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Freddie Mercury really loved his cats
12.05.2018
06:46 am
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Freddie Mercury had many loves in his life. One of his big passions was his love of cats. Mercury so loved cats he was once described as “rock’s greatest lover of cats.” According to his last partner (and the man he called his “husband”) Jim Hutton, Mercury “treated cats like his own children.”

He would constantly fuss over them, and if any of them came to any harm when Freddie was away, heaven help us. During the day the cats had the run of the house and grounds, and at night one of us would round them up and bring them inside.

When on tour, or away recording, Mercury regularly phoned home to speak to his beloved felines. During his lifetime, Mercury had ten cats starting in the seventies with Tom and Jerry (who he shared with the woman Mercury described as his “common-law wife” Mary Austin), Tiffany (a present from Austin), and then a cluster of cats (Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar and Romeo) who he shared with Hutton at their home in Garden Lodge, Logan Mews, London. As Hutton later wrote in his memoir Mercury and Me, Mercury’s favorite feline was his calico cat named Delilah:

Of all the cats at Garden Lodge, Delilah was Freddie’s favourite and the one he’d pick up and stroke the most often. When Freddie went to bed, it was Delilah he brought with us. She’d sleep at the foot of the bed, before slipping out for a night-time prowl around Garden Lodge.

Delilah was a spoilt cat and depended on Freddie for everything, even protection from the other cats. They would gang up on her and she would run into our bedroom—it was a cat sanctuary, In many ways the cats were Freddie’s children, and we all thought of them that way. The slightest feline sneeze or twitch and he’d send them off to the vet for a check-up. And we were old-fashioned when it came to having to have sex in total privacy. Whenever Freddie and I jumped in the bedroom to make love, he would always ensure that none of the cats were watching.

Mercury dedicated his solo album Mr. Bad Guy (1985) “to my cat Jerry—also Tom, Oscar, and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe—screw everybody else!” and so loved Delilah that he wrote a song about her on Queen’s Innuendo album in 1991:

Delilah, Delilah, oh my, oh my, oh my - you’re irresistible
You make me smile when I’m just about to cry
You bring me hope, you make me laugh - and I like it
You get away with murder, so innocent
But when you throw a moody you’re all claws and you bite

Delilah once peed all over Mercury’s Chippendale suite—something that apparently happened quite often with all of the cats on other fixtures and furnishings. Not everyone in Queen was so enamored by Mercury’s song to a cat, drummer Roger Taylor claimed he “hated it.”

Before he died in 1991, Mercury told one journalist he planned to leave everything to “Mary and the cats.” And here are some of those little darlings who outlived Freddie and inherited his wealth.
 
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Jerry.
 
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Romeo.
 
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Oscar.
 
More of Freddie’s furry feline friends, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.05.2018
06:46 am
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Inside the Hollywood estate auction of Sharon Tate
11.20.2018
09:06 am
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As we approach 2019, let us take a moment to brace ourselves for the oncoming onslaught of Manson Family “tributes” destined for the 50th anniversary year of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Here at its epicenter, in the city of Los Angeles, it seems like every other week that there are murmurings about the new Tarantino flick, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there will be two additional Sharon Tate films released next year as well - The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Tate. Manson’s orders may have led to the gruesome murders of eight innocent individuals between August 8-10, 1969, but we will always remember Sharon Tate.
 
Our frame of reference today may primarily recognize her as one cult’s sacrifice to Helter Skelter. Had these random, senseless killings not occurred, however, Tate would have been known for her promising career as a beloved Hollywood actress and style icon. Emerging onto the Hollywood scene in the early Sixties, Tate was part of a new generation of actors during a renaissance of film making known as the “American New Wave.” Beautiful and naturally talented, she starred in a number of films including Eye of the Devil, Valley of the Dolls, and The Fearless Vampire Killers, the prelude of her marriage to famous director and certified-creep, Roman Polanski. It was at Polanski and Tate’s home where the murders on 10500 Cielo Dr took place.
 

 
Over the weekend, located just three miles and essentially one long street from the scene of the crime, Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills held an estate auction of the property of Sharon Tate. While there were plenty of theories online as to why, the sale’s coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Tate’s untimely death seems aptly timed. The auction was arranged in accordance with Sharon’s sister, Debra, the owner of the former belongings and someone who has been vocal over the years toward victims’ rights and preserving her sister’s image. An excerpt of her intent to auction Sharon’s memorabilia is below:
 

When Julien’s first approached me with the idea of doing an auction of my sister’s considerable collection of clothes, accessories, and personal effects, I was immediately apprehensive. For 49 years I had lovingly stored and preserved these items as a way of keeping Sharon close by. While my sister is never far away in spirit, over the decades I have always been able to turn to these treasures for comfort and as a tangible reminder of the wonderful times we spent together.

Sharon was the sweetest, most gentile, most giving soul you could ever hope to meet - even more beautiful on the inside than she was on the outside. She had a special radiance, beyond the perfection of her features, that touched everyone she met. As her husband Roman Polanski said, “In those day, she was not just the love of my life, she was the love of everyone’s life.” And it’s true.

And as the years pass I have come to realize that my sister’s enormous popularity, both as an actress and as a ‘60s fashion and style icon, is continually growing. Sharon’s signature style - whether in couture, hippie chic, or her classic “Hollywood” look in Valley of the Dolls with the dramatic eye makeup and cascading blonde hair - are constantly referenced on the runway, the red carpet, and in magazine editorials worldwide. Today, my sister is loved and adored by so many fans and admirers. For this reason, and after much consideration, I now feel the time is right to share a little of Sharon with others.

As the world knows, in 1969 my sister was involved in an event that changed America in ways that still resonate. Through her fame, and the hard work of my family and I, she has become the face of a cause - Victim’s Rights - that continues to save lives to this day. That said, I always felt it was very unfair for her life to be remembered primarily for its final moments. Sharon had a magnificent life. Born into a family who loved her very much, she had a wonderful childhood. She traveled the world. She was talented. She became a film star. She met and married the man of her dreams. She experienced impending motherhood. She achieved so much in such a brief time, made a significant impact, and continues to fascinate and delight. It is important that her life be celebrated.

 
Among the items for auction were some of Sharon’s most favored dresses, including the one worn at her wedding, and those from film premieres, the Golden Globes, Cannes, photo shoots, etcetera. Also on display were clothing accessories such as jewelry, coats, bags, and sunglasses. And then there were souvenirs from her home, which were most likely present the night of her murder. Items like framed photos, makeup kits, treasured books, dishware, and other decorative items. Every single piece had a starting price from the hundreds to the five-digit thousands (the wedding dress sold for $56K). It was an ominous feeling in such an alluring setting. And while no one mentioned Manson, everyone was obviously thinking about him.
 
I was able to obtain some scans from the official Julien’s Auctions estate catalog, available below for the first time:
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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11.20.2018
09:06 am
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Legendary ‘zine Ben Is Dead turns 30: ‘We’re just gonna do it’
11.06.2018
09:20 am
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The fanzine Ben Is Dead was, and still is, a fucking LEGEND as far as ‘zines go so, interviewing founder Darby Romeo about her life and times was other-level-cool for me. Growing up in Los Angeles, certain things remain indelibly printed in my memory: driving by the enticing Anti-Club sign just before my mom got onto the 101 South, the sexy smell of leather jackets from rock shops on Hollywood Blvd, and this principle: comic book stores and coffee shops could be judged on quality based on whether you could find a copy of Ben Is Dead in their publications area. So therefore the mighty Bourgeois Pig, on Franklin Ave., rocked.

Ben Is Dead had collaborators from all walks of life, featured punk bands, performance artists and gender activists and didn’t believe that there was anything that couldn’t be talked about. It was an honest read and they had fun. Mostly run by women—and men who respected women—that, in itself, was something that my friends and I noticed. Ben Is Dead was a glowing engine that couldn’t be stopped—celebratory and wise-beyond-its-years, that ‘zine was a reflection of people, places and movements that were forces in and of themselves and could (and would) never be repeated again. It served as an unintentional documentary of life, art, culture and human existence in El Lay. And it was fucking cool, man.
 

Lorraine Mahru, left, one of Darby Romeo’s many Girl Fridays from Ben Is Dead, and Darby Romeo, right.
 
Ben is Dead’s founder, Darby Romeo briefly went to Pierce College, studying to be a graphic designer but quit school to get a job. She was temping and developing computer skills with the MacSE40 that she got from her father when she ended up temping as a secretary at Grey Advertising. She told the art director at Grey that she had graphic design training, and they ended up hiring her as an art director. I asked her about the beginnings of Ben Is Dead.

Darby Romeo: In the late 80s, I was already making $25/hr at Grey Advertising, and my only good friend there was this comic and the guy in the mailroom who sent out all the Ben Is Deads for free. But that’s basically what paid for Ben Is Dead. So I got the computer from my dad, I got this job at Grey, and that was it because you didn’t really make money on it [Ben Is Dead and ‘zines in general] you just spent money on it. So Grey Advertising kinda started Ben Is Dead. And the LA Times doesn’t really know this but they kinda helped us do our first issue for us! My dad would’ve hated that we did this but I kinda considered it to be like pro-bono and that they should be supporting zines, y’know? But I remember that this was right before the first issue came out and I was talking to someone at Flipside [another well-known and beloved LA punk-rock fanzine]  and I was like, “We’re gonna make 1000 issues!” or something like that and they [seemed unimpressed]. Cuz I didn’t know what I was doing! So someone from the LA Times snuck us in there at two in the morning and we printed another 1000 on the LA Times’ huge copy machines. So, thank you, LA Times! I don’t know what the statute of limitations on that is but, there’s a little known story!


How do you feel now that there is now a dedicated space at the UCLA Library Special Collections Punk Archive for the preservation and archiving of the entire Ben Is Dead collection?

Darby Romeo: I’m really thankful that this nerdy librarian lady came—what year did she come?—I think her name was Julie Graham, I can’t remember, but she would come over to the Ben Is Dead offices, I can’t remember the hook-up, but we would go through all the issues and I was looking at the archive and there were 78 boxes of ‘zines. We went through each one so that she could archive it. Like who would be that patient? We even archived the [letters to the editor] and included those, just knowing that there are people who are willing to do stuff like that—especially for ‘zines since they’re not online mostly, like 95% of the ‘zines are not online, and these libraries and people like her are vital! Having UCLA treasure these and keep them safe is amazing. So many of them are fading or falling apart or getting thrown away and in a few more decades those are going to be the only places besides your grandpa’s collection in the attic where you’re going to find them.

And we’re working on putting ours online but you can’t trust online as much as you can trust an archive that isn’t going to get tossed. Libraries are so important. And it’s so funny because in creating Ben Is Dead, we created it before there was an Internet. There was no Internet to find a photo, there would be a whole long process to print a photo! So it was a whole different thing creating ‘zines back then and having them in a place where we don’t have to worry if the Internet goes down, they’ll always be there, y’know?
 

A “Retro Hell Party” complete with Hostess HoHos. Party people include: Darby (blue dress), Reverend Al Cacophony (in black), Noel Tolentino of Bunnyhop (wearing a McDonald’s Grimace party hat)
 
What’s the difference between analog and digital research and how important were libraries to the creation of Ben Is Dead?

Darby Romeo:: We used the libraries much more back then than people do now… I just remember how much time I would spend in the microfiche section. I loved microfiche! I loved just sitting there and looking for old stuff and just going into the basement of the downtown LA Library and that smell and the old bookstores. But the libraries were important and the photos from Ben Is Dead—a lot of them were because my friend ran the photo department of AP. He was the archivist, basically of AP, so he’d slip us a bunch—so thank you AP for supporting Ben Is Dead!
 

 
While BID had many striking qualities, one unique aspect was the way it platformed the symbiotic connection that LA punk rock has with local queer icons and performance artists like Ron Athey and Vaginal Davis. Tell me about the Sean deLear video tribute that will be playing at the 30th anniversary Ben Is Dead Festival.

Darby Romeo: Stuart [Swezey, from Amok Books] was going to show Desolation Center [but then it was unable to be shown] and he came up with this bright idea and it’s so awesome and so touching because everyone loved Seande [Sean deLear] and Seande was such an influence in the scene and was such a big part of Ben Is Dead and played one of my favorite shows at Al’s Bar during our “Gross” issue. I love chickens now so I feel awful but everything was gross—we had chicken feet in bowls at the bar, and I remember people were throwing them at Seande and he was throwing them back during his set with Glue. Yeah, he was really vital. And we were all really shocked when he passed last year and we are really honored that Stuart is going to put together a documentary about his life because he did some interviews with him just before he passed for Desolation Center and stuff, so that will be playing early on in the day at the Zine Fest on Saturday.
 

 
Tell me some of your wildest Ben Is Dead stories…

Darby Romeo: A crazy story? Probably when Kerin wanted to interview Anton LaVey. I mean, you grow up goth dancing at Phases and Odyssey [local LA dance clubs] and all but I’m not into the REAL darkside or whatever. So [Kerin] was planning with Anton and his wife at the time a Ben Is Dead interview and he really liked the magazine. It was supposed to be me and her going [up to San Francisco] for the interview but at the last minute I’m like: Um, I don’t wanna meet Satan, nope, uh uh, I’m not going up there, nope nope nope! So I call up [Germs drummer] Don Bolles and I tell him that he has to go up there and do the interview instead and I’m just like freaking the fuck out. I just tell him “Go with Kerin and do this interview. She wants to do this interview.” And he said, “Okay, cool.” And then Anton said, “Nope.” It was like he knew I was petrified! He could just sense it! He was like we’re not doing the interview without Darby. And I was like “Nooooo!”

So we get to his house and they sleep by day and are up all night so we get there at night and he has this old house and it just smelled like Europe. We go in and we’re in the waiting area and his wife—Blanche was her name—she has her new baby with her and she leaves the baby alone in the room with us! So we go and check the baby to see if there’s a 666 on top of its head. We really did! They were so sweet and nice but Anton would not allow me to record the interview and that was like the worst nightmare because now you have to take notes and remember everything!  The Anton LaVey interview was the only interview we ever did that we gave someone permission to approve. And the thing was, he didn’t ask for any changes, he just approved it!
  

 
So we go to his favorite restaurant—Olive Garden—and I’m still distraught, I remember begging them to let me use my tape recorder, I remember hiding it for a little bit at one point, I remember having it in the bathroom at one point talking into it, saying some of the stuff he’d already said, documenting it out of my mouth. Then we go back to the house and his other favorite thing was animal cookies—the frosted ones [Mother’s brand, pink and white with little sprinkles]. So we’re sitting there, he’s playing the organ, we’re eating animal cookies, and I’m trying to write notes and it’s going on all night because that’s their daytime because they sleep all day and I’m wishing that we still did drugs! But the piece came out great and he was happy and he was a really nice guy but I never ended up joining the Church of Satan or whatever. 

You’ll probably never think of Olive Garden in the same way again.

There were a lot of stories around the “Sex” issue too [Most issues of Ben Is Dead had themes: the “Gross” issue, the “Broke” issue, the “Black” aka “Death” issue.] That’s when we actually started selling it and when we realized that we had a lot of fans. Like Jon Spencer was like, “Your “Sex” issue really inspired the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion,” um, what? Okay. Then we interviewed Malcolm McLaren and gave him the “Sex” issue and the same technological issues that just devastated us every single day—our voicemail system would sometimes just eat our voicemails—our voicemail being our Ben Is Dead Hotline which was how you found out about shows every week. So he calls and in his British accent he says, “Darby, this is Malcolm McLaren, y’know that ‘Sex’ issue I just want to tell you…” and it gets cut off! Fuck! What about the “Sex” issue? I go into the voicemail place and tell them that I need this voicemail back, where is this voicemail, and I think I got three months free and that was it! 
 

 
Is it true that you promised Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran that you would find him a massage therapist?

Darby Romeo: I told him I would get him a masseuse and the one lady that I thought I hooked up cancelled! I had a couple Girl Fridays over the years, and Jessy, Jessica Jones, was one of them—so I was like “Jessy! I have to go over to Simon LeBon’s! Help me get dressed!” And I put that red velvet dress on and the Elvis Penis [a wig Darby nicknamed the Elvis Penis—it was huge and bouffant-style], she stuck flowers from the vase that we had that we had gotten from Mrs. Gooch’s [a local LA health food store] in my hair and I go and I get in the car and the wig is hitting the top of the car and I go and I drive over to the Beverly something—they always stayed there.

So I get there and I’m valeting the car and I didn’t even know at the time that you’re supposed to have a massage table, right? That would make sense? So I have sunglasses on, and the car guys are like what the fuck is this? And I think I had my Fluevogs on—yeah, my Fluevogs, it was tragic—with (of course) this bright red lipstick, and I go to Simon’s door, and I knock and he opens the door and he looks and I’m like [in fake European accent] “Hello, I’m your massage therapist,” and he looks at me and he’s like what the fuck is this? And he didn’t know what to do so he opened the door and he’s like, what the fuck? And he sees that I don’t have a massage table but I don’t know that that’s a thing.

I later go on to become a massage therapist—I’m now a licensed massage therapist, by the way—so I’m sitting there on the couch and he knows me but I’m all dressed up with the glasses and everything and we’re having this full on conversation and he’s just trying to figure out what to do with me. Like “Who sent you? Darby knows you? What are you…?” And after about ten minutes I just busted out laughing and told him, “I couldn’t get you a massage therapist, I’m sorry!” and the fucker made me massage him anyway! I’m in this velvet dress with this Elvis Penis wig, he takes off all of his clothes, puts a towel on the floor, lays there, and I’m like: I have no idea what to do so I’m just kinda mushing him and stuff? And I don’t even think I had massage oil? Anyway, he had a cute little butt and he was a very sweet guy but…he didn’t even tip me!
 

 
And of course I have to ask about I Hate Brenda…

Darby Romeo: The thing about I Hate Brenda—and people never got it right then and the only reason we did it—was that we were on the side of the victims. The victims were like security guards at clubs who were like, “God, we’re getting abused because she [actress Shannen Doherty who played “Brenda” on TV’s Beverly Hills 90210]  was at the door, yelling at us because she’s not on the list and she’d be like, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’” and we just kept getting these stories and different stories [of Doherty terrorizing people] from labels and people in the scene and they just kept coming to us and we had no plans on doing a newsletter… at the time the fax machine was like social media so we made our version of a flyer or our version of a meme and it had Brenda on it and it said “I wash my hair in Evian” which was her thing and we pretended it was the “I Hate Brenda Newsletter” and we sent it out to everyone and they were like, “Oh my God! When is the I Hate Brenda Newsletter coming out? Oh you gotta include this and you have to interview Eddie Vedder! Oh you have to do this and dadadada and this story and this happened to me and all this stuff!” and that’s how that ended up happening. It’s not like we were really going to do anything but yeah. And what’s kind of weird in the scheme of things is that we would all go to bars or knock on the neighbor’s fucking door just to watch 90210. We’d be working in the offices and there was some model next door and we’d bang on her door and say, “No, you have to let us in! 90210 is on!”
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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11.06.2018
09:20 am
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Morbid melodies: Tune in and terror out


 
Every October I try to challenge myself to find a few new spooky songs to add to what I lovingly call my “morbid melodies” collection. The great thing is, I usually can but it’s only my cats that end up appreciating my efforts. So this year I thought, “To hell with it, lemme share some my favorites with you folks!”

In classic Ariel-fashion, of course, I also have to share a few of the music videos that I watch repeatedly because OF COURSE.

The first music video that I had wanted to share was DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince’s “Nightmare on My Street.” I usually just listen to the song but thought it’d be cool to put the video on here too. However, try as I might, I could not find the video I remembered from when I was a kid. I kept thinking “did I make this up? Is this one of those Mandela Effect things?” I looked into it and while I was aware that New Line Cinema had not wanted to have the song associated with the Nightmare On Elm Street films, I didn’t know that they had essentially made the video disappear.

Looking for it on the Internet doesn’t yield much. There are tons of fan videos, images put to the song, etc., but the official DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince music video apparently does not exist. On the other hand, it’s easy as pie to locate the music video for the Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready For Freddy?” released around the same time in 1988 since New Line had selected the Fat Boys as the rap group to rep Freddy Krueger in an official music video-context.  Here’s the thing: “Nightmare on My Street” is a waaaay better song, was far more popular and regardless of “official film connection” a music video was actually made.

New Line wasn’t having any of it. A lawsuit followed. New Line pulled “Nightmare” from MTV after just a few weeks of it being in rotation, and the video hasn’t been seen since. There are calls out all over the Internet asking people who might have been recording MTV at home during that period of time in 1988 to scour their VHS collections just in case they might possibly maybe perhaps have any tapes of music videos that might not have been taped over…? Even Jeff Townes (DJ Jazzy Jeff) and Will Smith (Fresh Prince) have admitted that they either don’t have copies or believe it to be lost forever. But many people on these Nightmare on Elm Street and Old School Rap forums are like me: they remember how this amazing music video was and wish they could see it again. For now, here is the audio.
 

