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Kembra Pfahler on 30 years of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, with exclusive Richard Kern pix!


Photo by Richard Kern, courtesy of Kembra Pfahler

On February 15, Marc Almond, the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Sateen, Hercules & Love Affair, and DJs Matthew Pernicano and Danny Lethal will perform at the Globe Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. This absolutely mental, once-in-a-lifetime bill will celebrate the second anniversary of Sex Cells, the LA club run by Danny Fuentes of Lethal Amounts.

Because I am so eager to see this show, and because the life of a Dangerous Minds contributor is high adventure, last Sunday I found myself speaking with Karen Black’s leader, the formidable interdisciplinary artist Kembra Pfahler, by phone, after she got out of band rehearsal in NYC. My condensed and edited take on our wide-ranging conversation follows. If I’d noted every time Kembra made me laugh with a deadpan line, the transcript would be twice as long.

Kembra Pfahler: My guitarist is Samoa, he founded the band with me; he’s the original Karen Black guitarist, Samoa from Hiroshima, Japan. And then Michael Wildwood is our drummer, and he played with D Generation and Chrome Locust, and Gyda Gash is our bass player, she plays with Judas Priestess and Sabbathwitch. I just came from band practice, and I am one of those folks that really enjoys going to band practice. Doing artwork and music isn’t like work, and being busy is just such a luxury. It’s been very pleasant preparing for this show we get to honorably do with Marc Almond. We’re so excited!

We played with Marc Almond at the Meltdown Festival that was curated by Ahnoni in 2011. That was a great show with Marc Almond and a lot of other incredible artists. And I have an art gallery that represents me in London now, which is called Emalin, and I had an art exhibit there, and Marc Almond, thankfully, came to it. He’s friends with one of my collaborators called Scott Ewalt.

I’m not a religious person, but I did think I had died and gone to heaven. When artists that you have loved your whole life come to, for some strange reason, see the work that you’re doing, it’s one of the truly best things about doing artwork. I’m very much looking forward to this concert.

Can you tell me what you have planned for the show? I’m sure you want to keep some stuff a surprise, but is the disco dick in the pictures going to be part of the set?

You know, the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black has always made a lot of props and costumes, and I never really just buy things. I’m not much of a consumer. I’m an availabilist, so I usually make the best use of what’s available, and we are going to have a lot of props and costumes in this show that I make myself, and I have art partners in Los Angeles, collaborators. We’re going to have a big grand finale sculpture that’s going to be my Black Statue of Liberty holding the pentagram. That’s a huge pentagram sculpture. I made that with a friend of mine called Brandon Micah Rowe.

That sculpture lives on the West Coast, and it comes out when I go to the beach and go surfing. I usually take the Black Statue of Liberty with me, ‘cause it’s a great photo opportunity on the beach. And the last time I was photographing the Black Statue of Liberty—‘cause of course I have several—I took this Black Statue of Liberty in a truck and drove down to Sunset Beach, right at the end of Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, and I just have a great memory of almost drowning with the Black Statue of Liberty. It was very much like reenacting Planet of the Apes. That was the impetus for the Statue of Liberty; I’ve always loved the last scene in Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston realizes that the future is just a disastrous, anti-utopian, dead planet. Kind of similar to what’s happening to us now.
 

Photo by Brandon Micah Rowe
 
[laughs] Yeah, it’s uncomfortably close to the present situation.

To me, it’s very close. I mean, film has always been very prophetic, to me. Orson Welles always talks about magic, and historical revisionism, and truth, and the ways that film can actually inform you of the truth in politics, mythological truth, cultural truths. And I’ve always learned the most just by watching films. That’s why I named the band Karen Black, because I was so educated by the films of Karen Black. I know that sounds sort of wonky, but what I’m getting at is I love listening to Orson Welles speak about magic and truth and film as a way to articulate that truth.

Are you thinking about F for Fake?

I’m thinking about the little tricks and happy accidents that occur in film that are what Orson Welles spoke to. I mean, Kenneth Anger talked about magic and film constantly, and light, and Orson Welles just had a different articulation of the same side of the coin.

