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‘Punk Rock’: Porno and New York City punk collide in this gritty 1977 X-rated crime drama

Poster Art for Punk Rock
Mixing a 1940’s style noir detective film with the grittiness of mid 1970’s New York City is the peanut butter firmly engulfed in the sleaziest of chocolate. Throw in the then still-fresh punk movement and you will have the bittersweet treat of Carter Stevens’ 1977 film Punk Rock. Wade Nichols aka Dennis Parker, whom would go on to both disco cult fame with his 1979 song “Like an Eagle” (courtesy of Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records) and for appearing on the soap opera The Edge of Night for a number of years, stars as ex-cop and current gumshoe Jimmy Dillinger. His most recent case involves finding Jenny (Susaye London), whose rich family have been looking high and low for her. Jimmy has found her—oh, has he found her, six ways to Sunday—but as soon as his back is turned, she is kidnapped yet again. With the friendly dame on his conscience and her wealthy daddy still footing the bill, he has got to find her again and soon.
Wade Nichols is gumshoe Jimmy Dillinger
Someone is clearly really wanting Jenny back and this second time around puts the hard-bitten with a heart of semi-precious gold Dillinger on a trail brimming with forced prostitution, junk, punk rock music and the oldest trick in the world—-the unforeseen double cross. Don’t worry. In this age of fast-food information and meme-blips, I refuse to spoil the ending of this impactive film. Shouldn’t your eyes be pure for something in this age of “if it bleeds, it leads?” Our souls might be a lost cause, but at least your peepers can be clean for this. It’s one hell of a surprise ending.
Elda Stiletto in Punk Rock
Punk Rock works on two different but very key levels. The first one is the fact that it succeeds as an unlikely but tight retro-noir-punk-rock hybrid. It has all the right crime elements, even involving a girl-sex-ring led by a whip-wielding musician/pimp played by none other than Elda Gentile aka Elda Stiletto from Elda & the Stilettos! (A group that is probably better known now for once featuring a pre-Blondie Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. According to director Stevens, Harry was initially considered for the part, but took a pass.) There are truly grimy-looking drug pushers, suave pseudo-old-world-mobsters and one really fantastic underworld figure named Igor, played fabulously by Bobby Astyr. Talk about used-car-dealer meets pimp-goombah-sleazeball charm, Astyr is all of this and more.

At the center is Wade Nichols, whose old school matinee idol good looks and acting chops made him a perfect private detective fit for the 1940s meets 1970s. Nichols innate charisma and strong masculinity without being too macho, were traits that fit him into this role like a glove. Robert Kerman, billed here as Richard Bolla, is also good as the wise-ass police inspector foil to Nichols’ Dillinger.
Dillingers confronts a pusher at Max's Kansas City
The second level is a fascinating historical peek into a New York City pre-gentrification, pre-Guiliani and pre-gummed up TGIFridays/Disney Store neon hell. Grime, trash and dirty melting piles of snow line the streets and even the legit storefronts look grungy. 42nd Street is shown in all of its electric candy store of sordid delights glory and thrumming with pure mutherfucking vice. Even better is you get an inside peek of one of the birth places of New York punk, Max’s Kansas City, a club so great that Jayne County once wrote a song about it!
Welcome to Vice
In fact, it’s the scenes set in Max’s that are the most historically important, especially for a music fan. In Punk Rock, we get to see three different bands play. The first two acts, The Squirrels (no relation, from what I can tell, to the Seattle novelty band of the same name), The Spicy Bits (a super obscure band from the scene that did at least warrant a name check in Dead Boys’ guitarist Cheetah Chrome‘s autobiography) and most importantly, The Fast. Every movement has its stars that should have and could have made it huge, but yet, never quite did. The Fast not being household names then or now is still a smear of injustice on the music industry. (And trust me, that’s a structure that has more stains on it than a port-o-potty on the last day of Sturges.) Formed by brothers Armand aka Mandy and Miki Zone and later on joined by their younger brother Paul, The Fast were a power-pop band with a punk/hard rock edge whose energy, stage presence and bizarro rock image set them apart from anyone else on the scene. Need proof? Watch their renditions of “Kids Just Wanna Dance” and “Boys Will Be Boys” in Punk Rock. (Plus, the latter features the most rock & roll use of Cheerios, ever.)
The Fast with Miki, Paul & Mandy Zone.
Interesting note about Punk Rock is that there is an X-rated cut where instead of the musical sequences, you get explicit sex scenes. Not to underrate the joie de vivre of things like visual insertion, I would still take The Fast over that any day. Though that said, this film is proof that directors and actors from the X-rated world could act and make a pretty great little film if they wanted to. It’s not all pizza delivery boys and horny housewives.
Watch the scene from ‘Punk Rock’ with The Fast, after the jump…

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
The shop-keeper who unleashed a revolution: Documentary on Punk’s Artful Dodger Malcolm McLaren

Malcolm McLaren unleashed the greatest revolution of the last quarter of the 20th century. This was in part because McLaren was really a shop-keeper, a haberdasher, a boutique owner who knew his market and, most importantly, knew how to sell product to the masses.

Unfortunately, when it came to music, the talent was more than just product, and McLaren regularly mis-used and manipulated the musical talent (New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Adam and The Ants/Bow-Wow-Wow) for his own personal gain. It was the behavior of a man who couldn’t and didn’t trust anyone—perhaps because (as he claimed) he had been abandoned by his mother—an act of betrayal he never forgave. There is the story of how years later, McLaren was have said to have traveled on a London Underground train, only to find his mother in the same carriage. The pair sat opposite each other, with neither acknowledging the other’s presence, and each alighting at their separate stops.

McLaren was bewitching, relentless and always on the make. But for all his scams and incredible machinations, little is really known about the man himself. He re-wrote his biography so many times it is almost impossible to know what is the truth. He also carefully edited out those who had helped his success, and fabricated wonderful, picaresque tales of misadventure—-for example, the time he failed to have Nancy Spungen kidnapped, in a bid to remove her insidious influence over Sid Vicious.

In essence, Malcolm’s greatest talent was his own self-promotion—his unique role as a cultural PR man, who changed history. If there is anything to be learned from his particular type of genius, it is to make headlines out of even the worst situation. On his deathbed, Mclaren’s last words were said to have been: “Free Leonard Peltier.” As he had done in his life, McLaren had once again grabbed hold of someone else’s notoriety.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Superb documentary on Malcolm McLaren from 1984


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Dave Davies

Happy Birthday Dave Davies - founder of The Kinks and highly original guitarist, whose innovative playing style influenced Psychedelic Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock and Brit Pop.

Mr Davies continues to make wonderful music and has just released a fab new CD Fortis Green 2, a follow-up to his 1999 release, named after the district in London where Davies was born, sixty-six years ago. The album is exclusively available at Dave Davies homepage.

Happy Birthday Dave Davies and long may you continue to make music.

Dave Davies - ‘Fortis Green 2’ promo

The Kinks - ‘Got My Feet On The Ground - written and performed by Dave Davies

The Kinks - ‘Susannah’s Still Alive’ - written and performed by Dave Davies

Dave Davies - ‘Death of a Clown’ Live Belgian TV, 2002
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Kinkdom Come: A beautiful film on Dave Davies


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Dick Tracy meets the punks
12:03 pm


Punk Rock
Dick Tracy

Thanks Kristian Hoffman !

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment