Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mr. TWISTER and SUNSET BLVD. in "GARAGE SALE"

Mr. Twister back in the day, fronting an ad hoc group called Sunset Blvd. in the film "Garage Sale" circa 1975, starring Goldie Glitters of The Cockettes. Goldie at the time had left the influential San Francisco transgender troupe and matriculated at Santa Monica City College, where she eventually was elected Campus Queen ("A real queen!" she'd gushed trolling for votes.) 

Stymied for a big finish, the director Norman Yonemoto polled the crew for ideas whereupon the soundman extolled he could put together a visually exciting rock group with original songs overnight, the next day they could shoot the cast dancing to them, the wild rock rhythms would cause Godzilla to arise and attack, and the roof would fall in crushing everyone, The End (Fin.)  And so it went. The resultant underground film was well reviewed in the Hollywood Reporter.

A taste of my production stills of Sunset Blvd. in the film are above and below. The what ever happened to's of the entire band reveal someone who now lives at the very top of Topanga Canyon in a lovely manse; a film production professional; a first grade public school teacher; a current deputy mayor of the city of Los Angeles; and someone deceased way too young.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Security globe portrait

What to do while waiting at the after-midnight pharmacy? Self portrait in the security globe.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CARLA OLSON duets with GENE CLARK

photo
(C)1986 Heather Harris







Carla Olson, once of punks The Textones (from whom The Gogo's poached Kathy Valentine) and a worthy, popular duet-ist (with Mick Taylor amongst others) performing in 1986 at the Palomino with Gene Clark, once of '60s rockers The Byrds and their primary songwriter alongside Roger McGuinn and Bob Dylan.
Clark, a stellar talent with a troubled life, died of a heart attack at age 46 in 1991. Michael Stipe in the earliest R.E.M. days invited comparisons to Clark's own sonorous vocal sound, sharing the same Southern roots.

Monday, June 21, 2010

naughty little doggie?

impersonation of the naughty bits with Iggy Pop and Don Was, 1990.

Memorial concert for SANDY WEST 12.9.06




What I did on a certain Saturday night (12/9/06): take pix at memorial concert for Sandy West (The Runaways' drummer.) Lotsa female bands: a Bangles reunion, The Donnas, (both groups pictured above) (that's a helluva cute drummer in The Donnas, oui? All Mary Pickford curls and bows,) Kanary (a band that featured Leslie Knauer of Precious Metal plus Mary Kay and Tony Matteucci of The Dogs,) Michael Des Barres and his Big Band doing Big Band covers of, say, Sex Pistols' songs, and a lotta punkers' reunions, including The Adolescents, White Flag (last pic) and Rhino Bucket.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHING THE IMPOSSIBLE

In the textbooks, Frank Lloyd Wright's FALLINGWATER coruscates through the forest river mists like fairytales come true, a magic building floating over a real life waterfall. It's one of my bucket list goals to see/photograph it in person before croaking.

Topsy-turvy-wise, do you architecture groupies know about the only actual building that itself influenced a fairytale? The Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California was the prototype for the illustrations of the Emerald City castles in the original Oz books (the first five). The hotel featured a huge cone with tiny, little windows jutting out: you can see it in "Some Like It Hot" where it's role-playing being in Florida.

His son Lloyd Wright's works abound, but there are only three Frank Lloyd Wright residences in my native L.A., the Ennis House in my above photo, the Freeman one that's based upon triangles in cement and Mayan whimsy, and the fabulous Hollyhock House estate and grounds on the only single hilltop (as opposed to range of foothills) in Hollywood. All were from his molded cement period, and all are suffering from neglect.

Ennis House was used as the location of Angel's lair in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." My photo with the toppled trees and piles of brick debris was taken in 2006 after our rare rains produced much damage as seen above (absolutely nothing is built to last here.) I can't imagine any municipality not restoring a national treasure like a Wright residence, but then again, this is L.A. which insists upon doing the wrong thing at all times.

