VOGUING

awesomeberlin

VOGUING

DAILY NOTE

VOGUING

bALLrOOm DIps INTO

ThE mAINsTrEAm

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2013

16 Of

22

NILE rODGErs Is TErrIfIED / ThE rAmONEs / bAsqUIAT mAkEs NOIsE


THE DAILY NOTE LAST NIGHT

You better work! Today’s Daily Note presents the

story of voguing, a movement that brims with

energy, creativity, passion, fierceness, and the

ego of New York City. Voguing is more than just a

dance, it’s a lifestyle—one that brings pride, peer

recognition, and a strong sense of self. The scene

has bubbled back up recently, but in the beginning

it was about young people from society’s margins

flipping their limitations and using whatever

they could to express themselves. That’s what

art is all about. Also in this issue, michael holman

talks about the night he started a band called

Gray with Jean-michel basquiat, a brooklyn kid

who wrote poetic graffiti as sAmO before going

on to become an art-world superstar and getting

posthumously name-checked by rap moguls like

Jay-Z, kanye, and rick ross. (rozay even has a

tattoo of basquiat on his thigh. You’re welcome.)

The members of Gray embraced their inability

to play their instruments and found new ways to

get unexpected sounds out of them. It’s a good

reminder that being without is sometimes the best

starting point for creative expression.

MASTHEAD

Editor in Chief Piotr Orlov

Copy Chief Jane Lerner

Senior Editor Sam Hockley-Smith

Senior Writer/Editor Vivian Host

Contributing Editors Todd L. Burns

Shawn Reynaldo

Staff Writer Olivia Graham

Editorial Coordinator Alex Naidus

Creative Director Justin Thomas Kay

for Doubleday & Cartwright

Art Director Christopher Sabatini

Production Designer Suzan Choy

Photo Editor Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez

Staff Photographer Anthony Blasko

2

Contributors

Sue Apfelbaum Krisanne Johnson

Marina D Mike Rubin

Adrienne Day Julianne Shepherd

Michael Holman Nick Sylvester

Cover Photo Krisanne Johnson

Escuelita’s, NYC 2008

All-Seeing Eye Torsten Schmidt

The content of Daily Note does not necessarily represent the opinions of

Red Bull or Doubleday & Cartwright.

Correction: Our May 21 story on the passing of

Anthony ‘Romanthony’ Moore misstated his age at the

time of his death on May 7; he was 45.

ABOUT RED BUll MUSic AcADEMY

The Red Bull Music Academy celebrates

creative pioneers and presents fearless new

talent. Now we’re in New York City.

The Red Bull Music Academy is a worldtraveling

series of music workshops and

festivals: a platform for those who make a

difference in today’s musical landscape.

This year we’re bringing together two

groups of selected participants — producers,

vocalists, DJs, instrumentalists and

musical mavericks from around the world — in

New York City. For two weeks, each group

will hear lectures by musical luminaries,

work together on tracks, and perform in the

city’s best clubs and music halls. Imagine

a place that’s equal parts science lab,

the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and

Kraftwerk’s home studio. Throw in a

touch of downtown New York circa 1981, a

sprinkle of Prince Jammy’s mixing board,

and Bob Moog’s synthesizer collection

all in a 22nd-century remix and you’re

halfway there.

The Academy began back in 1998 and has

been traversing the globe since, traveling

to Berlin, Cape Town, São Paulo, Barcelona,

London, Toronto, and many other places.

Interested? Applications for the 2014 Red

Bull Music Academy open early next year.

Top row: AnnALove; Squalloscope; Kaan Düzarat and Carrot

Green tag-teaming.

Second row: Julian Cubillos; De La Montagne crowd-surfing;

Pleasure Cruiser.

Third row: André Laos; De La Montagne, Kaan Düzarat, and

Mr. Selfish; the crowd at Tammany Hall.

Fourth row: Crowd at Tammany Hall; Simonne Jones; De La

Montagne.

Fifth row: Sinjin Hawke; DJ Slow.

Sixth row: Hudson Mohawke, nick Hook, and guest; Brenmar,

Hudson Mohawke, and nick Hook; DJ Slow and Sinjin Hawke.

All photos by Anthony Blasko and Dan Wilton

3


FROM THE ACADEMY

UpfrONT

4

Brian eno’s 77 Million

Paintings at the Fabrica

gallery in Brighton,

england, 2010.

ALmOsT

INfINITE

Brian Eno quiets the mind.

amongst the tightly controlled chaos that

is city life, a moment of clarity or sanity can be

hard to find. Quiet time becomes yet another

thing to rigorously schedule into your day. It’s

exhausting. But sometimes these moments pop

up unexpectedly—you’ll be riding the subway

or walking on a relentlessly crowded street,

both hyper-aware of your environment and

willfully ignoring it at the same damn time.

77 Million Paintings, an audio-visual installation

by Brian Eno, is a place where New Yorkers

can take pause. Showing in the former location

of Café Rouge on West 32nd Street, this

marks the New York debut of Eno’s piece, and

is also the largest indoor version that’s been

produced since the piece premiered in 2006.

77 Million Paintings is a “generative work”—a

term coined by Eno 20 years ago to describe art

that makes itself as you watch it—that explores

vast combinations of visual and sonic elements.

Images are chosen at random and then laid on

top of one another, so that the final output is a

continuous stream of ever-changing material.

There aren’t many of the initial “primitives,”

as Eno calls the original paintings, but when

overlaid four at a time, the number of possible

distinct combinations is a whopping 77 million.

Eno is fascinated by combinatorial mathematics.

His idea of generative art takes “a systems

approach to making art,” as he explained

during his recent lecture at Red Bull Music

Academy, “where essentially you are creating a

conceptual machine, which then keeps producing

stuff.” This effectively ensures that the same

image or soundscape never repeats.

Despite the constant mutation of the piece,

the effect is one of stillness. Eno is known as

the godfather of ambient, a genre which, at its

most basic definition, is music that creates an

environment. With his art, Eno is interested in

creating moments of meditative respite, spaces

that spark reflection or just inner quiet. “It’s

slightly religious, perhaps,” he says. “It’s not

dissimilar to the feeling I was having in Lincoln

Cathedral in England—a place where people

come and sit still. Probably some of them

pray but I would imagine quite a lot of them

don’t. They’re just enjoying a place where you

can be in that space, and surrender to it. I am

concerned with making something that is of

some kind of spiritual and even therapeutic use

to people.” -OLIVIA GrAhAm

77 Million Paintings is open Tuesdays–

Sundays from noon to 8pm through June 2 at

145 W. 32nd St., Manhattan.

frOm CrOYDON

wITh DUb

Essential tracks from dubstep’s

early history.

Do you remember the first time you heard 808

bass? Being from Florida, everything had the 808

in it. We always knew the sound from “Planet Rock”

onwards so there wasn’t some [epiphany] like,

“Oooh.” But when you start talking about sustained

bass and modulating it and all of that, the first time

I really heard that was ’84 or ’85. The Beastie Boys

did “Slow and Low” and I think that was the first

time that I really heard low-end put to the test… and

the Beastie Boys wasn’t even from Florida! Then after

the fact, a lot of other groups started picking up

on it, in ’85, ’86 with Shy D and MC ADE and all

these other different groups that was coming out of

Fort Lauderdale and Miami. That’s when everything

just kind of changed.

Boi-1da: It’s funny, my mom started making beats. It’s the weirdest

thing ever, her making beats on Reason one day. She was trying to

show me how to use it and I was like, ‘This is confusing.’ I don’t

know, man, I’ll just stick with what works for me.

Q: Does your mom have some bangers?

Boi-1da: She had one track that was kinda crazy. It was kinda sloppy

and all-over-the-place, but it was going somewhere... My mom, a

40-year-old Jamaican woman—[it’s] the most hilarious thing to me.

— Producer Boi-1da, May 22, 2013

pLAsTICmAN,

“pUmp Up ThE

JAm”

Right before he changed

his name (so as not to

be confused with Richie

‘Plastikman’ Hawtin),

grime and dubstep pioneer

Plastician issued

this snaky, 4/4-touched

roller with oozing bass

loops cut through by

gunshot-sharp snares

and menacing atmospheric

leads.

The Roots

of Dubstep

Friday, May 24

10 PM to 4 AM

at SRB Brooklyn,

177 2nd Ave.,

Brooklyn

DOwN AND DIrTY

A tale of beats and booty with Miami bass don Magic Mike.

Long before Snoop rapped over Flux Pavilion and Skrillex was a

household name, Mala, Hatcha, Plastician, and Skream built the

foundations of dubstep by playing with half-time structures of

gigantic bass and massively reverbed snares. These four pioneers

touch down at the Roots of Dubstep show at SRB tomorrow night—

here’s a primer on some early dubstep anthems you’re likely to hear.

hATChA & bENGA,

“10 TONs hEAVY”

Hatcha helped shape

dubstep, working at the

scene’s crucial record

store (Big Apple), releasing

on the seminal

Tempa label, and becoming

one of the first DJ

residents of Rinse FM, a

pirate-turned-legal radio

station that is the

genre’s key transmitter.

This track finds

him teaming up with former

protégé Benga for a

gurning slice of liquid

low-end straight from

the darkside.

skrEAm,

“mIDNIGhT

rEqUEsT LINE”

Arguably the most famous

song of dubstep’s

formative years, by one

of the genre’s biggest

stars. Croydon native

Oliver ‘Skream’ Jones

was only 19 when he

crafted this mysterious

missile for Tempa, a

deceptively simple mix

of arpeggiated sonar

sounds and submarine

reverb.

Given that you lived in Miami for at least part of

the ’80s, you obviously saw a lot of crazy things.

Aw yeah. I think the craziest party I’ve ever seen was

Luke from 2 Live Crew’s party at Jack the Rapper.

That had to be in ’91, maybe ’92. Jack the Rapper

was one of the first original 13 black DJs for radio

back in the day. He would do this convention every

year called the Family Affair; it really catered toward

people who wanted to promote music and he would

always have the ballroom for different big groups.

Anyway, Luke had the whole ballroom rented out

and turned it into a strip club. No one had no clothes

on, and all I could do was scratch my head and say,

“Wow.” Once the common folk left the party and just

industry people were there, then it got really crazy.

Magic Mike plays at United States of Bass on May 24 at Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette St., Manhattan.

DIGITAL mYsTIkZ,

“ANTI-wAr DUb”

Mala and Coki run DMZ, a

party and record label

dedicated to exploring

dubstep’s roots

in Jamaican dub and

sound-system culture.

Probably their finest

hour, this track is a

smoky, melancholy slab

of roots consciousness

underpinned by a warm

blanket of sub-bass.

bENGA & COkI,

“NIGhT”

The combination of Benga’s

techno sensibilities

with Coki’s dark

and dubby style produced

one of the most enduring

dubstep tracks (and an

instrumental people always

sing aloud, weirdly).

It’s an iconic raft

of bleeps floated atop

a gangster’s bounty of

head-nodding bass.

TONIGhT

sANTOs pArTY hOUsE

UNITED

sTATEs Of

bAss

bIG frEEDIA

AfrIkA bAmbAATAA

EGYpTIAN LOVEr

DJ mAGIC mIkE

DJ AssAULT

DJ fUNk + mANY mOrE!

mAY

23

UpCOmING

EVENTs

sANTOs srb brOOkLYN pArTY hOUsE

ThE rOOTs

Of DUbsTEp

skrEAm

mALA

pLAsTICIAN

hATChA

GrAND prOspECT hALL

12 YEArs

Of DfA

ThE whOLE

LAbEL fAmILY ON

fOUr sTAGEs

ThE wELL brOOkLYN

ThE DO-

OVEr NYC

spECIAL

ALOE bLACC &

mANY mOrE

sAINT VITUs

ONEOhTrIx

pOINT NEVEr

EVIAN ChrIsT

bILL kOULIGAs

mOrE

NYU skIrbALL CENTEr

A TALk

wITh

JAmEs

mUrphY

bENJI b

fALTYDL

DOrIAN

CONCEpT

mOrE

mAY

24

mAY

25

mAY

26

mAY

26

mAY

27

DEVIATION @ sULLIVAN rOOm

wEsT pArk ChUrCh

pANThA

DU prINCE

& ThE bELL

LAbOrATOrY

mAY

27

mAY

28

rECOrDED LIVE

FOR RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY RADIO

TUNE IN AT RBMARADIO.COM

5


FROM THE ARCHIVES

In the past, you’ve talked about jazz, about being a big

Temptations fan, and being obsessed with that whole era.

But when you met Bernard Edwards, Chic’s bass player

and producer, you were actually the hippie and he was the

R&B guy. Completely 100% correct. Bernard Edwards was so

old-school R&B. He really fit in. I did not fit in. My first real job

was with Sesame Street. I got that gig because I auditioned and

they didn’t care that I had green cornrows, and when I undid

the green cornrows I had this big green afro. I only did that gig

for a year because the guy who vacated it was Carlos Alomar

and he went to play in the Apollo Theater house band. Then

David Bowie hired him with my other buddies, Luther Vandross

and those guys, and they became the Young Americans. There

was an opening at the Apollo and I auditioned for that. It wasn’t

much of an audition—I was recommended by the woman from

Sesame Street, whose husband was the manager of the Apollo

Theater at that time. She told them that I was a really great

guitarist and a fantastic reader, and I got the gig with the house

band. It was a revue format. Every now and then they’d have

one band that would do a bunch of songs, but typically you’d

have one-hit wonders—a person would come out and do their

one or two songs that were hits. All the audience got were songs

that were pretty familiar. Everyone had their little routine and

shtick, but the band had to be ready for anything.

At this point had James Brown already recorded the Live

at the Apollo record? Oh yeah.

So when you were walking into the Apollo on 125th Street,

were you walking in with pressure on your shoulders,

knowing what amazing stuff had already been recorded

there? Not only that. I knew about Jimi Hendrix winning the

talent show. Don’t get me wrong—even though I was a jazzy guy,

everybody went to the Apollo every now and then. A lot of the

bands I was playing with would wind up playing at the Apollo.

So it wasn’t like when I got the gig as the house-band guy that I’d

never been to the Apollo. Luther Vandross was my friend and he

took me there to see Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. I never saw

anything like that. So it was our place to hang.

The crowd at the Apollo was famously unforgiving. How

did it feel when you walked on stage and saw the unforgiving,

thumbs-up, thumbs-down audience? I was lucky. The

very first show, this is what happened to me: I go and do the

audition and it’s Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman,” which is

in F-sharp and it’s 15 pages long. You have to have three music

stands taped together. The bandleader tells me I don’t have to

make the rest of the audition ’cause, “Wow, that’s incredible! You

played ‘Clean Up Woman’ for 13 pages! You’re the man!” So they

let me go walking around and told me to be back an hour before

showtime. At the Apollo—I don’t know if they still do this—but

they’d go, “The half is in,” then there was this siren sound and

we’d all run around getting ready to play. There are a couple

of guitar players, and we’re waiting to go onstage and I’m so

focused ’cause this is the Apollo. I don’t want to lose this job. I’m

getting $375 a week. I need to do this.

I didn’t pay attention that they’d rolled in a coffin on the side

of the stage. I’m looking at the conductor… He goes “Bang!” and

6

q&A

NILE rODGErs

The super-producer goes from Sesame Street

and the Apollo to living Chic.

as soon as he does that, this coffin opens and it’s Screamin’ Jay

Hawkins. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen his routine, but he

looks like a skeleton, he’s got this rattle in his hand. I’m terrified.

And I jump up and grab my guitar, take the cable out, and

I’m running around with my big jazz guitar across stage, and

Screamin’ is running after me. And I run stage right but now

they’re blocking me, ’cause all the people waiting to go on are

standing there. And I run to the other side and the audience

is crying with laughter ’cause they know it’s totally real. Meanwhile,

the thing that made it funny to my friends is, at that time,

I was a kung fu master. I was studying kung fu, and I’m running

across stage like a total chump. Screamin’ Jay just nailed the performance

that night and the old guys in the band decided, “Let’s

teach this young blood what it’s all about.” That was my first day.

Everybody had planned it; everybody was in on it. They couldn’t

have done it without a rehearsal—they just wanted to show me

what the Apollo was like. Trial by fire.

So how do we go from that initiation experience to you

starting your own band? At that point, I’d already been with

Bernard Edwards and another guy named Harold Alexander and

a guy named Gylan Kain who was in the Last Poets. So I was

already gigging in New York and I had lots of other gigs, but I

always tried to bring Bernard in. It just sounded better.

What was it about your relationship that made you click?

We wanted to be professional. In those days a lot of bands were

sloppy and we were playing in the hood at dives, what we’d call

the Chitlin’ Circuit. We were getting $15 a night and we had to

do four or five sets. They expected a show. Bernard and I always

wanted to be good. Some of the guys would just get through the

show ’cause they figured they’d never be back, but Bernard and

I had a powerful work ethic and we always wanted the shows to

be great. If he didn’t know something, I would tell him. We were

bandleaders and we didn’t know it.

Often the rhythm section—the drums, the bass—can be the

heart of the band, but it’s interesting to hear you talk about

the solid relationship between guitar and bass. It’s funny, a

few weeks ago a friend of mine I haven’t seen for years found an

early videotape of me and Bernard and the band that eventually

became Chic. You could tell from that tape how we clicked. We

carried this thing. We could’ve just been a trio, but there were

five of us: two guitars, bass, drums, and a lead singer. We didn’t

need horns—we had it in the parts and that’s what people were

used to in the hood. If it didn’t sound like the record, you would

get booed. Bernard and I were responsible for the melodic, the

harmonic, and the bass parts. The drummers we figured would

learn the grooves. We thought about doing it as a duo, because if

Bernard and I showed up, we had it covered. And that’s basically

why we were so tight.

One thing that’s synonymous with your productions is the

breakdown. Can you talk about the breakdown and why it’s

so infectious in club culture? Even in live R&B the breakdown

is important. What we do is we break it down to almost nothing

and then we rebuild the track in the listeners’ ears—that’s the

Chic formula. You hear one instrument coming in at a time. You

hear it on “Dance, Dance, Dance,” our first single, but you really

hear us take it to a higher artform in the song “Good Times.” The

Chic motto was: a song is an excuse to go to a chorus. That’s why

our songs start with the chorus—that’s the hook, that’s what gets

you. So the song is just an excuse to go to the chorus and the

chorus is just an excuse to go to the breakdown.

