In the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, black entertainers made considerable sums of money selling ghetto wine and malt liquor to their less fortunate brothers and sisters. “Liquid crack” was dirt cheap and fortified with alcohol and shitloads of sugar to get you higher faster. As Billy Dee Williams said in his TV pitch for Colt 45, “It works every time.”
40-ounce warriors were macho, sexy and hip…at least that’s what the commercials wanted the black community to think. The reality was much more grim. Malt liquors like Schlitz, Colt 45, Olde English 800, St. Ides, King Cobra and bum wines like Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose were responsible for an increase in alcoholism, violence and crime in black neighborhoods. High alcohol content and the cost of a bottle being under two bucks was a deadly combination. Add to that the veneer of coolness that Kool and the Gang, Fred Williamson, Biggie Smalls and Snoop Dog brought to the mix and you got a problem that went viral.
Nowadays, low-rent white hipsters drink the poisonous piss in order to give them some kind of street cred while hip-hop artists have moved on to Cristal and Dom. But the high-end shit hasn’t trickled down to Skid Row yet.
While the product sold was crap for sure, the ads themselves are fascinating time capsules, some sending signals that are incredibly politically incorrect: making light of drunk driving, intimating that women will give it up after a few drinks, and using racial stereotypes that border on Stepin Fetchit caricature. And Blacks weren’t the only ones denigrated—check out the East Indian guy in the “Gunga Din” Colt 45 commercial below.
There’s also an interesting clip of Johnny Cannon wielding a Colt 45 pistol and a can of Colt 45 beer. A wise combination, don’t you think? Johnny’s expression of disgust as he guzzles the malt liquor is priceless.
Then I ask a question you brother
What the fuck is you drinkin’
He don’t know but it flow
Out the bottle in a cup
He call it gettin’ fucked up
Like we ain’t fucked up already
See the man they call Crazy Eddie
Liquor man with the bottle in his hand
He give the liquor man ten to begin
Wit’ no change and he run
To get his brains rearranged
Serve it to the home they’re able
To do without a table
Beside what’s inside ain’t on the label
They drink it thinkin’ it’s good
But they don’t sell the shit in the white neighborhood
—Public Enemy, “1 Million Bottlebags”
These are just prototypes and haven’t been produced yet by Brass Monki, but I think they should be. Very cool design from these folks.
Two new designs, based around the costumes worn by Batman and Robin in the TV series decades ago.
I just randomly stumbled upon and decided to share this late 60’s Japanese chocolate commercial featuring The Walker Brothers. So funny to see Scott Walker, eternally brooding quasi-operatic divo, happily hawking the chocolate here.
This of course made me want to hear The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore because it’s such a hauntingly beautiful song.
Hear/see that and more Walker Brothers after the jump…
This TV commercial for the Verizon Droid X has an unsettling similarity to the infamous torture photo that came out of Abu Ghraib. Is this an unfortunate coincidence or is Verizon actually making some kind of sick joke? Whatever the case, I’m shocked that anyone would sign off on this ad. Was the ad agency who created it blind, clueless or deliberately mocking a dark moment in this country’s history? What do you think?
Nxtiak made a video of the commercial recording it directly from a television screen.
Thunderbird is the crack cocaine of wines. It’s fortified with additional alcohol to get you drunk quicker. If you drink enough of the swill it will turn your tongue black, incinerate your gut and napalm your liver. The Gallo Wine Co. designed their firewater with the ghetto in mind. Their radio ads featured a song with a proto-rap vibe, “What’s the word? / Thunderbird / How’s it sold? / Good and cold / What’s the jive? / Bird’s alive / What’s the price? / Thirty twice.” It is said that…
Ernest Gallo once drove through a tough, inner city neighborhood and pulled over when he saw a bum. When Gallo rolled down his window and called out, “What’s the word?” the immediate answer from the bum was, “Thunderbird.
In a move that seems almost surreal, actor James Mason was recruited by Gallo to pitch its poverty punch. He was given a Rolls Royce as payment. Years later, Mason went on to star as a vicious slave owner in the soft-core blaxploitation potboiler Mandingo. Thunderbird shill to sleazoid slave owner ain’t much of a stretch character wise and probably didn’t earn him any dividends in the karma department.
The first ad in the following video tries to glamorize Thunderbird as a sexy, hip and happening cocktail for young stylish Blacks. The second is Mason trying to keep a straight face as he describes Thunderbird as “not quite like anything I’ve ever tasted.’
Apparently James had never drunk gasoline.
Warning: this ad is toxic.
Created by the German advertising agency Zeitsprung, this extremely nasty public service announcement depicts HIV in the form of a body modification artist. Yeah, guys with tattoos and earrings and bumps on their heads should be avoided at all costs when it comes to hugs. They might be HIV positive. But big white cuddly bears are okay. You already knew that, right?
Since when has HIV been transmitted through hugging?
The ad is worthless, or at best confusing, as information and propagates an ugly stereotype about people who look different than the average guy on the street.
The message to wear condoms gets lost in the ad’s horror movie shock effect.
As far as I’m concerned religion is nonsense but this preacher takes it to a whole new level of silliness. And his congregation is eating it up.
Source: Dallas public access TV circa the 80’s.
Milton Berle and Steve Allen, as protest singers Monty Mad and Billy Bitter, crack some exceedingly unhip jokes in this goofy TV skit. Spike Priggen of Bedazzled TV dug this rarity up from somewhere. I can’t find any info about it on the internet.
The real thrill in this for me is seeing Lloyd Thaxton. Lloyd hosted a TV dance party in the 60’s that I would devotedly watch every weekday afternoon. Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Kinks, Jan and Dean, the Beau Brummels and dozens of other great bands appeared on Thaxton’s show. It was teenage bliss. It’s weird, but there are no Thaxton videos on Youtube. Spike, you got some? Are they gone forever?