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Artist scans her own body to make ‘boob and butt’ mugs (NSFW)
01:53 pm



Alice Lang, an artist based in Brisbane, Australia, makes utterly unique mugs that resemble anatomically correct body parts of the female form.

What sets the mugs apart is that Lang uses herself as a model. She uses 3D scanners to commit the exact contours of her own torso to a mold and then she hand-paints color details onto the resultant doll porcelain. Those details include her own nipples, moles, freckles, and pubic hair.

The two mugs actually interlock and can be stacked on top of each other to create a full torso.

Quoth the New Museum of Contemporary Art:

This action is intended to instigate mindful social interaction by making the user playfully complicit in this parody of the objectification, dissemination and consumption of anonymous women’s bodies. This interaction seeks to examine the female body as the site of objectification and explore how women can enact ownership and agency over their own body within this complicated context.

Lang is a recent graduate from the MFA program at CalArts and has residencies in Canada, New York, and Los Angeles on her resume. She is a founding co-director of LEVEL, an artist-run initiative in Brisbane.

Much more after the jump (did we mention these mugs are NSFW?).........

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Disturbing edible fetal skulls, chocolate Vincent Price face, candy ouija boards & much, much more!
12:51 pm



Chocolate Vincent Price life-mask
Ever wanted to taste Vincent Price’s face? Well now’s your chance with these macabre chocolate treats by Conjurer’s Kitchen. Not only is there an edible Vincent Price life-mask, but there’s chocolate conjoined fetal skulls, baby head lollipops, a diseased dental jaw bone made of white chocolate and an edible flamingo skull!

To top off this chocolatey weirdness, there are edible Christmas cards that look like ouija boards. I love it!

So for that special person in your life who’s into odd shit, might I’d suggest one of these treats as a holiday gift? I’m sure you’d blow their socks off!

Chocolate conjoined twins skulls

Doll head lollipops
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Wild world of movie posters: Classic cult films from around the globe
12:31 pm

Pop Culture

Westgate Gallery

The House That Dripped Blood

Christian McLaughlin, a Los Angeles-based TV writer/producer and the self-described “poster concierge” behind the online movie poster store, is my new best friend. We’ve never actually met in person, but I do enjoy knowing that someone is out there who is impossible for ME to stump. Everything I mention to him over email, he already knows about. I suggested, for instance, that he watch the utterly batshit insane British soap opera Footballers Wives. Not only had he already seen all the episodes—and the spinoff series—he was pals with one of the cast members. Then he told me about a newer “women in prison” show from the same producers called Bad Girls that I’d never even heard of, and co-starring the same main “evil bitch” actress from Footballers Wives as the same character she’d played in that earlier series who was now in prison!!! I sent him a link to an eBay listing for a poster for an Andy Warhol movie with Karl Lagerfeld and Patti D’Arbanville from 1973 that had somehow completley slipped by me and not only did he know all about it, he was selling the poster in his store.

He also had a perfectly plausible explanation for this. You see what I mean about him being hard to stump? And how many conversations have YOU had IRL recently about Barbara Bouchet, Tina Aumont or Andy Milligan?

I asked Christian to pen a guest post for DM about how he got started collecting movie posters and about why he’s now selling his incredible collection. This is what he sent me:

“OBSESSION” and “HOARDING” are such ugly words.  So let’s pretend they don’t apply here.  I was three years old when I scored my first movie poster (The House That Dripped Blood US 1 sheet), a freebie—but when you’re three, what isn’t?  My favorite stop on the frequent walks with my grandfather in Fort Kent, ME, was the Century Theatre, where I’d stare at the two posters (Now Playing & Next Attraction) on display in glass cases outside the box office, lingering as long as possible whenever there was horror involved.  I was so taken by the one-sheet cooked up by Cinerama Releasing Corp for a British anthology chiller starring Peter Cushing & Ingrid Pitt, I’m told I requested extra walks for a few bonus peeps at its lurid majesty, which features a long-haired beauty, the middle third of her face a toothy swath of bare skull, holding a man’s severed head on a tray.  One fateful afternoon on what had to be one of the final days of the run, theatre-owner Gilberte spotted us and came out to greet her dear friend (my grandfather) and his unnervingly precocious towheaded, rambling companion (me).  Apparently I then asked if I could have the poster when she was done with it.  Charmed or shocked, or both, she said yes, and soon after delivered this treasure to my grandparents’ door, thoughtfully enclosed in a stiff cardboard envelope, wrapped in a thin blue plastic shopping bag. 

Dissolve to Hollywood, California, 43 years later.  I still owned that poster—and roughly 2999 others.  My taste for horror was completely intact, but it had broadened to encompass all manner of salacious and macabre pieces of original movie art from a dozen countries, ranging from 13"x18” French petites to a ten by five foot 6-panel Italian billboard for the spectacularly sleazy 1975 Giallo trash epic Strip Nude For Your Killer (which I had foraged piece by piece from a mouse-infested pit of paper beneath a Roman antique shop in the shadow of the fun-hating cinephobic Vatican itself).  Finally allowing myself to splurge on linen-backing and archival framing to display the billboard and nine other large-format Italian Giallo posters with the panache they deserved, I had a moment of clarity while narrowing my Top 50 down to the ten I could fit on my home and office walls:  I could have five homes, two offices and an unlimited restoration and framing budget and I’d barely make a dent in this outrageously massive, meticulously archived collection. 3000 movie posters?!  I was out of my fucking mind.

The only sins I believe in were the ones overheated copywriters brazenly trumpeted across hundreds of these very posters, but if I’d remained in Fort Kent long enough for the Catholic church to wash my brain to their strict local cleanliness standard, I’d have a new sin for the popular Mortal category—-  allowing these amazing, beautiful pieces of Pop Art to languish in storage, when they all belong on walls, rolled-out or completely unfolded, to be enjoyed daily by like-minded connoisseurs of the salacious and the macabre.  Like one of those no-kill pet shelters everyone with a heart should lavish with donations, I was determined to find good, loving homes for all of them.  (And attempt to recoup a reasonable return on my what-I’m-too-terrified- to-actually-calculate-but-must-be-high-six-figures-minimum investment.)  So, two years ago, with the brilliance of friends/design-photography mavens Paul Ahern, Barry Morse & Beth Hall, was born.  Named after my childhood porn theatre in Bangor, ME, whose painfully cropped ads in the local paper were my entree into the delectable poster paradise of the XXX Golden Age, this webstore answers Stevie Nicks’ question in a certain chart-topping Fleetwood Mac song: 

“Do you have any dreams you’d like to sell?”

Yes, Stevie, I do.  And through December 24, they’re all 40% off!

Yours truly,

Christian McLaughlin, poster conceierge


Here’s a selection of the posters for sale at WestgateGallery. This gallery is sort of a “beloved cult films 101” overview. If you’re looking for Giallo or golden age of porn posters, there are separate posts for those genres.




Many more after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘What, me worry?’ MAD magazine sent the best rejection letters ever
12:30 pm


MAD magazine

Earlier this week DM posted a notorious rejection letter that EMI may (or may not) have sent to Venom in 1980; the letter (real or not) is a simple example of typewriter art, with the words “FUCK YOU” being spelled out with the respective letters (“F” “U” etc.) typed several dozen times to spell out the well-known phrase, much like the ASCII art of the mid 90s internet era.

Some have claimed, pretty reasonably, that EMI never sent out any such letter. We don’t really know one way or the other. Today’s artifact is a little bit better verified, I believe, and also not nasty or obscene in the least; in fact it is delightful. 

It takes the merest glance at any issue from the heyday of MAD (1960s-1980s?) to realize that the editors and writers there were probably real mensches—they might have been irascible but they would be dead set against any kind of corporate hardassery or uptightness. The freewheeling, exuberant, and nonconformist (fun) tone of editor-in-chief Al Feldstein’s shop is perfectly captured by a rejection letter that is undated but appears to have been sent in the 1960s, as we’ll see in a moment.

In it, Feldstein does his duty of rejecting the submission but it’s quite long and detailed and takes the trouble to treat the “contributor” as an individual (quite remarkable in what must be a form letter) and actually tells him/her to ask “What, me worry?” and contemplate the awful alternative fate of being—shudder—“ACCEPTED!”

Here it is (transcript below):

I mentioned that we know that the letter is not an Internet-era fabrication and that evidence suggests that it existed, for real, in the 1960s. I took the trouble of searching on a key phrase in the letter and was rewarded with a hit from Google Books, a periodical called The Writer dating from 1967 that references the missive as an praiseworthy example of a humane rejection letter.

Leave to the “usual gang of idiots” to identify with and empathize with the angst and pathos of submitting material to a national magazine.

Dear Contributor:-

Sorry, but we’ve got bad news!

You’ve been rejected!

Don’t take this personally though. All of us feel rejected at one time or another. At least, that’s what our group therapist tells us here at MAD. He says we shouldn’t worry about it.

So that should be your attitude: “What-Me worry?”

Besides - although you’ve been rejected, things could have been a lot worse. Your material might have been ACCEPTED!

Then where would you be?


(Signed, ‘Al Feldstein’)

Al Feldstein

P.S. Our group therapist also mentioned that many people are so rejected by a rejection that they don’t try again. And we wouldn’t want THAT! We really WOULD like you to keep sending us your article ideas and scripts. . .so we can keep sending you these idiotic rejection slips!

via Letters of Note, Pulp Librarian

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
EMI sends Venom the greatest rejection letter of all time, 1980
Let Edmund Wilson’s form rejection card inspire you in 2014

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Weird monsters of Japanese folklore

Ubagabi—the ghost of an old woman that appears as fireball.
There’s an ancient Japanese legend of the one hundred yōkai—monsters, ghosts, apparitions and demons—who parade through the streets on hot summer nights. If anyone is unfortunate to see these creatures—or to be caught up in it—then they will perish away or worse be taken captive for the twisted pleasure.

