Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paraphilia Magazine

David M Mitchell from Swansea is co-editor of Paraphilia Magazine which happens to be one of the best online journals around. Its main focus is on left field, experimental and transgressive culture but it’s not one of those shock for shock’s sake efforts. There is real literary and artistic substance here. Within its impressively produced electronic pages you’ll find thoughtful, in-depth interviews with such underground luminaries as Michael Gira (The Swans), (Genesis) Breyer P-Orridge, Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) and James Williamson (The Stooges). There are various contributions from Stewart Home, Alan Moore, Steve Severin, Nick Tosches and Lydia Lunch. Often, though, it’s just encountering interesting new voices that makes Paraphilia Magazine such an essential read. From a purely selfish Welsh point of view I loved the Lewis Carroll-like magical pin-hole photography of Ffion Nolwenn; and the darkly comic and sometimes sinister writings of Chris Madoch (aka The Queer Messiah). Kerry Evans's tattoo-influenced artwork is also terrific. But this is a transatlantic enterprise (co-editor Dire McCain works out of the US), so it’s a cosmopolitan mixture of interviews, short stories, art and photography that awaits you. In addition DM Mitchell runs Oneiros Books which specialises in reprinting SF, Fantasy and Occult volumes, as well as publishing new writing. He was also once in the band Photographed by Lightning which released a 7" single, Sleeps Terminator/Winter Trees, on the fabulously subversive Fierce Records.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cindy Williams Press Photo

Here’s a splendid press photograph of Swansea songstress Cindy Williams from 1967. She is at Marble Arch, Swinging London, promoting her rather cool single They Talk About Us. What great hair she has. I’ve mentioned Cindy before on this blog and wondered whatever became of her. One of her relatives subsequently contacted me to let me know that she is alive and well and now living in the Uplands area of Swansea. It transpires that she married entertainer Dave Swan (RIP) and resided for many years in Las Vegas.

*Thanks to Lee Hughes for this info.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Burton and Taylor's Double LP

It's a shame that such a gifted actor as Richard Burton will be better remembered for his matrimonial antics than for the corpus of cinematic work that he produced. For the most part 'Mr Elizabeth Taylor' sleep-walked his way through a quagmire of lucrative but artistically unrewarding Hollywood fodder. Fortunately there were a handful of cinematic roles worthy of his talent. His performance opposite the missus in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), in particular, was outstanding.

The celluloid version of Edward Albee's play marked the creative highpoint of the whole Burton and Taylor franchise. Fans will be familiar with the extended slanging match performed with obvious relish by the volatile couple. The presumed echoes of their own turbulent relationship lending extra spice to proceedings. Despite his brilliant turn as hen-pecked George, Burton missed out on an Oscar. A deliciously slattern Taylor on the other hand deservedly picked up an Academy Award for her portrayal of Martha.

It's a great film but what of the soundtrack? Or to be more precise, what of the soundtracks - because, unusually, there were two of them. The music from the flick was issued as a single LP comprising 11 tracks taken from Alex North’s score. So far, so conventional. However, released separately, was a gatefold double LP (see pic) consisting of the film’s entire dialogue. This spoken word double album is actually shorter than the film as long pauses were excised. The double LP is quite rare and highly sought after by film buffs. I can only imagine that it was released for study purposes, as chilling out to a 2 hour argument is not most people’s idea of a fun night in.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pauline Wynne Jones

Pauline Wynne Jones is something of a forgotten Welsh fashion designer. Even in her heyday – the ‘70s and ‘80s – she often went under the radar. The Times referred to her as, “One of the best and least recognised of British designers” and “one of the most consistent and yet consistently unsung talents in the country.”

She hailed from Halkyn, Flintshire, and went to Holywell Grammar School. She did her pre-diploma design training at a local technical college before attending Liverpool College of Art. Even at this early stage of her career she favoured relatively simple designs with close attention to detail over extravagant way-out sartorial concoctions.

Upon leaving college she married her long-term boyfriend (also from Halkyn) and together they set off for London to seek their fortunes. After doing a variety of jobs in the rag trade Pauline Wynne Jones met and began working for esteemed fashion designer Jean Muir, with whom she shared a similar aesthetic outlook.

In 1970 she went into partnership with Claire Gale. They sold clothes to private clients mostly in the showbiz world. Pauline Wynne Jones chose to shun the mass market preferring instead to sell to a select number of stockists. Her designs could be purchased at such exclusive establishments as, Lucienne Phillips of Knightsbridge; Chic of Hampstead; Henry Bendels of New York; and DH Holmes of New Orleans.

