Dull Tool Dim Bulb has assembled an amazing collection of vintage sleaze paperback cover art, including these by Eugene Bilbrew.
"Bilbrew, an African-American School of Visual Arts student (!) fell into bad company and even worse habits. As he slipped into heroin addiction, his work became even more bizarre. He moved to the rear of a porno bookshop on the deuce. The mob-run publisher he worked for was busted out of business, so he sold his drawings to no less sleazy publishers such as Wizard, Satan and Chevron. Most of these are from Satan. A pall-bearer hits on the widow. An unlikely prison visitor tempts caged psychopaths. A rogue cop harasses an amorous couple out on the beach too late. A shop-class goggles wearing professor aims his student's motorcycle "headlights" into the wind. And of course, the extra-flamboyant dancer against a lime green wall "trips" and falls into the lap of his modern art loving suitor. Never mind that the text had absolutely nothing to do with the cover illustration, this is kitsch of the highest order. These all date to the late 1960's. Several have "saw-cut" slashes, which means they were returned to the distributor unsold. I can not imagine why.
To his credit, I suppose...Bilbrew was one of the few artists doing multi-racial covers at the time. (and the hair-impaired, for that matter) I don't think it helped sales."
See more sleazy covers here
French Book Covers is a blog devoted to none other than French Book Covers. Most of them date pre 1950, and the overwhelming majority of them feature girlie / nudie book art. It's run by the same bloke behind Au Carrefour Etrange, which is a good thing. Below are some of my favorites.
In the sixties Kenneth Anger, who's often called the "Godfather of experimental cinema", lived in San Francisco in a house referred to as the Russian Embassy, probably because it was the ex-embassy of Tzarist Russia. Bobby Beausoleil... you know the guy who Love named their band after... who then went on to murder people for Charles Manson, and then wrote the music to Anger's Lucifer Rising while in prison after Jimmy Page failed to turn in the score on time... well...he lived in that house too. Below is a picture of him in front of the house.
I'm sure you can imagine the type of wierd shit that went on in this house. One of the things I find most interesting about it is the library, which was stocked with hundreds of books on magick and volumes and volumes of fascinating stuff including the collected works of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. This collection would later inspire Beausoleil to start the band, The Magick Powerhouse of Oz, which would set the foundation for the tunes he would later re-work in prison for the film. The record is a fucking amazing psych album that appears regularly on "Best of" lists. Below is the album cover and two songs from the recordings, all of which can be downloaded here.
To read more about this project, the Embassy and Beausoleil's account of his time spent with Manson you should read this interview with Beausoleil here.
Above are recent photographs of Anger, taken nearly 40 years after the Embassy episodes described. The photographs were taken in and around Hollywood by journalist and photographer, Mark Barry, who met up with Anger for a story that appeared in Bizarre Magazine. The story reads a little bit like Interview with a Vampire.
“Don’t disobey me. Do as I say and don’t talk back!” waspishly screamed the author, artist and filmmaker,
waving his fist and practically foaming at the mouth. This was not really an interview; this was more like a strange brief encounter with Kenneth Anger. “I can be charming,” he explained staring straight into my eyes, “but I’m not going to be!” This is a man whose volatile temperament is renowned and recently due to a rare medical condition hadn’t slept for six months. I had been warned though…
“He is Mr. Anger,” cautioned a neighbour of the cantankerous director while I awaited his arrival in the lobby of his apartment block. Actually, the author of the Hollywood Babylon books – insightful, salacious and scandalous tales behind the real film industry – and experimental filmmaker described by the American Film Institute as “the magus of cinema”, should be addressed fully as Dr. Kenneth Anger, since he was recently bestowed an honourary doctorate in humanities. Those that do not observe his wishes are risking the very nature of their existence – he is renowned for placing hexes and curses upon those that cross his path, his own beliefs surrounded by the Thelema religion and the black magick rites of Aleister Crowley.
My questions were pitched during car journeys, a trip to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a tour of his youthful haunts in Hollywood – populated by many black magicians it seems - and a light lunch off Sunset Boulevard. All were interlaced with wonderfully detailed tales of old Hollywood, incredibly elaborate factoids, stories about his long list of celebrity friends and a politically incorrect stance on California’s black and Mexican communities.
The rest of the story and more images can be found here.
Those paint splattering menaces are at it again! The Stone Roses released their box set a few weeks back and I just had the chance to pick up my copy. The package is absolutely essential to people who forgot just how good this band was.
Those who have seen the band and have seen Ian Brown sing live, know just how important the high profile production work of John Leckie was to creating the sound to these recordings. I was recetnly reading Love's Forever Changes Wikipedia page, when I noticed that the partnership between The Roses and Leckie was apparently solidified when both parties agreed that Forever Changes was "the best record ever made", which explains alot when it comes to explaing the Turns Into Stone sound.
Forever Changes was Love's third record and certainly their best. The album art was done by Bob Pepper, an artist whose ties with Elektra gave him the opportunity to work on some of the most iconic album covers of the late sixties.
Pepper went on to create book covers for Ballantine's Fantasy series, most notable the work of Phillip K. Dick.
Highly sought after and extremely scarce third book in Araki's Sentimental Journey Series is being auctioned at Christies is expected to fetch $6180! A few years back I spent a week in LA with Keith from the criminally overlooked band Soviet. He was working with a producer on some new songs for a Hip Hop artist in Silver Lake. Coincidentally, that producer was also producing some tracks for the Jesus & Mary Chain. One of the Reid brothers, not sure which one, had left a handful of Araki books at the studio and looking back, I believe this was one of them. There was alot of very potent Czech beer involved that night, so I could be mistaken but had it been this book and had I known how valuable this book was, I would scanned the whole thing. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
When editor/publisher Raymond Foye was visiting his good friend Francesco Clemente, the artist, in Madras, India, once, they decided it would be very cool to publish some sort of arts and literature thing together. They rejected the idea of doing a magazine in favor of starting a small press to publish books (Foye had started working at City Lights bookstore and press at the beginning of his career). Hanuman was the favorite Hindu deity of both men, and they decided to name their press after him. The Hanuman Books series, which includes at least 24 titles by now, has published works by William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Jack Kerouac, William de Kooning, Robert Frank and other visionary and countercultural writers and artists. The tiny format of the books -- they measure 3" by 4" in size -- is based on prayer books in India. They are hand-made in India, where each little book is colored with deeply saturated tones to produce a limited edition that resonates with the charm and mystical potency of art miniatures around the world. And the books are easy to slip into your pocket and carry around as a sort of talismanic artifact, if that is your inclination, too.
Hanuman is a very popular deity among Hindus. There are many stories about this trickster god. In addition to being the god of grammar, Hanuman is the general of the monkey people. In the epic Ramayana Rama was a great human hero, the son of a king, who eventually became mythologized as an avatar of the important deity Vishnu. When Rama's beautiful and exemplary wife Sita was kidnapped by a powerful demon, Ravana, Hanuman and his monkey people were instrumental in freeing her from captivity on the island of Lanka. The visionary lit and counter-culture press Hanuman Books is named in honor of this delightful figure. According to a blurb posted on Hanuman Books' website, Hanuman is "the son of Vayu, the wind god. He is the conqueror of demons and hostile spirits, god of strength and wisdom, faithful to friend and unselfish servant to Rama. Able to fly and change his shape, he is often depicted as a buffoon-hero in the Ramayana epics. Humble and playful, he is revered in Southern India, where temples are erected in his honor."
I've been collecting these books for a while now and have about a dozen. They're small. Roughly the size of a pack of smokes and about 1/4 as thick. The content is a bit lucid. They've been selling on ebay from $30 - $200 bucks a pop.
Honey West was a female private eye that invaded the hardboiled detective scene of the 1950s and muscled over some of the big boys. Created by G. G. Fickling (the pseudonym of husband and wife team, Gloria and Forest Fickling), Honey West starred in eleven novels before cashing out in 1971.
The 1950s were the heyday of the paperback novel. Men returning from World War II wanted something to read that was different from the relatively tame pulps they’d read prior to the war. Mickey Spillane was one of the first to offer the edgy kind of entertainment those men (and some women) wanted when he created his two-fisted private eye, Mike Hammer.
Honey West was the feminine version of the time. Before women’s lib, women depended on sexual allure and wiles to get what they were after. Honey oozed sex and wile, and frequently ended up in situations where clothing was not exactly optional, but she ended up underdressed all the same, usually through no fault of her own. She carries a .22 revolver holstered on her garter and is forever reaching up under her skirt/mini-dress to pull it out.
I've been a fan of the Momus blog, Imomus pretty much since he started blogging. It's always entertaining, especially when he's in Japan, where he happens to be at the moment. In this particular post he talks about the artist & photographer, Shinro Ohtake, who spent a lot of time documenting the British punk scene circa 1977 for his book UK 77. I need this book. Below are some quips from Momus, some photos from the book and some additional artwork.
"In a series of massive picture books filled with photographs, drawings and scrap memorabilia (but particularly UK 77) Ohtake has documented seventies London better, to my mind, than any British artist or photographer.
It's not that Ohtake -- aged 22 in 1977, he'd just graduated from Musashino Art University -- avoids the punk rock cliches that now pass for cultural history of the late 70s in the UK. His photos show us that Bozz Scaggs. Elkie Brooks, Elton John and The Enid featured on UK posters in 1977 rather more than The Damned and The Sex Pistols did, but he has plenty of shots of punk rockers, and clippings from the snarky music press and listings magazines. It's rather that Ohtake shows the entire context; views out of the window, tickets from gigs, confectionery wrappers, books of matches with adverts on them.
What comes as a shock is how much of the UK in 1977 was stuck in the 1960s; there are silly little Hillman Imp cars, and ridiculous child-molester hairstyles in the barber windows, trickledown domestications from the wilder shores of 1960s subculture. It's all pretty grim and muddy, but it does show you where punk's disgust came from. And it's telling that it takes a Japanese photographer -- a sort of impartial Martian in this weird and depressing landscape -- to document the UK properly. Sitting in gm ten gallery flipping through Ohtake's back pages, I was completely transported back to the era, with exactly the right combination of repulsion and nostalgia, shudder and swoon."