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


Photo by Richard Kern, courtesy of Kembra Pfahler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you thinking about F for Fake?

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s that?

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

I do not. Is it like a case study?

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

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.07.2019
01:18 pm
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Pornographer Royal: The erotic caricatures of Thomas Rowlandson (NSFW)
02.04.2019
09:43 am
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Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) was an artist and caricaturist whose work poked fun at the mores, politics, and attitudes of Georgian England. Highly feted in his day, Rowlandson’s work, in particular his erotic etchings tickled the fancy of the Prince Regent—the heir to the throne or as he was later known King George IV. What kind of erotica Rowlandson supplied to dear old Georgie, we will never quite know as (sadly) the bulk of his porny prints were later destroyed by the prim Queen Victoria. Any saucy pix that do remain are (unfortunately) kept under lock and key at the present monarch’s (QEII) private collection at Windsor—though 962 of Rowlandson’s etchings and paintings held in the Royal Collection can be viewed online.

What little is known of Rowlandson comes mainly from his obituary as published at the time of his death and a few anecdotes about his early life recalled in memoirs by fellow artists and those who bought/liked/documented his work. Born in Old Jewry, in the City of London, Rowlandson was the son of a weaver. His father became a trader in the City, but he was soon bankrupted and took his family out of London to Yorkshire in the north of England. Rowlandson’s mother died when he was very young—not more than an infant—and his childhood may have been ruinous had not one relative (an uncle) died leaving funds for his education. The pattern of poverty and good fortune recurred in Rowlandson’s life and was more than apparent on the city streets where the working class and a world of crime and vice, drunkenness and licentiousness rubbed along with lords and ladies, soldiers and priests.

Rowlandson returned to London where he attended a school in Soho Square. He apparently showed considerable aptitude for drawing—his schoolbooks were filled with sketches and caricatures of school friends and teachers. Around 1772, or thereabouts, he attended the Royal Academy studying painting and drawing. He traveled to Paris where he lived for three years before returning to London where he exhibited his paintings. On the death of his aunt, he inherited a small fortune (£7,000 apparently) which was quickly squandered on women, drink, and gambling.

Once more in poverty, Rowlandson was encouraged by friends to seek a career as a caricaturist producing work for books (Tobias Smollett and Laurence Sterne), magazines, and private collectors. He worked in pen, ink, and watercolor. These pictures were then engraved to make etchings and hand-colored. During his lifetime, he produced over 10,000 etchings and illustrated some 70 books. He also wrote and illustrated his own books starting with Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque in 1812. His work proved highly successful and Rowlandson has been rightly described as “one of the most talented British draftsmen, unsurpassed in his expressive flowing sinuous lines, and tactical use of watercolor.”

The magnificence in his pen and ink work is easily seen in his drawings across the genres of his career. His contemporaries were William Blake, known for his poetry and mysticism, and William Hogarth, for his extensively detailed satirical drawings. Among them, Rowlandson is incomparable in his relaxed, playful creation of renderings and his genius graphic placement of color.

He met life head-on considering it an adventure to be gained:

He was deeply involved: an infamous gambler, a big drinker, ribald, loud, laughing—a big man in many ways. He came right up close against the world, and chose to stay there—all the better to feel it live and grow and change, and ultimately to die. That is what his art is all about: the world of England, especially the boisterous London of George III and the Regency from the late eighteenth century up until his death just ten years before Queen Victoria ascended the throne.

His work is filled with an “abounding and insatiable gusto of enjoyment”:

His gift was a “kind of running fountain, purveyor of laughter to the average man,” with a piquant taste for variety and an almost unboundable sense of energy for provoking both mockery and mirth. As W.H. Pyne wrote shortly after Rowlandson’s death in 1827, “He has covered with his never-flagging pencil enough of charta pura to placard the whole walls of China, and etched as much copper as would sheath the British Navy.”

Rowlandson produced a considerable amount of erotica for private collectors including royalty, most of which “is now hidden away in Windsor Castle, among what is known as the George IV collection.”

It is no secret that Thomas produced for the same royal patron a series of drawings “notoriously of free tendency as regards subject.” ...Rowly spent much of his play-time in the famous pleasure palaces of London, particularly the Vauxhall, and the unrestrained life in those centers gave him inspiration for many curious and effective erotic pictures.

