Corey Feldman has been all over the news in the last couple of weeks, mostly for a musical performance of the song “Go For It” on The Today Show that many (who probably have not been actually following his musical career for decades) described as “bizarre.” It was really par-for-the-course stuff from Feldman, who has been trying hard but not quite hitting the mark for a long time. His attempts at trying to break through as a singer have been parodied since the 1990s, most famously with the “Josh Fenderman” bit on Mr. Show, which if you haven’t seen yet… watch it right now:
Feldman took a lot of heat for his “Ascension Millenium” video from three years ago, which was widely panned across the Internet, but to be honest, aside from the video itself which is cringe-worthy, I thought the song was kind of a jam.
Of course all of the recent discussion of Feldman’s musical career has led to renewed speculation as to what exactly happened to Feldman during his childhood in Hollywood. He has been very open, both in interviews and in his autobiography Coreyography: A Memoir, about being molested by show-business executives, but has thusfar declined to name his abusers.
This past week Radar Online ran a mega-viral piece which claimed that they would be revealing the “kingpin” of the child sex ring that had ensnared Feldman and his Lost Boys co-star Corey Haim, but so far all the public’s gotten has been a whole lot of “we know who this is and we might tell you soon.”
The situation with child stars like Feldman and the abuse they suffer is utterly heartbreaking, but the fact that Feldman has been so upfront about his molestation perhaps offers some insight into why something like “Go For It” even exists in the first place. An outlet is an outlet and those outlets may not always be pretty or make much sense to anyone but the artist himself.
All of this talk about Feldman’s music recently led me down the rabbithole of examining other actors with dubious musical careers, and eventually brought me to my new favorite Tumblr page: Actors’ Awful Bands.
After the jump, a selection of my favorite “awful bands” from Actors’ Awful Bands…
Vin Cardinal’s son announced Friday on Facebook that Cardinal has died at the age of 83. While Cardinal never made it big in America, he had a devoted following in Scandinavia and Europe for decades.
A superior soul singer and percussionist, Vin Cardinal left his home in Trinidad and moved to Sweden where he became a pop star in the 1960s. With his band The Queens, Cardinal toured throughout Europe and recorded several albums which were regional hits. In the early 1970s, he moved to the States and signed with Motown but never attained the popularity in America that he enjoyed overseas.
This beautifully shot 1967 film footage of Vin and The Queens performing at the Bilzen Jazz And Rock Festival in Belgium is one of the coolest things ever. The Queens are divine and Vin is a knockout of a singer. A power trio delivering some delicious garage soul. This performance alone should be enough to secure Cardinal a spot in R&B’s storied history.
I’ve been following that “pick 3 fictional characters to represent you” game on Facebook with great pleasure. I’m dead certain that more than a few people in the Dangerous Minds readership have picked Morticia Addams as one of their role models….. then there’s Wednesday, I"ll bet Wednesday made some lists…. or Gomez? How about Gomez? Give Gomez some love!
The Raul Julia/Anjelica Huston movies of the 1990s were all well and good, but for me nothing beats the eccentric and buoyant Addams Family TV series of the 1960s. (We mustn’t, however, forget the essential contributions made by Charles Addams in the pages of The New Yorker.) John Astin and Carolyn Jones were pitch-perfect as the morbid and independent-minded heads of family. Just yesterday we featured some death-obsessed cartoons that succeeded in getting readers’ attention, but really, who beats the Addams Family at that game?
Nobody, that’s who.
This charming coloring book was produced in 1965, the second year of the series, with a bitchin’ color cover. My favorite page here is the one with the caption “Touché, Darling!” because the joke, as far as I can tell, is simply that they’re weird because they enjoy fencing in the middle of the day, while the rest of the world is at work. No wonder the Addams Family are such great role models!
More excellent Addams Family images after the jump…..
John Lydon’s fans have probably heard that he co-starred opposite Harvey Keitel in a 1983 film—variously titled Copkiller, The Order of Death, Corrupt, or as it was later renamed Corrupt Lieutenant (to capitalize on Bad Lieutenant, of course), but they have probably never seen the film.
No surprise few have ever seen it as the movie hardly saw any release in any form other than a VHS that came out in the mid-80s and a newer crop of bootleg DVDs you can buy at the 99 Cents Only discount stores. The version you can find there—and yes for 99 cents—has a cover that looks like it wasn’t even made on a computer, but by hand, with scissors, tape and magic markers, that’s how schlocky it is. It’s sourced from the same VHS that came out in the 80s. It’s for sale on Amazon, too, often for as low as a penny with $3.99 postage and handling.
