Lesley Gore on ‘Batman,’ 1967
06:10 am

Pop Culture

Lesley Gore

In a two episode story arc from the classic 1960s Batman TV series, Catwoman and her protégé Pussycat drugged Batman and Robin in order to compel them to become criminals. Robin got a little fresh, too, incidentally. But in the end SPOILER FROM ALMOST 50 YEARS AGO it turns out that all along, Batman was faking being drugged so that he could infiltrate Catwoman’s crime organization and rescue Robin. Cheeky devil! You can clearly see why that needed to be two episodes.

Of course it’s pretty stupid, but nobody watches that show for award-winning teleplays, we watch it because nobody sane hates huge, goofy, colorful fun. POW! And we watch these two episodes in particular because Pussycat was played by pop icon Lesley Gore, who gets to perform a song in each episode, and nobody sane hates awesome, sugary, ‘60s female vocal pop. You don’t hate that, right? If you do, Jeeeeesus, how many puppies have you kicked today, fascist?

When these episodes aired, Gore was still only 20 years old, but was already a veteran pop star, famous for still-familiar hits like “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and the awesome “You Don’t Own Me.” Gore never left the music business, though she stopped regularly producing LPs in the mid ‘70s. She earned an Oscar nomination in 1980 for co-writing (but not singing) a song from the Fame soundtrack, and she made headlines in 2005, when her coming out as a lesbian more or less coincided with her song “Words We Don’t Say” being featured in an episode of The L Word. Amusingly, her super-chipper 1965 top-20 hit “Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows” has lately found a 21st Century afterlife, being featured in multiple commercials, and in the kiddie flick Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. On Batman, she’s seen performing music from her then-forthcoming LP California Nights, “Maybe Now,” and the title song, which would enter the top 20 within a couple months of the episode’s broadcast.


Previously on Dangerous Minds
You Don’t Own Me: Lesley Gore, Lena Dunham, Miranda July and others fight back in the war on women

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Scriabin’s ‘Mysterium’: Music to destroy the universe
06:06 am


Alexander Scriabin

Artist Jean Delville’s title page for Scriabin’s Promethée, originally a section of the Mysterium
When he died in 1915, the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin was still working on some tunes intended to bring about the end of the world. The Mysterium and its prelude, the “Prefatory Action,” were, in the words of Scriabin’s biographer Faubion Bowers, “cataclysmic opuses to end the world and its present race of men.” If all went according to plan, the first and only performance would immanentize the eschaton, thereby annihilating space and melting reality; no one would have to pay the band. 

The composer tended to describe his vision in gentler terms: “the whole world,” Scriabin said, would be invited to the performance. “Animals, insects, birds, all must be there.” Artists of all kinds would contribute to the seven-day ritual; the audience’s senses would be dazzled by lights, incenses, textures, music and poetry. Together with fellow Theosophist Emile Sigogne, Scriabin “worked on an absolutely new language for the Mysterium. It had Sanskritic roots, but included cries, interjections, exclamations, and the sounds of breath inhaled and exhaled.”

All this may sound life-affirming, but Bowers’ words are unequivocal. “The universe would be completely destroyed by it, and mankind plunged into the holocaust of finality.”

Scriabin’s drawing of part of the Mysterium set
Scriabin died young, and he only left sketches of the musical component of the “Prefatory Action.” Russian composer Alexander Nemtin set about finishing it in 1970. He delivered the “Prefatory Action” in 1996, just three years before his own death. Bowers describes Scriabin’s vision of the full show, as the composer planned to stage it in India:

“The Prefatory Action would [...] be a stage work of immense proportion and conception. Bells suspended from the clouds in the sky would summon the spectators from all over the world. The performance was to take place in a half-temple to be built in India. A reflecting pool of water would complete the divinity of the half-circle stage. Spectators would sit in tiers across the water. Those in the balconies would be the least spiritually advanced. The seating was strictly graded, ranking radially from the center of the stage, where Scriabin would sit at the piano, surrounded by hosts of instruments, singers, dancers. The entire group was to be permeated continually with movement, and costumed speakers reciting the text in processions and parades would form parts of the action. The choreography would include glances, looks, eye motions, touches of the hands, odors of both pleasant perfumes and acrid smokes, frankincense and myrrh. Pillars of incense would form part of the scenery. Lights, fires, and constantly changing lighting effects would pervade the cast and audience, each to number in the thousands. This prefaces the final Mysterium and prepares people for their ultimate dissolution in ecstasy.”



Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
12:08 pm


Kenneth Anger
Marjorie Cameron
Jack Parsons
Curtis Harrington

Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art has announced the mounting of 91 artworks and ephemera relating to the life’s work of the eccentric LA bohemian legend Marjorie Cameron. The show goes up on October 11 at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center annex and will close on January 11, 2015. “Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman” will feature paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, poetry and correspondence between Cameron and her husband rocket scientist/occultist Jack Parsons, and with the great mythologist Joseph Campbell.