Some (like fellow caricaturist George Cruikshank) felt Rowlandson squandered his talent and “had suffered himself to be led away from the exercise of his legitimate subjects, to produce works of a reprehensible tendency.” Whether true or not (too much of his work has been lost or is held in private collections to know for sure), Rowlandson’s erotic caricatures are some of the finest ever produced with their mix of a shared world of unspoken experience and a scathing sense of humor. Rowlandson understood human desire and its attendant frailties. But we can only guess as to what King George IV found so pleasurable about his work.
 
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View a selection of Rowlandson’s erotic caricatures, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.04.2019
09:43 am
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Undressed to Kill: KISS’s X-rated ‘S & M’ photoshoot, 1975
02.04.2019
09:35 am
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One of the tamer shots taken of KISS and model Megan McCracken during the “S & M Session” in New York in 1975 by Fin Costello.
 
The early days of KISS were all about pushing boundaries and, let’s face it, the list of things KISS was not willing to do back in the day is pretty short and likely begins and ends with their refusal to take off their makeup for their first industry gig in New York on New Year’s Eve, 1973. The things they were willing to do became instant benchmarks for other rock and metal bands and, of course, everything from their stage shows and costumes would revolutionize how rock was supposed to look. So how does KISS follow up their infamous drunken orgy shot with Norman Seeff? They do another photo session much like it with Fin Costello and a model named Megan McCracken.

Called the “S & M Session,” Costello, who had shot the band on many occasions, traveled to New York on August 23, 1975, to again photograph the band. Megan McCracken was living with KISS manager Bill Aucoin at the time—although her participation in the shoot has been noted to be a “last-minute” kind of thing. McCracken wore strange satin overall shorts and nothing else and, during several shots, is completely nude. Props for the shoot include a cat o’ nine tails, assorted bondage gear, and fake blood—you know, just a regular day for Ace, Gene, Peter, and Paul in 1975. According to at least one KISS fan, t-shirts with Costello’s X-rated images were a thing, as well as iron-on transfers. And while I’ve never had any luck tracking one down, I believe they existed based on the stuff I saw with my own eyes during the same period when I was a kid. Porn star Marilyn Chambers had one of her own back in 1973, and I know she wasn’t the only naked lady to become an adult-oriented iron-on transfer—this is a fact. Those were good times. 

Photos from Costello’s NSFW S & M shoot with KISS follow.
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.04.2019
09:35 am
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Cosey Fanni Tutti talks with Dangerous Minds about her first solo album since 1983


Photo by Chris Carter

Next week, Cosey Fanni Tutti—visual and performance artist, author of Art Sex Music, member of Throbbing Gristle, COUM Transmissions, Chris & Cosey, Carter Tutti, and Carter Tutti Void—will release her first solo album since 1983’s Time to Tell. The erotic undertow and ghostly foreboding of the music on the new LP, Tutti, which originated as the soundtrack to the autobiographical film Harmonic COUMaction, take me to a wonderful place. Cosey kindly spoke with Dangerous Minds by phone on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

What are the sources that you used for this album? How did you record it? The press materials say that it’s mostly based on source material from throughout your life.

Yeah, that’s right. All the audio sources for the album were taken from recordings throughout my life, whether they were audio voices, phone calls, anything like that, which we’ve always recorded and I’ve always recorded for a long, long time now. And because the original music for Tutti was done as a soundtrack for a film that was based on images throughout my life, that’s why I used the audio for the same thing, so they both married up, and they represented me, basically. Yeah, and then I manipulated it all, so that’s where it all came from.

That’s so interesting, because the only vocals I recognized are on the song “Heliy.”

Yeah, I was singing live.

Can you identify any of the people whose voices appear on the album in different form?

No. [laughter] I can but I won’t. It’s people that literally have been in my life, and it’s not so much about recognizing their voice so much as. . . it’s just the essence of everything that contributed to making me who I am, and it was like that with the visuals and with the audio.

Is this the Harmonic COUMaction movie? Can you describe it for me?

Well, it’s like I said, they’re still images taken right from my birth, it begins with—to put it in context, when I was asked to do something for the Hull City of Culture, which, Hull is where I was born and where COUM really started, began there, and I was asked to do something there and put together a COUM Transmissions exhibition, retrospective. So I was working with all that material, and then I was asked to do a live performance, and at the same time I was doing my autobiography, so everything kind of came in right at the correct moment for me, so one thing fed the other. And I decided to do a film, like I said, of visuals that represented who I was from the town where I was born, where the exhibition and the City of Culture was taking place, and that’s when I put all the audio together for it as well.

In the film, there’s images of me, there’s my parents when I was born, my sister, where I lived, so there’s geographical references as well as personal references to people. And I did it so they’re all morphing into one another, a kind of visual representation of me being formed, basically. So everything is, like, running and melting from day one, and people turn into other people, into buildings, into—even my pet dog Tremble is in there. Everything is there that was really important to me throughout my life and recorded, and it all just becomes transformed into me, as this metamorphosis of who you are and what formed you. So the visuals are like that, and there’s like things collapsing in and then reforming into something else. That’s how I visually decided to present how I felt about my life.

It sounds like a representation of your “art is life, life is art” philosophy.

Well, yes, it’s all there. It is, actually; that’s what it is, you get the impression, then. That’s where my work is based and continues to be based, is how I traverse this planet, basically, and how it affects me and how the people I come into contact with affect me, and all the forces at play: emotional, physical, geographical. It’s important, ‘cause that’s how we all are, to be honest.
 

 
Can you tell me a little about that event? Was there any kind of a COUM reunion? I don’t know who’s still around from that period.

Yeah, it was quite sad, actually, because we’ve lost some people along the way, like everybody has. For the exhibition, I did a new piece as well, which was called “COUM Talks,” and it was basically talking heads of seven original members of COUM. And we lost one of those after I interviewed him. All these people, I had filmed, with just a few questions about COUM—when they joined, when they left, what it meant to them, any particular part of COUM that stood out to them as a memory—and then after that they could talk about what they wanted, really. So I had these seven screens in the exhibition room, and each person was reflecting on COUM and what it meant to them and their little memories, it was really interesting.

And Tim Poston, one of the first founding members of COUM, as well, was the one that sadly passed away. But it’s quite serendipitous, really, ‘cause when I was putting this together, he’d got in touch with me before I got in touch with him [laughs], and he was working in India at the time. You should look him up, he’s an incredible person. When I met him, he was telling me about figuring out how to get ultrasound to work to help irrigate arid areas and things like that. He’d also done research and provided a really cheap way of testing eyesight in India, in the villages there, so people could get treatment, that kind of thing. He was an incredible person. He got in touch with me, and I told him about what was going on, and he happened to have a brother who lived in the same area of the UK as me, and he was going to visit him. So we met up, and I said, “Do you want to do this interview for the exhibition?” And we met up and filmed him, had a lovely time together, and then about six months later he passed away. It was really sad. But then again, I think it’s quite wonderful that he was recorded. His piece, in particular, people absolutely adore, because he has a very. . . peaceful demeanor. He looks like Gandalf, for a start [laughs], so you get some idea. And he has this beautiful staff that he’s always carried around with him, so he’s been Gandalf before. . . maybe he took it from Gandalf. So we met him here, and had a wonderful time with him, and then lost him, sadly. But he was in the exhibition, which was wonderful, and COUM meant such a lot to him. And that’s a new piece that I did for the exhibition as well.

Was it strange at all to be recognized as sort of “official culture” in Hull? I imagine that would be gratifying, but it seems so different from the way COUM was received at the time.

Yeah, it was a funny one, really. That kind of acknowledgement had gained momentum over the past, I guess, 15 years, where I’d been included in group shows in my own right, as well as contributed for COUM, over the years, so it wasn’t so strange. But I kind of thought it was quite ironic. It’s the kind of thing that we would have embraced as COUM, if COUM had still been going. Kind of, like, Yeah, that’s a little bit unexpected, but great! We’ll run with that.

I was given the option of different spaces to do the exhibition: the Ferens Art Gallery, which is kind of, like, quite institutional, and there’s one at the college, the Philip Larkin Gallery, which were both really beautiful. But then I was given the option of a place that could be refurbed, which was bang in the middle of where we used to do all the COUM street actions, and that just felt so right, even though it was derelict at the time [laughs] when I went ‘round, had a look. I said, “Oh, it’s got to be here, because this is where we were, this is where the spirit of COUM was.” So it was carefully planned in that respect. So to be accepted, but then at the same time impose the actual spirit of COUM on it as well, that, Yes, we’ll have that, but we’ll want this space here—that’s the best place, because it’s where we worked.

It sounds like some serendipity was involved overall.

Yes, definitely. It was quite uncanny. There was a lot of things like that going on at the same time. The momentum of that element of serendipity kind of went through the whole, well, two years of preparation, yeah.
 

 
I listened to the audiobook of Art Sex Music, which is really wonderful. I know that you were estranged from your family; had it been a long time since you’d gone back to Hull?

No, I’d gone back to Hull ‘cause my sister still lives there, and Les has lived there, has never moved out. So I’ve always gone back to visit Les, right from. . . yeah, when Nick was born, ‘82, we were back in Hull with Les. I’ve always gone back, I’ve never felt estranged from Hull at all, it’s just my place there has changed in itself.

It’s not the Hull I remember—even more so now, because there’s been a lot of regeneration going on because of the Hull City of Culture. It’s not the Hull I remember like London isn’t the London I remember, either, when I go back there. Places change, and what it means to me, it doesn’t mean that to people who are there now [laughs]. But I still have a real fondness for my time there because it was instrumental in a lot of things I do, and informing me, and forming me, from the very beginning. That was where things began for me.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.31.2019
08:20 am
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Breaking bad: Mötley Crüe’s porny photo layout in OUI magazine, 1982 (NSFW)
01.14.2019
08:53 am
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An early promo shot of Mötley Crüe.
 
In an effort to not diminish the importance of heavy metal in the year 1982, I feel compelled to make a few opening remarks on the year horny metal band Mötley Crüe first terrorized the eyes of “readers” of a national publication—adult magazine OUI.

In 1982, Venom released their deeply influential second album, Black Metal, the Scorpions burned our faces off with their eighth record, Blackout, Judas Priest delivered Screaming for Vengeance, and Iron Maiden unleashed The Number of the Beast. 1982 was also the same year the Plasmatics socked it to us with Coup d’Etat, which the LA Times called “the best slice of unrelenting heavy metal since the last AC/DC album” (1981’s For Those About To Rock). If referring to the Plasmatics as a “heavy metal” band makes you shake your head, here’s an interesting fact: Wendy O. and the band recorded Coup d’Etat in Germany with Dieter Dierks who had just worked with the Scorpions on Blackout. He helped push the Plasmatics’ punk sound to a heavier, more metal realm. Reviews of Coup d’Etat have even referred to Williams as an “Iron Maiden” for her vocal work on the record. So the next time someone tells you how much music in the 80s sucked, tell ‘em to Stop. Now that we have established 1982 as a pretty damn good year for heavy metal let’s talk about Mötley Crüe’s appearance in Playboy magazine’s pornier sister publication, OUI. (Playboy’s Penthouse, if you will.)

As noted above, this would be the first time Crüe’s mugs (and more) would be seen in a magazine with national distribution. Crüe had not even been called Mötley Crüe for a year when photographer Mark Weiss came to LA to shoot the band in their natural surroundings for one of his monthly contributions to OUI which, according to Weiss, kept him busy taking photos of rock stars and naked ladies. While Weiss was in LA, he took twenty or so shots of Mötley mugging for their lives with a couple of topless blonde models, pentagrams, all of the Aqua Net, human skulls, and a motorcycle, among other heavy metal staples. The photoshoot is accompanied by a long interview with Nikki, Tommy, Mick, and Vince (the magazine mistakenly spelled Vince’s last name as “Neal”), with OUI writers Mikael Kirke and Joe Bivona. It is full of all kinds of salacious statements—as one should expect it to be. And, since OUI was a porn magazine, the 1982 version of Mötley Crüe were probably even more over the top than usual (you can read the entire interview here). Here’s one excerpt not about sex, but an account by Vince about a science experiment Crüe conducted in Canada in order to deduce how long it would take for a Sony television set to fall out of a hotel window:

Oui: Are you guys into tearing up hotels?
Vince Neil: We got thrown out of Canada for that. Don’t bring a Sony TV in front of Mötley Crüe. You won’t have it too long.
Oui: So how long does it take for a television to…
Vince Neil: To drop out of a hotel? We timed it. Everybody in the band had a TV set, and we threw them out one at a time. Mickey’s (guitarist Mick Mars) went down in exactly seven seconds, which is a little over his mark. Nikki’s went down in 6.3 seconds, but he gave it a little push. Tommy’s went down in five seconds flat and hit a hooker on the street. She must have some voice to scream that loud!

