Paul Gorman is…

Sex signage: Was McLaren inspired by Lubalin’s cladding for the Georg Jensen flagship NY store?

Sep 30th, 2016
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//Detail, clad signage for Georg Jensen, 601 Madison Avenue, late 60s. From Herb Lubalin: Typographer, Unit Editions, 2016//

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//Detail, shop signage designed by Malcolm McLaren, made by Vick Mead, 430 King’s Road, London, 1975. From a photograph by Peter Schlesinger//

Was the late Malcolm McLaren inspired by one of the greats of 20th century graphics in his creation of the astonishing signage for Sex, the fetishistic fashion boutique and incubator of punk rock he operated with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in west London between October 1974 and November 1976?

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Another exclusive! Sneak peek inside Malcolm McLaren’s 1975/6 notebook at Be Reasonable Demand The Impossible

Nov 5th, 2015
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//Front cover of Malcolm McLaren’s 1975/6 notebook. © Paul Burgess. No reproduction without permission//

Among the exciting exclusives at tomorrow’s event Be Reasonable Demand The Impossible will be a presentation providing a fascinating look inside Malcolm McLaren’s 1975/6 notebook, kept at the time when the Sex Pistols were starting out and he was running the boutique Sex at 430 King’s Road with partner Vivienne Westwood.

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When The Runaways guitarist Lita Ford raffled her McLaren/Westwood I Groaned With Pain t-shirt

Oct 5th, 2015
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//From Poster, 1977. Note Ford signed the front of the shirt//

I am indebted to IG pal and fan of this blog Kjell Magnusson for this 1977 magazine photo of The Runaways’ guitarist Lita Ford presenting her I Groaned With Pain t-shirt for a raffle in Swedish teen title Poster.

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//The Runaways on the cover of Poster No 8, 1977//

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//The panel offering the raffle prizes for Poster readers//

In the light of the revelations about the abusive nature of the group’s relationship with the late, unwholesome manager Kim Fowley, Ford’s choice of item for the Poster magazine raffle was less seamy than those made for vocalist Cherie Currie and bass-player Jackie Fox, whose knickers were donated (guitarist Joan Jett sensibly chose a bracelet and drummer Sandy West a miniature drumstick).

Mclaren 'I groaned...'

//T-shirt with central tear on mint jersey with exterior seaming, unlabelled, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, 1974. 380mm x 365mm. © Malcolm McLaren Estate. Photo: Adrian Hunt//

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//I Groaned With Pain t-shirt on pink with twin ball-and-chain chest zip inserts. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//

The I Groaned shirt is one of the series with zips designed by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and sold through their outlet Sex at 430 King’s Road between 1974 and 1976. The shirt was favoured by female performers of the period, including Viv Albertine, Little Nell Campbell and Chrissie Hynde.

There are two variants of the design in the current exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges at Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery. One is a very early deliberately ripped example produced in mid-1974 when 430 King’s Road was between names (the decision had been taken to abandon the previous title Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die).

This is why it doesn’t have a label. McLaren had yet to design the distinctive “SEX Original’ woven blue-on-pink tag, which was manufactured under his instructions by a supplier in Portugal.

The other shirt is the same type as Ford’s and does have a label.

I wrote about the genesis and realisation of I Groaned With Pain here.

Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Joining The Dots From The Situationist International To Malcolm McLaren is at John Hansard Gallery until November 14. Find out more here.

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“Bring me your dented and bent out of shape”: Johnny Moped documentary is on the way

Jun 3rd, 2013

//Johnny Moped, Dave Berk, Fred Berk, Slimy Toad, 1977. Photo: Chiswick Records//

In an age clogged up with boil-in-the-bag popular music documentaries, I’m looking forward to Fred Burns’ Basically, Johnny Moped, about the unpredictable outsider who emerged via associations with The Damned and Chrissie Hynde during the post-punk period to strut and fret his hour upon the stage.

Moped and his band – Dave and Fred Berk and Slimy Toad – were out and about a lot in 1977 and 1978; I caught them a couple of times, once as part of a bigger bill at Camden Town’s Music Machine (now Koko) and another time in the West End (possibly The Marquee).

Their single Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby was (and remains 35 years later) a stand-out song of the period and Barney Bubbles’ artwork for that and other Moped releases and promotional material sealed the deal.

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Memories of Zanzibar and the nights Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders left their mark on Fulham

May 10th, 2013

//Signed bar menu. Courtesy: Jonathan Ross//

//Signed back cover of So Alone, Johnny Thunders, Real Records,1978. Courtesy: Jonathan Ross//

As demonstrated by my recent post, the west London house of collector/gallerist Jonathan Ross became a hive for the art/boho/punk crowd flooding the capital in the  70s.

Among the visitors were Johnny Thunders and Iggy Pop, who both left their marks in different ways.

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London punk demi-monde Polaroids from Jonathan Ross: The return of Chrissie Hynde + Kate Simon with Tamasin Day-Lewis, Gina Louthan, Ruth Marten, Judy Nylon, Patti Palladin, Jon Savage and…John Betjeman

May 8th, 2013

//All photos (c) Jonathan Ross//

Here are more previously unpublished images from London’s punk demi-monde.