I grew up in Santa Monica, so I always loved Kenneth Anger; I was always happy that I lived near the Camera Obscura on Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. I thought, I don’t fit in with any of these other Californians, but Kenneth Anger was here at the Camera Obscura. I can’t be doing everything wrong.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and my family was in the film business, and I left for New York because I wasn’t accepted by my family and the community, because I was interested in music, and it wasn’t fashionable to be a goth or be into punk when I was in high school. So I moved to New York. But no one was going to New York when I first moved there. I really just moved to New York to be as contrary as possible, and I knew no one would follow me at the time.

You moved to New York in ‘79 or thereabouts, right?

Yeah, I did.

I think the LA, probably, that you were leaving was more, I don’t know, provincial. . . I can imagine the appeal that New York would have had in 1979.

Well, also, the thing was that I really wanted to be an artist, and I got accepted to School of Visual Arts when I was in 11th grade at Santa Monica High School. That’s why, really. The Los Angeles that I was familiar with wasn’t provincial at all. I mean, there’s been generations and generations of weird Los Angeles. My grandparents met on the baseball field: my grandmother was playing softball, my grandfather played baseball, and my father ended up being a surfer, and I’ve always had exposure to a really incredible kind of lifestyle that I think people mostly just dream about. Like, Beach Boys songs at Hollywood Park race track in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. If you think about being born into this time when the Beach Boys and the Stones and the Beatles are playing, and then Parliament-Funkadelic’s playing, and then. . . just the most incredible exposure to music and art and nature, surfing even, surf culture. I mean, when most people are born in countries where they can’t even eat dirt for breakfast, I was born in the most incredible place, that I’ll never forget.

It’s such a huge part of my work, I named my interdisciplinary music and art class at Columbia University “The Queen’s Necklace.” Because when I was a child, I used to meditate on all the beach cities. Starting from Zuma Beach, I would meditate on the cities by saying: [chants] “Zuma, Malibu, Topanga, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice, Torrance, Palos Verdes”. . . I’d say all of the cities that represented the Santa Monica Bay area. That was in my field of vision, that was what I saw every day. All those piers, all those waves, and all of the mythology that I grew up with was all about beach culture.

So Los Angeles, I feel closer to writers like John Fante than anyone else. Do you have books in your library that you’ve had your entire adult life that you would say represent your thinking, more so than any other books? Do you have your favorite, favorite books? One or two books that always are with you.

Oh my God, I’d have to think about it. 

I do. I mention that because one of them is Ask the Dust. Another one is David J. Skal’s Cultural History of Horror.

What’s that?

It’s a great book that talks about the horror film genre being quite prophetic, and it’s kind of what I was trying to speak about, as far as how film and horror kind of teach us about the future. That’s one book, and also Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies, Volume 1 and 2 is important to me. Do you know that book?

I do not. Is it like a case study?

It’s a case study of men’s relationship to women during World War II and pre-World War II. It’s about men’s relationships to the women in their lives, in Germany, particularly.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.07.2019
01:18 pm
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Two and a half hours of David Lee Roth dancing to the O’Jays’ ‘Love Train’
11.30.2018
07:51 am
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David Lee Roth’s preferred method of warming up his larynx in the recording studio or the dressing room is singing along with the O’Jays’ hit “Love Train,” and bless him, he does a credible job. The careers of lesser talents have been irreparably wrecked by lines like “All of you brothers over in Africa,” not a welcome series of words in a white pop star’s mouth; it doesn’t take much imagination to see how things could go terribly, terribly wrong. But somehow, with the alchemical mixture of guilelessness and chutzpah that makes a David Lee Roth performance so wondrous to behold, he pulls it off. Nor is it a fluke. Below, like an expert skipper, DLR pilots the S.S. Fair Warning by the tune’s parlous shoals no fewer than 50 times. 

