V85

ARTICLE LEGS MCNEIL

PHOTOGRAPHY HEDI SLIMANE

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

TOIL AND TROUBLE

THE HISTORY OF HYPE!

LEGENDS OF PUNK

EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup (Joan Jett) Aaron de Mey FOR SEPHORA  Hair Orlando Pita FOR Orlo Salon  Digital technician Joseph Borduin  Prop stylist Peter Klein (Frank Reps)  Photo assistants Rudolf Bekker, Joey Trisolini, Nick Krasznai  Makeup assistant Armando Guajardo Jr.  Hair assistant Quenton Barnette  Production Kim Pollock and Yann Rzepka  Production assistant Ashley Sky Walker  Equipment rental Bathhouse Studios and Root [EQ_Capture]  Location Bathhouse Studios  Catering Monterone

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FOX FIRE REBELS: BROOKE CANDY - NOMINATED BY STEVEN KLEIN AND NICOLA FORMICHETTI POWER HOUSE: NERVO NO BUENO

LEGENDS OF PUNK

PHOTOGRAPHY HEDI SLIMANE
TEXT LEGS MCNEIL




OCTOBER 28TH, 2013. OVER THE WEEKEND, THE LEGENDARY LOU REED PASSED AWAY. AS AN OVERWHELMINGLY INFLUENTIAL FIGURE IN MUSIC, ART AND WRITING, A HERO TO NEW YORK CITY, AND AS A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX EVERYWHERE, REED'S MEMORY WILL LIVE ON ALWAYS. 

V MAGAZINE IS HONORED TO BE HAVE BEEN THE LAST MAGAZINE LOU REED SAT FOR, WHEN HEDI SLIMANE'S "LEGENDS OF PUNK" SERIES WAS SHOT FOR OUR SEPTEMBER ISSUE EARLIER THIS YEAR. HERE IS THE FULL STORY, COMPLETE WITH ESSAY BY PUNK MAGAZINE CO-FOUNDER LEGS MCNEIL:

...BY TRANSFORMING THE AGONIES OF SEX, DRUGS, AND VIOLENCE INTO BLISTERING, BEAUTIFUL NOISE, THE BRAINS HEREIN CHANGED THE 20TH CENTURY AND BEYOND. HEDI SLIMANE AND CELEBRATED PUNK WRITER LEGS McNEIL PAY TRIBUTE TO NEW YORKíS ASSHOLES, DEVILS, NERDS, DANDIES, AND FREAKS. HERE'S TO THE ANGELS OF ROCK AND ROLL

LOU REED was always a grumpy old man. Okay, so I did my best to ask him the most annoying questions when the PUNK magazine staff first interviewed him after our first night at CBGB, with questions like “How do you like your hamburgers cooked?” Lou never forgave me, though he loved John Holmstrom, PUNK’s editor in chief. I remember coming out of a blackout at Clive Davis’s 50th birthday party in some fancy restaurant uptown and there was Diana Ross and KISS (without their makeup) and a bunch of other rock stars, as well as Lou, who was bending Holmstrom’s ear. Lou always talked in such a soft voice I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but I didn’t care. It was always boring—technical jargon about getting the right sound or taking speed and filling in a white sheet of paper with a rapidograph pen until the spotpaper was entirely black, or some other nonsense.  

“C’mon John,” I’d say, pulling on his shirt sleeve, trying to break the spell Lou had cast upon him, “let’s go downtown and pick up chicks, let’s hang out with the Ramones, everyone’s too old here.” But they would both ignore me and continue their conversation, the Velvet Underground cofounder never bothering to acknowledge that I existed.  Over the years, people continued to ask me, “What’s Lou Reed really like?”

“An asshole,” I’d tell them, and wait until they were thoroughly bummed out before adding, “But if I’d written just one of the hundreds of great fucking rock-and-roll songs that he has written, maybe I’d finally be a happy man. Can you imagine if you’d written ‘Heroin’ or ‘Sweet Jane’ or ‘Rock & Roll’ or ‘New Age’ or any of his songs? Jesus, the guy really is good, isn’t he?”

I was there the night the Velvets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and by accident I bumped into Lou as he was walking to the stage to accept the honor.   

“Hey, buddy,” he said, and he stopped to shake my hand. I thought, He must not recognize me…Either that or he was so overwhelmed by the moment that he let his guard down. But I prefer to think he didn’t recognize me, since it keeps my world that much more organized and orderly to know that Lou Reed still hates me.  

-

There was a year or so there when the Runaways and the Ramones toured together, comprising one of the best double bills in rock-and-roll history. And it seemed for a brief moment that punk rock might finally become a commercially viable entity. Such was not the case. But in that brief moment in time, there were no chicks (and chicks they most certainly were) cooler than the Runaways. They were the precursors to all the Riot Grrrls, and had the biggest brass balls ever to complement their five vaginas.   

“Hello Daddy, hello Mom / I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb / Hello world, I’m your wild girl / I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb!” the Runaways sang when a cherry bomb was the equivalent of a pussy riot today. In this small circle of severe female chill, one Runaway was ready to scurry even farther than the rest. JOAN JETT shone with a brighter luminescence than even her bandmates did—a pretty amazing feat, since the band was comprised of stunning dirty teenage fantasies.         

I remember seeing Joan backstage at the Santa Monica Civic Center, on my 21st birthday, when the Runaways were opening for the Ramones, and I said to Joey, “Wow, she looks like a punk-rock angel!”  

“Yeah,” Joey Ramone laughed, “or devil! Ha ha! She’s supercool and a great guitar player.” 

Of course, the Runaways broke up a few years after they began and Joan went off on her own to become the female icon she is today. I remember her coming off stage that night in 1977, her black leather jacket slung over her shoulder, sweat dripping down her skinny, sinewy arms, an intense anger burned into that  gorgeous face, just dying to tell the first person that got in her way to “FUCK OFF AND DIE!”  

-

The night after I saw the Ramones for the first time, I went back to CBGB to find out what else was going on there. I mean, the Ramones were so incredible, I wondered if there could be other bands that played at this club that might be as different, unusual, and wonderful as they were. 

This time I went alone and sat at a table near the front. There were only about twenty or thirty people in the place, and this band of three extremely nerdy but sexy kids, two guys and a girl, took the stage—and I got the answer to my question.

DAVID BYRNE started singing, and at first I thought it was a joke. He looked like he was going to burst into tears at any moment. He’d close his eyes and tilt his head back as he hit his high notes, struggling to communicate to some mutant muse in a different dimension—he sounded that otherworldly. When the song finished I was hooked, if only to see if David was going to have a nervous breakdown right there onstage. 

“The next one’s called ‘Psycho Killer,’” Byrne said into the microphone, his voice cracking. Unsteady. Unsure. Unconfident. The lyrics seemed to say what everyone was thinking about this guy: “I can’t seem to face up to the facts / I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax / I can’t sleep ‘cause my bed’s on fire / Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire / Psycho Killer / Qu’est que c’est…”

And then came that shriek, as if Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” had finally been given a voice, “Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better / Run run run run run run run away…” It was truly a chilling performance, back when the Talking Heads were still a three-piece band and David Byrne first turned his neuroses into art. “Wow,” I thought, “great band, but boy I’d hate to be David Byrne’s psychiatrist.”  

-

There is wondrous beauty in ugly things. MICHAEL GIRA knows this. Maybe it was growing up with his alcoholic mother, who changed the ground rules from day to day, that first sent him the message. Or maybe it was being relocated, to Indiana, and then to Paris, where he ran away from home and hitchhiked across Europe, that gave him early glimpses of the repulsive. He most certainly witnessed the hideous in jail in Israel, where he was sentenced to four and a half months for dealing drugs. 

“There’s a book by [Jerzy] Kosinski called Steps,” Gira told an interviewer in 2011, “which is cold and clinical, but describes scenes of incredible violence and cruelty. I found that combination of elements attractive early on.”

Upon returning to the States, Michael played in the band Little Cripples and enrolled in art school, where he almost drowned in academic elitism. But he dropped out, moved to New York City, and joined the “No Wave Scene,” first playing in Circus Mort and then founding Swans. Early Swans shows were notable because of Gira’s contempt of the audience. He pulled people’s hair and attacked anyone who dared headbang during the performances.    

As Michael once said, “Swans are majestic, beautiful-looking creatures with really ugly temperaments.”  

-

I’d be drunk and broke, walking up the Bowery, trying to make that long trek back home to our offices on 10th Avenue and 30th Street. A Checker cab would pull up to the curb, the door would fly open, and there would be DAVID JOHANSEN in the backseat, sipping champagne, surrounded by three hot babes. He looked like some long-haired, ultra-hip version of Robert Goulet—a dandy with a Bowery Boy mug—and with that gravel pit of a voice, he’d growl, “Hop in Legs, we’re going to Chinatown, I’m gonna teach you how to eat Chinese food…” And I’d climb into the cab and not stumble back to the office until late the next afternoon. 

David Johansen was one of those guys that was always a ton of fun. His whole body seemed to radiate “good times start here,” as if some neon arrow was poised over his head, pointing down at him. David Johansen was the party. He seemed blessed with hysterical one-liners and the most charming anecdotes, always ready to laugh, flirt, and carouse, when carousing was an art form and staying out until noon the next day was not uncommon. 

He was a star from another time. Even in the ’70s he seemed like he’d be more comfortable hanging out with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and Johnny Carson and Charo instead of bums like me at CBGB. Then along came the ’80s and the proto-punk rocker was transformed into the big-haired Buster Poindexter, and the entire world got to see him as I had. It was as if Buster’s whole act was about saying, as he did to me one night, “And if you’re too drunk to walk home, you can sleep on my pile of dirty laundry, ’cause the party never stops.” 

EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup (Joan Jett) Aaron de Mey FOR SEPHORA  Hair Orlando Pita FOR Orlo Salon  Digital technician Joseph Borduin  Prop stylist Peter Klein (Frank Reps)  Photo assistants Rudolf Bekker, Joey Trisolini, Nick Krasznai  Makeup assistant Armando Guajardo Jr.  Hair assistant Quenton Barnette  Production Kim Pollock and Yann Rzepka  Production assistant Ashley Sky Walker  Equipment rental Bathhouse Studios and Root [EQ_Capture]  Location Bathhouse Studios  Catering Monterone

MORE TO LOVE

FOX FIRE REBELS: BROOKE CANDY - NOMINATED BY STEVEN KLEIN AND NICOLA FORMICHETTI POWER HOUSE: NERVO NO BUENO
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