Bad Songs #4: "Rape" by Peter Wyngarde

His name might not be familiar to most Americans, but Peter Wyngarde was a household name at the end of the 1960s.  He played the immensely popular Jason King on TV (in Department S and the Jason King spin-off), a foppish ladykiller - sort of a cross between James Bond and Oscar Wilde.  Mike Myers borrowed Wyngarde's dandy sense of fashion for his Austin Powers character - the bushy hair, frilly sleeves and velvet coats.

It is beyond bizarre that in 1970, at the height of his fame, Peter Wyngarde would release one of the strangest albums in history. Considered offensive, it was yanked from UK shelves within hours of its release and didn't resurface into popular culture until the 1990s.

Wyngarde could have easily made a mint on some easy listening stuff, as most British celebs of his caliber were wont to do.  No, sir. Wynarde (aka Petunia Winegum, as he was known in the gay community) recorded such "radio friendly" tracks as "Rape" and "Hippie and the Skinhead" which contained such lovely lyrics as this:
Billy was a queer, pilly, sexy Hippy,
He wore gear - frilly, hairy, zippy.
Mohair in the winter, less hair in the summer.
His Mac was black, scarf immaculate -
Tied loosely (knots interfered with promiscuity!)  
Say what? The whole album is like a descent into madness.  Not the cool kind of madness like Syd Barrett, Lou Reed or Bowie.... more like Monty Python, but not funny.

I'd love to provide you with the entire album, but I think it's currently for sale on Amazon, so I'd probably get flagged pretty quickly. Instead, I'll post one particularly bad track from the 1970 LP called "Rape".  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Kid Stuff #12: Village People Trading Cards

I didn't just collect baseball cards as a kid.  I collected Star Wars, Mork & Mindy, Kiss, The Bee Gee's Sgt. Pepper, and Incredible Hulk cards...... but Village People cards?  Something is very, very wrong about this.

I'm not going to sit here an lie and tell you I didn't like the Village People. I did.... and still kinda do.  Nothing against them - it just strikes me as insanely funny to picture 70s kids swapping Village People cards. 

What's perhaps even stranger is I didn't know they were gay. Sure, I was a young lad, but with this level of gayness, there's no excuse   I mean, they made Frankie Goes to Hollywood look straight.


The Boob Tube #15: Laugh-In

When did the comedy duo go away? From Laurel & Hardy and Abbot & Costello to Lewis & Martin and Burns & Allen - you kind of took them for granted.  They used the "dumb Dora" format (the goof and the straight man) perfected in vaudeville, and it just worked.  Miraculously, the Smothers Brothers and Rowan & Martin were somehow able to find great success by bringing that old vaudeville routine to the hippie era.

Rowan and Martin had performed in nightclubs for years, so these were seasoned veterans at working a crowd.  These pros were just there to have a good time, and the vibe was contagious.

The show always began from "beautiful downtown Burbank" with Rowan & Martin doing their shtick.  Then they led the audience to a mod party with sexy go-go dancers in bikinis and miniskirts.  There'd be a little dancing, then a joke, then dancing, then a joke, etc., etc.  This format was used later on The Muppet Show in the ballroom dancing sketches.


Catalogs #2: Smoking Hot Office Label Catalog

You all know by now how fascinated I am by the 1970s libido.  So, you can imagine how pleased I was to stumble upon this find - a seemingly benign catalog for ordering office supplies (specifically labels).  However, this is the 1970s, so the "sex sells" principle even applied to office label marketing! 

The 1970s was that rare moment in time when all the planets aligned creating the perfect storm called The Sexual Revolution.  The Baby Boomers vastly outnumbered the rest of the population and they were largely in their twenties (prime time for sexual shenanigans). Plus, feminism and political correctness hadn't hit their stride yet.  On top of it all, was a prevailing philosophy of "free love" and the advent of The Pill.....KABOOM!!

The effect was so penetrating far reaching that even office label catalogs had sex appeal.

I found this supply catalog extremely interesting, and great fun.  Can you imagine this sort of thing going on in your modern day Office Depot catalog?

Anyway, take a moment to look at a few pages from this fine piece of "Rated G" archaeology from the sexual revolution. Enjoy.

Let's Get Physical!

Somewhere in the 1970s, health became a national obsession. Theories abound on why this took place, but I think it's clear that the primary reason was a desire by the Boomers to hang on to their youth.  This was, after all, the "I hope I die before I get old" generation. Getting fat and ugly was simply not an option during the Sexual Revolution. There were discos to go to and key parties to attend!


Saturday Morning TV #4: Danger Island

Long before Richard Donner directed The Omen and Superman, he directed Danger Island, a 10 minute serial that appeared on The Banana Splits. It basically was like Johnny Quest but live action.  There was also one other difference - it scared the living shit out of me.

You see, some of the scenes got to be quite gritty and realistic. When pirates came aboard the ship, you wondered what horrible things these ugly bastards would do to the trio of explorers. There were scenes featuring realsitic dead bodies, and scenes with half-naked cannibalistic natives (called The Skeleton Men) torturing and trying to eat the explorers. It always seemed so out of place on The Banana Splits sandwiched between The Three Musketeers and The Arabian Knights cartoons.

Twisted Impressions #6

It's sad really, how the mind of a man works.  To me, this picture perfectly captures the predicament men are dealt in life. Biologically speaking, a thin layer of neurons on his cerebral cortex tells him to act nice, collect money for charity, and talk professionally to this young lady - it's the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, the rest of his brain has gotten the better of him.  It's screaming "breasts!", "legs!", "mate with her you jackass!"

We all remember the Seinfeld episode where George loses interest in sex and suddenly he finds himself doing constructive things, learning quantum physics, pondering existentialism, etc. No longer is his brain preoccupied with the procreative instinct. Alas, this is the lot of mankind - it the way we were made.

Thus, when I read these comic book panels, my mind goes racing to bad places that the writer surely did not intend.

Mini Skirt Monday #43: Minis 'n' Motorbikes

I've put together a dozen or so images from a variety of sources, all containing two common threads: minis & motorbikes. Enjoy.


Obscure Grooves #2: Space Age Disco

I can think of no other genre of music with such a huge percentage of crap.  Don't get me wrong - there's a lot of great disco music, but if you stray too far off the beaten path (i.e. ABBA, The Bee Gees, Donna Summer) you're likely to get burned.  According to my calculations, roughly 99.994% of the disco records released in the 1970s were utter shit.

Brainstorm is no exception. I was attracted to this one simply for its amazing cover.  Unfortunately, the round piece of etched vinyl that was found underneath the artwork is woefully bland. Generic disco music at its most mediocre. Take a listen to "Hot For You"



Perhaps a better example is "Space Disco" by The Universal Robot Band (1976).  I can see this really working on the dance floor.  Band member, Patrick Adams, would become "Disco's Secret Master" - his credits appear on nearly one thousand disco songs!



Opinions and Rants #25: Putt Putt Golf and Why Nostalgia Is a Distinguished Pursuit

I was perusing through some old Putt Putt golf magazines from the 60s through the 80s, and some deep thoughts came over me. Why am I doing this? Why would a Putt Putt Golf magazine from 1972 be interesting? I don’t even like Putt Putt golf. Is there something wrong with me?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized you can learn a lot about the world you live in from a nostalgic item as mundane and odd as a Putt Putt golf magazine. Let me explain.

Nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake has its place: it can be an interesting hobby, or just make you feel good reminiscing. A blog devoted to this kind of nostalgia sounds something like this: “Hey, remember the Bit-o-Honey commercials?” or “Hey, remember when Grady made marijuana brownies on Sanford & Son?”…. they’re fun, but not necessarily edifying. One of the wisest things ever said applies here: “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” In other words, a post reminiscing about miniature golf may not teach you a damn thing, but it has other rewards.

Vintage Business #7: Dawn of the Cube

What you see above is the genesis of that dreadful and omnipresent piece of office furniture - the cubicle. 

They came on the scene with such promise. Read old issues of Architectural Digest, and you'd think they were describing the dawn of a New Age.  An age without cloistered offices. An age of open communication.  The cubicle was the answer to the stuffiness and chaos of the "old" office.  Now the office is a place where dreams are made.

Once businesses saw how much they could save in both furniture costs and square footage, it wasn't long before this experiment became the standard. It took a couple decades before these cubes stopped being the hallowed symbol of industrial modernity, and became the butt of jokes and the symbol of all that is petty, uninspiring and dehumanizing in corporate life. [source]


Food & Drink #8: Taco Bell in the 70s

I remember Taco Hell back in the day - and, yes, they did wear these ridiculous moustaches. They haven't changed much in the past 30 years; but then that's the hallmark of a successful fast food chain - make every restaurant the same and make everything taste the same. The only thing that changes over the years is the portion size, which keeps getting bigger and bigger.

My favorite chain restaurants when I was a kid was Shoney's (because they gave you crappy comic books), Sambo's (nothing like a good racist fast food chain), Burger Chef, and, of course, the Sizzler!. On special occasions we'd hit the Steak and Ale.
But then, we, like most families, rarely ate out.  The extent to which today's Americans blow money on fast food was simply unheard of in the 70s.  Plus, there wasn't a fast food joint on every corner - the majority of the eats were not franchises.... but I digress.