Six years ago, around the time Van Halen released their first new LP with Roth singing since 1984, the singer presented this gift to the fans: a two-and-a-half-hour video of his “Love Train” warmup routine called 50 Rides on the Love Train. On screen, Roth dances, manically, to “Love Train,” in full, on 50 separate occasions; on the soundtrack, he sings along with the O’Jays’ hymn to a comity of peoples 50 different times. Each version is the same, and each version is different. If you start to feel like you’re going insane around, say, the one-hour mark, focus on the counter in the bottom right corner of the frame and breathe deeply.

For me, 50 Rides on the Love Train completes the trilogy begun with 1986’s triple-LP radio show David Lee Roth’s 4th of July Bar-B-Que and continued on 2002’s vidstravaganza No Holds Bar-B-Que. I hope it helps you reach closure, too.
 

H/T Jessica Espeleta

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.30.2018
07:51 am
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Freddie Mercury breaks free onstage with The Royal Ballet in 1979
08.06.2018
07:29 am
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A photo of Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury (pictured center) training with members of The Royal Ballet (London) in 1979.
 

“They (The Royal Ballet) asked me. They actually thought I could dance. So they asked me to do this charity concert. Then I realized, how I could dance.  I appreciate their discipline and dedication a hell of a lot. I mean, it’s a different kind of dedication than you have to apply to what I’m doing. I don’t think I could ever do it because it’s like learning someone else’s steps. I do things that I want to do and it’s all very free-form.”

—Freddie Mercury on his collaboration with The Royal Ballet in 1979.

In 1979, encouraged by his friend Wayne Eagling a choreographer and principal dancer for The Royal Ballet, Freddie Mercury began training with members of the company for a charity performance to be held at the London Coliseum to raise money for mentally handicapped children. But before we get to the details on this bit of Freddie Mercury mythology, there is yet another fascinating bit of backstory to how this all came to be. Laura Jackson, author of Freddie Mercury: The Biography, met with Wayne Eagling to discuss Mercury’s epic performance with TRB. In the book, Eagling recalls going to the treasurer of the ballet, Joseph Lockwood, as he once held a high ranking job at EMI in the hope he might be able to persuade Kate Bush to guest star in the charity performance. Bush, still in her teens, had just been signed by the label by one of the music industry’s biggest titans, Bob Mercer. According to Mercer, he was “almost certain” Bush had been asked to don a pair of ballerina slippers before Mercury was. Kate’s manager put the kibosh on the idea, and Lockwood told Eagling to talk to his friend Freddie instead.

What isn’t up for dispute is the undeniable energy which exuded from Freddie Mercury like some sort of sonic communication from another planet. Queen’s live shows required high levels of physical endurance by its members, and this was especially true for Mercury. But could he dance? As unbelievable as it sounds, not really. However, there is no denying the man had moves for days and, allegedly, he had always wanted to “try” to dance ballet. Mercury took his training and rehearsals seriously, though he described the experience as “agonizing.” Here’s more from Freddie on becoming a ballet dancer:

“They had me practicing at the barre and all that, stretching my legs… trying to do things in a week that they’d been doing for years. It was murder. After two days I was in agony. It was hurting me in places I didn’t know I had, dear.”

As I’m sure you can imagine, Mercury’s performance was highly praised and even impressed the stuffy ballet regulars at the sold-out event. Of course, Mercury didn’t just dance with the members of The Royal Ballet, he also sang adapted versions of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” while he was being hurled around the stage never missing a note, beat, or pose. Queen drummer Roger Taylor bore witness to Freddie’s debut calling it “brave and hilarious.” The experience made an impact on Mercury, and he, Eagling and other TRB dancers would collaborate once again for the “I Want To Break Free” video in 1984, which Eagling helped to choreograph. In part, the video is based on the ballet L’après-midi d’un faune (Afternoon of a Faun) with an un-mustachioed Mercury mimicking the star of the original 1912 production, famous dancer/choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Zowie.

So, with yet another Queen history lesson under our belts, let’s take a look at some of the remarkable photos captured during Mercury’s time with The Royal Ballet as well as video footage of Freddy live on stage for one night with The Royal Ballet on October 7th, 1979.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.06.2018
07:29 am
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Frank Zappa, serial killers and the all-girl dance troupe L.A. Knockers


Members of the dance troupe/cabaret L.A. Knockers getting ready to take the stage at the Playboy Club in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
 
I’ve learned many things here writing for Dangerous Minds—one that there is always more to a picture than meets the eye. Which is why I took it upon myself to find out more about mid-70s all-girl dance troupe/cabaret act, L.A. Knockers. Their act was a fan favorite in the Los Angeles club scene where you could find the girls performing at The Starwood, The Troubadour, The Comedy Store, The Matrix Theater, and the Playboy Club. The shows curated exclusively for the Playboy Club included a strange sounding sexed-up comedic version of a 1978 medley by The Village People, “The Women” featuring members of the Knockers dressed as John Travolta (in Saturday Night Fever mode), Dracula, Superman, King Kong and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. And that was just for starters.

The members of L.A. Knockers would grow through the dozen or so years they were together and they performed all over the country to packed houses, but most often in Las Vegas and Reno. Knockers’ principal choreographer Jennifer Stace would bring the dance-magic to the group as did choreographer, Marilyn Corwin. Corwin worked her disco moves with The Village People, for the movie, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) and with Frank Zappa during some of his live performances. The Knockers caught the eye of Zappa, who, according to an article published in 1981 in Italian magazine L’Espresso, wanted to take the Knockers on tour with him, a claim that perhaps at first sounded like it had no legs, but it much like the Knockers, actually did. On New Year’s Eve in 1976, Zappa played a show at the Forum in Los Angeles which included members of the L.A. Knockers dressed like babies in diapers and white afro wigs. Hey, even Frank Zappa thought they were cool as fuck, which, without question, they were.

Any story worth reading must include a twist, and this is where the part about the Hillside Stranglers, the horrific serial killers and cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, comes in. Twenty-one-year-old Lissa Kastin, an original member of L.A. Knockers would become Bianchi and Buono’s third victim. In 1985’s The Hillside Stranglers by Darcy O’Brien, the author notes that Kastin was not “an attractive enough victim” for the degenerate cousins who were put off by her “health nut looks” and “unshaved legs.” In some true crime circles, Kastin would be referred to as “the ugly girl” among the Hillside Stranglers’ female body count thanks to a photo used by the newspapers—an image that looked almost nothing like the young, rising star.

Below are some incredible photos taken by Elisa Leonelli which lovingly chronicle the L.A. Knockers’ decade-plus career in showbiz as well as a compilation video of the troupe performing live which you simply must see. Some of the images which follow are slightly NSFW.
 

Original members of L.A. Knockers, Jennifer Stace (left), Lissa Kastin (RIP, center) and Yana Nirvana (right).
 

1978.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.01.2018
09:37 am
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‘Bare-ass naked’: The KLF and the live stage production of Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus!’


Prunella Gee as Eris in ‘Illuminatus!’ (via Liverpool Confidential)

In 1976, the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool mounted a 12-hour stage production of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy. It was a fateful event in the life of the show’s set designer, Bill Drummond, for reasons he’s detailed in the Guardian: for one thing, it was in connection with Illuminatus! and its director, Ken Campbell, that Drummond first heard about the eternal conflict between the Illuminati, who may secretly control the world, and the Justified Ancients of Mummu, or the JAMs, who may be agents of chaos disrupting the Illuminati’s plans. (Recall that in Illuminatus!, the MC5 record “Kick Out The Jams” at the behest of the Illuminati, as a way of taunting the Justified Ancients—or so John Dillinger says.)

Before they were known as the KLF, Drummond and Jimmy Cauty called themselves the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, appropriating the name for the eschaton-immanentizing hip-hop outfit they started in 1987. Over the next few years, they seized the pop charts and filled the airwaves with disorienting, Discordian hits, until a day came when you could flip on the TV and find Tammy Wynette singing “Stand By The JAMs,” or Martin Sheen narrating the KLF’s reenactment of the end of The Wicker Man.
 

