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Master of disguise: Peter Gabriel’s mind-blowing make-up, masks and costumes from the 70s
11:51 am


Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel in costume as
A 23-year-old Peter Gabriel of Genesis in costume as “The Watcher in the Skies,” 1973
During the tour for their cosmic 1974 double record, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (the subject of an excellent book by the same name by Kevin Holm-Hudson), Peter Gabriel and his many different theatrical personalities took center stage. But that wasn’t the first time Peter Gabriel tripped his bandmates out with his on-stage personas.

In an 2012 interview, Gabriel recounted how the audience reacted the first time he appeared on stage in his wife’s dress, and a custom made fox head back in 1972 during Genesis’ tour for their album Foxtrot.

With the costumes, I started wearing bat wings and stuff, and getting a little more outlandish, and then on Foxtrot I wore the fox head and the red dress. My wife, Jill, had a red Ossie Clark dress which I could just about get into, and we had a fox head made. The first time we tried it was in a former boxing ring in Dublin, and there was just a shocked silence.

Peter Gabriel as the Fox during the tour for the 1972 album, Foxtrot in his wife's dress and a custom made fox head
Peter Gabriel as “The Fox” during the tour for the 1972 album, ‘Foxtrot’  with his wife’s red dress and a custom made fox head

When it comes to how the other members of Genesis felt about Gabriel’s getups, he said that “some of them hated it” (I’m looking at you Phil Collins). According to Gabriel, none of the members of Genesis knew what “clothing” he had packed in his suitcase for the six-month Lamb tour, until he arrived to rehearsals. After the last performance of the tour, Gabriel left the band.
Peter Gabriel as
Peter Gabriel as “Old Man Henry” during a performance of “The Musical Box” from the album ‘Nursery Cryme
If for some reason you’re not acquainted with this era of Genesis (which is perfectly understandable if you are of a certain age), the following images of a young Peter Gabriel, will probably blow your mind (man). Even if you are long-running fan of the band, it’s nearly impossible to not admire Gabriel’s pioneering weirdness, and chameleon-like ability to look like anyone but himself.
Peter Gabriel as
Peter Gabriel as the deformed “Slipperman” (Phil Collins’ most hated costume of the ‘Lamb Lies Down’ tour)
Peter Gabriel as
Peter Gabriel as “Britannia” 1973
More after the jump…

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The Stranglers’ live performance of ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’ with a bunch of strippers from 1978

Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell<br />
Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell on the stage at Battersea Park in London, September 16th, 1978
Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers on the stage at Battersea Park in London, September 16th, 1978
Back in 1977, the members of the Greater London Council were not the biggest fans of punk rock instigators, The Stranglers. According to legend, (and detailed in the book, England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond) at a show at The Rainbow in London, Strangler vocalist Hugh Cornwell wore a shirt with the word “fuck” on it. This didn’t go over well with the GLC, and The Stranglers set was cut short. After that, the GLC banned the The Stranglers from booking and playing gigs around London. Finally, on September 16th, 1978, the band was able to organize and play an outdoor gig at Battersea Park in London. And thanks to the fact that The Stranglers love trouble, it wouldn’t go off without a good dose of controversy.
Hugh Cornwell and his
Two of my favorites things; Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers and the word “fuck”
Showbill for The Stranglers at Battlesea Park, August 16, 1978
Showbill for The Stranglers show at Battersea Park, August 16, 1978

The line-up for the show at Battersea included Peter Gabriel, Scottish punks the Skids, English band The Spizzoil (better-known in the US as Athletico Spizz 80 and for their “Where’s Captain Kirk?” single, also known as Spizzenergi and The Spizzles), a band called The Edge, and a comedian that was being managed by Cornwell at the time known as “Johnny Rubbish.

Everything was pretty mellow until nearly the end of The Stranglers set when the band slid into “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” from their 1978 record, Black and White. During the song, The Stranglers brought a group of strippers onstage (both male and female) and a guy with a whip (because why not?), who all proceeded to serve up some daytime strip-club, full-frontal glamor for the audience. Although the show was filmed, the footage that’s gotten around isn’t amazing quality by any means. Lucky for us, the five-minutes of the completely bonkers (and NSFW if you haven’t already figured that one out) performance of “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” is pretty great, and I’ve posted it below for your viewing pleasure.

The Stranglers and their stripper posse performing “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” at Battersea Park, London, 1978

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The controversial (and lampooned) bondage-themed billboard for The Rolling Stones’ ‘Black and Blue’

The bondage-themed print ad for The Rolling Stones record, Black and Blue, 1976
The magazine version of the controversial advertising campaign for Black and Blue from 1976

In 1976, the Rolling Stones released Black and Blue, their first record with new guitarist, Ronnie Wood. To help promote the record, a billboard was erected over the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The boundary pushing advertisement featured a racy image of model Anita Russell (who Mick Jagger originally considered “too pretty” for the part).
The billboard hanging above Sunset Strip, 1976
The billboard on the Sunset Strip, 1976

Jagger took one for the team and tied Russell up himself for the bondage-themed photo shoot. In the 14 x 48 foot billboard that hung above one of the busiest thoroughfares in Hollywood, Russell is tightly bound, her clothing ripped and the inside of her legs are bruised, as she sits spread eagled on top of the gatefold cover of Black and Blue with the caption:

I’m “Black and Blue” from The Rolling Stones—and I love it!

For some weird reason nobody in the Stones PR camp thought that the billboard would bother anyone, much less send the message that female fans of the Rolling Stones like to be physically abused. Of course the outcry to remove the billboard, especially from feminists who defaced the billboard with red paint, was immediate and it quickly disappeared.

But the news about the controversial photo and message had already garnered the band worldwide press coverage, and Black and Blue (a record infamous rock journalist Lester Bangs called “the first meaningless Rolling Stones album”—he was right) eventually went platinum in the U.S.
Mick Jagger and Anita Russell in a promo for Black and Blue from National Lampoon, 1976
The tables turn on Mick in this spoof that ran in National Lampoon’s “Compulsory Summer Sex Issue” in August of 1976

And because now I’ve got Black and Blue on the brain, here’s the band (with Billy Preston) looking like absolute plonkers in the “Hey Negrita” video.

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Bizarre, sexually depraved covers of vintage Italian adult comics from the 70s and 80s
03:17 pm


adult comics

“Policewoman - Gay City” an adult themed comic from Italy, 1970s/1980s

I love to blog about topics that are popular with the crowd on the wrong side of the tracks, and the unsettling, strange and straight up bizarre covers of the following vintage Italian comics that you are about to see, fall into that very category.

“Vital Energy” the cover of an adult Italian comic from the 1970s/1980s
According to the book, Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s, adult-themed Italian comics comics began to find their way to France, where they were translated and published starting in the very early 70s, which, before I’m schooled by our astute readers that some of the covers pictured here are not written in Italian, explains why some of the magazines in this post are in French.

Known in Italy as “fumetto” or its plural “fumetti,” the grown-up comics generally featured scantily-clad women being subjected to all kinds of manhandling and mayhem. Such as sexual assaults by super-buff men with monkey heads (and other horny man/animal hybrids), bad guys with bestiality issues, as well as a little good-old-fashioned BDSM. In other words, anything goes as long as it involves a hot chick with large breasts, in some sort of sexy peril. That said, please assume that all of what follows is strictly NSFW.

“The Razor’s Edge”

“Musketeer” (printed in Italian)

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Photos of AC/DC live at CBGB’s in 1977
09:56 am



AC/DC playing an impromptu gig at CBGB's, August 27, 1977
AC/DC at CBGB’s, August 27, 1977
There are few bands in the world that bring me as much fist-pumping joy as AC/DC. I was sadly just a touch too young to see the band perform with Bon Scott, but saw the band after Scott’s departure many, many times and the albums that make up their vast catalog have always been my “go to” records since my parents gifted me with Highway To Hell on Christmas in 1979.
AC/DC live at CBGB's, 1977
AC/DC killing it live at CBGB’s, August 27th, 1977
Bon Scott racing across the tiny stage at CBGB's, August 27th, 1977
Bon Scott racing across the tiny stage at CBGB’s
Bon Scott carrying Angus Young through the crowd at CBGB's, August 27th, 1977
Bon Scott carrying Angus Young through the crowd at CBGB’s, August 27th, 1977
Show bill for AC/DC's show at CBGB's, August 27th, 1977
Show bill for AC/DC’s show at CBGB’s, August 27th, 1977
When the band played CBGB’s on August 27, 1977, they were a late addition to the bill that included The Dead Boys and the Talking Heads. The rabble-rousing Aussies were on a U.S. tour in support of their 1976 record, High Voltage and had just played a show at the Academy of Music opening for The Dictators, and really wanted to play the popular punk club.
Angus Young rocking the fuck out at CBGB's, August 27th 1977
Angus Young rocking the fuck out at CBGB’s, August 27th 1977
Bon Scott and Malcom Young at CBGB's August 27th, 1977
Bon Scott and Malcolm Young at CBGB’s August 27th, 1977
More after the jump…

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The time that Judas Priest looked like a hippie band back in 1975 (Rob Halford had HAIR. Lots of it)
09:30 am


Judas Priest

Judas Priest early 1970s
Judas Priest, early 1970s
So I’ve been sick with the flu for the last few days which means I’ve been spending WAY too much time online buzzing through the Internets in order to entertain myself. Of the many fantastic things I came across was the following footage from 1975 of Judas Priest performing on The Old Grey Whistle Test.
Rob Halford performing with Judas Priest on the Old Grey Whistle Test, 1975
Rob Halford? Yup, Rob Halford!
Not only does the mighty Rob Halford have hair (see above), he has lots of it. It also appears that he may have raided Marc Bolan’s closet for the fancy top he’s wearing. And, as the title of this post alludes to, one of the bands that made heavy metal synonymous with leather and spikes looks like a gorgeous bunch of pot-smoking hippies.

In the following two clips, Priest performs the title track from their 1974 album Rocka Rolla, and the somewhat mellow track, “Dreamer Deceiver” (in which Halford appears to be channelling the bare-chested prowess of Robert Plant) that would later appear on the band’s 1976 record, Sad Wings of Destiny.

If you are at all a fan of Priest, you are in for a wicked treat today as the band absolutely kills it visually and sonically in both of the videos that follow. I also find the quiet, laidback delivery of OGWT host “Whispering” Bob Harris amusing—it’s almost like he’s introducing Priest at the damn library. HA!

Judas Priest performing “Rocka Rolla” on The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1975
After the jump, Judas Priest perform “Dreamer Deceiver”...

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Black Sabbath’s 1972 cocaine budget: $75,000
10:35 am


Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath circa mid-1970s with Ozzy showing us where he puts his cocaine
All the members of Black Sabbath have been pretty open about their debauched past, but of all the stories concerning their experiences with illegal party favors, I think my favorite is Geezer Butler’s account of how the band used to have cocaine flown to them on private planes while they were recording their masterful 1972 album, Vol. 4

During that time, many of Sabbath’s drug-soaked escapades took place in the rented Bel Air mansion of John Du Pont (former heir to the of Du Pont family fortune whose high-profile 1997 murder case was recently depicted in the film, Foxcatcher).
Ozzy Osbourne performing with Black Sabbath in Montreal, 1972
Ozzy performing with Black Sabbath in Montreal in 1972. Ozzy’s abs courtesy of cocaine!
According to Butler’s mathematical calculations, Sabbath spent approximately $75K on cocaine in 1972, a whopping $15K more than they spent recording Vol. 4. Here’s more on Sabbath’s white line fever from former cocaine enthusiast Ozzy Osbourne via his 2010 autobiography (which I highly recommend), I Am Ozzy:

Eventually we started to wonder where the fuck all the coke was coming from…I’m telling you: that coke was the whitest, purest, strongest stuff you could ever imagine. One sniff, and you were king of the universe.

In the same book Osbourne noted:

For me, Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums—although the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t want the hassle of a controversy. We didn’t argue.

It’s almost too bad that the Vol. 4 cover has now become iconic in its own right, because wouldn’t it be great if it truly had been called Snowblind?

In addition to snorting what could easily equate to mountains of cocaine, Sabbath never really discriminated when it came to drugs or booze. On one particular occasion Geezer Butler nearly committed suicide after tripping balls on acid that someone had dropped into his drink. According to Butler, it was that incident that helped him recognize that he needed to get sober. Yikes.

Here’s some choice video of Sabbath below performing their homage to Tony Montana’s drug of choice from Vol. 4, “Snowblind” in 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Because, cocaine.

Black Sabbath performing “Snowblind” live on June 19, 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon

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Sweet old-school pins featuring PiL, DEVO, Iggy Pop (and MORE!) from 70s and 80s
10:56 am


Elvis Costello
vintage pins

Vintage 70s Devo flicker/flasher pin
Vintage 70s DEVO flicker/flasher pin
Of the many random things I remember about my youth, one of them was the excitement of visiting the merch table at a live show. Honestly, I’ve never really grown out of that pursuit, and seldom leave a gig empty-handed.

