Remember that "sick of doing tribute posts" post a while back? Well, Forrest Ackerman's death, in the wake of Bettie's, was another one of those losses that was difficult to reflect upon in a tidy, snappy way. For generations upon generations, Forrest Ackerman WAS "fandom". The internet and all of the millions upon millions of blogs, forum arguments, flame wars, fan fiction... generally obsessing over imaginary realms as if they were real... are the product of Forrest J. Ackerman. Forrest was an agent, a producer, a publisher and a writer... but, in reality, he was a professional cheerleader for others, a professional booster of all things fantastical, be it conveyed through the written word, film, TV, magazines, comics or paintings. He published a magazine that is imprinted in the DNA of the "boomer" generation in a way that we, having benefited from more options in reading material, can't quite comprehend. The dude created the term "Sci Fi" (which old-school hardliners thought cheapened the genre and NBC/Universal/GE/Mom's Old Fashioned Robot Oil has just mutated into "Sy Fy".) Like Walt Disney, Forrest Ackerman created an amusement park... but his existed in our ever-expanding collective imagination. His gift to those who read and dream is incalculable... and it continues to grow, even as the memories of the man who's most responsible for fandom will fade. Spielberg, Lucas, the whole "Masters of Horror" gang, all were raised on Ackerman's unique take on the fantastict... a little fright mixed with a ton of fun. Now, artists as diverse as Joss Whedon to Zack Snyder to Rob Zombie owe their cross-platform mythologizing to Ackerman. And the AIN'T IT COOLs and the like flat out wouldn't exist without him. His irrepressible love of imaginative fiction, seen as fish wrap in his childhood, has created a society that, upon his death, views the fandom he organized and fostered, as the pillar of the multi-billion-dollar, global entertainment industry.
Which is all a way of teeing up Mike Richardson (that's Mr. Dark Horse Entertainment to you, pal) and John "Blues Brothers" "An American Werewolf in London" "Thriller" "Master of Horror" Landis' tributes to Ackerman.
(Free plug for Landis: His recent documentaries are amazing. Rent SLASHER about an alcoholic used car salesman, a dark-comic masterpiece, and watch his new documentary about Don Rickles, MR. WARMTH on HBO.)
Mike Richardson and John Landis on Forrest Ackerman 3/25/09
On Sunday, March 8, a tribute was held for Forrest J Ackerman. I, like many others, have stories to tell about the influence "Forry's" magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, had on me as a youngster. It seems like only yesterday that my fifth-grade teacher, a nun, sent me home from school after she caught me carrying an issue (the one with King Kong on the cover) into class. Unlike John's parents in the tribute below, my mother simply asked me not to bring the magazine to school again.
I met Forry at the Ackermansion with artist Geof Darrow, in the first of several visits. He knew of Dark Horse at the time and was eager to be put on the comp list, something in which I was happy (and honored) to oblige him.
I saw Forry off and on for years. He was a special guest at a number of events I attended, including the grand opening of our Things From Another World store on Universal Studio's Citywalk. I always found him to be a gentleman and extremely gracious with his time. I last visited him a year or so ago at the Acker-mini-mansion with my friend John Landis. It was clear that Forry was not feeling well and I wasn't sure he even recognized me, but we had a great time talking about the magazine, the memorabilia located throughout his home, and, of course, movies. I'm sure that many shared my own feeling that a bit of my own life passed with him.
John Landis was a good friend of Forry's, and what follows is a shortened version of the tribute he delivered at the memorial service:
Like most of the people in this theater, when I was a kid I loved Famous Monsters of Filmland.
However, once my mother saw a photograph of a woman with an ax in her head in the magazine, my pile of issues was thrown out, and Famous Monsters of Filmland was banned from the house.
All was not lost though, because my cousin Scott subscribed and I could read them at his house.
The same way the original King Kong lit a flame in the young Ray Harryhausen in 1933, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad was the young John Landis's career epiphany in 1958.
When I was twelve years old, I wrote a fan letter to Harryhausen and mailed it care of Forrest J Ackerman at Famous Monsters of Filmland.
Forry actually forwarded the letter on to Ray in London and Ray sent me an autographed eight by ten glossy of him animating the dragon from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad -- which is still framed and proudly displayed on the wall of my library at home.
In 1971 I wrote and directed my first feature film, the appropriately titled Schlock.
This sixty-thousand-dollar effort is most notable for two things: it was my first collaboration with the young makeup artist Rick Baker, and it is the reason I met Forrest J Ackerman as they say, "in the flesh."