In recent years Cameron’s work has begun to be reassessed by the art world, in part inspired by her close association with artists like Wallace Berman and George Herms, actor Dennis Hopper and underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger. As interest in their work increased, so has curiosity about the odd, flaming haired creature from Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Sadly much of her work was deliberately burned by the artist herself in the 50s and can only be glimpsed at in Curtis Harrington’s short cinematic portrait of Cameron, “Wormwood Star.” (See below)

The show will highlight the recent publication of Songs for the Witch Woman, an absolutely stunning coffee table art book / facsimile reproduction of Cameron’s drawings and watercolors along with Parsons’ metaphysical and occult poetry produced by Fulgur Esoterica. (The book was printed in a very limited edition, and is available now. If this seems like the kind of item that you would like to own—it’s a knockout, finely published at a very high quality—buy it now instead of waiting until next year when it’ll be selling for $500 on eBay. If you like this kind of thing, I’ll say it again, it’s particularly nice. There’s a beautifully composed foreword by the OTO’s WIlliam Breeze, who knew Cameron, to recommend it as well.)

The exhibition is being organized by guest curator Yael Lipschutz with MOCA’s senior curator Alma Ruiz along with the Cameron-Parsons Foundation. The museum will produce a full color catalogue with 75 illustrations for the exhibit.

Below, Curtis Harrington’s “Wormwood Star.” Heartbreaking to consider how many of these paintings are gone forever.

And speaking of Cameron, her biographer, Spencer Kansa sent me this curious piece of 60s experimental filmmaking that Cameron was involved with:

Za is an early-70s cinepoem by Elias Romero, the underground filmmaker, and one of the main pioneers of the liquid light shows that he began projecting in the late-50s in San Francisco and at Ben Shapiro’s Renaissance Club on the Sunset Strip. Za was filmed in Big Sur and features the movie actress Diane Varsi, portraying an alchemist cum poet. Varsi had already runaway from the superficiality of Hollywood by the time this was filmed, in order to pursue a more artistic and meaningful life. And, interestingly, the raggy dayglo outfits she wears in the film were created by Cameron, no less. Cameron and Elias were old friends by the time this film was made. He had been married to Cameron’s confidante, the poetess Aya. In Wormwood Star Aya admits that: “For years, Cameron never forgave me for splitting up with Elias.”

Watching it today, the film is, er, interesting. I guess back then it probably helped that most of its original viewers were heavily dosed-up.


Thank you Lyvia Filotico!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Wild Gospel frenzy takes down the Playboy Mansion!
10:57 am



This never fails to bring a smile to my face and raise the hairs on the back of my neck! It’s The Clara Ward Singers performing on the Playboy After Dark TV show shot at the Playboy Mansion in 1968. By this time minds were open and everyone was exploring anything they could experience that was new. The Clara Ward Singers were always wild, and I mean just as wild as any rock ‘n’ roll insanity from ANY era. They could stand up to Little Richard or James Brown in their prime. This clip looks like it could have been taken straight out of an early John Waters film! The incredible, over the top style and the mile high wild wig-hats are just beyond.

But then there’s the singing and the deranged dancing of lead vocalist Malvilyn Statham! Her name alone makes your eyes cross.This just makes me as happy as can be.
Here’s what was written by the person that posted this who evidently was fiends with the Singers:

Ezekiel 37: 1-14

My favorite female Gospel group, the Clara Ward Singers, with my friend, Malvilyn Statham on lead, singing Clara Ward’s arrangement of “Dry Bones.” Go’head!! This song refers to what happens in the 7th verse of Ezekiel 37.

In the green dress is Clara Ward (1924-1973), which is why she is not in “uniform” as many of you have pointed out. She and the group caught lots of hell in the 1960’s and 1970’s for their flamboyant style and people are still talking about them, as I have seen in many of the shares. In spite of your views, whether negative or positive, they have paved the way for many folks today.

They stepped out of the box, b/c they were individuals and many of you today should do the same. Be yourself! People like Tye Tribbett are free with their praise. No boundaries! They praise how they feel. Who are we to judge? The Clara Ward Singers not only ministered in churches, but they sang in concert halls, night clubs, festivals, tv shows, and at the Playboy Mansion, which is where this clip was recorded. They were not ashamed to take the Gospel to the people who wouldn’t come to church. I mean, like, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Some folks felt like the group was clowning, but I’d like to think of it as giving “unfamiliar” people a good church experience.


If you want more, there’s tons of it on YouTube and elsewhere on the net. Here’s another, much earlier, favorite:

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment