Paul Gorman is…

Jim Walrod August 25 1961 – September 23 2017

Sep 30th, 2017

//Jim Walrod, 2012. Photo: Jeremy Liebman//

I said many times to Jim – and have reflected on this over the last few days – that not many people get to pursue their passion every day of their adult lives. Jim did that. He never went to ‘work’. He did not care if he made money doing it, he just wanted to be able to have you understand what he saw and to have your opinion on it.
Kathy Walrod

Jim Walrod, who has died aged 56, occupied a unique position in the world of international design.

A collector, curator, writer and sometime retailer, as well as an interior designer and locator of unusual and one-off furniture and lighting pieces for a diverse selection of celebrity and private clients, the rangy, sandy-haired Walrod cut a singular figure.

Enthusiastic, informed and slyly humorous, Walrod was founder with Jack Feldman and Fred Schneider of the B-52s of New York’s important 90s/00s store Form & Function and described as “the ultimate design raconteur” by hotelier André Balazs.

To Mike D of the Beastie Boys he was “the furniture pimp”, an accolade won in part for having sourced Memphis designs for David Bowie (Jim revealed to me just a few weeks ago that some of these Italian PoMo pieces came via Tommy Roberts, subject of my book Mr Freedom).

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Richard Hell + Young Kim present the Performa 15 Malcolm McLaren Award to Edgar Arceneaux

Nov 24th, 2015
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//Edgar Arceneaux making his acceptance speech with the Malcolm McLaren Award. Photo: @performanyc’s Instagram feed//

On Sunday night the performance art biennial Performa 15 culminated with a celebration of  the 40th anniversary of punk.

As part of the event at New York’s Hôtel Americano, the Malcolm McLaren Award – designed by Marc Newson with $10,000 prize money – was presented to Edgar Arceneaux by Young Kim of the McLaren Estate and writer/musician Richard Hell.

Arceneaux won for his experimental play, “Until, Until, Until . . .,” inspired by the controversial appearance by African-American actor Ben Vereen in black-face at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural celebration.

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//Hell on stage on Sunday night at New York’s Hôtel Americano. Photo: @performanyc’s Instagram feed//

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‘Beautiful objects but don’t try to read a book by them!’ Rad Light: The Radical Lighting Collection Of Jim Walrod

Apr 14th, 2015

XB2W6337 XB2W6257 XB2W6177 XB2W6405//Clockwise from top left: A UFO by Ettore Sotsass, Italy 1957. Manufacturer Arredoluce; Passiflora by Superstudio, Italy 1966. Manufacturer: Design Centre; Belt Lamp by Gaetano Pesce, USA 1995. Manufacturer: Fish Design; C2 by Studio Rossi-Molinari, Italy 1969. Manufacturer: Totem//

“These lamps were in no way meant to be utilitarian. They were mass produced as expressions of art by the most innovative designers working at the time and are beautiful objects. Just don’t try to read a book by them!”

The pick of design authority and interiors practitioner Jim Walrod’s extraordinary lighting collection is on display at New York’s Patrick Parrish Gallery until Sunday (April 19).

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I Can’t Breathe: Pussy Riot with Richard Hell, Shahzad Ismaily (The Ceramic Dog), Scofferlane, Jack Wood, Andrew Wyatt + Nick Zinner

Feb 25th, 2015
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//Pussy Riot on the set of the promo video for I Can’t Breathe. Photo: Denis Sinyakov//

I received a message from Richard Hell: “Check out this wildness.”

So I did.

It’s I Can’t Breathe, Pussy Riot’s first English-language release, about the furore surrounding the death last year of Eric Garner.  Hell recites Garner’s final words on the track.

“It felt weird to speak the words of a black man killed by the police, when I’m this privileged white guy,” Hell told Pitchfork. “At the same time, I believe in Pussy Riot. I have faith in them. I think they’re for real.”

Read all about the recording of I Can’t Breathe here.