Like a lot of 70s and 80s kids, I was a HUGE fan of covering my trashy Levis or Baracuta jacket with badges, pins and patches. So I nearly lost my mind when I happened upon the vintage 70s DEVO “Flicker” pin (sometimes called a ” flasher” pin), above.
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Flicker pins were big during the 60s - for instance, politicians running for office used flicker pins (see our pal, Tricky Dick above) to display not only an image of themselves, but also their message. Because when you tilt the pin, the image changes. So naturally, curiosity got the better of me and off I went in search of pins and badges from 40 years ago. Because, why not? And my search unearthed some pretty cool and fairly rare old-school swag.
Elvis Costello vintage mirror badge, 70s
Elvis Costello mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop New Values  mirror badge style tour pin, 1979
In addition to the flicker pins, mirror badges were sort of like the crowning jewel when it came to pins (much like the enamel “clubman” style pins you probably remember ogling at Tower Records, or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall that put a giant hole in your clothes). Mirror badges were usually large and actually had a piece of glass placed on top of the image which made them rather heavy.

Vintage mirror badges are really hard to come by these days and believe it or not, sell for a good bit of cash. As do any vintage flicker pins or promotional buttons/badges/pins that were sold at live shows. Would you pay $54 bucks for a vintage 70s promotional flicker pin that was sold at a performance Alice Cooper did in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel when he recorded his 1977 live album The Alice Cooper Show?
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
I know I’m not alone when I say, yes. Yes, I probably would. In case that seventeen-year-old kid inside you just said yes, too, pretty much everything in this post is out there somewhere for sale. Tons of images follow. I also included some vintage enamel clubman pins because I couldn’t help myself.
Public Image mirror badge, early 80s
Public Image mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Lene Lovich mirror badge, 80s
Lene Lovich mirror badge, 80s
More after the jump…

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Sexist stereo ads from the 70s are a total turn-off
02:28 pm



Sony HP-188 stereo ad, 1970s
Buy a Sony HP-188, get a threeway for free! 1970s
Ah, the 70s. If I could pick a decade to live in forever, that would be the one. From punk rock, to movies and television, cocaine… pretty much everything was better in the seventies. Except of course if you happened to be a woman. A fact that can be proven over and over again by simply taking a quick look back at how women were portrayed in advertising during the decade.
Pioneer stereo ad, 1970s
Pioneer SX-424 AM/FM Stereo receiver ad, 1970s
From cigarettes to cars, advertising in the 70s was demoralizing at best for women. So today I thought we’d take a look at some ads for stereo equipment that push the limits of taste. Listen, it’s not beyond my ability to comprehend that sex sells. Boobs are as beautiful as they are persuasive, and that will never change. While some of the ads I dug up are somewhat lighthearted, most are ridiculous, blatantly sexist and downright rape-y if you ask me. That said, some of the following images, which probably mostly appeared in men’s magazines and the likes of the National Lampoon should be considered NSFW.
Empire Grenadier speaker ad, 1970s
Empire Grenadier speaker ad, 1970s

“Great Indoors” Sony stereo ad, 1970s
More after the jump…

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‘Sexism,’ a disturbingly accurate board game from 1971
11:02 am


board games

Sexism board game - 1971
Sexism. A board game from 1971
Sexism was a board game, conceived back in 1971 by Carolyn Houger, a resident of Seattle, Washington. With the creation of Sexism, Houger hoped to “bring out the humor in the Women’s Liberation movement.” The idea for the game came to Houger after her four-year-old daughter returned home after playing the card game “Old Maid” with her friends and made the statement, “wouldn’t it be terrible to be an old maid?

According to the folks over at Board Game Geek, the goal of Sexism is to move from the “doll house,” to the White House (flash-forward 44 years and we’re still waiting, but I digress). The first player to move into the White House, wins. Sexism is compelling on so many levels it’s difficult to know where to start. Just take this game board square from Sexism called “Abortionist.” The square itself depicts a pregnant woman and a clothing hanger(!) with the following game instructions if you land on it:


The bill didn’t pass.

Go to the Maternity Ward

Laundry Service and Part-time You Know What!