Bill Drummond in Big in Japan, live at Eric’s (via @FromEricsToEvol)
 
After the Liverpool run of Illuminatus!, Drummond rebuilt his sets for the London production, but he suddenly bailed on the show, walking out hours before it was to open. I guess he missed the nude cameo appearance Robert Anton Wilson describes in Cosmic Trigger, Volume I:

On November 23, 1976—a sacred Discordian holy day, both because of the 23 and because it is Harpo Marx’s birthday—a most ingenious young Englishman named Ken Campbell premiered a ten-hour adaptation of Illuminatus at the Science-Fiction Theatre of Liverpool. It was something of a success (the Guardian reviewed it three times, each reviewer being wildly enthusiastic) and Campbell and his partner, actor Chris Langham, were invited to present it as the first production of the new Cottesloe extension of the National Theatre, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.

This seemed to me the greatest Discordian joke ever, since Illuminatus, as I may not have mentioned before, is the most overtly anarchistic novel of this century. Shea and I quite seriously defined our purpose, when writing it, as trying to do to the State what Voltaire did to the Church—to reduce it to an object of contempt among all educated people. Ken Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe). The thought of having this totally subversive ritual staged under the patronage of H.M. the Queen, Elizabeth II, was nectar and ambrosia to me.

The National Theatre flew Shea and me over to London for the premiere and I fell in love with the whole cast, especially Prunella Gee, who emphatically has my vote for Sexiest Actress since Marilyn Monroe. Some of us did a lot of drinking and hash-smoking together, and the cast told me a lot of synchronicities connected with the production. Five actors were injured during the Liverpool run, to fulfill the Law of Fives. Hitler had lived in Liverpool for five months when he was 23 years old. The section of Liverpool in which the play opened, indeed the very street, is described in a dream of Carl Jung’s recorded on page 23 of Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The theatre in Liverpool opened the day Jung died. There is a yellow submarine in Illuminatus, and the Beatles first sang “Yellow Submarine” in that same Liverpool Theatre. The actor playing Padre Pederastia in the Black Mass scene had met Aleister Crowley on a train once.

The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” under the patronage of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by Crowley before I was even born.

 

Robert Anton Wilson (via John Higgs)
 
In 2017, 23 years after they split up, Drummond and Cauty reunited as the JAMs. Instead of a new chart-burning house record, they released their first novel…

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.27.2018
10:08 am
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Aces High: Pan’s People’s sexy, strangely alluring promo for ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1971
01.16.2018
10:07 am
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01ppanppeeps.jpeg
 
Pan’s People were the reason so many dads watched Top of the Pops. They would sit and moan and ask daft rhetorical questions about all the acts that appeared on the BBC’s legendary chart show saying things like “You call that music?” or “Is that a man or a woman? Why’s he got makeup on, then?....” while the likes of Marc Bolan, or David Bowie, or Slade lip-synched to their latest hit single. But when Pan’s People came on, these scoffing dads would fall suddenly silent and breath rather heavily as their attention zoomed in on the all-female dance troupe who gyrated their hips to the latest grooves.

Pan’s People consisted of five dancers: Babs Lord, Dee Dee Wilde, Ruth Pearson, Louise Clarke, and Cherry Gillespie. They had formed Pan’s People out of two different TV dance groups: the Beat Girls and Top of the Pops first dance troupe the Go-Jos in 1968. Each of these dancers was exceedingly beautiful and supple and performed, what was for the time, rather risque sets in fashionably arousing outfits. For many males, even those not very interested in music, Pan’s People made Top of the Pops essential viewing.

Pan’s People usually performed their routines to tracks that had charted when the artists (either by being on tour or based over in America) weren’t able to appear on the show. Each week, choreographer Flick Colby had to devise a new routine for the girls to perform. This sometimes led to strange literal interpretations like the time they all danced Gilbert O’Sullivan’s hit “Get Down” to a pack of dogs all because the song had the lyric “I told you once before, And I won’t tell you no more, Get down, Get down, Get down. You’re a bad dog, baby, I don’t want you hanging around.” Sometimes there was no lyric as in this promo made for the show featuring John Barry’s theme music for the Roger Moore and Tony Curtis series The Persuaders.

