From the forthcoming Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity book.
For a fair while I was somewhat obsessed with a handful of images from Roswell Angier’s 1976 photography book/project “…a kind of life”: conversations in the combat zone.
The top two on this page in particular seemed to capture a certain kind of afterhours rogueish that I wanted to, well, capture with my own Afterhours photography/work and they also put me in mind of Mr Joe Whitney’s photograph from outside portal that was The Black Gardenia in Soho, London (see Day #15/365a).
(Although I’ve tended to work more in amongst a kind of imaginitive theatre of such things whereas ”…a kind of life” is actually a very raw examination of showgirls and others lives amongst the underbelly of a certain area of Boston in the US.)
The photograph below puts me in mind of David Lynch’s work around the time of Blue Velvet (see Day #24/365a) and Twin Peaks – one of those times when life seems to have crossed over into a beyond real story (see Day #13/365a).
View more on ”…a kind of life” at American Suburb X here and here – well worth a wander for a particular take on fine art photography that draws me in while also often having a not-quite-definable transgressive and seediness to it.
(PS Tread carefully when viewing those links – as I said a moment ago, this is life somewhat in the raw).
Day #24/365a: Now It’s Dark; Blue Velvet and a sublime touch of Angelo Badalamenti courtesy of Ms Rossellini
There was a point where David Lynch seemed to be the go-to chap for accessible but experimental thrillers – around the mid eighties to the turn of the decade – when Blue Velvet and Wild At Heart were either peering into the underbelly of the American picket fence dream or taking the viewer or a rollercoaster ride with Sailor and Lula.
As I was wandering along to this here computer this morning I wandered what category/genre you would put Blue Velvet into? It has elements of neo noir but I’m not sure that’s quite right. Transgressive noir? That’s possibly getting near to the spot.
Anyway, one of the highlights in a film full of highlights (if that’s the right word for a celluloid tale such as this) for me and a part that can stand on it’s own separate to the film is Ms Isabella Rossellini’s music montage in the Slow Club – all crushed velvet plushness, seediness, broken dreams and rather lovely blue lighting that puts me in mind of Kiera Knightley’s tube station during the Blitz singing performance in John Maybury’s Edge Of Love (another director who somehow manages to sneak really rather experimental elements of film making into often quite accessible films).
When I watch it, it tends to make me think (hope?) that somewhere in the world there’s a full album and maybe even a full recording of this performance – well, without the unsettling elements and story that accompany it.
“You are a terrible little deviator, Freddy, and you are in a diabolical lot of bother.”
This page is a tribute to the late Derek “Cookie” Raymond, in particular his Factory novels.
For a while I was obsessed by them and they were quite a point of reference.
What would you call his books? Well, they’re a form of noirish crime fiction in a way (and resolutely a British take on such things), though he preferred to call them black books. But that’s to try and define them too narrowly I think.
Dark, not always an easy read but there is a poetry and a striving for dignity to them.
“Don’t you fall to bits on me like a cheap screwdriver.”
What more can I say?
Well, I never really thought I would watch a Cliff Richard film and think “That’s kind of quite decent actually”.
Expresso Bongo is the 1959 (almost) film debut by Mr Richard and is the celluloid adaptation of the West End musical.
At points it wanders into not-so-decent more mainstream cheese and even exploitation but and although it’s no Small World of Sammy Lee (see Day #7/365a), nor a World Ten Times Over or even a Beat Girl, it’s actually a rather decent capturing of that just pre-swinging London and Soho period that I have something of a soft spot for.
Although it doesn’t necessarily have Sammy Lee’s inherent grit/edge, if memory serves correctly it does share some kind of sense of Soho hustle and basement showgirl-ness.
The book was written by Wolf Mankowitz – who also appears in the film credits as a sandwich board man that announces his own credit… which is a nice touch and along with a few others, such as the pin-up girl stage curtains, makes the film at the very least an interesting curiousity.
The film was directed by Val Guest, whose work has made an appearance around these parts before – see Hell Is A City at Day #21/365a – and who was also responsible for the somewhat classic and Flaming Stars song title lending The Day The Earth Caught Fire (and by the 1970s, like much of the UK film industry he had wandered into British smut comedies such as Au Pair Girls and Confessions Of A Window Cleaner).
Hell Is A City… a rare example of a film that took Hollywood noir and aesthetics and created/recreated them not only in the UK but also in the North of the country (at a time, 1960, when most films took the South of the country/somewhere indefinable as their locale and just pre/concurrent with the kitchen sink/Taste Of Honey/Saturday Night Sunday Morning etc New Wave of British film).
It features Mr Stanley Baker at his hard northern finest and has some quite frankly astonishing, other world and time scenes of unlicensed gambling that take place in the Northern countryside; all cloth caps and penny throwing – a fine capturing of a very specific geographic, cultural and historic point in time…
…and if memory serves me correctly, an end sequence of driving through the night that is pure LA Noir but… well, over here.
Well worth an hour or two of your time.
It was one of the first places in the UK that sold/had exhibitions of what came to be known as lowbrow art – a kind of loose movement that amongst other things often mixed pop-art, a kind of graphic cartoonery, rock’n'roll, hotrod-esque and Cramps-esque culture into some kind of mondo swirl. The work of Robert Williams and Juxtapoz magazine would be good starting/reference points.
Along which lines, we had the first UK exhibitions by Frank Kozik and Coop but drawing from this side of the big pond we had what I think was the first ever exhibition by Vince Ray (followed by another two).
I can’t now remember which of the three exhibitions featured his Death Of The Teenage Death Song painting although it’s one of the few times that I’ve really wanted to buy a piece of original art but I didn’t quite have the money at the time I think.
The artwork here is a later version of the painting - I have a vague memory of taking some photographs of the original painting but I’m not sure I did and I’m less sure than that about where they would be if I had.
Ah well. I have the memory.
If you should be interested in more along the lines of lowbrow art/graphics then The Graphic Art Of The Underground book could be a place to wander to (and you may well come across a link back to the aforementioned The Last Chance Saloon).
From the forthcoming Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity book.continue reading
Well I could use the phrase femme fatale to describe the gals that inhabit her paintings and world but… I don’t think it would quite suffice. It wouldn’t capture their utter hardboiled, tough talking, (killer) high-heeled attitude.
Strictly speaking it’s a song on the album From The Heart Of Town.
It’s a portrait (an ode?) to Mr Jake Vegas, who has been something of an inspiration for Afterhours and as a friend recently said “Jake is Soho”.
Whereas longstanding Soho gents and characters, such as Jeffrey Bernard, are reasonably well known and their lives and antics have been documented over the years, Mr Vegas has not had that (dis?)honour. I think that part of Afterhours has been about how to rectify that; how to, in as respectable manner as possible, tell the story of the world and culture he has been a part of and helped to create.
Over the years I think I’ve owned The Heart Of Town in four different formats (single CD, original double CD release, vinyl and Terry Edward’s Sartorial Records re-release. And I’ve bought it for at least two other people. I’m not sure if I’ve had it on cassette or the vinyl version with the Live EP. Well, that’s my chap-ish record spotter paragraph)…
It was something of a “Getting ready to go out for late night shenanigans” album for me back in the day…
Listen to Jake On The Make here.
Purchase the extended re-release via Sartorial Records.