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Bunny Hop: Peep inside the Playboy Clubs of the 60s, 70s & 80s


A photo taken at the opening of the very first Playboy Club in Chicago in 1960.
 
The first Playboy magazine hit the shelves in 1953 and in 1960, the late Hugh Hefner opened what would be the very first Playboy Club in Chicago. Other clubs would quickly emerge in more than twenty locations including Boston, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles, as well as more elaborate Playboy Club Resorts which you could visit in Jamaica and Manila. Entrance into the various clubs would run a member $25 a year for which they would receive a special key that when presented to a designated “Door Bunny” would get them inside. The clubs were designed to emulate the “Playboy lifestyle” projected by Hefner, though that’s not what initially ignited the vast existence of Playboy Clubs. The actual inspiration for the clubs began with an article in Playboy published in 1959 that detailed the goings-on at the historic Gaslight Club in Chicago’s River North area. The club was the brainchild of Burton Browne who modeled the club around the “Gay 90s” (aka the “Naughty Nineties” or the decade beginning in 1890) a debaucherous period where creativity and libidos ran wild.

Like Hefner’s future Playboy Clubs, entrance to the Gaslight required a key. Naturally, Hef was already a member of the Gaslight Club as it featured his favorite thing—half-naked women with large breasts everywhere you looked. According to Victor Lownes III, the executive of HMH Publishing Company (which would later become Playboy Enterprises in 1955) he recalled that the article received over 3,000 letters from readers of Playboy inquiring as to how they too could join this exclusive club. This set the wheels in motion for Hefner who knew how to recognize an opportunity, though at the time his vision for his Playboy-themed clubs didn’t include expansion beyond Chicago. When the doors to the fledgling club opened, it employed approximately 30 girls between the ages of 18-23 who were said to be “single, beautiful, charming, and refined.” It also somehow qualifies the old saying that people really did read Playboy articles. At least they read one in 1957. And that’s a fact. 

As you may have already assumed, and much like Hefner’s storied, celebrity-studded events at the Playboy Mansion, Playboy Clubs were frequented by Hollywood’s elite, such as Frank Sinatra. The Playboy Resorts featured entertainment from acts like Sonny & Cher, Melba Moore, and Sinatra’s pal and Playboy Club regular, Sammy Davis Jr. The first Detroit club which was located right across from a church attracted prominent members of that city’s vibrant jazz scene. Even Detroit’s mayor at the time Coleman Young (who held the position for twenty years starting in 1974), was an honorary member of the Playboy Club.

The St. Louis location regularly hosted comedy acts like George Carlin, Flip Wilson, Joan Rivers and Steve Martin. One of the more creative locations was opened on Lake Geneva in Wisconson that featured a ski slope, chairlift and according to former Bunny Pam Ellis, a DJ booth known as the “Bunny Hutch” where Bunnies would spin records while a bubble machine and disco ball set the mood. Most if not all of the girls at Lake Geneva lived in the “Bunny Dorm” which Ellis says was surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. If a girl didn’t live in the dorms, a car would be sent for them to their home to bring them to work where they could also eat for free. Ellis looks back on her time at Lake Geneva’s Playboy Club with fondness—especially the fact that she met her husband while she was DJ’ing in the Bunny Hutch.
 

Frank Sinatra hanging out at the Playboy Club in Las Vegas back in the day.
 
I had been working on this post for a while and had just started to get some words committed to “paper” when Hefner passed away on September 27th at the age of 91. Given that somewhat unexpected event, I held off on finishing it until today as I wasn’t crazy about having DM readers think that capitalizing on the death of someone as well-known and controversial as Hugh Hefner is something we aspire to. However, I do, like so many people, look back with fondness to a time where girls in bunny tails and ears were as glamorous as the movie stars that cavorted around the same clubs with them. Below I’ve posted a huge collection of photos taken inside and on the grounds of various Playboy Clubs including some rarely seen images from the Lake Geneva location that were kindly provided to me by Adam Levin with the help of Christina Ward of Feral House.
 

Bunnies on top of a locally made tractor at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club in Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Adam Levin.
 

Bunnies having fun at Dunn River Falls in Ochos Rios, Jamaica in 1972.
 

New York 1960s.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.18.2017
09:37 am
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That time when Ozzy Osbourne licked peanut butter off of Annette Funicello’s finger, 1989


One of the most famous Mouseketeers ever, Annette Funicello offering Ozzy Osbourne some Skippy peanut butter.
 
As documented in the 1992 book by super-groovy groupie Pamela Des Barres Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up, Des Barres brought the unlikely coupling of Ozzy Osbourne and Annette Funicello together for an interview and photoshoot in 1989. The wild concept for the bizarre meeting was the idea of publisher and entrepreneur Quay Hayes—a friend of Des Barres who was getting ready to launch Twist Magazine. Sadly, the magazine never saw the light of day, though the images from the photo session did as well as a few juicy tidbits from the interview between Ozz and Annette.

According to Des Barres, the two traded questions during which Funicello drilled Ozzy on his drug use and issues with addiction—something most rock journalists steered clear of back in the day. In what was perhaps a way to throw Funicello off of her game, Ozzy countered by asking the then 47-year-old former Mouseketeer if her beloved Walt Disney had really been frozen which made Funicello cry. Interestingly, a year later Funicello would defend Ozzy’s misunderstood 1980 classic “Suicide Solution” in an interview with her beach-blanket buddy, Frankie Avalon saying that the song didn’t advocate suicide but was instead trying to convey situations or “conditions” under which a teenager might take their own lives.

The other weird thing I dug up about Ozzy and Annette’s get-together are the claims of a man who says he’s Funicello’s son. J.P. Moss (also known as Jason Paul Moss) wrote the 2105 book Beyond Magic Gates: An Unauthorized Biography of Annette Funicello which details his allegation that he was abducted in 1970 from the hospital after Funicello gave birth to him, and it’s a typo-riddled read, I’ll just say that much. As it relates to this post, Moss uploaded a video on YouTube where he tries to debunk Funicello and Ozzy’s meeting calling it a “conspiracy.” The “conspiracy” in question involved the Mafia and Sharon Osbourne’s father, the infamous Don Arden. Moss says that Funicello deliberately lied about the timeframe about meeting Ozzy in her own 1995 autobiography, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story because Don Arden told her to. I’ve posted Moss’ video below as well as a few photos that support the fact that Ozzy and Annette were in the same room together at the same time and that Annette’s favorite peanut butter, Skippy, was involved.
 

Funicello and a shirtless Ozzy Osbourne.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.09.2017
09:54 am
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The electro-alien intergalactic disco of Rockets
09.29.2017
08:19 am
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Rockets.
 
Okay, all you adventurous Dangerous Minds readers—come take a ride with me to early 1970s Paris to witness the birth of “space rock” band Rockets. As this post does not include any herbal cerebral enhancement other than the words I’ve written about Rockets and the out-of-sight images of the band dressed up like disco versions of KISS’ Ace Frehley, you might want to take a moment to enhance your perception before continuing with a lil’ “entertainment insurance.” Of course, this is merely a recommendation and should not be taken seriously (yes it should) as I don’t advocate the use of drugs, alcohol or other party favors (yes I do) to help one fully appreciate a visual/auditory experience such as this. Half-assed disclaimers out of the way, let’s learn more about France’s electro-extraterrestrials, Rockets.

In the early 70s, the band was playing bars sans space gear and calling themselves “Crystal” until sometime later in the mid-70s when they decided to change it to “Rocket Men,” known also as “Rocketters” (and then Rockets). Not to be confused with long-time Detroit rock band the Rockets, Rockets went all in with their kooky outer-space look with all five members painting their skin silver and decked out in futuristic-looking spacesuits. Their live shows were as spectacular as you might imagine a gig by a bunch of French disco-loving aliens would be. And more. There were of course lasers, vocoders (a type of “talking synthesizer” that modulates speech) and Rockets vocalist Christian Le Bartz would often regale the audience by spraying them with sparks and smoke that spewed from a sort of cannon gun while he robotically marched around on stage.

So what about the music of Rockets? Well, it’s pretty groovy if you dig Krautrock, DEVO and disco (because, who doesn’t), and for a short time the band was very commercially successful. After releasing their first self-titled album in 1976, Rockets would start making a name for themselves thanks to their live shows and their notorious television appearances. Their second album, On the Road Again,  sent Rockets touring across the world including stops in the U.S. for the first time. In 1979 they released Plasteroid, which sold over 200,000 copies in Italy alone. The follow-up to Plasteriod, 1980’s Galaxy would eclipse this achievement by selling over a million copies worldwide. Despite this success, by 1983 the group began to dissolve starting with the departure of Le Bartz and drummer Alain Groetzinger. Bassist Gerard L’Her would say farewell a year later in 1984.

Far-out footage of Rockets performing numbers from Galaxy and On the Road Again is posted below as well as some surreal photos of the band in their intergalactic getups from back in the day.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.29.2017
08:19 am
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Spiritwalkers: Incredible early footage of The Cult when they were known as ‘Southern Death Cult’
08.02.2017
10:10 am
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An early photo of Southern Death Cult. Vocalist Ian Astbury is pictured to the far left.
 

“I was a devotee of Crass, and it had a huge, huge influence on me. I saw those guys 36 times. I used to follow them.”

—Vocalist Ian Astbury of The Cult reflecting on his youth.

While the statement above from a young Ian Asbury of The Cult sounds like the ideal formative punk rock experience, it left the then eighteen-year-old Astbury homeless and dependant on dole checks which amounted to around 40 U.S. dollars each week. While he was obsessively following Crass around on tour, he met up with a group of punks from Bradford, a town in the north of England, who offered him a room to stay in anytime he found himself there. With little going for himself and tired of sleeping in bus stations, Astbury headed off to Bradford. When he arrived, he found their squat was inhabited by all kinds of counter-culture types—writers, painters, and of course, musicians. At the time, Astbury had cultivated quite a striking look for himself which was reminiscent of Adam Ant’s Native American war paint persona only tougher (and a bit lower rent.) Astbury’s mohawk and unique style impressed the band that was rehearsing in the basement of the Bradford squat. In need of a vocalist, they asked Astbury to join them and Southern Death Cult was born.

The band started making music immediately, and their first live gig would take place less than a year after Astbury’s arrival in Bradford, at the Queen’s Hall in 1981. In 1982 the band would finally release their first studio recordings—a three song seven-inch that hit number one on the UK Independent Singles Chart. Following this success, Southern Death Cult took to the road touring with several bands including Bauhaus. The group seemed to have everyone’s attention including the legendary BBC disc jockey John Peel. Peel would record a live session with Southern Death Cult that was broadcast on the BBC on June 10th,1982. Sadly, the band would call it quits when Astbury pulled the plug on SDC in February of 1983.

After they disbanded, the groups only record, The Southern Death Cult, was released by Beggars Banquet which included everything from the 1982 seven inch and the Peel sessions from 1982. Following their breakup, Astbury joined forces with Theatre of Hate guitarist Billy Duffy, who was once in a band called the Nosebleeds with Morrissey. Duffy was also longtime pals with future Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr. The two spent their younger days as kids listening to punk rock and learning how to play the guitar together. In fact, we have Duffy to thank for introducing Marr to Mozzer at a Patti Smith gig in 1978. You can probably figure out how that all played out without too much effort.

Once Duffy and Astbury got together, they would change the band’s name to Death Cult hoping for some residual notoriety left over from Astbury’s previous band. They would put out some well-received singles, and their loyal fans would pack any room the band played. Then, in 1984, Death Cult officially became The Cult announcing their new name when they appeared on The Tube in January. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve posted some cool ephemera from The Cult’s early days below including video footage of the band before Astbury fully transitioned his look to be more in line with a goth version of El Topo.
 

A photo of a twenty-year-old Ian Astbury on the cover of NME magazine, October 2nd, 1982.
 

Southern Death Cult.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.02.2017
10:10 am
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Strangely amusing (& slightly confusing) Japanese subway signs
07.26.2017
09:41 am
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“Do not rush onto the train!” A PSA-style poster that appeared on Japanese subway cars in April of 1979.
 
I love writing about Japanese pop culture, everything from obscure garage rock to game shows to that weirdo Japanese erotica stuff. While I’m not claiming to be some Japanese culture/sub-culture idiot savant, I am rather dedicated to continuing my exploration of a place I’ve sadly never visited. Yet. Today I’ve got something I know our readers are going to dig via of my favorite Internet spots Pink Tentacle—a collection of perplexing PSA posters that were displayed on subway cars during the mid-70s and early 80s. The word puzzling and Japanese pop culture often walk hand in hand, and these public service announcements are quirky, to say the least, when it comes to reminding train patrons to behave appropriately. And yeah, “manspreading” on the train was apparently quite the problem back in the day. How rude! Even aliens did it. Who knew?

Getting back to the posters, as you look through the images you’ll see that many of them use stuff borrowed from American pop culture—you know, like Jesus and Superman—to help convey their messages. There are also a few that are preoccupied with reminding folks riding the train to not leave their umbrellas behind or the perils of leaving your chewing gum on the subway platform for someone, like Superman (don’t laugh, it could happen) to step in it. Oh, the HORROR.
 

“Space Invader” March 1979.
 

“Three Annoying Train Monsters” October 1982.
 

“Don’t Forget your Umbrella” October 1981. I guess we finally now know what Jesus would actually do.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.26.2017
09:41 am
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Covetable action figures based on classic and obscure 80’s horror films up for grabs!


A custom action figure based on the 1982 slasher film, ‘Pieces’ by Dan Polydoris of Death By Toys. $40 (two available).
 
Dan Polydoris, the founder of Death By Toys, has been creating small numbers of action figures based on films from the 80s since 2010, showing a particular affinity for the horror genre. Polydoris’ plastic characters quickly became super popular with collectors, especially those who, like Polydoris, dig on the “strange, offbeat, and absurd.” For his latest batch of action figures, Polydoris focused on eight different films from the decade including things like 1980’s Maniac, the 1981 Canuck cult classic, Happy Birthday to Me, and 1982’s Pieces starring the great Christopher George. If you just said “YES” to all of that, then listen up because I’m going to tell you how you *might* be able to make one of Polydoris’ newest rare figures yours.

Starting today, Thursday, July 20th at 12:30 CST, a small number of the figures will be available for purchase at the Death By Toys online store, and when I say small numbers I mean really small numbers. For example, Polydoris only made two of the hilarious killer “Kebab Playsets” from Happy Birthday to Me which will run you 40 bucks each. The packaging is also pretty fantastic as it uses images from the original back-in-the-day VHS tape cover art. Nice. All eight figures along with their various prices posted below. Happy hunting!
 

The hysterical ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ “Kebab Playset.” $40 (two available).
 

My absolute favorite of the bunch based on the 1980 film ‘Maniac,’ the “Bloody Scalp.” 30 bucks each (five available).
 
Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.20.2017
09:17 am
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Super cheesy photos of male Chippendales dancers from the 1980s
07.17.2017
12:14 pm
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A vintage shot of Chippendales dancers from the 1980s.
 
I’ve always found the phenomena of the Chippendales all-male striptease ensemble one of the weirdest 1980s things. And that’s saying a lot when you consider all that decade bestowed upon us—whether we wanted it or not. I mean, the music scene was pretty amazing—and if you want to arm-wrestle me over that fact, you will lose because it’s a fact. Prince put out Controversy and 1999 and Purple Rain. MTV played music videos and Larry Bird was named the MVP of the NBA Finals in 1986 after the Boston Celtics took town the Houston Rockets in Game Six. Okay, that last one is one of my favorite moments from the 80s, but it just proves my point that a lot of great things happened back then. And love them, hate them, or just plain don’t fucking get them, the dancers of Chippendales were everywhere. Just like shoulder pads and spandex.

Much like Gene Simmons and his devotion to slapping the word KISS on anything and everything, the Chippendales’ empire did the very same thing. From calendars to a board game and even a mini hand-held movie viewer so you could watch the beefy dancers in the privacy of your own home, there was something “Chippendales” for everybody. The calendars were incredibly popular items, and are nearly impossible to find now. I’ve included a few choice color photos from the calendars as well as some black and white print ads (which you can buy here) featuring individual dancers. Lastly, I included footage from a workout tape put out by Chippendales called Muscle Motion that is about as cornball as anything I’ve ever laid my eyes on. And trust me, these eyes have seen some cornball shit that you can never unsee. I hope you enjoy this gyrating trip down memory lane!
 

 

 

 

 
More totally 80s himbo action after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.17.2017
12:14 pm
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BOY on Boy action: Iconic 80s photos of Boy George modeling fashions from BOY London
07.12.2017
09:57 am
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Boy George modeling BOY London, around 1987.
 
Iconic fashion brand BOY London got its start back in 1976 shortly after the opening of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s infamous SEX boutique on Kings Road in London. Known at first as Acme Attractions, founder and designer Stephane Raynor attracted a respectable clientele that included the likes of Bob Marley, Patti Smith, Billy Idol and Chrissie Hynde to his small street booth on Kings Road. Although BOY London catered strictly to punks (and tourists) at first, as the dawn of the 1980s approached, Raynor and his partner John Krivine opened a proper brick and mortar operation called BOY London which became a fashion haven for the incoming stars of London’s nightlife, the New Romantics.

Raynor was pretty tight with many of the elite members of the New Romantics scene including Boy George who would end up modeling quite extensively for the brand, helping propel it to international notoriety. As a matter of fact, according to Raynor, the first-day BOY was open for business it was raided by the cops. The windows to the boutique were smashed and people got arrested. Even Sid Vicious paid the shop a visit wearing a pair of high heels amidst the chaos of the shop’s early days. BOY was joined at the hip with the small, but influential Blitz nightclub in Covent Garden that was frequented by the “Blitz Kids” who, among others icluded Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, and of course George O’Dowd. Raynor approached his pal George about representing BOY which he did with incredible enthusiasm, often stepping out in head-to-toe ensembles by BOY anywhere he went. Many of the images below of Boy George modeling BOY London’s fashions were taken by photographer Paul Gobel for the cover and marketing materials of O’Dowd’s first post Culture Club solo album, 1987’s Sold.
 

Photo by Paul Gobel.
 

 
More BOY on Boy action, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.12.2017
09:57 am
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Big hair, big muscles, totally 80s: Glorious images & footage of the lady wrestlers of ‘GLOW’
05.26.2017
11:59 am
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A few of the girls of ‘GLOW’ back in the 80s.
 
Next month, on June 23rd Netflix is launching the highly anticipated series based on the gonzo television series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling or GLOW that got its start in Las Vegas back in 1986. I can’t lie—I’m one of those people who can hardly wait to binge-watch the series because I was a huge fan of the original TV series as well as the early days of the World Wrestling Federation (or the WWF) that dominated the television airwaves during the 80s.

If just the mere mention of GLOW makes you think you smell the heavy fragrance of Aqua Net while feeling terribly nostalgic for the gift that was bad television programming from the 80s, you are not alone. The decade was jam-packed with awesome and strange shows like Night Flight, The Young Ones, and Pee-wee’s Playhouse just to name a few. That was back when you could solve all your problems just by watching the tube while under the influence of Budweiser (tallboy, of course), and a $2 joint. Sure, I could easily reproduce that very same cheap buzz I just described but it just wouldn’t be the same now, would it? Getting back to GLOW, if you recall anything about the show you recall how purely campy it was, especially when the girls tried their hand at performing comedy skits. Then there was the cultivation of the right image for the fictional characters the women played on the show. For instance, there was Queen Kong (aka Dee Booher who also played “Matilda The Hun” on GLOW) who looked like a mashup of Divine and Fred Flintstone, and the blonde duo of Brandi Mae and Malibu looked like castoffs from another show that was still on the air during the 80s, Hee-Haw.