First of all, Crüe’s antics during their 1982 tour of Canada are well documented and Lee’s television tossing has been verified as fact. However, if said television did inadvertently hit a hooker on its way to its death, I can’t understand why there isn’t a news item with the title, “Tommy Lee Nails Canadian Hooker With TV,” but that’s just how my brain tries to come to terms with such conundrums. I should probably get that checked out. Lastly, there is one more heavy metal connection in this issue of OUI—the model on the cover is Cheryl Rixon. Rixon, Penthouse magazine’s Pet of the Year in 1979, appeared in a controversial layout in Kerrang! magazine in 1982 with none other than Judas Priest.
 

 

 
More photos of Mötley Crüe behaving exactly like you’d expect Mötley Crüe to behave follow after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.14.2019
08:53 am
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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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Raquel Welch and a bikini-clad Playboy playmate crash ‘Mork & Mindy’ in 1979
12.24.2018
09:16 am
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A candid shot of Raquel Welch (as Captain Nirvana) and Robin Williams as the lovable alien Mork on the set of ‘Mork & Mindy’ in 1979.
 
I was still of a tender age when one of the most gorgeous women to ever woman, Raquel Welch showed up looking a bit like a busty, tanned David Bowie in thigh-high silver boots on Mork & Mindy. Are you with me? Good. Because in addition to Raquel’s role as Captain Nirvana—the leader of the very sexy-sounding fictional alien race, the Necrotons, we also get to see Playboy’s Playmate of the Year (1978), Debra Jo Fondren in a bikini in a golden cage. If any of this sounds like a blatant ratings grab, you’d be right. Originally, the episode “Mork vs. the Necrotons,” was going to be presented as a one-hour special but ended up airing as a two-part cliffhanger. If you remember anything about this show, it is likely this very episode or the perplexing thirteenth episode of the season when Mork became the first male Denver Broncos cheerleader. It’s hard to say. I came across a quote from Williams when he was asked about his feelings on the show, a contentious one for the cast:

“There were a lot of little kids who went through puberty watching that episode, and I think we lost a lot of the audience.”

It’s been well documented that Williams, Pam Dawber and the entire crew were challenged by Welch’s diva demands and behavior during filming. At one point the episode’s director, Howard Storm says Raquel suggested her younger, female hench-chicks should wear “dog masks” and she should lead them on to the set “on leashes.” Usually, this would sound like a pretty terrific idea given the fact that A) it came from Raquel Welch, and B) I rest my case. However, Storm mentioned to Welch she didn’t need to do anything but “snap her fingers,” and the girls would “drop to their knees.” Raquel liked this idea very much, and interestingly, the leash idea made its way on to the show anyway, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

I rewatched clips from both episodes while putting this post together, because of course, I did, and I laughed nearly to the point of exhaustion at times thanks to the gift which never stops giving—the comedy genius of Robin Williams. Much of Williams’ comedic outbursts on the show were improvised and timing to accommodate the actor to do so was written into scripts early during the show’s first season. After being so pleasantly reminded how great and profoundly weird the show was, I picked up season one and two on DVD for less than twenty bucks and will be binging on the show as soon as they show up. In anticipation of this blessed event, I’ve posted some great photos including some sweet, candid shots of Williams and Welch on the set, and footage of Williams and Welch from the show. Nanu Nanu!
 

Another candid shot of Williams and Welch.
 

 

Playmate of the Year 1978, Debra Jo Fondren (Kama), Raquel Welch, and Vicki Frederick (Sutra).
 
More Mork after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.24.2018
09:16 am
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Thomas Jefferson on buggery, sodomy and bestiality
12.13.2018
08:43 am
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‘Thomas Jefferson’ by N. C. Wyeth

“Ideas of justice are as timeless as fashions in hats,” the philosopher John Gray writes. Consider a bill submitted to the Virginia Assembly in 1779, proposing some liberal reforms to colonial laws: Bill 64, “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments in Cases Heretofore Capital,” penned in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand. Seeking to make murder and treason the only capital crimes, it was progressive legislation for its day. Bill 64, a product of two years’ deliberation by the Committee of Revisors, grouped rape, polygamy and sodomy together, and prescribed the same punishment for each:

Whosoever shall be guilty of Rape, Polygamy, or Sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting thro’ the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least.