Here's a mildly irritating Taco Bell commercial from 1978.  Ever since I saw it, I can't get it out of my head - so, I thought I'd spread the misery. "Taca-taca-taca-taco Bell!"


Tech #4: 1980s Computer & Video Game Mags

Here's a collection of old computer and video game magazine covers and advertisements I've acquired from here and there.  I'm not a big computer historian, so the images that interest me aren't centered on a particular outdated technology.  I had a VIC-20, a Commodore 64 and then an Atari - that's about the extent of my retro computing expertise.  However, I can appreciate a particularly awful, bizarre, or racy piece of vintage computing ephemera.

So, enjoy the slide show. Don't forget that the little "arrows" icon at the bottom right expands the slide show to full screen (hit "escape" to return to post)  As always, I am interested in your comments. Cheers!

If TV Shows Were Made Raunchy

A friend and I recently got into a highly erudite conversation about which TV shows we’d most like to see adapted to film…. and turned raunchy. Pretend it’s the 70s and some sleazy movie producer wants to make a softcore grindhouse piece of crap television adaptation to be shown at midnight drive-ins. What TV shows would get you to that theater the fastest?

Are there more important things to do right now than think about stuff like this? Yes. But is it fun to think about it anyway? Absolutely. So, here’s my personal top ten in no particular order – with potential taglines thrown in for the hell of it.  Click on movie posters to enlarge.


Ads #35: Sugary Lies


Wow. Don't they look foolish now that childhood obesity is epidemic.  "Kids eat and drink more things made with sugar than anybody. But how many fat kids do you see?"  Answer: a lot.  I see fat kids everywhere.
In the 70s kids weren't so sedentary as today, and there wasn't a McDonald's on every corner.  But still, this is obviously a horrible advertisement.  To think that soda could be pushed as a health food is just unbelievable.


The Boob Tube #16: A CHiPs Halloween Episode

Let's take a look at a wonderfully awful enjoyable episode of CHiPs called "Rock Devil Rock".  It was released in its sixth season, it had jumped the shark long ago.  Ponch is still there, but Jon left the show - and we now have Bobby "Hot Dog" Nelson in his place (ugh).

This is a Halloween episode and, I guess to add to the Halloween theme, they had John Astin (Gomez Addams) direct.

The show begins at a Moloch concert - an obvious take off of Kiss; however, instead of Gene Simmons as the scary rocker, we have Donny Most of Happy Days! Yes, you read it right: Ralph Malph plays the Gene Simmons/Marilyn Manson type character.  Mr. Most is listed as "Donald" in the opening credits.  Our little Donny is all growed. up.

Mini Skirt Monday #42: Couples

Did these guys ever think to themselves "Thank God I'm in my prime during the glory days of the miniskirt"? Or did they take it for granted, and assumed it would always sustain this popularity? Either way, they were lucky dogs - by the time I came of age, the trend had gone bye-bye.  I was born perhaps 7 years too late.  All that was left of the mini were some Polaroids of days gone by.

The theme of this week's Mini Skirt Monday is "couples" - simply a girl in a mini-skirt, and the luck bastard with her.  Given that these pictures are from around 1970, that would mean that, if they are still together, their relationship is now about 40 years old!  Everyone in these pictures is basically ready to collect social security checks.... sweet Jesus, time flies!


When Cassidy Was King

In the latter half of the seventies, there were a number of teenage heart-throbs: Leif Garret, Travolta, Shaun Cassidy, Donny Osmond, etc. But in the early seventies, there was no question who reigned supreme for pre-teen girls - it was David Cassidy.

If you look at how extensively this guy was marketed, it is shocking. I would argue he was marketed more than Star Wars! George Lucas had nothing on the David Cassidy money machine.  

There were the obvious products: the posters, the signed photographs, the albums, the patches, the lunch boxes, the buttons, the television show, the dolls, and the many, many magazines that featured the omnipresent Partridge. Indeed, Cassidy's face looked a lot like money.


Magazines #1: Apartment Life Magazine (Jan 1977)

It was love at first sight with me and Apartment Life magazine.  I can't think of another periodical that contains more bad fashion, bad interior decor, and just plain 70s goodness.  Even the ads are stellar - often featuring products you wouldn't find in your standard fare like LIFE or People.

I scaned some pages from the January 1977 issue for your viewing pleasure.  Click on the slideshow or check it out full sized on Flickr.