My personal favorites were always the girls who were decked out like the wrestling version of former Warlock vocalist Doro Pesch, who painted their faces like King Diamond, with glitter or Halloween spray-on hair color on their heads. There were a few that took on that style during the good-old-days of GLOW, following in the footsteps of season one stars Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky, “The Heavy Metal Sisters.” There was also seemingly no need for political correctness on GLOW and often girls would portray a character that was based on their actual or perceived ethnicity. “Palestina” (Janeen Jewett) was supposed to be some sort of Middle Eastern terrorist with a penchant for wrestling and Latino stuntwoman Erica Marr was dubbed “Spanish Red.” One of the show’s more popular attractions was Samoan wrestler “Mt Fuji” (Emily Dole), who was descended from actual Samoan royalty. Back in 1976 while she was still in high school Dole nearly made it to the Olympics, thanks to her shot putting skills. And it would seem that having the ability to hurl heavy, metal balls long distances also translated to being able to twirl a girl over her head before tossing her out of the ring. GLOW was good times.
 

A group shot of the girls of GLOW.
 
Don’t get me wrong here, despite its high levels of soap opera silliness, the girls of GLOW were mostly tough women who worked out hard, lifted weights and liked to show their guns off like Hulk Hogan. Some were even stuntwomen (like Erica Marr) who were trying to break into Hollywood by pretending to break their opponents’ bones in the ring. The concept of doing a show featuring female wrestlers following a scripted storyline was the genius idea of David McLane. McLane got his start working with Dick the Bruiser—the former 260-pound NFL star who started his three-decade-long wrestling career in the 1950s. McLane would quickly excel as a promoter and later as a blow-by-blow commentator for the WWA (World Wrestling Association). Now here’s where things get a little bizarre—McLane would reach out to Jackie Stallone, you know, Sly’s mom, who was running a ladies-only gymnasium in Las Vegas called Barbarella’s. He pitched his show to Stallone who in turn gave him access to the girls who frequented her gym. The pair then enlisted the talent of Italian producer, director, and screenwriter (who was also briefly married to Jayne Mansfield before she died), Matt Climber, and GLOW was born.

The show itself was shot in a ballroom at what used to be the Riviera in Las Vegas before it was demolished last year, and if there’s a more appropriate setting for a wrestling match featuring gorgeous half-dressed women, I don’t know what would be. The girls of GLOW lived in Vegas and when they were out in public the ladies were required to stay in character. Split into two classes, the “good girls” and the “bad girls” the wrestlers were not allowed to fraternize with members not in their designated groups and would be fined if they did. Many of the girls lived full-time at the Rivera which the management of GLOW paid for and received $300 bucks a week and free tickets to the hotel’s buffet for their work on the show. If all this has gotten you chomping at the bit in anticipation of the new series then I’d suggest you check out the fantastic 2012 documentary GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. I don’t want to give anything away about that but my eyes leaked a little when some of the former cast members were reunited, many of whom hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for two-plus decades. I’ve posted some great vintage shots of the girls of GLOW below as well as some footage from the original show, including the infamous “GLOW Rap” that opened season one. I also threw up the trailer for upcoming series of GLOW on Netflix in case you haven’t seen it yet.

If this trip down memory lane doesn’t make you smile, your lips might be broken. You should probably have that checked out. Some of the photos are slightly NSFW.
 

Dee Booher as “Matilda the Hun.” Booher has fallen on hard times and is currently trying to raise some much needed cash for medical expenses. Help out if you can here.
 

Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky aka “The Heavy Metal Sisters.”
 
;
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.26.2017
11:59 am
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Disneyland’s mega-discotheque Videopolis was the ultimate 1980s dance party experience
05.18.2017
09:47 am
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“Tonight’s your special night for an exclusive premiere of the summer’s newest hotspot—Videopolis. It’s the dancing, dating, party scene you’re going to hear a lot about. The volume’s cranked up, the videos are rolling. And the lighting effects? A real killer! Tonight, you’ll be the first to experience this high-tech, high-energy nightclub phenomenon.”

When the obviously un-cool Michael Eisner became Disney’s C.E.O. he was desperate to appeal to teenagers and young adults. In an attempt to attract edgier teens of the MTV generation Eisner developed Videopolis: an epic 5,000 square foot all-ages discotheque located just west It’s a Small World in Fantasyland, strategically placed in the corner of the park where the loud volume would not disturb the other park guests. This state-of-the-art, $3 million outdoor venue complete with hundreds of neon lights & lasers, 70 video monitors displaying music videos, spotlights shooting into the sky, a snack bar called “Yumz,” and a dance floor large enough hold 3,000 guests opened on June 22nd, 1985. It was constructed in just 105 days using some staging elements from a 1984 Los Angeles Olympics facility. A sophisticated light show slowly lowered from the ceiling, and three camera crews captured dancers and projected them onto two 16-foot screens as computer generated “light sticks” effects were superimposed onto them in real time.
 

