DOROTHY STRATTEN’S EARLY DAYS | CUSTOM AUTO AND BIKE SHOW MODEL

dorothy stratten playboy bunny

Dorothy Stratten — Playboy Playmate of the Month for August, 1979 & Playmate of the Year for 1980.

Anyone who lived during the time of the brutal killing and tragic loss of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, probably will never forget how utterly shocking and saddening it truly was. It spawned 2 movies (including the gripping classic, Star 80), books (including ‘The Killing of the Unicorn’ by Peter Bogdanovich, her boyfriend at the time), and many songs written in her memory. Fellow Canadian Bryan Adams actually co-wrote 2 songs about her. The crime is no less shocking today, and we are left with her story of a young girl who seemingly had acheived the American dream of fortune and fame, only to have it violently stolen from her, along with her young fragile life, by an insecure, low-life punk, whose name is not even worth mentioning. RIP Dorothy Stratten. You live on. Many of the photos are via dorothystratten.com the authoritative site on Dorothy Stratten.

DOROTHY STRATTEN PAUL SNIDER PHOTO

“The Medieval Knight stands bold in its shining armour as Miss World of Wheels, Dorothy Hoogstraten (AKA Dorothy Stratten) dubs Ron Bergsma, who is one of the ‘Macho Man’ contestants from Universal Olympic Gym at the World of Wheels Custom Car Show, August 16th, 1978.” –Photo by Paul Snider.

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Dorothy Stratten in a bikini with the 1979 Firebird Trans Am custom-built by legendary George Barris and that starred in the Steve Martin film “The Jerk”. 

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THE SIX DEGREES OF SHARON TATE | MAO, McQUEEN, MANSON & MAD MEN…

Sharon Tate esquire mao

1967– Sharon Tate for a spread in Esquire Magazine, 1967, in a t-shirt printed with the Vietnam Star. –Photo by William Helburn

So this is what the internets are recently abuzz about– The Mad Men costume designer channeling the essence of Sharon Tate, circa Esquire magazine 1969, by placing the same Vietnam Star T-shirt on Megan Draper. Which, mind you– was probably not for sale at your local Hot Topic, head shop, or Amazon.com back then, so kinda random and creepy. It’s a pretty good ploy to generate some buzz– made me look twice, and I haven’t watched the show in a few years now. Probably exactly what they were going for. I will say, for the record, that the original photography by William Helburn is amazing– downright titillating, even.

But if you find this kind of stuff remotely interesting, the real tingler is how Steve McQueen himself almost ended up a part of the Manson massacre, and could have shared in Sharon Tate and the other’s gruesome fate…

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ZIGGY STARDUST | YOU’RE JUST A GIRL… WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MAKEUP?

david bowie aladdin sane ziggy stardust

Brian Duffy photograph of David Bowie for the Aladdin Sane album cover, 1973. “Bowie’s sixth studio album marked the birth of the ‘schizophrenic’ character Aladdin Sane who was a development of the space-age Japanese-influenced Ziggy Stardust. To create the compelling album cover image, Bowie collaborated with photographer Brian Duffy and make-up artist Pierre Laroche. The result was one of the most recognizable images in popular culture– a ‘lightning flash’ design which has been reproduced in multiple forms world-wide.” via

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Look, there are those that revere Bowie as an ahead-of-his-time visionary who revolutionized Rock ‘n’ Roll. And there are those who see him very black & white, as a plodding opportunist who coldly studied what was happening around him (heavily borrowing from  true innovators at the time like Marc Bolan), and then expertly went about merchandising himself for mass commercial consumption. Both are fucking true. Bowie is an epic genius who learned through years of toil, trial, and error how to create a magical out-of-this-world persona and artistically sell it to us on a silver platter. No one has done it better in recent memory, and it’s unlikely that anyone in our lifetime will top him. Period. End of story.

There’s an incredible account by Glenn O’Brien in the recent issue of Out Magazine. Gay or straight, get over it, go buy it, and devour the entire spread on David Bowie. It is brilliant. You can read a chunk of it here after the jump. Now go– oh, you pretty things.

david bowie aladdin sane kansai yamamoto  masayoshi sukita 1973

“David Bowie (AKA Ziggy Stardust) wearing a sensational creation by Kansai Yamamoto. Born in Yokohama in 1944, the Japanese fashion designer was only 27 when he held his first international fashion show in London in 1971. The Japanese division of RCA records made MainMan aware of Yamamoto’s work and Bowie purchased the “woodlands animal costume” from Kansai’s London boutique– which he wore at the Rainbow Concert in August 1972 and which was later remade by Natasha Korniloff. Bowie subsequently viewed a video of a rock/fashion show that Kansai had staged in Japan the previous year and reportedly loved the costumes which were a combination of modern sci-fi and classical Kabuki theatre. Kansai and Bowie met in New York where he gifted Bowie two costumes during the 2nd US Tour. Kansai was then commissioned to create nine more costumes based on traditional Japanese Noh dramas for Bowie to pick up in Tokyo in April 1973. These were the flamboyant androgynous Ziggy Stardust costumes Bowie wore on the 3rd UK tour in 1973.” via The Ziggy Stardust Companion –photo by Masayoshi Sukita, the David Bowie archive