 
The two music videos I can give you are cheesy but glorious. One is a metal band (Dokken) participating in the Nightmare on Elm Street universe for what is probably the best out of all of the NOES films Nightmare on Elm St 3: Dream Warriors (Chuck Russell, 1987). Accompanying that is one of my favorite songs to do at karaoke (try it! It’s super fun!).)  The video for the Mary Lambert adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (1989) is a total win and let’s be honest, who can turn down the Ramones in a graveyard?
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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10.25.2018
10:29 am
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The Godfather of Halloween: The pioneering creations of monster-mask maker Don Post
10.24.2018
07:59 am
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Don Post Studio’s remarkable Wolf Man mask. The mask was modeled after actor Lon Chaney Jr.‘s portrayal of the beast in 1941’s ‘The Wolf Man.’
 
According to accounts concerning Don Post’s early years, he paid a visit to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus with the goal of meeting Ringling Bros. resident star clown, Paul Wenzel so he could get a close look at Wenzel’s famous Popeye the Sailor mask. Wenzel was not only a skilled clown, but he was also a master prop maker, and his act was known for featuring all kinds of dazzling homemade extras for the time, such as enormous dragons (Wenzel himself was 6"4), dinosaurs, and horses as well as Wenzel’s feathered pal, Samson the Goose. Seeing Wenzel’s props up close sent Post off on a mission to launch his own business—Don Post Studios (DPS), which would produce some of the first over-the-head latex masks.

In 1938 at the age of 36, Post established his company which would continue to produce latex masks for a staggering 74 years before being sold rather suddenly in 2012. For decades Don Post (who passed away in 1979), his son Don Post Jr., and sculptors/artists/co-owner Verne Langdon and Pat Newman (and many others such as Bill Malone, Marcel Delgado, Robert Short and Neil Surges) would define what their young customer base was going to look like when they stepped out on October 31st. Post started selling his masks out of Marshall Fields in Chicago before ditching the department store for Hollywood where he would eventually join forces with Universal Studios earning the right to produce over-the-head latex masks based on Universal’s gang of classic monsters, the first being Frankenstein’s Monster. Post’s new alliance with Universal would quickly lead to the creation of other high-profile masks all sculpted by Pat Newman, including Lon Chaney’s portrayal of the Phantom of the Opera, Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, and Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man.

With the help of Famous Monsters of Filmland’s editor Forrest J Ackerman, DPS would become a household name with its army of masks with plenty of mythology attached to them. Here are just a few of the more interesting ones.

There is an established connection between actor William Shatner’s life-mask cast (taken in 1975 while he was shooting The Devil’s Rain, a perfect film to watch this time of year) and the white-faced, lifeless mask made famous by actor Tony Moran in order to transform him into the unstoppable slasher, Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s 1978 blood-blitz Halloween. There is also a female version of the Myers mask—which is very rare. However, the mask eventually made and distributed by DPS wasn’t an actual replica of Shatner’s life-cast, as their license for the mask was no longer good, so Nick Surges was called in to craft a new mask called the “Everyman.” This mask would be one of Post’s all-time biggest sellers along with his mask of Tor Johnson (done by artist/sculptor and VP of DPS, John Chambers) as Inspector Daniel Clay in Plan 9 From Outer Space.
 

The original design and color scheme for DPS’s “B Garret Theta” mask.
 
Another cool bit of history with DPS concerns a mask called “B Garret Theta” (pictured above). When B Garret was first conceptualized and brought to market in 1977, it was ahead of its time in the gore department. Looking back at the initial production run now it looked much like an unfortunate skinless victim of the Cenobites from future horror movie series Hellraiser and was touted as the first “blood and guts” zombie mask. Even DPS’ regular customers and buyers thought the mask was far too graphic and refused to market them. The masks were later redesigned to appear more undead with grey, necrotized skin and other color treatments to help it read more like a zombie than an actual corpse.

A few years later in 1979, Post put out the “Nuclear Death” mask during a time when paranoia about nukes and the potential of a full-on apocalypse were high, only to change the name to the tamer “Over-Reactor” the following year. DPS masks were still hugely popular but with the arrival of AIDS, the demand for latex products in the medical community, as well as the sale of condoms, put a massive dent in the company’s ability to satisfy requests for their masks and would nearly go bankrupt. The other thing working against DPS in the 80s were the horrific deaths of seven people (including a twelve-year-old child) after ingesting Tylenol laced with cyanide about a month from Halloween in 1982. Following this, drug-tampering crimes became a disturbing trend, and as Halloween approached, there were reports of Halloween candy being laced with sharp pins. This, of course, created legitimate hysteria concerning Halloween no longer being a safe pursuit and sales of candy and other Halloween-related items such as Post’s masks plummeted. But still, as we all do, DPS persisted.

The contributions made by Don Post and DPS are unrivaled and helped pave the way for the application of practical effects in films and television, thanks to a fateful meeting with an adventurous horror-loving innovator, and one of the greatest circus clowns to ever live. When DPS closed up shop in 2012, it sent shock waves through the horror community. Lee Lambert, a mask collector who as a child was a rabid fan of 70s horror, took on the task of authoring a book on Don Post’s legacy ensuring his artifacts from the past would always be available for fans for years to come. The incredible book, The Illustrated History of Don Post Studios painstakingly catalogued images of DPS’ work through the years including incredible color photos from magazine adverts and from the company’s collectible catalog. Vintage DPS masks can be found out there online for various sums, as well as authentic, hand-painted castings from the Universal Monster collection, which will run you many thousands of dollars. I’ve got a pretty stellar grouping of Post’s work in this post, some are slightly NSFW.
 

