They Came From Denton High

 
 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical comedy horror film directed by Jim Sharman. The screenplay was written by Sharman and Richard O’Brien based on the 1973 eponymous musical stage production, also written by O’Brien. The production is a humorous tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1930s through early 1970s. It stars Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick along with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre and Belasco Theatre productions. The film production retains many aspects from the stage version such as production design and music, but features new scenes added not in the stage play. The originally proposed opening sequence was to contain clips of various films mentioned in the lyrics, as well as the first few sequences shot in black and white, but this was deemed too expensive, and scrapped.

Although largely ignored upon release, it soon gained notoriety as a midnight movie when audiences began participating with the film at the Waverly Theater in New York City in 1976. Audience members returned to the cinemas frequently and talked back to the screen and began dressing as the characters, spawning similar performance groups across the United States. Still in limited release nearly four decades after its premiere, it has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. Today, the film has a large international cult following and is one of the most well-known and financially successful midnight movies of all time.

Richard O’Brien, a Briton raised in New Zealand, was living in London as an unemployed actor in the early 1970s. He wrote most of The Rocky Horror Show during one winter just to occupy himself. Since his youth, O’Brien had loved science fiction and B horror movies. He wanted to combine elements of the unintentional humour of B horror movies, portentous dialogue of schlock-horror, Steve Reeves muscle flicks and fifties rock and roll into his musical.

 
 

Dr. Frank N Furter (Tim Curry) displays Rocky (Peter Hinwood), his Adonis-like humanoid creation, to visitors Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick)

 
 

O’Brien showed a portion of the unfinished script to Australian director Jim Sharman, who decided to direct it at the small experimental space Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Chelsea, which was used as a project space for new work. O’Brien had appeared briefly in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Sharman and the two also worked together in Sam Shepard‘s The Unseen Hand. Sharman would bring in production designer Brian Thomson. The original creative team was then rounded out by costume designer Sue Blane and musical director Richard Hartley, and stage producer Michael White was also brought in to produce. As the musical went into rehearsal, the working title, They Came from Denton High, was changed just before previews at the suggestion of Sharman to The Rocky Horror Show.

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No Room for Mistakes

“But with the throttle screwed on there is only the barest margin and no room for mistakes. It has to be done right . . and that’s when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that the fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears… ”

Hunter S. Thompson
Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

 
 

Self-Portraits

 
 

Hell’s Angels began as the article The Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders, written by Thompson for the May 17, 1965 issue of The Nation. In March 1965, The Nation editor Carey McWilliams wrote to Thompson and offered to pay the journalist for an article on the subject of motorcycle gangs, and the Hells Angels in particular. Thompson took the job and the article, published about a month later, prompted book offers from several publishers interested in the topic.

Thompson spent the next year preparing for the new book in close quarters with the Hells Angels, in particular the San Francisco and Oakland chapters of the club and their president Ralph “Sonny” Barger. Thompson was upfront with the Angels about his role as a journalist, a dangerous move given their marked distrust of reporters from what the club considered to be bad press. Thompson was introduced to the gang by Birney Jarvis, a former club member and then police-beat reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. This introduction, coming from an Angel and reporter, allowed Thompson to get close to the gang in a way others had not been able.

Thompson remained close with the Angels for a year, but ultimately the relationship waned. It ended for good after several members of the gang gave him a savage beating or “stomping” over a remark made by Thompson to an Angel named Junkie George, who was beating his wife.

 
 

Photographs by Hunter S. Thompson

On the Edge

The only sounds are the wind and the dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it . . . howling through a turn to the right, then to the left and down the long hill to Pacifica . . . letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge . . . The Edge . . . ”

Hunter S. Thompson

Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

 
 

Hells Angels

“In my own country I am in a far-off land
I am strong but have no force or power
I win all yet remain a loser
At break of day I say goodnight
When I lie down I have a great fear
Of falling.”

(Translation of François Villon‘s 15th-century poem Ballade du concours de Blois)

Epigraph of Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, by Hunter S. Thompson (1966)

 
 

When Irving Penn photographed a bunch of Hells Angels for Look Magazine in 1968 all the classic Penn elements were there – there was the stark backdrop; the steely monochrome and the naturalism of the sitter’s attitude and expression. Whether or not Penn’s subjects were the rich and the famous or a bunch of hairy bikers he always managed to capture something lasting and resonant about the individuals involved.

The Hells Angels were originally started by American war immigrants, the Bishop family in Fontana, California followed by an amalgamation of former members from different motorcycle clubs. The name “Hell’s Angels” was inspired by the typical naming of American squadrons, or other fighting groups, with a fierce, death-defying title in both World War I and World War II, e.g., the Flying Tigers (American Volunteer Group) in Burma and China fielded three squadrons of P-40s and the third Squadron was called “Hell’s Angels”. In 1930, the Howard Hughes film Hell’s Angels displayed extraordinary and dangerous feats of aviation, and it is believed that the World War II groups who used that name based it on the film.

 
 

The name of the Hells Angels motorcycle club has no apostrophe, but in the title and in the text of Thompson’s book a possessive apostrophe was added to the name, rendering it as Hell’s Angels.

The Photo Which Gave Birth to the Modern Maternity Portrait

Ever since Annie Leibovitz photographed Demi Moore, for the front cover of Vanity Fair magazine, maternity photographs have become increasingly popular. Undoubtedly this photo gave birth to the modern maternity portrait

 
 

The supermodel swelled with pride as she showed off her seven-month belly (filled with son Presley) in the June 1999 issue of W. Cindy Crawford was originally slated to wear a gown, but she apparently didn’t look pregnant enough in it. Problem solved. Photo: Michael Thompson

 
 

It’s only fitting that Brooke Shields was Vogue‘s first visibly pregnant cover model. After all, she’d also been the fashion bible’s youngest cover model back in 1980, when she was 14. She was 37 and eight months along with daughter Rowan on the April 2003 issue, on which she sported a sheer, soaking-wet Krizia gown.Photo: Annie Leibovitz

 
 

The Italian bombshell — best known to American audiences for her work in The Matrix Reloaded — had more than vanity in mind when she posed nude for the cover of a 2004 edition of Vanity Fair: The wife of French actor Vincent Cassel reportedly disrobed to protest Italy’s laws against the use of donor sperm. Nicely done, Monica. Photo: Fabrizio Ferri

 
 

Vanity Fair Italy, March 2010. Photo by Tyen

 
 

Six months pregnant with second son Jayden James, the then-spiraling pop star Britney Spears disrobed for the August 2006 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Necklace: Louis Vuitton. Photo: Alexi Lubomirki

 
 

November 2006 issue of Britain’s Q magazine. In the interview, Britney revealed she was craving ice (and evidently lollipops). Photo: James Dimmock

 
 

Milla Jovovich gnawed on that gauzy curtain for a good cause. Her 2007 shoot for Jane magazine benefited charity. Soon after, she gave birth to daughter Ever Gabo with Resident Evil writer-director Paul William Scott Anderson.

 
 

Christina Aguilera was nearly done baking son Max when she ditched her duds (but not her Louboutins or hair dye) for the January 2008 issue of Marie Claire. Photo: Ruven Afanador

 
 

Known for her sometimes outrageous red carpet poses, Paula Patton looked perfectly goddess-like draped in nude chiffon with curly hair and natural make-up on the May 2010 cover of Ebony. And the magazine happened to hit stands after the actress, who’s married to R&B crooner Robin Thicke, gave birth to son Julian Fuego

 
 

Dem babies, as Mariah Carey affectionately nicknamed still-gestating twins Moroccan and Monroe, kicked at their mom’s belly through most of her photo shoot for the April 18, 2011, issue of Life & Style. We assume they were kicking in protest over this awkward pose

 
 

Proving that supermodels really are superior life forms, a shaggy-haired Claudia Schiffer was pregnant with her third child, daughter Cosima, when she stripped down for a Karl Lagerfeld-directed shoot in the June 2010 issue of German Vogue

 
 

Mrs. Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr,  was six-and-a-half months pregnant with son Flynn when she tastefully revealed all in the December 2010 issue of W. Photo by Patrick Demarchelier

 
 

The 41-year-old actress bared her soul (per the cover’s tagline) and lots more in the November 2011 issue of Ebony. She welcomed her second son, Kez, that same month. “The medical [profession] tries to tell every woman, ‘Have your babies before 40 because you shouldn’t have children after 40. Society tells us, ‘Get married before 30, because no man wants a woman after 30.’ You are not half the woman you’re gonna be until you turn 30. You’re not even half of that woman yet. So I think if we’d just take our time as women, and do what comes natural to us and for us, we would make fewer mistakes.”

