FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Patti Smith would have been stoked to pose nude in Playboy
11.15.2017
02:11 pm
Topics:
Tags:


Patti never made the Playboy scene, but she was a CREEM Dream at some point in the late 70s

Bebe Buell was one of the most famous rock and roll girlfriends of the 1970s (she doesn’t like the term groupie, calling Pamela Des Barres’ scene in L.A. “West Coast crap”). Her first relationship with a rock star came when she dated Paul Cowsill of the Cowsills; she was 16 at the time. During the 1970s she also had romantic involvements with Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Jimmy Page. Famously, she gave birth to Steven Tyler’s daughter but knowingly named her with the “wrong” name Liv Rundgren to shield her from Tyler’s addiction problems. Although Todd Rundgren and Buell were breaking up around around the time of Liv Tyler’s birth, Rundgren committed to the deception and for years did not divulge that he wasn’t Liv Tyler’s biological father. Liv Tyler herself didn’t know the truth until she was nine years old.

One of the major turning points in Buell’s life was becoming the Playboy Playmate of the Month in November 1974. She didn’t need Playboy to date Rundgren, whom she’d already been seeing for a couple of years. (In her Playmate Fact Sheet, she lists “My boyfriend, Todd Rundgren” under “Favorite Performer.”) While posing in Playboy probably didn’t help her recording career any, it did have the effect of elevating her status among the rock elite—as she said, after “I did Playboy ... the rock stars came-a-hunting.”
 

 
Another notable woman living in NYC at that time was Patti Smith, who had yet to record any music under her name. She also had some fairly serious dalliances with Rundgren, and was also friendly with Buell. According to Buell in the essential oral history of punk Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, it was actually Smith who convinced Buell that she should say yes to Playboy.

More interestingly, Smith would have been totally down with posing for Playboy herself.

Here’s Buell on the subject:
 

The person that talked me in to posing for Playboy magazine was Patti Smith. At the time I was doing well as a cover-girl model for Revlon, Intimate, and Wella. I had four or five big accounts. But my role models weren’t models. I admired girls like Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull, those were the girls I looked up to and aspired to be like.

So when Playboy asked me to pose, Patti said, “I wish Playboy would ask me, I’d do it.” Patti had really big boobs, a lot of people don’t realize that. She was extremely well-endowed and she always thought that kind of stuff was really cool. She showed me pictures of Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress, Raquel Welch, and all these Playboy pictures. She’d say, “Being in Playboy is like Coca-Cola. It’s Andy Warhol. It’s American, you know, it’s part of America, this magazine.” She said, “Do it. It’ll be great. It’ll fuck up that fashion thing.”

-snip-

Patty’s idea of feminism seemed to me to be about not being a victim–-that women should make choices in full control of their faculties and make a rebel stand.

Posing for Playboy was a rebel move. It almost ruined my career as far as legitimate Fashion work went. The only magazines that ould book me after that were like Cosmopolitan and stuff. I lost all my bread-and-butter clients. I lost Avon and Butterick. All the straight fashion magazines stopped booking me.

But how could I regret it?

 
So there you have it. Patti Smith, of course, did not end up ever posing for Playboy but instead released Horses in 1975 and eventually became an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
11.15.2017
02:11 pm
|
‘Woodshock ‘85’: Richard Linklater’s first short film featuring a young Daniel Johnston


By the time we got to Woodshock we were half a dozen strong…
 
Before it became “The Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin, Texas was home to an alternative music festival known as Woodshock. A quip on the “Aquarian Exposition” of a similar name, the punk rock beer-bust was first held in Waterloo Park in 1981. Fourteen local Texan bands played for over six hours, which was interrupted by a massive sprinkler raid indicating the park’s curfew. The event’s inaugural poster was designed by a pre-Jesus Lizard David Yow, who desecrated the classic Woodstock dove by flipping it upside-down with XX’s in its eyes and a toe tag. Peace and Love, my ass.
 

 
In 1983, the event moved to Hurlbut Ranch in Dripping Springs, located in the hills just outside of Austin. The site had once hosted events like the 1972 Dripping Springs Reunion, initially dubbed the “Super Bowl of Country Music” until low attendance proved it to be a massive commercial failure. Willie Nelson, who played the Reunion, was inspired by the event and hosted his first annual 4th of July Picnic in Dripping Springs the following year. Unlike its site predecessors, Woodshock would bring with it a different element from the Texas music scene: the punks, freaks, and weirdos that, as the popular local bumper sticker says “Keep Austin Weird.”
 
