Paul Gorman is…

Kate Moross: Make Your Own Luck

Apr 16th, 2014

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The industrious British designer/illustrator Kate Moross is celebrating the publication of her book Make Your Own Luck with a London exhibition surveying the impressive body of work she has assembled to date.

I recommend the book highly, and not just because Moross gracefully thanked me for what little input I may have had. Also, as a fellow dog-lover, it’s great to see that Moross’s beloved Shiba Inus Tako and Ebi are given prominence on the flyleaf.

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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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‘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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‘The impossibility of fair play in democratic society because of loneliness’: Emmett Grogan on To Tell The Truth

Mar 12th, 2014
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//Emmett Grogan, contestant 2 on the CBS gameshow To Tell The Truth, 1972//

Emmett did enough, rest assured. He proved with his existence that each of us could act out the life of our highest fantasies. This was his goad and his compassionate legacy. Don’t minimise it or let yourself off the hook of his example by quibbling over details. Think about what you read, but more important, as Emmett would have said, “Dig yourself!”.

Peter Coyote, introduction to Ringolevio: A Life Played For Keeps, 1989.

I’m a recently converted disciple of Emmett Grogan.

I was turned on to Grogan’s epic meta-memoir Ringolevio by the persuasive pairing of beat music entrepreneur Kosmo Vinyl and writer Steven Daly when hanging out with them in a series of New York bookshops last year. By the time I was home a few days later I’d devoured Ringolevio’s 500 pages twice and still refer to it constantly. It is a masterpiece.

This morning this absolute delight appeared as if from out of the blue: Grogan – in his capacity as founder of The Diggers – promoting the newly published Ringolevio by participating in a 1972 episode of the guess-the-guest game show To Tell The Truth.

And naturally Grogan does tell the truth. Asked to differentiate between hippies and Yippies he caustically defines the latter group as attracted to “morons like Abbott Hoffman and Jerome Rubin”.

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//My copy of the New York Review Of Books 2008 paperback edition. Cover: Grogan on the steps of the San Francisco Municipal Courthouse, 1966. Photo: Bob Campbell/San Francisco Chronicle//

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//First edition, Little, Brown, 1972. Jacket: Larry Rivers//

Grogan also tells host Gary Moore – who praises the Larry Rivers cover of the first edition of Ringolevio – that he is working on a new book, entitled The Impossibility Of Fair Play In Democratic Society Because Of Loneliness.

Put-on or not, the sad fact is that this was just one of a number of Grogan’s projects which failed to see the light of day in the wake of Ringolevio. As Peter Coyote wrote in 1989: “Emmett’s road petered out at the end of the line of the Coney Island subway April Fools Day 1978 – where his body was found, dead of an overdose.”

Bob Dylan subsequently dedicated his album Street Legal to Grogan’s memory.

TTTT from Eric Noble on Vimeo.

If you don’t already own a copy do yourself a favour and buy Ringolevio.

As Coyote also wrote: “Think about what you read, but more important, as Emmett would have said, “Dig yourself!”.

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As John Waters said: ‘If they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!’ Instead visit a great new website, The Librarian

Feb 26th, 2014

librarian“If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!” John Waters

I can’t recommend Jennifer Taylor’s new blog thelibrarian.com highly enough.

Over dinner with her and her husband Nic in New York last year, JB revealed her plans for a website celebrating books. This, she felt, would offer an escape from the solipsism which engulfs most forms of web expression.

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//Photo: Courtesy thelibrarian.com//

So The Librarian showcases other people’s books, their collections and also the visual culture which surrounds reading and literacy. There are sections on great bookshops, libraries and private collectors, such as the West Coast artist Alia Penner, who I’m proud to say files a copy of my book Mr Freedom on a shelf alongside tomes on YSL, Kenzo and Maripol.

As one would expect from JB + Nic, it’s a fantastic-looking site, simultaneously substantial and diverting.

Visit The Librarian here.

 

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Lunch with Messrs Hell + Riviera

Feb 10th, 2014
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//Richard Hell + Jake Riviera, outside the Chelsea Arts Club, London, Feb 2014//

I’ve had few, if any, lunches as enjoyable as last week’s hook-up with Richard Hell and Jake Riviera for a piece I am writing for GQ magazine.

