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Lux Interior: Ten years gone, but his bones keep rockin’! Unheard 1981 interview!

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Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the passing of Lux Interior, the great frontman of The Cramps, one of the most influential bands of the last 40+ years. Lux lived up to all expectations and truly walked it like he talked it in such a way that he just might be in a group of one. As has been written by myself and a great many others, this band created a style. Not just music, but in every area of life from film subcultures to sexual freedom and just about everything in between, whether they planned to or not. And it’s showing no signs of stopping.

As we learn over and over again, with the Cramps, when we think there’s nothing left to find, something always pops up! Yesterday on the actual anniversary of Lux’s passing, this rare, very early unheard 1981 interview from radio station KALX appeared! This is an early (and interesting) interview as it was done right when guitarist Kid Congo Powers (who is still going strong and making incredible records) joined the band. So let’s transport ourselves 38 years back in time and listen to the beginning of a journey. Who can conceive of a band like this happening now??
 
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And to quote that 50s rockabilly song, “Rockin’ Bones,” made popular in the punk era by The Cramps:
 

I wanna leave a happy memory when I go
I wanna leave something to let the whole world know
That the rock in roll daddy has a done passed on
But my bones will keep a-rockin’ long after I’ve gone
Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones
Well, when I die don’t you bury me at all
Just nail my bones up on the wall
Beneath these bones let these words be seen
This is the bloody gears of a boppin’ machine
Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones

 

Posted by Howie Pyro
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02.05.2019
12:29 pm
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Watch some ball-kicking self-defense with seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul
01.16.2019
08:12 am
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Down these mean streets a pop star must occasionally go. Though they may not be mean themselves, they are sometimes trained in martial arts like Elvis Presley who was a black belt able to disarm a whole plateful of cheeseburgers at fifteen paces. Or, Stevie Nicks who could fuck you up with her four-inch platform heels. Or, the late seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul who was so adept at kicking butt in self-defense she made her very own video to let others in on her secret ninja skills.

Lynsey de Paul may not be as well-known today as Presley or Nicks but at the peak of her career in the 1970s, she was a chart-topping star on both sides of the Atlantic. The first woman to win an Ivor Novello Award for her song “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me” in 1974 (she won a second the following year with “No, Honestly”—the theme tune to a hit TV series), de Paul scored a string of hits before her career imploded after a fall-out with her manager Don Arden—aka Sharon Osbourne’s dad. Osbourne described de Paul as “a miserable old cow” and allegedly, during one acrimonious tour, urinated in a suitcase full of the singer’s clothes.

Lynsey de Paul was born Lynsey Monckton Rubin on June 11th, 1948, in north London. Her father was a bad-tempered old git, a property-developer who regularly beat de Paul and her brother. He also spent a lot of time demeaning and undermining his daughter who he claimed would never amount to anything. At the age of eleven, de Paul vowed to get her ass out of the family home ASAP and make enough dough to live an independent life far away from her old man. It was another ten years before de Paul managed to get out, but once gone she never looked back.

My motivation was negative because I was trying to get away from something. I turned it into something positive, so that I wasn’t walking away from home but towards something better.

De Paul studied at art college and had a brief career as a graphic designer before turning her talents towards songwriting in the late 1960s. She wrote a batch of singles for Oliver! star Jack Wild before writing a song called “Sugar Me” for Peter Noone. It was only when her then boyfriend Dudley Moore suggested she should record this single herself instead of Noone that a star was born. “Sugar Me” was de Paul’s first major hit in both the UK and the US. It was the kind of song that once you started singing the opening line, it was difficult not to follow on to the next.

One for you and one for me
But one and one and one,
Pardon me, comes to three.

A simple rhythm, a clever hook and then:

Honey sweet and all the while,
Hid behind the smile was saccharine
I’m a go-between.

I must have sung those lines more times than a few headshrinkers would think healthy. The first time I heard them, I was caught, filleted, and served up ready to eat. Not just for the beauty of the singer but the cleverness of the song. Those old enough to remember “Sugar Me” will know what I mean.
 

 
Watch Lynsey de Paul’s self-defense video ‘Taking Control,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.16.2019
08:12 am
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The crazy night Iggy Pop, Blue Öyster Cult, & KISS shared the same stage on New Year’s Eve in 1973


Iggy Pop making sure the stage doesn’t go anywhere at the Academy of Music on New Year’s Eve, 1973.
 