Schlock's cast and crew screening was held at the Cary Grant Theater at MGM Studios in Culver City. Exactly how Forry got there I don't know, but after the screening he introduced himself to me in the parking lot in front of the Thalberg Building and also introduced the fellow he came with, Ed Wood!
Mr. Wood was absolutely astonished that I knew who he was and of the movies he had made. He was a sad shabby guy whose breath reeked of alcohol.
But Mr. Ackerman was more than gracious and not only invited Rick Baker and I to the Ackermansion, but kept his promise of publishing photos and an article on Schlock in his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. And this was a year before we managed to get a distributor!
The Ackermansion was then on Olympic Boulevard near La Cienega, walking distance to the Ships Coffee Shop, another Los Angeles landmark no longer with us.
Others today will speak of Forry's legendary accomplishments, his magazines, his influence on generations of writers and filmmakers, his extraordinary generosity, his countless viewing of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, his Al Jolson imitation and his mad crush on Marlene Dietrich, his time at nudist colonies, and his knowledge of Esperanto, his wide circle of friends, clients, enemies, admirers, acolytes and parasites.
For me Forry was a loyal and staunch friend and of course a fine actor in many of my films.
His patient and loving wife Wendy liked to recall the night that one of Forry's pulp author clients, L. Ron Hubbard, had them and a few others, over to his apartment to pitch a new religion he invented called Scientology.
Hubbard promised that it would make everyone assembled very rich, and Forry couldn't get out of there fast enough. Wendy appreciated her husband's integrity, but as she told me, "I always secretly regretted not getting in on the ground floor of that epic scam."
The Ackermansion duplex on Olympic moved to the Ackermansion in Horrorwood, Karloffornia, in that big house that once belonged to actor Jon Hall.
And finally to the classic small Hollywood bungalow where he held court in the Acker-mini-mansion where he ended his days. All places I remember with great affection. All places he opened to one and all for anyone to visit his treasures.
The motion-picture industry, the movie business, has always treated the ephemera of filmmaking as industrial waste. It is only because of fringe enthusiasts like Forrest J Ackerman, Bob Burns and Henri Langlois that many iconic props, costumes and manuscripts pertaining to film production exist at all. Yet another way Forry has blessed us.
My daughter Rachel still has the beautiful antique porcelain doll that Forry gave to her as a child after Wendy passed away. It was a prized possession of Wendy's and is beautifully dressed and carries a purse. Rachel immediately named her Wendy and discovered that Forry had put a silver dollar in that purse.
And when my then-ten-year-old son Max told him he wanted to read some science fiction, Forry sent over a cardboard box full of Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury paperback books. And I am proud to tell you that Max now makes a living as a writer.
And every year like clockwork, Forry would call my wife Deborah to wish her a happy Mother's Day.
Forry's embrace of Esperanto is typical of the true futurist and idealistic man he was.
Although he was extremely ill he told me he could not die until he voted for Obama for president and he did.
Forrest J Ackerman was a unique person, whose generosity touched us all. We are all better for having had Forry in our lives. I know I am.
Labels: Forrest J Ackerman
It's TAP WEEK, when UNICEF tries to focus our attention on that stuff you mix with Scotch... well, it doesn't come outt a tap for everyone. (For the record, Bettie never drank, so please don't mix your water with Scotch... but we won't tell if you do ~ ed.) I know some folks think the UN are the sign of the End Times, but even if they're right, UNICEF is consistently rated as one of the most effective and efficient charities out there, helping kids in dire need both here in the US and abroad.
Reflecting the hard economic times, UNICEF is starting a new way to "donate" to the Tap Project fund... sell your crap on eBay! Click HERE to learn how you can empty your garage or that overstuffed closet and channel a PORTION of the proceeds that YOU determine to help SAVE KIDS LIVES. Pretty cool, huh?
If you have nothing to sell, check out what others have put up and BUY something.
Remember that Bettie Page was once so poor as a child, her mom put her in an orphanage for a few years until sewing and laundry work gave her mom enough money to feed Bettie... so, do it for her!
Pass this around the whole retro community... the more people who put cool stuff up (dresses, shoes, magazines, CDs, etc.), the more in our community will have to BUY!