The uneven dirt roads that led to the Hurlbut Ranch made Woodshock a festival that was nearly impossible to get to. Some could say its inaccessibility was a blessing in disguise, as isolation and expanse, in addition to access to legendary watering holes, encouraged a certain free-form insanity that in ways mimicked the spirit of Woodstock itself. This must be what it felt like to take the brown acid.
 

 
Woodshock 1985 included performances by local (and otherwise) musicians Daniel Johnston, Texas Instruments, Dharma Bums, the U-Men, Glass Eye, Cargo Cult (fronted by Biscuit of Big Boys), The Reivers, Poison 13, and the festival’s unofficial mascot, The Hickoids. Several of the groups were part of Austin’s growing post-postmodernist, or “New Sincerity” movement, considered to be reactionary to the ironic outlook of punk rock and new wave. David Yow’s Scratch Acid appeared on the original Woodshock lineup, but didn’t perform until the following year for reasons unknown. What really set 1985 apart from previous and future years, however, is the short film that was created by a local filmmaker named Richard Linklater.
 

 
Running at just seven minutes long, Woodshock is a 16mm satirical homage to the hippie movement at Woodstock and the experimental psychedelic films of the era. Linklater, who would go on to direct such celebrated Hollywood films as Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, and Boyhood, was a film student at Austin Community College at the time of filming. The short was the first ever to be completed by Linklater, along with co-creator and future collaborator, Lee Daniel. The two would later recreate the landscape of Woodshock in the “Moontower” party scene of 1993’s Dazed and Confused.
 
Similar to Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which was released in the same year, Woodshock is a documentary short about the music fan and not the music itself. Rather than focusing on the bands of the festival, Linklater focused on the revelers, the fucked-up weirdos fried on acid and drunk off Lone Stars. Despite its punk rock notoriety, Woodshock ‘85 was about the moment and the thrill of it all.
 

 

 

 
The only musician featured on-camera was outsider artist and proud McDonald’s employee, Daniel Johnston. Here the unknown 24-year old musician can be seen during an awkward exchange where he promotes his tape, the infamous Hi, How Are You. It was around this time that Johnston began to receive some national acclaim, although it would still be years away until Kurt Cobain wore a Daniel Johnston t-shirt. Ironically, this would not be the last time Johnston would solicit his demo tapes in a Richard Linklater film. The director’s first feature length, 1988’s 16mm experimental masterpiece, It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, also boasts a brief Daniel Johnston cameo.
 
Much more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bennett Kogon
|
11.09.2017
08:02 am
|
A treasure trove of ‘The Twilight Zone’ magazine

001twilzomrs.jpg
 
Somewhere in your life, a door opens, you enter, and you suddenly find yourself in another dimension—a place beyond that which is known to man. A dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. Or, as we prefer to call it, the Internet—where everything is available and time disappears as you spend hours upon hours drifting in the hell of an Internet K-hole.

Sometimes you’re lucky. Sometimes you avoid the endless loops of cat and baby videos and dodge the fake news and outraged memes about nothing very much in particular only to land safely in a strange repository of mystery and imagination.

One such idyllic location can be found at the Internet Archive where the Pulp Magazine Archive has nearly every back issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. This is the place to spend hours, days even, happily reading, learning, and being thrilled by the very best genre writers of our age like Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Robert Silverberg, and Harlan Ellison.

Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine started in April 1981 under the editorship of writer T. E. D. Klein and lasted until 1989. It was filled with first-class stories (see above), interviews with writers and directors, film reviews (including Stephen King’s take on Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead), long illustrated features on films like Blade Runner, Gremlins, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and David Lynch’s Dune, plus book reviews by Thomas M. Disch and Theodore Sturgeon. There were also incredible treats like John Carpenters “lost” short fiction and the story behind H. P. Lovecraft’s “banned book.”

Now, thankfully to one kind dear soul who has lovingly scanned nearly every issue (sixty in total), you too can enjoy the pleasures of entering The Twilight Zone for yourself.
 
01twilzomag.jpg
 
03twilzomag.jpg
 
Discover more treasures from ‘The Twilight Zone Magazine,’ after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
11.06.2017
11:08 am
|
You too can own a promotional Ramones ‘switchblade’ from 1977!
11.03.2017
03:58 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
In January 1977 the Ramones released album number two, entitled Leave Home. It was another high-quality slab of straight-ahead punk in the acknowledged Ramones style. The album had fourteen songs, the longest of which clocked in at 2:42. Six of the songs, sublimely, didn’t even make it to the 2-minute mark. This was rock and roll at its purest and simplest. The most famous song on the album is probably “Suzy Is a Headbanger,” which, interestingly, was not released as a single. “I Remember You” was the first single off of the album, but “Swallow My Pride” as the only single from the album to crack the singles charts anywhere in the world (#36 in the UK).