Under whatever title, this film is not, by any method of accounting, what you could call a “good” movie, but it does have one very good thing to recommend it and that is the then 24-year-old Lydon’s performance as Leo Smith, a wealthy headcase who falsely(?) confesses to the murders of several dirty narcotics cops to a cop he (and the audience) knows is crooked, played by Keitel. His performance is so strange and riveting (and utterly unhinged/psychotic) that you just can’t take your eyes off him. In many ways he was just doing his standard John Lydon shtick (and wearing his own clothes!), but it’s simply amazing to me that he wasn’t routinely hired for more psycho and “bad guy” roles after this. What a waste. What a Joker he’d have made!
The film was shot in Rome—standing in for New York City—and a few sleazy Gotham exterior shots aside, the producers didn’t really seem to care that much if this was obvious. It’s got a decent, nerve-wracking Ennio Morricone soundtrack, but other than Lydon’s charismatic performance, Copkiller, AKA The Order of Death, AKA Corrupt is pretty sub-par, and at times, a rather tedious affair. Still, I confess that I have watched it at least three times all the way through just for Lydon’s scenes. Sylvia Sidney (Beetlejuice) is also in the film.
The chance decisions we make in our teens can sometimes bring wondrous returns.
John Maher was just sixteen when he was asked to play drums for a local band called the Buzzcocks in 1976. The Buzzcocks had been formed by Peter Shelley and Howard Devoto in Manchester in late 1975. Maher didn’t really think about it—he just said yes. His first gig playing drums with the band was supporting the Sex Pistols at their second (now legendary) appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester, in July 1976.
When he was eighteen, Maher bought his first camera—an Olympus Trip—just prior to the Buzzcocks tour of America in 1978. Photography was something to do on the road—but for Maher it was soon became a passion.
After the Buzzcocks split in 1981, Maher played drums for Wah! and Flag of Convenience. But his interest in music waned. When the Buzzcocks reformed in 1989, Maher opted out—only ever making occasional guest appearances with the band.
Maher had an interest in drag racing which led to his launching an incredibly successful business making high performance engines—John Maher Racing. His engines and transmissions are described as the best built in the UK. The success of his company allowed Maher to retire. It was then that he returned to photography.
In 2002, Maher relocated from Manchester to the Isle of Harris in Scotland. The beautiful, bleak Hebridean landscape was in stark contrast to his busy post-industrial hometown of Manchester. The land inspired Maher and he became fascinated with the deserted crofts dotted across the island. Homes once filled with working families and children now lay abandoned in disrepair—belongings scattered across wooden floors, empty chairs faithfully waiting for a new owner, wallpaper and paint drifting from the walls, windows smashed, and gardens long untended.
Maher started documenting these abandoned buildings that spoke more to him about human life than most museums. He took long exposures to achieve a certain look—often blending analogue and digital images to create the best picture. For example, the photograph TV Set was created from “a compilation of nine separate exposures.”
His fascination with the deserted crofts started an idea to have these homes reclaimed and reused bringing new life back to the island. As Maher told the BBC earlier this year:
“What started out as a personal project—documenting abandoned croft houses in the Outer Hebrides—has had an unexpected side effect.
“As a result of displaying my photographs, there’s now a real possibility of seeing at least one of the properties becoming a family home once again.”
Maher’s photographs led to a joint venture by the Carnegie Trust and the local housing association to start renovating some of Harris’s derelict buildings for habitation. Maher’s photographs have been exhibited on the isle and across the UK. “It shows,” he says, “that looking through a lens to the past can help shape things in the future.”
According to the book Bain’s New York: The City in News Pictures 1900-1925 the idea for playing the traditional game of Polo with automobiles was the brainchild of a Ford from Topeka, Kansas with the snappy name of Ralph “Pappy” Hankinson. Originally Hankinson’s idea was intended to be a way to boost sales of the Ford Model T that the company had started producing in 1908.
Not only did Hankinson’s plan work, it quickly became a hugely popular sporting event in which not only the participants were at risk of injury or death but so were the spectators who flocked to such events. The matches were held across the country and the world, with the very first major auto polo exhibition being held in Washington D.C. in 1912. The outright brutality of the uncompromising sport also meant that cars would have to be routinely replaced since they would often give up the ghost in the middle of a match and because the main attraction of the sport was the very high probability that cars would crash into each other.
