I think I’m too old to play with Crampy Carla the Menstruation Barbie
04.17.2014
08:25 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism

Tags:
Crampy Carla


Yeah… pretty sure I’m gonna be okay, but thanks for the warning.
 
Fact: I love disturbing feminist art. I love irreverant feminist art. I especially love gross-out feminist art! Yet, Crampy Carla the Menstruation Barbie, the Instagram art project of feminist zine collective Fourth Wave Freaks just doesn’t do it for me, and I’m not sure why. The aesthetics are very Riot Grrrl (not my favorite genre)—one of her pictures even features a poster with the lyrics, “I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe” from the Bikini Kill song “I Like Fucking.” It’s possible this is just an issue of personal preference.

I might just be too old. I’m well past the point where anyone in my life is squeamish about menstruation and so this bombastic rage against people who feel vaguely icky about periods feels even more dated than Riot Grrrl itself. Nowadays, a casual mention of of menses illicit not the slightest of squirms, and if anyone did flinch, they’d probably be mocked outright—“Oh come on! Grow up!” Consequently, Carla’s affirmation of, “I have blood on my underwear, I don’t care. Pro-period, pro-choice. Fuck you tampons, fuck you pads - if you stop this girl’s flow, I will be mad” rings a little unnecessarily aggro for me—it’s not as if your monthlies relegate you to some kind of culturally-mandated menstrual hut. No one really cares if you’re bleeding everywhere Carla. Just don’t get it on the couch.
 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Bust

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Unholy Grail of ‘Lost’ Films: Kenneth Anger’s ‘Lucifer Rising’ with Jimmy Page soundtrack
04.17.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Occult

Tags:
Kenneth Anger
Jimmy Page
Brian Butler


 
Tonight a lucky audience in downtown Los Angeles, seated in the opulent setting of the theatre at the Ace Hotel (once the original United Artists Theatre co-owned by Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford) will be treated to a number of Kenneth Anger rarities that have been recently rediscovered and restored by Anger’s producer/manager/collaborator filmmaker Brian Butler. Among them are alternate versions of The Magick Lantern Cycle films and the mind-blowing, but ill-fated collaboration between Anger and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, both famously devotees of Aleister Crowley’s philosophy of Thelema.

The story of their falling out has long been a foundation of the Led Zeppelin mythos: Anger had been living in Page’s Tower House abode in London, editing Lucifer Rising on the same film equipment used on The Song Remains The Same. While Page was on tour with Led Zeppelin, his girlfriend suddenly kicked Anger out, not even allowing him to get his things. A few days later, the mercurial Magus of Cinema threw a hissy over not getting an additional five minutes of music he needed to complete Lucifer Rising when he wanted it, phoned the Swan Song office and “fired” Page—who was in America and apparently mystified by the whole exercise—from the project. Anger did his patented “curse” routine very publicly, going so far as accusing Page of being a mere “dabbler” in the occult and a rich, lazy junkie. Rock journalists at the time began to speculate if Anger’s curse had worked when a succession of tragic events ended Led Zeppelin’s reign as the world’s biggest rock group.

Pages’ Lucifer RIsing score is wonderfully perverse: a languid but steadily building Middle Eastern-sounding drone, festooned with chanting, tabla, screaming mellotron, a sonically shifting low frequency, foreboding ambiance and shimmering 12-string guitar work. It’s a mad, diabolical symphony of beautiful evil; a fascinating piece of unconventional aggressively avant garde music from one of the rock era’s most mysterious living legends. Married to Anger’s imagery, it’s an exquisite aesthetic and spiritual experience.

The world’s two most famous, most artistically high-level Thelemite magicians collaborated for several years and frustratingly, the fruits of that effort have been seen by very few people. And not for four decades at that.
 

 

Over email, I asked Brian Butler a few questions.

How or where did you locate this print?

Brian Butler: I got a call from a storage facility who told me that they had found an “aberated” print of Lucifer Rising. They asked if they should throw it away or if we wanted to keep it. This was a year ago. I was so busy that I didn’t think much of it and put it in storage. Gradually as I started to inventory Kenneth’s archive I found old press clippings and film programs. I found it interesting how meticulous he was in curating a unique experience for the audience. In 1966 he began screening his films as The Magick Lantern Cycle and designed a thirteen-page booklet with a different color for each page. He also recut Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome as the “Sacred Mushroom Edition” for this occasion. In the audience notes were included specific instructions on when to take LSD (still legal at the time) to time it for that film.