On the same jaunt I took the above pic. As Mistress of Illusion I love to photograph things that tweak reality. It's not a good shot, but it's of something that's not supposed to exist.

A fellow fantasy movie fan rhapsodized online about "King Kong" whereupon I added that I had seen one of the original Brontosaurus (now Apatosaurus) props from the original 1933 "King Kong" at horror/sci-fi collector supremo Forrest J. Ackerman's house, who was pleased as punch when I stopped in my tracks. He grinned as I marveled that it wasn't supposed to exist, that Willis O'Brien's stop-action armatures weren't constructed to last, and that all the props from original "Kong" were supposed to have long since disintegrated. This one didn't, and he loved the fact that I recognized this sauropod out of all others in the history of cinema, despite its precarious state. Remember the brontosaur rising from the primordial swamp? Here it is, 77 years later. Ackerman passed away in 2008.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SINGER PAMELA MASON

More rockergrrrls local history. Pamela Mason fronted a slew of my assorted L.A. clients' bands in the Sunset Strip's Golden Age of Hair Metal (she fortunately sported her own Brigitte Bardot tresses that required no further extensions.) As one group would fold or retrench, another would scoop her up: she was that good a singer.

I photographed the solo session with the flowers and my antique velvet clothes as a nuptials present to her and fellow musician Mark Mason, giving framed prints to them. They wed on a remote mountain top in Malibu so treacherous that all us guests refused to motor up there on its burro trail-driveway and just walked.

I photographed her in She Rok, Touch and Misguided as shown here and lost track of her whereabouts after her last foray singing high-ranged but smoky-voiced covers of obscure Free songs in a blues combo. Rumors prevailed that Mark and she moved to a horse farm somewhere on the West Coast while maintaining a globe-trotting business of yacht sales. It's all true. Last night we finally caught up on the phone, and they're still radiantly happy. Are you readers in love with Pamela yet?
Below, Pamela singing for Touch, and in She Rok (with Mary Kay in the center, see her own amazing story HERE.) The Touch shot appeared instantly in Music Connection magazine the second the editors saw and practically drooled on it pre-publication when the print was first brought in (during the pre-digital era.) Me, I like the devil horns effect as well.
Photobucket


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Pamela in Misguided (see HERE for more Misguided)

Lastly, here's a link for Mark and Pamela's yacht sales business that contains a current photo of her. She proves still very hubba hubba indeed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

HOW I STARTED A RIOT 41 YEARS AGO WHILE PHOTOGRAPHING GRAM PARSONS AND THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS


The Palm Springs Pop Festival, April 1, 1969, a music event a tad bigger quantitatively than the more celebrated Monterey Pop Festival of the same era although smaller by many triple digits than the later that summer Woodstock, was peopled by some eight thousand strong in drug-fueled hippie-dancing young souls.

I went with my new college chum who shared my interest in music specifically to see Moby Grape (see my blog HERE) and the Jeff Beck Group, the astonishingly adept and charismatic ensemble belying its solo name which also included Rod Stewart back when he cared and was actually fun + magnificent alongside future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, all of whom I had witnessed in sheer jaw-dropping awe in San Francisco a year earlier. (No pix of the 1968 Jeff Beck Group at Winterland by me: it was the first time I tried to shoot 35mm natural stage light and, with no instructions for my used pre-set lens camera, I botched it.) Both these bands canceled at the last minute, unbeknownst to us when we debarked for same.


