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Men from Mars
Ever see someone in costume on Halloween and they are so scary you wonder if they really are a demon/vampire/ghost?
Nik Fiend is like that. The combination of odd facial gestures, goth hair and white base makeup make him look frightening. I finally got up the guts to watch interviews with him on YouTube; he was just a lovely English chap.
He's one half of the duo Alien Sex Fiend, started with Mrs. Fiend when they were both slumming at famous London night club The Bat Cave. You have to admire the time it takes to become Nik Fiend, deathrock singer and visual artist - most of us can't even get it together past our Midwestern fat pants.
I love their song, "I walk the line". Check the video below:
"I walk the line", Alien Sex Fiend
Writer Quentin Crisp strolled through the streets of London during the heights of Blitzkrieg bombings dressed as a woman.
He put his own number in the phone book so anyone could call him.
Even though he was a gay sex worker for years, he made numerous disparaging remarks about gay rights and homosexuality.
He supplemented his writing income as an artist's model for years, and later starred in the film "Orlando" as Queen Elizabeth I.
He's best known for his book "The Naked Civil Servant", made into a movie starring John Hurt. Now that pastel hair is sold at Wal Mart, we forget how radical Quentin's appearance was back in the day.
I wonder if anyone ever asked Sun Ra, "So, where do you like to shop?"
He described his music as an "outer space kinda thing", and it truly was otherworldly. His Sun Ra Arkestra was boot camp for jazz musicians who wanted to freestyle and who could keep up with the Ra man.
Sequins, headdresses, Egyptian themed robes. When Sun Ra passed in 1993, many of us assumed he just moved on to another galaxy. After all, it was Sun Ra that said "Space is the place!"
Fashion designer, club kid, performance artist, musician - Leigh Bowery was a one man show.
Another highly influential artist that most people have never heard of, traces of Leigh Bowery are still seen on runways, and Boy George can thank Leigh for much of his look. In fact, Boy George was so inspired by him, he starred as Leigh his musical, Taboo.
Leigh Bowery came up in the club scene in London in the late 1980s, and immediately became popular for his outlandish outfits. He became a club promoter and worked on numerous other projects, starting a band called Minty, performing with Michael Clark's dance company, and modeling for artist Lucian Freud.
He was openly gay but married his bandmate Nicola Bateman. As with so many creative people in the late 80s and 90s, he died from AIDS. Watch the documentary below and see where people like Lady Gaga get their ideas.
The Legend of Leigh Bowery
Experimental filmmaker and octogenarian, Kenneth Anger's visual art and love of celebrity scandal has been undiscovered by the majority of the American public. His influence, however, is felt in the rise of MTV and tabloid media.
The filmmaker made a handful of films such as "Lucifer Rising" and the controversial "Fireworks", both films ahead of their time for homosexual overtones.
His book, "Hollywood Babylon" was the first time we saw celebrity up skirts, death photos, and famous people in compromising situations. Now that there are 10,000 celebrity sites on the web, it's hard to imagine, but the book was way, way ahead of its time.
During the summer of love, Anger was heading down the left hand path - he followed the teachings of Aleister Crowley, cast Marianne Faithful as a female demon in his film, and had Mick Jagger score the soundtrack to his Vietnam War meditation, "Invocation of My Demon Brother".
Anger is a brilliant visual artist and hugely underrated. One of the most notable things about him, however, is the giant "Lucifer" tattoo across his chest. This Lucifer is not the stupid, horror film construct, though. This is the "Beast", the light bearer that is described in Crowley's writings. And when you think about it, Anger has brought so much light, in various colors and textures to the world of visual art and film.
Who needs underpants? Not G.G. Allin, legendary vocalist for punk band The Murder Junkies and perhaps the most brutal musician ever.
G.G. Allin attacked audiences, carved himself up and downed Ex-Lax so he could defecate all over the stage and fling it at the crowd. Clothes would have just slowed him down. He routinely performed naked, in nothing but a dog collar.
Profoundly troubled, G.G. served time in prison and battled with mental and substance abuse issues. The son of a violent, religious zealot, G.G.'s original name was "Jesus Christ" Allin. Although he experienced bullying and learning difficulties in school, he excelled at music, forming numerous bands over the years.
His final performance in NYC lasted for only two songs, and he died from a heroin overdose the next day. His use of blood and feces as performance props may have nauseated audiences, but this is also what defines him. There is simply no other performer who has been as controversial or nihilistic. Check out the brilliant documentary, "Hated", which tells his story.
Next time you feel ambivalent about your privileged existence in western society, consider what life is like for the average person in one of the many unstable countries in Africa.
If you lived in the Central African Republic during the 1970s you would have had to deal with this maniac, who humbly referred to himself as (get ready):
His Imperial Majesty Bokassa I, Emperor of Central Africa by the will of the Central African people, united within the national political party, the MESAN.
You can tell his he's important by his crown, also, which he bought by ripping off as his own people.
When he wasn't bankruptcy the country or running around dressed like Napoleon, he was creating laws to mutilate thieves and punishing school children by execution.
Psychos like Idi Amin and Mugabe get most of the media attention, but this guy is right up there. Can you imagine if President Obama executed the school children who mocked Michelle Obama's healthy eating campaign on Twitter with those horrible pics?
This actually happened to children in the CAR when not enough kiddies were buying uniforms made by a company run by Mrs. Bokassa. Bokassa oversaw the murder of 100 school children himself.
He was finally deposed and ran off to France, where he spent embezzled money, but the people of the Central African Republic tried him in absentia and sentenced him to death.
He was sent back to CAR and imprisoned, but years later released as part of a mass amnesty program. He spent his last years claiming to be the 13th Apostle. Everybody, let's pray... that's there a hell. And he's there.