Before we delve too deep into what went down on Monday, December 31st, 1973 at the Academy of Music in New York City, there are a few essential things you should know about the show which almost didn’t include KISS. If you’re now shaking your head because the idea the audience in attendance that night would have been better off without seeing KISS, well, you’re entitled to that opinion. However, the fact of the matter is the show at the Academy of Music would mark KISS’s official “industry debut” and the first time they had played for a big crowd. It would also be the first of many times Gene Simmons would accidentally light his hair on fire while spitting fire on stage.

Until the day of the show, none of the other bands knew KISS would be playing with them that night. Initially, when ads for the show started popping up in the Village Voice, Iggy Pop & The Stooges were billed as the “special guest stars” of Blue Öyster Cult. This would change a few weeks later when New York all-girl band Isis was added to the roster, only to be dropped shortly after and replaced with another New York band, Teenage Lust. Still, there was no mention of KISS being a part of the fast-selling show, though their management team was busy creating the early image of KISS which would open the gig that night. In the book, KISS: Behind the Mask—Official Authorized Biography, KISS co-manager at the time Joyce Bogart and her then-husband, Neil Bogart (Bogart had just signed the band to his new label, Casablanca Records) were out raiding stores in the West Village such as sex shop the Pleasure Chest to find spiked dog collars for the band to wear onstage. They also hired a fashion designer to help create the leather clothing KISS would wear as conceived by the band, the Bogarts and KISS’s manager Bill Aucoin.

Now, let’s get to how things went down the night of the gig, starting with Iggy and The Stooges.

The Stooges had been touring non-stop in support of Raw Power since the end of March, almost always kicking off their set with the defiant song named for the album. As it was New Year’s Eve, people were dressed to impress—and for Iggy, this meant a pair of colorful hot pants and black knee-high boots.

Guitarist Ron Asheton hit the stage decked out in a questionable looking uniform. He opened the show by greeting the crowd in German—wishing them a Happy New Year. (Asheton, a fan of WWII collectibles, wore a Nazi Luftwaffe fighter pilot’s jacket (as the best man) to Iggy’s wedding to Wendy Weissberg, daughter of The Stooges’ Jewish manager). In their review of the show, Variety magazine had this to say:

“Iggy entered clad only in pink tie-dyed trunks and black boots. He gyrated, insinuated and sang up a storm.”

Other reports from the show note Iggy seemed to be especially slurry, and Melody Maker’s review of the night shaded Iggy calling his vocals “unintelligible.” At one point during the show, while introducing the band, Iggy rambled about having spent a week in San Francisco with a Transylvanian masseuse. Perhaps this is why, about half-way through the gig, Iggy ended up roaming around the crowd in front, thrusting his microphone in fans faces so they could sing the lyrics for him. According to one fan who was there that night, Iggy ended up getting thrown back onstage because he couldn’t figure out any other way to get back on it. If this wasn’t bad enough, rumors were circulating before the show that Iggy was going to off himself on stage at Madison Square Garden for a million dollars which had been offered to him by a local NY promoter. The notion of Iggy’s upcoming suicide-on-stage was disputed by Andy Warhol, but only because Andy was sure Iggy was going to do it at the Academy show on New Year’s Eve (noted in the 2009 book Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell: The Dangerous Glitter of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed). We all know Iggy didn’t off himself at the Academy of Music in 1973, but as far as the band’s record label Columbia was concerned, Iggy’s “performance” did kill their relationship with the band because the recording of the show was so off the rails they were not able to release it as a live album.

Very little footage of The Stooges antics from that night exists except for footage shot by Pop’s pal and future member of Patti Smith’s band (among many other things), Ivan Kral who was there with his Super 8 camera. Unfortunately, according to Kral, when the band kicked into “Raw Power” the crowd rushed the stage, and he and his camera ended up on the floor (which was covered in broken glass), trampled by unphased Stooges fans. After all this madness, it was finally time for BÖC, the headliners for this nutty night of New Year’s Eve rock and roll revelry, to take over.
 

A print ad for the New Year’s Eve show at the Academy of Music in 1973. The addition of a second 11:30 p.m. late show was short-lived and never happened.
 