The band got into some predictable minor trouble over the song “Carbona Not Glue” due to the fact of Carbona being a registered trademark. On later pressings the song was replaced with “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.”

To promote the album, Sire made a special switchblade-style letter opener with the words “Ramones Leave Home” on it. A letter opener is not as cool as an actual switchblade, but the real thing most likely would have been highly illegal to give away to antisocial punk rock fans. And switchblades actually were a part of the Ramones’ daily life. According to Marky’s memoir, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone, in 1980 there was an incident after a show at Six Flags in New Jersey in which Dee Dee “pointed” a switchblade at Marky, to which the drummer replied (after wresting the weapon out of his hands), “Do it again, ever, and the knife’s going into you.”
 

 
An auction has popped up on eBay for one of the switchblades. It’s not in mint condition—far from it—because the letter opener actually saw use at the offices of Punk Magazine. As of this writing, after 13 bids the price is at $305—the seller indicates in the body of the auction that there is a reserve of in excess of $1000 in effect.

The switchblade is not the only amusing Ramones promotional item in existence. In 1976 Sire created special Louisville Slugger baseball bats to promote “Blitzkrieg Bop.” (Sire publicist Janis Schacht wanted the bats to publicize “Beat on the Brat” but someone at Sire sensibly realized that might be one step too far.) Above is a picture of two of the bats, located at the Ramones Museum in Berlin, which I didn’t know existed until today.
 
Pics after the jump…...
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
11.03.2017
03:58 pm
|
‘Michael’s Thing’: New York City’s once essential queer city guide (as seen on HBO’s ‘The Deuce’)
10.11.2017
12:58 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
Early on in the most recent episode of HBO’s The Deuce, which is set in New York City in 1971, Vince Martino (one of the two twins played by James Franco in the show) is looking to get the Hi Hat, the new mobbed-up bar in the Times Square area that he runs, a little more publicity. So he asks the show’s most prominent gay character, a bartender who works for him named Paul Hendrickson (Chris Coy), whether he has seen to it that the establishment has been listed in all of the “bar guides.”

It’s already been established that Vince wants to extend a welcoming hand to the city’s burgeoning post-Stonewall homosexual community, so it’s not a huge surprise when he also adds, “The gay one, too? What’s it called, ‘Michael’s Stick’?” The bartender clarifies that the magazine is actually called Michael’s Thing and suggests taking out an ad, too—the rates aren’t bad for a half-page.

Michael’s Thing—what’s that? Well, it turns out that, just as The Deuce suggests, Michael’s Thing was an essential weekly guide to homosexual life in New York City that literally lasted decades but (in retrospect) seems like it went kind of unheralded. It’s very difficult to find more than a handful of covers online (this for a magazine that ran for well over a thousand issues), and similarly, there is also pretty much a black hole in terms of information about it on the Internet. Most of the images I was able to find are tiny, too. There’s just very little information out there about Michael’s Thing, and that seems a shame.

The most pertinent piece of information I’d like to know is—who was Michael, anyway?

A playwright named Doric Wilson (Now She Dances, The West Street Gang, Street Theater) who was artistically active in New York during the 1970s and 1980s comes to the rescue, with a blog post he wrote about Michael’s Thing in 2011. Sadly, it appears that he wrote his account less than a month before his death. In 1974, Wilson had been instrumental in founding TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), which was a theater company dedicated to gay themes—according to Wikipedia, the first such entity; it’s still in existence.

It turns out that the “Michael” of Michael’s Thing was named Michael Giammetta. Here’s a chunk of Wilson’s tribute to the publication, without which, believe me, there’d be virtually nothing out there about it:
 

Michael Giammetta published Michael’s Thing between 1970-2000 as a guide to cultural and social happenings of the GLTB community. It was the one of the main and most reliable sources of information. It also was a handy guide to the most important institutions of the early days of liberation, the gay bar. The covers of Michael’s Thing may have featured pretty boys almost in their all together but inside the focus was theater, dance, cabaret. They were all there, all the early voices of what would become queer culture. Freeman Gunter was an excellent critic. There are careers in the arts still going full force that began thanks to his taking notice of them.

Mandate magazine was started as an “out” version of After Dark in the early 1970s. It featured some of the early stars of GLBT photography, John Michael Cox, Jr., Jürgen Vollmer, and first and foremost, Roy Blakey. Under the editorship of John Devere, it contained thoughtful reviews covering all of the arts, and essential articles on the emerging gay liberation movement. John Devere’s coverage of the protests surrounding the filming of Cruising is still a high-water mark of gay journalism.

