hatching on her face implies a less-than-porcelain complexion.

For comparison, here is a woman at a sewing machine—one who is presumably not interested in obtaining the vote.





More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Catch ‘Fifth Beatle’ Billy Preston in ‘Chopsticks,’ a Salinger-esque TV pilot about child prodigies
06:00 am


Billy Preston

Billy Preston
Billy Preston had one of the most remarkable musical careers of the twentieth century, joining Little Richard’s band at the age of 16, becoming a favorite of both the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, scoring the #1 hits “Will It Go Round in Circles” and “Nothing from Nothing,” appearing as the very first musical guest (with Janis Ian) on Saturday Night Live in 1975, and so on. Preston was known for his endless good cheer (he is almost always pictured smiling), his eye-popping afro, but most especially his natural musical flow.

Preston with June Christy
In this un-aired TV pilot hosted by John Scott Trotter that was probably shot in 1958, Preston at the age of 12 appeared alongside four other musically gifted youngsters for a kind of musical quiz show called Chopsticks. It’s hard not to think of “It’s a Wise Child,” the fictional quiz show that J.D. Salinger invented for his short stories involving the precocious Glass family. The spectacle of five talented children playing the piano with virtuosity doesn’t mix well with the requirements of a game show—in an early round, for instance the pianists are invited to come up with tunes that conform to the requests of viewer letters, such as “a tune with a girl’s name in it”—but you can see why they tried to make it work. Preston plays “Mary Had a Little Lamb” early in the show (in response to the above query) and later gets a brief solo appearance on the organ. Singer June Christy comes by an does a brief duet with each of the young soloists.

One of the children—Mark, on the far end—appears to be visually impaired (although nobody says anything about it). Preston was not the only panelist to achieve a significant musical career as an adult; the young lady on the panel, Jane Getz, became a respected jazz pianist and session musician, playing with the likes of Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, and Harry Nilsson.

via Ken Levine

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Smashing Pumpkins, live acoustic in Cleveland, 1991
05:54 am


Smashing Pumpkins

I wish I could give you any kind of deep background on how this came to be. A friend shared it on Facebook yesterday, and it caught my eye not just because it’s Smashing Pumpkins in the worthy Gish era, well before Billy Corgan became an insufferable, bloated ego making insufferable, bloated albums, but because it was taped in my neighborhood.

I moved to Cleveland’s Tremont district a few years after this was shot, when it was still a cheap rent haven well on its way to becoming a hip arts district. It’s now neither, particularly. The gazebo they’re playing in still stands in Lincoln Park, where it’s now MUCH more difficult to get murdered than it used to be. (Also, some self-referential trivia: sometime Dangerous Minds contributor Jason Schafer got married in that gazebo.) The band sings “Blue,” from the 1991 Lull EP—the song later turned up on Pisces Iscariot—before they goofily riff on BÖC’s “Godzilla” while guitarist James Iha thanks the academy. An edited version of this exists, but I much prefer the raw footage.

Many, many thanks to Alan Madej for this find.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Literal version of the Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Today’
Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins wants to sell you furniture

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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