In other words auto polo was a bit like the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome only with cars operated by those insane enough to careen them around an arena armed with ball-smashing mallets at 40 miles per hour. So dangerous was the game of auto polo that an actual surgeon was onsite during the matches just in case anyone was injured (which according to most historical resources on the topic was shockingly rare). But deaths on the field did happen and those infrequent occurrences caused the sport to be banned in numerous states despite its rabid fan base. As I was looking through the images I found of matches that were held from 1912 until the early 1920s I noticed a distinct lack of protective equipment worn by the players who would drive the cars without seat belts as they were supposed to jump out of the moving car if it tipped over. Which makes it even more surprising that more of the sports manly participants survived to ride another day which the following mayhemic images in this post will reinforce.
If you’re looking for a Krampusnacht gift for someone special, we have a suggestion:
Feral House has just published the definitive work on Krampus and assorted other dark pagan Yuletide terrors. The exhaustively-researched The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil by Al Ridenour explores the origins of the Krampus myth, its recent popularization in the United States, the various celebrations and traditions associated with the creature, as well as similar European Christmas beasts.
Krampus, for anyone out of the loop, is a horned, anthropomorphic, demon-like creature who, according to Alpine folklore, is a companion to Saint Nicholas. He acts as the yin to Santa’s yang—punishing the naughty children while Saint Nicholas rewards the good. Krampus provides the dark balance to Saint Nicholas’ light. Traditionally, Krampus is thought to beat naughty children with sticks. Children that have been extra bad are treated more severely: they are stuffed into bags and thrown into the river. It’s really quite a brilliant legend: if your kids are misbehaving, scare the shit out of them with the threat of being flogged and tortured by the Christmas devil!
The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil is jam-packed with information on the history and meaning of the Krampus as well as scads of photos and art prints. The dozens of photos of celebrants of myriad regional-variant Yuletide festivals in bizarre and terrifying costumes is worth the price of admission alone. Award-winning designer Sean Tejaratchi has laid everything out gorgeously, augmenting Ridenour’s thoughtful analysis. I really can’t recommend this highly enough. If you have any interest in the subject, this book is simply a must-have.
Andy Partridge in the Black Sea tour program, via 10ft.it
During my childhood and adolescence, XTC was an enigma. When I first heard their minor hit “Dear God,” the band had already long since retired from the stage, and then for years after 1992’s Nonsuch, they seemed to have walked out on the record business, too. They could write a song so anodyne it has now crept into our nation’s drugstores, yet they could also render an apparently note-perfect cover of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s “Ella Guru.” None of the musicians I knew who had the chops to attempt such a feat even liked Beefheart.
So while I played my tape of Waxworks over and over again in my teenage bedroom, these were among my thoughts: Who was this Andy Partridge guy, anyway? How did he play those weird chords? Why was he so reclusive? Was it all because he was, like, mental?
XTC 1980: Dave Gregory, Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding, Terry Chambers
As you can see, the stray bits of gossip my imagination had to work with all focused on Partridge and his reasons for abandoning the road. I think that explains why I don’t remember wondering even once about the inner life of Colin Moulding—the writer and singer of “Making Plans for Nigel,” “Ten Feet Tall,” “Life Begins at the Hop,” “Generals and Majors,” and “Ball and Chain”—which should have been just as interesting to contemplate, in retrospect. But there were no tidbits on which the mind could feed. (Here in 2016, Moulding has not written any new material in over a decade, though he occasionally works with producer Billy Sherwood, while Partridge just wrote a song for the Monkees.)
It wasn’t until I found a copy of the authorized biography Chalkhills and Children that I learned the facts of the XTC story. In the intervening 20 years, I have, of course, forgotten most of these (except that Andy Partridge is not “mental”) and lost the book, but at that time I sort of expected XTC to tour again someday, and I would have given a fucking eye for one evening’s entertainment from the swinging swains of Swindon. Part of the mystique came from listening to bootlegs and watching Urgh! A Music War, and part was this: a stone Residents junkie, I knew that Andy Partridge sang lead vocals on the Commercial Album‘s antepenultimate track, “Margaret Freeman.”