 
Today it seems almost unexceptional that there would be a prominent gay weekly guide in New York City, but as Wilson reminds us, things weren’t so cut and dry in the 1970s: “It was an era when publications like New York magazine dismissed the culture coming from the queer community with a sneer and a snicker. The New York Times refused to even use the word ‘gay,’ and only mentioned our community if the article was derogatory.”

What’s clear is that Michael’s Thing was not just a city guide for queers—it was also a bona fide news outlet that catered to a specific demographic very well, with good reporting and top-notch arts coverage. It’s interesting how much the cover design changed over the years—I count five different treatments for the name of the magazine.
 

1972
 

May 1976
 
Much more after the jump…....
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
10.11.2017
12:58 pm
|
An early Rolling Stone promotion sent every new subscriber a free roach clip!
09.28.2017
12:48 pm
Topics:
Tags:


The February 10, 1968, issue of Rolling Stone
 
It’s difficult to explain why Rolling Stone was able to separate itself from a crowded pack in 1967 to become the most reliable media barometer of Boomer culture in existence. It surely had a great deal to do with Jann Wenner’s personality. It would surprise nobody to learn, as David Weir, a reporter who co-wrote Rolling Stone’s coverage of Patty Hearst in the 1970s, once observed, that Wenner was (and probably is) “a brilliant master at getting what he wants out of people.”

Securing exclusive coverage of high-profile acts was surely a key to the early success of the magazine, but let’s not overlook Wenner’s bold sense of PR. Before the magazine was even a year old, Wenner zeroed in on an unbeatable promotional idea that would appeal to every person in his potential audience while alienating those who didn’t belong.

Wenner put an ad in the magazine stating that he would send every person who bought a subscription a free roach clip. The ad took up a full page and looked like this:
 

 
The text of the ad was a masterpiece of humorous insinuation, never mentioning drugs while winkingly touting 1,001 uses, which happen to include “music appreciation” and “preventing singed lips.” Riiiiiiight…..
 

This handy little device can be yours free!

An essential accessory for the successful musician and the completely equipped rock and roll fan. It has one thousand and one uses around the home, in rehearsal or for better music appreciation. Applications of this delightfully simple piece of machinery range from the frivolous (hanging earrings) to the practical (preventing singed lips.) Each handle comes individually lathed in either mahogany, ebony, oak or rosewood. No two alike! Get ‘em while they last.

Without delay, subscribe to Rolling Stone! We’ll give you one “Handy Little Device” free with your subscription. If you would like to give a gift subscription to a loved one, we’ll send you two “Handy Little Devices” or one to you and one to your loved one. Act now before this offer is made illegal.

 
As related in Robert Draper’s diverting 1990 book Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History, Wenner came up with the idea while getting high at a friend’s house in (where else?) San Francisco:
 

One afternoon Jann sat with friends in a house on Potrero Hill, smoking dope. Jann was admiring the handsome wooden apparatus which held the joint.

“Where’d you get the roach clip?” he asked its owner, Robert Kingsbury, a man he had met only once before.

“Made it myself,” said Kingsbury. “I make ‘em out of hardwood knobs.”

Jann took a toke and fingered the woodwork of the roach clip. Then he asked, “What do you think you could make these for?”

Kingsbury shrugged. “Maybe eighty cents apiece,” he said.

“Could you make me some?” Jann asked. “I need a lot.”

Sure, why not, said Kingsbury. “What do you need ‘em for?”

“I want to give ‘em away,” said Jann, grinning devilishly. “As a subscription incentive.”

And so page 23 of issue No. 5 featured a photograph of a 41/4-inch roach clip with the headline “This handy little device can be yours free!” With a subscription to Rolling Stone, the ad read, readers would receive this “essential accessory. ... Act now before this offer is made illegal.”

Gleason hit the ceiling. “Marijuana is against the law,” he said, lecturing Jann in his acid Eastern voice. “You can cover it, you can joke about it—but you cannot sell dope paraphernalia through Rolling Stone. You just can’t do that!”

Even by now, however, it was becoming clear [that] Jann Wenner could, and would, do with Rolling Stone whatever he wished.

 
When the New York Times reviewed Draper’s book, it chose to tout the roach clip gimmick in the headline: “A Roach Clip with Every Paid Subscription.”

On the suggestion of Jane Schindelheim, Wenner’s wife, Kingsbury (who was dating Jane’s sister at the time, whom he would later marry) was later asked to become Rolling Stone’s second art director, a position he held for several years. But in some respects he was an odd fit. A sculptor by trade, Kingsbury at 44 was a full generation older than Wenner and virtually everyone else at the magazine. Draper asserts that he “despised rock ‘n’ roll” but was “brilliant and resourceful, a disciplined man.” Draper credits Kingsbury with establishing the relatively clean and uncluttered look (for a counterculture rag, anyway), and he was ushered out of the organization around the time the magazine adopted four-color printing techniques in 1973.