Like The Stooges, Blue Öyster Cult had released a new album in February—their second, the rather mysterious Tyranny and Mutation, with a little lyrical help from Patti Smith who was in a romantic relationship with BÖC co-founder Allen Lanier. Guitarist Buck Dharma was excited to play the venue saying that when you got to play the Academy, you realized you had a “certain draw of power there.” As you might imagine, by the time BÖC was ready to play, the crowd had seen a lot of crazy shit go down. Show supporters Teenage Lust didn’t even want to go on after KISS after seeing their set open with pyrotechnics and a massive Las Vegas-style sign displaying their name. According to Harold C. Black of Teenage Lust, the first words out of his mouth were, “OH FUCK,” after coming to terms with what he had just seen. But, BÖC had some wild plans of their own for their set and weren’t about to give the night up to KISS.

Presumably, after dining at Lüchow’s, a popular German restaurant near the Academy, BÖC asked the oom-pah band at the joint to join them onstage that night, which they did. Next, vocalist Eric Bloom rode a motorcycle out on stage and proceeded to make good on a promise to shave his beard in front of the audience. Lastly, a guy named Karl Burke, who happened to be working the backstage for the Academy that night, ended up standing by Buck Dharma when KISS came off the stage. As they passed by, Burke “chuckled” to which Dharma responded that he shouldn’t laugh because BÖC would probably be “opening for them soon.” Two years later to the date, Dharma’s vision of the future would turn out to be correct as BÖC opened for KISS at the Nassau County Veteran’s Coliseum in New York during the Alive! Tour. So what about the crowd’s reception to KISS, a band nobody in the venue had necessarily come to see that night?

KISS was added to the bill at the urging of Bill Aucoin and management types at Warner Brothers. However, for the show, the WB suits asked Aucoin to have KISS “take off their makeup” because they “didn’t believe in it.” Aucoin and the band told Warner Brothers to suck it and the makeup stayed on. After seeing KISS’s candle-lit set, Stooge James Williamson said he “didn’t really care” about them. His bandmate Scott Asheton disagreed, calling the band “pure entertainers who took no prisoners.” Melody Maker would refer to KISS as a “local glitter band” in their review, which appeared to be “cashing in” on the popularity of glam rock. The review in Melody Maker also reveals more details of Simmons’ accidental hair fire, sending a member of the audience to the hospital with burns on his head and face. To be fair to Simmons, he hadn’t really wanted to be the one to learn how to breathe/spit fire on stage and had volunteered by mistake. To help Simmons, Bill Aucoin, along with Neil and Joyce Bogart, brought in a local magician named Presto to teach Gene how to breathe fire (also noted in the KISS: Behind the Mask bio). His first attempt took place in Joyce’s office during which Simmons’ enthusiastic fire-spitting/breathing scorched her newly painted walls. 

In their review of the show, Variety called KISS “ghoulish” giving them a rating of four out of ten. Though Variety wasn’t impressed by KISS, pretty much everyone one else at the show was, many of whom had no fucking idea who KISS was before that night. KISS brought something very different to the Academy during their historic 30-minute set, and it wouldn’t be long, as Buck Dharma predicted, before KISS would take over the world.

Below are loads of photos taken at the show, as well as some footage of The Stooges set shot by Ivan Kral, who, along with his camera, survived the night with only a few cuts and bloody footprints on his jacket.
 

An image of the all-girl New York band, Isis from the back of their 1974 debut album, nude, covered in metallic body paint on the front and back cover. Isis were originally on the bill, but suddenly taken off for unknown reasons.
 

New York band Teenage Lust which had the misfortune of following KISS.
 

The Academy of Music’s marquee advertising the show, before the last-minute addition of KISS the day of the show.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.31.2018
01:25 pm
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Eric Stanton & The Bizarre Underground (plus the fetish culture origins of Spider-Man!)

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In Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground the sordid tale of the fetish world, this so-called “bizarre underground,” is revealed to be less steeped in the creepy/sleazy milieu it is normally portrayed as coming from. Author Richard Perez Seves details how the fetish subculture had many allies and partners in the supposedly more innocent OVERground world of the happy Fifties and Sixties. This long awaited book tells this story as it should be told, with LOADS of black and white and color art reproductions, histories, collectors’ checklists with detailed descriptions and more. It’s a very “modern” book in the sense that it’s perfect for the short attention span world and can be read in, or out, of order as info is needed.