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David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust –photo by Mick Rock via

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NORM GRABOWSKI’S CUSTOM CORVAIR BIKE | SICK-AS-HELL SIX-PACK ON 2 WHEELS

norm grabowski

“Norm Grabowski”s monster– the Corvair-powered “Six Pack”. Neil East (another rodding icon), owned AutoBooks in Burbank, CA, and Colorado Carbooks here in Denver told me that Norm used to come to L.A. Roadster club meetings on the Six Pack, and he said Norm had no problem kick starting this bike, when it was time to leave. It had no electric starter!” –Irish Rich 

norm grabowski corvair motorcycle

Norm Grabowski’s epic “Six Pack” — an air-cooled, flat-six Corvair engine mounted on the frame of a ’41 Indian shaft drive with no transmission, just a clutch. Another future Kustom Kulture legend pin-striped the bike– Dean Jeffries. Irish Rich (whose website is the authority on old school builders, and is due a ton of respect for his own incredible work) saw this impressive bike himself back in ’65, and has chronicled it well. Norm actually built 2 Corvair-powered “SIx Packs” — the other mated with H-D tranny called “PP ‘n’ Vinegar.”

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1966 BARRED OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE | BRUTAL! FRANK! VIOLENT!

barred outlaw magazine

From the archives of Nostalgia on Wheels comes this lil’ peek at Barred Outlaw Motorcycle magazine– a biker exploitation rag written not for riders, but for voyeurs looking for what makes those bad boys tick. Think of it as a primer for squares on bikers. There’s just enough laughable, inaccurate and hyperbolic writing that when they do actually mention the true 1%’er  MC’s it kinda lacks any sting. Hell, they can’t even get the year right for when The Wild One (the Godfather of all biker exploitation flicks) was filmed… ca. 1960??? What I do love about the magazine is the use of images, the layouts, fonts, etc. It is pure gold for the design-minded among us. It’s kinda refreshing compared to all the stripped-down aesthetic out there right now.

barred outlaw motorcycle magazine

BARRED OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE SPECIAL– ANGELS FROM HELL! Today’s rebels on wheels, living a legend of violence and excitement. Their love is hate…for everything and everyone– but each other!

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PULP FICTION | VISUALLY GRIPPING PAPERBACK ART OF THE ’50s & ’60s

In case you missed it over on the TSY facebook page I’ve been obsessed with the below piece of work for quite some time, and finally posted it up and asked the beloved The Selvedge Yard clan for help in identifying the artist. It took about all of 2 seconds.

As a kid, my healthy diet of Happy Days, Sha Na Na, and flicks like The Lords of Flatbush deeply engrained a love of greaser culture and style that will surely remain until I die. “Bad Girls” by James Alfred Meese slays me with every viewing. Obviously the cover art was intentionally as lurid and enticing as possible to get you to part with your money and buy the “pulp” paperbacks that were named after the cheaply produced paper they were printed on. Here are a few other fine examples of pulp art, which really peaked in the ’50s & ’60s, in my humble opinion.

James Alfred Meese Bad Girls 900

Bad Girls — paperback cover art by  James Alfred Meese, 1958

bad girls james alfred meese pulp fiction art

Bad Girls– They prowl the fringe of the underworld for kicks — cover art by  James Alfred Meese, 1958

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UNITED STATE — SELECTED WORKS BY CONRAD LEACH | FEBRUARY 9TH @SUBVECTA MOTUS GALLERY

united state poster

English artist and motorcycle fanatic Conrad Leach is having his first solo exhibition in the US– happening February 9th at Subvecta Motus Gallery in LA. His graphic Pop style is instantly iconic, and not to be missed– especially when you have the rare opportunity to be face-to-face with the large-scale punchy paintings. Leach’s work will knock your socks off. –Curated by friend Stacie B. London of Triple Nickel 555 & ESMB.

LUCKY13

Lucky 13 by Conrad Leach

NORTON JACK

Norton Jack by Conrad Leach

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PEACE ON EARTH | BING & BOWIE’S EPIC AND TIMELESS HOLIDAY CLASSIC DUET

“Peace on Earth” has long been one of my all-time favorite Holiday tunes. Even more so when I learned about the odd and magical pairing of David Bowie & Bing Crosby many years ago. It was an epic moment in music history that almost didn’t happen– in more ways than one.

Bing Crosby & David Bowie taping the TV special “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas” back in 1977.

When the producers of Bing Crosby’s “Merrie Olde Christmas” TV special asked Bowie to sing “The Little Drummer Boy” with Bing in 1977, he flatly refused.