I’m curious how many roach clips ever went out to subscribers. I’m tempted to say “zero.” There is currently a lavish exhibition dedicated to Rolling Stone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which I visited recently. There you can find the page with the advertisement as well as one of the clips, but that’s the only one I’ve ever seen reproduced. Below you can see a picture of the Rock Hall display taken by yours truly.

As you can see, Draper has the ad first appearing in the February 24, 1968, issue (“No. 5”), but the promotion actually debuted one issue earlier. The page shown at the Rock Hall does say “February 10, 1968” on it.

In any case, I’m a teensy bit skeptical that there exists any such thing as a human being who received a Rolling Stone roach clip in the mail. The auction site eBay has precisely zero auctions dedicated to the item in its archive, which doesn’t exactly prove anything, and if you can find a picture of one on the Internet, you’re a better Google-stalker than I. Draper mentions that Wenner was having difficulty paying his staff in those first couple of years, so I suspect he pulled the somewhat (in retrospect) Trumpian maneuver of reneging on a promise.

But I don’t know—if you received one of these mahogany beauties in the mail, please reach out and let us know! Pics or it didn’t happen…...
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
09.28.2017
12:48 pm
|
Eros: The entire run of banned highbrow Sixties sex magazine is now available online
09.25.2017
10:17 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Launched in 1962, Ralph Ginzburg’s Eros was the kind of magazine that targeted the kind of man who actually did read Playboy for the articles. Ginzburg managed to publish four provocative and fascinating issues of Eros before the federal authorities, which were run by Robert F. Kennedy at the time, invoked the Comstock Act and arrested Ginzburg’s ass.

If the run of Eros were a nug of marijuana, one might be tempted to croak the words “really good shit,” with deep respect. Eros was a somewhat literary version of the “ribald classics” section of Playboy transmogrified into its own title, but there was actual ground-breaking political stuff in there too. “Devoted to the joys of love and sex,” Eros was daring and often hilarious in its content and incredibly forward-thinking in its design, which was the purview of Herb Lubalin. Flip through a copy (actual issues are rather pricey) and you’d have a hard time coming up with a reason that these layouts couldn’t have been executed in 2015. Indeed, from a “look and feel” perspective Eros reminds me most of the travel magazine Afar. Few did more with a serif than Ralph Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin.

The content was bold and wide-ranging. Ginzburg ran fiction by Ray Bradbury, Guy de Maupassant, and Mark Twain; a photo series by Garry Winogrand; an antique patent submission for a male chastity belt; a profile of Frank Harris; and psychosexual meditiations on John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe (uhhh, published separately: few knew that they were sleeping together yet).

The early to mid-1960s were a mixed bag for the judicial oversight of what at the time was called smut. William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch was banned in 1962 but vindicated in 1966. The tale of Eros, however, is a darker one. Ginzburg, who had once written a history of erotica under the amusing title An Unhurried View of Erotica, could hardly be accused of indulging in “mere” sexual titillation, and yet he was still sentenced to five years and fined $42,000 for using the U.S. Postal Service to deliver copies of the fourth (and ultimately final) issue of Eros as well as a newsletter called Liaison and a book called The Housewife’s Handbook on Selective Promiscuity. Even from the perspective of more than five decades later, one can feel the heady rush of sending those materials around as if they were regular goods.

There was a racist tinge to the prosecution—one of the features in that fourth issue was a series of photographs by Ralph M. Hattersley Jr. depicting a black man and a white woman in a state of aesthetically pleasing undress. The judge in the case asserted that the pictures “a detailed portrayal of the act of sexual intercourse,” although this was patently false. The case hinged on the appearance of prurience—in other words, since it was promoted as appealing to “erotic interest,” then it fell under the category of “pandering,” and therefore whatever additional social value the material could be said to possess would be outweighed by the sexual content.

Ginzburg ultimately spent eight months in prison for publishing Eros.

We are grateful to graphic designer Mindy Seu, Cooper Union’s Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography, and the Internet Archive for posting every single page of Eros’ four-issue run. If you’re an editorial geek such as myself, it’s difficult to tear one’s eyes away from these gorgeous, intelligent layouts, nor chuckle at the stimulating topics under consideration. Below you can feast your eyes on some choice spreads and single pages.
 