Famous, long-time Ringling Bros. clown and inspiration to Don Post, Paul Wenzel riding a giant dinosaur he made with wire and other materials.
 

Don Post doing what he clearly did best.
 

Inside the DPS workshop in 1974.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.24.2018
07:59 am
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Drug dens and dick pics: The lurid art & crude ceramics of Jesse Edwards
10.23.2018
09:26 am
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A painting by Jesse Edwards.
 
Artist Jesse Edwards came of age in Snohomish County, an idyllically beautiful area of Washington State about two hours outside of Seattle. Growing up Edwards spent time skateboarding and experimenting with graffiti to get his kicks. The experience of using spray paint led Edwards to explore the medium more intimately in order to learn how to manipulate it, ultimately succeeding in changing the texture and consistency of the paint. Proficiency with spray paint runs in Edwards family. His brother Travis, (aka Tred who has done jail time for his art) is probably the most well-known graffiti artist in Seattle.

Edwards’ experimentation paid off quite literally, and he was not only accepted to Cornish College of the Arts, but he also scored a partial scholarship to the school. The union between Edwards and higher academia was short, and he was kicked out after having a nasty word fight with one of Cornish’s professors. In an interview with the Seattle Times in 2010, Edwards revealed his only passion was to make “beautiful things.” This quote is quite compelling when you consider art—much like beauty—is determined by the perception and preference of the beholder. As it pertains to Edwards’ “beautiful things” you will either love them or, perhaps loathe them. One thing is sure, Edwards’ work is flush with old-world mastery and color pallets, though you’ll not be seeing any still life bowls of fucking fruit or portraits of frilly aristocrats dressed to the nines. Instead, Edwards’ subjects include representations of weed and drug culture, dick pics, porn, and the occasional amusing pop culture reference. In addition to painting, Edwards also excels at ceramics many of which were displayed for a time at the Museum of Sex in New York City where they fit right in.

I’ve posted a large selection of Edwards work below, much of it is very NSFW. Yay!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.23.2018
09:26 am
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Fangoria editor’s amazing collection of classic trash horror film ads
10.04.2018
11:37 am
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The ongoing triumph of digital is pushing into the grave many art forms once so ubiquitous (and tethered to low commerce) we hardly think of them as arts. Packaging art dives into decline as physical media formats become obsolete; screen printed concert posters become a pricey commodity-fetish item as Facebook becomes every promoter’s kiosk. Somehow, and encouragingly, event postcards continue to thrive, but really think about this—when was the last time you decided to see a movie or buy recorded music based on a newspaper ad?

Longtime Fangoria editor Michael Gingold remembers when the local daily was THE way to keep up on movies, and in fact, it was the lurid daily print ads for trash horror films—rendered all the seedier by the way cheap black ink used to block up on cheap pulpy newsprint—that sparked his lifelong interest in the horror genre. Gingold even kept a scrapbook of them, and eventually published them in a xeroxed ‘zine called Scareaphenalia.

Arranged on a desk in the back of my junior high homeroom was the communal stack of Daily News for teachers to pick up. There were always a couple of ’em left over, and the first Friday of that month I grabbed one and flipped through to the movie section. There they were: boldly arresting ads for Richard Franklin’s Patrick and David Cronenberg’s The Brood, both opening that day. I was vaguely aware of Cronenberg’s name, but otherwise, these films were a mystery to me. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to see them both.

Although I didn’t get to, at least not at the time, I was so enthralled by those ads that I cut them out of the paper and saved them. And every Friday thereafter, I’d grab a leftover Daily News edition and scour it for whatever lurid gems might be advertised in its pages. Any that I found, I clipped and added to my growing collection, and soon I was doing the same with the occasional bigger genre movie announced in The Times. By the end of the year, assembling those ads had become an ongoing passion project.

The foregoing quotation is from Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s, a new book that reproduces Gingold’s collection, with his annotations, and excerpts from contemporary reviews. His annotations are insightful, naturally, but the inclusion of reviews was a wonderful choice—it’s interesting to be reminded that while gore-operas like The Driller Killer, The Evil Dead, and Friday the 13th are regarded as classics which boast undying (sorry) cult followings, such films were excoriated in their day by critics who practically tripped over each other in their rush to condemn the films’ violence and lord their self-presupposed moral superiority over the genre’s fans. Even A Nightmare on Elm Street received mixed reviews that grudgingly praised its creative premise, wit, and atmospherics, as they went ahead and condemned it anyway, because a slasher film simply couldn’t be offered unqualified praise. (By the time its sequel came out, critics seem to have figured out the point.) Interestingly though, of all the reviews reproduced in Ad Nauseam, astonishingly few take the genre to task for its notorious misogyny—this was the era, after all, in which the murder-as-punishment-for-female-sexuality and “final girl” tropes were codified, and while young women’s suffering was typically dwelt-on in mortifying detail, the psychotic killers themselves sometimes went on to become the “heroes” in long-running and profitable franchises.

Ad Nauseam’s publisher, 1984, were extremely cool about letting us reproduce a generous sampling of Gingold’s collection. We’ve eschewed the bigger-name films in favor of the book’s more endearingly trashy offerings—you’ve seen the poster for Halloween a million times by now anyway, right?
 