I started to notice how The Magick Lantern Cycle evolved in the early 1970s with different versions of Lucifer Rising. It’s seems he began including this in the program as he was shooting it—“Lucifer Rising Chapter One” was shown in 1970—and he experimented with various soundtracks including Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.

Eventually Jimmy Page came onboard in 1973. For someone of the stature that Jimmy Page had reached in 1973 it was quite radical to do an avant garde soundtrack strictly as an artistic endeavor, although Mick Jagger did the Moog soundtrack for Kenneth’s Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. They worked together for several years with at least two different versions being produced, one in 1974 and one in 1975.

Which one is this?

Brian Butler: After a lot of research, I found it to be the 1975 version—the most developed of four versions known to exist. It ends with “To be continued” and was obviously a work in progress.

In one interview I found, Jimmy Page refers to when he screened Lucifer Rising in his room hotel room on the sixth floor and seemed delighted that his haunting score terrified guests up on the twelfth floor. He also mentions making a special trip to a screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to be sure the music was synced up correctly. The Anger/Page version was exhibited to the public at least a few times, and also privately, for potential investors.
 

 
The Films of Kenneth Anger” will be introduced by the filmmaker and is a co-production of Kenneth Anger, Brian Butler and Cinespia. The former United Artists Theatre is one of the most opulent movie palaces ever built in America. For a while it was owned by freaky TV minister Dr. Gene Scott and basically closed to the public for more than two decades. The Ace Hotel has restored and preserved all the original decorations, murals and mirrored ceiling and Anger’s films will be projected on the theatre’s big screen beneath ornate columns, a soaring gold ceiling and walls in the style of a Spanish Gothic cathedral. (I was there once to see Dr. Gene Scott and even then it was pretty impressive. Restored it should be pretty incredible.)

More information here and tickets here. Apparently it’s nearly sold out, so if you snooze, you’ll lose, be warned.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Bleak Movies,’ the coloring book version for kids
04.17.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
coloring book

Bleak Movies
 
The creator of these macabre and inappropriately jolly coloring book illustrations, Todd Spence, writes, “Most kids aren’t allowed to watch R rated films, especially the really dark and twisted ones with terribly bleak endings that stick with you for days and days, so I finally figured out a way to let children enjoy some of those bleak movies along with the rest of us.”

I love the idiotic tone of these drawings. Seven‘s John Doe can’t be all bad…. he brought the bunny rabbits!

It’s difficult not to notice the prominent “Vol. 1” on the cover. I hereby propose Texas Chainsaw Massacre for Vol. 2!
 
Bleak Movies
 
Bleak Movies
 
Bleak Movies
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pussy Galore on ‘The Uncle Floyd Show’
04.17.2014
07:55 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
Pussy Galore
Uncle Floyd


 
In a just world, Floyd Vivino would be a very famous man. He was the titular “uncle” of New Jersey’s Uncle Floyd Show, a cheap and brilliant kid’s show parody that aired for over 20 years starting in 1974—beating Pee-wee Herman to the punch by a pretty good length—and was even syndicated nationally for a hot minute in the early ‘80s.

Vivino’s show was known for chaos, unpredictability, puppets, and completely weird musical guests. The timing of his initial appearance and the gonzo nature of his act won him some fans in the nascent punk scene, and so he was championed by the likes of The Ramones and even David Bowie (who paid tribute in song in 2002), and welcomed guests like David Johansen, the Misfits, Smithereens, even Tiny Tim.

Also, Pussy Galore. Seriously. Pigfuck’s demented champions of classic-rock-as-corrosive-scum-noise appeared on The Uncle Floyd Show, in what must have been 1987 if the Pussy Gold 5000 EP Floyd plugs was a new release at the time, which seems likely, as that record contains the song they “perform” here. So enjoy a pre-respectable Jon Spencer, not even trying to pretend like he gives a shit about lip-synching in this gloriously shambolic farce.
 

