”51” was a magazine that was based on the idea that New York City should be the fifty-first state of the US. This is article written by Debbie Harry, was taken from the bio Making Tracks/The Rise of Blondie published by Da Capo Press. I chose to immortalise this article on the net since it’s almost impossible to get it from its original source and it really represents how things could be seen from the inside, by those who were part of this legendary era. It an honest, lucid look on how that particular scene was evolving coming from of an artist whose band Blondie was on its way to achieve international stardom. All the pictures were added by me. I hope they are helping setting the tone. -Tobe Damit
”51” Magazine, NYC, Late Summer of 1975
I walked into CBGB’s last Friday night at 2 a.m. The Bowery was thick with late night pollution and smog, a sea of sleeping winos, and broken glass.
Dee Dee Ramone spotted me through a Heineken Haze and slithered up wearing an electric purple pimp suit, a Jay’s T-shirt, ragged basketball sneakers and mirror shades.
Swaying slightly, he whispered in my ear, Oh Debbie, we just got signed; we’re supposed to be going on tour. I smiled. I wondered: Will Success Spoil… Dee Dee is bass player to The Ramones, consummate, awesome, punk rockers extraordinaire. The handsomest of the group, Dee Dee resembles Marcello Mastroianni or Steve Canyon, speaks German (born Berlin), was a highly paid hairdresser for a while, is very charming, handsome and childlike.
The Next day was ninety-seven degrees and I ran into Tommy Ramone, drummer and leader of the band, in front of Arthur Treacher’s on Sixth Avenue. Tommy, I heard you got signed, I quipped. He flashed me his disgusted look, Yeah, we got signed to the space program, three sets a night on the nest moon shot. I didn’t take it any further; it was very hot.
But for a few exceptions the NYC rock scene is built on dreams and fantasy. Dreams of love and power, of polite fascism and opulent anarchy: the have and have-nots; EEE, erotism, eccentricity, and eclecticism. It is more than fitting than that scene has filtered down to one tiny club on the Bowery. The expensive thoughts of all concerned could never have been contained in anything larger or more plush. (Except for Sunday evenings with the Miamis at Broadway Charlie’s, Miamis are not too tight with the manager of CBGB’s.)
The rock and roll sub-culture coexists easily with the wraith-like alkies; the angry young black men; with the emptiness and ruin of America’s attics, basements, and secret corners. Places where the out takes and out casts collect. Poverty Marches On… What the Hell: a bass player (now with the Heartbreakers) with so much sex appeal it could lead anyone, male of female into groupiedom, revolution be damned.
As I hinted at, an occasional glimpse of success is not uncommon here at CBGB’S house bar. Last Thursday played host to the magnificent men of Kiss, playing homage to their old friends the Harlots of 42nd Street, who were doing their best to entertain the natives. Other notable drop-ins were Mick Ronson (ohh) and Ian Hunter (ahhh) who surprised everyone no end, including the Fast who promptly set up and played a second hot set on an otherwise dead night at the rock palace.
A few of the Bowery denizen have succeeded in related fields. Fayette Hauser, Gorilla Rose and Tomata du Plenty, who are behind the scenes Hollywood writers for the new nationally broadcast Manhattan Transfer TV show. I do mean behind the scenes they’re still in NYC, but word has it that they’ll be getting some fresh OJ off their own tree within the month.
Just One More Thing . . . The great tower of power moloch Mainman is closing up shop. Mainman produced some fabulous shows like Wayne County at the Trucks, FAME, and Bowie, so much for EEE.
she drives into the parking lot while I am leaning up against the fender of my car. she’s drunk and her eyes are wet with tears: ”you son of a bitch, you fucked me when you didn’t want to. you told me to keep phoning you, you told me to move closer into town, then you told me to leave you alone.”
it’s all quite dramatic and I enjoy it. ”sure, well, what do you want?”
”I want to talk to you, I want to go to your place and talk to you…”
”I’m with somebody now. she’s in getting a sandwich.”
”I want to talk to you…it takes a while to get over things. I need more time,”
”sure. wait until she comes out. we’re not inhuman. we’ll all have a drink together. ”
‘‘shit” she says, ”oh shit!”
she jumps into her car and drives off.
the other one comes out: ”who was that?”
Now she’s gone and I’m sitting here drunk and my eyes seems wet with tears.
it’s very quiet and I feel like I have a spear rammed into the center of my gut.
I walk to the bathroom and I puke.
mercy. I think, doesnt the human race know anything about mercy?
“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheep herder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
”The hippies , who had never really believed they were the wave of the future anyway, saw the election results as brutal confirmation of the futility of fighting the establishment on its own terms. There had to be a whole new scene, they said, and the only way to do it was to make the big move — either figuratively or literally — from Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics to dope… The thrust is no longer for “change” or “progress” or “revolution,” but merely to escape, to live on the far perimeter of a world that might have been.”
”Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final”
”Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music football and sex, in no particular order, and he is no fun at all.’‘
”There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die. Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix — a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing… And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo. Vaya con dios. Grow up! Small is better. Take what you can get…”
”Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish — a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow — to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested…”
”Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right. I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
”But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right… and that’s when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are the wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it… howling through a turn to the right, then to the left, and down the long hill to Pacifica… letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge… The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living- are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it’s In. The association of motorcycles and LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.”
”But speaking of rules, you’ve been arrested dozens of times in your life. Specific incidents aside, what’s common to these run-ins? Where do you stand vis-à-vis the law? “Goddammit. Yeah, I have. First, there’s a huge difference between being arrested and being guilty. Second, see, the law changes and I don’t. How I stand vis-à-vis the law at any given moment depends on the law. The law can change from state to state, from nation to nation, from city to city. I guess I have to go by a higher law. How’s that? Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.”
”America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”
”Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.”
”In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
”The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”
”A man who has blown all his options can’t afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can’t afford to admit — no matter how often he’s reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley… Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads… and they are going to stay that way… Toads don’t make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell’s Angels’ view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”
”Sometimes at dusk, when you were trying to relax and not think of the general stagnation, the Garbage God would gather a handful of those chocked-off morning hopes and dangle them somewhere just out of reach; they would hang in the breeze and make a sound like delicate glass bells, reminding you of something you never quite got hold of, and never would.”
”When the going gets weird , the weird turns pro. But it never got weird enough for me to turn pro.”
”Anything that gets the adrenalin moving like a 440 volt blast in a copper bathtub is good for the reflexes and keeps the veins free of cholesterol… but too many adrenaline rushes in any given time span has the same effect on the nervous system as too many electro-shock treatments are said to have on the brain: after a while you start burning out the circuits. When a jack-rabbit gets addicted to road-running, it’s only a matter of time before he gets smashed — and when a journalist turns into a politics junkie he will sooner or later start raving and babbling in print about things that only a person who has Been There can possibly understand.”
”I sat there for a long time, and thought about a lot of things. Foremost among them was the suspicion that my strange and ungovernable instincts might do me in before I had a chance to get rich. No matter how much I wanted those things that I needed money to buy, there was some devilish current pushing me off in another direction toward anarchy poverty and craziness. That maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas goat.”
*Football season is over. No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.
”I will go to the opening of anything,including a toilet seat”
”I have social disease, I have to go out every night. If I stay home one nigtht spreading rumors to my dogs. Once I stayed home for a week and my dogs had a nervous breakdown. I love going out every night. It’s so exciting. I paint until the last minute and then go home for my first dinner of the night. I always have something simple and nutritious, because I don’t trust food anywhere but home. My favorite dinner is turkey and mashed potatoes-it looks clean.
I usually go out with one kid from my office-the Factory-like Fred Hugues, my business manager, or Bob Colacello, the editor of my magazine Interview. Employees make the best dates. You don’t have to pick them up and they’re always tax-deductible. I also like the feeling of having several of having several of my employees all around a party-it’s like being at the office.
You really have Social Disease when you make all play work. The only reason to play hard is to work hard, not the other way around like most people think. That’s why I take my tape recorder everywhere I can. I also take my camera everywhere. Having a few rolls of film to develop gives me a good reason to get up in the morning.
I love the new, small, automatic-focus 35mm cameras like Minox and Konica. That’s what I used for the photos in this book. I think anybody can take a good picture. My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and a famous person doing something unfamous. It’s being in the right place at the wrong time. That’s why my favorite photographer is Ron Galella.
But back to m,y nightlife. After I’ve filled my plastic shopping bag from Brownie’s Health Food Shop with TDK ninety-minutes tapes, Kodak, TX-36 black-and-white film, and Duracell Alkaline AA batteries, I run out to my first party of the evening. I usually catch the tail end of a cocktail party, then go to a couple of dinners, stop off at Le Club, Regine’s, or Xenon, and end up at Studio 54. Or I go to a Soho opening, a Broadway opening, a boutique opening, a restaurant opening-when it opens I go. When it closes, I go too. I just go. That’s Social Disease.
The symptoms of Social Disease: You want to go out every night because you’re afraid if you stay home you might miss something. You choose your friends according to whether or not they have a limousine. You prefer exhilaration to conversation unless the subject is gossip. You judge a party by how many celebrities are there-if they serve caviar they don’t have any celebrities. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is read the society columns. If your name is actually mentioned your day is made. Publicity is the ultimate symptom of Social Disease. But you know it’s fatal when you don’t want to get rid of it. You couldn’t anyway. How do you catch Social Disease? By kissing someone on both cheeks. Kissing people on both cheeks started out in France, like most diseases. It’s the society thing to do. Socialites never shakes hands. It hurts too much.
People say there’s no such thing as Society anymore. I think they’re wrong. There’s a new kind of Society. Now it doesn’t matter if you came over on the Mayflower, so long as you can get in Studio 54. Anyone rich, powerful, beautiful, or famous can get into Society. If you’re a few of those things you can really get to the top.
This book is about the people at the top, or around the top. But the top’s the bottom. Everyone up there has Social Disease…
“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” ― Lester Bangs
I have just finished reading ”Just Kids” for the second time and I can’t help feeling a bit of anguish as I’m about to express my perception of Patti’s first book of prose mainly, I suppose, due to the fact that it’s a best seller. Not that I disagree, Au contraire! All the praise about ”Just Kids’‘ is very well deserved, but so much has been said already that I forbade myself to read any of it so that everything I would say would be 100% mine. Therefore I will simply pretend I’m the only bloody diamond geezer who was clever enough to read it, heartily hoping to bring something new to the table in the process. I chose this quote by Lester Bangs as an opener because these words seemed to be the very foundation of one of the most sincere and coolest relationship ever, one that’s been told through the pages of ”Just Kids”, a true story that would in itself become an inspiration for so many more to come. It’s a call to be who I really am no matter what, because by doing so, I might be able to bring something unique and new in this bankrupt world.
”There Will Always Be Us!”
In ”Just Kids”, legendary, highly authentic American inspired singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist Patti Smith, who became an influential component of the New York City punk rock movement, offers a very unique, never-before-seen glimpse of her honest, enduring, sister-brother, Yin/Yang, boyfriend/girlfriend magical everlasting relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpein the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late 60s and 70s.
The relation itself is the guiding light and the whole purpose of this book and if, at times, certain passages might seem trivial, well, they never were. This unconditional love they shared – creative, sensitive, stimulating and artistically prolific – becomes a sincere and deeply moving story of youth, friendship and ultimately success. The best thing being that anyone can relate to it in a very intimate, personal way. ”Just Kids” fully grasp the heartfelt passion and holds this very same unique, sensitive and lyrical quality that is written between each lines of her formidable body of work, from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.
No one else could have better described all the ins and outs of the unique, constantly evolving story she shared with Robert Mapplethorpe, and this means way more than just itemizing their body of work, for the whole represents way more than the sum of it and their relationship in itself was on its own an expression of art. It just couldn’t be contained in its entirety in little works nor in big works for all to see. Parts have been laid in music, paintings, poems and photographs but even all these, as inspired and beautiful as they are, fail in giving us a complete picture. Even if it celebrates a friendship that left a permanent impact on almost every artistic aspect and style in America, it still had to be told in a book. It was essential and sacred. Patti had to share their journey under the blue star, a symbol of their undying love for each other,one last time.
Patti writes in a Last Note to the Reader:
”We were as Hansel and Gretel and we ventured out into the black forest of the world. There were temptations and witches and demons we never dreamed of and there was splendor we only partially imagined. No one could speak for these two young people nor tell with any truth of their days and their nights together. Only Robert and I could tell it. Our Story, as he called it. And, having gone, he left the task to me to tell it to you. ” – Patti Smith, Just Kids, May 22, 2010
What makes this book so special is how Patti manages to express a magic that started almost immediately. Patti arrived in NYC with almost nothing but her wish to accomplish something no one has done before. Robert was already in NYC and struggling on an urban survival mode, but nevertheless they both had a deep sense that life had something very special in store for them and that it was written in the stars. They never thought it would be so hard, that they would have to struggle so much just to survive but nevertheless it didn’t take very long for them to be able to recognize the signs. We can feel that they saw in each other something true and very real, something which they felt they would later be able to rely on as persons and as artists. Of course there were moments of doubts but maybe it was these crucial moments that would prove them to be essential to one another. It never was a give and take type of relationship. The base for it might just be honesty, true faith in each other’s talent, the hope that there was a place for them as they were and that with a lot of work, perseverance and a little bit of luck, they would both find their niche as people and artists. Lots of spoken, unspoken pacts were made, very few ever broken.
Despite a certain ”twinlike” aspect, their part in each other’s life could also definitely be seen as complementary. One could say that Robert was the eternal dreamer, on some aspects, even alien to practical knowledge and certain everyday life faculties and that Patti possessed a more down to Earth perspective on life but this is only a half truth since, when needed, on several occasions, they could trade roles and when the other one would be in dire need of a trait that would normally be the other one’s unsaid character/task assignment, they would put their egos aside and would manage to trade places if it would help the other to get through a rough patch.
”The premise was simply that one of us always had to be vigilant, the designated protector. If Robert took a drug, I needed to be present and conscious. If I was down, he needed to stay up. If one was sick, the other healthy. It was important that we were never self-indulgent on the same day.
In the beginning I faltered, and he was always there with an embrace or words of encouragement, coercing me to get out of myself and into my work. Yet he always knew that I would not fail if he needed me to be the strong one”
The Chelsea Hotel
“I loved this place, its shabby elegance, and the history it held so possessively”
Back in those days, New York City was a very dangerous place. Some areas were filled with what is commonly regarded as the lowest forms of the human species likes thieves, pimps, rapists, thieves, hookers, murderers and so forth. Being young artists who strive to survive, of course they were bound to have to live in such areas. At one of their lowest points they were plainly told that they had to get out, that they wouldn’t make it if they stayed. Fortunately, there was a place that offered hope if you were an artist, a little island of optimism, gathering past, present and future generations of artists of all kinds where you didn’t even need to have money right away. Stanley Bard would keep your portfolio, or take a work of art until you could get it back and you were now part of a community that was very special, during the 60s and the 70s especially. The Chelseaplayed a huge part in the history of the new generation of artists of the 60s and the 70s.
”Gregory made lists of books for me to read, told me the best dictionary to own, encouraged me and challenged me. Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs were all my teachers, each one passing through the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel, my new University. ”
”The Moon Turned Blood Red”
Yet they came to a point where one or both of them needed more space, more freedom. Some things are meant to be faced and dealt with on your own even if they knew the other one will still be there for me if need it be but never taking one another for granted and always being grateful of each other’s effort to play the right part when needed, never taking advantage of one another. In one word: Respect was of course the cement that sealed the ”deal”. Robert soon had to face his inner demons and question his sexuality again and again. Of course this was heart wrenching for both of them.
