Congratulations to Bexy James, the winner of our 2008 Holiday Pin-up Contest!

A copy of Brian Setzer Orchestra -- The Ultimate Collection: Recorded Live
will be sent her way, courtesy of Surfdog Records.


...and other free Christmas MP3s at AMAZON.COM! Grab 'em while they're free!


Give a gift that keeps on giving! As we enjoy the benefits of a happy, relatively secure homeland this Christmas, why not sate your hunger for some good ol' American "cheesecake" and help wounded veterans at the same time!

Model and entrepreneur Gina Elise of Redlands, California has just put her third annual PIN-UPS FOR VETS calendar! Get it for yourself, a loved one or buy a bunch to distribute to a veterans' hospital near you! Not only are these classy, classic pin-up photos the perfect way to make 2009 more merry, Gina will also PERSONALIZE your purchase with a message and her autograph! She also carries POSTERS and T-SHIRTS, which she will also sign.

Start 2009 off right -- buy a PIN-UPS FOR VETS calendar and know that your money is going to help our brave wounded warriors!

See Gina Elise interviewed on FOX 11 LOS ANGELES



Go to BETTIEPAGE.COM for all official news releases and reactions from some of those closest to her.

From the staff of the BETTIE PAGE BLOG, this is a sad day which we are choosing to use as a time to reflect why, 50 years after her height of activity as a model, we are still enthralled with Bettie's image. This blog began a few months ago, when Bettie's health was already in some decline. Knowing we may not be blessed with her presence much longer, we decided to focus the blog on the fans and the community, in hopes that when, inevitably, she left us, we would have created a space for fans of all stripes to come together and express how the force of her personality, speaking through these images, many shot by amateur photographers, has reached out across decades to affect the way we look at ourselves and our world. The world would be a different place if Bettie had never lived. Although she never was able to fully understand or appreciate her impact, it is clear to anyone who looks for it -- Bettie's legacy is profound, far-reaching and growing.

When a woman can reject society's view of beauty and, instead, discover and choose to celebrate her own, Bettie lives.

When mature adults can celebrate their sexuality with a sense of fun instead of fear and shame, Bettie lives.

When a person can feel that faith and self-expression aren't mutually exclusive, Bettie lives.

When an outsider of any description feels the power of their uniqueness instead of the pain of society's disdain, Bettie lives.

So, even on a day where we are saddened by Bettie's death, we want to encourage every one to comment on how Bettie lives on in you.


Pop Icon Pin-Up Bettie Page Critical After Heart Attack

Associated Press

December 5, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Bettie Page, one of the most notable models of the 20th century, is hospitalized in intensive care after suffering a heart attack in Los Angeles.

Mark Roesler, Page's agent and attorney, says the 85-year-old is "critically ill."

He says she suffered a heart attack Tuesday and remains hospitalized.

He would not comment further on her condition.

*Sorry, we don't know any more than the press does!*


Happy Thanksgiving!


Grab Bag!!!

http://www.citypaper.com/arts/review.asp?rid=14165 A fun to read review of the new book, Jetpack Dreams: One Man's Up and Down (But Mostly Down) Search For The Greatest Invention That Never Was by Mac Montandon from Baltimore's CITYPAPER.

A National Post article about the precarious place of graphic novels as they try to break out of the comic book ghetto.

Article on Olivia from the LA TIMES.

Here are a few articles on sometimes Bettie Page impersonator Joey Arias from GAY CITY NEWS, TIME OUT NEW YORK and THE NEW YORK TIMES.

A fashion article that draws a line between Bettie Page bangs and an embrace of existentialism! Interesting to say the least!

THE YAKIMA HERALD does a hard-hitting investigative piece on the pernicious threat of BREWLESQUE... coffee served by lovely ladies in pin-up garb.

Did anybody in the UK see the burlesque-themed movie MAKE IT HAPPEN? Is it as bad as it looks?


PAIGEY! THE ART OF PAIGE PUMPHREY is a visual "greatest hits" of the art of this rockabilly-infused comic book artist. Paigey's absolutely adorable figures are plump and round and uncomplicated, almost as if created for animation. Despite the "line against curve" figure drawing, she injects enough specificity to create a sense of reality about even her most cartoonish figures.

Where Paigey shines is in allowing her characters to radiate personality. Some artists come up with one great "character" and then swap hair and props to stretch that character into a career. Paigey can use a consistent stylistic approach on a series of figures (as she does in her wonderful portraits of roller derby teams) and by squashing, stretching or shifting basic anatomy, creates fully-realized, totally differentiated characters that genuinely come alive on the page. For this reason, it's easy to see why she is increasingly in demand for her stylized commissioned portrait. When being a Paigey character looks as much fun as it does in this book, who wouldn't want to be one???

If a fault could be found, it's not with the art, which, from the tributes to EC horror and 50's romance comics, the many 'toon tributes to roller derby girls, pop culture figures such as Kat Von D, comic characters like old skool Kitty Pryde (inclusion of her purple dragon Lockheed earns her nerd points) and scores of captivating designs for a goth/vampire comic, "Pearly Whites", is all inspiring. Rather, the slim volume has almost no written copy -- not on the back, not a foreward, nothing to put this grouping of commissions, character sheets and posters into context. If it ever goes back to press or when Paigey is ready to fill another book, she should consider adding some commentary.

The bottom line is that if Walt Kelly and Bruce Timm both listened to Gene Vincent, they might draw rockabilly boys, pin-up girls and roller derby queens with as much sass and panache as Paigey!

PAIGEY! THE ART OF PAIGE PUMPHREY may be purchased directly from the artist, via her MySpace page.

First Blush Music Reviews

Imelda May has some serious vocal chops and her songs are all constructed around showing off her pipes. Clearly, this is an artist who has done her homework (evidently, she was the vocalist for a roots rock band for seven years prior to going solo). Like a subtle perfume, her various vocal stylings hint and whisper at sources of inspiration... full-throated, husky, imperiousness that Wanda Jackson couldn't handle better, whispered laments that could move Billie Holiday or sultry come-hithers that would have Petty Lee swinging her hips. The success of Imelda May is that none of these influences overpower her own talents, and it is precisely this ease as moving from country to jazz to pop (even if "pop" music as it hit turntables a half a century ago) attitudes that makes her music such a delight to behold. The music is tasteful, featuring a full band but restrained arrangements, recorded to sound warm and alive -- as proven by the "live room" sound of the thumping upright base that opens "Johnny Got a Boom Boom".

Joe Brown blends US and UK influences to create a satisfying roots rock sound. The clean, modern and full production stands in contrast to much of the ethic of today's retro and alt-country approach. Instead, the work sounds either like when past country luminaries tried to sound "relevant" in the 80's and 90's (think the Cash/Nelson/Jennings/Kristofferson supergroup THE HIGHWAYMEN or Carl Perkins' star-studded 1996 effort, GO CAT GO) or when 60's and 70's rock gods grab a mandolin or bust out a shuffle lick (think TRAVELING WILBURYS). The picking is more crisp than ferocious, but it'll get your toe tapping.

The Honeybees - genial, witty ditties that rise on the wings of high harmonies and the sweet (if occasionally pitchy) female dual vocals of Barbara Clifford and Rachel Decker, ably abetted by sunny playing that nods to many styles found in the pre-British Invasion hit parade.

Rockabilly Roundup!

PhotobucketSince we featured a glowing review of Dave Alvin's BEST OF THE HIGHTONE YEARS, here's some "equal time" for his no-less-talented brother, PHIL ALVIN, the lead singer of THE BLASTERS. THE RED BANK ORBIT, from Red Bank, NJ, caught up with him for a fun interview.

PhotobucketJODY REYNOLDS, the cat who brought us "Endless Sleep" has joined the protagonist of his 1950's "teen tragedy" hit. No teen, he, Reynolds lived to see 75, having played on for decades, as well as carving out a successful career in real estate.