 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.04.2018
11:37 am
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Is this Yoko Ono’s audio diary recorded during The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ in 1968?
10.02.2018
08:55 am
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Over the weekend, I got a message from writer, cultural historian, and all-round-good guy Simon Wells. He’s a DM pal and has written a shelf-load of books on the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, cult movies, Charles Manson, and a hip cult novel called The Tripping Horse, all of which are well-worth reading. Now we’ve had the introductions, let me tell you that Wells sent me a link to an hour-long audio he was sent of Yoko Ono recording her “diary” during the overdub sessions for The Beatles White Album. As Simon explained:

During the early days of her relationship with with John Lennon, Yoko Ono would dictate her thoughts on life with Lennon into her own personal recorder - presumably to be given to John later. This, often personal, tape was made during the overdub session for “Revolution 1” at EMI Studio number 3 on 4th June 1968. Parts of Yoko’s tape would be later used in the sound collage “Revolution 9”

This audio has been been discussed on various music forums with the general opinion that 1) it’s genuine; 2) Ono comes across as a bit of an “airhead”; 3) it’s great to hear The Beatles working on the mega-length version of “Revolution.”

During various points in the recording, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and producer George Martin can be heard discussing technical issues like:

GM: Let’s do it.

J: Voices on the, which one, with the new voices.

GM: You want that flange as well.

J: Well, for the final one. You don’t have to do it now, though.

GM: We can do it now, if you want, then. As long as we know where it happens.

J: Well, it just happens all the way through, whenever they’re in. Just straight flange.

Y: John made a beautiful loop and he’s throwing that in the Revolution. It’s very intense and onto. . .

GM: Okay, let’s go then, let’s go.

J: So we just leave them on then, flange.

GM: Leave them on, yeah.

J: And just mess about a bit when it’s guitar part in.

Engineer: Don’t want to flange the verses always.

J: The new . . just the one that goes ‘mommy daddy mommy daddy’.

E: They come in and toss anyway, and just flange the rest.

J: But what else is on it, there’s nothing else on that track.

E: No. But we have to set on that machine, what we want to flange you see.

J: We only want to flange, so it won’t harm it, would it? So what are you saying, then?

E: What am I saying? He’s confused me.

J: I see, right. Let’s go baby! [cut]

Over this, Ono talks about her relationship with Lennon (“I miss you already again. I miss you very much”); her feelings of paranoia (“I wonder maybe it’s just my paranoia to think that you don’t understand me.”); her thoughts on McCartney (“being very nice to me, he’s nice and a very, str- on the level, straight, sense”); her apartment in London (“overlooking the park, the Hyde Park, it’s quiet. It’s on the third floor, both rooms are facing the park and the sky”); and the shooting of Andy Warhol.

Of course, the big question some doubters will ask is whether this is all an elaborate hoax? Well, if it is, then it’s beautifully constructed as someone has taken considerable time to make it. However, the details contained on the tape (all rather personal), together with the background music and the interaction between Ono and other people in the room suggest it’s all (probably) genuine-see above.

My two cents (for what it’s worth) is that Ono’s voice sounded deeper and spoke less rapidly and used the phrase “you know” a lot. Hey, but what the hell do I know? Make your own mind up. A full transcript of Ono’s recording can be read here.
 

 
With thanks to Simon Wells.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.02.2018
08:55 am
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Gorgo smash, Gorgo chomp, Gorgo roar: Gorgo comics 1961-65

01ogrog.jpg
 
When Ray Bradbury wrote “The Fog Horn” he probably didn’t imagine the whole bestiary of monsters his short story would inspire. Though his beast from the deep attracted by the lonesome call of a fog horn made only a fleeting appearance, it was enough to encourage producers to turn Bradbury’s story into a hit movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in 1953. The creature in this film (designed by Ray Harryhausen) was a fictional dinosaur called the Rhedosaurus, which once set loose from its cryogenic sleep deep within the frozen Arctic laid waste to New York. The allegory of a hideous giant flattening whole cities and killing thousands of innocent lives was highly topical at a time when nuclear annihilation was a mere push button away.

This ole beast partly (alongside Edgar Wallace’s King Kong which had been re-released into cinemas in 1952) inspired Japanese movie makers to come up their own reptilian giant Godzilla in 1954. (Godzilla is apparently made up from the Japanese words for “whale” and “gorilla.”) Instead of using Harryhausen’s beautiful but time-consuming and finicky stop-motion animation, the Toho studios opted to use a man in a rubber suit smashing up balsa wood sets to save on time and money.

Director of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Eugène Lourié went onto make The Colossus of New York about a cyborg that wrecks the Big Apple, before coming up with his own story of gnarly sea monster, this time one of biblical proportions Behemoth (aka The Giant Behemoth) in 1959.

Lourié then forged ahead with making his first full-color monster movie Gorgo, which was in part a homage to Godzilla and to Bradbury’s original short story, but he also pushed a strong environmentalist moral. Gorgo is really just a revenge flick of an angry mom who comes to get even with those bad guys who kidnapped her baby son. Gorgo is the name given to the kidnapped offspring—in part inspired by Medusa and by the Spartan Queen Gorgo, who was an early cryptanalyst able to discern the secret message hidden on a wooden tablet covered with wax. Gorgo’s mom is called Ogra. While most think Gorgo does all the smashing and a-chomping, it was in fact mommie dearest Ogra.

The film also has a second moral message which in this case is that a man sows his own destruction, as the film’s central characters Captain Joe Ryan (Bill Travers) and Sam Slade (William Sylvester) who capture Gorgo off the coast of Ireland chose a sinful greed of money rather than what was best for the creature and the rest of humanity.