Richard and Jake first met outside CBGB in March 1976, having been introduced by photographer Roberta Bayley, who was working the club door that night.

With Dr Feelgood’s Lee Brilleaux, Jake had witnessed Richard in performance the night before with Johnny Thunders in the first – and soon to disintegrate – line-up of the Heartbreakers at Max’s Kansas City.

We dined less than half a mile away from Chelsea embankment, where Richard and the rest of his next band the Void-Oids spent a pretty miserable-sounding sojourn on a leaky boat when in the UK on tour with The Clash in 1978.

As Richard recounts in his fabulous memoir I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, he and Jake have shared a series of adventures over the years, some of which I will be covering in my GQ feature which should be out in the summer.

I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp is out in paperback this week; buy here.

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Derek Boshier: Rethink/Re-Entry – assembling the materials for long overdue monograph

Feb 5th, 2014
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//Exhibition cards and private view invitations, 1973 to date//

I’m assembling materials for Rethink/Re-Entry, the long-overdue monograph of the great British artist Derek Boshier I am currently editing.

The book takes its title from the early Boshier painting which inspired rock’s ultimate art-directed star Bryan Ferry to choose the name Remake/Remodel for the first track on Roxy Music’s game-changing debut LP.

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//Rethink/Re-entry, oil on canvas, 1962//

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Bravura + brilliance: Tommy Roberts, February 6 1941 – December 10 2012

Dec 10th, 2013
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//Tommy Roberts, 1987. Photo: Christopher Clunn//

Sad to note the anniversary today of the death of Tommy Roberts, flamboyant design entrepreneur and subject of my book Mr Freedom.

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//Dedication (right) with (left on cover-flap) list of abiding interests (courtesy Eve Ferret + Mark Summerfield) and Brian Aris portrait//

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//Roberts opened Kleptomania with Charlie Simpson in Kingly Street, central London, in 1966//

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//Neon arch sales counter display designed by Jeffrey Pine for Mr Freedom, opened with partner Trevor Myles at 430 King’s Road in September 1969//

Here – with a selection of images from Mr Freedom – is an extract from an essay I have written about Roberts’ role in the development of design in Britain for Chris Breward and Ghislaine Wood’s book British Design: Tradition & Modernity, which will be published by Bloomsbury next year.

It is arguable that wider recognition for Tommy Roberts’ audacious innovations in the promotion of street style, furniture, gastronomy, home-wares, interiors and collectables was undercut by his refusal to observe the sensitivities of England’s post-war design world.

Roberts adopted an ebullient public persona to match his stout physique and broad Cockney accent. “I’m the most vulgar man in fashion, darlin’!” Roberts proclaimed to the no-less outrageous Sunday Times fashion editor Molly Parkin in the heyday of his Pop Art fashion and objects emporium Mr Freedom.

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Susie Bubble on Shop, Posh, Shopgirl + The Look’s first edition

Dec 6th, 2013
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//Susie Bubble pays tribute to Shop, The World According To…, Shop At Maison Bertaux, Posh, Shopgirl//

Rifling through her memories of Pippa Brooks and Max Karie’s Soho boutique Shop (which later mutated into The World According To… and then shifted base to Shop At Maison Bertaux), fashion blogger Susie Bubble has nice things to say about me and my work and includes in her selection of images the cover of the first edition of The Look.

This featured Libby Peder’s photograph of Pippa and James Dearlove, her musical collaborator in Posh, All About Eve Babitz and Shopgirl.

It was as Shopgirl that Pippa and James played the launch party, which was held across the road from Shop  at the club Astral and featured DJ sets by others in the book, including Jeff Dexter, Count Indigo, Dan Donovan + Don Letts and Jay Strongman.

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//2001 invite to the party launching the first edition of The Look//

Read about that eventful night on THE LOOK blog.

Read Susie Bubble’s post Shopped-Out here.

I got to know Pippa through Shop and Posh, who I saw live a few times in the 90s. Sadly I missed this performance at Wembley Stadium on the same bill as Bon Jovi (is it me or is Pippa absolutely bricking it when she leans down to take a slug of water?):

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Edition Of 100: Austerity Measures by Bradley Richards

Aug 19th, 2013


The intriguing new project from photographer Bradley Richards is Austerity Measures, a hand-bound and printed collection of observations taken in and around Canary Wharf, the capital’s business district and financial hub.

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