This little insert film is a strange kind of Ballardian fantasy where gangs of suited-up molls carry out half-remembered rituals that are still tinged with power and meaning. It’s a superbly informative piece of televisual history that captures so much about the culture at the time. It has to be remembered that women wearing trouser suits or dressing like men was outré and still considered shocking. It was a time when casinos and gambling were thought of as dangerous, illicit and deeply exciting. A time when women smoking a cigarillo—or even driving a car on their own—was seen as striking a blow for Women’s Liberation. Nowadays, I guess most young’uns would (sadly) swipe left in search of something far more explicit if one of Pan’s Peoples’ routines appeared on their tablets. “But what do kids know?” as some of those dads asked aloud to no-one, in particular, all those years ago.
 

 
And now, some more choice moments of the fabulous Pan’s People.
 
More fab dance routines from Pan’s People, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.16.2018
10:07 am
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Spank Your Blank Blank: Funky vintage dance step instructions (including the Time Warp!)


Instructions for the ‘Spank Your Blank Blank’ dance. The instructions came along with Chicago-based artist Morris Jefferson’s sole record of the same name from 1978.
 
I’ve always been a bit jealous of people blessed with the gift of being able to dance—if it were possible for a human to have four left feet, I would be that human. And if I do try to bust a move, it’s in the privacy of my own home with the shades drawn just in case. In other words, if you recall the infamous episode of SeinfeldThe Little Kicks” (Season eight, episode four) where Elaine shows off her dance moves, I make her look like fucking Baryshnikov. I do however love to watch practitioners of the art, as well as professionals, strut their stuff in films and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve seen the 1984 film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo more (a lot more) than once. So perhaps in an attempt to help myself as well as anyone else suffering from more than one left foot, today’s post features a large collection of instructions for various vintage dance moves from “The Watusi,” “The Shag,” “The Ska,” and, of course, the disco staple, “The Travolta Point.”

One of my favorite artifacts in this post are the instructions for the so-called “Spank Your Blank Blank” dance (pictured at the top of this post) which came along with Morris Jefferson’s only album of the same name released in 1978. Another gem is a sheet of instructions for “the Time Warp” which was a part of the 15th Anniversary CD UK Box Set for The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1989. Check them all out below.
 

“The Bug.”
 

Examples of four different dance moves; “Rowing the Boat,” “the Popeye,” “the Dean Martin,” and “the Dracula.”
 

“The Zulu Stomp.”
 
More smooth moves after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.08.2018
10:38 am
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‘The Inhibition,’ the ‘frozen’ dance Charles Manson taught Beach Boy Dennis Wilson in 1968
11.27.2017
09:06 am
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via Sunset Gunshots
 
I thought I had long ago digested every crumb of gossip about the Beach Boys-Manson family connection, but one of the Charlie obits I read this week brought a screaming headline from the December 21, 1968 issue of Record Mirror to my attention: “DENNIS WILSON: ‘I LIVE WITH 17 GIRLS.’”

In the interview, conducted the year before the Tate-LaBianca murders, Wilson muses about turning the Manson girls into a group called “the Family Gems,” and says he’s been writing songs with their guru, “a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years.” Charlie, Wilson says, also taught him a dance step called “the Inhibition,” a kind of visualization exercise. (Wouldn’t “Do the Inhibition” have made a boss A-side for the Family Gems’ first 45?) From the interview: 

I still believe in meditation and I’m not experimenting with tribal living. I live in the woods in California, near Death Valley, with 17 girls. They’re space ladies. And they’d make a great group. I’m thinking of launching them as the Family Gems.

How did you come to meet up with no less than 17 girls?

It happened strangely. I went up into the mountains with my houseboy to take an LSD trip. We met two girls hitchhiking. One of them was pregnant. We gave them a lift, and a purse was left in the car. About a month later, near Malibu, I saw the pregnant girl again, only this time she’d had her baby. I was overjoyed for her and it was through her that I met all the other girls. I told them about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. His mother was a hooker, his father was a gangster, he’d drifted into crime but when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him. He taught me a dance, The Inhibition. You have to imagine you’re a frozen man and the ice is thawing out. Start with your fingertips, then all the rest of you, then you extend it to a feeling that the whole universe is thawing out. . .

