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Cult Movies and Big Screen Idols: Covers to ‘Films and Filming’ magazine
01.11.2018
12:35 pm
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Joe Dallesandro, April 1971.
 
Films and Filming was a middle-brow, high-quality monthly movie magazine published in the UK between October 1953 to March 1990. It was a special interest magazine for film-lovers who thought “Picturegoer unsatisfying and Sight and Sound unintelligible.” Set up by publisher Philip Dosse Films and Filming was a stablemate to his other mags like Books and Bookmen, Dance and Dancers, Plays and Players, Art and Artists, and so on. It was, in many respects, one of the best and most subversive film magazines around as Dosse had an agenda of promoting difficult and controversial subject matter, in particular, homosexuality which was then a criminal offense in Britain punishable by imprisonment or chemical castration.

Films and Filming or rather F&F’s first editor was Peter Brinson, a smart young man who made no attempt to disguise his sexuality. He successfully edited the magazine to woo the gay market by including pictures of beefcake actors and personal ads for lonely bachelors to hook-up. It was the magazine’s second editor, Peter Baker, that moved F&F away from a coded gay film zine to a thoughtful, glossy, and well-written magazine that became the must-read of every serious cinephile.

I knew fuck all about any of this fascinating backstory when I picked secondhand copies of F&F up in the seventies and eighties from Bobbies Bookshop. I bought the magazine because it featured the movies, writers, and directors I liked: Ken Russell, Lindsay Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, Fellini, Derek Jarman, and Martin Scorsese. It also boasted several great photospreads per issue usually lifted from some of the strangest movies on release that month and some very good writing by the likes of Raymond Durgnat—though there were some reviewers who always seemed to focus on every movie having a homosexual subtext whether it was valid or not. F&F’s covers eschewed the usual box office fodder—though occasional they did feature the odd one like Star Wars—and instead focused on gay/cult films like Myra Breckinridge, The Night Porter, Lisztomania, Loot, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Last Detail, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Salo: 120 days of Sodom.

I have a stack of old F&F’s stored away, and have previously shared some of the magazine’s photospreads of my favorite films/directors, but the following largely comes from the Twitter feed of Films and Filming, which I suggest you follow if you have an interest cult and classic films, big screen stars and memorabilia from a golden age of movies.
 
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Monica Vitti, April 1966.
 
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Donald Sutherland, May 1975.
 
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Bridget Bardot and Jeanne Moreau, March 1966.
 
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Batman and Robin, October 1966.
 
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Sophia Loren, September 1966.
 
More classy covers, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.11.2018
12:35 pm
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Filmmakers and felines: Jean Cocteau had a club for cat lovers!
01.10.2018
10:38 am
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If you like movies, then you probably have at least a passing familiarity with French director/artist Jean Cocteau. Maybe you picked up La Belle et la bête (1946) or Orphée (1950) during a half-price Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble. Maybe someone in film school made you watch Le Sang d’un Poète (1930) in some experimental film class and you thought: “What is this? This is some weird ass shit but…I like it! It’s definitely different than those other experimental guys. I might be able to get down with…what’s this dude’s name? Cocteau?”

Most cinephiles and culture vultures know the basics: Cocteau was French. He was gay. His social set was expansive, attracting everyone from Proust, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso to queer artists like Gertrude Stein, Jean Genet, and Marlene Dietrich. Basic knowledge is fine if that’s all you want, but Jean Cocteau is SO much more interesting. His art was hot, his writing was beautiful, he was controversial…but let’s get real: What makes this Frenchman unique?

He loved the hell out of cats and he was not afraid to let the world know it!

Cocteau was romantically involved with his lead actor, Jean Marais for over two decades. It’s unclear whether Marais also enjoyed cats so that part of their affair is still a mystery. We do know that Cocteau firmly supported his lover’s close relationship with the dog he saved during WWII, Muluk. 

Clearly, bringing Muluk on-set was no problem. Wonder if it was in his contract?
 

 
What is it they say—opposites attract? If that’s the case and if we place cats and dogs on the spectrum as polar opposites, then these two men probably had a banging sex life! While Marais, son of a veterinarian, was fond enough of his dog to take glamour shots with him and signed autographs on pictures that featured himself and Muluk together, Jean Cocteau was much more than your average cat guy. More than your average cat lady, even. Cocteau believed in felines.
 

Jean Cocteau illustrated this lovely book of poetry in 1962, ‘La dame aux Chats’ (The Lady with Cats).
 

 
One of the illustrations: the lady with the cats!
 

These days Jean Cocteau might even be more notable on the internet for his heavily meme-d quotes about cats than for his elegant film work.

1) “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”

2) “I prefer cats over dogs because police cats don’t exist.”

 

 
Cocteau made a great deal of art, but he made a lot of cat-related art. Not only is it vast and multi-faceted, spanning from sculpture to murals to sketch, it’s also extremely joyful. The Cocteau cats are a real treasure. 
 
Cocteau painted this in the local chapel near where he lived in Milly-la-Forêt, in 1959, where he wished to be buried (and was). It is still there.
 

As a cat lover, Cocteau shared his home with multiple feline companions. While not able to divine every furry friend’s name, two of his marvelous cats went by Madeline and Karoun. Cocteau was quite close with Karoun and nicknamed his furry buddy “King of Cats,” even dedicating a whole book to him! Lucky cat!
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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01.10.2018
10:38 am
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Rob Halford of Judas Priest challenges his hero Freddie Mercury to a motorbike race, 1980


Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury.
 

“I’ve always found it ironic that a certain aspect of gay culture has also chosen to dress this way. I’m not into that kind of thing though. I guess it’s whatever floats your boat y’know? I’m what you’d call a very vanilla kind of gay guy.”


—Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford on his fashion choices.

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford is known for many things. Aside from being one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time, Halford’s cultivated image of head-to-toe leather and spikes is synonymous with heavy metal itself. In fact, when the band performed on Top of the Pops on January 25th, 1979, Halford’s badass bondage-style getup spread like wildfire across the world and would soon become the go-to look for headbangers. Another thing Halford is widely known for is his love of motorcycles and if you’ve seen Priest live, then perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see Halford ride out on stage on one. Which brings me to another mythical story involving Halford and a man he refers to as his “ultimate hero,” Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury.
 

Rob Halford circa 1979/1980.
 
The year was 1980 and Queen had just released their eighth record The Game in June. Audiences went completely bananas for the album and showed a particular affinity for two songs you likely know all the words to, “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” The band would later earn a reputation for releasing unique videos for their songs, and the video for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is no exception. In the video, Mercury is dressed up like an outlaw biker in a stage production of the 1961 film West Side Story complete with an authentic but stationary motorcycle which Mercury straddles along with his blonde video girlfriend. And Rob Halford was having none of it.

According to Halford, after he saw the video he went on BBC Radio 1 and challenged Mercury to a real “motorbike race.” I know I’m not going out on a limb saying if the event had actually transpired, it would have been one of the greatest moments in TV history. Sadly, Mercury never responded to Rob’s challenge. Here’s more from the Metal God who walks among us on that:

“I never heard back from him. Freddie is my ultimate hero. The closest I ever got to Freddie was in a gay bar in Athens on the way to Mykonos with some friends from London. We kind of glared at each other across the bar, in a kind of smiling, winking way. When we got to Mykonos, I was determined to track him down, but I couldn’t because he’d rented this huge yacht. It was festooned in pink balloons and it just kept sailing around the island.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.09.2018
10:17 am
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The superstars of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’
12.28.2017
08:56 am
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The Portuguese release of ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ (via Discogs)

In 1993, the BBC documentary series Arena devoted four episodes to “Tales of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The third of these focused entirely on the real-life figures in Lou Reed’s most famous song, “Walk on the Wild Side,” collecting footage of and fascinating biographical detail about each superstar sketched in the song’s verses—Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, “Little” Joe Dallesandro, Sugar Plum Fairy and Jackie Curtis.

I don’t know how the producers managed to keep Bono out of this documentary, but somehow they were able to limit the show’s interview subjects to people who actually had some business talking about this scene, such as Factory resident Billy Name, photographer Leee Black Childers and Reed/Warhol biographer Victor Bockris. Their perspectives are interesting. For instance, where many sources now identify the Sugar Plum Fairy as Joe Campbell, the former boyfriend of Harvey Milk whose character in My Hustler was called the Sugar Plum Fairy, Billy Name says this is too narrow an interpretation:

If you’re in the world of music or drugs, there is always a Sugar Plum Fairy: the one who delivers, who brings the stuff to you. Now, during this time, from ‘64 to ‘70, there were two individuals I knew who were called the Sugar Plum Fairy, as a nickname. Neither of the individuals who were the Sugar Plum Fairy were important to remember. Their only significance is that they became that character at that point. Lou, in “Walk on the Wild Side,” took poetic license. The Sugar Plum Fairy. The man, like in “Heroin” or “I’m Waiting for the Man.” The guy who delivers to you, the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Certainly there are worse ways to spend the holidays than lounging in bed with Holly Woodlawn and Andy Warhol.

Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.28.2017
08:56 am
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Behold the NSFW anatomically correct ‘Tom of Finland’ doll (detachable penises included!)
12.19.2017
09:06 am
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Officially licensed Tom of Finland action figure from 2003.
 
In 2003 the Tom of Finland Foundation put out the first, and only to my knowledge, Tom of Finland totally articulated anatomically correct action figure. However, I feel compelled to say that the figure is better described as anaTOMically accurate as it pertains to the famous homoerotic art created by Touko Valio Laaksonen—the artist known as Tom of Finland.

Called the “001 Rebel,” the officially licensed thirteen-inch doll comes dressed in a leather jacket, leather pants, cropped white t-shirt, and motorcycle boots. Other accessories include three extra penises (one of which appears to be uncircumcised), two sets of feet and two Tom of Finland of condoms—one of which fits the dolls giant, erect dongs. Amusingly, the package contains a not-so-ironic warning that it contains “choking hazards.” You just can’t make that stuff up, kids. For those of you reading this right now hoping it might be possible for you to purchase your very own three-dimensional Tom of Finland doll, the provocative adult action figure is pretty easy to come on eBay, Etsy or right here. Completely NSFW images of the Tom of Finland doll and his various anatomical “accessories” follow.
 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.19.2017
09:06 am
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‘Fags in the Fast Lane’ is the trashy queersploitation movie the world needs right now
11.30.2017
12:35 pm
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Recently I had the extreme pleasure of attending a festival screening of one of the most over-the-top campy trashfests ever to skeet itself across the silver screen, the Australian-produced Fags in the Fast Lane.

Fags in the Fast Lane is violent, sexy, and an utterly absurd epic of completely anarchic cinema produced with spirit and passion by individuals devoted to off-the-wall storytelling and lysergic imagery.
 

 
Producer/Designer/Writer/Director Josh Sinbad Collins is a trash-auteur par excellence who has built a world of gay superheroes, cock-worshippers, elderly hookers, and mutant burlesque queens that defies comparison, though one could certainly start with John Waters, Ted V Mikels, the Kuchar brothers, and certainly Russ Meyer. In fact, after first viewing the film, I described it to a friend as “what you might get if Russ Meyer were gay and tried to make a film on ten hits of acid.”

The film is the whacked out tale of Sir Beauregard, the “Cockslinger,” and his companion, Lump, a sort of 19th Century Dandy prizefighter. The dynamic-duo of gay-basher-bashers fight the homophobes of Dullsville and kidnap the police chief’s son, Squirt, who eventually allows his repressed sexuality to blossom. When The Cockslinger’s mother, played by aging Russ Meyer vixen Kitten Natividad, has all of her jewelry and the magical “Golden Cock” stolen from her GILF bordello, it is up to the pair, with Squirt in tow, to track down the culprits. This leads them on a journey where they pick up Salome and Hijra (an ass-kicking drag queen and a eunuch assassin), the latter played by King Khan. El Vez and The Mummies also make appearances. The odyssey ends with an epic battle against mutated gogo dancers in Freakytown with some hilariously cheap special effects. The costumes, set designs, and art direction are jaw-droppingly fantastic.
 

Kitten Natividad stars as “Kitten.”
 
Fags in the Fast Lane is currently playing the festival circuit, but I suspect it won’t take long for this film to get distribution for an eventual DVD/BD release.
 

The Cockslinger and Squirt are on the case.
 
When it seems that certain factions in this country have made it their culture war mission to roll back the advancements of LGBT+ folks at every turn, Fags in the Fast Lane couldn’t have come along at a better time. The Cockslinger is the gay superhero we need.
 

King Khan as Hijra.
 