Coincident to receiving Joe Stevens’ photograph of the pre-Pretenders Chrissie Hynde and photographer Kate Simon in Malcolm McLaren’s Sex Pistols Nude Boy shirts, collector/gallerist/Londoner Jonathan Ross supplied me with this fabulous selection of Polaroids taken at his west London house in the same period.

These include Hynde and Simon as well as their fellow Americans-about-town, the performers Judy Nylon and Patti Palladin and artist/tattooist Ruth Marten, writers Tamasin Day-Lewis and Jon Savage, Ross himself, his girlfriend Gina Louthan and Sir John Betjeman.

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Chrissie Hynde + Kate Simon in Malcolm McLaren’s Sex Pistols Smoking Boy T-shirts

May 6th, 2013

//Photographer Kate Simon and performer Chrissie Hynde (lifting the front of her mohair jumper from Sex), London, 1976. (c) Joe Stevens//

This photograph – taken by Joe Stevens in early 1976 in Fulham, west London – is featured in the exhibition Just Chaos!, which opens tomorrow (May 7) at Marc Jacobs’ Bleecker Street NYC bookstore BookMarc.

The T-shirts worn by Simon and Hynde were among the first variants of a limited edition designed by Malcolm McLaren to promote the newly formed Sex Pistols. A few were also sold in Sex, the environmental installation/shop operated by McLaren with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in World’s End, Chelsea.

“Malcolm dropped the shirts off at my Finborough Road studio; they were freshly silk-screened from a limited edition,” says Stevens, then working for the NME and living with Simon (who was employed by rival music paper Sounds). “Chrissie was living in a squat and cleaning offices for a living. She’d drop by the pad to take showers. I’d hear her singing in there and realised she had a wonderful voice.”

McLaren produced the designs with the express aim of promoting the new group. “This was my first attempt at making a Sex Pistols T-shirt,” he told me in 2006. “I wanted to create something of a stir.”

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“Late hippie fleur du mal to the power of N’: Nick Kent x 5 by Joe Stevens

Mar 12th, 2013

// Nick Kent, London 1974. Photo: Joe Stevens. "Taken at the NME offices on Long Acre. Our Nick looking dolled up, headed to the record company offices to score albums he'd presold to shops in The Gate. Kent would convert the cash into dope, fags, eyeliner, some threads, and an omelette at The Hall Of The Mountain Grill on Portobello Rd." //

Overseen by Nick Logan (with Jann Wenner across the Atlantic, the key figure in the development of the music press) the NME was happily in thrall to The New Journalism, striking alliances with such fellow travellers as Creem’s Lester Bangs and charging through the mid-70s doldrums with a manifesto which contributed to punk’s rhetoric. This was delivered with élan, a drugged-up Dog Days Of Glam sense of style. No one exemplifies this slurred, unsteady on its bony legs, fuck-you stance better than Nick Kent.

Introduction, In Their Own Write, 2001

Photographer Joe Stevens has recently posted on his website a set of reminiscences of working with Nick Kent, whose journalism – along with that of Pete Erskine, Chrissie Hynde, Charles Shaar Murray and Chris Salewicz – for the NME in the early-to-mid-70s helped set me on the path to writing for a living.

Kent backed up his verbals with a striking visual presence which trumped most mainstream pop performers of the period.

As Dylan Jones has recounted, it was to Kent that a waitress in a Chinese restaurant once gravitated for an autograph, not his dining companions Iggy Pop and David Bowie, “because he looked more of a rock star than the other two”.

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At Johnny Rotten’s pad in Malcolm McLaren’s leather jeans 1978: The story behind the photograph

Jan 4th, 2013

This just in from Joe Stevens, following yesterday’s post about his new website: the story behind the photo with Johnny Rotten above, taken in London in 1978.

We were at his Gunter Grove digs in Fulham. Malcolm (McLaren) had left his grotty leathers in my flat in NYC during the Sid and Nancy murder doings. I had them dry cleaned. Never got the $90 for that one.
He had Glitterbest problems in London. So did Rotten. I was over there to do pictures of Public Image Limited.
He made a nice curry. I crashed there with him and Nora (Forster). Ari (Up, Forster’s daughter) would pop by often.
We watched her and The Slits record Heard It Thru The Grapevine and Chrissie (Hynde) rehearsing with her new Pretenders.
Yeah, he’s holding up his trousers with a strand of white cord.
I was later a witness at the High Court trial involving the band versus Glitterbest.
I tried on Malcolm’s leather trousers. Fell in love. It was a first. Went to London in them. Never took them off. Returned two weeks later to NYC wearing them.
Had them cleaned again. This time they didn’t survive. All I got back was swatches of leather in a bag.

Stevens’ new website is here.

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For the first time in 36 years the whole article: Forum June 1976 featuring SEX + Incognito Leather

Oct 25th, 2012

//Photo detail (from left): SEX customers Danielle, Alan Jones + Chrissie Hynde; Vivienne Westwood; assistant Jordan.//

As a follow-up to my recent post about the rarely seen 1975 interview with Malcolm McLaren in soft porn mag Gallery International, here is another exclusive: for the first time since publication in June 1976, the full article featuring McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop SEX in British sex guide Forum.

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