Are you supporting all these people?

No, if anything, they’re supporting me. I had all the rich status symbols—Rolls Royce, Ferrari, home after home. Then I woke up, gave away 50 to 60 per cent of my money. Now I live in one small room, with one candle, and I’m happy, finding myself.

Below, at 3:38, the Beach Boys play the Manson and Wilson-penned tune “Never Learn Not to Love” on The Mike Douglas Show.

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.27.2017
09:06 am
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Freddy Krueger commands you to dance (or else!) on his 1987 novelty record
10.26.2017
07:28 am
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What would be really surprising, in retrospect, is if there had been no Freddy Krueger novelty records at all. But most of us will do much worse things for money. Aside from the Fat Boys’ “rappin’ Freddy” single, “Are You Ready for Freddy,” the big item in the child killer’s slender discography is the 1987 LP Freddy’s Greatest Hits, credited to the Elm Street Group.

The title is misleading, and not just because there weren’t any hits. Freddy’s only contribution to many songs is a joyless cackle that sounds like the devil’s laughter in Chick tracts (“HAW! HAW! HAW!”). The actual lead vocals, usually performed by one Stephanie Davy, emerge from a band that sounds like it has run out of drugs midway through scoring a contemporary Chevy Chase vehicle. Does Freddy get the chance to stretch out, to demonstrate his range, his imagination, or his gifts as an interpreter of songs? Did Freddy and the Elm Street Group keep after, say, “Moon River” all night long, through take after nicotine-stained take, until the song finally opened up like a thousand-petaled lotus long after everyone had grown too tired to think, and a hush fell over the studio as the sun stole over the horizon and the last notes died away because everyone knew they had just played “the one,” the take for all time, and they could still feel it hanging in the air? No. On his recording debut, Freddy mostly says “HAW! HAW! HAW!”
 

 
What can this flawed collection tell us about the artist? Freddy is a Boomer, apparently. Four of the nine tracks are covers of Fifties and Sixties rock hits: Freddie and the Dreamers’ “Do the Freddie,” Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully,” Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” and the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” While the latter two selections are obvious enough jokes, the inclusion of “Do the Freddie” and “Wooly Bully” reveals a surprising dimension of Freddy’s character. He wants you to dance!

More Freddy after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.26.2017
07:28 am
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Dancing with death: Vintage erotica featuring women cavorting with skeletons
09.13.2017
11:14 am
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It may seem a bit early for Halloween but if Selfridges think it wise to open their Christmas department in August then I see no reason why not to share some amusingly ghoulish pictures as prep for our favorite time of year—Allhallows Eve.

So, here for our enjoyment and possible edification are some intriguing pictures of women and skeletons. “What’s going on here?” you may ask. Well, quite a lot actually. These vintage photographs and postcards of women dancing and flirting with skeletons are more than mere momento mori or snapshots of ladies at carnivals having a jolly wheeze in the face of death—they are in some respects quite transgressive.

Some of these pictures were intended as, well, shall we say, “educational erotica” giving the viewer a frisson of arousal while at the same time battering them on the head with the salutary warning that the wrong kind of boner could lead to disease and death. Something those Decadent artists used to bang (ahem) on about in their paintings.

The association of sex and death was something that would not have gone amiss with most women, for although the percentage of mothers dying during childbirth fell dramatically in the 19th-century, there was still a staggering number of perinatal fatalities—500 to 1,000 per 100,000 births.

Then again, a few of these pictures seem to show happy young thanatophiles reveling in the thrill of cavorting with their skeleton chums. Lucky old them!

The last selection comes from a series of photographs taken by Joseph Hall of a vaudeville production called Death and the Lady from 1906, which was loosely based on a 17th-century English ballad.

What I take from all these rather fantastic pictures is that Death comes for us all, so it’s never too early to get your costume ready for Halloween…
 
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More of this skeleton crew, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.13.2017
11:14 am
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