Sexism encourages players to play as their opposite gender as it is known to produce “hilarious role-playing situations.” So, if you win as a “woman” the game will instruct the other players that, “You are now a person, and must be treated as such for 24 hours. Non-winners may be treated as usual.” If you play as a “man,” you are greeted by a cartoon of a large thumb pushing a woman down with the following message: “Congratulations, you’ve won — or have you?” Wow.
White House or Playboy Club game squares from Sexism
Decisions, decisions. White House or Playboy Club game squares from Sexism

When it comes to the cards that you might draw while playing Sexism,  playing as a woman you might draw a card that says “Go back two steps because you’re a woman. You’d just as well get used to this.” Whereas a man might draw a card that makes this incredible statement:

I staunchly defend motherhood, God and country. I’m against giving more money to ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) for each child. I’m against abortions. I’m against women earning as much as men. I’m against paying taxes for free child care centers. Go ahead three steps.

In an interview with Houger from 1972, she said that her intention wasn’t to create an “anti-male” game. In addition to enlightening folks to Women’s Lib, Houger had high hopes that the game would start a dialog about sexism, as well as help people understand that both men and women should be treated as “people.” Houger also said she wanted to highlight the fact that women can also be sexist, by “reinforcing sexism” with their actions or attitudes, especially when it comes to assigning gender-specific roles - a point that she makes rather directly on many of Sexism’s game squares.

More on Sexism after the jump…

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NBC explains KISS to old people, 1977
09:56 am



From Kiss’s 1977 special edition Marvel comic. They said that drops of the band’s own blood had been mixed in with the ink.
Gimmicks get a bad rap, and the music snobs who supposedly abhor them tend to be very inconsistent in their denouncements. No one would talk shit on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ manic voodoo schtick for example (unless, I guess, they’re just openly anti-fun). Likewise, “serious” music nerds love bands like The Spotniks, and “Swedish science fiction bluegrass surf” is about as “novelty act” as you can get. But mention KISS in a Pitchfork crowd and you will inevitably encounter at least one disdainful scoff—if not the entire room—but if you can’t appreciate a man in glam rock alien makeup vomiting blood onstage, I feel sorry for you. Take this 1977 NBC mini-doc—“Land Of Hype And Glory”—as your cautionary tale.

The piece starts with scenes from a carnival, which is actually a decent metaphor for the band (carnivals are fun! People love carnivals, and people love KISS!). But the narration goes for the P.T. Barnum angle—“there’s a sucker born every minute”—implying that KISS fans are somehow being swindled by enjoying a sensational live show. (Fun and entertainment? Whatta bunch of suckers!) The reporter goes on to ask the band if they’re “bludgeoning rock to death,” and interrogates Gene Simmons on KISS’ “less-than-average” music. Simmons is quick to point out that their songwriting is intended to be “accessible,” rather than “self-indulgent.” Intended as a denunciation of hype, the entire feature comes off as a besuited old man scolding a group of professional showmen who aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

You don’t have to be a fan, but KISS are dumb, loud and easy, and if you can’t appreciate that, you’re really missing something fundamental about rock ‘n’ roll. And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to run away before I am pelted by Sleaford Mods and Brian Eno CDs…

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Ultimate Americana: Portraits of sleazy 70’s motels
10:00 am



Mike Mandel is best known in the art world as one half of Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, the guerrilla artists that terrorized the Bay Area in the 1970s with their scathing billboard “advertisements” featuring flaming oranges and mushroom clouds. At first glance, the strange installations were graphically cohesive enough to blend in with the warm, modern scenery—the exact sort of scenery Mandel captured in his motel photography. Traveling across the country for this or that art project, Mandel started out collecting postcards from sleazy little motels, but eventually started taking pictures himself, taking the viewer on a sort of ghostly tour of long-gone 70s design and road culture.

...traveling throughout the country, my girlfriend at the time, Alison Woolpert, and I would stay at some, shall we say, “economy” motels. We pulled into one in Texas on a wintry night and upon waking in the morning we realized that the sheets had not been changed after the visit of the previous motel guest. When we indignantly complained to the owner he shot us back a dirty look, “What do you expect for five dollars?” What we did expect was that no matter how shabby, beaten down or forgotten a motel might have become, there was always a motel postcard to be had: a memento of a one night stop, a promotional calling card, a free mailable note card to report back on the progress of a vacation to those back home.

We would often take the back roads, sometimes follow old Route 66, and we would find those sad, forsaken motels that had been sucked almost out of existence by the newer corporate chains situated just off an exit ramp on the newer highways. We bypassed Motel 6, Travelodge and Howard Johnson’s. After all, their postcards were usually just the same design with a different address. But we’d go out of our way to stop at every independent motel we could find in hopes of finding a postcard that would be even more banal than the one we had just found down the road.

To the modern eye, everything looks retro and trashy (especially if you’ve ever stayed in a motel that hasn’t redecorated since this period), but the complete lack of human subjects gives the series a stark, tidy effect. I’d imagine a hotel could get some serious kitsch-seeker traffic if they tried to decorate like this today. Stay in a cheap, sleazy shithole and be “ironic.” What a great country we live in, eh?



More after the jump…

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‘Watching My Name Go By’: Must-see vintage short on graffiti in 1976 NYC
11:01 am



In 1974 Norman Mailer wrote an essay for Esquire called “The Faith of Graffiti”—a gripping and sympathetic investigation on the defacement of public and private property as an urban art movement of complex and fascinating depth. Mailer’s work eventually produced two collaborative pictorial books—The Faith of Graffiti and Watching My Name Go By. The beauty of tagging and graffiti art is almost taken for granted today, especially since artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat legitimized the genre to the art world in both its unlawful execution and its distinctive aesthetic, but Mailer was doing something new by recording the phenomenon as an organic outpouring of artistic expression, and this short 1976 documentary—also named “Watching My Name Go By”—is equally open-minded in its portrayal of graffiti artists and their critics.

The documentary isn’t just mindless cheerleading either; time is given to community members who hate seeing their city constantly vandalized (though quite a few also admire the work), and on some level you have to feel bad for the public servants charged with cleaning up after the kids. At the same time, no one is shocked by it; in addition to the graffitists’ own reflections on their craft, the “civilian” interviewees offer thoughtful insights on the phenomenon. There is a certain amount of juvenile nihilism of course, but some theorize this outlet of masculine delinquency as youthful rebellion. One official points out that graffiti isn’t a practice relegated to “minorities” or “kids from broken homes,” and from the accounts of the kids themselves, the graffiti “craze” appears to be appealing most of all as a hobby, rather than a denouncement of society or conscious act of dissent.

Via Flavorpill

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Goofy commercial hawking KISS makeup kit, 1978
12:51 pm

Pop Culture


Kiss kids
By the late 1970s, KISS mania was in full swing, and many products bearing the band’s logo were available. Some of this stuff—trading cards, action figures, even a pinball machine—had little to do with rock-n-roll, but were a perfect fit for a band now seen by many kids as superheroes.
KISS comic book
Those same kids were amongst those attending KISS concerts made-up to look their favorite member of the group, so one piece of merchandise that made total sense was the KISS Your Face Makeup Kit.
KISS fans
KISS fans
Check out this 1978 commercial for the makeup kit, which partially succeeds in attempts at self-conscious humor, but is also just plain goofy.

Halloween will be here before you know it, KISS fans—get yours NOW!


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‘Am I Normal?’: Hilariously dated sex education film on male puberty, 1979
08:30 am


Sex Education

Am I Normal
With all the back-to-school talk this time of year, I’m reminded of the dreaded middle school period, when suddenly our own bodies turn on us. Many of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s remember being forced to watch sex education films in health class, and while these little movies had the best intentions—attempting to help us navigate the most-awkward of life’s phases—all they really did was make us giggle. Am I Normal?: A film about male puberty is one such film.

Our hero here is Jimmy, a boy of about thirteen who’s been waking up to sticky sheets and experiencing random boners. Jimmy has lots of questions and goes to just about everyone—his friends, the school librarian, a zookeeper—to help him find the answers. Jimmy just wants to know: “Am I normal?”

Produced by the Boston Family Planning Project and the Department of Health and Hospitals, the film certainly means well, but is hopelessly behind the times in just about every sense and must have looked dated upon arrival in 1979, at least from a fashion sense (the haircuts and outfits scream mid 1970s). The presentation, with its forced, corny dialogue and situations, will surely only look familiar to kids today in parody form.

Though it tries to incorporate humor and is actually relatable at times, it’s most notable for its unintended hilarity. An IMDb reviewer has a slightly different take:

I remember watching Am I Normal? back in the 6th grade. This film is supposed to be a film about male puberty, but it is so dated that it’s hilarious. I can’t even tell if it’s trying to be funny, or this is actually how people of the 1970s acted.

The moment when Jimmy talks to the zookeeper is the strangest moment of accidental, awkward comedy in this short film (it’s also a whole lotta creepy!), with dialogue that must be heard to be believed.

Am I Normal? was later adapted into a book, and there’s also a sequel for the girls, Dear Diary: A film about female puberty, from 1981, but it’s far less entertaining. 

If you’d like to own a copy of Am I Normal?: A film about male puberty, you’re pretty much out of luck—unless you can score a VHS copy.

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
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