Paul Gorman is…

Photography books: Punk Rockers! by Alain Dister

Oct 9th, 2014
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//Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Paris, November 1973. (c) Alain Dister//

A photograph of Vivienne Westwood – credited to the fashion designer’s archive in the new Westwood book with Ian Kelly – put me in mind of an image I have in one of my many books in storage.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on the particular tome. Then bingo! Bought eight years ago on publication, the France-only publication Punk Rockers! is a compendium of the photography of the late Alain Dister from the early 70s to the mid-00s.

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//Johnny Thunders, David JoHansen, Sylvain Sylvain, Paris, November 1973. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Left: Westwood and McLaren. Right: Seditionaries frontage 1978. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Book jacket photo of unidentified female punk rocker taken in Seattle, 1996. (c) Alain Dister//

Among the photographs Dister discusses in the brief foreword is one of Westwood with Malcolm McLaren when they journeyed to Paris to witness a gig by the New York Dolls at the Olympia Theatre in November 1973. This is clearly one of a sequence taken by Dister and featured in Westwood’s book.

As Dister writes, McLaren was “habillé en Teddy Boy années 50″. In photographs taken at the French capital’s Belle Epoque brasserie La Coupole – where we were happily ensconced with the Dolls’ confrère Marc Zermati only last year – the American proto-punk group is shown in all their glory, with guitarist Sylvain Sylvain resplendent in a zippered wool/mohair Let It Rock creation.

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//London 1978. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Fans at Sex Pistols reunion concert, Finsbury Park, north London, 1996. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Left: Berlin 1998. Right: Seattle, 1996//

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//Left: Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, 2002. Right: Sheena, Tokyo 2002//

Punk Rockers! is a valuable document; Dister cast his unstinting eye as punk mutated from London and New York in the 70s to blossom in such cities as Berlin in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s and Tokyo in the 00s.

Former Melody Maker journalist Chris Charlesworth provides a fascinating snapshot of the Dolls at their debauched peak in Paris here.

Buy copies of Punk Rockers! here.

Dister died in 2008; here is his website.

Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly is reviewed here.

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John Hilliard: Not Black And White at Richard Saltoun Gallery

Sep 4th, 2014
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//1, 2, 3, 2004. Giclée Iris print on museum board. 91 x 120cm//

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//Black Depths (1), 1974. Black and white print and Letraset on museum board, 2 parts. 72 x 72cm//

Looking forward to Not Black And White, a retrospective exhibition of work by British conceptual photographic artist John Hilliard which opens tonight at London’s Richard Saltoun Gallery.
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September 13: Joe Stevens at his snarliest

Aug 14th, 2014
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//Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten (in Seditionaries Elliot tartan suit and Anarchy flag/leather mask t-shirt) and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols relax during a soundcheck before their performance at Randy’s Rodeo, San Atonio, Texas on January 8, 1978. Less than a week later the line-up played its final show together in San Francisco. Photo: Joe Stevens//

Lucky for some. Photographer, raconteur, wit and self-confessed exhibitionist Joe Stevens will be talking about and presenting a selection of his 70s Brit/Punk photos at Sonny’s Tavern in Dover, New Hampshire, on September 13.

“Attendees are encouraged to affect their snarliest behaviour,” says Stevens.

More details here.

This is from the January 8 show at Randy’s:

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Marisol’s Love + David Parkinson’s image of Mona Solomons with SEX ankle boot

May 13th, 2014

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//Left: Love, 1962, Marisol. Plaster and glass (Coca-Cola bottle), 6 1/4 x 4 1/8 x 8 1/8″, MoMA. Right: From I Get A Kick Out Of You, David Parkinson, Club International, 1975//

A disturbing David Parkinson image from a mid-70s fashion shoot for British porn magazine Club International puts me in mind of the  early 60s sculpture Love by the artist Marisol.

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Sunny Suits – recent work: Joujouka, Pigalle + portraiture

May 6th, 2014
SERO, SEX SHOP SIGN, PARIS 2014

//SERO, Pigalle, Paris, 2014. Sunny Suits//

I’m intrigued by the photography of Sunny Suits, the American who, like so many illustrious others, flourishes in Paris, so am delighted to present this selection of recent work complete with her descriptions and background text.