 
Many thanks to Gerard Cosloy for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This animation is NOT computer generated… sort of
04.17.2014
07:49 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
3D printing


 
I love animation, but my virulent Ludditism prevents me from enjoying the roughly 3,497,039 big-budget CGI cartoons that now come out yearly (not to mention a definite drop in writing—when did we start patronizing kids with such terrible stories and dialogue?). I’m not opposed to CGI per se (most cartoons that just look like basic cell animation are now made on computer), but the uber-slick CGI that now pervades the big animated blockbusters just looks terrible. The texture is crummy, the physics and movements are hammy—when I babysit kids watching a movie, I have to concentrate on not scowling.

Luckily, I have friends that sit through my drunken tirades about cartoons, and send stuff like this my way! This little animation experiment is actually 50 3D-printed models made with stop-motion captures. So, while it’s not CGI, it’s technically computer-generated—like claymation done by robots! More importantly, the animators actually used a low-quality 3D printing process in order to allow for variations and “flaws” between models.  Despite the high-tech production, the look is organic and warm—this little clip conveys more life than the last Disney I saw!
 

 
Via Cartoon Brew

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The researchers who discovered that bee stings on the penis are painful—by testing on themselves

Schmidt pain index
 
It’s remarkable the things people will go through in the name of science. In the case of Justin O. Schmidt, the man who developed the “Schmidt pain index,” our gratitude is even more difficult to measure. Schmidt, who published his landmark paper “Hemolytic Activities of Stinging Insect Venoms” in 1983, wanted to know which insect stings are the most painful, and in order to do so, he subjected himself to the pricks of countless creepy crawlies—including on his prick.

Reading his descriptions of the varying severity of insect stings, which are rated on a scale from 0 to 4, is quite a bit like reading the most ghastly wine reviews ever. Check it out:
 

1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.

 
The pepsis wasp, which clocks in at a brain-shattering 4.0 above, is also called the tarantula hawk, for reasons you can best imagine. Here’s a picture of one: if you see it, run quickly in the opposite direction:
 
Pepsis wasp
 
The story of Schmidt is slightly more mundane than the initial impression. As The Straight Dope put it in 2012, “Having spent half an hour on the phone with entomologist Justin O. Schmidt of the Southwestern Biological Institute in Tucson, Arizona, I can confidently report he didn’t volunteer to be stung by every goddamn awful thing in existence. It just sorta happened.” As an entomologist who spends a great deal of time in the field in lush places like Costa Rica, it’s something that happens all too infrequently, whether he wants it to or not. According to Schmidt, the precise valuations listed above are not the product of exacting scientific inquiry and do not appear in his formal papers; rather, they were “wheedled out of him by an editor at Outside magazine, who was trying to goose up a story for that publication in 1996.” (Yeah, yeah, yeah. For fuck’s sake, that just sounds like good editing to me.)

The Straight Dope continues: “One also mustn’t take seriously the wine-review-style descriptions accompanying the sting ratings. For example, the sting of a southern paper wasp is said to be “caustic and burning, with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.” Such remarks lack empirical basis, Schmidt cheerfully concedes, although if there’s anyone equipped to expound on the fine points of pain, a guy who’s been stung by 150 different species in his lifetime is probably it.”

Still, while we’re at it, it might surprise you to learn that the penis is not the part of the body most sensitive to pain, according to the researches of a man named Michael L. Smith. In his paper “Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location,” published this year in PeerJ, it’s up there but not in the top slot.
 

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index rates the painfulness of 78 Hymenoptera species, using the honey bee as a reference point. However, the question of how sting painfulness varies depending on body location remains unanswered. This study rated the painfulness of honey bee stings over 25 body locations in one subject (the author). Pain was rated on a 1–10 scale, relative to an internal standard, the forearm. In the single subject, pain ratings were consistent over three repetitions. Sting location was a significant predictor of the pain rating in a linear model. ... The three least painful locations were the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm (all scoring a 2.3). The three most painful locations were the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft (9.0, 8.7, and 7.3, respectively). This study provides an index of how the painfulness of a honey bee sting varies depending on body location.

 
Fellas, if you’re out in the jungle and you find yourself confronting a swarm of pepsis wasps, put on a hockey mask and expose your penis (or possibly your skull—that’s probably a better idea).
 