But I’m not saying there’s not much to read, because there is! And it’s written in an appropriate timeline, with copious notes and a great index. It doesn’t come off like an encyclopedia, nor does it speak down to its audience, and best of all it’s a big hardcover book that is really affordable. It’s actually way cheaper than it should be! Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground can be found on sale as you read this for around twenty dollars on Amazon! Which is insane! Even the queen of burlesque Dita Von Teese has put her stamp of approval on the book.
 
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Everything I love and collect culturally seems to lead to the same time period, that fuzzy period around 1954 when things started bubbling into what we now know as rock n’ roll, teenage and monster cinema, the Beats, MAD Magazine, and the “bizarre fetish underground.” All of these things were initially seen as a threat to society the minute they became a “thing” that had an identity. This identity represented rebellion and freedom. All of these things had been brewing for varying periods of time, some for very long periods of time, by single-minded freethinkers experimenting with obsession, be it art, literature, music, or sex. But there’s a moment when a rebellious idea becomes a thing, meaning something that other people realize is happening and so they join in and start doing it as well. Then it becomes… a threat! And when kids get involved it makes it easier for the “critics” and politicians with agendas to start the finger pointing, blaming, set-ups and knock downs, political committees and so on.

These “things” were such a threat to the powers that be that they were portrayed as causing Communism, crime, drugs, pregnancies and worse. The premiere form of presentation in print of the fetish underground was, in fact, comics. Of course there were “dirty” photos as well—notably the classic Bettie Page shoots that informed male libidos of several generations—but it’s worth noting that—at the very least—50% of all published fetish materials were comics, which is quite odd and interesting. These were comics that were not read by children. It doesn’t seem like many women read them either, of course.
 
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The price is from 1958, which is pretty remarkable!
 
Unlike most artists, who simply drew what guys like Irving Klaw paid them (very little) to draw, Eric Stanton was very interested in the sexy subject matter he was working with, which is what injected his art with that extra shiny, whip-cracking “something.” He was also instrumental in bringing Gene Bilbrew (aka “Eneg” and other pseudonyms) into that world. Bilbrew was the yang to Stanton’s ying in a sense in that Stanton was a healthy, very fit, white suburban (at that time) family man, and Bilbrew was, as they say, living the life. Gene was an African-American heroin-addicted jazz musician living in, and at the end, dying in (of an overdose) in a porno bookshop on “The Deuce” (42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue). Their styles were very similar at first (Bilbrew worked for Will Eisner and Jules Feiffer early on and he and Stanton met at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, where they also met Steve Ditko and struck up a fast friendship). Bilbrew’s art got consistently weirder and weirder as time and his drug addiction went on, becoming so weird that it seemed to be intentional. And maybe it was, but I’m talking weird on two levels, one in subject matter with everyone, including the “pretty girls” used to sell the books he was illustrating becoming monstrous and bizarre (in the traditional sense) and downright ugly! On the other hand he seemed to lose his sense of perspective with arms and legs getting rendered too short, people looking like midgets, really big, almost square, wall-eyed heads, etc. (If all this was , er… on purpose, then Bilbrew has become my all-time favorite artist! Taking a concept as simple as using sexy women to sell hard up guys horny reading material and taking this idea and turning it on its head into a truly bizarre version of itself.)
 
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Three paperback covers, all with Gene Bilbrew art.
 
The big revelation in Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground is the direct connection between the world of the adults-only sex underground publications and the burgeoning creation of Marvel Comics. In this book all the guessing, rumors and wondering that has been whispered about for decades is spelled out in words and in pictures!

Eric Stanton was married to a religious extremist who was massively opposed to what he started to do for a living. Stanton realized more and more how much he was turned on by this world he happened to step into and things went very wrong at home. In classic style Odd Couple-style, Stanton moved his studio into his art school buddy’s space. This friend happened to be one Steve Ditko, who would later go on to co-create Spider-Man with Stan Lee.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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12.24.2018
02:26 pm
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The annual Dangerous Minds foolproof last minute shopping list for hard-to-buy-for rock snobs!!
12.12.2018
07:14 pm
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Each year around this time, I compile a list of what I consider to be the best Christmas gifts for that difficult-to-buy-for rock snob in your life. You know the one. And if you happen to be the rock snob reading this, this is the good stuff. Buy it for yourself.

