We have repeatedly mentioned Malcolm Mclaren one way or another on previous articles like Chiptune, Paris is Burning and more recently Alan Moore’s Fashion Beast. For us, here at The Remains, everything Malcolm said rings true. Malcolm was an entrepreneur, musician, promoter, band manager, designer, writer, and much more…but mostly a visionary, and it was time we dedicated a post to him.
For the Punk movement of the70’s in London he was a GOD! He was the one who encouraged Vivienne Westwood (his girlfriend at the time) in 1971 to join him and open the cradle for his revolution, their own clothing store in London called “Let it Rock” specializing in teddy boy clothes. Malcolm said later that they opened the store for “the sole purpose of smashing the English culture of deception”.
He latter renamed the shop “Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die” but the new style was not successful and he closed the shop, depressed and disillusioned about the future.
In 1975, McLaren reopened and renamed the shop SEX, selling punk and S&M inspired clothing. In December 1976, Sex was renamed “Seditionaries”. In 1980 it was reopened under the name “World’s End”.
They were specializing in rubber and leather fetish gear, selling extraordinary T-shirts and the famous bondage trousers, all while defining punk fashion for a new generation.
Malcolm ventured into music, managing the American “New York dolls” and in 1976 he pulled together a band to go with the clothes in the store, a band that became the wildest punk rock band in history - “The sex pistols”!
According to McLaren “The sex pistols provided the sound — Anarchic, shrill, garage-like to the clothes. It was more important the way they dressed and how they looked”. Punk culture took over and a new fashion era had begun with Malcolm McLaren and Westwood leading the way with clothing that was ripped, safety-pined and distressed in any way possible resembling the aggression that British youth was looking to express!
Malcolm’s influence was best described by music journalist Jon Savage, who wrote “Without Malcolm McLaren there would not have been any British punk. He’s one of the rare individuals who had a huge impact on the cultural and social life of this nation”.
Over the years Malcolm was continuously involved with art (the medium he was
originally trained in), movies (made few documentaries), music (always seemed to have a new “hot” band), and off course fashion, while always seeing the last two intertwined!
Malcolm’s personal style was a true resemblance of his personality, eccentric, bold and eclectic.…mixingcolors, patterns and unique cuts and textures.…somewhat Japanese inspired.
He lived by his grandmother’s motto:
“To be bad is good.…and to be good is simply boring!”.…..sounds like his grandma was the real visionary leader of punk culture!
Watch below a tribute to the inspirational manager and artist who revolutionized the music business in the 1970s with the Sex Pistols and punk fashion. McLaren died on April 8, 2010.
Based on John Geiger’s book Chapel of Extreme Experience, Nik Sheehan’s FLicKeR is a fascinating voyage into the life of artist and mystic Brion Gysin and his legendary invention the dream machine, a device that projects stroboscopic light, provoking a “drugless high” and cinematic hallucinations. In this Hot Docs world premiere Sheehan captures the dynamic, supernatural world of Gysin, the queer cultural terrorist who fused science, magic and art to expand human consciousness and transcend material reality.
Gysin’s biography is difficult to condense, but he grew up in Edmonton before reinventing himself as a bohemian globetrotter who went on to become the unacknowledged genius behind some of the most interesting developments in the 20th-century avant-garde. He died in 1986. Sheehan casts him as a radical artist intent on harnessing “the visionary potential of light” (as Geiger puts it) to revolutionary ends. Gysin was not a man but, like the machine, a way of perceiving the world — pure energy. He even tried to make himself invisible.
“It’s incredible that nobody’s made this film before,” says Sheehan, whose previous credits include God’s Fool about writer Scott Symons and the groundbreaking AIDS documentary No Sad Songs.
“I was surprised how anxious people were to open up and talk about Gysin because people have so many different views of him.” What is so compelling about FLicKeR is that Gysin remains mysterious and ephemeral throughout, no amount of talking could ever explain him.