Here’s the pioneering Dr. Schmidt discussing instinct stings and pain management:
 

 
via Lost at E Minor

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Viking Angel’: Hollywood Babylonia

Actually Huizenga in
 
If God is in the Hills and the Devil is in the details, then where does that land the glitz of Hollywood? The glitter is there, sure, sparkly, pretty but often masking layers of blood, semen and tears. But isn’t that glamorous too? The grime and soot are as much a part of the picture as the pretty polish and all this and more are explored in post-pop musician/video artist extraordinaire Actually Huizenga’s most epic creation to date, Viking Angel.

Auditioning beautiful, unsure but ambitious aspiring starlets, Mr. Bailey (Louis Oberlander), a blue eyed, bearded Russ Tamblyn-charismatic agent, greets the latest girl. Blonde, lovely and dressed in a sexy approximation of virgin white, the actress (Actually) shows up in his office. A weird tableau of superimposition hell plays on a TV behind her, displaying the legs of basketball players, a neon cross with the words “Jesus Saves” and a future version of herself, naked, bloody and crawling.

The audition, involving lines like “ordinary morality is only for ordinary people,” goes so well that she gets the part and is promptly put through the casting couch process. The film shifts into music video mode with “Male Fantasy” coming on as a Lisa Frank color palette scheme kicks in. A photo of the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short, the infamous “Black Dahlia,” is seen in the background as Bailey soldiers on with his humping. 

Soon, she is being made up and prepped for her big scene, as a newscast comes on a nearby TV. Real newscasts should take a cue from Viking Angel. Animated bats, smoking on the set and dialogue like, “Whatever Ryan, why can’t you just be happy about it?” and “They should be really helping. Not throwing children in the closet with demons.” makes real life news even more mediocre and borderline unbearable. It’s a sick, sad world, with six escaped muscle-bound, sex-starved convicts running around raping and killing innocent families. The newscasters bring on Officer Short (Socrates Mitsios) to discuss the series of new unsolved murders with a matching MO. All of the victims, beautiful and struggling actresses, who have been quartered and drained of blood, Dahlia-style.
 
Socrates Mitsios in
 
As they cue to the weather, the actress gets tied up for her “scene,” as an occult procession starts to roll in, complete with topless women asserting themselves into a fleshy Jesus Christ pose and a ritual sacrifice. Realizing that this is not part of the script, she starts to freak and as the blade starts to pierce her skin, Officer Short arrives and manages to rescue her before the wound gets fatal. Simultaneously, an Insane Viking Warrior (Daniel Pierce) shows up, complete with crazed eyes, ripped six pack and chain mail loincloth, as well as a sexy version of the goddess Freya who looks identical to the actress.

The Officer manages to grab the actress and they crawl out of a hole in the ground, which is flanked by a grinning, dancing gentleman (Gerald) twirling a cardboard sign stating “Sacrifice Here.” They run away, while being unknowingly followed by the Viking Warrior, who lets out a scream of the ages before going on the chase. Down the rabbit hole they go, encountering an S&M bar with whipped businessmen and masturbating Santas, coitus interruptus thanks to vivisection via electric guitar, mass stabbings, watermelon being pierced by a high heel and an ethereal pope figure. 
 
This is all gonna end in blood.
 
Viking Angel is a fluid ride into a universe that intertwines the harsh realities of a violent, superficial world and the dreamy, love-lorn paganism of mythology. The music is a terrific mix of electro-sex-pop with metal undertones, thanks to some stellar guitar work courtesy of Gabriel Tanaka. With Huizenga’s background being music videos and the experimental film work of the SoftRock series, Viking Angel is a seamless blend of these twin formats. There is Huizenga’s brilliant editing style, working superimposition like a well-oiled-acid-laced-machine. The visual layering that is utilized here is like the world’s most stunning pastiche, with the tone of sensuality, bloodletting and the occult playing out like the art-child of Kenneth Anger.

Performance wise, Actually is pitch perfect both as the beautiful starlet who spends ¾ of the film caked in blood during her infernal journey, as well as the strong Freya-type doppelganger. As Mr. Bailey, Louis Oberlander is the epitome of blue-eyed Hollywood sleaze as he leads the sex & death show. Mitsios is charismatic as Officer Short and speaking of which, Gabriel Tanaka is equally striking as both the literally killer guitarist and the ghostly, androgynous Pope.
 