Sadly, we missed this show, but in early February, Hyaena, an "outsider" art gallery in Burbank, CA, hosted a Bettie Page Tribute group show. We loved what they had to say in the program for the show:
Bettie Page, the Queen of Pin-Ups passed away late last year, leaving millions of fans to mourn the loss of one of the world’s greatest beauties. In life, Bettie was the epitome of what this gallery represents. She pushed boundaries in a conservative society and was at the front lines of controversy. Censorship, sexuality…she broke ground in these areas and inspired generations with her strength, courage and pride.Dienzo's piece caught our eye for the dark whimsy in his work. We weren't shocked to learn he has spent time in the commercial world, working at CARTOON NETWORK, as his pieces have a very clean, bold sense of design. His work, true to the Pop Art aesthetic that informs it, conjures a host of feelings but, on inspection, isn't derivitive of any other artist. Sure, the goth-kawaii noodling of Tim Burton spring to mind, as does Burton's inspirations, Gahan Wilson, Edward Gorey and Charles Addams. However, just as strongly felt is the detrus of a 70's childhood... FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND covers, snap-together model kits and other pieces of nightmarish painted commerce. Like animation, paintings like Dienzo's can seem "simple", but few things are conceptually more challenging than designing and executing such graphicially concise characters with and abundance of what the Disney masters used to call "appeal".
Nowhere has this loss been felt so heavily as in the Art World. From Dave Stevens to Olivia and countless other fine, outsider, and lowbrow artists, her image has touched men and women alike. Her face alone invokes mystery and duality…a purity and naughtiness that beckons us all. Bettie Page is permanently ingrained in our pop culture and in our hearts. This tribute show is a celebration of her legacy and her continued inspiration.
When asked by the Bettie Page Blog to illuminate us as to his thought process, Dienzo explained his facination with the duality between light and dark, good and evil, tying it into the core of Bettie Page's appeal:
"I've deliberately chosen to juxtapose the dark and light aspects of each character throughout my work. Be it literally in the form of childlike zombies and vampires, or by thematic tones of darkness saved by innocence - like cute female assassins.
Bettie Page has served to inspire me not only from a surface level of aesthetic beauty, but also from that same endearing quality of being an "innocent-provocateur." Her iconic presence permeates so many sub-genres of art, music and culture that being influenced by her is almost entirely unavoidable.
I created three Bettie inspired pieces to capture different aspects of the woman we've come to admire.
"Bettie Whipping" is indicative of her risque, bondage era photography. It shows her as powerful woman in control with the sharp contrast of black and yellow reinforcing the impactful nature of that style.
"Bettie Purring" is meant to show her as the quintessential vixen. An object of desire with the leopard print and warm tones evoking primal instincts of attraction.
And finally, "Bettie Dreaming" is meant to capture her underlying innocence and naivete. Throughout her life she struggled with reconciling her own morality against public perception and that inner goodness is part of what made her so appealing as a "girl next door." I also thought it fitting to immortalize her with eyes closed and forever dreaming, given her recent passing.
I hope these pieces serve to honor her and inspire others to keep her legacy alive."
Rick "DIENZO" Blanco's work can next be seen publicly at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors.
David Downton is a world-renowned fashion illustrator known for his portraits of model Erin O'Connor and burlesque performer Dita Von Teese (www.daviddownton.com). Downton is also the founder and publisher of Pourquoi Pas? A Journal of Fashion Illustration (www.pqpmagazine.com). His recent work was included in Victoria and Albert Museum exhibitions and their 150th Anniversary album; on the cover of 100 Years of Fashion Illustration by Cally Blackman; at stores including Browns, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer, Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges, Tiffany & Co. and Topshop; in magazines such as Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Harpers & Queen, L'Officiel, Tatler and Vogue; publicity material for the British Academy Film Awards; and costume drawings of Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I for Universal Pictures.
Also, ever wonder how Dita can get all those beautiful clothes off her body so easily? I bet the boys have ;) CHIC IN PARIS, an oh-so-haute fashion blog gets the lowdown on the designers and specifications of Dita's costumes for her celebrated CRAZY HORSE shows.
Dita Von Teese Strips Down To Fox Fur
The PETA campaigner contradicts herself by wearing animal skin...
Animal lover Dita Von Teese has stripped down for a sexy shoot - wearing fox fur.
The burlesque star - who appears in PETA's Animal Birth Control campaign - strikes a seductive topless pose on the cover of tattoo magazine Inked, with only a strategically-placed open jacket and red fox skin to cover her assets.
But apparently the animal rights organisation - who is known to target celebrities for wearing animal skins - know about her fur passion.
"PETA's totally aware of me. I'm not working with PETA to tell people to be vegetarians or to stop wearing fur. I am there to strictly speak about spaying and neutering your pets," Dita explained to People.