 
 

The latest star to go au naturel, Jessica undressed for the April 2012 issue of Elle and revealed she’s expecting a girl with fiancé Eric Johnson. Photo: Carter Smith. Styled by Joe Zee

Pierced by Arrows

Anonymous Nuremberg (XV cent) : St Sebastian (c. 1440). Bibilothèque Nationale (Paris, France). Woodcut.

 
 

Saint Sebastian is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows. This is the most common artistic depiction of Sebastian; however, according to legend, he was rescued and healed by Irene of Rome. Sometimes Sebastian is known as the saint who was martyred twice.

The earliest representation of Sebastian is a mosaic in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (Ravenna, Italy) dated between 527 and 565. The right lateral wall of the basilica contains large mosaics representing a procession of 26 martyrs, led by Saint Martin and including Sebastian. The martyrs are represented in Byzantine style, lacking any individuality, and have all identical expressions.

As protector of potential plague victims (a connection popularized by the Golden Legend) and soldiers, Sebastian occupied an important place in the popular medieval mind. He was among the most frequently depicted of all saints by Late Gothic and Renaissance artists, in the period after the Black Death. The opportunity to show a semi-nude male, often in a contorted pose, also made Sebastian a favourite subject.

 
 

His shooting with arrows was the subject of the largest engraving by the Master of the Playing Cards in the 1430s, when there were few other current subjects with male nudes other than Christ.

 
 

Andrea Mantegna

 
 

It has been suggested that the first picture was made after Mantegna had recovered from the plague in Padua (1456–1457). Probably commissioned by the city’s podestà to celebrate the end of the pestilence, it was finished before the artist left the city for Mantua. According to Battisti, the theme refers to the Book of Revelation. A rider is present in the clouds at the upper left corner (pic. 1). As specified in John’s work, the cloud is white and the rider has a scythe, which he is using to cut the cloud. The rider has been interpreted as Saturn, the Roman-Greek god: in ancient times Saturn was identified with the Time that passed by and all left destroyed behind him.

 
 

Giovanni Bellini (1460-64)

 
 

Sandro Botticelli (1474)

 
 

Albretch Dürer

 
 

Giovanni Antonio Bazzi “Il Sodoma” (1525)

 
 

The saint is ordinarily depicted as a handsome youth pierced by arrows. Predella scenes when required, often depicted his arrest, confrontation with the Emperor, and final beheading. The illustration in the infobox is the Saint Sebastian of Il Sodoma, at the Pitti Palace, Florence.

 
 

Cesare Da Sesto (1523)

 
 


El Greco

 
 

 San Sebastiano curato da un angelo (St Sebastian Healed by an Angel), Giovanni Baglione, c. 1603

 
 

Anton Van Dyck (1621-1627)

 
 

Peter Paul Rubens

 
 

José de Ribera (1651)

 
 

St Sebastien Attended by St Irene, Georges de La Tour, (c. 1649)

 
 

Honoré Daumier, 1849-52

 
 

A mainly 17th-century subject, though found in predella scenes as early as the 15th century, was St Sebastian tended by St Irene, painted by Georges de La Tour, Trophime Bigot (four times), José de Ribera, Hendrick ter Brugghen and others.

 
 

The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, by Ángel Zárraga (1911)

 
 

This may have been a deliberate attempt by the Church to get away from the single nude subject, which is already recorded in Vasari as sometimes arousing inappropriate thoughts among female churchgoers. The Baroque artists usually treated it as a nocturnal chiaroscuro scene, illuminated by a single candle, torch or lantern, in the style fashionable in the first half of the 17th century. There exist several cycles depicting the life of Saint Sebastian. Among them are the frescos in the “Basilica di San Sebastiano” of Acireale (Italy) with paintings by Pietro Paolo Vasta.

 
 

Antonio Bellucci, c. 1716-8

 
 

Saint Roch with Saint Jerome and Saint Sebastian (after a picture attributed to Alessandro Oliverio), John Singer Sargent, circa 1880-1881

 
 

Egon Schiele painted a self-portrait as Saint Sebastian in 1915

 
 

During Salvador Dalí’s “Lorca (Federico García Lorca) Period”, he painted Sebastian several times, most notably in his “Neo-Cubist Academy”

 
 

While Lorca was not a practicing Catholic, he was fascinated by Catholic liturgy and ritual, leading him to seek inspiration from religious themes such as the lives of saints which he would have studied while reading The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Vorgine. Sebastian relate to Lorca’s poetics as well as his relationship to Salvador Dalí.

 
 

Gabriele  d’Annunzio come S. Sebastiano, A. Salvini. In 1911, the Italian playwright Gabriele d’Annunzio in conjunction with Claude Debussy produced a mystery play on the subject.

 
 

St. Sebastian with St. Irene and Attendant,Eugène Delacroix, 1858

 
 

The American composer Gian Carlo Menotti composed a ballet score for a Ballets Russes production which was first given in 1944. In his novella Death in Venice, Thomas Mann hails the “Sebastian-Figure” as the supreme emblem of Apollonian beauty, that is, the artistry of differentiated forms; beauty as measured by discipline, proportion, and luminous distinctions. This allusion to Saint Sebastian’s suffering, associated with the writerly professionalism of the novella’s protagonist, Gustav Aschenbach, provides a model for the “heroism born of weakness”, which characterizes poise amidst agonizing torment and plain acceptance of one’s fate as, beyond mere patience and passivity, a stylized achievement and artistic triumph.

Sebastian’s death was depicted in the 1949 film Fabiola, in which he was played by Massimo Girotti.

 
 

In 1976, the British director Derek Jarman made his debut film, Sebastiane, which caused controversy in its treatment of the martyr as a homosexual icon. However, as several critics have noted, this has been a subtext of the imagery since the Renaissance.

 
 

Also in 1976, a figure of Saint Sebastian appeared throughout the American horror film Carrie, directed by Brian de Palma

 
 

Pietro Vannucci Perugino’s painting (c. 1495) of Saint Sebastian is featured in the  movie Wit  (Mike Nichols, 2001) starring Emma Thompson. Thompson’s character, as a college student, visits her professor’s office, where an almost life-size painting of Saint Sebastian hangs on the wall. Later, when the main character is a professor herself, diagnosed with cancer, she keeps a small print of this same painting of Saint Sebastian next to her hospital bed. The allusion appears to be to Sebastian’s stoic martyrdom – a role the Thompson character has willingly accepted for the betterment of all mankind. There may be a touch of authorial (or directorial) cynicism in making this “saintly” connection.

 
 

tumblr_lm64izZk8c1qcdvnmo1_1280Still from R.E.M.’s  Losing My Religion (Tarsem Singh, 1991) promotional music video

 
 

*I will be posting more artistic representations of St Sebastian on The Genealogy of Style´s new Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.597637210325056.1073741828.597542157001228&type=1&l=9328e23d78

A Shift Toward Exotic Romanticism

La Grande Odalisque, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1814

 
 

This painting depicts  an odalisque, or concubine. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres‘ contemporaries considered the work to signify his break from Neoclassicism, indicating a shift toward exotic Romanticism.

 
 

PRECEDENT:

 
 

Dresden Venus or Sleeping Venus, Giorgione, 1508-10

 
 

Venere di Urbino (Venus of Urbino), Titian, 1538

 
 

Portrait of Madame Récamier,  Jacques-Louis David, c. 1800

 
 

The painting was commissioned by Napoleon’s sister, Queen Caroline Murat of Naples, and finished in 1814. Ingres drew upon works such as Dresden Venus by Giorgione, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino as inspiration for his reclining nude figure, though the actual pose of a reclining figure looking back over her shoulder is directly drawn from the 1809 Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David.

Ingres portrays a concubine in languid pose as seen from behind with distorted proportions. The small head, elongated limbs, and cool color scheme all reveal influences from Mannerists such as Parmigianino, whose Madonna with the Long Neck was also famous for anatomical distortion.

This eclectic mix of styles, combining classical form with Romantic themes, prompted harsh criticism when it was first shown in 1814. Critics viewed Ingres as a rebel against the contemporary style of form and content. When the painting was first shown in the Salon of 1819, one critic remarked that the work had “neither bones nor muscle, neither blood, nor life, nor relief, indeed nothing that constitutes imitation”. This echoed the general view that Ingres had disregarded anatomical realism. Ingres instead favored long lines to convey curvature and sensuality, as well as abundant, even light to tone down the volume. Ingres continued to be criticized for his work until the mid-1820s.

 
 

SUCCESSOR:

 
 

Julianne Moore, after Ingres’s La Grande Odalisque. By Michael Thompson, 2000; Vanity Fair, April 2000

Bringing Vermeer’s Paintings to Life

“There are two types of celebrities: one who looks at photography as an art form and another who sees it as a way to promote their next film. Julianne understands the art part of it. I asked her to put on a bonnet, and she said, ‘Of course.’ “

Michael Thompson

About the photo shoot for Interview Magazine, circa 2001

 
 

 
 

Sint Praxedis (Saint Praxedis), attributed to Johannes Vermeer, 1655

 
 

It is generally believed to be a copy of a work by Felice Ficherelli, and depicts the early Roman martyr, Saint Praxedis or Praxedes. If the piece is indeed by Johannes Vermeer, it may be his earliest surviving work.

The painting shows the saint squeezing a martyr’s blood from a sponge into an ornate vessel. It is closely related to a work by Ficherelli from 1640–45, now in the Collection Fergmani in Ferrara, and is generally assumed to be a copy of it (though see below for an alternative interpretation). The most obvious difference between the two is that there is no crucifix in the Ferrara work.

 
 

 
 

Het Melkmeisje (The Milkmaid), Johannes Vermeer, c. 1657–1658

 
 

Sometimes called The Kitchen Maid, is an oil-on-canvas painting of a “milkmaid”, in fact a domestic kitchen maid. The exact year of the painting’s completion is unknown, with estimates varying by source.

Despite its traditional title, the picture clearly shows a kitchen or housemaid, a low-ranking indoor servant, rather than a milkmaid who actually milks the cow, in a plain room carefully pouring milk into a squat earthenware container (now commonly known as a “Dutch oven”) on a table. Also on the table are various types of bread. She is a young, sturdily built woman wearing a crisp linen cap, a blue apron and work sleeves pushed up from thick forearms. A foot warmer is on the floor behind her, near Delft wall tiles depicting Cupid (to the viewer’s left) and a figure with a pole (to the right). Intense light streams from the window on the left side of the canvas.

 
 

 
 

Het Meisje met de Parel (Girl with a Pearl Earring), Johannes Vermeer, 1655

 
 

The painting is signed “IVMeer” but not dated. It is unclear whether this work was commissioned, and, if so, by whom. In any case, it is probably not meant as a conventional portrait.

The image is a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a ‘head’ that was not meant to be a portrait. After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle color scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced. During the restoration, it was discovered that the dark background, today somewhat mottled, was initially intended by the painter to be a deep enamel-like green. This effect was produced by applying a thick transparent layer of paint, called a glaze, over the present-day black background. However, the two organic pigments of the green glaze, indigo and weld, have faded.

 
 

 
 

Staande virginaalspeelster (Young woman standing at a virginal),Johannes Vermeer, circa 1670-1673

 
 

Lady Standing at a Virginal is a genre painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670-1672 and now in the National Gallery, London.

The oil painting depicts a richly dressed woman playing a virginal in a home with a tiled floor, paintings on the wall and some of the locally manufactured Delftware blue and white tiles of a type that appear in other Vermeer works.

The identities of the paintings on the wall are not certain, according to the National Gallery, but the landscape on the left may be by either Jan Wijnants or Allart van Everdingen. The second painting, showing Cupid holding a card, is attributed to Caesar van Everdingen, Allart’s brother. This motif originated in a contemporary emblem and may either represent the idea of faithfulness to a single lover or perhaps, reflecting the presence of the virginal, the traditional association of music and love.