Sheehan’s film is populated with a who’s who of pundits, countercultural figures and Gysin confidantes, reminding you that rock ‘n’ roll has always gone hand in hand with the most out-there shit: Marianne Faithfull, Iggy Pop, Kenneth Anger and Genesis P-Orridge all wax poetic on Gysin, magic and their most memorable trips, as do younger devotees like Lee Ranaldo and DJ Spooky. How did Sheehan land all these stellar interviewees? “That’s the magical question,” quips Sheehan. “It’s a very interesting group; they go back a long time. And because they’re cult figures they’ve obviously built up all these defences. So it was a very complicated and long and dedicated effort to bring everybody online.”
The film is also chock full of brilliant archival footage, particularly of Gysin, his art and his intensely fruitful and influential collaborations with William S Burroughs. We visit the “Beat Hotel” in Paris where these seditious kooks built a poor-man’s lab to transform the world through all manner of strange experiments in perception. “That’s one of the things about Gysin and Burroughs and these guys, it’s this combination of the silly and the sublime,” Sheehan says. “We have to remember how incredibly brave they were. They did not accept what society was offering — it was all lies. And they were very moral, good people in their way. With Nazi Germany they saw what could happen to a government [if] we get a little too trusting.
“That element of rebellion has something really serious.”
Sheehan feels Gysin’s gayness was fundamental. “A shaman to me is always a pansexual being,” says the gay Canadian filmmaker. “These guys all came out of that period where queer was really hardcore, it was part of their radical art — and of course it was illegal.”
Sheehan says his film “wasn’t so much a biography of Gysin or a story of the dream machine as a story of the dream machine as a biography of Gysin — the way the two fuse together. I think [the producers] were expecting it was just going to be this cute story about this spinning little machine, not these crazy queer mystics.
“The dream machine is [Gysin’s] ultimate work, this end-of-art thing that went beyond something you made to something you created individually in your own head.”
One challenge that Sheehan encountered was how to represent this internal, neurological phenomenon on screen, so there are many shots of people pressed up close to the device, eyes closed, narrating their experiences in ecstatic tones. It calls to mind Eric Emerson in Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls who just “groove[s] on myself” as coloured lights play over his body, a transcendence through narcissism. The dream machine isn’t much to look at — sort of like a twirling lampshade — so you have to take people’s word for it. But whether you can imagine what they are seeing or not, the ideas behind the machine are what matter.
“One of the things I really wanted to do is put things in the present tense, to give it some relevance,” says Sheehan. “The idea of trying to build a machine to change your world, we’re doing that all the time, aren’t we?
“The Beats came to fruition in the late ‘50s in the Eisenhower years where the world was petrified by the bomb and conformity was everything. Well, where are we now? We live in this time when we recently had this rightwing American government, which turned into a torture state. There are weird parallels. It was the old message: Don’t trust the man, he doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. And the dream machine is the perfect metaphor for this: Get rid of television, get rid of cinema, make your own inner movie, be your own person.”
In its enthusiasm for this long-gone cultural moment and its most beguiling catalyst, FLicKeR has great poignancy. At one point P-Orridge suggests that the control that Gysin and his comrades were fighting against is now diffuse and all-pervasive, and that rather than deserving to be liberated by the ultimate mind trip, the inert public now “deserve to have their bottoms smacked.”
In January 1985 Leigh Bowery started the now infamous poly-sexual Thursday disco club night “Taboo”. Originally an underground venture, it quickly became London’s Studio 54, only much wilder, extremely more fashionable, and without the masses of celebrities – although these came flocking in later. For everyone stepping through the doors it was a truly unforgettable experience.
Mark Davies wrote a book which later became a stage musical with lyrics by Boy George, and music by George and Kevan Frost.
Set in an abandoned London warehouse, the partly imagined story takes place in the location of what was the city’s most fashionable nightclub, the now-legendary Taboo (1985–87) of the title. Boy George is featured as one of the club’s regulars. The show also focuses on George’s life prior to and after achieving fame.
The show premiered in London’s West End at the Venue Theatre on January 29, 2002. Now in September 2012, Director Christopher Renshaw revived the show in a “site specific” form in Brixton Clubhouse in South London. The production was based on the original show with book by Mark Davies, but included several changes to the original soryline.
In this revival, Sam Buttery plays iconic 80s performance artist Leigh Bowery in Taboo, the story of bill-topping performers who defined a generation, including Steve Strange from Visage, the indefinable phenomenon that was Leigh Bowery, the one-man entrepreneur extraordinaire Philip Sallon. And then of course, there’s Boy George, travelling from squat to super-stardom from rock to rock bottom. The show interweaves some fantastical facts of the 80s with a classic love story of ambition, passion and betrayal.
Watch below a documentary about the FABULOUS Leigh Bowery and the original Taboo for your enjoyment. Shown during the spring of 1986 while Leigh Bowery was running his infamous nightclub Taboo, this documentary put Leigh on the map. A witty, provocative and inspiring film that includes a Bodymap fashion show, rare footage of Taboo, and interviews with Michael Clark and Lana Pillay, this documentary also reminds us what Leigh was like before he met Lucian Freud.
Clara Rockmore (March 9, 1911 – May 10, 1998) was a pioneer in electronic music. Her artistry and technique on the theremin put her in the same league as some of the other legendary women instrumentalists of 20th century — musicians like pianist Dame Myra Hess, the great Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska.
From a very early age, Clara was an accomplished young violinist but as it turned out, she eventually had to abandon the instrument because of chronic physical difficulties due to childhood malnutrition and she took up the theremin. Later in her life she said that Leon Theremin saved her “musical sanity” by introducing her to the theremin. She had extremely precise, rapid control of her movements, important in playing an instrument that depends on the performer’s motion and proximity rather than touch. She also had the advantage of working directly with Léon Theremin from the early days of the instrument’s commercial development in the United States.
It is easy to understand why Leon Theremin, the inventor of the instrument that bears his name, was deeply in love with Clara. Apart from being brilliantly talented as a musician and thereminist, she was strikingly beautiful.
Clara Rockmore died in the spring of 1998 leaving a small but important legacy of her recordings which include The Art of Theremin (produced by Robert Moog in 1977) and a stunning, live, 1945 performance of the Concerto for Theremin and Orchestra by the American composer Anis Fuleihan (with the orchestra under the direction of the great Leopold Stokowski). Both these recordings have been reissued on CD.
As a comment posted here says: Woah, a theremin sounds like a cross between a ghost woman humming to herself, and a violin made out of jelly…
Famous first American film of Czech director Milos Forman. It tells the story of a group of parents whose children have run away from home. The parents take the opportunity to rediscover their youth.
It features a number of memorable set pieces, including an open-mic record label audition which is weaved throughout the film, featuring a number of female singers (including a young Carly Simon and a haunting acoustic ballad by a then-unknown Kathy Bates) performing old standards, folk ballads, and rock songs; a meeting in which a group of generally middle-class conservative parents are taught how to smoke marijuana; and a raucuous but sweet game of strip poker played by the adults.
Whether Taking Off is caricature or dead-on is, presumably, all a matter of perspective and distance. But it’s definitely hilarious: A deadpan Buck Henry effortlessly dominates as a milquetoast, and the supporting weirdos are all aces. (In his first on-screen appearance, Vincent Schiavelli leads a pot-smoking tutorial for concerned parents wanting to understand their runaways better: “That’s called ‘bogarting’ the joint, and it’s very rude.”) It’s also a true New York movie.
For the Los Angeles artist Brian Butler, magic (or “magick,” as the case may be) is as modern as technology. Certain teachings may be ancient, he notes, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. “In the modern world of computers, the same energies are still operating,” he says.
Butler was premiering his film, “The Dove and the Serpent,” at the LAXART Annex in Hollywood last year, and a gritty, glamorous crowd had gathered to watch a live musical performance featuring the legendary underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger.
Initially drawn together by a shared interest in Aleister Crowley and the occult, Butler and Anger have worked together for more than a decade, Butler producing Anger’s last few films and acting as creative director of the trippy short he made for Missoni’s fall 2010 campaign. Anger appears with Vincent Gallo in Butler’s film “Night of Pan,” and the two also formed the band Technicolor Skull.
The Dove and the Serpent is a meditation on alchemy; the title references the Hermetic principle “as above, so below.” Filmed at a castle in Normandy, France, with some friends he rounded up during Paris fashion week last fall, including Dash Snow’s sister Caroline and the cinematographer Edouard Plongeon, whose family provided the locale, the two-and-a-half minute piece is beautiful, hypnotic and vaguely sinister.
Shadowy figures shape-shift and meld with the elements, occult symbols flash and fade, and there is some covetable fashion on display, including a Masonic robe and an ivory silk gown by the London designer Qasimi.
The Bartzabel Working is a performance based on a ceremonial evocation of the spirit of Mars, first written and performed in London in 1910 by Crowley, the ritual later became part of Los Angeles history in 1946 when Jack Parsons conducted his own version of this rite with the intention of placing a Martial curse on a pre-scientology L. Ron Hubbard.
For his reinterpretation of this historical performance, Butler conjures Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars, evoking on the site that was once home to late sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and currently comprises L&M Gallery. And bellow is also a little gem of a video by Mr. Butler for The Black Lips…
In an unadorned room of a police station, a dwarf is seated on a chair, holding an identification number in his hand. He is photographed and then interrogated about acts of violence he committed during a revolt.
The story thus turns back in time, to when the dwarfs, detained in a correction facility, took advantage of the director’s absence to rebel. Once they take the headmaster hostage – he does nothing but laugh and shout declarations of revenge – the group is free to act as they please.
The setting is distressing and sinister, where each event is more surreal than the last: the dwarfs sink into acts of vandalism and gratuitous cruelty to things and people, in a crescendo of frenzy and madness.
Steven Soderbergh is in the midst of his final jaunt behind the camera, in production on the Liberace biopic “Behind The Candelabra”, with Michael Douglas as the famed performer and Matt Damon as his young lover. Liberace was famed for being the world’s highest-paid entertainer at one point, and enjoyed his fortune with an extravagant lifestyle. Soderbergh revealed that while plans are still coming together for the movie, which is set up at HBO, he hopes to take it to Cannes on May 2013.
The movie is based on the book “Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace” written by Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson who met him when when he was seventeen in 1976. Liberace had promised Thorson, who was raised in foster homes, that he would adopt and care for him and eventually the performer incorporated his lover into his lavish Las Vegas stage performances.
Liberace’s story is tragic and his relationship with Scott Thorson was not less extravagant than some of his outfits. Liberace always publicly denied that he was homosexual and insisted that Thorson was never his lover. He went to great lengths until his dead from AIDS to cover his sexuality. To get an idea of how eccentric their life was, read the following excerpt from an interview with Scott Thorsonon on Larry King Live that aired on August 12, 2002:
Thorson: Well, he brought the surgeons in. I picked him up in my Rolls-Royce. I drove. They were in Las Vegas. I picked him up and brought him to a Las Vegas mansion on Shirley Street. And Lee was introduced to the doctor and he says, “I want you to come with me.” And Lee walked him through — went into the — you know, into the bedroom and said — there was a picture of Liberace. Oh, I guess he was probably in his 30s, Larry. He says, “I want you to create Scott to look like me when he was younger; so he looks like my son.” He wanted me as his son. But at the same time, he wanted me as his lover.
The romance ended due to the pianist’s sexual promiscuity and Thorson’s drug addiction, which led him to contract Hepatitis C. In 1982, Thorson filed a $113 million lawsuit against Liberace, with the palimony suit being the more famous part. But in 1986, the pair reportedly settled out of court for $95,000, two cars, and two pet dogs.
Scott reconciled with Liberace on his death bed, and a year later published the book Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace on which the film is based.
Watch below a short clip of Liberace’s Entrance to a las vegas show, featuring all the glamour and glitter only Lee Himself could pull off.… Freaturing Scott Thorson as the limousine Driver.
Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party blew the dust out of New Yorker’s air ducts for four odd years from 1978 to 1982. The hour-long live, unscripted show took advantage of New York’s early-ish cable access world — a world mandated by a deal that cable networks could have their little monopolies as long as the public was granted free access to a certain percentage of airtime. It’s a deal still going on all across America today, and after watching a little TV Party, you’d be a damn fool not to get involved. You see, TV can be fun, and you can make it! As for TV Party — essentially a showcase for what O’Brien and friends thought of as cool — it’s not for everyone. But those who like bizarro television, the downtown New York scene of the day, or cult movies and TV with a capital C (Liquid Sky or Robin Byrd’s porno talk-show, for instance) will get a serious kick from this experiment in ‘socialist TV’ — the TV show that’s a party, but it could also be a political party.
The Sublimely Intolerable Show aired January 8th 1979, with O’Brien (writer, Warhol-ite and once New Wave gadabout) loosely holding the reins — flogging the horse or letting it stumble down rocky inclines, however he, his guests, audience or callers saw fit. Aired in black and white, the night’s guests included Compton Maddox and John Moses playing weird guitar tunes, Klaus Nomi singing opera, and Andy Shernoff covering the Beach Boys, (backed by Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic fame). Downtown director Eric Mitchell plays a clip of his movie Kidnapped while plugging the New Cinema Theater, director David Silver and Kate Simon do ‘White People Talk About Reggae,’ and finally Debbie Harry, Chris Stein (also of Blondie and later official co-host of TV Party) and Richard Sohl help O’Brien with the viewer call-in segment while passing a joint.
According to O’Brien’s TV Party website, David Letterman once told Paul Schaeffer on air that “TV Party is the greatest TV show anywhere, ever,” and for those of us now corn-fed on the GMOs that are Two and a Half Men and their ilk, it’s hard to argue. The show thrives on O’Brien’s heartfelt diffidence (hard to manage, true) and an anything-can-happen dangerousness that’s impossible to fake. It appears effortless because in many ways it was, semi-professionals aided and abetted, and total amateurs did little things like; operate cameras and run sound. In fact the first five or ten minutes of Sublimely Intolerable have no sound at all, nothing but random pops (as people scurry to fix the problem) and (also according to the TV Party website) Jean-Michel Basquiat typing super-graphics like “Oh no! No sound! Fuck!” Top-notch scenester entertainment makes up for deficiencies O’Brien encouraged. Maddox and Moses’s pre-ironic ironic numbers bubble dangerously, with O’Brien and Debbie Harry et al dancing in lab coats. Klaus Nomi’s unearthly soprano aria and equally alien demeanor are stunning and bizarre. Shernoff is cool enough — while pointing out how even the most insipid Beach Boys song comes with a super-sharp chord progression — and director Mitchell seems baffled and is baffling.
White People Talk About Reggae rides a dangerous edge; the audience mocks, Simon and Silver seem defensive talking about the ‘music of upliftment,’ and then a joint starts making the rounds. The joint stays for the ‘viewer call-in’ segment which always closed the show. It’s emblematic of the off-the-rails genius of the show. Sure, the technological aspects are junk, and performances or interviews hit-or-miss, but letting uncensored live callers on the air is pure gold. O’Brien and crew are unassuming in their greatness — they’re the cool kids at school who’ll actually accept you (even though you know you’re a total geek) just because they’re self-secure — shining as they wade through call after call questioning their sexual practices and ethnicity. This stuff is not for the easily offended, but it’s a testament to the power of a slick hand willing to let the chips fall wherever.
The first 10% of this show sums up what we don’t get on TV anymore. Technical difficulties. TV Party was live and improvised, and this meant casual disaster. This early episode gets off to an artistically agonizing start–the sound person is late, overdosing on drugs or both. Or it was the broken down equipment. Once the sound kicks in the show gets lively. Compton Maddux, a droll singer songwriter, is backed up by Debbie Harry and Glenn; the unique futurist soprano Klaus Nomi does one of his post-modern arias; Adny Shernoff, of the Dictators, plays the Beach Boys’ “Be True to Your School” backed up by pom pom girls Tish and Snooky, the Manic Panic designers. Downtown legend director Eric Mitchell announces the opening of the now famous New Cinema theater and shows a clip from his film “Kidnapped” with Arto Lindsay, Duncan Smith and Anya Phillips. Brit director David Silver and photographer Kate Simon do the “white people talk about reggae” segment. Blondie’s Chris Stein and Debbie Harry and the Patti Smith Group’s Richard Sohl drop in to smoke a reefer and take calls from all the crazies in cable land. Chris explains all this isn’t chaos, it’s art.