The bill’s extensive footnotes review legal authorities from antiquity through the 18th century on criminal law’s greatest hits, such as arson, robbery, counterfeiting, manslaughter, murder and treason, along with some old standards known to very few of today’s felons, like asportation of vessels and horse stealing. When it comes to the rationale for drilling holes in women’s noses, the footnotes are silent, but there is a lengthy disquisition on buggery. Properly considered, Jefferson writes, buggery subsumes two distinct crimes: buggery of people and buggery of animals, the first of which is a serious transgression, the second a hilarious indiscretion.

Buggery is twofold. 1. with mankind, 2. with beasts. Buggery is the Genus, of which Sodomy and Bestiality are the species. 12.Co.37. says ‘note that Sodomy is with mankind.’ But Finch’s L.B.3.c.24. ‘Sodomitry is a carnal copulation against nature, to wit, of man or woman in the same sex, or of either of them with beasts.’ 12.Co.36. says ‘it appears by the antient authorities of the law that this was felony.’ Yet the 25.H.8. declares it felony, as if supposed not to be so. Britton c.9. says that Sodomites are to be burnt. […] The Mirror makes it treason. Bestiality can never make any progress; it cannot therefore be injurious to society in any great degree, which is the true measure of criminality in foro civili, and will ever be properly and severely punished by universal derision. It may therefore be omitted. It was antiently punished with death as it has been latterly. Ll.Aelfrid.31. and 25H.8.c.6. See Beccaria §.31. Montesq.

Jefferson wrote Madison that the bill’s punishment for rape was a hard sell in the Virginia Assembly, where his colleagues found it “indecent and unjustifiable.” He also would support changing the punishment for rape, but only because, as written, “women would be under [the temptation] to make it the instrument of vengeance against an inconstant lover, and of disappointment to a rival.” I think both reasons amount to anxiety about what women might do with the power to hand out gonadectomies like jaywalking tickets, a development that certainly would have made high school U.S. history textbooks more interesting.

None of these considerations seems to have affected the fate of Bill 64. When it was defeated in 1787, Madison attributed its failure not to the brutal penalties for sex crimes, but to the current “rage against Horse stealers,” who would have faced hard labor rather than the gallows under its permissive code.

Laws come and go; below, Charles Manson dispenses timeless wisdom in his song “Don’t Do Anything Illegal.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.13.2018
08:43 am
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Black Xmas: Half off classic cult movie posters sale (for the weirdo on your Xmas shopping list)
12.05.2018
10:38 am
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Torture Garden’ (UK, 1967)
 
Every year around this time, Westgate Gallery‘s poster concierge extraordinaire Christian McLaughlin drastically cuts prices for his annual Black Xmas 50% Off Sale. Why it’s almost half off, even…

Anyway, my pal McLaughlin, a novelist and TV/movie writer and producer based in Los Angeles, is the maven of mavens when it comes to this sort of thing. You couldn’t even begin to stock a store like his if you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for in the first place, and if you want a quick (not to mention rather visceral) idea of his level of deep expertise—and what a great eye he’s got—then take a gander at his world-beating selection of Italian giallo posters. Christian is what I call a “sophisticate.”

He’s got a carefully curated cult poster collection on offer that is second to none. His home is a shrine to lurid giallo, 70s XXX and any and every midnight movie classic you can shake a stick at. But why would you want to shake a stick at a bunch of movie posters to begin with? That would be pointless. And stupid.

The Westgate Gallery’s Black Christmas 50% off sale sees every item in stock at—you guessed it—50% off the (already reasonable) normal price. All you have to do is enter the discount code “BlackXmas2018” at checkout and your tab will be magically cut in half.

The selection below is only a very tiny sliver of what’s for sale at Westgategallery.com.
 

‘Multiple Maniacs’ poster on sale at Westgate Gallery
 

Grave of the Vampire’ aka ‘Seed of Terror’  (USA, 1972)
 

The Pit’ aka ‘Teddy’ (Canada, 1981)
 

‘Andy Warhol’s Dracula’ poster for sale at Westgate Gallery
 

Rare Japanese ‘Sisters’ poster for sale at Westgate Gallery
 
Many, many, more marvellous movie posters, after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.05.2018
10:38 am
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The story of the real ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’: Bon Scott’s real-life obsession with bodacious women
10.01.2018
09:49 am
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Bon Scott pictured with two very excited female fans while arriving at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, November 27, 1976. Around this time rumors were circulating about young female fans of AC/DC giving each other home tattoos around Melbourne trying to look like Bon (Scott had at least six tattoos).
 
