follow us in feedly
Unsung surf rock girl group The Trashwomen RULE


San Francisco area surf queens, The Trashwomen.

The great Dave Crider of Estrus Records knew what he was doing when he signed San Francisco area girl group The Trashwomen to the label back in the early 90s. The group was originally conceived as a kind of one-off thing when they were asked to perform a live set of covers by 60s Minneapolis teen rockers The Trashmen. The glue for the concept was the talent of long-time smoking hot guitarist Elka “Kitten Kaboodle” Zolot who joined forces with Tina “Boom Boom” Lucchesi on drums and Dannielle “Lead Pedal” Pimm on bass—neither of which could play their assigned instruments at the time. Four weeks later the day of the gig arrived and according to those who were there to see it, their fledgling show was a success. 

The Trashwomen quickly released a couple of singles before getting picked up by Estrus that was already home to bands such as The Mummies; New York fuzz-freaks The Mooney Suzuki; Southern Culture on the Skids; and one best bands to ever come out of Bellingham, Washington (led by Crider himself), Mono Men. Sometime during their existence, the girls crowned themselves the “Queens of Tease Rock” and Zolot’s powerful riffs added an extra layer of cool to The Trashwomen’s smutty lyrics, like their nod to the usefulness of sex toys, “Batteries.” Playing up their tough vibe, the band was all about cultivating an image of a pin-up girl gang gone bad. Who instead of running away with the band, stole their fucking instruments and started their own groovy group.

Much more after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Retro wonderland: exploring the postmodern aesthetics of ‘90s Taco Bell interior design
02.07.2017
09:23 am

Topics:
Design
Pop Culture

Tags:
1990s
interior design
Taco Bell


Taco Bell in Las Vegas, NV courtesy of @heycomet‘s instagram
 
The year is 2017, you’re driving across the country and you’ve decided to pull over at a random offramp for a quick bite. You’re not familiar with your locale, but you see a familiar restaurant and you’re hungry so you put your better judgment aside and walk into a Taco Bell. As soon as you enter you are instantly transported 25 years into the past, a time capsule of early 90’s interior design. You are standing in one of the very last Taco Bell franchises that have not yet succumb to the horrible, present day faux-Tuscan make-over.

It was the Milan-based Italian design and architecture company The Memphis Group and their fun, colorful, geometric, postmodern aesthetic that were responsible for this specific style of design. The Art Deco and Pop Art movements collided in all their concepts throughout the 1980s. By the time the 1990s rolled around the style had become so mainstream and widely popular that it could be seen all over television, such as on shows like Saved by the Bell where the gang from Bayside High School hung out in a similarly wacky diner called The Max.

Los Angeles-based interior designer Jared Frank of Topsy Design explains just how quickly Memphis trends trickled down into popular culture. “On TV you could find it, most noticeably all over MTV, which was postmodern not just in design but also in its very style of programming. Another thoroughly postmodern show in both design and concept was Pee-wee’s Playhouse. The Simpsons flirts with it. And of course, every coked-out ‘80s movie about a movie producer, record executive, or radio deejay is guaranteed to show sets that look like Otho from Beetlejuice was asked to design an office space.”

Luckily I was not alone in my nostalgic love of Taco Bell’s past designs. Photographer Phil Donohue (not to be confused with talk show host Phil Donahue) began using film to document the few remaining Taco Bell locations in California that were still home to that beautiful pink, purple, red, and turquoise color combination, artificial plants, and squiggly geometric shapes. “Most of the design from the ‘80s and ‘90s was so quickly discarded for something even more corporatized and mediocre that I wanted to contextualize what was left before it was gone,” Donohue said via e-mail. “Capturing it digitally seemed to only highlight this mediocrity so shooting on film was, for me, the best way to translate this feeling of what the past was, with what is still present. I probably have another year or two before a lot of what is genuinely out there is gone — before everything is stuccoed over or faux-Tuscan.”

Of course, true experts of the postmodern movement will not be fooled by imitators. “In light of Robert Venturi calling out emergent ‘70s architecture as, ‘communication over space’ these Taco Bell interiors are cleanability over communication.” explained Matthew Sullivan of AQQ Design. “Hyper-cleanliness is the designer here—from the impermeable upholstery, to the visible floor drains, down to the drip or crumb channels or whatever the fuck those recesses in the banquets are called. It’s operating room meets diner- super Ballardian. Personally I could never make a value judgment—should be labeled something like disinfranchisementarianism. Looks as fine a place as any to stomp on someone’s face or make-out or enjoy a double-decker-taco-supreme.”

So why did it go away? “Culture eats itself” designer Jared Frank concluded. “Folks then reacted against the exuberance of PoMo and found safety in the corporate style of the ‘90s. And then folks reacted against that with the ‘new sincerity,’ the ‘authentic,’ all those horrible reclaimed wood walls. And of course, Taco Bell followed suit, jumping onboard the latest trends just as they’re flaming out.”
 

Taco Bell in Milpitas, CA courtesy of yelp user Maria A.
 

Taco Bell in Anaheim, CA courtesy of @heycomet‘s instagram
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Murder, death, KILL! Vintage horror pulp novels from the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond


The cover of ‘Rock A Bye Baby.’ A horror novel from 1984 by prolific horror writer Stephen Gresham.
 
A huge tip of my hat goes out to the exhaustive blog Too Much Horror Fiction (is there such a thing? I think not) for inspiring this post. Curated by the self-described “neat, clean, shaved & sober” Will Errickson, the site has been cataloging and reviewing vintage horror novels since 2010. As a bonafide horror junkie, I’ll never understand how I didn’t know about this site until today. If you’re a horror nerd like I am and were perhaps not hip to Errickson’s dedication to the books that helped shape our youth, then welcome to your new Internet time-killer. Zing!

I’m sure a few of the books I’ve featured in this post will be familiar to you—such as the cover of the 1976 book The Fury which was the basis for Brian De Palma’s 1978 film of the same name starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes and Amy Irving. I’ve also included a few H.P. Lovecraft paperbacks featuring fantastic cover artwork that will bring you right back to those times you spent spinning those revolving metal book racks around hoping to find a cover repulsive enough to freak your parents out with. If this post gets you pining away for this kind of vintage goodness then you’re in luck as many of these books can still be found on auction sites such as eBay and Etsy. Some of the artwork that follows is slightly NSFW.
 

The 1976 cover of a reprint of the novel by Jack Finney ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ Finney original penned the book, which has been adapted into several notable films, in 1955.
 

‘Evil Way,’ 1990.
 
More macabre book covers after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
I was a 15-year-old Billy Corgan impersonator


 
Before the “World Wide Web” became a thing and only AOL and CompuServe existed for games and chat rooms, Sierra On-line (the software company responsible for such classic adventure games as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry) developed a highly imaginative and groundbreaking environment known as The ImagiNation Network. Initially launched on May 6th, 1991 as “The Sierra Network,” this friendly, graphics-heavy interface was so simple, advertising promised that even your grandmother would find it easy to “play games, make friends and have fun.” As a teenage computer geek I was instantly hooked after being introduced by my friend Brad Warner and spent hundreds of hours using the service: running up my parents credit card bill, holding up my families landline for several hours at a time, and experimenting with fake profiles when the internet was so new that you could effortlessly fool just about anybody.
 
Before entering ImagiNation you’d use the FaceMaker to create your appearance choosing your skin color, facial features, glasses, clothes, and hairstyle. There were enough variables built in to create over 84 million unique personas. Then you’d walk through the virtual gates and let the fun begin: Red Baron, Mini Golf, Paintball, or Boogers in SierraLand. Gambling at the casino and exchanging lewd late night talk in LarryLand (for adults only), or slaying dragons with strangers in MedievaLand. Before anybody had heard of an email address there was a post office where you could purchase “Sierra Stamps” and send messages to other users.

Through a alternative music chatroom, I befriended a cool 13-year-old Korean girl from Houston named Judy Suh who had purple hair and owned an electric guitar. We both had tickets to see the Smashing Pumpkins headline Lollapalooza ‘94 in our respective cities that summer and agreed to share our photos from the concert. Technology had yet to find a way to share photos on the internet so we made photocopies at Kinko’s and snail mailed them to each other.
 

 
In 1995 Judy suddenly disappeared from the ImagiNation Network without a trace, a few weeks later I found out that her parents banned her from using the service after running up their credit card bill. At that time the pricing structure was incredibly expensive: $9.95 per month for only 4 hours plus $3.50 for each additional hour, or $120 a month for unlimited time. Shortly after that my parents also banned me from the service because I was using their dial-up modem and holding up our six person household landline. Friends and family members complained that they received a busy signal over and over for hours and were furious when they couldn’t get through.
 
Heartbroken, and not yet ready to give up my addiction I took to desperate measures to get back on-line. I went over to Brad Warner’s house with a floppy disc, found the directory where his password file was stored and successfully copied it into the same directory on my computer enabling me to sign onto ImagiNation with Brad’s account. This illegal and back-stabbing act gave me so much confidence that soon I wanted to know what else I could get away with. I began secretly signing on late at night after my parents went to bed. Using the FaceMaker to create a new persona, I started posing as Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan. I had read every Alternative Press, SPIN, and Melody Maker interview that had been published up until that point and felt strongly that I knew enough about Billy Corgan that I could convince people that I was him. The April 1994 Rolling Stone cover story I purchased at Sam Goody proved to be a particularly detailed profile and helped me understand Billy’s troubled childhood and upbringing in a time before background information on celebrities was easily accessible on websites like Wikipedia. I was successful in fooling dozens of fans: answering questions from growing up in Glendale Heights, Illinois, to D’arcy Wretzky’s sisters photography on Smashing Pumpkins single covers, to dispelling rumors that I played the little brother on the TV show Small Wonder. After about a week I was called out for falsely claiming that the Mike Mills who played piano on the song “Soma” off the album Siamese Dream was not the same guy as the bassist from R.E.M. My cover was blown.
 

 
Soon after I was outed as an imposter by the ImagiNation community I received a call from Brad who wanted to know why there was a message from Chris Williams in his virtual Post Office box. I had forgotten that I reached out to Sierra On-Line founders Ken & Roberta Williams’ son Chris (also 15-years-old) on the network, totally not expecting him to reply. I confessed to Brad that I had stolen his password and I had been signing on under his account. That was the end of our friendship and the last time I ever used the service. In 1996 ImagiNation was purchased and then ultimately shut down forever by America Online. In 2007 there was a brief attempt to revive ImagiNation through reverse engineering and use of DOSBox, but there wasn’t enough interest in the emulator for it to take off. One fan on the “Return of Talking Time” message board, however, fondly remembered his experience on ImagiNation over 20 years later:
 

“I had a ridiculous experience with ImagiNation Network when I was 14. I was spending the night at my friend’s house, and I brought the free ImagiNation install disk with me. After his parents went to bed, we got his mom’s credit card from her purse and used it to create an account. (IIRC, you were given a certain number of free hours to try it out, but you had to provide credit card info to get started). We tooled around for a bit, and eventually ended up in one of the chat areas. Somehow or another we started chatting with a guy who had us 100% convinced that he was Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Seriously. We weren’t dumb kids, but holy crap does that sound profoundly moronic in hindsight. Anyhow, we stayed up all night talking to Billy C, and ended up surpassing our free trial. When the credit card bill came later that month, my friend had to fess up to his mom. She wasn’t buying the Billy Corgan story, and I was never allowed to spend the night at his house again.”

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
The owls are not what they seem: Intimate photos taken on the set of the original ‘Twin Peaks’


Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) having fun smashing glass with his head on the set of ‘Twin Peaks.’
 

I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.
Agent Dale Cooper

 
Many of the photos in this post captured while the cameras weren’t rolling on the set of Twin Peaks were taken by actor Richard Beymer (who played ‘Benjamin Horne’ in the series) after the photographer hired to take promotional shots for the film quit (you can still buy a few of Beymer’s beautiful photos here). Others are what appear to be candid photos including an amusing polaroid of director David Lynch yelling into the ear of actress Grace Zabriskie (who played Laura Palmer’s mother Sarah in the original series) with a megaphone.
 

Deputy ‘Tommy Hawk Hill’ (played by actor Michael Horse) hanging out with a deer head.
 
As pretty much everyone on the face of the earth has been following along with the drama that has surrounded the return of Twin Peaks to TV (predicted to occur sometime in 2017) after Lynch said sayonara to the folks at Showtime via a series of Tweets to his “Twitter Friends” noting that he had himself began to notify the cast that he was no longer attached to the shows revival. Thankfully for lovers of the Log Lady about a month later the one-of-a-kind master of cult films decided to come back as did pretty much every one of the members of the original cast. And if that’s not enough for you to get excited about the fact that television is about to get really fucking weird again the show will start shooting scenes in location around Washington State specifically North Bend—the home of Twede’s Cafe that still serves up “Twin Peaks” signature cherry pie and of course “a damn fine cup o’ coffee.”

Loads of cool behind-the-scenes shots from 1990 series follow.
 

Actress Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer) and David Lynch on the set filming one of the last episodes of ‘Twin Peaks’ on March 13th, 1991.
 

‘Caroline Powell Earle’ (played by Brenda Mathers), David Lynch and ‘Annie Blackburn’ (played by Heather Graham).
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Patton is GOD: Faith No More channel Black Sabbath with their crushing cover of ‘War Pigs’


Faith No More giving zero fucks.
 
It has been 26 years since Faith No More tore the roof off of the Brixton Academy in London on April 28th, 1990 during their tour in support of their third record, The Real Thing—the band’s first album with vocalist Mike Patton after FNM parted ways with former vocalist Chuck Mosely in 1988.

The show was released on both VHS and DVD called “Faith No More: You Fat B**tards: (Live at the Brixton Academy) and on vinyl as FNM’s only live album “Faith No More: Live at the Brixton Academy.” The band’s performance at Brixton is mind-meltingly energetic and the then 22-year-old Patton commanded the stage like a hyperactive kid who decided to mainline a dozen Pixy Stix just for fun. Which might help explain Patton’s wardrobe changes during the show that included a skeleton mask, a police helmet and the eventual loss of his shirt mid-way through the performance. As a die-hard fan of Black Sabbath it wasn’t hard for me to love FNM’s ferocious seven-minute cover of “War Pigs” which nearly gives the original a run for its money. It was also an opportunity for Patton to show off his prodigious six-octave range which he does with mind-altering precision. Get ready—the annihilation of your auditory functions await! 
 

Faith No More performing a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ at the Brixton Academy in London, 1990.
 
The entire show, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Lemmy Kilmister gets ambushed by three of his ex’s on TV in the late 90s


Lemmy being Lemmy back in the day with a few of his close, personal friends.
 
In this brief clip from an interview Lemmy did in the late 90s on the short-lived British TV program, The Girlie Show (which you can see it its entirety, here), Lem got asked about the number of women he had slept with in his lifetime, to which the mighty Motörhead bassist replied “thousands” (though the man himself has usually put the number somewhere in the neighborhood of one thousand). I’m not going to get all hung up on numbers (I hate them), or even attempt to dispute either claim because despite the moles and his unconventional looks, Lemmy was one charming and intelligent son-of-a-bitch. Note to all you aspiring wannabe ass-wranglers—watch Lemmy and learn.
 

Lemmy on the set of the ‘The Girlie Show’ back in the late 90s.
 

Lemmy and Kelly Johnson of Girlschool.
 
Then one of the show’s hosts, Sarah Cawood, throws a curveball at the always affable Lemmy when she ambushes him with a visit from three of his ex-girlfriends including Girlschool guitarist Kelly Johnson (during the segment Cawood refers to her as the “love of Lemmy’s life”). Johnson and Girlschool collaborated with Lemmy back in 1980 calling themselves “Headgirl” and recorded a cover of “Please Don’t Touch” (originally recorded in 1959 by one of Lemmy’s favorite bands, UK group Johnny Kidd & the Pirates) as an A-side to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre EP. The B-side featured Girlschool’s cover of Motörhead’s 1979 track, “Bomber” and Motörhead’s recording of the Girlschool single “Emergency” from 1980.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Incredible early Nirvana gig at a tiny East Coast goth club, 1990
03.31.2016
02:48 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Nirvana
1990s
Boston
ManRay

Kurt Cobain playing a gig at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Kurt Cobain playing a gig at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson.
 
So here’s something that your ears will appreciate hearing a the loudest volume possible today—a rare audio recording of Nirvana performing songs from their 1989 debut record, Bleach as well as a couple of tracks from the yet-to-be-released smash, Nevermind at a small Goth club called ManRay (R.I.P.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
Krist and Kurt backstage at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Krist Novoselic and Kurt backstage at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Kurt Cobain jumping into the crowd at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18, 1990
Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Krist Novoselic with Nirvana at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th 1990
Krist Novoselic at ManRay. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Drummer Chad Channing crawling up to his kit at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Drummer Chad Channing at ManRay. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Kurt Cobain diving into the small crowd at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Kurt Cobain diving into the small crowd at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson.
 
Duane Bruce, legendary former DJ of Boston alternative rock station, WFNX was on hand to introduce the band, and was also was smart enough to record the raucous live set that was attended by less than 100 people on April 18th, 1990. In the audio recording I’ve posted below you’ll hear an exuberant sounding Kurt Cobain proclaim the following (at about 22 minutes in) about their upcoming release Nevermind before kicking into “Breed” and “In Bloom”:

This is from our next record, it’s gonna be out in September or something like that. It’s gonna be a rock n roll record! It’s gonna have all your rock favorites, and… it’s gonna be a blast!

Find more Nirvana after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Oh my aching oyster slot!’: Play ‘Heavenly Hamhouse’ the kinky role-playing board game
03.23.2016
11:21 am

Topics:
Amusing
Sex

Tags:
1990s
board games
Lloyd Dangle

The cover of the 1994 board game
The cover of the 1994 board game “Heavenly Hamhouse: The Safe-Sex Virtual-Reality Role-Playing Game.” Illustrations and concept by Lloyd Dangle.
 
If the illustrations for this 1994 board game designed by Lloyd Dangle called “Heavenly Hamhouse” (a game of “safe-sex, virtual-reality and role-playing) look familiar to you, it’s probably because you see the same artist’s work on the packaging for the popular “nutritional suppliment” Airborne. Dangle, who once worked as a cartoonist for the Michigan Voice under the publications’ editor, the-soon-to-be-famous filmmaker Michael Moore, also penned the staunchly liberal-minded syndicated comic Troubletown which ran for twenty-two years in various publications across the country. But my recent discovery that Dangle was the creator and designer of this “anything goes”-style board game where players get to perform acts of fetish and kink upon each other—“guaranteed to annoy the hell out of Christians!”—was a new one on me.
 
Heavenly Hamhouse silk-screened game board and
Heavenly Hamhouse silk-screened game board and “action-fetish spinner.”
 
The rules of game play for
The rules of game play for “Heavenly Hamhouse” and game pieces/markers.
 
The bottom of the
The bottom of the “Heavenly Hamhouse” game box.
 
A pervy insert for the board game
A naughty insert for the board game “Heavenly Hamhouse.”
 
Less than 100 of the bawdy “Heavenly Hamhouse” games were ever produced and apparently the game board itself was silk-screened, making it a very cool collectible. According to the “rules” players spin the “action-fetish spinner” and “bounce from one steamy situation to the next.” Such as landing on a game square that tells you to start “grabbing your privates (noted as “xxxx” on the game board) the “European way,” or “obediently satisfying each player’s seediest “xxxx” fantasy.” Because playing a board game that has the potential to lead to a full-on orgy with some of your closest pals, really is the very definition of a great Saturday night.

It should also be noted that according to the game rules, prior to game play the room must be cleared of children, bible-thumpers and anyone from Florida. After a quick search on the Internet, I did find one copy of the game out there for sale for cheap if you need to get your hands on one so you can finally get your hands all over your best friend’s wife without getting in trouble. It’s just a game after all.
 
H/T: Board Game Geek

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
We have found the world’s worst Sid Vicious doll

The Ultimate Punk Rocker doll by UK company, S.I.D 1993
“The Ultimate Punk Rocker” doll by S.I.D. Limited, 1993

Apparently in 1993, only 3,000 of these super strange-looking, officially licensed action figures called “The Ultimate Punk Rocker” by a UK company (coyly calling themselves S.I.D. Limited), were ever made. 
 
A side view of The Ultilmate Punk Rocker and the closed
A side view of “The Ultimate Punk Rocker” and the closed “coffin box” he comes in
 

“The Ultimate Punk Rocker” and his tiny t-shirt collection
 
The eleven-inch figure (packaged in a coffin shaped box with Sid’s birth and death dates, classy), came with pretty much all of Sid’s iconic calling cards. Such as his “R” padlock necklace (Sid owned a few, one of them was a gift from Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders), and six different t-shirts that came packaged in weird little frames (pictured above) like his “Viva le Rock” shirt homaging Little Richard, and the unforgettable “Cowboys” shirt which Malcolm McLaren came up with after seeing a 1969 drawing by homoerotic artist Jim French.
 
A Japanese advertisment for
A Japanese ad for “The Ultimate Punk Rocker”
 
A few differnet views of
 
The
The “Cowboys” shirt accessory for “The Ultimate Punk Rocker”
 
But let’s just address the elephant in the room right now when it comes to this thing, shall we? What in the hell is going on with “The Ultimate Punk Rocker’s” FACE?

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Just like punk, except it’s cars’: Subaru’s unintentionally hilarious ‘grunge’ commercial


 
The out-of-left-field commercial success of grunge in the early ‘90s took practically everyone by surprise, and produced a lot of amusing and embarrassing attempts to play catch-up (couture flannel on fashion runways and the brilliantly played grunge-speak hoax at the expense of the New York TImes were among my favorites), but watching the advertising and marketing industries in particular caught with their pants down was illuminating. Never before or since have the massive promotional machines that drive the American status-anxiety economy been caught so unprepared, and forced to scramble so publicly to chase a demographic it hadn’t yet even begun to comprehend. Some of them nailed it—Fruitopia, for example, was pretty gross, and its pandering was shamefully transparent, but they sure did sell a metric shitload of sugar-water for awhile. But successes aren’t as funny as massive public failures.

In 1992, somebody decided that it would be a great idea to sell Subaru’s newly-introduced Impreza by filming a grunge kid making proto-Dane Cook gesticulations and explaining to us that “This car is like PUNK ROCK!” Nevermind (sorry) that in spite of grunge chart successes most people still thought of punk as the milieu of unhygienic, violent, misanthropic dropouts—because IT WAS. Never mind the utter absurdity of drawing an equivalence between an explosive expression of rage against complacency and a drab, modest grocery store assault vehicle. And never mind that almost nobody who might be moved by such an appeal had money or credit for a brand new car. There were so many perfectly sensible arguments against attempting such a stupefyingly dumb marketing tactic, and yet this happened anyway… Talk about Crass commercialism (again, sorry!)

Astute readers (and people who can see the plainly visible caption on the video) may recognize the young actor in this total mistake as Jeremy Davies, who would quickly overcome all this unfortunate business with his starring role in the well-received indie feature Spanking The Monkey. He’d go on to a lauded performance in Saving Private Ryan, and he even appeared in Lars von Trier’s daring experimental films Dogville and Manderlay. His filmography is impressive, but he’s probably most widely recognized from his portrayal of Daniel Faraday in seasons four and five of ABC’s cult hit Lost.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Dream Queens: ‘Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of NYC 1989-92’

image
 
Now here’s something that was sure to be found in the more fabulous Christmas stockings this past festive seasons. Published by the respected London-based record label Soul Jazz, Voguing: Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92 is a collection of photographs by Chantal Regnault documenting the titular scene just as it gained worldwide attention thanks to the likes of Malcolm McLaren and Madonna.

Don’t be fooled if you think that voguing was a mere fad that came from nowhere to disappear just as fast as it sprung up 20-odd years ago. Yes, Madonna brought the dance form to the public consciousness, but if you think she invented it, then child, you need educatin’. Voguing started in Harlem in the 60s, where black and latino drag queens and transexuals had started to host their own balls (beauty pageants) outside of white society, and pioneered a new form of dance based on poses copied from Vogue magazine.

But the history of the drag and gay ballroom scene goes back much further than that - by about another hundred years, as explained by noted author and disco historian Tim Lawrence, in his foreword to this book:

Harlem’s Hamilton Lodge staged its first queer masquerade ball in 1869, and some twenty years later a medical student stumbled into another ball that was taking place Walhalla Hall on the Lower East Side. He witnessed 500 same-sex male and female couples ‘waltzing sedately to the music of a good band.

How things have changed - the modern voguing ballroom scene is/was anything but sedate! Lawrence goes on to put into context the concept of a “house” (in effect a surrogate gay family or gang), which has long been a central aspect of vogue and drag culture:

Referencing the glamorous fashion houses whose glamour and style they admired, other black drag queens started to form drag houses, or families that, headed by a mother and sometimes a father, would socialise, look after each other, and prepare for balls (including ones they would host and ones they would attend).

...

The establishment of the houses also paralleled the twists and turns of New York’s gangs, which flourished between the mid 1940s and the mid 1960s as the city shifted from an industrial to a post-industrial base while dealing with the upheavals of urban renewal, slum clearances and ethnic migration. As historian Eric Schneider argues, gangs appealed to alienated adolescents who wanted to earn money as well as peer group prestige.

Despite the faddish nature of Madonna’s daliance with this scene, voguing and ballroom documentaries like Wolfgang Busch’s How Do I Look and Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning (not to mention performers like the late Willi Ninja and his extant House of Ninja) have done much to establish the history of this world and inspire new generations to take part. And it’s not hard to see the appeal - in a recent interview with The Guardian, Chantal Regnault eplained how voguing and its culture helped re-invigorate New York’s nightlife at the peak of the AIDS crisis:

...the Ball phenomena kind of revived New York nightlife, which had shrunk drastically as the first wave of AIDS related sicknessses were decimating the community. The Queens became the stars of the straight New York clubs, and began to be recognized, appreciated and photographed. They appeared on TV shows and were interviewed by TV icons. The voguers also became a big attraction and soon everybody wanted to emulate their dancing style. Two figures were instrumental in launching the trend in the awakened downtown clubs: Susanne Bartsch and Chichi Valenti, two straight white females who both had a knack for the new and fabulous and a big social network.

Why 1989-1992? What happened next?

1989-1992 was the peak of creativity and popularity for the ballroom scene, and when the mainstream attention faded away, the original black and Latino gay ballroom culture didn’t die. On the contrary, it became a national phenomena as Houses started to have “chapters” all over the big cities of the United States. But I was not a direct witness to most of it as I moved to Haiti in 1993.

As Regnault states voguing is still going strong today, with balls in many of America (and the world’s) largest cities, and this book is a perfect introduction to a compelling, not to mention often over-looked, aspect of gay and black history. Regnault managed to capture some of the most recognisable faces from that world showing off in all their finery, while there are fascinating interviews with some of the key players like Muhammed Omni, Hector Xtravaganza, Tommie Labeija and more. Voguing And The House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92 is quite simply an essential purchase for fans of underground culture.
 
image
Avis Pendavis, 1991
 
image
Cesar Valentino (right), Copacabana, 1990
 
image
RuPaul, Red Zone 1990
 
Voguing: Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92 by Chantal Reignault (with an introduction by Tim Lawrence) is available to buy from Soul Jazz Records.

With thanks to Legendary Ballroom Scene for the scans.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Paris Is Burning’: Vogue Realness

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Back to the nineties: Fabulous scans of ‘Select’ music magazine

image
 
Fuck me but pop music hasn’t changed much in 20 years. Headlining this year’s UK festivals is the very best of what the 1990s had to offer, Radiohead, Primal Scream, Pulp, The Prodigy, The Charlatan, and even, er, U2. Okay, the Gallagher brothers are unlikely to kiss-and-make-up, but there are still rumors about a Blur reunion, which means we can party like it’s 1995.

The very thought could make a fan weak-eyed and teary-kneed for the glorious UK music mag Select, which faithfully documented the very best of music during the decade.

Select‘s dedication to Brit Pop was only part of its appeal, for what made the magazine delightful, fun and certainly essential, was the quality of its writers who penned columns, interviews and reviews in its silky pages.

Now these names read like a Who’s Who of TV and pop culture, from the darkly handsome genius of Graham Linehan, through the grumbling brilliance of wit and wisdom from David Quantick, to the ever-smiling J. B.Priestly of pop, Stuart Maconie, and let’s not forget Miranda Sawyer, Alexis Petridis, Andrew Collins, Sarra Manning, and Caitlin Moran.

To jump start the memories, some kindly soul has scanned a damn fine selection of covers and some lovely features from Select magazine “to give random flashbacks to the 90s music scene.” How cool is that? Answers on a postcard, please.

Now check the Select scans here.
 
image
 
image
 
Previously on dangerous Minds

David Quantick: The Music Industry Hates You


 
More groovy covers, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment