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Kitsch

Eyeplug talks to Freddie Valentine

01 Some folks may remember you from the golden daze of the Paisley Wheelchair Experience?

Yes, they were quite heady times and it could be a nightmare running a band that sometimes consisted of 15 people! Least of all getting them all in one place or indeed finding a venue that had a stage big enough to house us. We played a LOT of gigs in diverse and strange places including music venues, comedy clubs, art deco theatres and between the mediums at a psychic fayre! It was a fun time and thankfully the jovial events outweighed the stressful ones.

02 Tell us how PWE happened and why you were not detained in suitable secure units at the time?

It was a strange project that grew from humble beginnings. I had tried to get various bands together before that but in the area I lived it seemed that every local musician was into heavy metal, stuff like Metallica, and I’ve never been into that. I did try and put together some bands with these people and force music hall and psychedelic sensibilities upon them but they seemed to think every song should have that stuttured DUH-DA-DUM riff that those kind of groups are so fond of. I even tried to get them to do a version of Seasons In The Sun which just sounded like some godawful death metal dirge but with decent lyrics so I decided to do it all myself and recorded some songs on my home 4-track with a friend of mine called Garrie Baker. They generally contained a lot of in-jokes as we used to attend a spiritualist church and met some eccentric characters and we would put their quotes into song form. For some weird reason a few people liked it and we were offered a gig. We had never played live before but I met a chap called David Mitchell whose band was due to perform at a local music festival but they had left him high and dry so we were offered the slot. As I got on with him I asked him to join us and do a few of his songs too which worked well so we started writing and recording together. Garrie left and we got in a chap called Bart who couldn’t play a note but was funny. He was our ‘keyboard player’. Basically I used to program the songs into the keyboard before the gig and he pressed the appropriate button to start it. We got a reputation for songs like ‘Touched By The Hand of David Icke’ and “Knobby The Tramp” (about a local and much-loved vagrant) and headlined at venues such as the legendary Old Trout in Windsor and flogged quite a few C90 cassettes of home recorded nonsense of varying musical quality. We also caused two mini riots and are banned from a pub in Aylesbury for life! The band developed and became a six piece after we found a manager who seemed to think we might play by the rules and we organised two local music festivals which managed to raise enough money to buy a couple of minibuses for a local centre for disabled people. We also released a 7″ EP called “Sex, Drugs and Frank Bough” which has appeared on eBay and sold for more money than we made off the original release!

After traipsing around the music venues of te south, the band kind of fell apart, so I rebuilt it with a solid plan in place. Around the indie friendly Old Trout, I received a lot of ridicule for openly being into The Carpenters, Mrs Mills, Max Bygraves and 70s easy listening music. This was an era where the done thing was to be into stuff like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and aspire to be a new age traveller. Being into the yodelling exotica of Frank Ifield was sorely frowned upon. The new Paisleys got bigger and bigger until we had percussionists, a brass section, backing singers and the whole shebang. It was around this time that our song “The Return of Jason King”, came to the attention of the Peter Wyngarde Appreciation Society and of Peter himself. It was released as a limited edition CD through the society with every copied numbered and signed by the man himself. Peter himself owns number 001 and again, it has turned up eBay but I feel the silly amount it went for is more for the autograph of the man who was Jason King rather than the funsome tunes themselves. We latter added an adult size Bubbles the Chimp to the show played by my good friend Barry Maher. More of him later! The band exploded in 2004 and after years of being a parent figure resolving dramas, dealing with tantrums and reassuring people I’d had enough.

03 Before PWE what were you doing and why?

I had a Casio Anarchist band called The Pantwashers and also satantic surrealists called The Neighbourhood Threat. Neither did any gigs and were essentially recording projects we would give to our friends on cassette to see if they were as amused as us.

04 Rolling along to 1996 you develop some of your first Entertainment projects describe that period and process please?

We wanted to put on our own show and I was very much inspired by the music hall and 1970s variety shows. I wanted to put on something that had that element of surprise which was sorely lacking. I found the 90s to be a boring decade where everything became generic, band night, comedy night etc, whole evenings of the same thing. I wanted novelty acts like breakdancing chimps.

05 You developed Cabaret 2000, then The Pina Colada Variety Club which saw us stumble into the 21st Century?

They were both fun shows to do. The band played the part of the “house” act and we would introduce an array of turns who would often join us for a song or two at the end. There’s some footage of these shows somewhere. My favourite guests were the incredibly superb Lenny Beige, one of the best entertainers ever. Steve Furst who plays Lenny is one of the nicest chaps in showbiz and wildly talented. The other act I adored working with was Frank Sidebottom who is a legend. I’d known Chris since the 80s when he was in a band called The Freshies and I called him when we did our first show in Charing Cross Road and asked if he’d like to perform. He was very keen and I was over the moon. He was a joy to work with and incredibly disorganised in and endearing way. He missed his coach on the day and rang me asking if we could pay his train fare down. Of course we did, it’s Frank Sidebottom! On arrival his keyboard wasn’t working so our trombone player, Duncan, popped over the road and got his some batteries and it just about worked. During his set, whilst performing a version of ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ in his inimitable style, the keyboard conked out so he threw it across the stage and booted Little Frank’s head into the audience as if it were a football and carried on regardless. He delivers an amazing show and duetted with me and the band with a version of The Candy Man. One of the best moments of my life! Our roadie, Jerry, has the Little Frank head from this show!

06 You then reveal the The Freddie Valentine Variety Show which had a nice warm run?

We ran this show at the Battersea Barge and then a venue called The Inn On The Green in Ladbroke Grove. We had more structure to this show and had slots for comedians, burlesque acts, magicians etc just like you would see in a 70s tv variety show. This was the time that I was performing the outrageous musical comedy act with Barry Maher and much of the content in these shows derived from that. For the Inn On The Green shows we had The Silhouettes and The Adventures of Parsley as our house/backing band. We partially did our own shows because we were outcasts on the traditional comedy circuit. Much of that scene is derivative with many acts being interchangeable. We used to shock and offend a lot of people with our Benny Hill/Stanley Baxter antics which was a world away from the Bill Hicks wannabes and wry tales about themselves. On our own show we could do what we want, which is a dangerous thing when it’s given to people like myself and Barry Maher who liked to see what we could get away with. I remember a burlesque promoter saying to me that there wasn’t many male burlesque acts and would I consider doing one for a laugh. Now, my “for a laugh” is a lot different to most people’s and we devised a burlesque act which was designed to see what reaction it would get. Barry would perform it in our show with his wife, Pauline – great friend of ours, singing ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’. Barry provided some funky moves with a beard, Afro and Ill-fitting 1970s suit as ‘Peter Sutcliffe – The Yorkshire Stripper’ which managed to achieve the 50/50 ratio of laughter and revulsion. Job done!

07 What types themes do you embrace within your music, art, comedy and performance?

What I do is non-political and I never try and make any social point. Silliness and surrealism are lacking these days and I often do things to amuse myself or produce the sort I things I would enjoy watching or listening to. If other people like it then it’s a bonus but I could never do anything just for the money or if my heart isn’t it. I remember going to a lot of cabaret shows in the 70s and they always left you with a glowing feeling of escapism and upliftment. That’s what I’m aiming for.

08 There is a healthy interest in the darker side of life?

I’ve always been interested in things like ghosts and witchcraft. I co present a podcast called The Mystic Menagerie which focuses on some spooky subjects. On one show, we had occult author S Rob conduct a live summoning of shadow people which I think is a first and we’ve had supernatural chats with guests such as Reece Shearsmith and Right Said Fred. Doing this along with the cabaret keeps my ying and yang in check.

09 You are a keen Tarot Reader and arrange ghost walks and even Seances, isn’t that rather dangerous?

We take precautions and everything is done safely though people can become very scared so we warn they attend at their own risk! We have had some hair raising things happen on these nights including a daylight apparition on the ghost walk! I also exhibit a museum of oddities including a shrunken head and a Victorian vampire hunting kit which has been featured on Japanese TV and in Fate & Fortune magazine (Take A Break’s paranormal spin off).

10 Tell us out here in bland-land all about The Karnival of Kitsch and why we should all be there in support?

The Karnival of Kitsch is show Holly and I run a few times a year at the Vauxhall Tavern. It’s like the Donny & Marie show with yodelling. We book acts that we personally like and try it make it as escapist as possible. It’s a spangly, retro night out which is completely without irony. Someone described it as being like Butlins ballroom in 1976. Though I’d say it’s a bit Pontins in its heyday! We’ve had some great acts on – Lenny Beige, Lorraine Bowen, Phillip Jeays – and love doing it. We also put on shows at the RVT’s fringe. The first was a musical chat show and we interviewed Jonathan Kydd from Pipkins abs the lovely Francoise Pascal from Mind Your Language. We’ve also put on Disney and Bacharach & David themed shows but inexplicably our James Bond cabaret night – From Vauxhall With Love – was the most successful!

11 How does Holly re-act to your traditional Yodelling skills? Does she partake also?

Holly is a very fine jazz singer and doesn’t share my passion for alpine expression. My nan was friends with the legendary 1960s singer, Frank Ifield, and her spare room had a plaque on the wall saying “Frank Ifield stayed here”. Which he did! When he came to the uk she put him up. That’s where I think the yodelling obsession stemmed from.

12 Tell us about your LP from 2004, can folks still but a copy?

It was called “An Intimate Evening With” and was the catalyst for my most outrageous shows so far. The band split in 2004 with a lot of drama going on but I was still very friendly with the sax player, Henry Crud who a multi instrumentalist. He asked me if I wanted to do an album with him and I came up with some lyrical ideas and he wrote music to match. They were cheesy, poppy songs with offensive lyrics. We recorded loads around that time, much of which never saw the light of day including a five volume project of comedy characters talking over odd music called ‘Jazz Juice’. Barry Chester, who you may recall played Bubbles the Chimp in the PWE, loved the album and said we should do it live with him playing the characters in the songs so Henry prepared backing tracks and off we went to comedy clubs to shock and repulse politically correct folk on a night out.

Two songs that caused the strongest reaction (both with laughter and shock) were Sheila and our tribute to Gilbert & George. Sheila was a love song about a young man who is in love with an octogenarian and we tried to find as many things that rhymed with Sheila such as ‘she was no wheeler dealer/ looked better than Christine Keeler/She stole my potato peeler/ but that’s fine’. For the live version, Barry played a randy old lady that was reminiscent of Les Dawson and Monty Python’s drag characters and as the song started, Sheila would walk through the back of the audience and start dusting tables as if she was a cleaner and would subtly flirt with men seated there and get raunchier until it was a personal space invading lap dance. As we liked to throw in the unexpected, Sheila had a few trump cards. Pauline had a fake… ahem… lady’s part, the type that is used by transvestites and looks incredibly realistic. The audience were astonished when Sheila removed her knickers as this was not they expected. For the finale, Sheila had finally made it to the stage and pretends to fellate me whilst I’m singing. Barry would conceal one of those small sachets of mayonnaise that you get in chip shops, in his hand and smear it over his face. The song ended with him turning to face to the audience which got quite a reaction!

Gilbert & George are amongst my favourite artists and they’re known for using bodily fluids (and solids) in their work and the song was about going to visit them at home and, despite them being in the middle of one of their more extreme pieces of art, serve up a nice cup of tea. The live version actually made a man vomit. Barry would play an amalgamation of both Gilbert and George and the stage would be set up with an easel and Pauline posing on a stool as a nude model. Barry would then produce a fake phallus from his trousers filled with Apple Tango (it looks the most like urine) and pretend to pee in a tea cup which he offered to the audience who always refused so he drank it himself. By now, you’re getting the drift that this is American style “gross out” humour mixed with good old British lavatorial japes. Barry would then pull down his trousers and pants and pretend to defecate into a babies potty which was filled with chocolate angel delight. He’d try a bit, nod in approval and then again offer it to the audience. This is all happening whilst I’m singing a three minute song. Barry would then get a brush and do a “poo painting” which was handed to a lucky audience member at the songs conclusion.

One gig was a party at an art gallery and there was no stage as such so we used a bucket rather than a potty which was filled with the ever faithful Apple tango and some Picnic bars which, after extensive research, turned out to be the most realistic when trying to portray freshly produced human excitement. When Barry showed an audience member the bucket, after eating one of the Picnic bars, this chap too one look into, went pale and vomited and then screamed ‘these weirdos are using real shit!!!’.

13 You have found a spiritual cave in the Vauxhall Tavern somewhat? What other Venues do you love and hate?

The RVT is a wonderful place. Very rarely do you find somewhere that is focused on the arts rather than selling drinks. The people that run it and work there are very helpful and lovely people and it has a vibe unlike anywhere else. I used to enjoy playing at Madame Jojos when it was still active. I have played some awful places which is usually the fault of those running it rather than the building itself.

14 What are your thoughts on the modern Comedy circuit and Industry?

I find it incredibly dull and little interests me these days. Rather than it being a hotbed or creativity, it’s become a standard career option filled with people who have been on comedy courses and have the same delivery. There are no Mavericks as people don’t want to offend, want to make some kind of point or political statement and see it all as a career move. It’s all become very cliched and there’s little room for lunatics. Not many are prepared to make a fool of themselves and think they’re rock stars.

15 Who are your heroes and zeroes?

Music: my taste is very diverse and I tend to like most stuff but a few heroes are Frank Zappa, Adam Ant, Frank Ifield, Mrs Mills, Brian Wilson, Sparks, Bowie, Queen, The Cheeky Girls, Scott Walker. I also love yodelling music, pop reggae and 1970s library music. And a lot more besides. My zeroes are the insipid people producing music with no imagination or artistry of whom there are too many to mention these days.

Actors: my favourite actor of all time is Charles Hawtrey. I can’t stand the modern Hollywood ‘mumbling or shouting’ types.

Comedy: my comedic heroes are Benny Hill, Stanley Baxter, Kenneth Williams and the Two Ronnies. I detest Noel Fielding,Mrs Brown’s Boys, Russell Brand and studenty types who harp on about politics.

16 What have you got planned for 2016 and beyond?

I’m planning more Karnival of Kitsch shows, podcasts and paranormal events and there is something planned for 2017 which i can’t reveal too much about at the moment but will be amazing if we can get the funding!

17 What have been the challenges and triumps over the years of tireless creativity and craft?

It’s hard being a square peg in a round hole and if you do something completely different it’s hard to get people to understand it at first. Not the audience, people in the industry. You have to decide – shall I do something bland and unmemorable and treat it as a job or something true to myself and struggle?

18 Who do you rate in the current Entertainment world?

A few great entertainers of today: Bob Downe, Simon Day, Citizen Khan, Reece Shearsmith. Lenny Beige, Steve Coogan, and The Lovely Eggs.

19 Who would you most like to work with?

I’d love to write a progressive-surf opera with Brian Wilson.

20 With your Retro influences, do ‘generation text’ sorta get it?

They don’t get some of the references but find the look and my dance moves funny. It think they’re used to overly serious comedy and having been exposed to silliness or someone who’s prepared to make a complete buffoon of themselves. When I was younger I used to win disco dancing competitions. I learnt all my moves from an LP which had a fold out floor mat showing you where to put your feet. It was called something like ‘Dance Like John Travolta’. I later went to disco dancing lessons and the teacher was a medallion man much like the Kirk St Moritz character from the sitcom ‘Dear John’. His sage like advice was ‘if you want the ladies to look at you, you can move your arms as much as you like but you MUST keep them below your shoulders. If your hands go above your shoulders then you’re suddenly Marc Almond.’ It’s advice that’s served me well.

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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February 17, 2016 By : Category : Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Humour Interviews Kitsch Music Tags:, ,
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Underwater Love – Third Window Films

From Third Window Films comes ‘Underwater Love’ a strange and zany ‘pink-musical’ from Japan.

A soft-core porn musical! The first of its kind from Japan and from the wild mind of Christopher Doyle (Hero, In the Mood for Love, The Limits of Control) with all original music by German-French synth pop duo Stereo Total Third Window Films will have the UK premiere on Sunday, October 16th at the Rich Mix in Shoreditch (35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA) from 6:30pm-Midnight with the film screening introduced by its producer Stephan Holl and then followed by a live gig from Stereo Total. Tickets are £15 available at:

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/132083

and full movie information at http://www.pinkmusical.co.uk

Trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEw0_xKmBkM


admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Cult Humour Kitsch Picks Taboo Visuals Tags:, ,
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KPM Library and the ‘London sound’

A FISTFUL OF GREENSLEEVES

 KPM Library and the ‘London sound’ – By Max Galli

Close your eyes.

Few notes in the air: a Hammond organ is playing, along with a well assembled brass section. It sounds like the typical R&B riff, but with something more. Something you can’t explain.

The year is 1968.

The place is a low ceiling basement, somewhere in London’s West End.

There are few girls around, you can guess their steps on the wooden dancefloor. Low heels, overknee boots. Tick tock tick tock. If you could judge a girl’s beauty by the sound of her shoes, no doubt you’d think she’s very attractive.

You turn your head, just for a couple of seconds.

Yes they are.

They are really attractive, as they approach the dancefloor with their perfect moves.

And there’s this music, this sound: the London sound.

 When KPM, a London based recorded music library, begun to run the ‘1000’ series, it was 1966 and London was the centre of the Universe. Or – at least – of the young Universe. Some people renamed those records ‘greensleeves’, as they all had these monochromatic, olive-green covers with a bold ‘kpm’ white logo on the top right corner.

 “The Mood Modern” (KPM 1001) was the first record of the new series, and it was followed by many others, a collection of incidental music that was about to influence a good slice of all the pop and rock music of the 60s and 70s.

This music had a strong rhythmical appeal, as well as a captivating structure made of long established ‘pop’ sounds with a lot of new, exciting and exotic notes, added to the mix by instruments whose strange names were never heard before (well, at least in Europe): sitars, tablas and many other ones, and it was about to become very peculiar of most late Sixties London clubs.

As Psychedelia was sweeping away a lot of R&B based combos (or – maybe – leading them straight into the ‘new’ sound), London ravers found themselves much more involved with a ‘wide angled’ music, rather than the usual mid-60s Stones-Yardbirds groups based on the ‘classic’ rock guitar riff, whose talents and glories were now disputed by the likes of Jimi Hendrix. Obviously, KPM session musicians were already there to catch the new direction.

In 1968, few of those KPM session men united under a project called The Mohawks: organist Alan Hawkshaw, bassist Keith Mansfield, guitarist Alan Parker and drummer Brian Bennett launched a cover of mostly known Lowell Fulson’s hit “Tramp”, with a different, organ led arrangement and opportunely renamed “Champ”, that proved to be an instant success in the London club scene and it was followed shortly by an LP with the same name. The album included a few covers and some previously released KPM tracks, but with alternate arrangements and a brass section to add a more ‘soulful’ appeal. Alan Hawkshaw’s killer Hammond riff on Champ became immediately acknowledged as a new, funky way to play the organ and is still one of the most imitated styles to date.

 Between 1968 and 1973 KPM explored a lot of popular music genres, from jazz to r&b, from soul to funk, from beat to psychedelia, as well as orchestral, latin jazz and electronics (moog and other synthetizers). This wide spectrum of music can be traced from ‘Soul Organ Showcase’ (Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield and David Gold – KPM 1027 – 1968) to ‘Afro Rock’ (Alan Parker and John Cameron – KPM  1130 – 1973), going through the dancefloor-friendly ‘The Big Beat’ volume 1 and 2 (KPM 1044 – 1969 and KPM 1067 – 1970), the pop perfection of  ‘Flute For Moderns’ (KPM 1080 – 1971), the experimental, electronic space-age sounds of ‘Electrosonic’ (KPM 1104 – 1972) and many other albums, each one with its own personality.

KPM library, with its incredibly wide range of sounds, influenced many artists since the latter half of the Sixties. Versatile composers like Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield gave their contributions to pop music masterpieces like Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Melody Nelson’ (1971) and Love Affair’s ‘Everlasting Love’ (1968), to name but a very few.

KPM composers worked for television, cinema, advertising and mainstream music, and I believe it’s very difficult today not to come across some string of notes that wasn’t – in some way – influenced by KPM, even indirectly, often  hidden in records, 60s-70s TV series or even hip-hop sampled tunes.

No other music library was able to provide such a huge quantity and quality of sounds like KPM did, and with such a team of hardworking musicians and composers.

 It started all in London, in the mid 60s. What could be once called just ‘The London Sound’ went on to influence a variety of music and media situations – a proper, authentic heritage of British and European pop musical culture and a true, valued contribution to the ‘Swingin’ London’ phenomenon.

Today, many KPM tunes are regularly played in Mod-60s and funk clubs worldwide, by djs and collectors who know how these records sound incredibly modern, as they have the very same impact they used to have thirty or forty years ago.

Close your eyes.

Keep your ears listening and your legs moving on their own to the music.

There’s this music, this sound…

It’s the KPM sound.

*   *   *

 

Essential listening 1968-1973:

PAMA PMLP5          The Champ  1968

KPM 1001                  The Mood Modern – (VV.AA.)   1966

KPM 1002                  The Sound Of Syd Dale – (Syd Dale)  1966

KPM 1015                  The Sound Of  Pop – (VV.AA.)   1967

KPM 1027                  Soul Organ Showcase – (A.Hawkshaw, K.Mansfield, D.Gold)    1968

KPM 1029                  Colours In Rhythm – (VV.AA.)  1968

KPM 1043                  Beat Incidental – (A.Hawkshaw, K.Mansfield)  1969

KPM 1044                  The Big Beat – (A.Hawkshaw, K.Mansfield)  1969

KPM 1049                  Chorus And Orchestra – (K.Mansfield, S.Dale)  1969

KPM 1067                  The Big Beat Volume 2 – (Alan Moorhouse)  1970

KPM 1076                  Speed And Excitement – (J.Pearson, A.Hawkshaw, K.Mansfield)  1970

KPM 1077                  Progressive Pop – (VV.AA.)  1970

KPM 1080                  Flute For Moderns – (A.Parker, A.Hawkshaw, J.Haider)   1971

KPM 1086                  Music For A Young Generation – (A.Parker, A.Hawkshaw, R.Cameron)  1971

KPM 1096                  Music Pictorial – (James Clarke)  1972

KPM 1104                  Electrosonic – (D.Derbyshire, B.Hodgson, D.Harper) 1972

KPM 1111                  Brass Plus Moog – (Mike Vickers)   1972

KPM 1123                  Friendly Faces – (A.Hawkshaw, J.Clarke)  1972

KPM 1130                  Afro Rock – (A.Parker, J.Cameron)  1973

Links:

 KPM official website:                                    www.kpm.co.uk

Alan Hawkshaw official website:                   www.alanhawkshaw.com

KPM the ‘1000’ series on Myspace              www.myspace.com/kpm1000series

Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue" and "Misty Lane"). During the years he realized loads of cartoons, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Exotica Icons Kitsch Picks Tags:, ,
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The Spork: A Practical Dining Tool

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Haydn Toils

…and Useful Anti-Personnel Device says: Reinhardt Haydn

 

I was standing in the bathroom when the door came in. I’d just spent the last three hours nailing together the salient points of the spork review when Raoul kicked his way into my room an insisted that we had to get out of the travel lodge immediately. The peyote fever was upon him and the only thing was to go with it.

 

As we made our way through the unnaturally quiet streets of pre-dawn Sandwell, I tried to take stock of the manner in which a simple assignment to review a hitherto innocent eating implement could have resulted in a trashed hotel room, the withdrawal of my Countdown card and a night manager on his way to a secure unit after being caught ‘in the parlour’ with the hotel’s rented water cooler.

 

I’d arrived at the travel lodge the previous morning, with an expense account of £500, a rented Hyundai and a brief to road test the spork for those pigs at Catering Gestalt. The first thing you’ve got to know about the spork is that it’s no use for a bugle spoon. You’re likely to rip your nostrils to bits, bucko. On the other hand, it is ideal for over officious bellboys who get snotty about hefting a goat carcass up to your room. I had a feeling the goat would come in handy later, and overcame the bellboys reticence by offering to sort out his adenoidal dialect issues with sporky.

 

Raoul arrived a couple of hours later – he’d had some hassle with his old lady who was hassling him for maintenance. She wasn’t taken in by the photos of him dressed as The Mighty Thor outside the CPA headquarters, and was giving him hell. She insisted he take little Raoul with him for the day and he’d had to stop off at his sisters to dump the kid. Road testing cutlery in the West Midlands was no place for a kid.

 

After an uneventful half-hour in the hotel bar, we drove to a Harvester on some god-forsaken ring road. After some heaviness about the goat, we left it in the boot and found a table. Hoping to gloss over that ugly scene, I asked the waitress if it was OK if I used my spork rather than the cutlery provided. She looked at me like I’d asked her for sex, which I might have done, but so far as I can remember, it stuck pretty steadfastly to the spork issue.

 

Ignoring that bitch, I got straight into running the spork around the salad bowl. It picked up diced carrot and bits of spring onion fine, but tended to get caught up in the sauerkraut. It’s also hard to get a whole beetroot on it. Where it really came into it’s own was with the potato salad – it’s dual, spoon/fork characteristics making it ideal for both stabbing and scooping. Far superior to the flatter, less spoon-like, foon.

 

I got myself some soup – cream of mushroom, although it looked more like chicken and mushroom. The spork worked out OK at low speed, but as I warmed up it tended to spray the hot liquid around the place. This brought the waitress back – she started yelling something about getting the manager, so I agreed. I had some questions for him. Anyway, she comes back about ten minutes later with this little Armenian guy, who she said was the manager. He wasn’t interested in my questions about the consistency of his soup in relation to spork usage, preferring to yell something that sounded like ‘why-o-way, why-o-way, why-o-way’ at Raoul, who was working his way along the cold cuts.

 

This was all getting too much, so I gave him a couple of digs with the spork, grabbed Raoul and headed for the Hyundai. We passed the feds on the way out. I saluted and they didn’t suspect a thing.

 

Our next stop was an Oriental restaurant called the Wing-Ya, or similar. After some initial confusion about the establishments take-away only status, we settled down to our egg fried rice, oriental duck, crispy noodles, been shoots and water chestnuts. The spork is ideal for eating Chinese – although you’re best taking on the prawn crackers by hand.

 

After we went back to the hotel, Raoul decided to head out for a massage, as the heavy scene with his wife and the business in the Harvester had brought on one of his tension headaches.

 

Reinhardt Haydn

The love child of an American diplomat and a waitress from Denton, Texas, Reinhardt was educated in Switzerland and Austria before returning to the US with his valet and acolyte, Raoul. A noted journalist, critic and countercultural powerhouse, Haydn has contributed to scores of magazines and written several books including The Inevitable Plastic Explosion (Winner of the Weintraub Literary Shield, 2004) and the popular Wyclef Jean Mysteries series. He has homes in Colorado and Geneva.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Gossip Kitsch Objects Tags:, ,
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Top Of The Pops

Top Of The Pops: Mock Rock Going Cheap

I can still picture the tableau vivant; it’s around forty years ago, I’m in Woolworths trying to decide which particular slice of pounding glam rock I’m going to spend my ten bob on, when I spot an album, that not only features a bunch of tracks I like but is (just) within my meagre pre-teen budget. I seize the disc, there’s a chick in a yellow leotard on the cover, but that’s not going to do much for me for a couple of years yet. If I buy this, I can get ‘Hell Raiser’, ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and ‘Can The Can’, plus a bunch of other stuff. I look at the back of the album and a dim bulb comes on somewhere in my young brain. Why is this so cheap? There has to be something fishy. A line of blurb about ‘Britain’s best session musicians playing the best current tunes’ connects with my uncertainty. I have no idea what a ‘session musician’ is, but they make it sound like a good thing. It’s probably the recordings from the Thursday night TV show or something. So I make the leap.

Once I’ve given the album a spin, it occurs to me that some of these songs sound a bit different to how they did on the radio. Still, ‘Hell Raiser’ rocked and whatever the hell ‘Also Sprach Zarasthustra’ is supposed to be, it’s bloody funny. It’s my first album, and it would soon be joined by others of its kind, plus such esoteric titles as Hot Hits. All adorned by – for some reason – girls on the cover. Why don’t they have pictures of the bands like those K-Tel albums?

Of course, I soon wised up to the fact that these were, well … knock offs. That was why the K-Tel/Ronco albums cost more – they had the actual bands and for some reason that’s why they’re more expensive. I became more discerning, graduating to buying whole albums by the same band within a matter of months. Thus, the four or five Top of the Pops albums began to gather dust, nestling at the back of my growing collection until they were conscripted into service as ad hoc clay pigeons when someone obtained an air rifle around the middle of the decade.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one buying these albums – at the peak of their popularity they sold more than 250,000 copies per edition. Produced by Pickwick, who held weekly meetings to decide which rising singles were to be covered for the next album, the tracks were often recorded and mixed in under a week. Such alacrity meant that there wasn’t always time to perfect every nuance of the material covered, ‘There were varying degrees of success,’ explained former Pickwick producer Bruce Baxter. ‘Some were very close to the original – virtually indistinguishable, but some left a bit to be desired. We never had an awfully good Mick Jagger, though a few people had a go.’

Looking back, the Top of the Pops albums were wholly consistent with the disposable nature of a lot of the glam rock and bubblegum pop that populated their grooves. Once punk kicked in the whole concept started to look decidedly creaky. Session man Tony Rivers was a Top of the Pops regular, but by 1977 he found himself faced with the task of reproducing Johnny Rotten’s seditionary sneer for Volume 60 of the series. ‘I was sitting at the control desk, and suddenly I heard a voice,’ he recalls. ‘It was Paul McCartney. He said, “It sounds great – can I have a listen?” He came back in with Chris Thomas, who produced the Sex Pistols. He was in stitches – I did it like Norman Wisdom.’

A further surreal attempt at recreating the Lydon tones on Volume 74, saw ‘Death Disco’ sung very much in the manner of Albert Steptoe, and marvellously ludicrous versions of tracks such as ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Going Underground’, and ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’ eroded what tiny crumb of marketability the series maintained, and aside from a half-hearted mid-eighties resurrection that featured Page 3 model Linda Lusardi on the cover, the whole series was consigned to a bygone age of innocence by the end of 1982.

Which is a shame, as like Aztec Bars, Cresta and Smith’s Savoury Pickle crisps, the early 70s Top of the Pops albums and their ilk were a slice of my childhood. Fortunately, in the digital age, nothing remains ‘lost’ for long and there are compilations out there available for anyone interested in sampling the Warholian delights of these reproduction hits.

 

 

June 16, 2015 By : Category : Articles Design Kitsch Nostalgia Tags:, , ,
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Record Centres

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Kitsch Vintage Tags:,
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SongCraft: The Free Design – Love You

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Song Craft

The Free Design was a Delevan, New York-based vocal group playing jazzy pop music. Their music can be described as sunshine pop and baroque pop, which were pop music subgenres at the time, which later influenced the bands Stereo lab, Cornelius, Pizzicato Five, Beck and The High Llamas.

Love You

Give a little time for the child within you,
dont be afraid to be young and free.
Undo the locks and throw away the keys
and take off your shoes and socks, and run you.
La, la, la…

Give a little time for the child within you,
dont be afraid to be young and free.
Undo the locks and throw away the keys
and take off your shoes and socks, and run you.
La, la, la…

Run through the meadow and scare up the milking cows
Run down the beach kicking clouds of sand
Walk a windy weather day, feel your face blow away
Stop and listen: Love you.

Roll like a circus clown, put away your circus frown
Ride on a roller coaster upside down
Waltzing Matilda, Carey loves a kinkatchoo
Joey catch a kangaroo, hug you.

Dandylion, milkweed, silky on a sunny sky
Reach out and hitch a ride and float on by
Balloons down below catching colors of the rainbow
red, blue and yellow-green: I love you.

Bicycles, tricycles, ice cream candy
Lollypops, popsicles, licorice sticks
Solomon Grundy, Raggedy Andy
Tweedledum and Tweedledee, home free.

Cowboys and Indians, puppydogs and sandpails
Beachballs and baseballs and basketballs, too.
I love forget-me-nots, fluffernutters, sugarpops
Ill hug you and kiss you and love you
La, la, la… Love you.

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Exotica Kitsch Pop Tags:, ,
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Hip Glasses – Ladies


Anouk Aimee (from 8 1/2), c.1963

Brigitte Bardot, c.1965


Ingrid Bergman (from Spellbound), c.1945


Ingrid Bergman, c.1952


Karen Carpenter, c.mid-1970s


Coco Chanel, c.1968


Carol Channing, c.1965


Shirley Chisholm, c.1972


Agatha Christie, c.1970s


Petula Clark, c.1966


Joan Collins, c.1970


Joan Crawford, c.1938


Jean Dawnay, c.1956


Catherine Deneuve, c.1965


Catherine Deneuve (from Liza), c.1965


Phyllis Diller, c.1961


Carrie Donovan, c.1965


Carrie Donovan, c.1980s


Anita Ekberg, c.1961


Eva Eras, c.1930s


Marianne Faithfull, c.1967


Mia Farrow, c.1967


Ava Gardner, c.1940s


Deborah Harry, c.1978


Edith Head, c.1940s


Audrey Hepburn (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s), c.1961


Audrey Hepburn (from How to Steal a Million), c.1965


Janis Joplin, c.1969


Grace Kelly, c.1954


Grace Kelly, c.1956


Grace Kelly, c.1956


Grace Kelly, c.1971


Billie Jean King, c.1968


Harper Lee, c.1967


Sophia Loren, c.1967


Sophia Loren, c.1975


Marilyn Monroe (from How to Marry a Millionaire), c.1953


Marilyn Monroe, c.1961


Nana Mouskouri, c.1960s


Jacqueline Onassis, c.1960s


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, c.1968


Eleanor Roosevelt, c.1950s


Jean Seberg (from Breathless), c.1960


Cindy Sherman, c.1978


Eunice Kennedy Shriver, c.1972


Grace Slick, c.1969


Patti Smith, c.1977


Elke Sommer, c.1967


Ann Sothern, c.1955


Diana Frances Spencer (aka Princess Diana), c.1987


Gloria Steinem, c.1972


Elizabeth Taylor
, c.1960s


Natalie Wood, c.1970

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Kitsch Tags:,
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Hip Glasses – Chaps


Muhammad Ali, c.1968


Steve Allen, c.1950s


Woody Allen, c.1960s


Salvador Allende, c.1973


Arthur Ashe, c.1969


Richard Avedon, c.1980s


Chet Baker, c.1950s


Chet Baker, c.1980


Samuel Beckett, c.1970


Jack Benny, c.1950s


Bill Bernbach, c.1930s


Humphrey Bogart, c.1947


David Bowie, c.1973


David Bowie, c.1976


Marlon Brando, c.1965


Alfred Brendel, c.1970s


Charles Bronson (from The White Buffalo), c.1977


Dave Brubeck, c.1957


Charles Bukowski, c.1970s


William S. Burroughs, c.1960s


Michael Caine (from The Ipress File), c.1965


Al Capone, c.1941


Truman Capote, c.1966


Harry Caray, c.1997


Pierre Cardin, c.1978


Paul Castellano, c.1980s


Fidel Castro, c.1960s


Ray Charles, c.1960


Sean Connery, c.1964


Aaron Copland, c.1970


Elvis Costello, c.1970s


Zbigniew Cybulski (from Ashes & Diamonds), c.1958


Miles Davis
, c.1980s


Sammy Davis Jr., c.1980s


Andrea de Adamich, c.1970s


James Dean, c.1955


Guy Debord, c.1960s


John DeLorean, c.1960s


Johnny Depp, c.2005


Johnny Depp, c.2003


Paul Desmond, c.1962


Vinicius de Moraes, c.1970s


Dom DiMaggio, c.1940s


Joe DiMaggio, c. 1937


Charles Dutoit, c.1960s


Bob Dylan, c.1969


Clint Eastwood (from Dirty Harry), c.1971


Joseph Eichler, c.1952


Ahmet Ertegun, c.1940s


Juan Garcia Esquivel, c.1950s


Bill Evans, c.1960s


Robert Evans, c.1972


Peter Fonda (from Easy Rider), c.1969


Malcolm Forbes, c.1980


J. William Fulbright, c.1968


Mahatma Gandhi, c.1930s


Ira Gershwin
, c.1940s


Dizzy Gillespie, c.1945


Allen Ginsberg, c.1967


Jean-Luc Godard, c.1958


Benny Goodman, c.1960s


Tenzin Gyatso (aka Dalai Lama), c.2002


Cary Grant (from Bringing Up Baby), c.1938


Cary Grant (from North By Northwest), c.1959


Terry Hall, c.1980s


Isaac Hayes, c.1967


Jimi Hendrix, c.1960s


Poul Henningsen, c.1960s


David Hockney, c.1972


Buddy Holly, c.1958


Mick Jagger
, c.1975


Elton John, c.1975


Lyndon B. Johnson, c.1954


Philip Johnson, c.1995


James Joyce, c.1933


John F. Kennedy, c.1962


Robert F. Kennedy, c.1954


Martin Luther King Jr., c.1966


Henry Kissinger, c.1960s


Karl Lagerfeld, c.1980


Tom Landry
, c.1980s


Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar, c.1983


Le Corbusier, c.1948


Bruce Lee, c.1972


Michel Legrand, c.1960s


John Lennon (in How I Won The War), c.1967


John Lennon, c.1980


Harold Lloyd, c.1920s


Vince Lombardi, c.1967


Thomas Lucchese, c.1958


Groucho Marx, c.1952


Marcello Mastroianni (from 8 1/2), c.1963


Johnny Mathis, c.1960s


Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, c.1988


Steve McQueen (from The Thomas Crown Affair), c.1968


Arthur Miller, c.1957


Henry Miller, c.1938


Thelonius Monk, c.1950s


Dr. James Naismith, c.1900s


Phineas Newborn Jr., c.1950s


Paul Newman, c.1950s


Jack Nicholson, c.1970s


Jack Nicholson, c.1976


Aristotle Onassis, c.1960s


Roy Orbison, c.1960s


Gregory Peck (from To Kill A Mockingbird), c.1962


I.M. Pei, c.2000


Sydney Pollack, c.1970


Sidney Poitier (from The Lost Man), c.1969


Elvis Presley, c.1970


Andre Previn, c.1987


Eskew Reeder Jr. (aka Esquerita), c.1950s


George Reeves as “Clark Kent,” c.1950s


Peter Revson, c.1972


Max Roach, c.1960s


Franklin D. Roosevelt, c.1939


Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., c.1904


Eero Saarinen, c.1950s


Yves Saint Laurent, c.1950s


Yves Saint Laurent, c.1975


Carlos Santana, c.1982


Jean-Paul Sartre, c.1930s


Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., c.1961


Charles M. Schultz, c.1964


Andres Segovia, c.1930


Peter Sellers, c.1957


Peter Sellers (from Dr. Strangelove), c.1964


Frank Sinatra, c.1956


Upton Sinclair, c.1930s


Ted Sorensen, c.1960


Anthony Steel, c.1956


Igor Stravinsky, c.1930s


Joe Strummer, c.1980s


George Szell, c.1949


Toots Thielemans, c.2000


Hunter S. Thompson, c.1970s


Spencer Tracy (from Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner), c.1967


Leon Trotsky, c.1940


Harry S. Truman, c.1940s


Heitor Villa-Lobos, c.1955


Andy Warhol, c.1982


Lew Wasserman, c.1980s


Tennesse Williams
, c.1970s


Stevie Wonder, c.1970s


Malcolm X (aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), c.1964


Racer X, c.1966

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Kitsch Tags:,
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