He was credited as “Sandy Sandwich,” though the jacket didn’t say which special guests sang which (ha ha) song, or songs; for that, you needed a copy of Ian Shirley’s Meet The Residents: America’s Most Eccentric Band! (recently updated), where you could read in plain English that Andy Partridge sang “Margaret Freeman” and Lene Lovich sang “Picnic Boy.”
Here’s Partridge’s answer to a fan’s question about the collaboration in the Swindon Advertiser:
The simple truth of the Residents rubdown was that they were fans of XTC and came to some shows in San Francisco. At one of these gigs they approached me and asked could I come over to their studio to sing on a track of the record they were working on, the Commercial Album.
I was delighted and of course agreed. They chose for the me the suitably Residential nom de mic of Sandy Sandwhich, put some coal in the headphones and off we went.
I had no instruction as to how any melody for the song went (titled “Margaret Freeman”) but was just encouraged to get odder and odder.
The 1980s were marked by a spike in parental crusades—the widespread “satanic panic” of the day has been well-noted, and Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center seeking to censor or label music acts like Prince, AC/DC, Madonna, and Judas Priest, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving looking to raise the legal drinking age as well as other measures.
The arrival of video rental shops in many towns in America created an opening for a parental panic over “video nasties,” which is to say, exploitative and cheaply made videocassettes selling little more than death and human dismemberment under the cover of regular horror movies, of which the Faces of Death series was the best known example. Faces of Death purported to be a documentation of people in the act of experiencing death in various ways, with dubious veracity. Some were clearly quite real.
In 1987 the two best known movie critics in America tackled the issue head-on in a segment of Siskel & Ebert. In the segment they warn parents that the “video nasty” trend is infiltrating video stores, with irredeemably violent movies masquerading as more conventional horror fare. Siskel says that the genre describes movies that are “full of blood and guts—sometimes real, sometimes faked.”
As soon as I heard the term “video nasty” in connection with this show, I had the hunch that only the British would invent a term like that, and I was right. “Video nasty” was a term invented in the U.K. to refer to violent movies distributed on videocassette that came under fire for their content. A group called the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVLA) popularized the term in the early 1980s. Essentially, the furor over “video nasties” in the U.K. led directly to the imposition of a rating system.
The Director of Public Prosecutions released a list of movies with the goal of “prosecuting” them under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. According to Wikipedia, “39 films were successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act but some of these films have been subsequently cut and then approved for release by the BBFC [British Board of Film Classification].” The list of movies prosecuted by the DPP included Faces of Death, Gestapo’s Last Orgy, Cannibal Holocaust, Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer, and Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein.
“The most popular nasty of them all,” says Siskel, “is a piece of trash called Faces of Death.” Obviously the Siskel and Ebert look at Faces of Death is not a regular review at all, merely an instantiation of the general thesis under discussion, that more parents need to be alarmed by “video nasties.” Still, Siskel and Ebert review movies, so they do show an obviously faked clip of a supposedly lethal bear attack, and then return to the studio to comment on how obviously fake it was.
Three teenage girls are discovered singing along to records in a New York nightclub by two hotshot managers. They are rushed into a recording studio, signed up to a major label deal and whisked off to Hollywood in a matter of weeks where they are treated like stars and consort with rock royalty. It sounds like a story spun from myth. But all this did happen and more. The story of The Cake is one of the last great untold stories of the 60s; a real life Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.
The Cake were the daughters of Sgt. Pepper, a baroque girl group who wrote psychedelic madrigals and sang blue-eyed soul with rock ‘n’ roll attitude. This trio of brash and beautiful teenage New York City girls Jeanette Jacobs, Barbara Morillo and Eleanor Barooshian jumped onto the rollercoaster of the 60s music scene just as it hit its peak and spiraled into a downward curve. The Cake were formed in ‘66 and baked by ‘68, releasing two albums that have been cherished ever since by music enthusiasts as curios of the time. But their importance goes far beyond that.
Creatively, stylistically, and in terms of sheer attitude, The Cake were way ahead of their time. They were the first girl group to write original material as a group, and the first to have it released on a major label. This was not just a novelty at the time it was completely unheard of. They were also the first to break free of the stylistic yoke imposed by producers, songwriters and managers. In doing so, they bridged the gap between the pliable male fantasy of 60s girl groups and the advent of 70s girl bands who were doing it for themselves. The Cake are the missing link between The Ronettes and The Runaways, the Shangri-Las and the Go-Gos.