PETA Spokesman Michael McGraw says the group has not yet asked Dita to stop wearing fur, but might "possibly" have that discussion in the future.
"We're happy to have her support on that issue (spay/neutering), and we'll see where it goes," says McGraw.
Lulu Guinness, designer worn by Dita, interviewed.
Virginia may be for lovers, but is it too shy for burlesque?
A profile of UK performer Roxy Velvet in the University of York's student paper/website, NOUSE.
Bettie Page YouTube videos inspires Bryn Mawr students to start their own burlesque troupes and create a theater, according to The Bi-College News Online.
A profile of Glasgow's Club Noir (with video).
The Canberra Times talks to "The Burlesque Hour".
Miss Marion is an accomplished visual artist and burlesque performer showing her paintings and some skin in Paris.
The Guardian discusses The Ministry of Burlesque.
Dr. Sketchy's Art Club from nick lucchesi on Vimeo.
Video of St. Louis' Dr. Sketchy's Art Club.
Photos and video of the Dallas Burlesque Festival.
Headline: Burlesque Blossoms as Economy Crumbles.
More MINSKY'S links:
Los Angeles Downtown News
Santa Monica Mirror
Ventura County Star
In the film, HEART LIKE A WHEEL, audiences saw what "women drivers" could really do -- win races and take trophies away from the "good ol' boys"! Now, HOT ROD MAGAZINE lets the Queen Of Drag Racing, Shirley Muldowney, speak for herself!
Labels: Shirley Muldowney
Burlesque artist Immodesty Blaize has written a novel set in the world of burlesque, entitled TEASE. Evidently, such a glamorous performer isn't the norm at gatherings of literary types, as her upcoming reading and striptease at Hay-on-Wye has tongues wagging.
FILM THREAT reviews the indie movie HOT ROD GIRLS SAVE THE WORLD.
...in Louisiana's The Advocate/Channel 2 website.
The NAKED FOLK CALENDAR (pictured above) helps pay for the health care of uninsured or underinsured folk musicians.
The GLAM BLOG has pictures of a great Brazilian retro-pin-up calendar, Contigo!
In the early 50’s famed artist George Petty drew and airbrushed the pin-up girls for Ridgid Tools popular calendars... PLANETZMAN has a gallery (the overall site seems neanderthal-ish, but the Petty pics are priceless.)
We have a crush on BOMBSHELL STAMPS, as they allow for some seriously sexy scrapbooking.
TRENDHUNTER has deemed retro pin-ups "playful"... so I guess it's okay to like it now! (Let me know when it's not "trendy" and then I'll make sure to hate pin-ups and, in fact, deny ever having liked them!)
“My inspiration to create the Female Mechanics Calendars came from my experience working as a carpenter and as a motorcycle mechanic in shops where I often felt like an anomaly for being a woman. I feel that it is so important for people to see that there are women who actually work these jobs, and can thrive if given the opportunity to learn. I am continually inspired by the people I have met while creating this project.” ~ Sarah Lyon, creator of the Female Mechanics Calendars, which, true to its name, features verite shots of women automobile, motorcycle,
jet aircraft, bicycle, hot rod, race car, hybrid, and diesel mechanics
from around the country. (hat tip: Feminist Philosophers)
While horror gets lots of mainstream attention for celebrating sexualized violence towards women, a new documentary, PRETTY BLOODY shows that women have been a powerful force in the industry at every level. CLICK to see an interview with Jovanka Vuckovic (of Rue Morgue) discussing the doc and women in horror in general. Supposedly, it spends a lot of time on Vampira, which has us drooling to see it.
Labels: Bettie Page
The Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre, which provides counselling and support to the survivors of sex attacks, has come under fire for using a near-naked dancer (burlesque performer Amber Topaz, pictured above ~ ed.) as part of its line up for a fundraising concert to mark International Women's Day. READ THE REST and read a SECOND ARTICLE and a THIRD ARTICLE -- what do you think?
MANDOM MAGAZINE interviews THE BROWN BETTIES
Check out the SEX WORKERS ART SHOW, currently featuring burlesque luminaries Simone De La Getto, Jo Weldon, World Famous "BOB"
Interesting interview with Toronto performer Sasha Von Bon Bon in the PINK TRIANGLE PRESS.
AMISH BURLESQUE: "The opening number is a striptease where the only thing removed is a sock in about five minutes," says producer Marty Schiff... READ MORE
Cool interview with Oxford performer Tempest Rose by the OXFORD MAIL.