When we got to the outdoor venue, it was my first time attending a show that blocked off the front of the stage from the audience or photographers like me. I was as determined then (particularly given the Jeff Beck Group photo fiasco) as I am now to get good live shots, so I just tore down the chicken wire, entered the rarified area and took the following photo of The Flying Burrito Brothers, (left to right the legendary Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Chris Ethridge and Sneeky Pete) all accoutered in their infamous custom Nudie suits, Gram with cannabis leaves and pills, Sneaky with pterodactyls etc.:
I only got this one shot of The Burritos because suddenly eight thousand people rushed forward to join me and I was jostled terminally from any further photography. It was uncomfortable amongst the new surging throngs, it was cold in the desert night air, the other two bands we wanted to see had canceled, we'd seen the remaining other acts before, and my friend was starting to get drugsick, so we left. But apparently those pushing stagewards continued in their spirit of surging and mobbing, and eventually rioted throughout toney Palm Springs all the way to the Taquitz Falls park. It was one of the first instances in failure of concert crowd control ending in rioting, quite some months before Altamont, and I, dear reader, may be responsible for its inception.

Later I would find access to stage photography limited by far more than chicken wire fencing, instead by micro-managing control freaks associated with the acts, and that has proven in long run a far more formidable obstacle to good photography than any 8,000 person riot behind me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SOME GIRLS of the 70s, 80s and 90s, assorted sessions

all photos (C) Heather Harris. All Rights Reserved.
Some that you recognize, some that you've never even heard of
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Bonnie Raitt, her Grammy and her band sax player at the Grammy Awards
Above, my friend Mary of The Dogs, far left, and one of her metal bands whose name I can't remember. Leah on guitar and ego (justified by her excellent playing) is in front, the singer on the far right was a dancer in her day/night job, and the preppy-looking drummer played like Mini-me John Bonham in a drum cage
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Crickette for my punk book back cover
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Patricia Morrison of Gun Club, with bass and her genuine hair, not extensions. Elvira copied her look and admitted same early on, Patricia has since married onetime The Damned bandmate Dave Vanian, and together they now have a little ghoul
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Melanie Herrald, world-class singer, pipes of steel, from grunge-metal BadXample
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Paula Pierce of The Pandoras, different phases. Don't ask, don't tell what she was doing onstage in the photo on the right. It was during her cover of the Stooges "Loose"
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Pan A. of The Love Poodles. She could sing in Russian!
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Chloe Webb (Nancy in "Sid And Nancy" film) at a Rock and Spoken Word festival performance
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more of The Wild Hairs with different line-ups. One of them helped pioneer commercial piercing, one of them disappeared with Billy Idol on the back of his motorcycle after a gig, one remains a natural blonde, one of them has written published, historical non-fiction from Washington DC, one of them has been to Cuba and back (hard to do for us Americans,) and one still lives across the street from me
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I've forgotten whom, but I surely referenced Richard Avedon for this singer. Two items of my own antique clothing worn here
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I've forgotten whom, but she was cute, very young, arrived without proper accessories, and is wearing my jacket and muffler, as I continue to do as well to this day
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Above, the photographer herself, on television in the early 1970's. My film of my future better half's band on the production set hadn't turned out well, so I was trying to recapture same photographing the actual broadcast. 'Still didn't get much. The photographer in this persona and vintage marabou bedjacket so trendy in the original Glam era bears no resemblance to the present one. Note I am on tv twice.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

CHARISMA ASSERTS EARLY IN HOLLYWOOD



Maria Damon from Facebook remarked, at the following description of our mutual teen crushes, how some individuals already are blessed with charisma even when they are relatively unformed.

 He was a 6'3" ridiculously good looking 17 year old with Byronic curls, and liked films (inevitably, as he was the nephew of a Classic Hollywood Legendary Face of the 1920s through the 1950s, and direct spawn of a noted director and actress,) rock music, exotic foreign cuisine, fashions of the day (think back through the Paisley Corridors of Time,) dangerous illicit pastimes (also think back through the Paisley Corridors of Time,) drawing his own art and taking his own still photography.
 
These arty topics never even came up in my own toxic family environment recently vacated  by my one ally, my brother. These topics were even actively discouraged from ever existing. My father had been a professional singer who gave it all up when he married and he'd retained a bitter "if I can't succeed in showbiz, no one in my family should even try" mindset that attacked my artistic ways nonstop throughout childhood and adolescence. In my bedroom of secrets, such topics already had become centerpiece to my young world. Everything all at once, plus add hormones. I was a 15 year old goner. 
 
This goner-ism came from just snuggling next to him at the oddball movie "Morgan! A Suitable Case for Treatment" starring David Warner and Vanessa Redgrave back in the Swinging '60s. I then realized that love wasn't just an abstract conceit of the Romantic poets, it was physical. Lightning bolt of lust. Wowza!
 


It also was 100% totally unrequited, except that he let it remain rather actively unrequited by continued interaction with yours truly for some four years while otherwise socializing in the normal manner one might expect of handsome teen guys. I did pick up a professional skill as it turned out. I learned how better to deal with ladies' men such as one would encounter as the norm in the rock and roll business. There's always trade-offs for the best ones. But I wouldn't again fixate upon another of these (the best ones) in my personal life for years to come, and it would take another five years to scrape the groupies off...(Story found pp. 18 - 46 when you follow the link proffered
HERE.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thanks, DENIZ TEK

Well, gosh! I haven't had such praise heaped on me since...never! Thanks Deniz for this in reference to this! In appreciation, here's my photo of Rico's '69 matte black Corvette in our back yard during greener times (mentioned in the first link.)(left to right: Loren Molinare, Steve Godoy, Art Godoy, Danny Creadon, Jimmy Recca and Deniz Tek, from the second link.)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MR. TWISTER on record

photo (C) 1978 Heather Harris
My photograph for the back cover of the Chainsaw single "Polaride Pictures" featuring the beauteous Crickette O posing with Mr. Twister and his 4x5 large format camera to portray the frisson of decadence with a soupcon of technology, a photograph actually done with mirrors.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

PRIVILEGE: social engineering, Pop Culture and of course Jean Shrimpton


The formerly preposterously rare (two extant prints in the universe) 1967 film "Privilege" has been digitally restored of late in its original color and is now available on any dvd sales site.

This matters for several reasons. Firstly, because the film was as prescient as many consider Nostradamus to have been. Its plot, considered so far-fetched at the time that the film was oft labeled science fiction, centers around an increasingly totalitarian government in a first world country that attempts social engineering at all levels, including utilization of pop culture. It's hit on the formula to control youthful rebellion and dissent in general by investing a young pop idol with state-sponsored power (more in a minute) as centerpiece of national obsession.

EVERYONE cares about this particular pop idol and what happens to him every week, since his act has been designed to attract universal sympathy and diffuse caring about one's self and one's own troubles. I'll not reveal how because the strange design of the first tour of his that viewers see is a revelation within itself.
What he says, what products he endorses, and how he steers the populace into state-sponsored trends and philosophies is a fait accompli in the film. The government notes a surplus of apple crops, idol Steven is immediately shown eating lots of apples, as now will the general populace. Got religion? Steven now does, and you will too. It always works. You buy what he wears, what he endorses. But what sort of personality would go along with being such a figurehead?

And what sort of actor could even pull this messianic stardom off realistically, since the film is made in documentary style?
Luckily, the answers are pretty good. The plot centers on the gradual breakdown of this personality, as no one but an insane megalomaniac could keep this up forever, his world of his every action micro-managed by others and every "creative" output predetermined for him. (Not like....now in 2010!)


This person hired to quell all rebellion eventually starts to rebel against the state-sponsored privilege of universal "love." And the actor hired to be both this convincing a pop star and a soul tormented practically to torpor was an actual rock god, Paul Jones, the tall, good-looking blond singer of the Manfred Mann group of the mid-60's, if you recall the hearty voice on classic Brit oldies "Do Wah Diddy" and "Pretty Flamingo." "Privilege"'s director Peter Watkins, known for terrifying all of Britain with the first realistic, ultra-violent post nuclear apocalypse film "The War Game," knew how important casting is, despite trade-offs. Paul Jones was of the minute modern, and could convey this fantastical idea of Orwellian government control through a pop star by being a credible pop star known at the time.
His co-star, 1960's icon Jean Shrimpton playing the instigation of the star's rebellion, was the most beautiful and famous model ever, at that particular moment in history. The trade-off was you believed them in their roles, even if you didn't believe them as trained actors. It's not so much that they can't act, more that both leads were directed to be underplayed a la Greta Garbo: you put your own reflections of the proceedings on their visages, in contrast to the freneticism of Steven's fans and the steely controlling of his handlers. Suffice it to say, their roles and performances well hold up today: they are who they play, and they look perfect.