What was New York like in the ’80s? I know you were a

regular at Studio 54 and all those classic spots. It was probably

the most fun I’ve ever had. If you took that chunk out of

life, you boys and girls wouldn’t be who you are. That era was so

powerful and so bohemian, so revolutionary and so open, it gave

us probably a false sense of power, a false sense of what we could

do. In fact, the big companies were still in control but we felt like

we were able to push against the boundaries.

The great thing about music (unlike the other electronic

arts) is that it doesn’t have to be translated. We can all understand

it. I can go and play “Le Freak” in Russia and sing it just

like that and everyone sings the songs. Think about it… How

profitable is that? If you do a film, you’ve got to put in subtitles.

If you do a book, in Spain no one can read it unless it’s translated.

A record is super-profitable ’cause once you make it and you

hit that number, you just ship it out the door. You don’t have to

do any more work. Obviously, the powers that be really want to

protect that business and I understand why that type of greed

is very seductive.

People who are in the business or want to get into the business:

the first thing you have to do is make sure you love this. I

never believed I’d make it to the level I made it to, but I always

believed I’d be a working musician and be able to pay my bills

and live the life I wanted to live, and that I’d be able to play

music for a living. And if you want to do that, that’s absolutely

achievable—you can do it, be you a DJ, singer, musician, whatever.

It’s great to set your sights on the brass ring, but make sure

you love what you’re doing, that even if you don’t get paid you

still show up for work.

Interviewed by Benji B at Red Bull Music Academy Madrid

2011. For the full Q&A, head to redbullmusicacademy.com/

lectures.

inSeT PHoTo: GiAnFRAnCo TRiPoDo. oPPoSiTe PHoTo: DAn WiLTon

7


feature feature

8

NEw YOrk

Is bUrNING

Voguing moves out of the ballroom and

into the limelight.

WORDS JUliAnnE EScOBEDO SHEpHERD

pHOTOgRApHY kRiSAnnE JOHnSOn

All photos taken at

the Lab in Brooklyn,

and at Vogue Knights

at Escuelita’s in

Manhattan, NYC 2008.


feature feature

10

Distilled to its core, voguing is ultimately about the look: having

it, giving it, working it. Although it’s usually difficult to pinpoint

the exact moment a street movement becomes a worldwide

phenomenon, voguing’s roots in the mainstream can be traced to

a single street address: 72 Thompson, a boutique in Soho where,

in 1981, Swiss culture-maven Susanne Bartsch first started importing high-end

clothing for nightlifers. (She would eventually expand to 465a West Broadway

with help from silent partner Peter Gatien, the notorious proprietor of New York

clubs like Limelight and Tunnel.) Decorated “like a Dali-esque funeral parlor,”

according to fashion iconographer Simon Doonan’s Wacky Chicks, Bartsch’s

store was the first place in New York City to sell clothing by then-burgeoning

London avant-garde designers like John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood.

Whatever was new and fashionable, the voguers coveted. Cutting-edge designs

went a long way on the vogue runway, down which those with the most

stylish walk, dance, and face won trophies and prizes—but most of all bragging

rights—at drag balls that took place first in Harlem, then all over the

city. Because many of those in the mostly poor, gay, trans, black and/or Latino

ball scene weren’t moneyed enough to pay for a Galliano gown, they would

descend on Bartsch’s stores to shoplift the

next-level pieces she stocked. They’d drape

themselves in designs that sparkled and

flowed as they fashion-posed for uptown

fame. Bartsch, familiar with “mopping”

(stealing in drag parlance), learned to recognize

her own grifted garments on the vogueball

runways. “I would go to the balls,” she

laughs, “and they would be wearing the

items they had mopped from me!” Rather

than disassociate with ball culture and the

disadvantaged fashionistas who appreciated

her taste, Bartsch felt her calling was to be

in nightlife. Inspired by her “shining star”—

the legendary vogue dancer Willi Ninja—she

organized the Love Ball, the event that set

off the fuse that exploded voguing all over

the world. “I was blown away by the way

this extremely socially and economically

challenged community overcame their ob-

stacles,” says Bartsch. “They transformed potential roadblocks into brilliant

creativity, art, beauty, and success.”

Staged on May 10, 1989, the Love Ball was a high-end, celebrity-studded charity

affair to raise funds for the Design Industry Foundation for AIDS. It was the

first large-scale vogue ball that exposed outsiders to the culture en masse. Where

balls had been held mostly in Harlem community centers or, on occasion, Midtown

clubs, the Love Ball’s competitions were now being judged by the likes of

supermodel Iman and Vogue magazine’s editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley. Never

before had so many of New York’s wealthy and elite been exposed to ball culture.

Legend has it (and Susanne Bartsch agrees) that the Love Ball was where Madonna

saw voguing for the very first time. They raised $400,000 for AIDS research

that night. Chi Chi Valenti, a journalist and the “Brooke Astor of New York nightlife”

(as Marc Jacobs called her), would write in the program for the Love Ball’s

1991 sequel that the first event was “simultaneously a massive coming-out party

for the uptown ball culture, and the end of a certain naiveté that had been inherent

in that culture.” A year later, Madonna would release “Vogue,” with a David

Fincher-directed video starring Ninja and voguers Jose and Luis Xtravaganza of

the House of Extravaganza. Another Love Ball judge, Talking Heads’ David Byrne,

told the New York Times, “It was kind of confusing.

I saw things I never saw before.”

What Byrne saw then, and what he might

see at a ball now, are two entirely different

animals. Ball culture has traced an unexpected

path: voguing went from underground

balls at local VFWs to dancing with Madonna

on the Billboard charts before diving back

underground. In 2008, the culture began

bubbling up outside itself once more—interest

is presently at its height, mostly owing to

the increasing popularity of vogue house DJs

like MikeQ and Vjuan Allure.

Consequently, voguing has branched out

as well, split up into subcategories of style

and execution for the purpose of the dance

battle. Vogue Femme and Vogue Dramatics

are two of the most popular categories

among younger voguers today, while Old

Way and New Way are categories that delin-

eate specific eras. Old Way, the fundamental platform of voguing, developed in

the 1970s with poses cribbed directly from the extreme modeling in Vogue—

hands on hips and elbows out in a turkey splay—but always incorporating balletic

grace, Fred and Ginger’s creamy swiftness, and the strength and vim of

martial arts. An Old Way voguer sliding down the runway might punctuate a

catwalk with a pop, dip, and spin.

New Way began developing in the 1990s and is more gymnastic than Old Way,

with emphasis on elasticity and floor moves that incorporate splits and other

leg contortions. With Vogue Femme, there are fluid moves like the duckwalk,

a plié shuffle accompanied by butterflying hand language—its lucid femininity

makes it especially appealing. “When you get into vogue categories, there are

so many guidelines and rules for Old Way and New Way. Voguing Femme has

more expression and elements to it, and a lot more people can do it because it’s

more interpretive,” explains Vjuan Allure, who’s been DJing balls since 1999 and

invented the mutation of Masters At Work’s “Ha Dance” (sometimes known as

the “Allure Ha”) that most voguers still move to in 2013.

If Femme is the least rigid, Vogue Dramatics is the flashiest style, and the

one that most of America would recognize, thanks in part to Leyomi Mizrahi’s

acrobatic, star-turn suicide dips (also known as “sha-blams”) on 2009’s America’s

Best Dance Crew, which gave voguing its most visible mainstream platform

since 1993 or so. Though Madonna had given vogue an unprecendented level of

attention, the shallow exposure ultimately positioned it as a fad. Because most

of America thought voguing was simply a dance—and weren’t invested in the

culture from whence it came—it fell away from mass consciousness almost as

quickly as it came. For some, this was fine: drag-ball culture had flourished since

1920s Harlem, and a lack of interest in voguing from outsiders didn’t change its

path. But it had its own negative effects. As DJ Sprinkles wrote in the liner notes

for his 2009 exegesis “Ball’r (Madonna-Free Zone),” “[Madonna] had taken a very

specifically queer, transgendered, Latino, and African-American phenomenon

and totally erased that context with her lyrics, ‘It makes no difference if you’re

black or white, if you’re a boy or a girl.’ Madonna was taking in tons of money,

while the Queen who actually taught her how to vogue sat before me in the club,

strung out, depressed, and broke.”

“What do you get out of [sha-blamming]? Slamming your fucking body on the

floor,” laughs Michelle Visage. Where there is history, there will be traditionalists.

Visage was first taught to vogue by Willi Ninja in the mid-’80s and, with the

House of Ninja, was the first-ever biological woman to walk in a vogue ball. (True

to her name, she was a face-and-body queen, and she often won her categories.)

“Not to take away anything from these kids, and there is a talent to it, but I think

there is not as much thought into it [now]. You gotta evolve, but where it came

from is missing in New Way. Voguing has a base—it’s emulating models in a

magazine. I think that’s really where my problem is. If somebody can morph the

two, and keep some of the old aspects with the new sha-blamming death drop,

that could be really interesting.”

Visage still does Old Way, and performed in clubs several times a week

through the ’80s, while both attending college and being the bleached-blonde

lead in the freestyle trio Seduction. (Madonna once accused Visage of trying to

steal her look, though watch the video for 1989’s “It Takes Two”—which is full

of voguing—and it seems like it might be the other way around.) Some of the

New Way acrobatics—and, to some, the de-purification of the dance—point back

to its mainstreaming, as well as more formally schooled dance students joining

the culture. Salim ‘Slam’ Gauwloos was one of them, a young professional

dancer who joined Madonna’s troupe and became the handsome white face of

her “Vogue” video. Jose Xtravaganza taught him the moves, which Slam now incorporates

into his contemporary dance classes at Alvin Ailey Extension School.

Most recently, a Longchamp ad starring supermodel and dancer Coco Rocha

gave a touch of secret Old Way and catwalking to high-end handbag consumers.

The mainstreaming of vogue was always something Willi Ninja saw from

the corner of his eye. After Madonna’s house hit blew up, his dancing and style

a crucial part of it, he became a fixture in music videos and walked the runway

for Jean-Paul Gaultier. Most significantly, Ninja was the first voguer to bring the

dance to an institutional-art level when he collaborated on postmodern works

with choreographer Karole Armitage. He would later perform with Doug Elkins

at the Joyce Theater, and take his work “The House of Ninja” to Summerstage

in Central Park and to the prestigious Théâtre de Suresnes Jean Vilar at the Sorbonne

in Paris. Ninja, who passed away in 2006 from AIDS-related heart failure,

is remembered not just because he was one of the most beautiful dancers ever,

but because he had the foresight and confidence to know that voguing could be

preserved as an important American art form. Mainstreaming ball culture didn’t

have to be solely about commerce.

In the 21st century, painter and performance artist Rashaad Newsome understands

this as Ninja did, and is a descendant of his legacy, preserving voguing

and ball culture in institutions as much as possible. In 2010, Newsome brought

voguing to the Whitney Museum via a multimedia performance and through two

videos that showcased New York voguers Shayne Oliver and Twiggy Prada exhibiting

Vogue Femme and New Way styles. “I think the reason voguing remained

underground was because it was tied to the black and Latino gay community,”

says Newsome. “The vogue scene came out of a need for a safe space for the black

and Latino gay community to express themselves... As an artist, I feel that the

practice of vogue is very much a part of performance-art history, and as museums

care for, conserve, and collect artifacts and objects of artistic, cultural, or

historical importance, I can think of no place better for the pieces to live.”

The first time Newsome ever saw anyone voguing, it was 1993. He was 17, at

a house party, and over the moon. “I was a huge hip-hop fan and I had never

seen anyone ‘break’ like that,” he says. Though breakdancing and voguing are

two entirely different styles set to entirely different music (hip-hop and house,

respectively), there was a time in the 1980s when the two intersected and informed

each other.

Long before the dances were immortalized in museums and NYC’s hallowed

dance halls, they criss-crossed on the streets and, most significantly, the clubs.

The locus points were multigenre venues: voguers were at Red Zone, the Underground/the

Sound Factory, Latin Quarter, and Escuelita; they bumped up

with b-boys at the Loft and, later, the Tunnel. “Straight up, it all came up in the

clubs and the streets,” says Jonathan Lee, who learned to dance from Robin

Dunn, Crazy Legs, and Mr. Wiggles, and now teaches hip-hop dance at the

Alvin Ailey Extension School. “Especially with voguing culture and the gay

community, but people would dance in the club the way they wanted to dance.