EXAMINER review of MINKSY'S, a musical set in the world of early Burlesque. Previewing in Los Angeles, the show is bound for Broadway. Good ol' Wikipedia fills in the history of the show, which was developed from the 1968 feature, THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED MINSKY'S, which, in turn, was inspired by true events. LA OBSERVED spotlights the musical as well. NPR talked to George Wendt, one of the stars of the show.
The Los Angeles Times profiles Betty Rowland, an original 'Minsky's' girl. The former burlesque dancer, 93, describes a tough but rewarding experience performing during the Depression.
Australian Stage interviews Ali McGregor about the connections between stand-up comedy, burlesque, cabaret and opera.
"Teasy Does It" -- an article in NZ Herald News about New Zealand's Hootchy Kootchy Girls expands into a general article about the development of neo-burlesque.
Daily Free Press profile of the Boston Baby Dolls.
A BroadwayWorld.com article on Denver's Black Box Burlesque: For the first time since the 1930's a theatre is being built specifically to house burlesque, headed up by Reyna Von Vett of last fall's acclaimed Leadville or Bust.
NY Daily News introduces us to Stiletto Spy School.
Des McAnuff explains why there are now burlesque dancers in his reinvention/revival of GUYS AND DOLLS, currently on Broadway. "Miss Adelaide keeps telling us that she has a chronic cold because of her skin exposure," McAnuff laughs, "and that makes a lot more sense if she's a burlesque stripper than a nightclub dancer."
Grand Rapids performer, the hula-hooping burlesque dancer named "Vivacious Miss Audacious", is interviewed by her father's (uncomfortable) co-worker.
Review of the burlesque-themed "mocumentary" TUMBLING AFTER.
TIMES ONLINE uncovers DIY Lingerie.
Talk about standing behind your work! Gavin Hignight, the creator and writer of the superantural/rockabilly graphic novel MOTOR CITY now sports a fresh tattoo of the book's comely character, "SAM"... in a Bettie Page-inspired pin-up originally drawn by the book's illustrator, Jetilla Lewis.
Gavin tells us, "I got that Tattoo from Hanah Aitchison, on the TV show LA Ink, but I'm not sure if the episode will air or not this season. Her work is freaking incredible though."
For more info on MOTOR CITY:
The ladies at Chicago’s Thought You Knew are looking for some press for their upcoming calendar. And who are we to say no?The 2009 calendar features 50’s style pin up photography by Michelle Nolan. All proceeds benefit the Chicago Women’s Health Center [CWHC] -- that's $25,000 to CWHC if the callendars sell out.
Visit www.thoughtyouknew.us for more info.
A thoughtful post on the meaning of burlesque. Worth the READ. (Sammy Snapshot's Thoughts & Images blog)
In the new book, SECRET IDENTITY: THE FETISH ART OF SUPERMAN'S CO-CREATOR JOE SHUSTER, the characters in these twisted drawings, tied up, spanked and worse, look almost exactly like Lois, Superman, Jimmy Olsen and Luthor. They're not, of course (something else Yoe points out -- probably for legal reasons), but NIGHTS OF HORROR gives an unnerving (and fascinating) glimpse at what comic books might look like if the Code insisted on out-of-bounds behavior instead of forbidding it.
READ MORE about this book at comic book writer Will Pfeifer's blog, X-Ray Spex
Dita Von Teese signed a record contract with Interscope Europe and is working on an album, according to E! Online in late February, but we just noticed this morning!
Whether it's music, shoes or, in this case, lipstick, it's funny how if you have a style you love, within a few years you will go from "hopelessly lame" to "cutting edge" -- without having actually made any changes!
So, for those who love bold, primary-color red-red lipstick... congrats! You've once again been deemed "in fashion" by the fashion police! Enjoy it, because you'll probably be "tired" pretty soon, then "out", then "bold" then "in fashion" again... you know how it goes!
UK's DAILY MAIL: GLORY IN RED -- Red lips were everywhere on the summer catwalks. We show you how to wear it.
"Trophy queens represent an important part of American racing lore. They injected a shot of glamour to the tough sport of racing," according to an NHRA (National Hot Rod Association, if you're unfamiliar) official. Amidst the grease and the steel, The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Avenue in Pomona, has been honoring those comely lasses that posed with the winners of hot rod races, past and present.
Jayne Mansfield, Barbara Eden ("I Dream of Jeannie") and Raquel Welch (pictured above, with Don Cameron, 1956 United Racing Association champion... back when she was still going by her given name, Raquel Tejada) have all graced the track as Trophy Queens.
Labels: Trophy Queens