Accepted as equals by their peers in the rock world, The Cake palled around and were partnered with Jimi Hendrix, Skip Spence and members of The Animals. They also sang with Dr. John and The Soft Machine. Songs were not only written by them, but about them! The group had its origins somewhere far more mundane.
The Cake were formed in a New York bathroom; two bathrooms, in fact, located several months apart in the heady summer of 1966. The first is somewhere in Manhattan, where 16-year-old Jeanette Jacobs and 18-year-old Barbara Morillo find themselves sharing a mirror in an apartment that both of them are strangers to.
“Being teenagers, both of us had stayed over at someone’s house,” Barbara recalls. “Me, after hanging out at a disco. I don’t know where Jeanette had been and we weren’t even sure whose house it was. We just both woke up and were kind of in the bathroom at the same time. We hit it off really well; there was a chemistry immediately.”
Barbara moved in with Jeanette, who lived at her father’s apartment in Astoria, Queens. They began writing songs together straight away, trading lines back and forth and then laying them down on a reel-to-reel with layered vocal harmonies. “I thought it would be better if we had three parts, like in a choir,” says Barbara, who had sung alto as a child in a Lutheran church choir. “It would make it more complete and we could do more things. So we decided we’d like to find somebody else. Fortune brought us Eleanor.”
One night they ended up at The Scene, a midtown Manhattan venue that had become one of the hippest after hours clubs in the city. The Scene was a regular haunt for 16-year-old Eleanor Barooshian, a slight, cute-as-a-button blonde with a big voice and a ballsy attitude. She had befriended the club’s flamboyant impresario Steve Paul and could often be found performing there, running through a riotous little routine with house act Tiny Tim. They sang a role-reversed version of the Sonny & Cher duet, “I Got You Babe.” The sight of a young girl singing baritone to a ghastly-looking fellow with a shrieking falsetto brought the house down every time.
“We just did it as a lark,’ says Eleanor, now known as Chelsea Lee.“Everybody liked it so much it became a thing. People would ask, ‘Are you and Tiny singing tonight?’ The same routine was later immortalized in Peter Yarrow and Barry Feinstein’s impressionistic 1967 documentary, You Are What You Eat.
“The whole idea of a relationship between Tiny Tim and a young teenybopper was inconceivable,’ says Yarrow. “It was like a Dadaistic expression. A teacup lined with fur. [That performance] was about the absurdity of that conjunction on one level and yet, at the same time, it was highly sympathetic.”
After seeing Eleanor perform, Barbara and Jeanette approached her in the bathroom and asked her to join their group. “I realized she had a very quick ear,’ says Barbara. “She could do the harmony right away. It had a really nice blend and a nice energy.”
In short order, Eleanor also moved in with Jeanette and came up with a name, The Cake. “It just sounded feminine,’ she says. Being the 60s, the first thing they did together was drop acid. ‘We did that to become really one as a group,’ says Chelsea. ‘The three of us went to Central Park South together, but Jeanette got very ill and Barbara and I had to keep telling her how beautiful she was. We went to a friends place in the village and Jeanette was throwing-up! But it did make us tight—we’d only just met!
They made their first public appearances performing at The Scene between Tiny Tim and the Chambers Brothers. But the girls were filled with an energy that was so irrepressible, they ran around New York City singing their songs to anyone who would listen and acquiring new friends in the process. “Every day was a show for us,’ says Chelsea. “We sang for everyone. In the middle of the street, in the clubs, everywhere.”
Among the people they charmed with their singing was Jimi Hendrix. At the time, he was just another face in the village and still undiscovered, playing R&B covers as a sideman to Curtis Knight & The Squires. “Jimi always used to say our songs soothed him,’ says Chelsea. “He and Jeanette had a thing,’ adds Barbara, ‘so we ended up staying with Jimi a bunch instead of going home. He’d say, “I’ll get a room and we can all stay together.’”
Barbara managed to inadvertently bag herself a rock star boyfriend too: ‘I met Hilton Valentine from The Animals one night at Ondine’s. He just came in with these crystal rose glasses on. He looked like so much fun and, you know, he asked me to go for a walk with him. He was my first boyfriend.’
Located in a basement, right underneath the on ramp for the 59th Street bridge, Ondine Discotheque—known to all and sundry as Ondine’s—was the crucible of New York’s early club scene. All the hottest bands played there between 1965-67—the Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Animals and Buffalo Springfield all came through in a blur, either to perform or just to party there—and all the hippest kids came to see them. The club was so small there was no division between the two.