That’s where everyone could and can meet. People in the club are gonna dance

regardless of their style. Even now, people who are lockers will lock to the music

and voguers will vogue to the music—it just comes down to the DJ. At the

club you can find everyone.” The Loft during the 1980s was the most significant

intersection of b-boying and voguing, in which breakers and banjee boys—

gay men who dress socio-typically “masculine”—would combine elements of

Old Way and popping and locking, creating a still-enduring style known as

“lofting.” But in the late 1980s, as b-boying’s popularity waned and voguing’s

phased in, the denizens passed each other on the way.

As voguing has been codified in museums and commercials, one important

aspect to Newsome is how its past speaks to its future, and vice versa. “My interest

in vogue is how it functions as a language that is constantly in a state of

flux,” he says. “One cannot really go to a school and learn how to vogue. You go

to where it’s happening, learn the language and make it your own. So in a lot

of ways, whenever you encounter vogue, you’re encountering what’s in front of

you and everything that came before it. [We should encourage] more experimentation

of the language of vogue, so that it can live forever.”

11


COLUMNS COLUMNS

for original punk rockers Johnny, Joey,

Dee Dee, and Tommy Ramone, less was more.

Their economy of dress—tight tees, biker

jackets, ripped jeans, and canvas sneakers—

matched the efficiency of their sound: fast,

compressed, unadorned rock ’n’ roll. An

odd bunch from Forest Hills, Queens, the

Ramones banded together in 1974 as brothers

in musical ambition (if not blood). But friend

and artist Arturo Vega visually communicated

a “more is more” approach in their logo,

enlarging the Ramones name in a heavy,

highly visible typeface and incorporating the

Great Seal of the United States.

Vega designed many of the band’s graphics

throughout the Ramones’ 22-year career.

Born in Mexico, he was enamored with

symbols of power, specifically the bald

eagle in US heraldry. “I always thought of

the Ramones as… an all-American band,”

Vega told the Fringe Underground site. In

a 2012 podcast interview with Going Off

Track, he described modeling the eagle on

the Ramones t-shirt design from the reverse

side of an Eisenhower dollar. An early poster

centers on Vega’s midsection and his eagle

belt buckle, blown up from a photo-booth

12

LOGOs

The origins of

iconic images from

NYC's musical history

explained.

self-portrait. Punk magazine cofounder and

Ramones illustrator John Holmstrom recalls

that image: “There was a vague feeling

of S&M about it, and its simplicity to me

defined the New York punk rock scene.” In

1976, the bicentennial year, Vega decided

upon the eagle from the US seal, modified the

iconography, and added the band members’

names (which would change with the lineup

over time). The emblem first appeared on the

back of the Ramones second album, Leave

Home, released in January 1977.

“Using a national symbol was a perfect

move back then, because the punk scene

was trying to distance itself from the hippie

scene,” says Holmstrom. “What better way to

do so than embrace patriotism?”

For the band name, Vega wanted to be

simple and direct with an all-caps sans

serif, eventually settling on Franklin

Gothic, the same font that would appear on

the Run-DMC logo a decade later. Most of

the original Ramones have passed on, but

Ramones t-shirts are as present as ever.

The logo, Holmstrom says, “has become so

iconic, not just for the band but for all of

punk rock.” -sUE ApfELbAUm

A column on

the gear and

processes that inform

the music we make.

parquet courts’ light up gold, one

of 2013’s most celebrated rock albums, was recorded

in the band’s practice space on a Tascam

388 eight-track reel-to-reel. Jonathan

Schenke, who engineered and mixed the record,

explains how the limitations of budget,

space, and equipment forced him and the band

into a number of unique creative decisions.

RBMA: You do a lot of off-site recording.

Jonathan Schenke: I started doing mobile

recording out of necessity. My friends didn’t

have money to rent a studio, so we’d record

where we could. You can get solid sounds

wherever, it just requires a slightly different

approach. I generally close-mic everything,

baffle the amps to cut down on bleed, and

ditch the room mics.

RBMA: Where did you track the Parquet

Courts record?

JS: We recorded Light Up Gold in the band’s

practice space. We had the drums on one side

of the room with the amps along the other,

baffled with blankets and the other amps left

in the space. We made a vocal-booth situation

with some blankets hanging from a lofted storage

shelf, and I had my setup on a table in the

corner. It was all live-to-tape, but we were able

to get enough isolation to do punch-ins and

keep the mix tight. I was monitoring on headphones,

which was the hardest part.

RBMA: You recorded on the Tascam 388. How

did the limitations of eight tracks affect your

process?

JS: It forces you to commit to your decisions,

whether it’s combining multiple things on one

track or just choosing a take. I love it. It makes

us all work that much harder to get things

right. Most of the percussion and background

vocal takes are just one mic with everyone

spaced around it to get a good blend.

Or we’d have multiple instruments on the

same track but in different sections of the

song, like background vocals in the chorus

and a guitar solo in the bridge. It’s kinda crazy

how much you can fit onto eight tracks if

you really try.

RBMA: Would you say there’s a 388 sound?

JS: The 388 definitely has its own sound, no

doubt about it. It’s a quarter-inch eight-track,

so you’re dealing with 1/32 inches for each

track to store sound. Like any other form of

compression, you start to lose detail in the

low and high frequencies as you cram sound

into that tiny space. The 388 does it in a cool,

unique way—really thick, compressed, and

midrange-y. There’s also this little bump in

the upper frequencies before they roll off that

makes the cymbals on Light Up Gold sound

like static, this wild sounding ssshhhhh. It

sounds “wrong,” but in a really good way.

-NICk sYLVEsTEr

CrOTONA

pArk JAms

a previous edition of this column focused on

Queensbridge Housing Projects, the largest housing development

in North America and the onetime residence

of hip-hop legends such as Marley Marl and Roxanne

Shanté. If raw talent came from the projects, that talent

was honed during park-jam sessions that would unfold

in public spaces like basketball courts and parks across

the city.

