The last time TSY posted the epic Photography of Pulsating Paula the interwebs superhighway stream was so strong it blew the plastic housing clear off my Commodore 64. I’ve since upgraded to a refurbished Apple III and am ready to roll. With Daytona Bike Week fresh on everyone’s mind, let’s go back to a time before many of you were born– the 1980s. Not the strongest era in terms of aesthetic, but these are bikers. And luckily for them they’re largely immune to vapid societal fashion trends and fancy pants grooming. What you get is straight-up lettin’ it all hang out, livin’ the life Daytona. You don’t like it, stick it.
My buddy Scott Toepfer shot this fashion editorial video showcasing the Iron & Resin Spring 2015 collection– inspired by living well, raising hell & blasting through the Mojave Desert!
See See Motor Coffee Co. delivered strong on year six, with a dramatic new venue and a shit-ton of incredible bikes. Smack dab in the middle of the old industrial space was a monstrous metal press that towered over the surrounding bikes– a sight to see in itself. Per usual, all were welcome– custom choppers, cafes, cruisers, scramblers, land-speed racers, and eh, minibikes! Lots of minibikes, and an outdoor oval track to ride them on to boot!
“Steam Hammer” 1960 Harley-Davidson FLH custom built by Travis at High-Test Speed drew lots of eyes and accolades at The One Motorcycle Show 2015 in Portland, Oregon. Even this little pooch had to do a double-take. [All photos © by Ashley Smalley for The Selvedge Yard]
It’s good people more than anything that are the heart & soul of See See’s The One Motorcycle Show— like friend & photographer Scott Toepfer, standing next to his custom Harley-Davidson flathead racer. [All photos © by Ashley Smalley for The Selvedge Yard]
1976, The Runaways — Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Jackie Fox, Sandy West, Cherie Currie — photo by Tom Gold
The Runaways teenage, all-female rock band was co-founded in 1975 by guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West. The two were joined by Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, and Jackie Fox and became the main core of the group. Vicki Blue, Micki Steele (who’d later join The Bangles), Peggy Foster, and Laurie McAllister also flowed in as others dropped-out, and they eventually broke up in 1979. The Runaways actually saw greater success in Japan than here in the US, where many critics and serious rock fans alike had a hard time taking the sexy teenage girls from LA seriously. Their mania and memory largely slipped into a slumber until being sparked again by the 2010 biographical flick, The Runaways.
Being a child of the ’70s & ’80s I was aware of The Runaways, but was exposed more to TV than the live music scene. Suzi Quatro (who inspired Jett) was riding a wave of curiously sexy, somewhat androgynous, lady rocker vibe and saw decent TV airtime. I’ll admit, I was intrigued. Pinky Tuscadero definitely had my attention too. Then Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Lita Ford (now a pursed-lipped, metal guitar goddess), shot back into the rock limelight wiser, and with stronger musical chops. Looking back at The Runaways, one thing I’ll say is that they were well-merchandised, as witnessed by the great archive of images that have successfully survived the test of time.
Josh Kurpius talks about how he got into photography, metal-smithing, and building his very first bike — a ’77 Harley-Davidson Ironhead called The Locust. For him it was all about learning hands-on, in the moment, being intentionally self-reliant, and discovering where it takes you. Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.
For me, Bettie Page & Bunny Yeager epitomize iconic American pinup photography. Not just of the 1950s… Ever. In 1954, Bettie Page was working with Irving Klaw in NYC and decided a break was in order, so she headed south to Miami for relaxation and fun in the sun. That’s when fate struck. Bettie met Bunny, and the rest is pinup history. Bettie Page never looked better than in the capable hands of Bunny Yeager (herself a former model) who arguably shot the best and most famous images of the black-banged beauty– like the epic Jungle Girl shoot (shot at the Africa USA safari Park in Boca Raton), and the game-changing image of Bettie posing nude in a Santa cap for Playboy magazine in 1955.
“When I first saw Bettie in the nude, I was pleasantly surprised; she looked great. She walked into the room on tippy-toes, like she was wearing high heels, which made her look taller and more natural at the same time. The first thing I noticed was that for some reason when she was nude, she did not seem naked. I had never seen anyone with an allover tan and she looked like the perfect doll or mannequin. Bettie was a true nudist and maintained her glorious golden olive color by sunning herself everyday. She would lie on the banks of the miami River. Maybe it was her tan, or maybe it was her attitude– she seemed completely at ease.” –Bunny Yeager, excerpt from Bettie Page, Queen of Curves
Pulsating Paula tapped TSY with her eye-popping photographic archive of the New Jersey bike and tattoo crowd she shot back in the ’80s & ’90s. These images speak of authenticity, grit, and good times. Looking at these raw, honest shots what speaks to me is that life itself is f’ing good, if you have the nuts to truly go out and live it. It’s not the stuff. You need to show up, be authentic, truly appreciate family & friends, where you are and what you have. When you do that you realize you have all you need.
“Born in Jersey City. Moved to New Brunswick when I was 8. Got married to my first lay in 1973. 10 years later he bought me a camera, a Canon AE1. I still have it. Started taking photos of biker parties and tattoo events. Sent them into ‘Biker Lifestyle’ magazine who later Paisano publications took over. They came out with ‘Tattoo’ magazine first of it’s kind ever. Between the Biker and Tattoo magazines I had thousands of photos published. The 10 minute set up of my photography studio consisted of 2 flood lights that burnt the shit out of any poor person in front of them, and a 6×9 foot black cloth I got from Kmart that was tacked onto a wall. Never considered myself professional ever. I just loved doing it with every fiber in my body. I know the wonderful people I met and places I been in this journey will live on forever in my photographs. I’m so glad I was there with you.” –Paula Reardon (aka Pulsating Paula)
Photographer, Jim Marshall, stated the this shot of Johnny Cash warming up for his 1969 concert at San Quentin Prison is, “probably the most ripped off photograph in the history of the world… There was a TV crew behind me and John was on the side of the stage. I said ‘John, let’s do a shot for the warden.’” Well, that was all the motivation Johnny Cash needed to look straight into Marshall’s lens and emphatically flip him the bird.
The first prison concert Johnny Cash ever played was at San Quentin back on January 1, 1958. Little did Johnny know that In the audience was a young man from Bakersfield, CA who’d go on to become a Country Music star in his own right with the hit Okie from Muskogee — Merle Haggard. People talk a lot about New Year resolutions, but for Merle this would be the real deal — he decided to straighten out his act, and try to carve out a music career for himself like Johnny Cash. And he did, even appearing later on The Johnny Cash Show twice. Just goes to show that wherever you are, and whatever you’re facing, never stop believing that you can turn things around.
A collection of TSY’s favorite vintage pinup beauties in awkward Thanksgiving shots, because WTF really wants to watch that parade on TV one more time…
Marilyn Monroe as vixen pilgrim, circa 1950
“Style is one of those things that’s nearly impossible to define and even harder to quantify, but when you see someone with style nothing could be more obvious. These photographs and films were shot for FLAUNT magazine’s denim issue. I was looking to shoot a fashion story that had some movement, because to me style is about so much more than how you accessorize, it’s about how you move and how you carry yourself.
A while back I saw some shaky footage of some gals trick-riding at a rodeo and was really captivated by it. It was beautiful, strange, athletic and dangerous. That’s a pretty good starting point for interesting pictures, so earlier this year a small crew of us travelled to the Riata Ranch which is at the base of the Sierras in a small town called Three Rivers. There we shot some of the best trick riders on the planet dressed in an eclectic mix of denim, bondage gear, shearling, fur and leather. Thanks to everyone who helped out, the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls and Flaunt.”