Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of Star, Rock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs Fanzinefaves.com, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.
We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds, and well, it looks like he’s gone and done it again—bigtime.
Richardson’s gift to the world this time around is a doozy. He is hosting on his website, CirculationZero.com, the entire print run of the early LA punk and art magazine NO MAG. The fourteen issues published between 1978 and 1985 by Bruce Kalberg cover a lot of the same musical ground as LA contemporaries Slash and Flipside, but NO MAG is decidedly artier and, well, filthier than those publications.
Be warned before you download and open these issues—they aren’t exactly safe for workplace viewing. If Larry Flynt and the Vienna Aktionists got together and published a punk zine in the late ‘70s, it would have looked a lot like NO MAG. NO MAG‘s publisher Bruce Kalberg, and the sordid turns of his life, were recently covered in LA Weekly‘s piece “Beautiful Loser, Tortured Killer.”
From that article:
Bruce Kalberg started NO MAG in 1978 with Michael Gira, a friend from Otis College of Art and Design, who left for New York after several issues to form the early noise band the Swans. Aside from the requisite profiles of X, Fear, the Germs, Johanna Went, Phranc, Suicidal Tendencies, ad gloriam, this sub-Slash tabloid fanzine amply captured the corrosive admixture of medical atrocities, sexual pathology, gallows humor and political anarchy endemic to the times: autopsy photos; profiles of working dominatrixes; textbook entries on female circumcision and how to synthesize heroin from morphine; cartoons of “Nancy Reagan’s favorite color” (bloody Tampaxes); and house ads featuring photos of progressive gum disease, with the caption, “You liked our smile, now catch our disease” — what Kalberg once called “the old cliché of shit-and-guts imagery” by which to wage war on polite society.
It also frequently bordered on the pornographic — Susanna Hoffs topless, Belinda Carlisle naked under tights, Germs producer Geza X with his cock in his hand, the Cramps’ Brian Gregory with a semi-erection and a python, and the irrepressible El Duce shitting on a plate are a fair representation—forcing him to manufacture it in San Francisco, where printers are apparently more tolerant.
NO MAG in many ways reminds me of a flashy LA version of what Search and Destroy was doing in San Francisco around the same time period. In my opinion, this rare print run being made available is an even bigger “get” than the Slash print run recently offered by CirculationZero. It’s an edgier magazine and, in many ways because of the artistic focus, seems more timeless than its contemporaries, dated only by its political incorrectness and non-digital layouts. The sometimes-transgressive art and photography, along with the interviews of now-legendary bands, make this run a crucial historical resource.
The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. He has provided donation links on Circulationzero.com—go there now to download NO MAG, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of covers:
More after the jump…