If you think you know the story behind AC/DC‘s riffy homage to a certain big, bad girl “Whole Lotta Rosie,” you might want to hold on as the author of Bon: The Last Highway Jesse Fink goes into even more detail regarding the actual identity of Rosie, with a little help. On The Last Highway blog, Fink discusses the many mythological tales about Rosie, including accounts from brothers Angus and Malcolm, three journalists and respected rock historians, Sylvie Simmons, Phil Sutcliffe (also known as Mike Stand), Mary Renshaw, and Scott himself. Let’s dig into the gritty details of this late-70s backstage, no-tell-motel sleaze, shall we?

In support of Angus Young’s claim of Scott’s preference for dangerously curvy women, both Angus and Simmons recall a regular groupie duo of Bon’s; Angus called them the “Jumbo Twins” and Simmons—who spent a lot of time with the band during the Bon era, referred to them as the “Jumbo Jets.” Another of Angus’ memories of Scott running into Rosie was when the band was in town to play a show in Tasmania in 1976. Angus says after the show the band took to the streets looking to keep the good times rolling when Bon was approached by a woman in a dark doorway—a very large woman which Angus estimated to have the following famous measurements; 42-39-56. Scott happily entered the room and joined the woman and her friend for the night.
 

A vintage ad for AC/DC’s 1977 live album, ‘Let There Be Rock’ using 34 unique words to describe the band.
 
Sutcliffe’s version is slightly different than both Angus’ and Simmons’. Sutcliffe says things went down in the dressing room of Malcolm Young after a show August of 1976. Malcolm and Bon had hooked up with two girls, one of them they nicknamed “Big Bertha,” yet another interlude with a roomy woman many would come to believe was Rosie. Bon said this Bertha/Rosie would have “broken his arm” if he had refused her advances, so he complied. In a 2003 interview, Malcolm told the story, calling the woman “Big Rosie.” Now, let’s get to the story of Rosie told by the late Bon Scott (as noted by Fink on his blog) which is taken from an audio track included on the 1997 box set Bonfire named after Bon’s promise to call his first solo record by the same name. Scott recalls things went down with Rosie (on more than one occasion it seems) at her place where he and the band would often party just across from the Freeway Gardens hotel in North Melbourne. On Bonfire Bon gives us the low-down on getting down with Rosie:

“We were all staying in the same hotel and this chick Rosie lived across the road. She was so big she sort of closed the door and put it on ya’, half your body, and she was too big to say no to. Then she used to look up and see what band was in town and say “hi over there boys” and we’d go over and have a party. She came to one of our shows, she was from Tasmania actually, and she was in the front row. She was like 6’2 and like 19 stone 12 pounds (around 266lbs). That girl was some mountain. So you can imagine the problems I had. So I just sorta had to succumb … I had to do it. Oh my God, I wish I hadn’t.”

Yeah, the old “taking one for the team” isn’t fooling anyone, Bon. We know you liked big butts and we love you for it. Corroborating Bon’s arm-twisting sexy-times story are both AC/DC roadie, Pat Pickett (Pickett has been quoted as saying he was responsible for an “orgy” involving Rosie, Scott, and others and also knew Rosie personally), and author of the 2015 book on AC/DC, Live Wire, Mary Renshaw. Attempts have been made to find Rosie but have never turned up even so much as a concrete lead though there seems to to be no lack of people claiming to know the real Rosie or to have seen the elusive, show-stealing woman.

If you’ve ever seen AC/DC live, you’ve maybe seen the gigantic, inflated Rosie prop used by the band when they kick into “Whole Lotta Rosie” with her bright blonde hair and red lingerie. I’ve also seen a cool vintage embroidered patch of Rosie in all her glory, but never a photo of anyone with Bon (or other members of AC/DC) who looked even remotely like the girl described in the song. Does this mean Rosie was conjured up through the collective memories of Angus Young and others due to Bon’s interludes with various lusty, bodacious women? Let’s me put it to you this way; Bon Scott said Rosie was real. His version is gospel. Period. The End

Footage of AC/DC from 1979 during a live gig in Paris ripping “Whole Lotta Rosie” apart follows. It includes an appearance by a very talented AC/DC roadie.
 

An embroidered patch of Rosie from the early 90’s.
 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.01.2018
09:49 am
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