For more:

Finally, a little Q&A with Jim "Reverend Horton Heat" Heath, in which he talks about having "Psychobilly Freakout" on GUITAR HERO II and how recording a great record does not necessarily make you a musician.



Tonight, THE SUNDANCE CHANNEL is airing a documentary entitled CARNY tonight at 9 PM. CARNY is about the modern-day, anachronistic life of circus and sideshow folk. The documentary is spun from the amazing photo essay by Virginia Lee Hunter.

Here's a trailer for the doc:

CARNY Documentary trailer


Snap Judgements

Those Poor Bastards - "Gothic Country" practitioners. Their site sports a quote from no less than Hank III. Imagine Jon Spencer of JOHN SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION putting his lo-fi/overly distorted recording ethic to early NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS (think "Tupelo" as an idea of what you'll find here). Other tracks take the dark carnival ride closer to Tom Waits territory.

The Matadors
A swingin' rhythm section helps sell the Matadors' blend of cheeky, defiantly un-P.C. lyrics delivered in an over-the-top psycho-hillbilly faux Elvis vocal style. The thematics and beat seems indebted to the MISFITS, but the music is much more "legit" rockin' rockabilly, like early LIVING END. Judging from the braggadocios, Satan-laced bio, this is a band that knows how to take the music... and ONLY the music... seriously.


The COLUMBUS DISPATCH printed a funny article positing what tattoos would "toughen up" cubicle dwellers:

If young women with vague tribal designs on their lower backs and guys with the image of Chief Wahoo's face on their calves prove anything, it's this: Tattoos are no longer just for prisoners, the Russian Mafia, outlaw bikers, pro basketball players, rockabilly bassists and millionaire rappers.

But one subculture has yet to fully embrace illustrated skin: the gang of the white-collar office workers...


I found a thoughtful blog post about how Confederate iconography is a slap in the face to everything Rockabilly stands for -- the mixing of black and white musical concepts in a time and place when "race mixing" was violently opposed. As we reflect on our first black President, it's time to better honor Rockabilly's role in changing racial attitudes at a crucial time in our nation's history.

The racially-segregated world longed for by the Stars and Bars Confederacy would inhibit the multi-racial development of rock'n'roll. Real rockabillies were the enemies of that order. They acted in rebellion against then-prevailing strictures.

The phenomenon of the individual daring to think for her or himself and rebelling against imposed values undergirds today's authentic rockabilly community, just as it fired the original.

Read the rest of the article by DC LARSON, a freelance writer and current CD Review Editor for Rockabilly Magazine.

Rockabilly Roundup!

Read a great article/appreciation/timeline of the Queen of Rockabilly from TULSA WORLD.

The TENNESSEAN has a positive review of Billy Bob Thornton's rockabilly outfit, THE BOXMASTERS' new holiday offering, CHRISTMAS CHEER. As a bonus, they offer a free download of their cover of John Prine's wry, off-kilter tune, CHRISTMAS IN PRISON.

News from multiple sources that MERLE HAGGARD is recovering from an operation removing a malignant tumor from his lung.

HUSHABYE has a lullaby version of JOHNNY CASH classics! Get your kids started off with good taste in music from the cradle! When are they tackling THE CRAMPS???

Tokyo Rockabilly

Jack’s Vintage Clothing, tel: (81-3) 3470 1499, sells poodle skirts, bowling shirts and vintage Levi’s out of a closet-like shop on a backstreet in Harajuku — the district known for its weekend gatherings of rockabilly buffs. Store owner Jack (Elvis) Sato, a sometime actor and Elvis fan (he honors the King’s birthday each year by throwing a street party), attracts a mix of stylists, tourists and members of Tokyo’s rockabilly scene. The clingy Hawaiian-print dresses are especially popular, but in fact Jack’s is good for almost anything ’50s. Pick up a couple of items and chances are you’ll blend right into Harajuku’s passing parade.

Read more about "Tokyo's Vintage Scene" in TIME MAGAZINE.


Reverend Horton Heat

"ORIGNIALITY IS VERY IMPORTANT," said James "the Reverend Horton Heat" Heath. "At the same time, it's important to be accessible. You can be really original, and be playing a chain saw, a harp and a doghouse, and people are like, 'That's really original. Please stop.'"

Read the rest of a short but fun interview HERE

Them Tornados (South Africa) - bone dry and cracklin' neo-rockabilly that sits nicely between the Stray Cats and Tiger Army.

The Idle Americans (Baltimore, MD)
- If The Georgia Satellites listened to Stevie Ray Vaughn.


Two CD compilations are always compelling, as they normally collapse an entire career into a basketful of tracks… not an exhaustive box set for purists, but not a “best of” with just the road-tested standards. These collections give casual fans a real chance to see how an artist rises above (or knuckles under to) passing fads and hones and develops his or her craft. For Tom Russel, this extended collection, VETERAN'S DAY: THE TOM RUSSELL ANTHOLOGY, shows how he has adorned the basic truth of his art in various ways. Russell is a storyteller, a “cowboy poet”. For those unfamiliar, cowboy poetry is an enduring artform in which the stoic American icon of masculinity is given voice through the work of writers attracted to the Western motif. In film, Clint Eastwood is a cowboy poet. In song, we have talents like Russell.

However, the market isn’t always kind to cowboy poets, so Russell infuses his consistent point-of-view into fresh musical “clothes”. Early tracks betray a 70’s era singer-songwriter sound, almost an “AM Gold” vibe. Later tracks on the first CD have the sound of a solid roots-rock road band -- think Lords of the New Church or The Del Fuegos. By the second CD, Russell’s voice takes on a deeper timbre – and a new prominence – in tracks that blur the line between classic standard-bearers of country, such as Merle Haggard, and alt.country. Russell different tones and textures all serve rather languid narrative songs. There’s not much here that’ll help you shake your ass, but if you have the patience, a number of tracks paint a narrative that will engage your imagination.


Halloween Tunes!

I was trying to find Baron Shiver's KLXU's DJ gig, but couldn't find it podcast anywhere! (what is this -- 2006??) Luckily, I happened on the BURRITO ELECTRICO Halloween podcast, which is a solid, fuzzed-out, pseudo-Misfits-heavy slab o' Horror rock.

play list:

HellCat and the Prowl - Halloween

Graveyard Shift - Coffin Cadillac

Rezurex - Graveyard Girl

The Van Orsdels - Shallow grave

Back to Zero - Demon Girl

The After Darks - RedNeck Zombie

BlitzKid - Making a Monster

Misfits - Night of the Living Dead

The Monster Club - Boris Bella & I

GraveStompers - Halloween in HaddonField

Evil Devil - Highway 666

As DiaBatz - Witches Stomp

Calabrese - Childern of the night

The SpookShow - Carry me Home

The Coffin Caddies - Zombiemania

The Undead - Be My Ghoul

The Flanders - Halloween

Misfits - Halloween II

Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween!

Remember to vote in our Halloween Pin-up Contest on MySpace!


The bulk of Buddy Miller’s songs, at first blush, seem to consist of romantic ballads offered with tasteful, understated arrangements. On a few cuts, the production seems bent on putting a country radio ballad sheen on singer-songwriter confessionals. One could think that this is a collection designed to have you crying in your Starbucks latte. However, if you lay back and let this group of songs, THE BEST OF THE HIGHTONE YEARS, reflecting his output from 1995-2002, wash over you, a hard-edged poetry emerges, the kind of surprising twists of narrative and unexpected depths earned by a clever turn-of-phrase that elevates this material. Imagine taking the emotive power of Lefty Frizzell and combining it with the low-key intelligence of Leonard Cohen, you’ll likely picture songs that strive to offer something beyond country professionalism.

His wife, Julie Miller, elevates every track on which she appears, dueting with her guitar-slinger husband on four tracks and offering tight harmonies on others.

Standouts include slow burn thumpers like DOES MY RING BURN YOUR FINGER and LITTLE DARLIN’ -- and his take on the hit he wrote for the Dixie Chicks, HOLE IN MY HEAD, smokes their more popular version.

With unrepentant zeal, Producer/Director Chuck Williams, Producer/Director/Host Daniel Roebuck and Associate Producer/Co-Host Bob Burns delve into the history and fandom of Halloween. While it won’t win any Oscars for cinematography, the documentary has the professional sheen of a television production. But where this DVD blows any “Halloween retrospective” Discovery Channel doc away is in the carefully cultivated content, which manages to be both fannish in its appreciation for monsters and Halloween displays and gratifyingly sociological in examining the origins and motivations for the public’s love of the holiday.

If you’re young enough to think that Rob Zombie invented his persona out of whole cloth or you are someone who simply has a stack of old FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazines or 70’s Universal Monsters models gathering dust in a closet, you NEED this documentary. It is an education, a celebration and an affirmation for all those who know that SCARY and FUN are not mutually exclusive.

ROBERT ENGLUND and ALICE COOPER add some superstar sizzle, managing to show that the “pros” got that way by being the biggest fans. They’re both in touch with their inner Trick-or-Treater, even after it’s become a “business”.

It’s off the beaten track, however, where the real fun is had… meeting the artisans who lovingly craft vinyl masks, special effects wizards who put just as much effort into their neighborhood haunted house as they do a multi-million dollar production and the fans who are so eager to be at the mad monster party that they build exotic and ornate museums for their collectibles or even devote their lives to building replicas of their favorite creatures.

Hurry on over to http://www.dvdhalloween.com or AMAZON.COM and pick up a copy of HALLOWEEN – THE HAPPY HAUNTING OF AMERICA – the DVD for your inner Monster groupie!

Remember to visit the Blog MySpace page and vote for your favorite Halloween Pin-up! The contest is sponsored by HALLOWEEN - THE HAPPY HAUNTING OF AMERICA.


A slightly cloying article about the "high end" discovering "lowbrow", courtesy of the LA TIMES. Still, it name-drops Oceanic Arts, Shag and the always fun Tiki Central forum.

Noted Los Angeles uber-kool "designer toy" artist, julie b., has a sale posted on her myspace page. Make her bad luck your good luck and pick up a piece of amazing original art fer cheap!

Note: "mother" is sold.

Interested in buying?

Contact her on her myspace page or email her at juliebossinger@hotmail.com.

Dave Alvin’s THE BEST OF THE HIGHTONE YEARS is the stark, lonesome soundtrack to a desert roadtrip of the mind’s eye. Put it on, and the slide guitars, folk rhythms and nuanced lyrics will have a listener in a classic Cadillac, nursing a broken heart, somewhere between the Inland Empire and the Texas panhandle, staring down a dusty ribbon of empty highway that stretches into the horizon.

What Alvin, an original member of the legendary Blasters, does brilliantly in his solo work is imbue the century-old country blues that obviously inspire him with the dexterous songwriting of a honed craftsman. In track after track, on songs such as “Dry River”, “King of California” and “Fourth of July”, Alvin uses a specific, blue-collar Los Angeles that is never mentioned in US Weekly and a metaphor for loneliness and longshots, giving transitory, sometimes frivolous Los Angeles a touch of pathos and, perhaps, stoic dignity.

Pick up this release if you want to hear what Country radio would sound like if they gave a damn. Dave Alvin expressed a desire to mix “blues, folk, rock and roll, R&B and country”, grow as a musician and not be messed with too much. By the sound of it -- mission accomplished!

THE BEST OF THE HIGHTONE YEARS culls from a decade of Alvin’s output: 1990-2000. It offers a solid overview of albums in this period, as well as some surprises: an amazing unreleased studio various of “Dry River”, an original blues tune, “Dixie Highway Blues” and a few rarities, such as a duet with Katy Moffatt. As with any collection, THE BEST OF THE HIGHTONE YEARS faces the conflicting tasks of appealing to neophytes and purists, both. It speaks to the continuing quality of SHOUT! Factory packages that it succeeds so well. Both “newbies” and longtime fans should wear this one out.

THE BEST OF THE HIGHTONE YEARS hits shelves October 28th.

Buy on Amazon.


It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of Norton Records' premier stars, the incredible Rudy Ray Moore-- world famous movie star, recording artist and comedian, known throughout the world as the bad, bad Dolemite. We pass along some in-house memories here, adding to umpteen accumulating accolades.


It's so hard to imagine that Rudy Ray Moore is gone. The phrase "larger than life" seems to have been coined just for him. The Dolemite character of his movies and comedy routines became part of his every day persona. I remember one time years ago, when Miriam and I drove over to pick up Rudy at his sister's place in West Orange, New Jersey. When we arrived at the address, I realized we had no apartment number so I went to use the pay phone outside to call him. There were two characters leaning against the phone booth, one drinking out of a paper sack. They gave me some grief about using “their” phone and a little uneasy banter was exchanged until Rudy strolled out the front door, resplendent in a long black coat with white ermine fur trim and a massive matching chapeau. The guy with the beverage's eyes popped out like in the cartoons. “DOLEMITE!" he cried out. “IT'S DOLE-FUCKIN'-MITE!” I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall the next morning when that cat tried to sort out his hangover.

Rudy may well have been the single most respected person I've ever met-- admired and revered by people from all walks of life. Once I was driving Rudy to the airport and he was jockeying two calls on his cell phone. He had a hip hop big shot on one line confirming Rudy's appearance at a Player's Ball, while he had a priest on hold. Rappers in particular all cited Rudy's groundbreaking films and records as an influence. One day while I was hauling records in and out of Coyote Studio basement here in Brooklyn, rap star Nas was shooting a video upstairs on North 6th Street. It was obvious that I was in the way, constantly coming in and out of the front door while they were trying to film. A crew member brought my interference to the attention of Mike Caiati, the owner of Coyote Studios. Mike told them to cut me some slack, that I was a friend of Dolemite. Suddenly everyone was my best pal and I was swapping Dolemite posters for delicious gourmet sandwiches.

Nathaniel Mayer, a major fan of Rudy's, pointed out after having his photo snapped with Rudy, “Where I live, if you show anybody a picture of you with Dolemite, you got gold…”

We had the great pleasure in recording Rudy along with Andre Williams on a cover of the Crawford Brothers' I Ain't Guilty, the pair belting out the duet like none other. Rudy arrived in the company of the immortal Jimmy "Mr. Motion" Lynch. Those guys were a non-stop riot! (Rudy climbing the three flights of stairs to the studio: "Jimmy, ain't they got an elevator?" Jimmy: "Sure, Rudy. You elevate one foot and then you elevate the other.") While in the studio, we asked Rudy if he would record a Public Service Announcement on the topic of his choice. He immediately chose AIDS as his topic, and proceeded to cut an excellent, informative off-the-cuff PSA. He then asked to cut another version with "hard words" for FM, and proceeded with a belligerent, hi-octane anti-AIDS rant that took even his saltiest "party records" one better.

When I told him I was booking him room at the Marriott Hotel when he emceed our Norton Soul Spectacular a couple of years ago, he refused to stay there, accusing me of overspending. “Billy, you're just like Busta Rhymes!” Rudy was total class on that show, bringing to the stage one star after another with the same fiery delivery he brought to the screen in DOLEMITE or PETEY WHEETSTRAW. A bad motherfucker to the end and indeed, much, much larger than life.


Billy's always goofing on me for calling things "Old School". For me, that means the good stuff, better ways, the real deal-- as defined by Rudy Ray Moore! The man defined the limits of taste, humor, and style and left everyone around him agog with his regal personality. And you know, he wasn't pompous-- he just naturally oozed total class. Just gliding through a door, you knew with Rudy that you were in the presence of a true V.I.P. And when he spoke, in that astonishing baritone, he could make a simple sentence an awesome, lyrical pronouncement.

We first met Rudy many years ago at a comedy show. The Great Gaylord called and told us Rudy was going to be doing a show in Jersey City with Wild Man Steve. None of us really knew what to expect-- we loved the Dolemite movies and were crazy about his old 45s, but we didn't know how approachable he'd be with a bunch of goofy greenhorn fans. We needn't have worried. Rudy strode in from the shadows after Wild Man, a tall, insanely handsome man with a dazzling smile, and immediately the audience erupted into enthusiastic screams and applause, particularly from the women! From a ladies point of view, let me assure you girls (and Rudy had a delectable way of says "GIRLS" that could make a 90 year old blush and giggle) that when he started cat calling the big bottom dolls, baiting them with what might be considered insults to the uninitiated, it became obvious that this was a man whose craft was making everybody feel like part of the show. Even when he engaged various ethnic, overly-proportional, overtly interesting, and well, plug ugly, people, it was like a hazing into a esteemed club. Getting called out by Rudy was a badge of honor, a matter of pride. Rudy wrapped up the show by personally presenting the ladies in the audience with battery-operated, light-up, scented roses while reciting his Legend of Dolemite, which is as close to the Rime of The Ancient Mariner as rockin' folk care to teeter. We all jumped up for a standing ovation that went all for some time, and afterwards, we all bought Dolemite back scratchers and got autographs and pictures with the man.

It was obvious that Rudy wanted to reach everyone the world over with his talents. He was not content with being a Black icon in film, or heralded as the first Rapper. It was back at an early WFMU record show in a church basement in the East Village, that Billy and I started speaking with Rudy about his early musical days. He was somewhat shocked that anyone thought there was interest in his early R&B recordings. He was instantly on it, digging for scrapbooks, tapes, and any ephemera to help us document his early pre-comedy career. We started seriously pulling together old recordings, and began interviewing Rudy for biographical notes. Rudy told the stories with great relish. We had the tape recorder going in the car during a snow storm while Rudy was belting out Rally In The Valley and remembering the amateur shows in Cleveland, St Louis, New York, Los Angeles--- every city where there was a venue and audience for Black entertainers. Another time we were eating dinner with him at a hotel restaurant, again over a tape recorder, when Rudy pulled out one of his impromptu, gemaceous nonsequiturs. An airline pilot, evidenced as so by the uniform and hat, was eating alone at another table. Quite suddenly, Rudy called out to him, "Excuse me, young man!" and the pilot looks around and says, "Me?" "Are you flying to Dayton, Ohio this evening?" he asked with great pomp and circumstance, with an elegant English accent. Puzzled, the pilot shook his head, no. Rudy went back into his story with us, without missing a beat. Trust me, it was one of funniest moments, ever. Totally out of the blue, unexplained and OLD SCHOOL. Well, the R&B collection ended up as a double LP set called HULLY GULLY FEVER, the first collection of his early records, and the first thorough telling of his early days from the R&B chitlin circuit to his first moments in standup comedy. He said it reminded him of how much he loved to sing, and he took to including some musical numbers amongst his comedy routines.

The world will remember Rudy as an entertainment genius, as a man with great vision and daring, as a man who would continue working his craft until the end of his life. He will also be remembered as the last of the true gentlemen, a veritable Human Tornado whose work will never be forgotten and whose spirit will forever affect and inspire anyone who follows their heart, no matter what. We love you and miss you, Mr. Rudy Ray Moore.






When Bands Collide

With rockabilly, the Stray Cats wrote great songs. Most bands just had that "1,4,5 Go Cat Go". They didn't break out of that. - Brian Setzer

This article's a few months old at this point, but its always great when musicians interview other musicians. Here, you have THE LIVING END's Chris Cheney interviewing his childhood hero, Brian Setzer about the end of the STRAY CATS and his next moves.

One of the most interesting bits is a discussion about how to be true to rockabilly, but not a slave to it. To a certain extent, the entire scene is about "authenticity", but using the past as a springboard for self-expression is just as important. The Living End left rockabilly behind a long time ago. Their early EPs rate as some of the best 90's era rockabilly, approaching REVEREND HORTON HEAT in energy. As they matured, they seemed to reach for 80's UK power pop influences and the rock/punk melange of the Clash. Now, you can barely hear the rockabilly in their increasingly complex sound.

Setzer crumbing on people's desire "to make it sound like it was done in 1955" is rich, considering the Stray Cats have always relied heavily on covers with similar arrangements to the originals and Setzer produced two albums consisting entirely of covers (STRAY CATS ORIGINAL COOL and solo effort, ROCKABILLY RIOT: A TRIBUTE TO SUN RECORDS - both are great!) Still, it's worth thinking about: is retro lifestyle really liberating our imaginations or is it a crutch... a uniform... that allows us to lazily avoid originality while still donning the cloak of "alternative" and "outlaw"?


Blast o' Rockabilly!

JASON GELT recently listed his "Top Ten Old Time Memphis Records" in the LOS ANGELES EXAMINER:
1. Johnny Ace, "Pledging My Love." Romantic, haunting, creepy. This ballad from the tragic R&B star (he died in a Russian Roulette accident in 1954) has been used in many a movie, including Abel Ferrarra's "Bad Lieutenant."

2. Rufus Thomas, "Memphis Train." The clown prince of Memphis soul recorded for Sun Records and more famously, Stax Records. This raging R&B ode to love and trains is hard to beat.

3. Charlie Feathers, "That Certain Female." Why Mr. Feathers is only appreciated by a cadre of die-hard roots music enthusiasts and rockabilly nuts is beyond me. Check out the LPs available from Norton Records.

4. Billy Lee Riley, "My Gal is Red Hot." With a raw, gravely voice and a manic stage presence, Riley cut his best material for Sun Records, both as a front man and as a session musician. This song, covered by many a retro rockabilly, is one of his finest offerings.

5. Booker T. and the M.G.s, "Green Onions." Recorded at Stax Records, otherwise known as Soulsville, U.S.A., this is one of the best brooding, strutting instrumentals of the '60s from one of the South's first interracial music acts.

6. The Prisonaires, "Just Walkin' in the Rain." Just one of the many great groups obscured by Elvis Presley's tenure at Sun Records, the Prisonaires were actual Tennessee state prisoners that the warden allowed out -- accompainied by armed gurads -- to record at Sam Philips' burgeoning R&B studio. The 45 went on to sell over 250,000 copies.

7. Bill Justis, "Raunchy." Another killer instrumental from Sun Studios, this catchy and kooky number features the warbly-yet-wonderful sax work of Justis himself, who took over blowin' duties when the session player assigned the instrument failed to show up to the recording date.

8. Jerry Lee Lewis, "Whole Lotta Shakin.'" His personal foibles have been the subject of movies, documentaries and books, but the important thing to remember is that the Killer recorded some of the most energetic, foot-stomping songs of the '50s. This is just one of them.

9. Sam and Dave, "When Something is Wrong With My Baby." They may be best remembered for "Soul Man," but this hot buttered ballad, penned by Isaac Hayes and his Stax writing partner, David Porter, is a beautiful, juicy slice of classic '60s soul.

10. Carl Mann, "Mona Lisa." A love song penned around the famous portrait, this is yet another sadly underappreciated Sun Record, featuring smart lyrics, precise playing and a bouncy energy that can't be denied.



Frankie, Drac and Wolfie are partying down in the DVD player! Sort of the "goth Archies", this Filmation cartoon is available from Ink and Paint, in its entirety - 16 "groovy" episodes of catchy, goofy tunes and monster-themed "Laugh-In" style joke fests that will have you grinning even as you're groaning!

Anyone else remember Groovie Goolies?


Carlene Carter sings the song her mamma, June, wrote and her step-daddy, Johnny, made famous (thanks to a dream in which he heard "Mexican trumpets" and, upon waking, told his producer, Jack Clement, to work up an arrangement).

Listen to Carlene Carter On Mountain Stage, courtesy of NPR.

Set List:
"The Bitter End"
"Bring Love"
"Me and the Wildwood Rose"
"Ring of Fire"

Buttressing "Ring of Fire" are new originals from Carlene's fresh record. The album reflects the "quadruple loss" Carlene recently weathered...

In February 2003, Carlene's long-time partner Howie Epstein died. In May of that same year she lost her mother, June Carter Cash. Stepfather Johnny Cash died that September. Her little sister Rosey passed away in October.

Stronger [is] album that explores the power of love to hurt, to bring laughter, to change the heart and, most of all, to heal. "Just bring love, that's all you're gonna need," a redeemed Carlene sings in [key track] "Bring Love."

Buy her new record, "Stronger", via Yep Roc.


Get to Know Deke Dickerson

Deke Dickerson is one of the finest and most highly regarded guitarists on the rockabilly circuit. Too bad he's not a straight-up rockabilly guitarist. His songs and his guitar leads, thrilling and full of joy, ebb and flow though surf rock, country, western swing, rhythm and blues, garage rock and yes, rockabilly. The result is something acutely American, technically dazzling and truckloads of fun to listen to and watch.

READ THE REST of this fine article about one of the standard-bearers of the scene, DEKE DICKERSON.

Hosted by the irrepressible Rosie Flores, WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' offers, for free, a 10 part streaming radio show that covers all of the basics of Rockabilly. Segments are as follows (make sure to click on "listen now!" at the top to hear the programs):

1. Good Rockin' Tonight: Elvis, Carl Perkins and the rise of Sun Records
2. Get Rhythm: The story of Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two
3. Fujiyama Mamas: The women of rockabilly stake their claim
4. Rebels with Guitars: Borrowing from Brando: the music's most notorious rebels
5. The Cradle of the Stars: The rise and fall of radio's The Louisiana Hayride
6. Real Wild Child: The story of Jerry Lee Lewis
7. Shake This Shack: Cat Music from the Lone Star State: rockabilly in Texas
8. Rockin' Bones: Suzy Q and rockabilly's one hit wonders
9. Rave On: The life and music of Buddy Holly
10. Summertime Blues: Sunglasses after dark, rockabilly California-style

There isn't a Rockabilly compelation this complete on the market for ANY price... and here, you get to hear an illustrative cross-section of the genre for nuthin'!


Hot Rod Trio

OC WEEKLY just interviewed a very deserving Rockabilly band. I don't know how popular they are in other parts of the country, but they've long proved themselves to be talented and authentic stalwarts of live Rockabilly.

Check 'em out:
OC WEEKLY interview
Hot Rod Trio

Ditch the dime store wigs and pick yourself up an Official "Bettie by Olivia" Halloween Costume by those geniuses at Pinup Girl Clothing!


Choose from Sexy Cat Girl, Sexy Devil Girl, Sexy Bronco Buster Cowgirl, Substitute Teacher or Sexy Nurse Bettie. Each costume comes with an insert featuring a reproduction of the original Olivia pinup that inspired the costume!


Space Age Bachelor Pad

This is what YOUR space age bachelor pad should look like! If you've ever seen Brian DePalma's BODY DOUBLE, you saw the definition of LA retro-future swank livin' -- even if living in uneasy proximity to a drill killer wasn't disclosed in the lease.

An encounter with the deliciously deadly legs of "Bambi" and "Thumper" may have left Sean Connery's James Bond shaken, the cool-as-a-cucumber interiors of their coctail-hour crash pad may have left him stirred.

What most don't know is that these two dwellings that defined the "party under the mushroom cloud" lifestyle of atomic-aged sophistication were the work of Frank Lloyd Wright protegee (and, in turn, inspiration to Frank Gehry) JOHN LAUTNER. The Hammer Museum at UCLA has an appreciation of his work (including designs and scale models), placing his outrageous and ever-evolving architectural style in proper (and respectful) context.

Maybe you can't transform your duplex into a spaceship of glass and steel perched elegantly on a Hollywood Hills cliffside, but looking into Lautner's philosophy of egalitarian elegance that emphasizes free-flowing, open spaces may inspire the canny cat or kitten to modernize his or her space!


Hammer Museum Exhibit

John Lautner Homepage


NY Times article

arcspace article


More fun with LA architecture:


RIP: Jerry Reed

As has been widely reported, Jerry Reed has passed at age 71 after fighting emphysema. Most others are concentrating on his pop-culture high-water mark, his portrayal of "Snowman" in the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT series.

What most are missing is that, underneath his "good ol' boy" image, Jerry Reed was a country SHREDDER, who's intense fingerstyle fretwork was rivaled only by Chet Atkins, himself!


“If (Merle) Travis’ thumb and index finger picking style was first generation, and Chet Atkins’ use of thumb, index and middle finger was second, Reed’s use of his entire right hand to pick (the famous “claw” style) was the wild, untamed and dauntingly complex third generation,” wrote historian and journalist Rich Kienzle.

Mr. Reed switched from a steel-stringed acoustic guitar to a nylon-stringed Baldwin model, with an electronic “pickup” that allowed the guitar to be heard above a full band. He signed a Columbia Records contract in 1961, but that deal yielded no hits. His songwriting and session playing proved more lucrative, as he performed on hits for Bobby Bare and he penned Porter Wagoner’s 1962 No. 1 hit, “Misery Loves Company.” And Mr. Reed attracted a high-powered fan in Chet Atkins, the guitar star who ran Nashville’s branch of RCA.

Need more proof of cool?

No less than GENE VINCENT became the first major artist to cut one of Reed's compositions, "Crazy Legs", in 1958.

ELVIS PRESLEY, who, along with MERLE TRAVIS and RAY CHARLES, inspired Reed, collaborated with the guitarist on four compositions. Unfortunately, in keeping with the Colonel's "cut his nose to spite his face" style of management, the amazing session was interrupted, in favor of an attempt to strong-arm Jerry Reed out of his publishing royalties on Reed's songs, despite the fact that Elvis was merely trying to "cover" Reed's previous released originals.

Reed details it, with some charity, in a recent interview, although the second volume of Peter Guralnick's Elvis bio, CARELESS LOVE, has it in more detail.

He had just been fishing, he recounted, the first and only time he met Elvis Presley. That was in 1967. Presley had come to Nashville to record, and one of the songs he was working on was "Guitar Man," which Reed had written and recorded. "I was out on the Cumberland River fishing," he recalled, "and I got a call from Felton Jarvis (then Presley's producer). He said, 'Elvis is down here. We've been trying to cut 'Guitar Man' all day long. He wants it to sound like it sounded on your album.' I finally told him, I said, 'Well, if you want it to sound like that, you're going have to get Reed in there to play guitar, because these guys (you're using in the studio) are straight pickers. He picks with his fingers and he tunes that guitar up all weird kind of ways.'" So Jarvis hired Reed to play on the session.

"I hit that intro," Reed said, "and boy, [Elvis's] face lit up and here we went. Then after he got through that, he cut [my] 'U.S. Male' at the same session. I was toppin' cotton, son." There's an outtake from that session that still circulates on Music Row in which you can hear the King and the Alabama Wild Man (one of Georgia-born Reed's nicknames) joking with each other. (link)
Reed and Elvis cut rollicking versions of "What'd I Say?" and "Big Boss Man" before "Reed was hit up for the publishing rights to his song. He refused, and left; and so did the spirit of the session." These four songs, two of them only available on the Elvis box set released in the 1990s, rank among Elvis' best post-Sun work. Imagine an album or two of these gems?

Although that was not to be, Elvis later covered Reed's compositions "Talk About the Good Times" and "A Thing Called Love". Reed was proud that the song, never a hit, became a standard. "(Johnny) Cash cut it. (Glen) Campbell cut it. Elvis cut it. I cut it."

In the 90's Reed joined a "supergroup", consisting of Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, and Bobby Bare.

If you want to peruse his discography or filmography, hop over to Wikipedia.


Portrayal of Women in Comics

Follow the link to a FANTASY MAGAZINE article about the portrayal of women in comics, then come back here and let us know what you think! To paraphrase SPINAL TAP, there's a fine line between "sexy" and "sexist". Certainly, comics are a haven for pin-up art... but also for insulting stereotypes. Check out the article to dig deeper!

Hat Tip to Rick Klaw!

Rick Klaw is the author of Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century
NOW AVAILABLE from MonkeyBrain, Inc.

To be alerted about all things Klaw, join the Geek Confidential mailing list.

Read more Rick Klaw at the Dark Forces Book Group blog and SF site.


16 Hot Women of Rockabilly


Hat tip to JIMBO

Jerry Finn, producer of albums by Blink 182, Green Day, Rancid, The Offspring and Morrissey, has been taken off life support after suffering a brain haemorrhage last month.

A posting at prosoundweb. com announced the news, stating "the doctors have done everything possible for Jerry. Even though he did make snail like improvement these past 31 days he is not any better for words and has not had any consistency in the tests that the medical team have done for him. At his time the hemorrhage has done massive damage to his body, which will leave him severely disabled, and in need of acute care for the rest of his life. We know Jerry wouldn't want to live like this in a vegetative state. The family has made the decision to speak Jerry's wishes and withdraw life support. I am truly devastated don't know what else to say. Thank you all for your support through this terrible time. Please keep Jerry in your prayers".

The 38-year old producer is regarded as one of the best in the business.

Albums he has worked on include 'Dookie' and 'Insomniac' for Green Day, 'The Living End' by The Living End, blink-182 'Untitled' and 'Take Off Your Pants and Jacket', AFI's 'Decemberunderground' and 'Morrissey's 'You Are The Quarry'.

Jerry's last piece of work will be Morrissey's next album 'Years of Refusal' that will be released in early 2009.


* Green Day - Dookie (1994) (mixed)
* The Muffs - Blonder and Blonder (1995) (engineered and mixed)
* Pennywise - About Time (1995)
* Rancid - ...And Out Come the Wolves (1995)
* Jawbreaker - Dear You (1995) (mixed)
* Green Day - Insomniac (1995) (mixed)
* Fastball - Make Your Mama Proud (1996)
* The Daredevils - Hate You (1996)
* Smoking Popes - Destination Failure (1997)
* Coward - Self-Titled (1997)
* Superdrag - Head Trip in Every Key (1998)
* Rancid - Life Won't Wait (1998) (mixed)
* The Vandals - Hitler Bad, Vandals Good (1998) (mixed)
* The Living End - The Living End (1998) (mixed)
* blink-182 - Enema of the State (1999)
* Madness - Universal Madness (1999) (mixed)
* Fenix*TX - Fenix*TX (1999)
* blink-182 - The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show: The Enema Strikes Back (2000)
* MxPx - The Ever Passing Moment (2000)
* The Marvelous 3 - ReadySexGo! (2000)
* Fenix*TX - Lechuza (2001)
* Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler (2001)
* Alkaline Trio - From Here to Infirmary (2001) (mixed)
* blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants And Jacket (2001)
* Green Day - International Superhits! (2001) (co-produced)
* Bad Religion - The Process of Belief (2002) (mixed)
* Box Car Racer - Box Car Racer (2002)
* MxPx - Ten Years and Running (2002)
* Sparta - Wiretap Scars (2002)
* Vendetta Red - Between the Never and the Now (2003)
* AFI - Sing the Sorrow (2003) (co-produced and mixed)
* Alkaline Trio - Good Mourning (2003) (co-produced and mixed)
* blink-182 - untitled (2003)
* Morrissey - You Are the Quarry (2004)
* Marjorie Fair - Self Help Serenade (2004)
* The Vandals - Hollywood Potato Chip (2004) (mixed)
* Eisley - Room Noises (2005) (mixed)
* The Offspring - Greatest Hits (2005)
* Alkaline Trio - Crimson (2005)
* blink-182 - Greatest Hits (2005)
* AFI - Decemberunderground (2006)
* +44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating (2006) (co-produced and mixed)
* Tiger Army - Music from Regions Beyond (2007)
* Morrissey - Greatest Hits (2008)
* Morrissey - Years of Refusal (set for September 2008)


Meet Torchy!

The NPR program ALL THINGS CONSIDERED recently aired an appreciation for an African-American female newspaper cartoonist, JACKIE ORMES. The piece positions Jackie and her work on TORCHY BROWN as an underappreciated trailblazer... and certainly nobody at the Bettie Blog had ever heard of her! And if WE don't, chances are, few others do, either.

Head over to NPR and get to know a forgotten hero of comics!


Rick Klaw is the talented author of Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century and grandson of Irving Klaw, the man responsible for every bondage-themed and a large portion of the "cheesecake"-themed photos of Bettie Page. Rick kindly consented to an interview, attempting to clear up some nagging questions about his grandfather's dealings with Bettie Page.

Thanks for the interview, Rick. Clearly, you have a love of books and comic books, especially "fantastic" fiction. You are a prolific writer and a person who has a real love and understanding of the cult of fandom... befriending the creators who cater to that fandom and the fans themselves.

Bettie Page exists in just such a space. Given the iconic photos and her decades of "mystery", Bettie is more of a fictional character than a person to most of her fans (unlike, say, Madonna, who's personality and politics, for better or worse, are inseparable from her art).

I agree. Bettie falls more in the iconic status of say Wyatt Earp, where the fiction has become reality and vice versa.

How has your own life, work and passions been shaped by experiencing the "cult" audience of Bettie Page?

The cult of Bettie enabled me to learn more about a part of my family history that I thought lost. I didn't learn about my grandfather's famous history until I was 21 and at the 1992 San Diego ComicCon. I remember the event clearly.

"Are you related to Irving Klaw?"

I stood dumbfounded. I knew the name but never expected to hear it at 21 while attending a comic book convention. Irving Klaw was my grandfather.

Irving died about 16 months before I was born. His death is the stuff of family legend.

The grey-haired man in front of me was Ray Zone. As a comic book and magazine publisher, Zone was single-handedly responsible for the 3-d boom of the late 80's.1

"He was my grandfather. Why?"

Zone proceeded to show me examples of my grandfather's work: Images of Bettie iin black leather and leopard print bathing suits bound in a variety of positions. Some of the pics had Bettie with a whip. In some she was spread in doorways or suspended from a ceiling, bound and gagged. A few even had other women, but none had any nudity at all.

So you could say the "cult of Bettie" changed my life but not in the way most expect. I became curious and over the years and learned as much as I could abut his life and work. It's enabled me to re-establish a relationship with my Uncle Arth. Turns out we have a lot more in common than Irving.

The current understanding is the "Little John" story... a New York lawyer/judge bought out all the women in bondage stills Irving could dig up from B-movie stills. The customer offered to underwrite a photo shoot with bondage themes, in exchange for a set of photos. MSN would own the negatives and the right to sell prints, so Irving and Paula did, through their mail order business. Is this true?

To the best of my knowledge. I have yet to uncover anything that contradicts that story.

Assuming this is true, was Bettie the original model for the original shoot, or was she brought in later?

Klaw's first bondage model was Lili Dawn. She was photographed in midtown studios by various freelance photographers. Eventually, Klaw rented the third floor over Movie Star News and turned it into a photography studio. Around this time, Irving bought new furniture for his home. The old furniture made its way into the bondage shoots.

If Irving's dealings with "Little John" was the birth of Movie Star News shooting their own photos, when did bikini/cheesecake pictures (which, presumably, Little John would not be interested in) enter the "original photos" mix?

Since Irving was already selling cheesecake photos, I'd presume this was a natural progression to shoot their own "good girl" pics. As to when they started shooting them, I have no idea.

When was the last photo session for MSN/Nutrix?

Irving/Paula continue to produce original pictures (but no bondage after the 1955 Kefauver Hearings) into the 1960s. Klaw would publish "adventure" books with the pics and Klaw-written descriptions/dialog under the Nutrix name. He even rented studio space in Florida from David Friedman in the early 1960s. (Irving loved Florida and at the time of his death was making plans to retire and move there.)

Review after review of THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE have reduced Paula and Irving to "nice, normal, unexceptional" people. I'd love to counter that with some context. In interviews I've seen Paula displays a sharp sense of humor. Can you tell us about Irving, Paula and Jack Kramer? What were their personalities like?

From most accounts, the personalities were right on. Remember, I was born some 16 months after Irving's death.

What was the relationship like between them (Irving, Paula and Jack) and Bettie? There are some photos of them socializing, but also quotes suggesting there was little interaction outside of a handful of Saturday shoots.

Irving was a family man (he had no interest in bondage beyond the moneymaking aspects and there are absolutely no reports of inappropriate behavior between him and the models), so beyond the occasional dinners, I doubt he socialized much with Bettie. I do know that Irving use to like to go out with my grandmother Natalie and they favored night clubs with transvestite performers. Starting the mid-60s, my maternal grandparents often accompanied the Klaws on their club visits.

There is a story about a Filipino merchant marine who originally tied the knots for the bondage photos, but that Paula quickly assumed those duties. Likewise, initially, Movie Star News paid photographers, but at some point Paula took over these duties as well. Is this accurate and is there any information you can add?

I can add nothing about knots, but Ira Kramer told me that his mother (Paula) took the pictures because Irving was allergic to the photographic fluids. When I asked Arth about it (who is some 20 years older than Ira), he said he had never heard that. So who knows?

I've read that Paula destroyed 80% of the photos, but, at great peril to herself, Irving and Jack, she kept some of the negatives hidden, including many of the Bettie negatives. Is there any more information you can provide on this matter?

Irving surely didn't know about the surviving negatives. He was a scrupulous man of his word and if said they were all destroyed, he believed so.

And a bit of a correction... the negative destruction had nothing to do with Kefauver.

In 1963, following the suggestion of his lawyer, Irving destroyed his photographs and movies in an effort to placate the courts on yet another obscenity charge. The effort initially failed and Irving was found guilty of conspiracy to send obscene material through the mail, but the verdict was eventually overturned on appeal. Paula saved thousands of those images.

Thanks for your time and insight, Rick!

Rick Klaw is the author of Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century
NOW AVAILABLE from MonkeyBrain, Inc.

To be alerted about all things Klaw, join the Geek Confidential mailing list.

Read more Rick Klaw at the Dark Forces Book Group blog and SF site.

For more on Rick's life as a professional geek and more insight on Irving Klaw, read his interview over at Enter the Octopus.


Looking for an authentic blast of righteous Rockabilly? Get ready for THE SHAKEOUT! San Diego-based BOP-N-STOMP RECORDS’ generous sampler gamely scratches the itch for no-nonsense, high-octane thump and twang. It’s hard to beat the original architects of the rockabilly sound… from Sun Studios slapback, the innovative fretwork, characterized by the fluid shifts from Merle Travis-inspired country fingerpicking to badass blues bends, or the then-shocking mix of black and white vocal styles. Demonized by the media, co-opted by Hollywood and eventually put out to pasture by the British Invasion, the initial burst of Rockabilly’s popularity was all too short. For those of us who’ve listened to Rockabilly for years, those classic tracks have worn grooves on our brain as deep as on any vinyl. Every subsequent revival, for good or ill, has added ingredients to the original primordial ooze of Rockabilly – either sonically or through the incorporation of outside influences, such as punk or metal.

The genius of THE SHAKEOUT! is the way these bands keep true to the spirit of the 50’s, giving the collection the vibe of a “lost” mixtape from some undiscovered vintage label. The offerings are as varied as an clutch of singles from Sun or Ace. Some are spirited testaments to the power of rockin’, while others take more of a stroll down a country lane. What remains consistent is the warmth of the recordings, the tasteful playing (interesting enough to keep your foot tapping, but not showy) and the spot-on songwriting, covering the basics of love gone wrong, love gone right, the freedom and power of rock and, of course, odes to cars.

THE SHAKEOUT! is the remedy for anyone hungry for fresh, “classic” Rockabilly!


FREE COMIC BOOK DAY brought a bold new title to the attention of the Bettie Page Blog. Gavin Hignight, a talented Los Angeles-based writer offered a taste of his debut 192 page graphic novel, MOTOR CITY. The story focuses on a gang of 50's toughs in an even tougher spot -- their city has been overrun with the supernatural undead!

Gavin was kind enough to share the secret origins of this rockin' project.

Although you've done journalism about fan communities and worked in the related field of animation, this is your first comic. What brought you to the medium?

I think I am lucky to be part of the generation of creators who get to be both fans and creators. It seemed for a long time, a fanboy couldn’t cross over. The people in the industry were dependent on fanboys (and their dollars) for the success of their projects but also separated themselves from the fan culture and the reality that they themselves were once that small kid sitting in a movie theater or in front of TV, dreaming. The fact that I am both a fan and a creator has been why I have been able to writer in different aspects of entertainment but still keep my finger on the pulse.

As for my journey into comics… I didn’t move out to Hollywood to become a comic creator by any means. Did I read comics? Yes. Was I fan of comics? Yes, but I didn’t push hard to get my ideas into that format. I experimented on a project with a friend right out of high school but it never went anywhere. Here in Hollywood, I spent many hours of my life writing and making short films that never went anywhere. I never had the resources to compete in that visual medium. But my writing was level with the competition. The nice thing about writing is that you don’t have to have money to do it. You have to craft your vision and you have to spend time on it, but it’s not like a film where you are depending on other people or a budget. So I focused on writing and that led me to work on the 2003 Fox Kids animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While working on that show I thought about Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, and what their humble beginning was like and where they came from and I was very inspired. A black and white indie comic that was an example of their unique vision. Almost instantly I knew what was next for me. MOTOR CITY was a comic concept from the beginning. I can’t explain how it came to me, like many things I just get a small strand of a character, scene or concept in my mind and, with time, more and more pieces or strands pop up and get put together. So yeah, MOTOR CITY was always meant to be a comic, and it was always meant to be somewhere between an American superhero or horror comic and a Japanese manga. Motor City has always been a mash up of some of my favorite things, in content like hotrods, monsters and greaser culture, but also in a structure, like the style of the art, or the flow of the story.

It was a flex of my creative muscles for sure. I had to teach myself a comic panel script format. There is no standard for this, like a screenplay, etc. I just looked at some samples of the masters like Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis and adapted my own panel script style from there. And I have to say, writing comics has made me a much better writer when it comes to TV or Film. In a comic you have little space to convey what you need to with words, so you are often forced to get to the point with the dialog. Something my films lacked. I’m going back to my screenplays now and cutting the hell out of them. After writing a full graphic novel I realized I can say the same thing with one sentence that I did with a paragraph, and the one sentence is often more effective and real feeling.

How did you come to decide on a graphic novel/Original English Language Manga instead of a monthly?

MOTOR CITY was originally written and planned as a monthly. The original story arc was 12 chapters long (12 months, 12 issues a year, etc…) but we realized very quickly that, as independent publishers, we were throwing our money away with single “floppy” issues. Financially, it just made more sense to skip the single issues and go straight to the collection or graphic novel. It was more cost efficient for printing, which has a direct effect on the price of the final product. Would a consumer want to spend 3 bucks on 16 or 25 page book or twelve bucks on 192 page book which is a complete story arc and something they can add to their library?

The size of the book was influenced by manga for sure. As mentioned, we always wanted a book that was post-manga. Not an American attempt at Manga, or an American book with anime inspired art, but a hybrid.

How did you come to collaborate with the book's artist, Jettila Lewis?

Jetti-monster! A friend of mine is an art teacher at a high school, here in the LA area, and one day he mentioned to me that he had a student who was so damned talented, he wasn’t sure what he was gonna be able to teach her, and that she had a strong interest in manga and anime. I said, “Introduce me!”

As Jetti worked her way through high school, she drew a couple sample projects for me, and some art for a website I was working on, and we just kept in touch about stuff. We were like-minded about music and culture, etc… About the time I got the idea for MOTOR CITY and started writing the scripts, she was just out of high school and ready to commit to a more long term project. I showed her what I had and she was on board with the concept, so we teamed up.