 

 
Much more Eros after the jump…...
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
09.25.2017
10:17 am
|
Stuck in the Mudd! Four decades later, the doorman of the wildest nightclub in NYC lets you in!

dcgvgj
Here’s a drink ticket—enjoy the post!

“If you’ve been standing here for more than ten minutes you’re not coming in” announces Richard Boch in a stern but cute, almost teenaged stoner way. Don’t get me wrong, he means it. This was how “normal people” were greeted much of the time at the door of the Mudd Club (and many other ultra hip clubs in New York City at the time). This made getting in a huge badge of honor and being turned away a major disgrace. Imagine riding on THAT possibility just to pay to go into a nightclub? An anonymous “sniper” refused entrance once even hit Boch with a dead pigeon from a few yards away and sped off in a taxi cab!

Back then these normal people showing up at Manhattan nightclubs were mostly referred to as the “bridge and tunnel” crowd (Queens, Jersey, Brooklyn) a term not heard much these days, but once heard hundreds of times every night in NYC clubs. Some were 9-5ers, some wealthy disco-types expecting to stroll in on the doorman’s view of their Rolex or hot girlfriend. These regular folks were basically told to cool their heels or fuck off while an 18-year-old kid like me dressed to the hilt in what may have looked to them like idiotic rags, parted the seas and strolled in like I was Mick Jagger. This was not Studio 54 as they would find out soon enough. What it was, though, was a trip into known and unknown galaxies of hip culture throughout history, like a living, breathing museum/funhouse/drug den/concert hall/discotheque, mixed with nitroglycerine and LSD and thrown into a blender to create the unknown. The future. THE NOW!

The Mudd Club was almost literally unbelievable. Inmates running the asylum on an outer space pirate ship. This vessel was founded, funded and schemed by Steve Mass, who was on every side of the street all at once. When I first met Steve, he was roommates with Brian Eno and got that input, but he STILL drove me out to my parents’ apartment in Queens to help pull my record collection from under my bed, my parents shrugging their shoulders until reading about us a year later in the New York Times, thereby making it “Okay.” But really he was always very curious, constantly grilling me, getting inside my head. I once told him I thought he should round off the corners and ceiling of the Mudd Club like a giant cave and have live bats flying around the club. He actually considered it! He did this with certain other kids, rock stars, Warhol superstars, models, designers, Hollywood royalty, junkies, freaks and lord knows who else. We all had a bit of our heart and soul in that place.
 
sdfghjk
Mudd Club owner Steve Mass. Photo by Kate Simon

The above mentioned Richard Boch is the author of a incredibly well-written new book from Feral House titled The Mudd Club. Boch was the main doorman there and the book is his autobiography or a coming of age story told in pretty much the aftermath of the glorious Sixties during the truly, in retrospect, harsh, dark, real version of what was hoped for, but lost in that previous decade. Richard’s story is all of our stories, those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have grown up or wound up in New York City’s grimy punk/art/drugged musical and historical mish-mosh. It was the Velvet Underground’s songs come to life after waiting a decade for the world to catch up to it, or crumble to its level.
 
To quote Richard:

I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the scene of the crime, always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended: the day before never happened and the day after, a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle. I thought I could handle it and for a while, I did.

 
lkjlkjlkj
Author Richard Boch. Photo by Alan Kleinberg
 
Boch was given marching orders orders early on to avoid bloated seventies superstars and the limo crowd. On one of his first nights of work he was faced with a huge, loud, and very sweaty Meatloaf. “Definitely not something I wanted to get close to, physically or musically,” Boch says, and ignored him. My first ever DJ gig was early on at the Mudd Club and I was told told by Steve Mass to do things like play Alvin and The Chipmunks records when it got a bit crowded, to “make everyone uncomfortable,” including myself. Of course I had the record. I also gouged a 45 with scissors insuring the record would skip horribly and then pretend that it wasn’t happening. Just long enough to get the asylum to freak out a little bit.

Later this stuff went out the window but it was quite a formative experience. Humor filtered through even to the most deadly serious moments there. The Mudd Club was a place where twenty people could literally have had twenty different experiences on the same night during the same hour as there was just so much happening on different mental/pharmaceutical levels and different floor levels. Everywhere you turned there was someone amazing. From the way I had grown up, seeing Andy Warhol, John Waters, David Bowie and the Ramones within a twenty minute span was “my” Studio 54. Watching Screamin’ Jay Hawkins while standing next to Jean-Michel Basquiat, seeing the Soft Boys, girl groups like the Angels and the Crystals, Frank Zappa, Bauhaus, Nico, the Dead Boys, Captain Beefheart, John Cale, a Radley Metzger film presented by Sleazoid Express or an impromptu freakout by Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis, well this was my dream come to life!