One such public-gathering place is Crotona Park

in the South Bronx, a few miles to the northwest of

Queensbridge. Crotona was a major locus for jams in

the ’70s and ’80s, but as hip-hop became a global phenomenon,

the original park-jam scene faded. Christie

Z-Pabon, an events producer who came to New York

in 1996 from the Pittsburgh suburbs, was determined

to maintain the tradition; she and her husband, Jorge

Fabel Pabon, founded Tools of War, a grassroots organization

devoted to preserving and promoting early hiphop

culture. This summer marks the tenth anniversary

of their Crotona Park Jams, a party for DJ pioneers

that has featured Grand Wizard Theodore, Kool DJ Red

Alert, Grandmaster Caz, Biz Markie, Grandmaster Flash,

Jazzy Jay, Kurtis Blow, and Afrika Bambaataa, among

others. “I think we’ve done great for Bronx tourism,”

says Z-Pabon. “People can see what a true old-school

park jam was like back in the day.”

Why invite just legends? Z-Pabon says that, to her, it

seems only right to do so. Tools of War hosts other, more

intimate park jams in Harlem, such as Spanish Harlem

Hop in White Park, and Digger’s Delight in St. Nicholas

Park, but Crotona belongs to what Grandmaster Caz,

the event’s longtime MC, calls the “big-boy stage.” “We

give them space so that they don’t have to compete with

Skrillex,” Z-Pabon says with a laugh. “Not that I’m inviting

Skrillex.”

Z-Pabon and her husband host the Crotona Park

Jams every Thursday in July (because of the Fourth of

July holiday, the 2013 season begins on July 11), so that

you can personally witness history in the remaking.

One thing has changed, however: “Grand Wizard

Theodore says that he looks out into the audience and

sees all the people from back in the day, but now they

bring their kids,” says Z-Pabon. “We make it so everyone

feels welcome.” -ADrIENNE DAY

TOp 5…

INfLUENTIAL NYC

NIGhTCLUbs

pRESEnTED BY

Though not a complete history of

nightlife in New York, a handful of

clubs have impacted the music world

in such a way that their presence

is still felt to this day. Here are

Turntable Lab’s top five.

1

THE MUDD clUB

It was the crossroads

of the uptown

and downtown scenes:

punk rock, no wave,

and everything in between.

Cultural icons

such as Jean-Michel

Basquiat, David

Byrne, and Madonna

were all part of the

historical transitional

period exemplified

by the Mudd

Club.

LANDmArks

The places, spaces,

and monuments of

NYC's musical past,

present, and future.

PAST FeATuReD LAnDMARKS

1 MAx NEuHAuS’

“TIMES SquARE”

2 THE THING

SECONDHAND

STORE

3 THE LOFT

4 MARCY HOTEL

5 ANDY WARHOL’S

FACTORY

6 quEENSBRIDGE

HOuSES

7 RECORD MART

8 DEITCH

PROJECTS

9 AREA/SHELTER/

VINYL

10 STuDIO B

11 MARKET HOTEL

sTATEN IsLAND

2THE ROxY

The roller disco

turned dance party

supported hip-hop

just as it was finding

its voice and on

its way to becoming a

full-fledged cultural

movement.

12 DAPTONE

RECORDS

13 THE VILLAGE

GATE/LIFE/LE

POISSON ROuGE

14 THE ANCHORAGE

15 ELECTRIC LADY

STuDIOS

mANhATTAN

1

7

brOOkLYN

3

liMEligHT

The most notorious

of Peter Gatien’s

nightclubs, Limelight

opened in a renovated

gothic church in the

early ’80s. The club

hosted the quintessential

’90s club-kid

scene. Techno, house,

and industrial drew

the masses, but it

was the drugs that

made the headlines.

7

15

13

3

9 8

14

5

5

5

8

2

10

8

4 12

4TUnnEl

Mecca Sundays at the

Tunnel are forever

marked in hip-hop

history. Funkmaster

Flex on the decks,

Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, and

thousands of others

in attendance every

week. It encapsulates

the transition from

Golden Era to jiggy

in all its glory.

6

12

11

WHAT: CRoTonA

PARK JAMS

WHERE: SouTH BRonx

WHY: HiP-HoP

LeGenDS SPin FoR A

neW AuDienCe

WHEN: 2003-PReSenT

ThE brONx

qUEENs

5ApT

APT was one of the

last true Manhattan

spots to offer quality

music pre DJ-overload.

It featured a

lineup of solid selectors

including our

own Snack N Cmish, DJ

Spinna, Bobbito, In

Flagranti, and Lord

Finesse sometimes all

in the same week.

13


New York storY New York storY

14

Gray band members,

clockwise from left:

vincent Gallo, Wayne

Clifford, nick

Taylor, Michael

Holman, Jean-Michel

Basquiat, nYC 1981.

GOING GrAY

The night I started a band with Basquiat.

i was a wall street banker when I first came to New York. When I tell

people that, their mouths drop. It’s hilarious, I know, but the first important job

I got was as a junior credit analyst at Chemical Bank. [I was] ready to rise up the

ranks because I graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in

economics, so it was kind of a normal thing to do. I was there for a year, and on

the weekends I was smoking pot with my friends. [During that time] I helped

create the Canal Zone party, which brought the downtown and uptown artists

together for the first time; [it was] a massive, historic party—and the first time

I met Jean-Michel Basquiat—created by myself, Stan Peskett, and Fab 5 Freddy.

Stan Peskett I knew from San Francisco. He was friends with the Tubes, and

the Tubes were a band that I was in—that was my baptism into show business.

When I came to New York, Peskett was like the only person I really knew. So, I’m

working at Chemical Bank and on the weekends I’m hanging out with him and

smoking pot and helping him with his installations that he’s doing for Fiorucci

and Canal Jeans and things like that.

One day I’m reading in the Village Voice a little article about the Fab Five

graffiti group which was made up of Lee Quiñones, Slave, Doc, Mono, Slug, and

Fab 5 Freddy, and what they were offering in this little article was, “We’ll come

to your home or place of business and do giant graffiti burners for a price.” That

was the little blurb that they had; it was really funny, and I called them up and

invited them over. Now Stan and Freddy and I are hanging out, talking about

cool ideas, talking about what [Freddy] was into, which was this whole urban

uptown hip-hop thing—they were from Brooklyn mostly but I’m talking about

Harlem and the Bronx—and so he’s hipping us to that world and we’re hipping

him to our world and back and forth. We thought, “Why don’t we put on a party

and invite all of the Fab Five crew to do giant burners and invite the downtown

artist world so they can see what this is upfront and meet these guys—so that

these artists from two different worlds, two different walks of life, can meet each

other?” And so we did.