 
Imagineer Carl Bongiorno described Videopolis as “the first, the fastest, and the finest… it is the first attraction completed under the new Eisner-Wells team. The fastest construction project we’ve ever completed, and the finest dance facility of its kind anywhere.” To help make the attraction popular and affordable to teens, Disneyland introduced the “Summer’s Night Pass” for just $40 which gave you a Videopolis membership card plus admission into the park every evening after 5pm all summer long. Local 106.7 FM KROQ deejay Swedish Egil gave away prizes such as a $25 gift certificate to Tower Records, a Sony AM/FM Walkman, and free concert tickets to the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. Every night, Videopolis would play “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood during the fireworks show which took place right above the dance floor, offering partying guests a spectacular view.
 

 
Many special videotaped events were held where popular singers like Rick Ashley and DeBarge performed live. A 2-hour TV special titled Disneyland’s Summer Vacation Party aired in 1986 and featured Miami Sound Machine, Boy George, The Bangles, and Oingo Boingo performing live on the Videopolis stage. In 1987 Videopolis had a short run as a TV series on the recently launched Disney Channel. Hosted by Randy Hamilton, the show spotlighted top-notch dancers as well as awkward teens who would interact with celebrity guests such as Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, New Edition, Pebbles, and Janet Jackson.

The Disney dance party’s popularity soared in the late ‘80s surpassing its competition over at Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Club K” which was attracting up to 2,000 teenagers a night. Not all parents approved, and one mother wrote to the Anaheim Bulletin warning of “Punkers in Fantasyland,” claiming that since the dance club opened “It’s Halloween every day” at Disneyland.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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05.18.2017
09:47 am
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Girls just wanna be punk: Early recordings and demos by the Go-Go’s
04.19.2017
03:46 pm
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An early single by the Go-Go’s on Stiff Records.
 

AMERICA AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, meet the Go-Go’s: International, Filthy Rich, Jet-Setting Rock- and Screen-Star Bitch Goddesses

Rolling Stone journalist Steve Pond being very, very right about the Go-Go’s back in 1982.

 
Easily the most famous all-girl band in the world, the Go-Go’s played a hugely influential role in the emerging punk/new wave scene in Los Angeles. In the late 1970s before they became the Go-Go’s they called themselves the Misfits despite the fact that the name was already taken by a group of muscle-bound horror punks in New Jersey led by a certain Glenn Danzig. Belinda Carlisle was unsurprisingly a cheerleader in high school in her hometown of Conejo Valley, but that all allegedly changed after she saw the half-naked image of Iggy Pop on the cover of the Stooges’ 1973 album, Raw Power. At nineteen Carlisle left home with her pal Theresa (aka the future “Lorna Doom” of the Germs) bound for Hollywood. Once the Germs were born Carlisle did a brief stint with them playing the drums and calling herself “Dottie Danger.” She and Doom dropped acid, Carlisle did some modeling and in her autobiography Lips Unsealed: A Memoir she confesses to having had a make out session with Alice Bag.

Prior to getting with the Go-Go’s timekeeper Gina Schock was drumming for John Waters’ star Edith Massey and her punk band Edie and the Eggs. Before rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin joined the band, she was a seamstress in a sweatshop in downtown Los Angeles who preferred crystal meth to coffee so she wouldn’t fall asleep on the job. While at her day-job Wiedlin would use the paper that the sewing patterns were printed to write her punk poems, parts of which would make their way to the band’s albums. Wiedlin and Carlisle ended up living across the way from each other (Carlisle was rooming with Lorna at the time) and their friendship would eventually lead them both to the Go-Go’s.

When the band started playing gigs around town it didn’t go unnoticed. They partied as hard as their male counterparts, did tons of coke, popped pills and excelled at the rock ‘n’ roll 101 skill of destroying hotel rooms. Early on their gigs were kind of a hot mess. Their first set was opening for the Dickies at LA punk club, the Masque. For a short time, the band was just a trio comprised of Wiedlin (who was going by the gonzo name of “Jane Drano”), Margot Olavarria on bass and with Carlisle front and center on vocals. According to Olavarria even though they really didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing it really didn’t matter because at the time there was “no shame in being a horrible musician.” In another punk rock six-degrees of separation type moment worth noting, Olavarria found out she had been given the boot by Belinda and her bandmates from none other than Exene Cervenka of X. The reason for Olavarria’s dismissal was said to have stemmed from her getting pinched by the po-po trying to score some cocaine. Oh, the shifty-eyed, typewriter-jaw irony that is two coke-heads accusing another coke-head of doing something shady. Tisk tisk.
 

Jane Wiedlin.
 