My dream hasn’t changed in 40 years. I’m still in awe that it happened. And in the middle of all that I was allowed to put on my own demented conceptual events with friends (“The Puberty Ball,” etc.) and be a regular DJ. The people I came to know in the punk world who wanted more found it at the Mudd Club. Our mad obsession with the Sixties, especially the Warhol/New York sixties, informed much of what we did, and at the same time the Warhol Factory itself became more corporate. The Superstars were by then getting older and pushed out, but they were looking for more themselves, and they were looking to us to inform them, making for some extremely insane morality and immorality plays coming to life before our eyes. Mudd had the pull of what the press called “downtown,” and for the downtown types, well our voices were about to be heard loud and clear.
 
jhgfd
David Bowie and Dee Dee Ramone. Photo by Bobby Grossman
 
jhfndbf
Howie Pyro deejaying at Mudd

Richard Boch understood all this, and was also an artist himself so he knew who everyone in the art world was, as well as all the new punk stars and celebutantes, no wavers, new wavers, culture vulture gods and the ones who would become gods themselves in a year or so. In the book he talks about being nervous about starting working there but man, he was the one for the job. In the pages of The Mudd Club, Boch’s quite candid about everything you’d want to know (gossip but not mean gossip: sex, drugs, more drugs, and getting home at ten AM, having done every drug and a half dozen people along the way—normal stuff like that). It reads in one, two, or three page sections, my favorite kind of book. You can put it down in ten-minute intervals or read it in any order you want, IF you can put it down at all. I have literally read certain sections backwards for 40-50 pages while looking for something and didn’t really notice. It made me laugh out loud, and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s kind of like “Please Kill Me, the Day After,” though it’s not an oral history as such, as it is written from Richard Boch’s point of view, but it has the same immediate anecdotal feel.
 
kuyhd
‘TV Party’ at Mudd. Photo by Bob Gruen
 
The club’s benevolent benefactor, Steve Mass, was responsible for making this incredible witches brew keep bubbling and kept the happenings happening. He was willing to do anything, just for the sake of doing it. Steve originally owned an ambulance service. For my 19th birthday they had a huge party for me on the second floor of the Mudd Club. Since Steve had medical connections, and since we were ALL junkies (well, a good 85% of us were), he furnished a massive cake with dozens of syringes with the plungers & needles removed so they could put the candles in the open syringes. This of course turned into a massive cake fight with the participants looking like the Little Rascals (with pinned eyes). Steve was always down for this sorta stuff. As for the main floor, the bands, writers and performers that I saw in a single month’s time was staggering! More than some people see in a lifetime.
 
From the book:

January 1979. The Cramps freaked out The Mudd Club with a loud Psychobilly grind that included such hits as “Human Fly” and “Surfin’ Bird.” A few months later, the “big names” started to appear…

He goes on to say:

The legendary Sam and Dave got onstage a few weekends later, and it was the first time on my watch that I got to see the real deal. By late summer, Talking Heads took the stage while Marianne Faithful, X, Lene Lovich, and the Brides of Funkenstein waited in the wings.

There were so many great performances: Scheduled, impromptu, logical and out of left field. The locals and the regulars were the staple and the stable and performed as part of the White Street experience. They included everyone you could imagine and some you never could. John Cale, Chris Spedding, Judy Nylon and Nico, John Lurie and Philip Glass were just a few. Writers and poets such as William S. Burroughs, Max Blagg, Cookie Mueller, and “Teenage Jesus” Lydia Lunch all wound up on the Mudd Club stage. The talent pool was so deep and occasionally dark that even Hollywood Babylon‘s Luciferian auteur Kenneth Anger got Involved.

Steve’s willingness and generosity along with his guarded enthusiasm offered support to a local community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Together with Diego (Cortez)’ and Anya (Phillip’s) short-lived but “dominating” spirit, the Mudd Club became an instant happening, a free-for-all with No Wave orchestration and very few rules.

Diego described the Mudd Club as “a container, a vessel, but certainly not the only one in town.” What made the place unique was its blank-canvas emptiness. When the space filled up, IT happened and everyone wanted to be a part. A living, breathing work of art, it was beautiful and way off center, a slice of golden time.