You will perhaps sense a bit of a 50th anniversary theme going on here, nonetheless, first let me recommend the super deluxe reissue of The Beatles’ White Album. On last year’s Sgt. Pepper’s box set, Giles Martin bestowed upon the world the album that the Beatles would have made had there been 5.1 surround sound in 1967. It stayed true to the original, but nicely expanded it for 21st century audio system capabilities and consumer expectations. In short, it was mind-blowing. This season his gift is this nicely enhanced White Album. Unlike Pepper’s more uniformly hi-fi sound, the White Album is a hodgepodge of various musical and recording/production styles that’s all over the map, which of course is the reason why the collection is so revered five decades later. A different, dirtier, animal, if you will, from its cinemascope predecessor, Martin’s newfangled White Album in 5.1 reveals much and lets each instrument and voice have its own PLACE in the mix. It’s a cleaner White Album to be sure. Obviously there’s more bottom end—McCartney’s bass lines have been nicely accentuated in all Beatles releases issued since 2009—and there are certain elements that stand out in ways they didn’t before, many of them drum fills courtesy of Ringo Starr and the nicely accentuated backing vocals. It also comes with the so-called “Escher Demos” recorded at George Harrison’s house, a sort of “White Album Unplugged,” the original 1968 mono mix in 24bit and outtakes galore. The highlight for me was hearing “Revolution #9” in 5.1 surround. Apocalyptic!
 

 
Isn’t it about time that the Kinks got a pricey box set to call their own? Seems like it’s no coincidence that the 50th birthday of The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society is being celebrated with this bursting-at-the-seams box which contains no fewer than FOUR—I mean FIVE—versions of the exact same album. Vinyl in mono, stereo and the Swedish issue (with different cover and two additional songs). CDs with mono and stereo mixes, alt versions, session tracks, audio tracks from BBC TV appearances, live numbers, interviews, etc. You could say that it’s a bit repetitive, overkill even—and you would not be wrong about that—but we’re talking about a Christmas gift here. To be honest, just the Swedish album on vinyl would probably have been enough for me if I was paying the tab, but if I got this as a gift, yeah, I’d be pretty pleased.
 

 
And what do you know there’s a 50th anniversary box set of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland? Who’d have thought someone at the record label would want to turn that event into product? Well…I gotta say, this one is a ripper. In terms of the new 2018 5.1 surround mix, this has to be at, or very near, the top of the list of the best examples of a classic rock album getting a multichannel remake that I’ve ever heard. When Electric Ladyland was originally released it was considered one of the finest illustrations of the capability of two-channel audio (stereo) as had ever been created up to that point and THIS SURROUND MIX DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. As I wrote in a longer post about the 5.1 mix, the “velocity” of Jimi’s playing is taken to another level here entirely; a song like “Crosstown Traffic” makes it from point A to point B without its tires ever touching the ground. This one is safe bet for almost any rock snob, even ones who are only lukewarm Hendrix fans. After this gift, they’ll become the most rabid Jimi fans, trust me. Also unlike the two north-of-$100 items listed above, you can pick this one up for less than fifty bucks. With lots of outtakes, a documentary, book and a new stereo mix, but the star attraction here is the inspired surround mix.

I am a huge, massive, very very big Bobbie Gentry fan. What a great talent she is, occupying a self-created niche somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Las Vegas showbiz. Everything you could possibly want—and more—is present and accounted for on The Girl From Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters, an 8 CD set in a slick package. The book-length essay about Gentry’s pioneering career—not only was she one of the first major female artists to write and produce her own albums, she was an extremely shrewd businesswoman, and one of the first to collect a really huge paycheck from doing a Vegas residency—is first rate, giving proper context for Gentry’s work for those too young to remember her. I’ve heard that this box set completely sold out of the first run and it rightly deserved to.  A very high quality product. Any major artist would be lucky to get this treatment, even ones that didn’t totally disappear off the face of the Earth nearly 40 years ago.
 

 
Keychains and Snowstorms: The Soft Cell Story box set boasts ten discs (nine CDs and one four-hour long DVD) which is quite a feat for a band that only ever put out three albums proper during its short existence. Much of the material here comes from their 12” releases and EPs, of which there were many. Soft Cell always put a lot of effort into their remixes and b-sides and the quality here is uniformly very high. The mastering is muscular and charges the atmosphere of your listening room like a nightclub’s booming sound system (I could easily see my woofers moving). This is one of those extremely completist sets (like the Gentry box above) where it’s easy to lost in something new. Not that Soft Cell is exactly new, of course, they broke up for the first time in 1984, but it’ll be new to anyone who doesn’t know them beyond “Tainted Love.” With an extremely good book length essay on the career of these unlikely deviant chart toppers.
 

 
I’ve been getting into a lot of 60/70s English folk music during past year—aided ably by Rob Young’s book Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music, an exhaustive 650 page volume that would make a great Xmas gift itself for your rock snob—and I consider the Dust in the Nettles 3 CD anthology (Grape Fruit/Cherry Red) to be an indispensable collection for someone who is always looking for “something new to listen to” as dozens of leads are to be found there. Subtitled “a journey through the British underground folk scene,” it starts off strong with Pentangle’s “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme,” which is immediately followed by the seductive “Willow’s Song” from The Wicker Man soundtrack. (Listen to those two songs in a row and see if you don’t agree.) Also included are stunning numbers by Joan Armatrading, Bill Fay, the Incredible String Band and Vashti Bunyan, but the song here that I became obsessed with is “Amanda” by Steve Peregrin Took’s Shagrat, the tale of a smiling cropier, gambling on love and much amphetamine. I simply cannot recommend Dust in the Nettles highly enough, it’s amazing from start to finish and it’s a gift that will keep on giving with the discovery of new artists on it. (If you don’t have anyone to buy this for, just buy it for yourself.)
 

 
In late 2017 several early Brian Eno classics came out pressed across two twelve inch 180 gram vinyl platters that play at 45rpm. Using the half speed mastering process at Abbey Road, albums like Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy) and Here Come the Warm Jets had a new coat of audiophile gloss put on them that I found mighty attractive and now they’re releasing four of his ambient albums, Discrete Music, Ambient 1: Music for Airports, the enigmatic Music for Films and the mighty On Land, which is my favorite. The sound of these is, predictably, the best you’re ever gonna hear, much more tactile than any CD could ever be, but I couldn’t help but to notice that the meditative “put it on in the background” functionality of Eno’s ambient works is disrupted, if not made entirely moot, by the fact that you have to get up and flip the platter every ten minutes! (The first piece on Discrete Music is cut in half.) Still they’re pretty cool and I will admit to listening to On Land loud enough to threaten a tectonic shift underneath my house. Background music? Only if you want it to be. These also comes in standard single LP 33rpm versions which are apparently made from the exact same master.

Dylan Jones’ superb oral history David Bowie: A Life came out last year, but I was a bit Bowie’d out at the time and although I bought it, I never actually picked it up and read it until recently. Having read practically every major book about David Bowie (starting with The David Bowie Story by George Tremlett, which I had memorized when I was a lad) this is without question my favorite of them all. I enjoyed it immensely and wish it had been ten times as long as its 500+ pages. It’s a terrifically entertaining book full of candid and charming anecdotes about the man. The matter of his work ethic (even when he was out of his mind on heaps of cocaine) comes up often, as does his graciousness and true kindness. David Bowie as a human, in other words, not a rock god. The wonderfully hilarious Roger Moore story is my absolute favorite, but there are several more.

The “rock” memoir is, I will admit it, one of my favorite literary genres, and Playing the Bass with Three Hands by Will Carruthers—who’s been in Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spectrum, and others—is one of my favorites in recent memory. Extremely well-written, this look back at a life lived to the chemical extreme, often in hand-to-mouth poverty and working (literally) shitty jobs to avoid penury whilst a member of several world famous rock bands, has got to be the most brutally honest rock memoir since… The End by James Young? Carruthers has a gift for charmingly observed first person narration that makes this book such a pleasure despite all the drugs, destitution and offal. In the future this book will be read as history to understand what it was like to live in the 80s and 90s.
 

 
And lastly there is the beautifully published Stories for Ways and Means published by Waxploitation’s Jeff Antebi and featuring “grown up” children’s story collaborations from the likes of Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Joe Coleman, Laura Marling, Alison Mosshart, Gary Numan, Gibby Haynes, Kathleen Hanna, Anthony Lister, Frank Black, Devendra Banhart, Will Oldham and many others. The world of contemporary art meets some of the most compelling storytellers in music and the results are between the cover of this gorgeous, slick book with a mission of supporting nonprofit children’s organizations and NGOs around the world. Buy it here.
 

Watch ‘Circus,’ an animated short of Joe Coleman’s art set to a short story by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan and narrated by Ken Nordine, as seen in the book ‘Stories for Ways and Means.’
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.12.2018
07:14 pm
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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
Topics:
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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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