”He had been with a fellow and not for money. I was able to give him some measure of acceptance. My armor sill had its vulnerable points, and Robert, my knight, had pierced a few, though without desiring to do so.”
Their relationship morphed and this had major effects on their everyday lives. It is during theses major changes and adaptations that could have tore them apart that we see that love makes all the difference in the world and that instead of trying to exert control on each other’s lives, they simply went ahead with the flow and they grew stronger. I would say that we witness how something some would see as a humiliation becomes merely a chance to humble ourselves and let life take its natural course. Never stop to love and support those who are true soul mates. A bond stronger than marriage.
I will not spoil all the fun and tell you everything that happens. I already told you the big lines and a few little ones but Here is one last thing that I realised reading ”Just Kids”.
I so happened to notice that in general there can be two different kinds of artists. Some very callous, careless, aloof and undisciplined that are successful because of their God-given talent and so much passion that they seem to evolve in a different space and time, going all the way with everything they’ve got, with all their worries and genius. They truly appear as some unstoppable forces of nature, pushed by some alien powers. Then there are others with which they share the same gift, also having a remarkable imagination, but very rooted in their reality, very lucid and conscious of the space they occupy in space and time as well as having a clear view on what is their place in society and what their relationships made of, how strong can they be.
Now certain artists are lucky enough to have just about the right proportion of each of these components within themselves, to be well supported by a team of people they trust and that have faith in their work. I think ”Just Kids” is about the encounter of 2 people who miraculously manage to complete each other perfectly as people and as artists.
”Where does it all lead?What will become of us? These were our young questions and young answers were revealed.
It leads to each other. We become ourselves.”
Together the Smiths had a son, Jackson (born 1982) and a daughter, Jesse (born 1987). Jackson, a guitarist, was married to Meg White (formerly of indie band The White Stripes). Jesse is a pianist. Both have performed on stage with their mother along with other members of the Patti Smith Group.
Patti Smith never forgot Robert Mapplethorpe and wrote ”Just Kids” in 2012. She had made a promise to Robertthat she’d write a book about them and she did, Patti wrote this memoire of their friendship in her own unique personal, direct, sensitive and wholhearted style and we should be all damn happy she kept her promise!
Check out this subversive fashion video for House Casting in New York City. It is based on the Iggy Pop song ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and was played at the Center George Pompidou in Paris in September 09, as part of the ‘A Shaded View On Fashion’, during the larger fashion week.. Directed by Leg’s Georgie Greville.
Exploited Teen Models from Russia
It kinda works like either a pimp or a cult…Your pick… At first glance it seem’s all good but after awhile you are like hmmmm…There is definitely something wrong … BTW The Girl on top in the video is now the trainer in the documentary film for those who haven’t noticed…and she speaks quite frankly and honestly. That documentary called Girl Modelby Ashley Sabin and David Redmond has a very complicated backstory. Click HERE to read more.
Gregory loved Keats and Shelley and would stagger into the lobby with his trousers hanging low, eloquently spewing their verses. When I mourned my inability to finish any of my poems, he quoted Paul Valery to me: ”Poets don’t finish their poems, they abandon them”… – Patti Smith, Just Kids
This piece was literally dictated to me in one to two hours. I don’t think I changed a word of the original text. It was not easy to get it published in 1979. All the magazine editors were frightened that it would raise the ire of the feminists. Although the girls who inspired this piece were among the strongest women I’ve ever known. Finally a bright editor at High Times, Bob Singer, chopped of the first five pages which made the piece more direct and easier to understand. High Times published its as cover story in May 1982, the same month the book I wrote with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, ‘‘Making Tracks:The Rise of Blondie” was published.
I did not know Negative Girls had also been published in an underground magazine in London called The Fred, but when I had previously submitted it to a small magazine being edited by Richard Hell he told me he had read it there. I had sent it to them a year earlier but never received a reply. I liked the magazine, edited by Bryan Maloney and Colin Charles, so much I published another related piece, ”Memoirs of A Modern Slave Girl”, in a later issue.
Actually now I’m recalling Negative Girl’s history I remember my fellow writer Legs McNeil, who had a relationship with German Playboy’s New York Rep, Monica Kind, told me they would publish it if we re-wrote it down to make it easier to understand! I actually have the manuscript of this re-write. It was published in German Playboy as ”Minus Mädchen” in 1981. The High Times piece broke it open though and next thing I knew one of William Burroughs French critics and translators, Philippe Mikriamos, published it in French in Metal Hurlant, (Heavy Metal) in 1983. This translation was then republished in two issues of an underground magazine in New York edited by Ann Hemenway. I think it was the prettiest translation. Then in 2009, Mark Kostabi asked me to write a text for a book of his paintings called ”The Only Ones” . The text was much too literal. I really liked these romantic paintings and tried to literally describe them, which did not work so well, but sometimes when you’ve written something you cannot change it. So I added Negative Girl, which was a much better text. Mark appreciated it, telling me it reminded him ofhis own feelings. ”The Only Ones” was published in a bilingual edition in English and Italian. It was most recently published as a cover story in Night Italia 2013. Negative Girls is currently being published in a book by Robert Carrithers in Prague.
Writing Negative Girl was one of the greatest experiences in my life. I made a serious effort to turn it into a book in 1982 and on several other occasions. Oh, I forgot, after High Times published the piece I received a call from an agent at the William Morris agency, the most powerful agency in America. They wanted me to turn it into a Broadway Musical. They had everyone they needed to put on the show, directors, stars etc. I told them I would think about it. But by the time I lost my desire to complete the book, when the girl who inspired it told me she was getting married, I remembered talking to Viva, then at the height of her powers after publishing ”Superstar” and a fabulous book called ”The Baby”. She was telling me how she was making headway on her third book (”The Lover”?) when Knopf asked her to go on tour with ”The Baby” and how she never made it back to her book and never published again. I suddenly realized I was on my path and could not veer off it. It was the path that lead me to”Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story” and ”Warhol: The Biography”. Of course I think Negative Girls would have been a huge hit on Broadway and I often wake up in the middle of the night singing one of its songs. Negative Girls is a timeless piece of prose. Just as there will always be Bad Boys there will always be….
By Victor Bockris Mudd’s Club Girl’s Room 4-6 AM Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, 1979
The live of American girls terrify me. I cannot look.
BOYS TELL LIES, GIRLS TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS
Girls are climbing all over the living room furniture, and crawling out of my hair, girls are using my eyes, girls are slipping my checkbook into their handbags, girls can’t stop talking. Allergic girls. Detergent girls. Floating girls. Stolen girls. Girls and death. Girls defeated by hammers. The girls department. Girls and money. Girls for sale. Legendary girls. Insect girls, Inspect girls. Inject girls. Girls in the supermarket. Backstreet girls. Singing girls. Driving girls. Let me go girls. Walking girls running girls standing still girls. Hot and cold girls. Hot and cold running girls.
Cunts tits feet faces hair. Electric girls. Nominated girls. Financed girls. Jungle girls at the Mudd Club. Diamond girls at the Pierre. Cunts with shields and cunts with spears. Spy girls. All the same girls. All the time girls. Finished girls. Girls in the war. Girls on tour. Girls in the mens room. Inquisitive girls. Intuitive girls. Exquisite girls. Girls who live in the crotch of metropolitan life to illustrate what it’s like to be a girl in America today. Negative girls who say, “We are second class citizens!” White girls who want to be black, they demand to be recognized as dogs at war. They learn to say,
–“I had to be a prostitute!”
–“I had to do it! He would have killed me!”
–“He shot me in the chest from four feet and then spent half an hour cleaning up the apartment before he even called an ambulance. The cop thought I was going to die and held my hand all the way to the hospital.”
Negative girls are mirrors. They are seeking for the proof of their visions every day in every activity. They take photographs of boys telling lies then show them the photographs of their lies revealing the false structure of our sexual code, which negative girls aim to break.Most girls who get thrown down stairs, beaten up, raped, left, used, abused, slutted, whored, wined and dined close up like foul black flowers and become ugly dishwashers, but negative girls never fall in love, they rise in hate. They take their pain to the public. They exorcise disappointment with its photograph. They celebrate another moon. They chase gaiety and emerge purged. A negative girl only has bad news. A negative girl only tells bad stories. She likes to tell stories about every bad person she ever knew, and if you try to cheer her up by telling her something good she’ll turn down her mouth and say it didn’t happen to her. But most of all she likes to tell bad stories about herself.
-“Did you stuff blueberries up my cunt last nigh? I thought so! I told you not to! Now I have a swollen cunt. I hate cunts. I wish I didn’t have one. All it does is get me into a lot of trouble.” -“Well… I think you have a very nice…” -“Oh stop it! I don’t care what you think. I’m going to have my cunt sewn up!”
Negative girls know that the male’s primary impulse is to insert himself as far into the female’s body as he can possibly go and they don’t care. Negative girls pretend to be forced to have sex because it proves how negative it is, how negative you feel about them, and how negative their lives are.
-“Well you fucked me last night so you’re not going to fuck me again this morning. You’re not going to fuck me in the ass. It hurts too much! I’ve tried. You can jerk off into my mouth.” -“When did you last come?”
-“Ten years ago. What happened last night?”
-“Well I was fucking you, I was fucking you for a long time and…”
-“I don’t remember anything.”
-“Then you came.”
-“I NEVER COME WITH YOU! I’m sorry, but…”
-“Oh no, it’s okay. It’s okay. No, I know, but anyway you seemed to have a good time.”
-“Well, I don’t know.”
Negative girls are very annoyed if you suggest they enjoyed themselves too much. Negative girls are distinctly unhappy if asked by their partners to adopt a superior position during coitus. Little girl who really need help, vulnerability is their strongest suit. It always hurts negative girls when you fuck them. “Ouch ouch, you’re hurting me. Stop. Oh My God.” Negative girls are embarrassed about sex and don’t like to talk about it. If you start being passionate she will scream out, “I’m very drunk! I just want to get raped and fucked! Just fuck me! Rape me! Oh God rape me!” and expect you to rip her clothes off and fuck her like a savage from the realms of Tarzan’s imagination.Lawyers, book keepers and priests everywhere tell me there are a lot of normal reasonable girls around capable of leading a straightforward adult life, getting married, settling down and raising a family. I’ve never seen any and I don’t believe it.
Every girl I meet is just as crazy and remarkable as the one before her. It’s always bad with their wheedling and whining and little girls cries: “Sally wants presents. Sally wants ten presents. Sally wants more presents. How many presents does Daddy have for Sally?”
WARNINGS ABOUT NEGATIVE GIRLS
You take a negative girl out on the town everywhere in a limousine and keep giving her cocaine, you take her to exotic private dinner parties, then you ask her if she had a good time and she says it was okay, before going uptown to turn a trick for fifty dollars – just to make sure you understand how much she needs you and how much she wants your attention. A lot of attention. All of it. A night with a negative girl is fraught with danger and can be a nightmare. At any moment she may turn its tide, leaving you washed up on the alcoholic shores of morning. Flapping off of grey rocks you wake to find yourself fully dressed alone, a cigarette between your teeth, a pork pie hat stuck on your head.
A negative girl will never stay in one place for very long. A negative girl gets bored easily and if you aren’t running around with a feather stuffed up your ass or dressed in a chicken suit, or if you haven’t got any more funny stories to tell her or famous people to introduce her to, a negative girl will run off screaming “WHERE’S THE PARTY!?!” Negative girls are not interested in newspapers or politics. Negative girls do not like to think, although you have your substrata of intellectual negatives, really bitter bitches with whiplash tongues, regal snatches up on the higher floors who make men kill to fuck, snapping turtle cunts in Jaguar’s, all whoring for power.
Be very careful who you introduce a negative girl to because she will always collect any famous phone numbers lying around and then call up the famous person and say you told her to call. Negative girls will use your name and connections indiscriminately, but if you ever try and elicit a favor from a negative girl – an introduction, a place to stay, an invitation – she will recoil in horror and assume a superior, removed position.
It has been asked: are negative girls aliens? Negative girls were certainly given different orders.
FROM KNICKERS AND KNEE SOCKS TO SWITCHBLADES AND STILETTOS: HOW BAD GIRLS UNDRESS:
Negative girls don’t have many clothes because they spend a lot of time in bed, mostly just sleeping it off, although they do have to perform or else they wouldn’t be allowed to stick around. What they wear is remarkably uniform, depending upon the image the individual chooses to employ. When dressing, negative girls concentrate on what will be immediately recognizable to negative boys, except in the few cases where the girl doesn’t have to bother what she wears she’ll get fucked.
The majority of negative girls wear black. If they wear dresses the skirts are short over black stockings or knee socks, white cotton underpants are de rigeur, high heels (to push their asses out) bras (to push their tits out) and black leather jackets. If they wear pants the pants are black the boots are black the jacket’s black. The underwear may also be black. Some negative girls throw in a few colors, wear red shoes or pink feather boas and carry yellow plastic handbags, but only on the weekend or if they’re temporarily acting in a recording company office. Negative girls are too serious to get that fanciful about their outfits. A seminal costume for the negative girl is the Catholic School Girl dress. Variations run through most schoolgirl uniforms from China to Paraguay. An alternative is the little boy’s sharkskin suit worn over black high heel boots and under short spiky hair. Add tear gas gun and – Hey presto! You’re a negative girl!
Where do negative girls get their clothes? “We shop in other people’s closets!” A negative girl rushes into an apartment and heads straight for the closet to see if there’s anything she could wear you might lend her for the night. A negative girl will never return anything she borrowed and if you ever leave anything in a negative girl’s bed it will get lost before you remember where it is. I have lost a number of small items this way. Watches, drugs, credit cards.… Negative girls are jackdaws, but even the ones with the biggest noses and worst acne are always pretty because they dress up in ballerina clothes and wear black gauze masks and spangles around their ankles. Negative girls are confectionary. Their cunts taste like candy.
NEGATIVE GIRLS AND DRUGS
Negative girls are great in bed if they’re not too sick, but they’re sick a lot. Some negative girls are always sick because they never eat anything and take as many drugs as they can. But negative girls are quite particular about what kind of drugs they will take, and most of them abhor marijuana. Boys who smoke marijuana around negative girls always catch a lot of flak-
-“What a pothead!”
-“That stuff stinks!”
-“Oh God! More marijuana again…”
– because it makes them paranoid and paranoia is the last thing a negative girl can afford to have added to her afflictions.
Negative girls like speed and their mouths are always falling out. A lot of negative girls have to take quaaludes in order to get fucked because they’re too tense otherwise. They say all girls like to get smacked and negative girls concur, liking smack better than anything else. You can pretend heroin doesn’t exist, or only underworld stooges of the lowest order use it, but negative girls shout, “We’re going to get some smack as soon as we get to London! Don’t be a boring moralist about it!” While sociologists pout, “Many young girls who fear the permanent side effects of drug addiction accept bizarre sexual experiences in the belief that they are the lesser of two evils.” What sleazy liars they are!
A boy walks through a crowd of beautiful girls wearing a black bandage across his eyes. A negative boy walks through a crowd of beautiful girls he cannot see. He covers his eyes with a black gloved hand. The wind blows a boy in a black hat and coat over, a car veers around the corner, the streetlights go out. Two priests pull up in a limousine. A negative boy goes into another world he has the pictures of. A negative girl screams: “THAT ISN’T WHAT HAPPENED! WE WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THE BIT WHERE HE TOOK HIS PANTS OFF!”