Glitter & Grue
 
The biggest challenge about Viking Angel has nothing to do with the film itself, but the multi-boundary pushing going on. Art crowds will get fussy about the blood and pop music. Horror fans could grouse about the art and pop music. Pop music fans will recoil from the grue and metal undertones, but you know what? That’s why this work is so wonderful and so needed. If your own boundaries are not pushed, then someone is not doing their job. Playing it safe is the last thing any artist should do, while playing it true to their work and vision is the absolute first thing they should do. Actually Huizenga is the real deal and has created a world that is striking, beautiful, nightmarish and complex with Viking Angel. Lucky for both fans and the curious, Huizenga has an upcoming multi-media tour highlighting both the film, the new tunes, as well as an additional performance by cult music wunderkind Ssion. Dates are not yet confirmed but will be posted on her website as soon as they are set.
 

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Elvis Costello buys avocados in an American supermarket, 1978

Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello contemplating olives
 
I don’t know exactly where this footage came from, but it’s delightful, whatever it is. To say it’s a 20/20 segment would be misleading but it appears to be the raw footage for a 20/20 segment that may never have ended up happening. Geraldo Rivera sure is seen here hanging out with Elvis Costello and the Attractions in mid-1978, and he sure is behaving like someone trying to put together some piquant footage for such a segment. This Year’s Model, arguably Elvis’s best album, was released in March of 1978, so that’s the product they were supporting here.

This footage was taped during the Elvis Costello and the Attractions U.S. tour of 1978. The Elvis Costello Wiki asserts that footage for 20/20 was taped on April 22, the day they played two gigs at Royal Oak, Michigan, and May 4, the day of their Boston appearance. The opening acts were Mink DeVille and Nick Lowe with Rockpile.
 
Elvis Costello
 
The two clips can be usefully called “Tour Bus” and “Supermarket.” The first isn’t super interesting, we see Elvis Costello and a few other guys exit a Howard Johnson’s, where they had stayed the night, and pile into a tour bus—Geraldo tapes an intro in which he makes a lot of the fact that the gang is down-to-earth enough to use a bus. The bus, named “Successful Living,” is cramped indeed. You can hear the Rutles’ “I Must Be in Love” and “Ouch!” playing in the background, and the fellows humming along. Future historians will want to know that Elvis was a Rutles fan.
 
Successful Living
 
The second clip has far more incident. The gang enters an A&P, they pick up some milk and some beer, Elvis grabs two avocados and they head for the checkout line. A matronly woman with a European accent informs Elvis that her son plays “bass”—I’m almost positive she means with a bow—Geraldo asks a woman if she likes “punk rock” and the woman, appearing not to understand, indicates that she drinks it. The nonplussed cashier Gertrude—love her sailor-style A&P outfit—has the most honest reaction to Geraldo’s leading question about punk rock: “I think it’s wonderful. You’re a group, a singing group or something?” before cackling endearingly. Skinny ties abound. Dave Edmunds wears a black jacket, and Nick Lowe can be seen clutching an orange.
 
Geraldo and Elvis
 
“Tour Bus”:

 
“Supermarket”

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Sex Freak’: A young RuPaul performs on cable access TV. No band, no budget, all charisma
04.16.2014
01:07 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture
Queer
Television

Tags:
RuPaul


 
Despite my ardent endorsement of RuPaul as “America’s sweetheart,” she’s been catching a lot of criticism lately, and not from a bloodthirsty religious right (who apparently know how to better pick their culture wars these days). A feature on her hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, called “Female or She-male,” has been cut from the air after many trans advocates found it offensive. In the segment, contestants were shown pictures of body parts and asked to guess what gender or sex of person possessed said body part. Anatomical “guessing games” have certainly historically demeaned queer people, and a lot of of folks were understandably upset, finding the game “othering.” Many trans advocates have have also argued against Ru’s use of the word “tranny,” as they maintain it’s a slur when used to describe trans women and not gay men who do drag.