If you’ve ever watched the enjoyable trilogy of movies Yokai MonstersOne Hundred Monsters (1968), Spook Warfare (1968), and Along With Ghosts (1969)—then you’ll have a good idea what these demons look like—ogres, goblins, ghosts, sprites, spooky umbrellas and dangerous women with ever-extending serpentine necks.

All of these incredible monsters have long been a part of Japanese folklore. They were first codified in the supernatural bestiary—Gazu Hyakki Yagyō (The Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons) by artist and scholar Toriyama Sekien in 1776. It’s a kind of fabulously illustrated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but far, far more beautiful and eerie.

In 1881, artist Nabeta Gyokuei updated this incredible volume when he produced a picture book or e-hon of Sekien’s 100 demons. The Kaibutsu Ehon or Illustrated Book of Monsters features beautiful woodblock prints of each of the yōkai and its special powers.

The whole book can be viewed here.
Kasha—a fiery yōkai—or phantom-in this case a cat that steals or devours corpses.
Aoi no Ue—fictional female character from ‘The Tale of Genji’ who is possessed by demons.
More fabulous monsters, demons and ghosts, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Unboxing the Los Angeles Free Music Society’s new 13-LP collection—a Dangerous Minds premiere

Members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society, 1976 (photo courtesy of The Box LA and Fredrik Nilsen Studio)
In 2012, the Los Angeles Free Music Society celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding, and the LA gallery The Box marked the occasion with the exhibition “Beneath the Valley of the Lowest Form of Music.” Now, under the auspices of Box Editions, a selection from every performance that took place during the run of the show has been painstakingly mastered, pressed on an LP side, and collected in the handsome seven-hour, thirteen-disc set LAFMS BOX BOX

If you’re new to the work of the LAFMS, their music is “free” in every sense. Free in terms of improvisational structure, free expression, and free association; free from generic restrictions, free from inhibitions, free as in liberated, free to come and go, free time, guilt-free, and even free of charge (“The music is free, but you have to pay for the plastic, paper, ink, glue and stamps,” as they say). Perhaps no group of musicians has ever been a better candidate for one of those “family tree” posters head shops used to sell. Not only does the LAFMS comprise a number of interrelated groups, ad hoc configurations of members, and solo excursions—Le Forte Four, the Doo-Dooettes, AIRWAY, Human Hands, Bpeople, Dinosaurs With Horns, and Solid Eye are some of the bands that populate the LAFMS’s alternate-universe Los Angeles, the one that is actually familiar to people who live here—but the society is also a nexus of the whole American underground of a certain period. Over the years the Residents, Captain Beefheart, Half Japanese, Wild Man Fischer, Mayo Thompson, the Meat Puppets, NON, Phranc, Christian Death, and 45 Grave have all contributed in some way to the massive LAFMS oeuvre. And Smegma originated as part of the LAFMS. And Michael Gira was the original singer of the band that became Bpeople. And founding member Dennis Duck is also the drummer in the Dream Syndicate. And artists Mike Kelley (to whose memory LAFMS BOX BOX is dedicated) and Jim Shaw of Destroy All Monsters have played in LAFMS bands and appear on this very set. You get the idea.

The thirteen LPs break down like this. Sides A and B: Opening Reception Improvisation (Dennis Duck, John Duncan, Ace Farren Ford, Joseph Hammer, Mike Kelley, Fredrik Nilsen, Joe Potts, Rick Potts, Tom Recchion, Vetza); Side C: Artificial Art Ensemble; Side D: The Tenses; Side E: Tom Recchion; Side F: The Doo-Dooettes; Side G: Le Forte Four; Side H: Smegma; Side I: AIRWAY; Side J: Ace & Duck / Artificial Art Ensemble; Side K: Dinosaurs With Horns; Side L: Vetza & Joe Potts; Side M: Dolphin Explosion; Side N: Marnie Weber’s F For Ache; Side O: Eddie Ruscha, Jim Shaw, Dani Tull; Side P: Extended Organ; Side Q: Feedback Waveriders; Side R: Artzenkraft; Side S: Small Drone Orchestra; Side T: Destroy Date; Side U: Points Of Friction; Side V: Rick Potts; Side W: The Jrks; Side X: Joe & Joe; Side Y: Oolies; Side Z: Rahdunes.

LAFMS BOX BOX and some of its innards (photo courtesy of The Box LA and Fredrik Nilsen Studio)
We at DM are happier than a handkerchief at a snot party to premiere three videos that reveal this new box set in all its variegated and sensuous glory. In the first very special clip, members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society join the Pillsbury Doughboy in marveling at the box’s contents. Next comes a very, very special look at LAFMS BOX BOX with Corazon del Sol, pitched especially to members of the ASMR community—you know, those lucky few whisper fetishists chosen by natural selection for no-mess skin orgasms. And finally, there is a very, very, very special video in which the artist Paul McCarthy, who is a member of the LAFMS group Extended Organ, spends over an hour counting every countable item in the box.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Condomania: Vintage contraceptive packaging, 1910-1950
10:15 am



A pack of British condoms—sometimes known as ‘johnnies.’
Condoms in one form or another have been around since 3,000 BC. The Egyptians used layers of material—most likely a loincloth—to cover the penis to prevent pregnancy. Most men used potluck. Contraception was usually left to the women to deal with—plus ca change. Most men used a hasty withdrawal or practiced anal. Up until the fifteenth century there is some speculation of the limited use of oiled silk and sheep’s intestine as a form of barrier protection. This mainly by those who could afford it.

Circa 1564, the first documented mention of condom use appears in a medical text about syphilis called De Morbo Gallico or The French Disease by Gabriele Falloppio. A linen sheath tied with a ribbon was used. Falloppio apparently carried out an experimental trial on some 1100 men to test this form of contraception.

By the 1700s condoms were still made of leather or animal intestine. These were kept and washed after use. The big turning point was the vulcanization process patented by Charles Goodyear in 1844, which led to the manufacture of the first rubber condom in 1855.

For many decades, rubber condoms were manufactured by wrapping strips of raw rubber around penis-shaped molds, then dipping the wrapped molds in a chemical solution to cure the rubber.

These original vulcanized condoms were reusable but uncomfortably thick and unfortunately stank of sulphur, a bit of a mood killer.

It wasn’t until Julius Fromm had the bright idea of using glass molds dipped into rubber solution did condom manufacturing become widespread. This was quickly followed by the production of Latex—“rubber suspended in water”—in 1920 and the modern condom went global.

Condoms were sold in tins or paper packets—many of which had purposefully “elegant” designs, a few of which can be seen below.
Early circa 1910 condom tin.
The Sheik—a highly popular brand—the brand name allegedly inspired by the Rudolph Valentino movie.
More fancy condom packaging design, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Psychedelic Blasphemy! Diabolical art curated by the High Priest of the Church of Satan

Orlon Borloff, untitled collage
Last spring, Dangerous Minds told you about “The Devil’s Reign,” a traveling exhibit (and its companion book) of Satanic art curated by Peter H. Gilmore, author of The Satanic Scriptures, and the High Priest of the Church of Satan for fifteen years. The exhibit endeavored to explore expressions of the diabolical from many cultures, though it mostly focused on ancient deities that were repurposed as devils and demons by Christianity, and, as that’s a pretty damned (haha) fertile artistic field to harvest, a second book has been published. The Devil’s Reign II: Psychedelic Blasphemy, as the title implies, focuses on trippy and surreal expressions of the profane, as Gilmore writes in his introduction:

Blasphemy is a conscious act of rejection, showing contempt for or derision of established sacred icons. Typically it is directed at objects, people, and concepts placed on pedestals by religions. As secularism has grown, one may also deem irreverence and disgust for things held above criticism by herd culture as today’s implementation of that idea. When we dismiss what by consensus is held to be inviolable, we are blasphemers.

The 1960s spawned a movement whose intent was the expansion of the mind through the use of mind altering substances as well as meditation or sensory stimulation/deprivation techniques. Shattering what had been prior paradigms, exponents of this “counter-culture” employed non-Western sources for inspiration in creating music and visual art as a means for sharing their own inner-explorations, often fueled by drug-induced “trips.” The art in particular was characterized by bright colors, complex geometric patterning, and often employed cartoon-derived stylization to emphasize heightened sensibilities and new juxtapositions of images that embraced surrealism.

The follow-up book, like the first, is limited to 666 copies, and both are available from Howl Books, an imprint run by Florida-based tattoo artist and gallerist Andy Howl. Dangerous Minds has graciously been permitted by Howl to share a selection of images.

Ian Bederman, “Mushroom Cave”

Ramon Maiden, “Hell’s Messenger”
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Mind-blowing functional glass bongs of Stephen Hawking, Edgar Allan Poe, Die Antwoord & more
09:45 am



Edgar Allan Poe ‘Raven’ dabbing rig by the incredible glass artist, Rollerghoster.
I recently stumbled on a the fantastic Tumblr of glass artist, Rollerghoster and I’m pretty sure that you’ll all agree that the images of his fully-functional glass creations are some of the most incredible party machines you’ve ever seen. There are bongs… and then there are bongs!

The high-end glass drug-doing apparati in this post are called “dabbing rigs” or just “rigs” which, if you’re not familiar with pot culture are used in conjunction with cannabis concentrates like wax and hash oil. The process, known as “dabbing” is sort of a… let’s call it “scientific” way for stoners to get really high off of very little product. While involved, dabbing has become really popular in states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana and cannabis products.

And if you are wondering, yes, Rollerghoster does sell his fully functional works of art here and through his Tumblr where he notifies his 50K + followers of the where and when. Though I will caution you to not get too excited unless your pockets are of the deeper variety as most of Rollerghoster’s creations will run you anywhere from several hundred bucks to more than $10,000 each.

Hunter S. Thompson rig.

Nicola Tesla and Albert Einstein rig’s.

Stephen Hawking rig.
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Sad-looking Lou Reed sweater is sad because it costs $2,730

A spendy sweater made by LA-based company Enfants Riches Déprimés
And yes, I do realize that this image of Lou Reed is taken from the cover of his 1972 album Transformer however, you really can’t deny that Reed looks rather sad to be a part of a sweater that costs more than most monthly mortgage payments. You might call it, at $2,730, a “steal.”

In fact when you translate the name of the LA-based company that makes the garment Enfants Riches Déprimés from French to English it becomes “Depressed Rich Kids.” Which further reinforces the appearance of despair on poor Lou’s 100% merino wool face, don’t it? If the Lou sweater is a bit too spendy for you, then the same image also appears on a coat from les Enfants that will run you (just) a cool $1,160.

The Enfants Riches Déprimés brand is wildly popular with young Hollywood types whose parents pay all their bills.

Their customer base routinely shell out all kind of ridiculous cash for t-shirts complete with holes that cost $378, and jackets like this one named for Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye that retails for $800. Speaking of being depressed, Enfants even makes a $7000 cashmere noose which while posh enough for the jet-set to use to end it all, isn’t likely to be strong enough to use to actually hang yourself with. Too bad.

‘Lou Reed’ coat.

An image of the $7000 cashmere noose by Enfants Riches Déprimés .

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
Lou Reed’s sweet side: Behind the scenes of the ‘Transformer’ documentary

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Bob Hope and Raquel Welch’s unfortunate cover of ‘Rocky Raccoon,’ 1970
12:46 pm


Raquel Welch
Bob Hope
the Beatles

Rocky Raccoon sheet music; pictured here are its two very famous composers

There have been countless covers of Beatles songs over the decades, but surely one of the most regrettable has to be the version Raquel Welch and Bob Hope essayed of “Rocky Raccoon,” an original and enjoyable song off of side 2 of The White Album. The cover version Welch and Hope executed wasn’t a record, it was part of Raquel!, a Raquel Welch TV special that aired on CBS in 1970—DM’s Richard Metzger once described it as “a camp time capsule full of Bob Mackie dresses, Paco Rabanne spacesuits and Bob Hope singing “Rocky Raccoon” wearing a Davey Crockett hat.” Welch and Hope had a close relationship, she was a staple of his USO tours, one (perhaps two?) that the troops were always overjoyed to see.

The western motifs McCartney employed in his ditty provided the producers with an irresistible opportunity to put together a slapstick pastiche sketch à la The Monkees or Laugh-In or Benny Hill. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but the gags are pretty lazy. Welch can’t pass up the chance to do Mae West, and I’m not sure if whatever Hope is doing qualifies as Sprechgesang or Sprechstimme, but it ain’t singing (he sounded better doing “Thanks for the Memory”). Welch’s voice, however, is very nice but she makes no effort to capture the spirit of the original.

John Lennon got the last word on this subject. As Geoffrey Giuliano reported in Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney, Lennon’s quote on the subject ran, “I saw Bob Hope doing it once on the telly years ago, I just thanked God it wasn’t one of mine.”


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Raquel Welch in campy 70’s TV variety show (with space dancers)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Aleister & Adolf’: Douglas Rushkoff on his new graphic novel, Crowley and magical warfare

Aleister & Adolf is a new graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics, the product of the creative pairing of media theorist Douglas Rushkoff—Professor of Media Studies at Queens College in New York—and and award-winning illustrator Michael Avon Oeming.

In Aleister & Adolf the reader is taken behind the scenes of the capitalist spectacle and inside the boardrooms where corporate-occult marketing departments employ fascist sigil magick developed by the Nazis during WWII in today’s advertising logos. A place where the war for men’s minds is waged with symbols and catchy slogans. It’s a fun smart read and you’ll be much smarter after you’ve read it, trust me. And Oeming’s crisp B&W artwork is perfectly suited for getting across some often difficult and tricky philosophical concepts. He’s a unique talent indeed.

Rushkoff recently told AV Club:

“Swastikas and other sigil logos become the corporate logos of our world. And given that we’re living in a moment where those logos are migrating online where they can move on their own, it’s kind of important that we consider the origins and power of these icons.”

Grant Morrison even wrote the introduction to Aleister & Adolf. I mean, how can you lose with something like this?

I asked Douglas Rushkoff a few questions via email:

Dangerous Minds: Where did you find the inspiration for Aleister & Adolf?

Douglas Rushkoff: It’s almost easier to ask where didn’t I find inspiration for Aleister & Adolf. The moment it occurred to me was when I was in an editorial meeting at DC/Vertigo about my comic book Testament, back in 2005. The editor warned me that there was an arcane house rule against having Jesus Christ and a Superhero in the same panel. Not that I was going to get to Jesus in my story, but the rule got me thinking about other potentially blasphemous superhero/supervillain pairings. And that’s when I first got to wondering about Aleister Crowley vs. Adolf Hitler.

But as I considered the possibility, it occurred to me that they were practicing competing forms of magic at the same time. And then I began to do the research, and learned that the premise of my story was true: Aleister Crowley performed counter-sigils to Hitler’s. Crowley came up with the V for Victory sigil that Churchill used to flash—and got it to him through Ian Fleming (the James Bond author) who was MI5 at the time.

I’ve always wanted to do something about Crowley, but I’ve been afraid for a bunch of reasons. Making him something of a war hero, and contrasting him with a true villain like Hitler, became a way to depict him as something more dimensional than “the Beast.”

Did you think of the ending first? It’s a bit like a punchline, isn’t it?

Douglas Rushkoff: I didn’t think of the ending first. The first thing I thought of was to have a young American military photographer get sent to enlist Crowley in the magical effort. I wanted us to see the story through someone like us—someone more cynical, perhaps—and then get to have the vicarious thrill of being drawn into Crowley’s world.

Then, I decided I needed a framing story - just to show how relevant all this creation of sigils is to our world today. So I created a prologue for the story, that takes place in a modern advertising agency: the place where the equivalent of sigil magic is practiced today. I wanted to set the telling of the story within the frame of how corporate sigils are taking life on the Internet today. So the outer frame takes place in the mid-90’s, when the net was being turned over to marketers. The ending is pretty well broadcast up front.

Aleister & Adolph reminds me a lot of Robert Anton Wilson’s Masks of the Illuminatus—which I think is his best book—because it sort of forces its ideas into the reader’s head like an earworm that you can’t resist. Also Crowley is a character in that book, too, of course. Do you see it as a bit of a RAW homage?

Douglas Rushkoff: It’s a RAW homage in that the story has verisimilitude—it is told in a way where it’s absolutely possible for this all to happen. There’s no supernatural magic here; it’s just the magick of Will. There’s the black magic of the Nazis. But however extreme the Nazis, it was real. It’s got the reality quotient of Eyes Wide Shut or Apocalypse Now.

And that’s the understanding of sigil magic I got from Bob. It’s all very normal. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Just that you have to participate in its perception. It’s just a different way of understanding the connections. So while the protagonist of the story starts off as a disillusioned atheist and ends up believing in magick as Magic, even Crowley (at least my Crowley) tries to convince him not to take it so literally.

I wouldn’t understand magick that way if it weren’t for Bob. It’s embedded in the fabric of reality. It doesn’t need to break the rules of reality to work. 

Are you aware of a recent trend among some alt-right types to organize acts of group 4Chan “meme magick”? Some of it’s just blatant harassment and bullying over Twitter, but there’s actually a sophisticated intent behind some of it. Pepe the Frog has become a hypersigil. I’m not being admiring of it—the idea that certain reichwingers would want start a magical war via social media is alarming to say the least—but the concept is a sound one magically speaking: They’ve figured out how to amplify their signal’s strength like a radio transmitter.

Douglas Rushkoff: There’s a real crossover between the alt-right and the occult. I knew a guy writing a book about it, in fact. And remember, it was one of Bush’s advisors who once explained that the future is something you create. And there’s an any-means-necessary quality to libertarianism that is consonant with chaos magic.

Plus, you’re talking about homespun propagandists inhabiting the comments sections of blogs and things. They’re not reading Bernays and Lippman. They’re waging hand-to-hand battle in the ideological trenches. A bit of NLP, rhetoric, and magic are what you turn to.

The interesting thing here is why the left does not use these techniques. It goes against our sense of what is fair. We know we’re “right” and so we want to win with the fact. Sigil magic feels like cheating on some level. So we have to ask ourselves, isn’t the full expression of our Will something we want to unleash? If not, why not?

This isn’t the freethinking/pansexual “Generation Hex” types who seemed to be on the horizon a few years ago, but rather like an evil skinheads contingent at Hogwart’s.

Douglas Rushkoff: Alas it is not. That’s partly because the freethinking pansexuals got a bit distracted by other things. And most of them worked alone. I don’t think there were nearly as many, either. That’s pretty rarified air. Back in the 80’s, there were more kids taking acid in the parking lot at AC/DC concerts than there were in the dorms of Reid College. And likewise - as a result of economics as much as anything - there’s more gamergaters throwing sigils online than Bernie Sanders supporters. Sometimes magic gets in the hands of people you’d rather not find it.

Photo of Douglas Rushkoff by Jeff Newelt

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
INSANE 70s ‘War of the Worlds’ prog opera with Richard Burton & members of Thin Lizzy & Moody Blues

In the course of decades of obsessive crate-digging, I’ve turned up plenty of oddities. Most of them stay in the bins, but there will always be things too weird or wonderful to resist. But a really good dig is one which results in me exclaiming aloud in the store, to no one in particular, “HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THIS AND HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE?”

A couple weeks ago, that record was Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds—apparently a massive phenomenon in the UK and Australia (live productions and tours are frequent and extremely popular), but it’s arcana for the connoisseur in the US, where its initial 1978 pressing and its few subsequent reissues all failed to chart. Wayne was the son of a theatrical producer, and had scored his father’s production of A Tale of Two Cities in 1966. In 1973, after a career of composing music for TV ads, he distinguished himself in the rock world by producing and playing keyboards on David Essex’s unkillable beast Rock On, meaning we owe Mr. Wayne indirect thanks for that great Patton Oswalt bit about blowing Michael Damian behind the Tilt-A-Whirl at the state fair. Wayne was able to parlay that massive success into the rights to create a War of the Worlds concept album and interest from CBS Records in funding and releasing the massively ambitious (not to say BLOATED, no sir, nuh uh) project.

The result was a double LP of slick lite-prog laced with disco’s rhythmic tropes, featuring the voices of Sir Richard Burton, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward, and—surprise!—David Essex, adapting H.G. Wells’ novel for narration and song. Other notables in the credits include guitar ace and Sex Pistols demo producer Chris Spedding, and musical theater vet Julie Covington, an alum of Godspell, The Rocky Horror Show, and the first singer to record “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” The album comes packaged in a gatefold with a book containing the complete script and some awesome paintings, mostly by noted Lord of the Rings cover artist Geoff Taylor, a few of which we’ll gladly share. Clicking spawns an enlargement.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This web oracle cuts up text and audio of William S. Burroughs’ ‘Naked Lunch’

Collage by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, c. 1965 (via Print)
What’s that, friend? You say you’d like to consult the I Ching, but it doesn’t have enough erotic hangings, aftosa infections, hot shots, or horrible “schlupping” sounds to speak to your personal situation? Well, the internet might have fucked up a few other things you could name, but it’s “got your six” this time.

Every time you visit this page, it displays 23 randomly selected paragraphs from William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Press the “play” button at the top and you’ll also hear Burroughs read 23 randomly selected sentences from the novel. Here’s what the oracle just told me:

1 “Don’t look so frightened, young man. Just a professional joke. To say treatment is symptomatic means there is none, except to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. And that is precisely what we attempt to do in these cases.” Once again Carl felt the impact of that cold interest on his face. “That is to say reassurance when reassurance is necessary… and, of course, suitable outlets with other individuals of similar tendencies. No isolation is indicated… the condition is no more directly contagious than cancer. Cancer, my first love,” the doctor’s voice receded. He seemed actually to have gone away through an invisible door leaving his empty body sitting there at the desk.

2 “They say somebody pushed him.”

3 The boy shied. His street-boy face, torn with black scars of junk, retained a wild, broken innocence; shy animals peering out through grey arabesques of terror.

4 “‘Doc, she sure is a dry hole…. Well, thanks for the paregoric.

5 “Brilliant chap Schafer… but…”

6 “Jesus! These ID’s got no class to them.”

7 “And I say unto you, brothers and sisters of the Anti-Fluoride movement, we have this day struck such a blow for purity as will never call a retreat…. Out, I say, with the filthy foreign fluorides! We will sweep this fair land sweet and clean as a young boy’s tensed Hank. …I will now lead you in our theme song The Old Oaken Bucket.”

8 “We sure did. And you know those citizens were so loaded on that marijuana they all wig inna middle of the banquet…. Me, I just had bread and milk… ulcers you know.”

9 The Embassy would give no details other than place of burial in the American Cemetery….


11 “Oh say do that Star Spangled Banner yet wave…”

12 The old junky has found a vein… blood blossoms in the dropper like a Chinese flower… he push home the heroin and the boy who jacked off fifty years ago shine immaculate through the ravaged flesh, fill the outhouse with the sweet nutty smell of young male lust….

13 “Know Marty Steel?” Diddle.

14 Marvie does buy himself a shot glass of beer, squeezing a blackened coin out of his fly onto the table. “Keep the change.” The waiter sweeps the coin into a dust pan, he spits on the table and walks away.