Pauline Wynne Jones also had an interest in interior design and in the early ‘70s she and her hubby bought a semi-derelict manor house near Halkyn. They set about doing it up. Later she would move into the academic world where she taught fashion. These days the Pauline Wynne Jones label occasionally turns up at vintage fashion outlets, so it’s still possible to acquire her gear. Be warned though fashionistas - quality doesn't come cheap. Even a second-hand PWJ design will set you back a fair few quid.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Sophie Dee on Being Welsh

Here’s Sophie Dee nailing her colours to the Welsh mast, albeit in a very American accent. She is unquestionably the most successful Welsh porn star of all time and deserves wider recognition within Wales. If I were a documentary commissioner over at BBC Wales The Sophie Dee Story would be at the top of my programmes that ought to be made list. It would take precedence, for instance, over Rolf on Welsh Art.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Robert Mapplethorpe in Powys

Alexis de la Falaise had an enviable life. His mother, Maxime, was a famous English model and celebrated cook; his father was a well-heeled European aristo. The family had impeccable connections in the arts and fashion worlds. Andy Warhol was a friend of the family. Alexis himself appeared in Tub Girls, one of Warhol's more inspired films. It featured Viva in a bathtub with various individuals - one of whom was Alexis. But Alexis got fed up with the beau monde and decided instead to go and live on a sheep farm in a remote part of Powys.

One day in 1971 Alexis's step-father John McKendry showed up at the farm with a friend from New York. At the time McKendry was curator of prints and photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The young man he had in tow was none other than photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Mapplethorpe was in London for a short stay but had decided to extend his visit by a couple of weeks. His jaunt to Wales isn't especially well documented but at the farm he apparently took a snap of McKendry in the bathtub. Beyond that, little is known. The photographer’s trip to Wales is briefly mentioned in Patricia Morrisroe’s biog: Mapplethorpe.

As for Alexis de la Falaise he brought up two children in Wales. His daughter Lucie is now a model. His son Daniel is a successful chef and model. He was photographed with Madonna in her infamous 1992 book, Sex.

Monday, July 04, 2011


It’s the Welsh Je T’Aime. Actually Welsh rock band Man’s steamy Erotica (1968) single was released a year before the infamous Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin tune. Erotica would appear on Man’s debut LP Revelation but was banned from being played on UK radio as it was deemed too saucy. However, in less sexually repressed countries – France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Angola - it was released as a 7" single and did well, apparently. Enjoy.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Gore and Perversion

What's the most shocking and controversial album by a Welsh act ever? No, it’s not Harry Secombe’s kooky I’ll Walk With God LP, but Gore and Perversion by Desecration. This unsavoury debut was spawned in Newport in 1995. Newport at that time was the most pop culturally fertile place in Wales and was even mirthfully dubbed 'the new Seattle'. Desecration, though, stood somewhat apart from the town's burgeoning rock/indie scene. They were (and still are) a death metal band to be reckoned with.

Why was Gore and Perversion so reviled? Mainly because of its cover artwork which would test the freedom of expression principles of even the most dedicated libertarian. In fact, so unpleasant is the album’s cartoon graphic that I am unable to reproduce it here for fear of upsetting the fragile sensibilities of my, ahem, readership. The curious, however, can find it easily enough online – just do an image search for “Gore and Perversion”.

The company who printed the original cover (after pocketing the band’s money) was so disgusted by it that they contacted Gwent police. The fuzz deemed the recording obscene and all available copies were seized and destroyed. Members of the band had their homes raided and legal proceedings ensued. The upshot being that Desecration were ordered to tone down their content or quit the business altogether.

The other disturbing facet of the album was its lyrical content. Nobody would expect a death metal outfit to sing about puppies and kittens but Gore and Perversion’s remorseless and graphic focus on sexual violence and nether-region mutilation, shocked even hardened devotees of the genre. Songs on the album included, Raping the Corpse, Penile Dissection, Mutilated Genitalia and the distinctly less than charming Dead Bitch in the Skip. That Ollie Jones, the band’s singer and songwriter, was an actual mortician only added to Desecration’s notoriety.

Gore and Perversion would eventually be released with a black printed sticker over the original artwork apologising for the censorship (see pic). The whole album was re-recorded and re-released in 2003 as Gore and Perversion 2. In spite of – or perhaps benefitting from – their early notoriety Desecration have continued merrily down the death metal highway, producing many albums along the way, the last of which was Forensix. You can see a YouTube interview with two members of the band here, of which the only shocking thing is how terribly nice they appear to be.