In an obvious nod to Godzilla, the film was originally set in Japan. However, this was thought too close to the Japanese mega-monster, so Paris then Australia were considered before producers picked London as the global metropolis marked for destruction.

American producers Frank and Maurice King saw money-making potential in having Gorgo merchandise ready for the film’s release in 1961. This included toys, posters, novelization, and a series of short-lived comic books that featured Gorgo as a cross between a chomp-and-smash monster and a sometime savior of humanity who can take on aliens from outer space and other monsters who want to wipe out mankind. Twenty-three issues of the Gorgo comics were published between 1961 and 1965 by Charlton Comics. Among the many artists who worked on this rare and highly entertaining comic was Steve Ditko, who went on to co-create Spider-Man. Gorgo also appeared in a comic book spin-off series called Gorgo’s Revenge/The Return of Gorgo between 1962-64.
 
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More glorious Gorgo covers, after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.19.2018
07:50 am
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Scary stories and super creeps: The illustrated nightmares of Stephen Gammell


A catchy tune and one of Stephen Gammell’s illustrations from Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy, ‘Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.’
 
If you look at the unassuming photo used by publisher Simon and Schuster of illustrator Stephen Gammell, you will, in no way, perceive the smiling, white-bearded and spectacled man was responsible for creating images which have terrorized the minds of children since 1981. But he is, and I hope this helps reinforce the golden rule one should never judge a book (or a person) by their cover. Unless one of those books happens to be Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. In this case, I’d recommend you let your initial impressions be your guide because Stephen Gammell’s instantly recognizable artwork is as sinister as the tales of terror spun by author Alvin Schwartz within the pages of the three-book-series.

Gammell has led a private life during his career which started in 1972, and is notoriously humble about the impact his insidious illustrations have had on generations of people. Gammell’s father was an art editor for a major magazine and would bring home art supplies for his son to help feed his appetite for art and develop his distinctive, entirely self-taught style. Here’s Gammell expounding on his very early days tapping into his gift growing up in Des Moines, Iowa:

“Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of lying on the floor in our old house in Des Moines, books, and magazines around me, piles of pads and paper, lots of pencils…and drawing. Just drawing! I was four at the time thinking that I really didn’t want to go to school next year…I just want to do THIS.”

As I mentioned, Gammell is a private person and historically has scarcely spoken about his most notorious work with Alvin Schwartz—the word-writing creep behind the trilogy Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. Starting in 1981, the spine-tingling tales of Scary Stories hit the shelves with Gammell’s terrifying cover artwork. Schwartz’s inspiration for much of the trilogy was found in vintage books archived by the American Folklore Society (housed at the Library of Congress). They were, of course, a runaway hit, especially with kids. And being popular with “impressionable” kids seemed to be the number one reason Gammell and Schwartz collectively became public enemy number one with parents and educators. When Schwartz passed away in 1992, his books were already being submitted to the Office For Intellectual Freedom (OIF) in the hope they would be added to the list of “challenged books” maintained by OIF and eventually banned. Complaints regarding Schwartz’s tales accused the writer of being cool with various nefarious activities including cannibalism, necrophilia, and the occult. An article from 1993 published by the Chicago Tribune notes one particularly angry parent likening Schwartz to the serial killer and actual cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer because of the short story “Wonderful Sausage” where a butcher converts his wife into a bratwurst. Here’s a quote from the article by Sandy Vanderburg, a mother of two, and one of Schwartz and Gammell’s biggest haters:

“If these books were movies, they’d be R-rated because of the graphic violence. There’s no moral to them. The bad guys always win. And they make light of death. There’s a story called `Just Delicious’ about a woman who goes to a mortuary, steals another woman’s liver, and feeds it to her husband. That’s sick.”

 

An illustration by Gammell for Schwarzt’s short story “Wonderful Sausage.”
 
For the love of Sweeny Todd and those meddling kids, Hansel and Gretel, get a fucking GRIP, Sandy. Given the outrage over Scary Stories, it’s important to be clear about the Schwartz/Gammell/Scary Stories success story. As nutty as Schwartz’s fables were, what any “reader” remembers most are Gammell’s illustrations of ghouls materializing through the mist, and unfortunate characters like Harold—the impaled scarecrow. Gammell’s impact on Scary Stories fans was magnified in 2011 on the occasion of the series’ 30th anniversary when Harper’s Collins decided to replace Gammell’s original artwork with toned-down images drawn by artist Brett Helquist. With respect to Helquist, the publishers’ actions made absolutely no sense, seeing that their support of the books never wavered despite consistent, decades-long efforts to have them banned. In 2017 Harper’s came to their senses and re-released the series with all of Gammell’s diabolical illustrations intact.

2012 saw a television adaptation of the books, and in 2017 a documentary on the legacy of Scary Stories was released. In April of this year (2018) director, Guillermo del Toro confirmed he had the backing to make the film version of the trilogy, and plot details of the flick finally were revealed in early August. In addition to his chilling work for Scary Stories, Gammell’s art has appeared in 50 other non-nightmare inducing children’s books, the most recent of which tells the story of a kid who loves mud. Right on.

I’ve posted Gammell’s eerie illustrations below from the Scary Stories series. Maybe keep the lights on until you’ve seen them all (some are slightly NSFW).
 

 

 

 
Many more macabre illustrations from Stephen Gammell, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.13.2018
07:51 am
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