by Rebecca Burgan
In the wake of the new wave art house boom of the 1960s, sexploitation films and art films mimicked each other’s aesthetics to market to a wider audience. American auteur Joseph W. Sarno (1921-2010) produced a prolific catalog of softcore films in the '60s and '70s. Hoping that the hardcore genre was short-lived, Sarno found his niche in the arty sexploitation world, where dramatic lighting, complex sensitive characters, and female sexuality dominated. His technical skills and quick production time set him apart from other directors in the genre, whereas those with a comparable technique would have gone on to mainstream films. He directed his actors to express their anxieties and passions through realism, capturing gritty sexual emotion in its immediacy. He was a master of sexual cinematic verisimilitude.
Sarno’s films emphasize women’s relationships and women’s pleasure, whereas the men are more objectified as instruments to help achieve the female orgasm—a fairly fresh feminist notion at the time. Visual focus during orgasm was often directed at facial expressions rather than a tight zoom on some tight penetration. The sincerity of the sexual experience is revealed more intimately by the face. Gustav Machaty's 1933 Czechoslovakian art film, Ecstasy, starring Hedy Lamarr, was still pre-Code but was banned in America and in Germany by Hitler. Audiences watched Lamarr’s titillating nude body traipse through the woods and skinny dip in the lake, leading up to a moment of sexual ecstasy revealed only through a close-up on her pained face. The director employed an inspired technique of realism to achieve the right expressions from her—poking her rump off screen with a safety pin. The film was banned because of her scandalously debauched motivation for pleasure: cheating on her gross old husband. The censors decreed, you had to be married to revel in such pleasure and make faces like that. More intimate and revealing than a nude bathing scene, the close-up disturbed the Production Code censors in America, who considered even a safer, morally balanced edit of the film to be too indecent for audiences. The film was basically buried, and Lamarr was only allowed to work again if she cleaned up her act.
by Rebecca Burgan
Check out pictures of punk and hardcore greats like The Germs, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys at IDLE WORSHIP: The Photography of Edward Colver at Lethal Amounts in Downtown L.A. from Sept. 20 through Nov. 22. Opening night is at 8 p.m. Sept. 20. Amoeba is proud to be a sponsor of this event.
Photographer Edward Colver captured emerging subcultures of the late ’70s and early ’80s in L.A., documenting every show he attended from 1978 to 1984 and photographing luminaries from movements such as hardcore, death rock, thrash, new wave, industrial, skate punk and more. His photos cover the aforementioned artists plus such bands as Christian Death, The Cramps, Circle Jerks, Youth Brigade, The Mentors, Lydia Lunch, Fear, Nick Cave, Siouxsie & the Banshees, PIL, Motorhead and more. His work has been shown at galleries and museums around the globe to the point that Colver is considered one of the premier punk photographers.
A new documentary currently in production seeks to explore the fertile punk and hardcore scene of Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s and ’80s.
Filmmakers Paul Bishow and James Schneider are seeking funding for their documentary Punk the Capital, Straight from Washington D.C. via Kickstarter. The film is more than 10 years in the making and will explore how the hardcore movement began and why it has such staying power, focusing on the period from 1976 to 1985.
The filmmakers say they conducted more than 100 interviews with key figures in the hardcore movement, collecting more than 200 hours of archival footage along with flyers, pictures, zines and more paraphernalia from the time. The film includes interviews with and footage of such hardcore luminaries as Alec and Ian MacKaye (the latter from Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens, The Teen Idles and Embrace), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Tesco Vee (The Meatmen, Touch & Go), Cynthia Connolly (photographer, Dischord), Joe Keithley (D.O.A.), Sharon Cheslow (Chalk Circle) and more.
The video below shows some of the shirts you can find at Amoeba.
Check out a list of classic punk and hardcore records you can find in the store, many of which have their roots right here in our little corner of the country (more specifically, L.A., especially The South Bay, and Orange County).
Adolescents – Adolescents (CD or LP)
A supergroup of sorts formed in Fullerton, with members of Agent Orange and Social Distortion, Adolescents’ first album influenced legions with a sound that remained tuneful and dynamic within the hardcore punk rock frame of mostly short songs played hard and fast. It’s difficult to imagine Orange County descendants like Pennywise, The Offspring and No Doubt solidifying the So. Cal. punk sound without this first combustible blast of a record. Plus, their first single was called “Amoeba,” so that’s awesome too!
A new compilation of SoCal bands titled Who invented the Mirror has just been released and is available exclusively at Amoeba. One of the bands featured thereon, Those, recently released their debut, We Cure Nothing, just before Christmas.
The name of the band, Those (assuming it's the plural pronoun of "that" and not the village in Nepal), seems calculatedly obscure and at the same time reminiscent of Them, The Who, The The, They, Them, Them! or It. The they behind those are John Cason (guitar), Eric Spolans (ex-The Not Today and 000 Records - guitar), JJ Watson (bass and horns), Brett Strobridge (drums), and Emily Grant (keys). It was recorded and engineered by Chris Reynolds at Dangerbird Studios in Silver Lake.