Ian Fraser, Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman left the set and found a piano in the studios’ basement. In about 75 minutes, they wrote “Peace on Earth,” an original tune, and worked out an arrangement that weaved together the two songs. Bowie and Crosby nailed the performance with less than an hour of rehearsal. Bowie liked it.

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SHAWN DICKINSON ILLUSTRATIONS | SOCAL KUSTOM KULTURE KARTOONS

“Ghost Rider” by Shawn Dickinson

A product of SoCal, Shawn Dickinson grew up inspired by the surrounding counterculture of custom Hot Rods, Surfers, and the iconic art that was produced by the legends before him– you see the classic Rat Fink and Tiki influences that, in his hands, are at once timeless and fresh.  He got his chops as a cartoonist for the underground Untamed Highway, which was chock full of 1950’s Kustom Kulture. Dickinson went on to illustrate posters for Rockabilly and garage bands, not to mention numerous comic projects and commissioned works. 

I’m a big fan of the guy’s work.  As he describes it, Dickinson’s creations and medium are a throwback fusion of, “Imagery stylistically inspired by 1930’s cartoons (what I feel was the craziest era for cartoons), mixed with iconic imagery inspired by 1950’s & 1960’s rock n’ roll, cars, bikes, etc. (what I feel was the craziest era for all those things). And I still paint with watercolor and India ink.”  Love it.

Shawn Dickinson featured in Car Kulture DeLuxe Magazine

“Smooth” by Shawn Dickinson

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PSYCHEDELIC COWBOY IN SWEDEN | THE LONG ARM OF LEE HAZLEWOOD

“Lee came to Coolidge (AZ) while I was still going to high school, and he had just gone to a disc jockey school… a broadcasting school, I guess they called it– Columbia School of Broadcasting in Hollywood. He graduated that, and he got his first job.  And it happened to be as a disc jockey– and it happened to be in Coolidge, Arizona. So, I had a friend who wanted to be a disc jockey at the time, and he said, ‘You gotta come out and meet this new guy– he’s really a hoot. Ya know, really funny and all this, and he’s playing Country music.’  So, I went along with him, and I met Lee Hazlewood the first time.”

“At that time, uh, I used to sing… and play too.  And I sang with this other guy, Jimmy Dell.  We sang together– we did up-tempo Country things… just around town there, you know, mostly.  Lee heard that, and like it, and we went in and tried to make a record of that… the two of us with some songs that Lee wrote– his first attempt at songwriting. His first attempt at producing, we went up to Phoenix to someone’s studio… in the back of their house, and well– it was the only studio we knew of.  It was, like, 1954– late ’54 or ’55. And uh, we made a couple of tracks.”

“Lee was gonna put it out on his own label, but Jimmy went and got ‘saved.’  And uh, came in one day and said, ‘I’m saved!’ and I said, ‘Saved from what?!’ And he says, ‘No, in church!’ And I said, ‘Oh, great! Congratulations.’ And he says, ‘Yeah, well, it’s not so good.’ and I says, ‘what’s the matter?’ Jimmy said, ‘I can’t sing with you no more.’ And I says, ‘Oh. Why not?’  He said, ‘Because I can’t sing worldly music no more.’ And I said, ‘oh, oh, well you get to tell Lee that then– he’s just invested all this money in these records.’ So they ended-up sitting in Lee’s garage– and never did get out…”

“So that’s how I met Lee.  Later that year he moved to Phoenix, and got a job at a Country station up there, KRUX. And it turns out he was the first one to ever play Elvis Presley in Phoenix, on the Sun label.  A guy there, brought these records from  down in Texas, a local Country artist who got on a show with Elvis, and he brought these records back and played them for Lee– and Lee thought they were great. So he scheduled them, and started playing them, and it caused all kinds of ruckus! He almost got fired over it… It was a big change!  You know, Elvis doing ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ like that, and all…”   –Duane Eddy

From DJ, to producer, to songwriter/lyricist and singer– Lee Hazlewood would produce a striking string of hits over his career– first with the young guitar legend, Duane Eddy, and later with the down-on-her-luck daughter of a true American icon, Frank Sinatra.

Nancy and Lee were an oddly powerful duo. His thinly-veiled lyrics of drugs and decadence were delivered with such wooden stoicism that nary a soil thought twice. But when Nick Cave himself cites you as one of his biggest influences– you must have been doing something wrong, oh so right. Hazlewood created a signature moody sound– filled reverb, space and mood a-plenty.  Phantasmagoric, at times.

And while his sound had psychedlic elements, he was anything but a hippy, or even Rock ‘n’ Roll. It filled a void in radio that no one else could. Brought up in Oklahoma, and ramblin’ ’round Texas, Arkansas and Arizona in his early days– he had little chance of running into anything remotely hip or forward– he truly crafted his own niche unlike what anyone else was doing.  In fact, he was so unhip, that he was truly ahead of the times. He made “uncool” cool. The Beck of his day, but without the looks and moves.

That’s right– Beck.

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