Negative girls only like negative boys and negative boys hate their girlfriends, so negative girls are always close to the flame of hate. This keeps them awake. Negative girls want to have sex with negative boys because negative boys match the desired sequence of pictures negative girls have superimposed on their sex screens. The negative girl sees the negative boy walking across the room, she appreciates his skinny ass his skinny legs his skinny head his skinny brain his skinny veins – all withered up and dried away, which is why he’s off the stuff for a while. They flip for his tight skinny mouth and his giant animal like member protruding from his pants like a rolling pin. How many times have I had to listen to negative girls describe their boyfriends’ cocks with the guy nodding out right next to them? I always think the guy is going to be embarrassed when his girlfriend says, “You can’t help the way nature made you honey, you have a beautiful cock,” but he just pops another quarter in the pinball machine.
Negative boys say, “Going to bed is really giving up. We never go to bed until we pass out. All imagination of the future is wrong and I am in a precarious position flying over unknown territory without control of my plane, so don’t bother me.”
How do negative girls deal with negative boys? Most negative girls are frigid. They can usually cover it up pretty well with their acting experience, but most negative boys are impotent, even after reading textbooks on the physiology of erections and this creates a problem. She tries to jump on top of him wearing a red knee socks and a tee shirt that says FETISH or ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL on it, but he can only jerk off to her voice over the telephone. A negative girl will never masturbate her boyfriend.
-“Could I just ask you a favour that’ll only take two minutes. Would you just jerk me off?”
-“There’s nothing wrong with asking as long as you don’t try and force someone!”
-“There’s nothing worse than asking.” She is embarrassed if you mention masturbation.
-“Getting caught masturbating would more embarrassing than getting caught turning a trick,” a negative girl told me over a lunch which she ordered, stirred around and disdained at Mortimer’s. It is unwise to take a negative girl to a restaurant. She’ll make sure it’s expensive, then keep the waiter standing around while she bites her nails and asks what everything looks like. When it comes you realize why. She just likes to look at the food and push it around. (Unless she’s at DAVE’S LUNCHEONETTE, where she’ll eat everything on the plate and lick it.)
Negative girls communicate with their bodies as bait, but negative girls own their own bodies completely and can do whatever they want with them. The city is strewn with corpses of boys who thought they owned negative girls. Negative girls like to boast about how much they’ve been getting. They insist on their right to be debauched. Negative girls demand to get fucked. “I want to get fucked!” they scream at you over the telephone, and running into your apartment they hand you a rubber, wail “Wanna Fuck?” and dash into the bedroom. Negative girls demand control. Negative girls want to get excited. Negative girls like to seduce young boys. Negative girls like to be little girls and fuck famous old men. Negative girls like to fuck drummers, singers and guitar players. Negative girls look for cute boys wherever they go. Negative girls rip off straight men whenever they can. Negative girls have sex with giant insects. Negative girls are treated like garbage and they come. Negative girls are fulfilling comic book fantasies.
A negative girl would never think of getting married because she knows if she sits at home and watches television knitting and washing dishes and walking around the block with babies, she will become suicidally depressed, and her boyfriend will become incredibly bored with her ugly pan and will hardly ever want to see it, let alone touch her creepy flesh. Negative girls are smart. They keep moving.
Grab a negative girl by the wrist, fling her onto the carpet, drag her across the floor and throw her out the door into the corridor and she will threaten to sue and walk around with a bandaged wrist for a week, but all she really wants is an apology. Apart from photographs, negative girls like to collect confessions. They always make it seem like it’s you fault and they are very persuasive so you often end up apologizing to negative girls. This one girl was complaining about how her boyfriend wouldn’t even give her fifty cents to go uptown so she could be a model for Penthouse magazine and I said, “But he arranged for you to make two hundred dollars so that’s pretty nice of him,” and she goes, “Yeah, but because of that stupid jerk I met at Penthouse I went on the Scarsdale diet and consequently became a junkie and a whore again, so I don’t think arranging a photo session at Penthouse for me was really such a nice thing for him to do.” The same girl saw Quadrophenia three times and blamed its destructive influence on the boy who had given her his tickets. Intercourse is when she is “used” by her partners, pregnancy is when she is “ill” and childbirth is when she “gets better.”
Negative girls can be very violent very suddenly. The only way to handle this is to be equally violent. All negative boys have had to beat up negative girls. Zsa Zsa Gabor says, “I love it!” And most negative girls make a big thing out of getting beaten up. Bruises are beautiful
IS THERE ANYWAY TO TELL IF A NEGATIVE GIRL IS HOMICIDAL?
There you are. No. That’s what makes them so dangerous. Makes them change from being your friend into being your murderer in a second’s time. We all hate to a certain extent. You’d be surprised at the murderous daydreams that some sweet old lady is indulging in, but it’s only when hate is so damned up that it breaks out in murder. Imagine an infant enraged over some slight frustration like having a toy taken away. Then think of her with the strength and imagination of a negative girl. She would kill.
NEGATIVE GIRLS AND MONEY
SCIENTIST:”In order to maintain replacement fertility, financial incentives to encourage childbearing may eventually become necessary” NEGATIVE GIRL:”I’m a beautiful girl and I shouldn’t have to do that!”
Negative girls are irresponsible. They deny any demands. They don’t owe you anything. Try and find a negative girl on Thanksgiving Day. She shakes her fist at the sky and screams, “Thanks! Thanks a lot!” before running inside. Negative girls never have any money but they often “have some coming.” The mysterious source of their supply is not easy to discover. Negative girls spot friends in the morgue and identify them for newspapers, making an extra buck on the side. Sometimes their grandmothers back in Wyoming died and they got two thousand dollars, all of which they will immediately spend on shoes, airplane tickets and heroin. Some negative girls have families living somewhere else who occasionally send them money, like maybe there’s a baby in the background or they’re getting paid to stay away. Negative girls are brave because they always live alone. Alone she goes to the hospital in a cab to have her baby, paying with a jar full of change. Inside the hospital no one tells her anything. She screams, the brat is stuffed in an incubator.
Negative girls count their money and curse. They expect you to pay for everything and they expect it to be good or they will complain. A negative girl only reads the wine list to make sure the wine is expensive. She will not accept a house wine. She recommends prophylactics made from imported lambskin, ($6.98 for 3, but definitely don’t break.). If you ask her to pay for anything a negative girl will be insulted. If she does give you any money she will throw it at you, having taken fifteen minutes to extract it from her boot. If you expect her to pay again she will start to flirt with other men in the restaurant, or run uptown to turn a trick. Meaning rises out of what we don’t understand.
NEGATIVE GIRLS ON TELEVISION
Negative girls are nervous, irritable and excited. They cannot just sit staring at television, they have to get up and go out and do something. “OH GOD. WELL LET’S GO TO THE MUDD CLUB. FIRST ONE’S ON ME!” And all the girls run down the street for a drink.
Negative girls are much more interested in how horrible life is now than how terrible it was then, and this is, in my opinion, much to their credit. Did television come as voice-overs in your future? They rarely talk about the past. Of course you had a bad childhood, childhood is a bad time and people didn’t use to pretend they did until television put the alphabet in its grave.
Negative girls are appearing in increasing numbers on television. Look for these scenes: crying on the toilet. Beating up on their kids. Really pretty but always tight lipped. Must be the season of the witch. Sociologists say negative girl beating is widespread, but a negative girl always wants a negative boy to take care of her because she always has a lot of problems. It’s like a cop show on T.V.: a chick arrives with a problem. The policeman comes to her aid and helps her solve her problem. In the end, the chick is happy again. But then another chick arrives with another problem for another sucker. Negative girls spin out their mythological routines on television. Negative girls are Cleopatra. They want to live in electric times and quiver in the silver light of morning with the haunted duchesses of history where television is Shakespeare.
NEGATIVE GIRLS IN THE FUTURE
A negative girl will never be happy. A negative girl will never be satisfied. A negative girl will never be afraid to admit she is bored, tired, depressed, broke and has V.D. again. Every negative girl carries a camera in her cunt, a tape recorder in her head, a loudspeaker in her mouth and television in her eyes. Negative girls are agents. Sex with them is dangerous. They keep files. They hold conferences. A negative girl’s common complaint: I am a photograph fixed in the imagination of men. They are whatever they want to be. Negative girls don’t think about whether they’re happy or not. What a dumb thought.
A negative girl’s main ambition is to have fun, but in order to really have fun she is going to have to get a gun. I am putting forth a motion for all negative girls to be able to have licenses to carry effective handguns in their garter belts. They should all be allowed. Of course a lot of people would get shot but so what. If they want to mess around with negative girls that’s their prerogative. It’s par for the course to get smashed up by a negative girl. At some point she will do her best to bring you down crash. The trap in her magnet is honesty and pain. Sitting next to it you get hit.
A negative girl wears a shield on her wrist – her suicide scars: all negative girls have scars. All negative girls have abortions. There’s a little bit of whore in every negative girl. Sex is too dangerous. All negative girls have been raped and will admit it. But when you try and talk seriously to a negative girl about taking more precautions and not being out alone at 4 a.m. drunk and depressed she gets annoyed and says, “Well you make it sound like it was my fault.” A negative girl will not be intimidated. She appears in my room three times in the night crying, “I am dead. I am dead.”
A negative girl is a play. A negative girl is an abortion, a moment, a mirror, a mirage, a motor, a meat cleaver, a meathook. Negative girls are Queens of the Mudd, negative girls are bright and beautiful, negative girls walk grandly in regal splendor, negative girls always have a lot of cash in their voices, negative girls are demons and sorcerers and witches – messengers from a contorted night star. Negative girls rise like wraiths in a funnel of black silk over forests and disappear into fairylands forlorn. Negative girls go out of their bodies and have electric sex. Negative girls are all supposed to be good at pinball but this isn’t a magazine world. Negative girls read their schoolbooks and paint the cave walls and experiment with nitroglycerine. Negative girls are serious students learning the skills necessary to qualify They are invisible in your dreams.
I urge you to make a contact with them. They are the language. They will teach you how to fall over without hurting yourself and how to plan your itinerary with the doctors. Negative girls are the bottom line in girls. You cannot retreat or advance further. They are capable of blurring into the essence of adolescence and freezing in future frames.