For the record, I’m not speculating on anybody’s body parts (which is vulgar and cruel, without invitation), nor am I ever calling anybody “tranny,” but I do think time will show that RuPaul is on the right side of history. On the first count, the body parts used for “Female or She-Male” were done with volunteer participants—it was not some zoological expedition intending to “expose” the “unreal” women. On the second count, “transgender” wasn’t even really much of a concept until the term was coined in 1979 by early trans celebrity Christine Jorgensen (interestingly, many gay men accused her of homophobia, arguing she implied that gay men were women trapped in men’s bodies). Additionally, at least until 1992,  “transgender” included “transsexuals, transgenderists, and cross dressers” according to International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy. Terminology changes to accommodate developing ideas in gender theory, and to expect everyone to retrofit their own identities to the latest language (which may or may not stick) ignores context and history.

From a purely technical standpoint, to say that “tranny” is a slur only used to describe a single type of gender nonconformity gives the bigots who use it to harm way too much credit—they’re not really having nuanced, in-depth conversations on the difference between sex and gender identification. I’m sure RuPaul has been called “tranny” in her life (and though identities as a man, doesn’t really care too much abut pronouns or identity in general)—I think it’s pretty inconsistent that she now be barred from using the word.

Regardless, I find the latest social justice culture’s obsession with “pure” language to be a bit wrong-headed, not to mention politically impotent, so I thought I’d like to post a reminder of what it is that makes RuPaul so groundbreaking. Here we see a 1986 clip from the brilliant Atlanta cable access program, American Music Show, one of the longest running public access shows, ever, and a veritable treasure trove of weirdo outsider performance. Ru is seen here performing “Sex Freak,” from his very first 12 inch EP release of the same name, and since it’s a spoken-word techno song, he romances the camera with an amazing resourcefulness. No band, no budget, and yet all that charisma and confidence still shines through!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Idiot: Iggy Pop totally charms square daytime TV audience, 1977
04.16.2014
10:45 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
David Bowie
Iggy Pop


 
Iggy Pop’s classic album, The Idiot, is now 37 years old. It still sounds as good today as when it was released in spring of 1977, although the times have caught up to it. Somewhat at least.

Produced by David Bowie, who co-wrote all of the songs with Iggy, save for one (Bowie’s longtime guitarist Carlos Alomar co-wrote “Sister Midnight), The Idiot has very little in common with the rest of the Igster’s output, even his next record, Lust for Life, also produced in collaboration with Bowie. No, The Idiot‘s Teutonic-sounding industrial drone had almost no connection whatsoever to the sound of The Stooges, or really even most things of that era, come to think of it.

Bowie’s own Low album had just come out in January and was considered mind-blowing, even controversial at the time. The Idiot, released just a few weeks later (but mostly recorded first), was an equally chilly-sounding affair, but way darker and with a much bigger whomp. It’s sort of the perfect marriage of their talents.

As Bowie told Kurt Loder in 1989:

Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound. I didn’t have the material at the time, and I didn’t feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back and getting behind someone else’s work, so that album was opportune, creatively.

The Idiot was the first Iggy album that you could easily buy in a small town. I was eleven when it came out and I already owned both Raw Power and a blue vinyl Metallic ‘KO—both purchased unheard via mail order from a Moby Disc Records ad in CREEM magazine, a monthlong round trip—so when I brought The Idiot home from the mall and slapped it on the turntable, I was perplexed at first, but ultimately thrilled. “Dum Dum Boys” and “Mass Production” were my favorite tracks. The druggy, nightmarish vamp “Nightclubbing” was another. I played the shit out of that album.

When Iggy and Bowie toured that spring in support of The Idiot, they made a stop on daytime television’s Dinah! show, hosted by singer Dinah Shore. Bowie had been on Dinah! to promote Station to Station (with fellow guests Nancy Walker and Henry Winkler) and seemed to have a good rapport with Shore, so it was arranged that he would guest with Iggy, who sang a live “Sister Midnight” after Shore introduced him—her show was on at 10am in the TV market I lived in—with a photograph of him covered in blood! Dinah! may have been a middle-of-the-road daytime TV show, but to her credit, Dinah Shore didn’t shy away from asking him about it either (as Bowie laughs and shakes his head “No!”). Shore’s square studio audience, too, seem to actually be charmed by Jimmy Osterberg’s tales of his misspent youth, drug addiction and self-harming, because, hey let’s face it, the man was charisma personified during this delightful chat
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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