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VILLAGE BOYS DRESSED AS AISHA KANDISHA, JOUJOUKA 2013

//Village boys dressed as Aisha Kandisha, Joujouka, 2013. Sunny Suits//

MASTER MUSICIANS PIPERS PLAYING UNDER THE TENT, JOUJOUKA 2013

//Master Musician pipers playing under the tent, Joujouka, 2013. Sunny Suits//

MASTER MUSICIANS IN THE MADRAS BEFORE PLAYING, JOUJOUKA 2013

//Master Musicians in the Madras before playing, Joujouka, 2013. Sunny Suits//

MOHAMED HAMRI'S GRAVE, JOUJOUKA 2013

//Mohamed Hamri’s grave, Joujouka, 2013. Sunny Suits//

CAFE BOUJELOUD, JOUJOUKA 2013

//Cafe Boujeloud, Joujouka, 2013. Sunny Suits//

The Joujouka festival happens once a year in Morocco, a few hours from Tangier. It’s an incredible experience, to live on the farm with the villagers, to share their lives for a few days. Each night around midnight the musicians play and are excellent!

The folklore of the village is something special and I feel really lucky to have experienced it. Brian Jones and the Beats are to be thanked for sharing the discovery with us I’d say but it’s the music and also the painter Mohamed Hamri that I connect with most.

Champagne Bars and Sex Shops

SERO, SEX SHOP SIGN, PARIS 2014

//SERO, sex shop sign, Paris 2014. Sunny Suits//

My first memories of Paris include Pigalle. I used to live in the area and I have wanted to document the champagne bars and the women who work in them for years but before, my French wasn’t good enough and now the bars have almost disappeared. It’s also not exactly my world so I don’t think I have the right to intrude even though it’s only with respect that I see them.

Some of them have become sheesha bars, which I don’t mind because it’s part of the quartier, but red light districts are dying worlds. I see it as them as endangered species, something exotic and necessary. It’s a shame to see them disappear. There should be a smut preservation society.

The photograph ‘Sero’ is of the largest sex shop in Pigalle called Sexodrome. The lights had burned out leaving the sign to read Sero. Ironic for a sex shop sign.

Vince Aletti

VINCE ALETTI AT HOME #2, NYC 2013

VINCE ALETTI AT HOME, NYC 2013

Vince is a journalist and photo critic who was close to Peter Hujar. He knew David Wojnarowicz and many, if not all of the great artists from the Lower East Side that I admire so much. His voice is one of experience as that was his peer group. My friend the artist Paul P and Vince are friends and Paul took me to meet him one day at his place, which is like a shrine! He’s smart and generous and it was a lovely afternoon.

Ariel Kenig
ARIEL KENIG AT HOME, PARIS 2014
My friend Ariel is a writer here in France, novels and plays. He’s young and accomplished. He’s singing now and I think he’ll be just as successful. His groupies are already in line. He’s got something no doubt. His style is sort of what I call ‘Nu-Française’. He respects the lineage, of literature and now singing, and is a contemporary of it.

Lamine Badian Kouyaté

LAMINE BADIAN KOUYATE (XULY BET), LE COMPTOIR GENERAL, PARIS 2014

//Lamine Badian Kouyaté (Xuly Bët), Le Comptoir General, Paris, 2014. Sunny Suits//

Lamine is the designer of the French brand Xuly Bët. He’s half Malian half Senegalese and for me totally Parisien. Xuly Bët has its well earned place in fashion history. I don’t think of fashion without thinking of Xuly Bët. His proposition is a mix of street, couture and Africa and I love it. It’s the 25th anniversary of Xuly Bët this year and I’m really honoured to have been able to take his picture. You can see a great Xuly Bët show in the Robert Altman film Prêt-à-Porter.

Read more about the Master Musicians Of Joujouka here and the story of Aïsha Kandisha here.

For French-speakers there is an interview with Ariel Kenig about his book Le Miracle here.

DJHistory has a great interview with Vince Aletti here.

Here is the Xuly Bët site.

Visit Sunny Suits’ site here.

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David Parkinson feature in new issue of GQ

May 1st, 2014

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My feature on the work of the late fashion photographer David Parkinson is in the June issue of GQ UK, which is out now.

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Visit GQ online here.

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The Face, May 1992: Love Sees No Colour

Apr 29th, 2014
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//Cover: Boy George with Mica + Jade, styling David Mignon, photography Thomas Krygier//

From time to time I’m going to be turning over information and images here as I go through the process of writing my book Legacy: The story of The Face.

Today I spent an enjoyable and enlightening few hours interviewing former editor Richard Benson; during our conversation it became clear that one of the turning points in the history of this significant magazine occurred with the spring 1992 publication of the issue headed Love Sees No Colour.

This coincided with the High Court judgment against the magazine in the unfortunate libel case brought by actor/singer Jason Donovan on the grounds that he had been branded a liar and a hypocrite as a result of the inference that he was gay.

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//The Face May 1992, pp6-7: Nick Logan’s editorial on the right//

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//PP58-59: Left, montage by Keith Piper/Right, Kate Moss by Enrique Badalescu, styling Camille Nickerson + Lucy Ewing//

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//PP38-39: Seen, Gilbert & George, 1989//

The theme of tolerance had been hatched by Benson’s predecessor Sheryl Garratt long before the dispute reached, in publisher Nick Logan’s words, “its unhappy conclusion”.

In terms of the magazine’s narrative, the issue affirmed The Face’s position as the lightning rod of the progress of popular culture in the inclusive 90s.

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//PP76-77: Left, George O’Dowd in his Absolutely Queer T-shirt – “Homophobes are fine. I just don’t want them near my children.”/Right, Rebel MC in Michiko Koshino T-shirt, Ezra Oban + Dominique Kelly in Katharine Hamnett Protect + Survive vests. Photos: Kate Garner + Thomas Krygier//

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//PP82-83: Left (top), Apachi Indian in One World shirt by Paul Smith, (below) Banderas in Love Sees No Colour shirts by Joe Casely-Hayford,/Right, Des’Ree in No To Negrophobia T-shirt by Trevor Norris. Photos: Kate Garner + Thomas Krygier//

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//PP84-85: Left, (top left) Paul Reid in Face Love outfit by Dirk Bikkembergs, (top right) Charlotte Champion + Gabriella Stonebridge in Jean Colonna and Martin Margiela, (below) Colin “Sweet C” McMillan in Love Sees No Colour T-shirt by Gio Goi and Turn Your Nose Up At Racism by Bella Freud/Right, Michael Clark in Nazi Shithead outfit by Leigh Bowery. Photos: Kate Garner + Thomas Krygier//

Designed by Boris Bencic and Lee Swillingham, the issue tipped the hat to those figures who had played a part in the 80s story – Boy George, Paul Smith, Leigh Bowery – and also hit the mark with the generation setting the pace for the new decade, whether it be Joe Bloggs, Kate Moss or Martin Margiela.

Produced in an all-hands-to-the-pump atmosphere, with Logan and Garratt in daily court attendance and the all-too-real prospect of forced closure as a result of the huge legal bills resulting from the Donovan case, The Face May 1992 is a cracking issue, one which stands up as a consummate example of journalistic excellence achieved under duress.

Legacy: The story of The Face is published by Thames & Hudson in autumn 2015.

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All The Way From Louisville: Leee Black Childers

Apr 7th, 2014

The last time I saw photographer/manager Leee Black Childers – who has died aged aged 69 – was fleetingly, a year or so ago at the crowded launch of his book and exhibition at London’s The Vinyl Factory.

The first time I saw Childers was at The Speakeasy at a March 1977 concert by his charges The Heartbreakers. The poster for that gig, featuring his London rooftop portrait of the band, hangs behind me as I type.

That night and for the rest of his London stay over the next couple of years this Southern gent could be spotted at such haunts as The Ship in Wardour Street, his presence notable for lacquered pompadour, authentic sharkskin suits and slick black winklepickers, his reputation bolstered by the knowledge that Ian Hunter had dedicated Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis to Childers – who, in fact, was raised near Louisville, KY – and that he created the apocalyptic collage on the inner gatefold of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP (which now appears spookily prescient of the devastation of 9/11).

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//The inner gatefold of my well-worn copy of Diamond Dogs showing Childers’ apocalyptic photographic collage//

Childers appeared awfully frail at the Vinyl Factory launch, so news that he had been rushed to LA’s Cedar Sinai hospital during another bout of book promotion a few weeks back was worrying but not unexpected.

In conversation in 2009 Childers revealed a promotional plan for his book then in preparation: he wanted it to be published after his death so that he could be utterly honest about his extraordinary life and set of acquaintances. The promotion would consist of a series of pre-recorded chat show appearances, all ready for broadcast as soon as he expired. He wondered whether the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman would be up for it.

Well, it wasn’t to be. The book came out and though unwell he appeared to be enjoying being back in the spotlight.

I am told Childers’ archiving was ramshackle and can find no website dedicated to his photographic work. This is shame because no one was embedded in and simultaneously chronicling the demi-monde of glitter, glam and punk, of Warhol’s Manhattan, Iggy’s LA and McLaren’s London, in the manner of this charismatic soul.

Sayonara Leee.

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David Parkinson: Fashion photography’s forgotten figure to be a GQ Icon

Apr 4th, 2014
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//Front cover, Club International, 1974. Paul Raymond Publications. Photo: David Parkinson//

Ahead of the publication of my piece about the late photographer David Parkinson in GQ UK in a few weeks, here are a couple of masterful images which demonstrate his stylised,  simultaneously gritty and glamorous approach.

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//Front cover, Man Only, 1974//

Both stem from issues of men’s magazine Club International; the 1974 cover shot model is wearing Parkinson’s decorated Lewis Leathers jacket which he used to dress other fashion photo-sessions. The image was also used on the cover of Italian soft-porn title Man Only.

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//Acme Attractions photoshoot for Club International 1975 including (left) Martin Brading and Don Letts and far right Steph Raynor. Photo: David Parkinson//

The spread above focused on the suits and menswear available at Acme Attractions, the Kings Road vintage/retro outlet co-owned by Parkinson’s Lesicester friend Steph Raynor, who appears in the photograph with Acme’s manager, filmmaker/DJ/BAD member Don Letts, and Parkinson’s assistant, photographer Martin Brading.

Raynor is among those who contributed to my feature on Parkinson, who is granted the accolade of ‘GQ Icon’ in the June issue (available at the beginning of May).

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‘The second nastiest little man I have ever met’ – John Deakin: Under The Influence + The Lure Of Soho

Mar 31st, 2014
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//Deakin drinking, 1960s. John Deakin, courtesy Robin Muir//

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//The cover of the new book features this 50s portrait of author JP Donleavy//

“The second nastiest little man I have ever met” – Barbara Hutton

“He was a member of photography’s unhappiest minority whose members, while doubting its status as art, sometimes prove better than anyone else that there is no doubt about it” – Bruce Bernard

The documentary portraiture of British fashion photographer John Deakin from the 1940s to his death in the early 70s is poised for a fresh round of appraisal with next week’s opening of the exhibition Under The Influence at London’s Photographers’ Gallery.

This coincides with the publication of Robin Muir’s companion book of the same title.

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//Girl In Cafe, late 1950s. (c) John Deakin, The John Deakin Archive 2013//

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//Tony Abbro of Abbro & Varriano, newsagents, Dean Street, Soho, 1961. (c) John Deakin, The John Deakin Archive 2013//

Muir is Deakin’s foremost proponent, responsible for 2002′s A Maverick Eye. This collected Deakin’s so-called “street photography” in London and on the Continent compiled during bouts of employment for British Vogue. As the title suggests, the new book focuses on the inhabitants of the stamping ground most associated with Deakin’s lush life: Soho.

On Deakin’s death in May 1972, his friend and subject Bruce Bernard rescued what comprises Deakin’s body of work in this field  from a set of tatty cardboard boxes under the bed in his Berwick Street flat.

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