Jones is actually a compelling performer and great vocalist, singing real (as opposed to "movie") rock songs in this film. Pretty good rock songs too: one was covered 25 years later by Patti Smith and Paula Pierce and The Pandoras, which then sounded as modern as ever. Punk legends Chainsaw based their one ballad on the opening scene of "Privilege."
And Shrimpton!* Even with purportedly wooden acting, she remains a focus you cannot take your eyes off of. You instantly understand her visual domination of the first half of the 1960's and her incontrovertible allure.


In fact it all holds up pretty well today, and the film appears far more tellingly intelligent than it did when it was released and reviled enough to force its director to move abroad. It had been a lost cult classic ever since 1967, and, with the resurrection of Brian Wilson's lost "Smile" album, finally completes gaps in the best of pop culture from the 1960's, ironically so with its very indictment of pop culture manipulation gone totalitarian.

"Privilege" feels more real and works better today in 2010 than when it was released some forty years ago. Check this treasure out!


 Above, fair use image © David Bailey. Jean Shrimpton by Bailey circa 1965

*Her photographer mentor/lover David Bailey and she were heroes to my generation, for being their own self-created personae and young successes to boot: the "one of ours" syndrome. A wrongly ascribed shyness was assigned to this, her one acting role. In front of the still camera she was as extrovert as you can get, confident, dazzling and compelling. I'm a still photographer, and I know what it takes for models to project: something from within beyond the interaction of mere direction.

She was ultra-successful, but not well remunerated, as the book "Model" which explored the various decades of the profession pointed out (only models after the mid-70's became millionaires as the business changed along with its agencies and licensing practices.) She even verified this in her own biography, without bitterness. Folks question why she seemingly dropped off the face of the earth (Cornwall, actually.) I don't.


People who were successful in their aspirations but not necessarily in finances often think in terms you might not suspect: I've done it all firsthand, I was at the center of the hurricane's eye, I don't need to continue immersing myself in this business any more and pretend to go along with the changes in fads; I can happily go away and be at peace. This just makes heroes like Shrimpton, (and perhaps little known photographers like yours truly) artists, not artiste manques`.

2015 update addenda: Jean Shrimpton remains happily married to Michael Cox while their son Thaddeus runs the family investment The Abbey, an upscale hotel in Penzance, Cornwall. England.  §                                                Pictured → Ms. Shrimpton today.
↓ Paul Jones today, a successful British television actor and personality.





Wednesday, June 2, 2010

LAST INTERVIEW WITH PAUL KOSSOFF M.I.A.

I conducted the very last ever interview with Paul Kossoff (iconic guitarist of Free, they of "All Right Now" supremacy on all classic rock stations everywhere, and later ventures solo or with Back Street Crawler) right before he died young. I can locate neither tearsheets nor tape recordings to prove this piece's eventual appearance in some fly by night, local L.A. alternative rag (Tim Buckley's last interview ever with yours truly fortunately is up at rocksbackpages.com now. I think the message clearly is, rock musicians, don't do an interview with me.)

I didn't ask him about his previously publicized overdose (subject of the music clip below) in which he had (presciently as it turns out) been legally dead however briefly. He rewarded my lack of intrusion by telling me what it actually was like to be dead, saying, "You go to sleep. There's nothing else." Heady stuff for a young rock interviewer who already was a nihilist of sorts.
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