Alan Vega and The Sisterhood.

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The band Suicide circa 1977, in front of CBGB’s, NYC.

So if 2016 wasn’t wretched enough, we now learn about the passing of artist and musician Alan Vega (1938 – 2016).

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Self titled album from Suicide released in 1977. 

Alan Vega was best known as a member of the experimental band Suicide. Their self-titled album is now considered groundbreaking. Suicide was influential figure to many New Wave, Punk, Post-Punk, early Goth and Industrial acts. The list goes on like a roll call: Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Devo, Joy Division/New Order, Sonic Youth, Big Black, D.A.F., Nick Cave, Ministry…the list goes on. They even left an impression on Bruce Springsteen. Today, Suicide’s impact can still be felt with the post-Electronica set, and bands like Radiohead.

Suicide‘s songs such as Frankie Teardrops has been covered numerous times. Here’s a cover of ‘Ghostrider’ done by Marc Almond of Soft Cell (Marc mentions Suicide being an influence in his autobiography) and Clint Ruin, otherwise known as Jim Thrilwell, Wiseblood, or Foetus.

It was one of his influences Henry Rollins, that broke the news of Vega’s passing.

When I was a teen just getting into underground music culture, I saw Alan Vega do a solo gig. He was opening up for a band, in which the name escapes me at the moment. It was at The Ritz, which is now known as Webster Hall, in NYC. This was sometime during the mid-1980s. When he was performing, I had no clue who he was. Now I consider myself lucky to have seen him live.

As of this blog posting of July 17th, 2016, if ones does a quick internet search, you can find out more about Vega and Suicide. Right now I’m going to focus on when Vega worked with members of the Goth band Sisters of Mercy.

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Sisters of Mercy.

In 1986, Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch decided to create a new side project. Entangled with a lot of red tape and personality conflicts between the other members Sister of Mercy, The Sisterhood was created.

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Cover of the album from The Sisterhood. 

Long story short, somehow Alan Vega along with Patrica Morrison (later to join the second version of Sisters of Mercy) got involved with Eldritch’s version of The Sisterhood. The single “Giving Ground” was released in 1986.

According to Wikipedia: Alan Vega gets a credit on the album cover but it remains unknown whether he made any contributions to the recording. He was possibly part of the “Chorus of Vengeance” on the track “Rain from Heaven”.

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Alan Vega

Regardless of whether Vega did or did not contribute to The Sisterhood. It was still an acknowledgment of Vega’s impact on the Goth sound. In Goth clubs you can still hear this song being played.

Alan Vega was also an accomplished yet uncompromising fine artist. Right up to the very end, he was constantly working on projects. Here’s a link of a 2012 exhibition. Here’s an interview from 2015.

The beautiful thing about Vega was he lived life on his own terms. Especially now since that philosophy is becoming more of a luxury in today’s corporate era.

“I like performers who I know are for real. You can tell, man, there’s an intensity about their stuff. You can tell right away they’re real people, ya know?” – Alan Vega.

 

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Post-Punk Online Photo Archives.

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Traditional 1980s Goths. Photo from http://nowthisisgothic.tumblr.com/ & http://www.post-punk.com

Here’s some Post-Punk and Traditional Goth photo galleries online that you should check out.

http://www.post-punk.com/oldschool-gothic-a-gallery-of-80s-goth-and-deathrock-culture/

http://nowthisisgothic.tumblr.com/

http://www.cvltnation.com/portraits-of-80s-death-rock-goth-culture/

http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/25/growing-up-goth-11-things-youll-only-understand-if-you-wore-black-in-the-80s-5021653/

http://flavorwire.com/470012/stylishly-striking-portraits-from-1980s-italian-goth-clubs

Pinterest is another good site for uncovering ’80’s Goth photos.

Finishing this post is an old clip found on YouTube. Footage of ’80s Goth dancing at some unnamed club.

Happy Birthday Siouxsie

Just wanted to wish the one and only, legendary Siouxsie Sioux a happy birthday. Much more than an original Goth prototype, Siouxsie unleashed her own unique brand of style, sound and charisma. This iconic Gemini forged the blueprint that can never be truly duplicated.

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Siouxsie Sioux. Photo from Soho News, circa 1981. Photographer 

 

 

 

 

Siouxsie & The Banshees Article 1981

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During my teens, I kept a scrapbook of my musical heroes. The first scrapbook was dedicated to Culture Club, particularly Boy George. There would be articles, drawings, stickers, etc. By the time my Culture Club phase was over, the scrapbook was jammed packed. Therefore it made sense to start a scrapbook of my newest flavor, Siouxsie and The Banshees.

Since I was now well into my mid-teens, my focus was more collecting on Siouxise vinyl, rather than articles. By 1984 or ’85, I had discovered Greenwich Village in NYC. During this era, the Village on both the West and East sides, had plenty of collectible record stores.

Occasionally I would purchase back issues with Siouxsie interviews. To come across articles featuring her and The Banshees was a bit harder. Siouxsie and The Banshees wasn’t exactly as ‘mainstream’ as Culture Club. Most of the printed press was found through imports such as New Musical Express, better known as the NME.

Thanks to my collectible hunting, I discovered an old back issue of Trouser Press magazine. Trouser Press was an American rock music publication which covered the early Punk and New Wave movement. The magazine ceased print back in 1984, but its founder Ira Robbins later put out a book titled The Trouser Press Guide To New Wave Records.

The 1982 issue of Trouser Press had a two page article on Siouxsie and The Banshees. Which I’ve re-posted here from my Siouxsie scrapbook.

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Siouxsie and The Banshees article from Trouser Press magazine, Feb. 1981.

Bowie’s Dark Children

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Portrait of David Bowie from his Aladdin Sane era. Watercolor, glitter watercolor, ink and pen. Done in 2012 by Michele Witchipoo.

Exactly one month ago, legendary rock singer David Bowie passed away. After fighting a private battle with cancer, Bowie passed away two days after the release of his 25th album, ‘Blackstar.’ He was 69 years old.

After five decades of creating music, no one can ever deny his massive influence. Along the way, Bowie experimented with various genres. As a musical artist, he was never afraid to think outside the box. One can say he taught his audience that it was okay to explore, to evolve, to be the ever changing chameleon.

Who would’ve thought with the arrival of his Ziggy Stardust creation, that his impact would be felt for generations to come. From Ziggy, to the Thin White Duke, his experimental ‘Berlin Trilogy’, to his Scary Monsters era, even with the Pop inclined ‘Let’s Dance’ album,  and beyond, Bowie’s creations spawned children in the form of other creatives.

Although Bowie never truly labeled himself, he had a definite impact among early Gothic subculture. You can hear traces of Bowie’s influence in such seminal Goth, Industrial and Post-Punk bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Bauhaus, The Cure, Cabaret Voltaire, etc. If it wasn’t apparent within the image, you could hear traces within the music. No, David Bowie didn’t create Goth – but he was significant. In turn, these fore mentioned bands passed the torch down to other creatives, thus creating a lineage.

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Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie in a scene from the 1983 film The Hunger.

One example of the crossover between David Bowie and the early Goth bands could be seen in the 1983 vampire film The Hunger. Here Bowie, one of the main leads along with actresses Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon engage in a twisted love triangle. The first scene, John (Bowie) and Miriam (Deneuve) enter a New York City nightclub. As they pick fresh victims to seduce and eventually kill, Bauhaus is performing on stage.

Speaking of Bauhaus, one of their best known songs was a cover of Ziggy Stardust.

It becomes apparent that Bauhaus and other musicians within that similar vein were Bowie’s dark children. In fact, as Bowie broke boundaries with music, art, gender, sexuality, fashion, etc., it shows how we were all his children.

Other articles:

http://www.cvltnation.com/goth-is-the-new-bowie/

http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2013/03/11/under-the-influence-of-bowie/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6843061/david-bowie-influence-genres-rock-star

http://mixing.io/playlist/q-magazine-davids-descendants-the-influence-of-bowie

Siouxsie Flyer For The World 1986.

Oops. Had forgotten about this blog. As they say, life got in the way, and that was certainly the case during 2015.

In case you’re curious, my main blog, basically set-up to promote my comics, artwork and illustration can be found here: https://witchesbrewpress.wordpress.com/

However, back to this one.

For the sake of posting content, today’s entry will basically be an old club flyer.

(Shrugs)

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After concert party for Siouxsie and The Banshees at The World. Thursday May 15th, 1986.

Can’t believe I kept this particular one for so long. Probably because it was an post concert party for my favorite band at the time, Siouxsie and The Banshees.

The World wasn’t a Goth club per say. If anything, the crowd catered to ’80s Club Kids with a NYC downtown attitude. I believe another time, Devo performed at that venue. The World wasn’t the easiest place to enter either. If you weren’t part of the ‘cool’ clique, you were denied entry. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, a lot of downtown edgy clubs had this criteria. New York City is a totally different place compared to 30 years ago, but back then, to have a doorman block access because you weren’t freaky enough was a fact of life.

The date on this flyer is from Thursday, May 15th, 1986. Exactly 30 years ago. It’s been that long. It’s a miracle that this artifact is still in my possession.

Anyway, it’s time to stop dating myself and wrap up this post. Till next time, and hopefully it won’t take so long to update.

 

Winklerpickers

Now for a light hearted fashion moment. As opposed to having a heart as black as your soul. (Ooff! Bad cringing joke there.)

Back in the 1980’s, no self-respecting Goth went without at least big hair, pale makeup, black clothing, and at least one pair of Winklerpicker shoes or boots in their wardrobe.

A trad Goth fashion staple. The Winklepicker.
A trad Goth fashion staple. The Winklepicker.
Bat buckles on a pair of ankle length Winklepicker boots.
Bat buckles on a pair of ankle length Winklepicker boots.

What are Winklerpickers you ask? Besides being originated sometime around the 15th century, Winklerpickers were first worn by 1950’s and 1960’s subcultures such as the Teddy boys and girls. The pointy boots The Beatles used to wear was part of their early iconic look. The Mods added this style of shoe to their wardrobe. The Winklerpickers became a trad Goth staple during the 80’s after the Punk/New Wave movement brought the appearance back in stride.

Assortment of Wicklepicker shoes and boots.
Assortment of Wicklepicker shoes and boots.

Even Rik, the obnoxious pseudo-anarchist character from the UK television show ‘The Young Ones’ wore red Winklepickers.

Rik the pseudo-anarchist university student that no one liked from the British television show 'The Young Ones.'
Rik the pseudo-anarchist university student that no one liked from the British television show ‘The Young Ones.’

Growing up in NYC during the 1980’s, I remember West 8th street (in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan) having show stores which specialized in the pointy toe shoe variety. Further down the street heading to the East Village was Trash and Vaudeville. The store sold all kinds of rock n’ roll footwear, including the infamous Winklepickers. Trash, as it’s affectionately known, is still in business at the exact same location to this day.  Maybe they might even have a few pointy pairs in stock.

Vintage pair of Goth Wicklepickers. Photo from eBay.
Vintage pair of Goth Wicklepickers. Photo from eBay.

I had totally forgotten about Winklepickers, until I went to an Absolution club night in either 2011 or 2012. One of the DJs and promoters, Jason Ledyard, was sporting a pair going halfway up the calf.  After not seeing someone wear a pair in years, the sighting made me do a double-take. As a side note, Absolution was a long running Goth event created both DJs Jason until late 2013.

Eighteen hole Winklepicker boots. From The Gothic Shoe Company.  http://www.thegothicshoecompany.com/products/gothic-18-buckle-boots

Eighteen hole Winklepicker boots. From The Gothic Shoe Company.
http://www.thegothicshoecompany.com/products/gothic-18-buckle-boots

You can still purchase a pair of Winklepickers  online from various sites. If going vintage, there’s always eBay and Etsy. Otherwise you can buy new ones from sites such as Pennangalan or The Gothic Shoe Company. Below is a list of some sites, both for reference and maybe shopping if you desire a pair.

Classic pair of ankle Winklepicker boots.
Classic pair of ankle Winklepicker boots.

Till next time…

 

Links:

DJ-Jason – Facebook page

Xtine – Her new Tumblr site

http://absolutionnyc.com/2011/02/06/winklepickers/

http://www.thegothicshoecompany.com/collections/gothic-buckle-boots

https://www.facebook.com/wickedwinklepickers

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/winklepickers

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/winklepickers-womens-boots-under-100_n_1893569.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winklepicker

 

Propaganda Magazine

One of the first magazines catering to the Gothic subculture on US shores was Propaganda Magazine.

Cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 15.
Cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 15.

Established by New York City photographer Fred H. Berger, this publication set the bar for the US Goth faction between the years of1982 to 2002. While the articles were usually short, the photography itself captured the essence of the (then) Goth underground.

Another classic front cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 13.
Another classic front cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 13.

Before the internet, people found out about bands through word of mouth, and magazines such as Propaganda. For example, it was through this magazine that I discovered the influential NeoFolk band Death In June.

The photography mostly done by Fred H. Berger, carried a lot of androgynous imagery.  Far from being one dimensional however, the photographs also hinted at sexuality, particularly homo-eroticism, bdsm, role playing, and fetishism. It also covered body modification way before the mainstreaming of tattoos and piercings. Other subjects included religious imagery, paganism, vampirism, literature, and history.

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Unfortunately Propaganda Magazine folded in 2002. The official website ceased three years after the publication stopped. Not Besides a Wikipedia entry and a Facebook page, not much information regarding Propaganda Magazine seems to be found. Fred H. Berger himself seems to remain a mystery. Personally I wish that Berger would take the photos during the Propaganda era, and put the collection into book form.  (According to the Propaganda Magazine Facebook page, a book proposal is in the works.) It would be fitting, since Propaganda Magazine was not only influential to me during my teen years, but to the overall Goth-Industrial-Post Punk subculture.

A later edition of Propaganda Magazine, issue 25.
A later edition of Propaganda Magazine, issue 25.

Postnote: If 1980s Goth photography interest you, there’s a book titled ‘Some Wear Leather Some Wear Lace.’ (Andi Harriman & Marloes Bontie, Intellect, Bristol, 2014) You can check out the book on this site: http://www.postpunkproject.com/

 

*The photos you see in this blog post were not my scans. They were taken from various sources on the internet, since I had long lost my own copies of Propaganda Magazine aeons ago. Apologizes and thanks towards those who had posted images from this publication. You may also order back issues of Propaganda Magazine by contacting Fred H. Berger through the magazine’s Facebook page.

 

Dark Entry II – In The Beginning…

My own little ‘Dark Entry’ began back in high school. I was coming of age during the whole New Wave explosion during the early ’80s. Then for my birthday, I was given a little bit of money. Since I loved music, I ran down the local record store. Brought two albums on vinyl (we’re talking about the days before cassettes and CDs). On a whim, one of the albums was from a band I used to read about in the magazines. The Sex Pistols’ ‘Nevermind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.’ The other one was a mainstream rock album by Billy Squire. Guess which one ended up in the trash soon afterwards? Squire’s AOR record was cast out as the Pistols spun regularly on my turntable. Even if it was a few years after the Pistols crashed and burned.

That just fueled my curiosity about Punk Rock even more. Despite all the other kids in my junior high school mocking me for not listening to Michael Jackson. I used to wear all these New Wave band pins on my jacket. Bands like The Go-Go’s for example. Joan Jett was my hero back then. So she scored bonus points when I found out she had been involved in the early days of Punk.

Since I hated my junior high peers so much, I applied and got accepted into High School of Art and Design. It was such joy leaving my close minded neighborhood behind. Only now I was the normal one in a sea of arty teenagers. That normal phase only last for about a hot minute. A classmate took me down to explore Greenwich Village, and that became my Pandora’s Box. Remember, the Village was a lot different during the 1980s. Just think of West Village as today’s trendy Williamsburg area, and the East Village as Bushwick.

At first I embraced the immediate classic punk bands, like The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Dead kennedys, etc. Meanwhile I was still listening to radio friendly alternative bands like when U2.

One of my first introductions to Gothic, or Death Rock as it was sometimes called then was through a high school senior. She totally fascinated me. I think her name was Julie and I would watch her as she walked alone in the school hallways. Tall, thin, androgynous, she could have been a model. Her hair was shaved on one side as it’s long crimped ice blue hair hung on the other over her eyes. Her skin was naturally pale, almost porcelain white. She filed her long nails to extremely sharp point, so it looked like witches’ nails. Back then, I thought her nails were one of the best things about her whole look. Her outfit consisted of boots, fishnet stockings and a black mini skirt. The skirt might’ve been leather, not sure. Although she was pretty she never smiled. The high school homeboys into HipHop all made fun of her, but she never once acknowledged them. Julie’s only friend seem to be this shorter girl, not as fragile looking as Julie, but more tougher as she wore black hair, black eyeliner, might have been either of Hispanic or Italian heritage. Both Julie and her pal wore all black except for the occasional white band tee shirt. The band was Sex Gang Children. Looking back, Julie and her friend were the perfect Propaganda models. (I’ll discuss Propaganda Magazine in another post.)

Julie and her friend graduated that year, and within that month of their graduation, I discovered Siouxsie and The Banshees. At that point, game over. Over the course of the summer of 1984, I dyed my hair pitch black, wore plaid flannel shirts in July, brought second hand combat boots from Bleecker Bob’s, explored West. 8th street. My excursions in 1980s Greenwich Village brought me to Flip, The Pit Stop, Unique, Antique Boutique, Canal Street Jeans, Trash and Vaudeville and Manic Panic when they used to have a small store in St. Mark’s Place.

When it was time to go back to school, I was still adjusting my wanna be Siouxsie makeup. Someone gave me a tip on crimping irons for the hair, and my Siouxsie cloning was complete. It was also the first time I saw The Cure live at Radio City Music Hall during their ‘Head On The Door’ tour.

It was a record store signing at Tower Records to meet The Cure that fall, when I spotted Julie’s tough cohort. She had also been in line waiting to meet The Cure. I didn’t see Julie. In fact, after high school graduation, I never saw Julie ever again – but her arty loner high school presence and visual influence was enough to last a lifetime.

1980s postcard of two Batcave/Goth girls riding the Tube. Photographer unknown.
1980s postcard of two Batcave/Goth girls riding the Tube. Photographer unknown.

 

Link of the day:

http://littlevioletribbon.blogspot.com/2012/11/goth.html

An opinionated blog about traditional Goth – both past and present