The then very new Stiff Records had the girls make a bunch of great recordings including a single that you may have heard of before called “We Got the Beat.” Their early recordings and demos are not only really fucking good but are a real scream to listen to if you’ve never heard them for some of the in-studio banter between the band members. Later I.R.S. head-honcho Miles Copeland (the brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland) came calling and signed the Go-Go’s and they embarked upon making their first record which they had always envisioned as a punk record. I.R.S. was already a home away from home for other punks like The Cramps, The Damned and The Fleshtones. But the production team behind Beauty and the Beat of Rob Freeman and Richard Gottehrer had other ideas. Beauty and the Beat was miraculously completed in three weeks while the party animal antics of the Go-Go’s terrorized New York City and Penny Lane Studios. When the girls first heard the record they were pissed off. Go-Go’s guitarist Charlotte Caffey said she and the rest of the band and even cried while listening to it the first time. It wasn’t a punk album, it was pure pop perfection (Which is a good enough reason to shed a few tears if you ask me). They went over Gottehrer’s head and appealed directly to Miles Copeland to have the record remixed. Copeland refused and the album, which was released in 1981, would go down in history as one of the most successful debut albums by a band in history.

I’ve included a few choice photos of the band from their early days as well as various songs, demos and recordings of the band rehearsing back before they became America’s sweethearts in the early 80s. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the Go-Go’s, I hope this shines a light on the fact that they were pretty much the best and deserve way more credit (as many female musical artists do) for the deeply impactful mark they made. And that my friends is a goddamned fact.
 

Belinda in a Germs t-shirt back in the day.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.19.2017
03:46 pm
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Super rare David Bowie promotional items from the 70s and 80s
04.07.2017
07:34 am
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An image of David Bowie used for a poster put out by RCA Japan in 1980. Bowie was in Japan filming a television ad for Takara Shochu “Jun” Sake. The image was later recycled for the sleeve for the 1980 Japan exclusive instrumental single “Crystal Japan.”
 
I recently came across some pretty amazing images of David Bowie that were taken for various promotional endeavors in the 70s and 80s. Some were a part of press kits assembled for various films featuring The Thin White Duke, some from his record marketing collateral as well as some incredibly rare posters that were only released in Japan and the UK. Some of the scarce items showcased in this post include promotional “mobile displays.” Here’s the thing about mobile displays, since they were made in super small quantities and most ended up getting carried off or ruined by wear and tear, they are incredibly difficult to come by. Especially if it happens to involve David Bowie. They also tend to be expensive when you do find them/

A few of the photographs and other ephemera I’ve posted below are actually for sale at collectibles site Rock Explosion though some contain the requirement that you inquire as to their cost—and you know what that means. If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. So in light of that, I suggest that you kick back and enjoy looking at our dearly departed David below.
 

BBC publicity photo of Bowie from the production of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Baal’ taken in 1981.

 

An almost unrecognizable Bowie in a promotional poster for the EP release of ‘Baal,’ his last with RCA, 1981.
 

A cardboard standup display of Bowie holding a glass of milk for ‘Young Americans’ 1975.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.07.2017
07:34 am
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The hard hitting hair metal puppet journalism of Japan’s ‘Pure Rock Digest’
04.06.2017
11:01 am
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Given its highly visual element, 80s glam metal was tailor-made for the MTV age. It was born, matured and died on heavy video rotation, perhaps the first, last, and best musical genre defined entirely by its image. A sexual aggressive splatter of hot pink fishnets, bottle-blonde hair and sweaty black leather, the gender-bending men (seriously, despite all the Aqua Net and mascara, the whole movement was 98% dudes) of Hair Metal Nation loved capering around on video.
 

First he gets tossed out of Metallica, now this…
 
Of course, many countries had their own version of MTV or its metal-centric VHS spin-offs like the Hard N’ Heavy series. Japan’s version was called Pure Rock Digest. And Japan being Japan, they threw in puppets interviewing bands in broken English.

You honestly can’t ask for anything more 80s than a nerdy Japanese puppet (with sorta racist slanty eyes, even) talking to White Lion about groupies or swilling beer with WASP. I mean, holy fuck, people.
 

 
More metal puppet madness after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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04.06.2017
11:01 am
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Fierce and provocative vintage artwork & images from New York’s infamous Fiorucci store
03.30.2017
10:18 am
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A vintage 80s ad for Italian fashion brand, Fiorucci featuring Divine. Art by Richard Bernstein

“Went to Fiorucci and it’s so much fun there. It’s everything I’ve always wanted, all plastic.”