15 All streets of the City slope down between deepen-ing canyons to a vast, kidney-shaped plaza full of darkness. Walls of street and plaza are perforated by dwelling cubicles and cafes, some a few feet deep, others extending out of sight in a network of rooms and corridors.

16 He paces around the boy like an aroused tom cat.

17 “With that milk sugar shit? Junk is a one-way street. No U-turn. You can’t go back no more.”

18 “Just two seconds,” I said.

19 “So long flatfoot!” I yell, giving the fruit his B production. I look into the fruit’s eyes, take in the white teeth, the Florida tan, the two hundred dollar sharkskin suit, the button-down Brooks Brothers shirt and carrying The News as a prop. “Only thing I read is Little Abner.”

20 Pigs rush up and the Prof. pours buckets of pearls into a trough….

21 Hauser had been eating breakfast when the Lieutenant called: “I want you and your partner to pick up a man named Lee, William Lee, on your way downtown. He’s in the Hotel Lamprey. 103 just off B way.”

22 “And all them junkies sitting around in the lotus posture spitting on the ground and waiting on The Man.

23 More and more static at the Drug Store, mutterings of control like a telephone off the hook… Spent all day until 8 P.M. to score for two boxes of Eukodol….

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Murderers and Meths Drinkers: A strange, grim tour of ‘The London Nobody Knows’

The great actor James Mason stands in a Victorian urinal in London talking about goldfish. Here, Mason says referring to this Holborn convenience, is true democracy as “All men are equal in the eyes of a lavatory attendant.” It’s one of the many quirky moments in an excellent documentary called The London Nobody Knows.

Another instance is Mason turning up at the door of a resident on Hanbury Street to view the garden where Jack the Ripper brutally murdered Annie Chapman. The streets look little changed in the seventy-nine years since her killing—dark, derelict, and foreboding.

Mason was a major box office star when he fronted this delightful short. He had recently starred in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita and Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and was yet to make the few ill-considered choices that briefly dimmed his star at the start of the seventies. Between acting commitments in early 1967, Mason donned his brown brogues, wool cap and camel jacket to play—or rather perform—the role of inquisitive tour guide across the cobbled lanes, the dereliction, the people, the buskers, the down and outs, the nooks and crannies of a radically changing city.

The London Nobody Knows is a delightful yet oddly haunting film. The tone is set at the beginning when Mason visits the derelict Bedford Music Hall—the favorite venue of the legendary Marie Lloyd, the queen of music hall. As Lloyd is heard singing “The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery,” Mason recounts how the ghost of a little known performer Belle Elmore was said to haunt the theater. Belle, Mason explains, was better known as Cora Turner—wife and victim of one Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen—the notorious murderer. This mix of the comic and the darkly tragic filter through the whole film—as can be seen by the later sequences of down and outs and meths drinkers—those poor unfortunates who sought inebriation—and usually blindness and death—in the consumption of denatured alcohol. Even an almost picturesque scene by the River Thames is tinged by the tale of pirates chained hand and foot by the edge waters to drown. Locals came and ate picnics while watching these poor brigands die.

As a side note: the Bedford Music Hall was where Peter Sellers parents performed and Sellers was born and raised in a tenement apartment next to the theater. Sellers later claimed he was a reincarnation of another Bedford artiste—Dan Leno.
Now, when I said Mason performs as “tour guide”—he is in fact giving his interpretation of Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher—a journalist, writer, artist and long forgotten pioneer of what is now ponderously termed “psychogeography”—on whose work the film is based. Fletcher wandered London drawing its inhabitants, noting down events, sights and things of historical importance which he then wrote up in a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph. Fletcher’s books—The London Nobody Knows (1962), Down Among the Meths Men (1966) and a pinch of London’s River (1965) are the source material for Mason’s journey. (The Situationists were, of course, also known for taking similarly drifting “revolutionary” strolls, which they termed “dérive.”)

The London Nobody Knows was directed by Norman Cohen and produced by Michael Klinger. Cohen went onto make his name as a director of hit British comedy films like Till Death Us Do Part (1969), Dad’s Army (1971), and Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall and the series of seventies sex comedies—-Confessions of a Pop Performer, Confessions of a Holiday Camp and Confessions of a Driving Instructor. While Klinger who produced Roman Polanski’s early films Cul-de-Sac and Repulsion went on to produce Michael Caine in Get Carter and Pulp and the Lee Marvin/Roger Moore feature Shout at the Devil.

If there’s one thing you are going to watch today then make it this—as it’s a rewarding look back at a world long gone (London during a year change) the year of so-called psychedelia and the “summer of love.” As can be seen from this film—that world was media hype—the world of The London Nobody Knows was very, very real.
Watch ‘The London Nobody Knows’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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