 

 
(Probably NSFW) Trailer for ‘Fags in the Fast Lane’:
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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11.30.2017
12:35 pm
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‘Michael’s Thing’: New York City’s once essential queer city guide (as seen on HBO’s ‘The Deuce’)
10.11.2017
12:58 pm
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Early on in the most recent episode of HBO’s The Deuce, which is set in New York City in 1971, Vince Martino (one of the two twins played by James Franco in the show) is looking to get the Hi Hat, the new mobbed-up bar in the Times Square area that he runs, a little more publicity. So he asks the show’s most prominent gay character, a bartender who works for him named Paul Hendrickson (Chris Coy), whether he has seen to it that the establishment has been listed in all of the “bar guides.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1972
 

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

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.11.2017
12:58 pm
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Swallow the Leader: Amusingly titled, tawdry gay pulp novels of the 50s & 60s
10.04.2017
09:34 am
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‘Rally Round the Fag’ one of ten vintage gay pulp novels starring the popular character “Jackie Holmes” from ‘The Man from C.A.M.P.’ series. Artwork by the great Robert Bonfils,1967.
 
Gay pulp novels have been around since the 1930s when the sale of paperback books proliferated. Historically, lesbian pulp was much more popular than novels featuring the exploits of gay men—and that is, of course, because the lesbian pulp was widely purchased by straight dudes. The popularity of the novels continued to rise during 1940s though, as noted in the book Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe edited by pulp historian Steve Berman, the very first true “gay pulp” novel was published in 1952 by author George Viereck. Viereck, a former propaganda tool of the Nazis during WWII authored the 195 page Men into Beasts that used homosexual prison culture as a part of its storyline—something Viereck had observed first hand while he was locked up.

The 50s was not a good time for the gay community, much in part to the gay-hating U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy who in addition to his suspicions that commies, pinkos and reds had managed to weasel their way into government positions, was also convinced that it was swarming with homosexuals, probably commie, pinko homosexuals, too. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” the State Department fired back at McCarthy’s delusional accusations saying that there were no communists on the government payroll. McCarthy sent his right-wing buddies to turn up the heat on the State Department claims which would result in the acknowledgment that 91 employees had been identified as “gay” and were fired under the guise that they were a huge “security risk.” When the news hit the papers and television, the public, as well as Congress, demanded a full investigation.

During this hysteria, a committee of the U.S. Senate launched the ridiculous sounding investigation “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in the Government”.
Upon the conclusion of what is best described as a gay witch hunt, the committee was unable to identify any American citizen who might have sold out the good-old U.S. of A. This didn’t stop the committee from publishing a post-operative paper which “conclusively” established that a gay man or a lesbian possessed “weak moral character” and that the inclusion of only one homosexual can “pollute a government office.” After Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected he signed the executive order 10450 which added “sexual perversion” to a long list of personality traits that could prevent a person from holding a job with the federal government which led to thousands of people losing their livelihoods.

Once the swinging 60s rolled around the U.S. post office could no longer refuse to deliver books that featured homosexuality, which, according to research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Press led to a veritable “explosion” of gay pulp novels.

Now that I’ve shared a bit of the rich history surrounding gay pulp fiction, let’s take a look at some of the more hysterical, tongue-in-cheek covers that created such a stir back in the 50s and 60s, shall we? Yes, we shall. Some are pretty NSFW.
 

1968.
 

1967.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.04.2017
09:34 am
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Stuck in the Mudd! Four decades later, the doorman of the wildest nightclub in NYC lets you in!

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Here’s a drink ticket—enjoy the post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He goes on to say:

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

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

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

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

I was lucky, and soaked it all in.

 
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Nico playing her wheezing harmonium. Photo by Ebet Roberts

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

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

And what a glorious place to start: right at the front door.
 
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The trailer for the book
 
More Mudd Club after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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09.19.2017
02:47 pm
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The Male Figure: Bruce of Los Angeles and the perfection of midcentury beefcake
09.19.2017
01:31 pm
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When you ponder improbable destinies for high school chemistry teachers, it’s likely that almost everyone reading this would instantly think of Walter White, who went from being a lowly chemistry teacher to a major drug kingpin in the U.S. Southwest—at least in the fictional narrative that is Breaking Bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.19.2017
01:31 pm
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