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Roberta Bayley x Richard Hell x Jake Riviera + 1 Cadillac Eldorado = Road Trip USA in the new GQ

Feb 9th, 2015
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//Polaroids taken on the journey by Bayley courtesy of the NYU Richard Hell Archive//

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//Opening spread of my feature in GQ UK March 2015//

“I’m forever grateful for Jake for giving us the opportunity. It was magical that he wanted to encourage Roberta and me to use our abilities in a new way. Just another example of his beautiful style.”
Richard Hell

The new issue of GQ UK contains my piece about the quixotic 1980 US road trip undertaken by Roberta Bayley and Richard Hell in a Cadillac Eldorado belonging to Jake Riviera (who conceived and sponsored the journey).

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‘The most radical designer of objects and furniture in the latter 20th century and early 21st century”: Jim Walrod on Gaetano Pesce in Bad Day #18

Oct 13th, 2014

pesce1The current issue of arts and culture magazine Bad Day is enlivened by an engaging interview with the eminent designer and architect Gaetano Pesce by one of his most vocal champions, design authority Jim Walrod.

Augmented by Jeremy Liebman’s photographs, the feature makes a strong case for Pesce’s significance. “He’s the most punk rock person I’ve ever met,” writes Walrod of the 74-year-old.

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Issue 18 of Bad Day has sold out but visit the magazine’s excellent website for further elucidation.

Liebman’s website is here; Pesce’s is here.

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I Knew Jim Knew: Jim Walrod knows a thing or two…

May 27th, 2014
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//Jacket photograph Terry Richardson with shots from Walrod’s Instagram feed//

Design authority Jim Walrod wears a deep and wide-ranging understanding of his subject – specifically that pertaining to modernism in furniture, interiors, product design and architecture  – lightly.

This is refreshing in a field populated by bloodless experts and humourless know-alls. The founder of important 90s/00s store Form & Function, Walrod –  described as “the ultimate design raconteur” by André Balazs and “the furniture pimp” by the Beastie Boys – is above all an enthusiast.

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Q: What does the Sun Ra perfume Prophetika smell like? A: The Future!

Apr 18th, 2014

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//Prophetika: Based on an ancient formula with hints of Cairo, Chicago…and Casseopia//


One day I’ll write a post justifying my view that Kicks #6 is the hands-down greatest music magazine of all time, but for now it’s worth recording that the folks behind Kicks  – namely Miriam Linna and Billy Miller – continue to, er, kick out the wildest music and related stuff via their Norton Records and Kicks Books imprints.

To coincide with the publication of the first volume of the trilogy Prophetika – which gathers together a trove of unpublished poetry and prose by the intergalactic visionary Sun Ra – Kicks Books (“The publisher, the parfumier”) has announced a fragrance of the same name which draws on an ancient formula “invoking a mirage of memories and mysteries and inciting a call to action”. Apparently there are hints of Cairo, Chicago…and Casseopia.

The perfume comes in a deluxe 0.5 oz Italian glass bottle in a presentation box and is just $13 – buy your’s here.

FB friend Joss Hutton nailed it with his response to the question as to what Prophetika smells like: “The Future”. Of course.

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There’s a shindig to launch the book and niff at NYC’s St Mark’s Church next Friday. Details here.

Visit Kicks Books here and Norton Records here.

Sun Ra in performance with his Arkestra and in interview in Helsinki 1971:

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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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Delirious New York: Legends Bobby Busnach + Gerry Visco, The Park Royal Hotel, the South Bronx scene and Boston’s The Other Side

Nov 22nd, 2013

//Gerry Visco in SEX Cowboys t-shirt and leather miniskirt, The Park Royal, NYC, 1976. © Bobby Busnach//

These captivating 70s images stem from the amazing photographic archive of New York DJ legend Bobby Busnach.

Many feature Busnach’s friend and muse, the fabulous writer/photographer/performer Gerry Visco, as well as the circles they moved in at NYC’s Park Royal Hotel, Boston disco/bar The Other Side and the nascent hip-hop scene in the South Bronx.

//Visco, Hillside Avenue,Boston, 1973. (c) Bobby Busnach//

//Donnie Ward, Hillside Avenue, 1974. © Bobby Busnach//

//Tony Roldan (centre) at the handball courts at 146th Street and Brook Avenue, the Bronx, 1976. © Bobby Busnach//

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