I was lucky, and soaked it all in.

 
dfkujnbd
Nico playing her wheezing harmonium. Photo by Ebet Roberts

All of us who got to be there were lucky. This was a timeless world of it’s own. A world that could be compared to any and all magical artistic movements, scenes or spaces. Dada. Warhol’s Factory, the Beats in NY and SF, Surrealism, etc.—times, places, people all endlessly written about as there’s just so much to say. Everyone involved had a unique experience, true to themselves. This wasn’t just a nightclub, it was so much more. It almost seemed like a private place where, on the best nights, people’s lives and fantasies were put on display and the public was allowed to watch. The public who just came to do coke and dance (as we all did) but who accidentally got touched by a bizarre and wonderful world that lived in the shadows of the city then, usually just brushing against them like a ghost in the night. Whether they even noticed or not, well, who cares?

This first book on the subject (I guarantee it will not be the last) is Richard Boch’s own experience, peppered with those of us who he interviewed for the reminders. This book is about his eyes opening, his chain-wielding power stance, his blowjobs, his drinks, his drugs, all of which are plentiful. It includes a little of most of us, the people we loved, the ones we lost, the games we played, and the love we shared of each other and our mutual history. Still though, there are a million stories in the Mudd’s microcosm of the naked city, this is just one of them.

And what a glorious place to start: right at the front door.
 
ljkhgdbhfnjg
 

The trailer for the book
 
More Mudd Club after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Howie Pyro
|
09.19.2017
02:47 pm
|
The Male Figure: Bruce of Los Angeles and the perfection of midcentury beefcake
09.19.2017
01:31 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
When you ponder improbable destinies for high school chemistry teachers, it’s likely that almost everyone reading this would instantly think of Walter White, who went from being a lowly chemistry teacher to a major drug kingpin in the U.S. Southwest—at least in the fictional narrative that is Breaking Bad.

Bruce Bellas never became a drug lord, but his tale is still worthy of consideration. Born in 1909, Bellas grew up in Alliance, Nebraska. where he was a chemistry teacher into his late thirties. Something caused Bellas to leave Nebraska for the West Coast in 1947, however, and there he became a magazine publisher of men’s physique magazines and a significant pioneer in the development of the American gay aesthetic.

Once he found himself in Los Angeles, Bellas adopted the uncannily apt sobriquet Bruce of Los Angeles. According to a 2008 exhibition dedicated to the artist, Bruce started out taking pictures of bodybuilding contests while working for one of Joe Weider’s many muscle magazines. In 1956 Bruce created what was ostensibly a magazine for aspiring artists called The Male Figure, which supplied him with the proper prerogative to present photos of muscular dudes with hardly any clothes on. Even leaving the beefcake aspect aside, the Male Figure covers are models of midcentury simplicity. 

In the unaccountably well-written Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures, edited by George Haggerty, Bruce’s output is described thus:
 

Equal parts chronicler of the sport of body-building, photographic artist-technician, and carnal visionary, Bruce made his mark in both studio and natural settings, in both shimmering black and white and lurid Kodachrome, in both formal poses that sculpted titanic champions and informal portraits that recorded illicit interactions. Only occasionally taking up the pseudoclassical plaster pillars of tradition, Bruce registered a documentary preference for corrals, motorcycles, navy yards, and the vinyl flotsam of suburbia.

 
As a “carnal visionary” he stands alongside Tom of Finland and George Quaintance as a small group of gay male graphic artists who helped define the homosexual aesthetic under conditions of extreme danger and secrecy, as the phrase “illicit interactions” above suggests.

In The Naked Heartland: The Itinerant Photography of Bruce of Los Angeles, Robert Mainardi noted that Bruce’s work “would one day be recognized for its classic elegance, Hollywood glamour, and camp wit, as well as for its restrained sensuality.” Bruce was a major influence on photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber, and Herb Ritts.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…...
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
09.19.2017
01:31 pm
|
When a superfan crosses the line, things will never be the same again (short film with Sean Young)
08.16.2017
01:10 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
bOING bOING’s resident video guru Eric Mittleman has been one of my nearest and dearest friends for over a quarter century. He’s what is called “a keeper” in lifelong friend terms and is one of my all time favorite people. His new short film was recently premiered on bOING bOING and now we’re showcasing it here.

The filmmaker writes:

This short film is a cautionary tale about our personal and social media data and what can be done with it when it is a little too accessible. When a superfan crosses the line, Jason, a blogger, goes looking for her. He finds something unexpected and his life will never be the same again. The cast consists of Sean Young (Bladerunner), Joshua LeBar (Entourage), Alice Hunter (Another Period) and Claudia Graf (Love & Mercy).  I hope you enjoy it.

One small bit of background information: The main character’s apartment looks exactly like Eric’s own apartment. The TV, the couch. Everything. Except that it’s much, much, much tidier. Weird.

(Runs away)
 

 
Watch ‘Legacy’ after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
|
08.16.2017
01:10 pm
|
Page 1 of 51  1 2 3 >  Last ›