[Canal Zone] happened on April 29, 1979, in a loft building on the north

side of Canal Street. [It was at] Canal and Greenwich, about two blocks west

of the river; it wasn’t too far off the West Side Highway. The Fab Five crew did

these giant graffiti burners on giant sheets of clear plastic, which was a kind

of novel thing to do, and we invited the whole downtown scene and it was an

amazing party. Jean-Michel Basquiat had heard about this—he didn’t know any

of us and none of us knew him, but we had heard of him because we had all

seen the SAMO graffiti tags everywhere that he was doing with Al Diaz. Jean

shows up early at the party, at the beginning before it really got started, told

us who he was, and demanded to have participation as an artist in this, so we

were like, “Yeah, sure.” That was the nature of those days. Somebody shows up

with a shaved mohawk hairdo, a black guy looking so weird and different and

avant-garde and says, “I want to be down too. I want to do something too!” The

nature of that time was like, “Okay, sure, what do you want to do?” And so we

got him a big nine-foot-wide roll of photo-grade paper, and he did a piece that

said “Which of the following is omniprznt? A. Lee Harvey Oswald, B. Coca-Cola

Logo, C. General Melonry, D. SAMO ©.”

[Meanwhile] I was doing all these interviews on video as Word Man. I’m interviewing

Lee Quiñones and I’m interviewing this person and that person and

then I interview Jean. I was kind of doing this goofy thing where I would ask

people questions and then pull the microphone away before they could answer

and then ask another question. I don’t even know why I was doing it. I was just

being a dick, being a California kid not knowing how to be cool in New York. So

I’m interviewing Jean and I’m doing the same thing and he’s excited because

he’s never been on video camera being interviewed. He was so far ahead of everyone;

he was like five years younger than me, maybe 19 at the time, but he was

WORDS MicHAEl HOlMAn (AS TOlD TO MikE RUBin)

pHOTO MARinA D

Michael Holman played a key behind-the-scenes role in the explosion of New York City’s hip-hop

culture in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Among his accomplishments, Holman introduced Malcolm

McLaren to rap music; was the first writer to use the term “hip-hop” in print while at the East Village

Eye; and promoted shows by artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizard Theodore, and DJ Kool

Herc at the East Village club Negril. Before all that, however, Holman brought uptown graffiti writers

and the downtown art scene together for the first time. Holman shared with us the story of how he

threw the historic Canal Zone party and the night he met artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, his future

partner in the experimental noise band Gray.

50 years older than me in terms of sophistication and understanding and making

it as an artist. He was 50 years in front of everybody. And he knew, “I have

to be at this party, I have to be videotaped, I have to be there.” And it panned

out. It became part of his legacy, part of the fodder that built up his life story

and career. I went up to him off camera and apologized, and he said, “No, that’s

okay. You wanna start a band?” And I was like, “Sure.” I was off the hook—I was

given this second chance to be cool again.

In the beginning of Gray, it was myself, Jean, an old high-school buddy of

Jean’s named Shannon Dawson (who would later go on to create Konk), and then

Wayne Clifford. We played this angry, blaring, loud, confrontational music. Sometimes

it was kind of mellow too, but it was very minimal, and I thought it was really

good. It was like nothing anybody else did. Shannon played trumpet, Wayne

played a keyboard, I played some drums, and Jean played either clarinet or this

Wasp synthesizer that I got him. Shannon [eventually] left the band because his

horn playing really wasn’t fitting—it was forcing us into a groove that wasn’t

allowing us to really experiment and explore, so we kind of kicked him out of

the band, I hate to say, and then we brought in Nick Taylor, who played guitar.

Our attitude was like, “Let’s embrace the idea that we don’t know how to play

our instruments and let’s only have people in the band who don’t know how to

play instruments. Let’s approach the instruments in a new way. Let’s play them

as if we were aliens from another world and we had no idea how the instrument

was meant to be played, but we knew beautiful music and sound when we heard

it.” We were completely turning the meaning of the instrument on its head and

finding new ways to create unexpected sounds from the instruments, and that

became the real cornerstone of our music. Sometimes we’d play our instruments

in a conventional way, sometimes we wouldn’t. Jean started to play the electric

guitar with a little file, on the floor, with the strings completely loose; he’d be

pulling this metal file across the guitar strings and it would be making these

plink-plunk-plink-plink-plunking sounds. [He would also] play the Wasp synthesizer

in such a way that… I have that same synthesizer and I cannot figure

out how he got these sounds, just brilliant sounds.

“Ignorant” was a term that we used back then that kind of captured who we

were. A carelessly done or casually created work of art or sound or music that

should not have worked but [actually] worked brilliantly—that was our definition

of ignorant. So like a Godard film would be, “Oh man that is so ignorant,”

or a piece of music or sound you made or the way you were dressed or painting

or whatever. The greatest compliment you could give it was ignorant. It was

something that shouldn’t work, [that] should be horrible but is brilliant, and

that was our favorite aesthetic. It was our aesthetic: ignorance.

If we had stayed together at this critical juncture in ’81, we probably would

have released music. But here’s what happened: Jean blew up as a painter. He

did that PS1 show and his career just exploded. He was like, “I’m not going to

be a famous painter who’s in a band.” That [would have been] okay [for an]

unknown in the early days, in the late ’70s, but by ’81 or ’82, for Jean to have

blown up the way he was going to, he had to design his career correctly. He had

to be very calculating, and one of the calculations was that he had to leave the

band, and it kind of spread us to the far corners. I got heavy into film, Nick got

heavy into DJing, Wayne got heavy into painting, so we kind of all went our

different ways. But we would have released music if we had stayed together a

little longer.

Michael Holman is a visual artist and filmmaker who teaches at the

School of Visual Arts. He was one of the authors of the screenplay

for Basquiat and the host of the pioneering early ’80s hip-hop TV

show Graffiti Rock.

15


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