What were the challenges to getting it published and how can people get a copy?

MOTOR CITY has always been my baby. I’ve always had a very distinct idea of how it should look, what the vibe should be, and how it should play out. I wanted complete control of it, so the only way to retain that control was to put the book out myself. I don’t have problems being a writer for hire. I actually enjoy working on other people’s projects, and I’ve learned tons from the people who told me how to write their way. But I needed to express myself and create a world and property that was mine. Another issue is rights. I wanted to retain ownership of Lexi and the 133rd. In case MOTOR CITY ever makes the leap to another medium, I wanted to make sure my voice was included with it.

It has been an insane challenge to put the book out but it’s been well worth it. I created Rebel Sidekick Studios to do so. And I’m glad to say MOTOR CITY is just the first book we will be putting out. If you would have told me even a few years ago, that I’d be moving into publishing I wouldn’t of believed it. We have two more MOTOR CITY books planned, a follow up and a side story -- and we’re looking at projects that are completely different from MOTOR CITY. Eventually we’re even looking at putting books out from other writers. But it is a challenge for me. I am in my element when I am creating, that is what makes me happy. I want to worry about robots and ninjas, does the story work, is the monster cool, would this character do this or that? Now I am also worrying about all the business aspects, marketing, distribution, payment, shipping, storage, etc… I don’t mind it, and I’m surprised to find I’m good at it, but I’d rather be writing about monsters…

The best way for your readers to get MOTOR CITY? Easy. They can find the book on Amazon.com, or they can buy it from the store on our official website. If they want to buy the book in a more old school manner they can check a their local area comic store our Distributor Haven Distribution is working hard to get it into comic stores and indie book stores.

Judging from your picture, it appears you're a greaser in real life. Could you explain what aspects of Retro/Kustom Kulture appeal to you?

This stuff is just in my blood. It just is. I’ve always identified with counter-culture. Whether it be the greasers of the 50s and 60s, the long hairs of the late 60s and 70s, the punks and wavers of the 70s 80s, everybody who was socially just on the outside, those are my people, and those are the people who’s stories I am interested in. I grew up in Denver and there is a strong rockabilly scene, that had some influence. And I was exposed to bands like Social Distortion, and singers like Tom Waits, and books by people like William S. Burroughs in my formative years. All of it left an imprint and set me on a course to find more.

I have lots of music, for the rockabilly genre lately I’ve been really into Blazing Hailey and Mr. Badwrench, but I should say that you could just as easily find me listening to Skinny Puppy or Death Cab for Cutie. Oh — speaking of music, how freaking awesome is Hazel Atkins…

As for tattoos, I do have some and of course I need even more! I have tattoos on my chest that were based off of Bruce Davidson's “Life with a Brooklyn Gang”, which I recommend to everyone to find -- great photos of a 1950s Brooklyn gang. I also have a pinup tattoo of Death, the comic from Neil Gaiman. And Jetti is drawing up a pinup for me from MOTOR CITY, which will soon be on the arm.

Why do you think the 50's hold such a fascination for you, and could you speculate as to why it is still seen as so vibrant and important to the rest of us in the retro community?

I’m not sure why the past has such a strong hold on me. Maybe I had good times then in a former life… I don’t really know. Maybe if I lived back then, I’d be fascinated with the 1920s… who knows… I am really interested in the late 50s leading into the 60s. That is actually when Motor City is set. So much turmoil, and change. Early 50s seems like a stereotype sometimes, but the late 50s and early 60s have so much conflicted energy and strangeness that interested me.

What influences found their way into the book? Certainly, I felt a little of THE WILD ONES and BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. Any truth to that, and any stuff I'm missing?

MOTOR CITY was influenced by movies like The Outsiders, and Rumblefish. There is a panel in MOTOR CITY that is taken right out of The Outsiders, a little tribute if you will. It was also important to me to write a comic that was scary-fun. Like the kind of stuff I dug as a teenager. I wrote it for the 14 year old in all of us. Shows or movies like Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, that kind of scary. Not the torture-genre that people watch now in horror, I wanted a book that was more fun than that, The Monster Squad, Lost Boys, The Warriors, all of this informed MOTOR CITY.

The genre mash-up has been popular in comics (certainly when Marvel zombifies their entire universe...), but your work felt very unique, as it took this notion of a 50's style greaser street gang very seriously. The respect for the characters and the reverence for the 50's tone (not just the clothes, but in how the characters behaved felt like a period melodrama, like BLACKBOARD) grounded the story, making the monster stuff feel fresh. The "pretty boy" characters and mystical switchblade also seemed like a nod to manga, which isn't so far afield, since certainly both rockabilly and horror are very popular in Japan (and both are among those strange American exports that we keep re-importing from them!). How did you decide to veer away from the nod/wink serio-comic tone that is typical for these retro/horror mash-ups (Max Allan Collins' Johnny Dynamite comes to mind as an example)?

Thanks for taking notice that I took it seriously! That is so important to me it’s important to any film, comic, or story, and something I think that is forgotten way too often by people who are creating. I think things can be fun, and scary, and out of this world, but you have to respect the story, and the characters, and you have to have continuity in the world you create. I took the world of MOTOR CITY very seriously. Of course Lexi, the lead character, has different problems than you or me, fighting ghouls and monsters, but we need to be able to relate to him, he needs to be grounded on some level even if what he’s dealing with isn’t. And this stuff is my life (retro lifestyle, classic monster culture, etc.). I take it seriously, so I hope that is reflected in the book.

As for the Japanese and American rockabilly culture and this book? First of all, I have to say I love Japanese rockabilly culture. I love that they are carrying the culture on. Heck, I’ve met gearheads from Australia and Germany and England that are cool as hell, too! I love that it keeps going and has different faces all over the world. I hope to get MOTOR CITY in front of the Japanese rockabilly scene, as you can assume they are already accustomed to reading graphic novels or manga, and they will probably flip. But… alas… one continent at a time. The US today! Tomorrow the world!!

Comic fandom is a pretty insular world. What do you feel your book has to offer someone who has not picked up a piece of graphic fiction in a long damn time, if ever... especially if that person is down with the retro/kustom lifestyle?

When we started out with MOTOR CITY there was never a comic book hero that was a poor greaser. I like that we filled that gap. For people who are into rockabilly or classic monster culture, I feel like we’ve given them the book they’ve never seen or had the chance to enjoy. I am all about breaking stereotypes, I love creating something that makes people do a double-take or catches them off guard. I am surprised how many non-comic book kind of people have picked up this book and come back telling me how much they liked it and were surprised they liked it. But that is my job as a creator right? People get spoiled and or jaded by the super hero genre, these super human people in a normal world doing crazy things, MOTOR CITY is a book about normal characters doing their best in a world that is extraordinary. I like that. I like that the normal guys can be heroes too.

Certainly there's some pin-up girl iconography in the book. Was Bettie Page an inspiration in any way, shape or form?

I love Bettie Page! How could you not, right? There are the people who love Marilynn Monroe, and there are people who love Bettie Page. I’m one of the guys who likes that dark haired raven, always have been. I love her old clown dancing films, and the pin-ups and the photos -- she’s always done it for me.

We wanted to do something different for the chapter breaks in the book, and Jetti draws the hottest manga-influenced pin-ups, so we decided to include her pin-ups in the book that way. Not only influenced by Bettie Page, but also artists like Vargas. The pin-ups are also the female characters from the comic itself, one of the sexy vampire girls from volume one, and we also included Sam, who will be a major character in volume two, -- she gives Lexi all kinds of trouble. When designing Sam’s character, we looked at a combination of Bettie Page and Lana Lane from Smallville. Sam has become kind of the icon for MOTOR CITY and with good reason -- who doesn’t want to look at a sexy pin-up? Girls, guys, everybody can appreciate them!

Thanks for giving the Bettie Page Blog a sneak peek into the world of the 133rd!

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us about the comic! We’ll be doing more and more events with Motor City, so everyone feel free to check out our website and add us to your friends on Myspace to stay in touch.