Friday, July 31, 2009

New Tales To Tell



On Wednesday night a rather eclectic selection of music enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the release of New Tales To Tell, a Love and Rockets tribute album which features an even more eclectic selection of covers by the likes of Puscifer, War Tapes, The Dandy Warhols and The Flaming Lips. The event was put together by longtime Love and Rockets friend Christopher "The Minister," who compiled and released the album via his new Swing House label.


Shepard Fairey, who created the cover art for the album, spun an '80s themed set as the after-work crowd filtered into the courtyard of Space 15 Twenty. The newly opened Cahuenga Blvd. venue serves as an experiment for owners Urban Outfitters, who hope to create similar retail, gallery and restaurant/bar environments in other city center spaces where their core brand can mix it up with local artists and vendors.


'80s Flashback DJ Richard Blade was master of ceremonies for the evening, introducing local bands Astra Heights, Vex and The Invisible Humans. Man about town, Michael Des Barres, made an appearance, as did the man of the hour, Daniel Ash, who was closely involved in the New Tales To Tell project and is working on a new story of his own -- his first post-L&R-reunion single release.


New Tales To Tell was released digitally on July 28th and will be released physically on August 18. Daniel Ash's single (with Zak Ambrose), a cover of David Essex's "Rock On," is available on The Swing House Sessions Volume I. Click HERE for more details and HERE to view event image gallery.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

SuicdeGirls Recreate The Erotic Art of Superman Artist Joe Shuster



SuicideGirls helped comics historian Craig Yoe recreate the secret fetish art of Superman artist and co-creator Joe Shuster at back room soiree held at LA's Meltdown Comics last night.


Shuster's erotic illustrations were originally published in 1953 in the under-the-counter comic Nights of Horror. The work violated pornography laws at the time, thus Shuster was unable to lay claim to this work. A spate of murders in New York lead to a crackdown on pornography in the city the following year. The publisher of Nights of Horror was arrested, and the comics were confiscated and destroyed. Thus the adult work of Shuster, which had always been done undercover, was seemingly lost for all time.


Then, about two years ago, Yoe stumbled across a copy of Nights of Horror in a dusty box on an antique book stall. Yoe instantly recognized the DNA of the draftsmanship displayed in the images. Further research into Shuster's hereto unknown illicit work opened the door to a twilight world of showgirls, mobsters, neo-Nazi juvenile delinquents, hate crimes, murders, court cases, and government enquiries held at the highest level.


Yoe has compiled the stories and images he uncovered in a just-released book, Secret Identity. Read more on Yoe's remarkable voyage of discovery in my interview here.


For images from the Meltdown event, click here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SuicideGirls Bring the Secret Fetish Drawings of Superman Artist Joe Shuster to Life



Joe Shuster changed the landscape for superheroes. The bold lines and primary colors of Superman, a character he created with writer Jerry Segal, put other action figures in the shade. However unsuccessful legal action lodged in 1946 against National Allied Publications (a forerunner of DC Comics), who claimed ownership of the character, meant that Shuster and Segal missed out on the millions their character would ultimately generate. Worse still, to add insult to injury, following the court case, the duo were stripped of their byline by the publisher.


Shuster and Segal were never able to repeat the success they achieved with their Kryptonite-shy guy. In the era immediately following the war, America no longer felt the need for supermen, and their 1947 follow up, Funnyman, fell flat. By the early 1950s Shuster was reduced to drawing cartoons for cash.


Fast-forward to the mid-2000s, when a comics historian named Craig Yoe discovers a copy of the little-known underground fetish rag, Nights of Horror, in a dusty cardboard box on a book stall. Yoe thought the whip-wielding women depicted in the illustrations bore a remarkable resemblance to the nubile lines of the otherwise chaste Lois Lane. Further research proved Yoe's initial suspicions were likely correct, and with the weight of world renowned art publishers Abrams behind him, he set about compiling a comprehensive compendium of the illicit fetish art of Joe Shuster that had lain undercover for over half a century.


I caught up with Yoe on the eve of the West Coast launch of his book, Secret Identity, which will see several of Shuster's sexy panels brought to life with the help of SuicdeGirls.


Click HERE to read the exclusive interview.


Want to see Sash, Moxi, Adria and Zoli bring Joe Shuster's art to life? Come down to the West Coast Launch Party at Meltdown Comics (7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046) tonight, July 29th. The event starts at 8 PM. Secret Identity author Craig Yoe will also be there to sign copies of the book.


Click HERE for event info.

Richard Farrell: The Two Hour Orgasm



...And the Connection between Addiction, Universal Healthcare and our Wars on Drugs and Terror


Addiction first took hold of Richard Farrell after a torn knee put an end to hopes of a professional athletics career. That same injury started his relationship with pain medication. One thing led to another, as these things do, and by the time he reached thirty Farrell had succumbed to almost every aspect of the heroin lifestyle.


His journey to redemption is chronicled in his new memoir, What's Left of Us. Farrell was one of the lucky ones; after twenty failed attempts, he slayed his dragon at a run-down, state-funded detox clinic in Massachusetts, and went on to fulfill his potential as an author, journalist, teacher, filmmaker and screenwriter.


Many addicts will not be so fortunate. Clinics such as these are the easy victims of budget cuts. As bankrupt states struggle to pick up the incarceration tab for the collateral damage of the War on Drugs, and our federal government goes deeper into debt to pay for its War on (drug-funded) Terror, Farrell's life experience leads him to pose an important question: Have we forgotten the simple laws of supply and demand? By funding these two never-ending wars are we ineffectually treating the symptoms instead of battling the cause? Wouldn't our money be better spent reducing the demand for drugs?


The state-funded treatment of drug addiction has never been a vote-winning cause (just look at the tap dancing Obama was forced to do recently on the prickly issue of needle exchange programs). Here, in this special guest column, Farrell makes the case for a more enlightened drug (and healthcare) policy and talks of the horrors that will likely transpire if we continue on our current course, which is tantamount to treating cancer with a gold-plated plaster -- ridiculous, ineffectual, expensive and ultimately fatal.


Click HERE to read Farrell's essay, The Two Hour Orgasm, at SuicideGirls.com.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Aimee Allen: A Little Happiness



Life hasn't exactly been a vacation for Aimee Allen, who is the organically rebellious product of a guilt-laden Catholic school system. Signed at the tender age of 21 to Elektra Records, her debut album, I'd Start a Revolution If I Could Get Up In the Morning, got caught in the crossfire of a corporate merger and was shelved by the soon-to-be dormant label. Worse, Aimee's voice was effectively silenced for several years when the record company refused to release her from her contract without a substantial -- and unattainable -- buyout in place.


Down but not out, Aimee found new voices for her songs, which were recorded by Kevin Michael, Tila Tequila and Unwritten Law. The latter band scored a Top 5 hit on Billboard's Modern Rock chart with "Save Me," which was co-written by Aimee, Linda Perry and Unwritten Law vocalist Scott Russo. Aimee contributed lyrics to the remainder of the tracks on the band's 2005 album, Here's to the Mourning, and Scott and Aimee became romantically entwined. Their relationship culminated with a record of duets, Sitting In A Tree, but sadly the harmony off CD ended, the album's February 2007 release serving as a tombstone for the death of their relationship.


Inspired by the 2007 documentary Zeitgeist, and the work of Alex Jones, Aimee recorded a track to support politician Ron Paul's 2008 election campaign. It became the Libertarian's theme song after the accompanying video became a monster grassroots hit via YouTube. Aimee was subsequently thrust into the political spotlight, and became the voice of revolution for a generation of new voters. However Aimee soon had a more personal battle to fight, after an assault in the summer of 2008 left her with a broken jaw and serious head injuries.


She retreated to Indiana to nurse her wounds and pick up the pieces of her life. Having been the victim of aggression, a new gentler Aimee emerged. When she was well enough to venture back into the studio, the harder rock sounds of her past recordings were replaced with the warm, soothing sounds her body and soul craved. The resulting album, A Little Happiness, is a sonic haven for those needing to escape the troubles of this world. However, as Aimee explained when she stopped by the SuicideGirls office, not everyone is happy that she's taken a recess from revolution.


Click HERE to read my interview with Aimee at SuicideGirls.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Torchwood's Eve Myles On The Irresistible Captain Jack



"If you were ever to meet a character like Captain Jack, I think the most monogamous woman in the world would probably go for him -- it'd be hard not to. "
Eve Myles (aka Gwen Cooper)


Gwen Cooper traded her ho-hum career as a policewoman to work as a professional alien catcher at Torchwood, an organization which legend has it is "separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations." Eve Myles, the Welsh actress who plays Gwen, in turn, has traded her life in very legitimate theater for one in the warped and sexy science fiction universe.


Torchwood is the adult-orientated spin-off from Doctor Who, the world's longest running sci-fi TV series. Created by Doctor Who writer/producer/guru Russell T. Davies, Torchwood debuted in the UK in 2006. Picked up by BBC America in 2007, it has since become one of the station's hottest properties to date.


In part that is due to the on-screen chemistry between Eve's character and that of her charismatic boss Captain Jack Harkness (played by John Barrowman). When the two aren't doing battle to save the planet, they're battling to resist their mutual compulsion to get it on.


At the end of season two Jack and Eve lost two of their colleagues. Season three picks up where two left off, and takes the form of an epic five-part mini series called, Children of Earth.


I called Eve up while she was on a promotional trip in New York to get the inside scoop on Torchwood's other worldly success.


Click HERE to read my interview with Eve which is exclusive to SuicideGirls.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Place Your Bets: Public or Private Healthcare?

Just returned from Vegas, a city that's been devastated by the recession more than most. At best employers are using news of the economic downturn to force wage and benefit cuts on their staff (the folks at the hotel I stayed at for example had recently kissed goodbye to their 401Ks and were providing stellar service with a gritted teeth smile for 10% less). At worst, companies have just let people go en masse.

I was there for a friend's birthday party. He's one of the lucky ones who still has a job (he lost pension benefits however and is being forced to take two weeks unpaid leave). Sadly many of his friends haven't been so fortunate. Some had not only lost their jobs but had reached the limits of their unemployment benefit and were taking drastic measures to make ends meet (one ex-insurance agent is now a stripper, another girl with an accounting degree does odd jobs for $10 per hour). Several were also facing the loss of their homes (short sale anyone?).

And with the maximum unemployment benefit in Nevada coming in at $362 per week, health insurance -- especially COBRA -- was way beyond their budgets. So you'd think public health insurance might be a priority for those in Las Vegas. You'd be wrong.

Here's the Top 5 Reasons Why the Public Option is a Bad Idea as expressed to me by the folks I met in Sin City this past weekend:


1. There aren't enough doctors.
2. My health insurance costs $276 per month so I couldn't afford a $200 public option.
3. We need tort reform first.
4. As it is doctors only get 60-65% of what they bill.
5. I can only afford catastrophic health insurance, so for all intents and purposes I'm not insured for regular doctors visits.


You might be forgiven for thinking that the above statements would be reasons for the public option, not against it. And that's what disturbed me the most. These otherwise intelligent people would make a statement that was seemingly pro-public option, then follow up with a passionate argument about how black was really white.

The only explanation for this confused thinking that clearly defied logic was the decades of brainwashing by governments, politicians and the "health" industry, which has falsely managed to equate universal healthcare with communism and lack of choice in most people's mind. Personally, I'd like everyone to have the option of health care that goes beyond mere emergency room triage. That to me is real choice.

But I guess these people were feeling lucky, since they were all happy to roll the dice and play the health industry's wheel of fortune game. You'd think they'd know better -- and that the house always wins.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michael Moore: For The Love of Money



Michael Moore has just confirmed the name of his new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, which will explore the evils of corporate governance. The Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker released a teaser trailer (see above) for the previously untitled film last month.


Capitalism: A Love Story is set for release on Oct 2nd, which marks the one year anniversary of the Senate vote to approve the $700 billion Wall Street bailout/rape/pillage.


Earlier in the year Moore had appealed for whistleblowers from the financial sector to come forward. It'll be interesting to see who stepped up to the plate.


"It will be the perfect date movie," said Moore in a statement released to the press yesterday. "It's got it all -- lust, passion, romance and 14,000 jobs being eliminated every day. It's a forbidden love, one that dare not speak its name. Heck, let's just say it: It's capitalism."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Cove: A New Documentary That Exposes The Horrific Flipside of Flipper



The Cove is a new documentary that exposes the horrific flipside of Flipper. Shot in the historic town of Taiji, Japan -- which is the birthplace of modern day whaling methods -- the film follows activist Ric O'Barry in his crusade to save the 2,000+ dolphins that are captured and/or slaughtered in a remote cove there each year.


Before O'Barry became an activist, he was an unwitting beneficiary of the dolphin trade. A one-time dolphin trainer (the mammals are closely related to whales), O'Barry first made a name for himself in the 1960s working on the Flipper TV series. "I feel somewhat responsible because it was the Flipper TV series that created this multi-billion dollar industry," says O'Barry, who older and wiser is appalled at the idea of dolphins in captivity in zoos and amusement parks around the globe. He now works for the Earth Island Institute, trying to save these wondrous creatures from this fate -- and worse.


His undercover work at the cove, exposing the atrocious practices of the Japanese fishing industry, caught the attention of former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, who directed the movie about O'Barry's work at the cove. Using high-tech hidden surveillance equipment, the duo were able to capture the covert activities at the well-guarded cove, that had – up until now – been hidden from world view. Even the Japanese dolphin industry it seems is aware that it must remain concealed if it is to continue.


At the end of the film, O'Barry storms the International Whaling Commission with footage from the cove that convinces many to disengage from the corrupt organization which sets whaling quotas which are intertwined with the issue of tolerance for Japan’s dolphin trade. For O'Barry, giving interviews in support of the film is the next step towards exposing the practices of those in the dolphin trade who are happy to perpetrate unmentionable cruelty and ply mercury laden dolphin flesh that in truth is too toxic for human consumption.


Click HERE for SuicideGirls' exclusive interview with Ric O'Barry.