Paul Gorman is…

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

Mar 31st, 2014

//Deakin drinking, 1960s. John Deakin, courtesy Robin Muir//

Deakin cover

//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.


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


//Tony Abbro of Abbro & Varriano, newsagents, 48 Old Compton 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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Come along and celebrate Drako Oho Zarhazar: Screening and Q+A with director Toby Amies at the BFI on Sunday night

Mar 26th, 2014



//Dread at the controls: Toby Amies. Photo: Sarah Lee//

A self-confessed exhibitionist who took the world for his stage and his life for art and theatre, a blank canvas on which to create and display himself without preconceptions or inhibitions. Heavily tattooed and pierced, with his thin waxed moustache jutting forth at a rakish angle, Drako Zarhazar was for many years a familiar figure around the Kemptown district of Brighton, striding forth with cape and cane, an aristocratic apparition who seemed emblematic of true transgressive bohemia.

The Quietus, 2013

This Sunday evening I’m hosting a q&a at London’s BFI with director Toby Amies after a screening of The Man Whose Mind Exploded, his valediction for the unique Drako Oho Zarhazar.

Come along, enjoy this incredible film and join in the conversation afterwards. Tickets are available here.

drako6 drako7 Drako-Zarhazar-arms-credit-Toby-Amies-copy

The Man Whose Mind Exploded is being screened as part of BFI Flare, the London LGBT Film Festival.

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The Teds are back: McLaren + Westwood’s Let It Rock in the NME and the Evening Standard August 1972

Mar 17th, 2014

//TOP: From the NME’s coverage of the Wembley Rock N Roll Show – staff model Let It Rock clothing outside 430 King’s Road. Photo: Robert Ellis./ABOVE: From the Evening Standard special issue – Teds and (left) LIR assistant Addie Isman outside Let It Rock.//

As a follow-up to my recent post about the Rock N Roll revival show held at London’s Wembley Stadium in August 1972, here is another selection from the media surrounding the event.

The New Musical Express dedicated a section to reviewing the show, decking staffers Danny Holloway, James Johnston and the late Tony Tyler in appropriate clothing from Let It Rock. The journalists were photographed outside Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s outlet at 430 King’s Road by Robert Ellis.

Wembley-EveningStandardSpecial72TakeshiHosoyacover copy

//Bo Diddley on the cover of the ES special//

Wembley-EveningSTandardSpecial72TakeshiHosoyaspread copy

//Angus McGill and Geoffrey Aqulina Ross were among the journalists who contributed to the ES special. I love the juxtaposition with the knife and fork/skull and crossbones logo promoting a Sunday Times feature by the architectural writer Ian Nairn, whose work has recently undergone critical appraisal//

The capital’s daily paper the Evening Standard’s special issue – billed as the official programme – also included images taken outside Let It Rock, including assistant Addie Isman in one of the store’s then-new studded t-shirts (this one emblazoned with the phrase Rock N Roll Ruby) and customer and prominent London Ted Bill Hegarty in full regalia.

The images of the Evening Standard special issue are from the copy owned by collector Takeshi Hosoya, whose Japanese clothing label Peel + Lift can be viewed here.

Many thanks to Robert Ellis for permission to use his shot in the scan from the NME. Visit Robert Ellis’s Repfoto site here.

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Talking about – among other things – the here and now, brain damage, memories, love, faith, cocks and nipples: Q+A with Toby Amies at the BFI on March 30

Mar 13th, 2014


On Sunday March 30 I’ll be hosting a Q&A with film director Toby Amies (above right) after a screening at the BFI of The Man Whose Mind Exploded, Amies’ heart-rending documentary of the life of the extraordinary Drako  Zarharzar (above left).

We’ll be talking about Amies’ relationship with Drako, who died during the making of the film, and the often-fraught path documentarists tread between exploitation and celebration.

Other relevant matters, including the here and now, brain damage, memories, love, faith, cocks and nipples, may well crop up.

Come along, enjoy the film and join in; it will be a splendid way to spend a Sunday evening. Tickets here.

The Man Whose Mind Exploded is being screened as part of BFI Flare, the London LGBT Film Festival.

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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

//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”.


//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//


//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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The London Rock n Roll Show at Wembley Stadium 1972: Memories of Oz, Frendz and the Let It Rock stall

Mar 8th, 2014

//Flyer for The Rock n Roll Show printed on the back of a subscription form for Oz magazine, July 1972. The Move were replaced by lead member Roy Wood’s new band Wizzard; this was their first gig. Original Brit-rocker Heinz was added to the bill; his backing band would soon become Dr Feelgood//

I acquired my first underground press publications in the summer of 1972, at about the point when the sector was taking the nosedive from which it never recovered.

Still, better late than Sharon Tate, as they say. Aged 12, my taste had been whetted by sneak peeks at an older brother’s collection of magazines when a guy called Kevin O’Keefe who lived down the road gave me a few copies of Oz, including number 43, the July issue.

A few weeks later, to my astonishment, the newsagents in Hendon’s Church Road started stocking Frendz. I folded issue 33 between a couple of music papers and pored over it in my bedroom.


//Front cover of OZ 43, the issue which included the Wembley flyer//


//Front cover, Frendz 33, September 1972//


//Crowds around the Let It Rock stand. From the 1973 film London Rock N Roll Show directed by Peter Clifton//

Neither of the magazines are shining examples of the genre, but they had something in common: the centre spread of OZ 43 contained a subscription form back-printed with a flyer for the London Rock N Roll Show, a one-day festival of original 50s acts and those who could claim kinship held at Wembley Stadium on August 5 that year.

And for me the most beguiling article in Frendz 33 was a two-page stream-of-consciousness report of the event filed by one Douglas Gordon and illustrated with photographs by Pennie Smith, soon to leave for the NME and carve out her reputation as one of rock photography’s all-time greats.

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Malcolm McLaren: After Pharrell, Westwood and Dries is he the disappearing man of fashion?

Mar 6th, 2014

//McLaren/Westwood Buffalo Hat 1982, V&A Collection.//

Long-standing revisionism is not unusual on the breakdown of a partnership, and there has been much rewriting – not least by the parties themselves – of the history of who did what, where and to whom in the three decades since the dissolution of one of the most potent creative collaborations in the history of popular culture: that between Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

WorldsEnd-Buffalohatbrim WorldsEnd-Buffalohatbrim2


//In the arena: McLaren engages with pop, 1983//

It will be a while before we understand whether their achievements together will leap the boundaries of the still-bouyant decorative arts and the now-dessicated form of popular music into true and lasting cultural significance, but for the time being the couple’s combined impact on fashion design and the development of musical genres from punk to hip-hop and world music continues to draw in contemporary performers and designers.

QV the ballyhoo around Pharrell Williams’ recent sporting of a Westwood reissue of the so-called Buffalo Hat, a design produced by the pair for the Worlds End 1982 Buffalo collection. This coincided with the opening of their last retail environment Nostalgia Of Mud and also provided a major element in the visual identity of McLaren’s debut solo album, the towering pre-digital cross-genre pop masterpiece Duck Rock.

The hat, like the rest of the Buffalo collection, was undeniably a product of their collective resources. It may have been his concept – taken from images of traditional Peruvian dress discovered during research for Duck Rock – but it was their combined realisation.

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All about Eve this spring: Ferret Up The Arts, Don’t Be So Shellfish and her first-ever album release

Mar 5th, 2014

//At The Wallace Collection last month//

Lovely to see the gorgeous Eve Ferret out and about this spring with a series of live dates to celebrate the long-overdue release of her first album.

I fell under Eve’s spell in the summer of 1978, witnessing performances at Covent Garden’s pre-New Romantic Blitz club with her-then partner James “Biddie” Biddlecombe. More recently we connected via the late Tommy Roberts, at whose memorial she sang a version of Rawhide which rocked ’em in the aisles and nearly blew the roof off St Giles in the Fields.

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