—Andy Warhol diary entry for December 21, 1983

Although Fiorucci was a global brand, it was the NYC store where Elio Fiorucci’s visionary day-glo retailing vision was best realized. Everyone from Jackie O to Andy Warhol spent time hanging out and shopping at Fiorucci—a glammy New York store that was fondly referred to as the “daytime Studio 54.” From the late 70s and most of the 80s the clothing brand founded by Elio Fiorucci in Milan was a fashion trendsetter and can be credited with many looks that defined the era. Like primary colors and “neon” fabrics, form-fitting “stretch” denim jeans and the accessories that were worn by a young Madonna, thanks to Fiorucci’s art director, jewelry designer Maripol who styled her iconic look. (Ms. Ciccone even performed at the store’s 1983 anniversary party). Maripol also dressed the likes of Grace Jones and another New York fashion icon, Debbie Harry. Keith Haring would draw on the walls. Kenny Scharf did his first art show there. Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine had office space in the store for a while, too, and it was pretty difficult to turn up at the store—across from Bloomingdale’s flagship on 59th and Lexington Ave—and not see someone incredibly famous.
 

Madonna and her dancers
 
And since this is New York we’re talking about, one of the store’s most popular employees (he was the manager) flamboyant performance artist Joey Arias appeared with David Bowie and Klaus Nomi on what would become one of the most infamous episodes of Saturday Night Live on December 15th, 1979. Because everybody was somebody in New York back then. Fashion designer Betsey Johnson

I was recently made aware of the fact that earlier this month high-end UK retailer Selfridges debuted a pop-up shop where you could actually purchase items from Fiorucci’s classic clothing catalog. Everything from the brand’s famous denimwear to an accessory I have been obsessed with since I was skating around the roller rink to Sister Sledge (who sang about the store), Fiorucci patches. Selfridges even provided a service where you could have a vintage patch, which were created in 1984, affixed to the item of your choosing. If you missed that, like I sadly did, the store is now carrying a number of new Fiorucci items including some cool, vibrantly colored t-shirts with the brand’s neon, zig-zagging logo on the front. Below I’ve posted an array of images from Fiorucci ad campaigns, marketing posters as well as a few of the vintage patches sold at the Selfridges’ pop-up store.

Sunglasses are encouraged to protect your eyes. Some are NSFW.
 

The famous Fiorucci logo
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.30.2017
10:18 am
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She’s the other funky drummer (and every woman, too): Chaka Khan in the 1970s
03.29.2017
02:01 pm
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A young, fierce-looking Chaka Khan behind the drum kit for Rufus back in the early 1970s.
 
Unless a significant generation gap presented itself, I would find it hard to trust someone who was not familiar with the “Queen of Funk” Chaka Khan. Likewise, I’d probably have trouble hanging out with someone that actually didn’t at least enjoy grooving to a few songs from Chaka’s vast body of work. I mean, saying you don’t dig Chaka Khan is pretty much the same thing as hating on Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner or Donna Summer. And you don’t want to be that guy, do you, dummy?

Born Yvette Marie Stevens, Chaka came into the world in 1953, a few years before the Chicago music scene exploded once again in the 60s and 70s. Meaning that she was old enough to properly bear witness to the baffling number of musical acts making things happen then. I’m talking the Staple Singers, the Chi-lites, Minnie Ripperton and Earth, Wind & Fire. And this is just a small sampling of the kind of musical genius that surrounded the soon-to-be-funky-as-hell singer during her most formative years. At the age of eleven, Khan (who was still going by her birth name Yvette Stevens) was already performing with her first band, the Crystalettes along with her sister Yvonne. As she entered her teen years Chaka was exposed to the messages and activism of the Black Panther Party and at the age of fourteen, she became a part of the radical political organization. It would be during her time with the Panthers that she would acquire her new name Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She became deeply involved in working with underprivileged youth in Chicago. Chaka soon dropped out of school and embarked on what would be a long musical career that continues to this day.
 

The “curve-some” Chaka Khan in action with Rufus back in the 1970s.
 
When she was discovered by members of Chicago band Rufus singing in a local club in 1972, Chaka was nineteen and already divorced from her first husband Hassan Khan whose last name she decided to keep. The timing was perfect as Rufus would sign on with ABC Records in 1973 with the enchanting powerhouse that is Chaka Khan at the helm. Her partnership with Rufus would prove to be hugely successful and the band would produce six gold and platinum records over the course of four short years. And that was just a start for Chaka as her solo career would arguably eclipse her time with Rufus starting with a song that propelled her debut record into the funky stratosphere (and one that everybody knows at least seven words to), “I’m Every Woman.” Here’s the thing, I’m only really able to scratch the surface of Khan’s compelling and complicated life here today, so I’ll leave you with my final thoughts as to why we should all have the love for Chaka Khan.

In 1984 Khan got the idea to cover a song from Prince’s self-titled 1979 album called “I Feel For You.” Highly influential producer Arif Mardin was able to secure the services of both Stevie Wonder to play the harmonica on the single, and hip-hop god Grandmaster Melle Mel to provide opposing vocals to Chaka’s. While Prince never released the song as single, it was a goddamn smash for Khan and the album as a whole has stood the test of time. By the way, as mentioned in the title of this post, Khan has always been a pretty great drummer, so I posted a short vintage video of Chaka behind her kit below. I’ve also included a number of images of Chaka Khan in action, as well as videos of Khan working her magic with Rufus live back in the day. Bow to the Queen of Funk, baby.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.29.2017
02:01 pm
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