What the hell, Canada?

Richard Dawson used to get a little personal with his lady contestants, but this is ridiculous!  This is from a Canadian show called "Just Like Mom" (1980-1985). Jeez. WTF Canada?

Any of you Canadians know what became of this dirty old pervert?  Did the final episode of "Just Like Mom" end with him being escorted out in handcuffs? Just curious.

Bad Songs #3: "Reverend Bob" by Barbi Benton

Barbi Benton was a familiar face in the 1970s.  She lived with Hugh Hefner for seven years, appeared in several Playboy issues, was a regular on Hee-Haw, and was constantly popping up on TV shows like CHiPs, Charlie's Angels and Vega$.  Beyond that, Barbi was a musician and singer - she released four albums during the 70s.

Her music was predominantly country, and I'm not going to knock it - some of her stuff is not too bad.  However, one song in particular is bad, real bad..... really really bad.


Rollermania! #2

Roller skating fit the 1970s like a glove.  Two trademarks of the decade were (1) environmental concerns and (2) fitness, so it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that something which captalized on both would become a huge sensation.  Roller skating was a fuel-less means of travel, and it burned calories - a match made in heaven!

When you added disco into the mix, the lid blew off, and the roller skate quickly became a symbol of the decade. So, get ready. This post is literally bursting at the seams with roller skating dynamite. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of rollermania!


Dungeons & Dragons #3: The Ads

I think it was around 1983 that Dungeons & Dragons really hit its stride in the US.  Obviously, the game itself was selling well, but, beyond that, the whole environment during those days seemed steeped in  D&D culture.

At the arcade there was the popular Dragon's Lair game, at the movies there was Krull, on Saturday mornings there was the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, and at the newsstand there were Dragon magazine and White Dwarf

I must admit, during this period I lapped it up and begged for more.  Looking back on these advertisements really brings back some memories.

Ads #34: Polyunsaturate

These Mazola ads from 1970 are some of the worst ads I've ever seen.  Love, honor and polyunsaturate?  Screw the "obey" business, Bill's bride promised to serve him fried chicken!


Fact or Fiction #14: Accident Investigation

Could someone please fill me in on this one? It seems like every vintage men's magazine has an advertisement ecouraging men to pursue a career in accident investigation.  Obviously, this was some sort of scam.  Why would they advertise for an accident investigator? Isn't that a job for either law enforcement or insurance companies?

Regardless of its legitamacy, I love these ads.  They make it look like you'll be the next 007.  It seems nearly every ad features a pretty damsel in distress, and a sharp dressed manly-man coming to her aid.  She's always grinny friskily, while he's professional and oblivious to her advances.


Vintage Men's Mags #5: Awful Covers

I spent a good deal of time praising the often under-appreciated artwork of vintage men's magazines; so, I think I've earned the right to be a little negative. Let's face it, some of those magazine covers were just downright awful.... and admit it - it's always enjoyable to poke fun at the failures and embarrassments of the past. Bad fashion and bad album covers seem to get a lot of attention, well now it's time to point a condescending finger at the vintage men's mag.

I'm referring here to the "girlie magazine" variety rather than the action mag, because, quite frankly, I can't find any particularly bad action mag covers, and horrible girlie mags are in abundance. So, sit back, relax and enjoy some unseemly covers from yesteryear... you've earned it.

Yeah, this is real titillating - a beautiful woman flanked by a rodeo clown. I hope whoever came up with the idea to slap a picture of a grotesque clown got a talking to... his idea of erotica is a tad skewed.

Retrospace Salutes Charlie Hustle

Without hesitation, I would have to say Pete Rose was my my ultimate hero in the 1970s.  I lived in Dayton, Ohio when The Big Red Machine was in full effect, so Rose-mania was everywhere. I followed every televised game just to see Rose muscle his way to the bag swallowing mouthfuls of dirt, knocking people over, and just making a spectacle of every single play.  I loved to see him after the game, sweaty and covered in dirt and blood, acting sour and blasting the other team.  Needless to say, he wasn't exactly a low-key player... but like another loudmouth, Muhammad Ali, he could back it up.

Rose  is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), and outs (10,328). He won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B & 1B).... and yet he's not in the Hall of Fame. That is a crock of shit.

Well, Hall or Famer or not, in the 1970s Pete Rose was the man, and for that, he deserves a shout out on Retrospace as an icon of the decade.


Mini Skirt Monday #41: Minis in Advertising

"The Mini Skirt: Much like the length requirement of a college paper. Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep things interesting."
- anonymous

Time for another round of miniskirts. This time we're looking at those high hemlines featured in vintage advertising. We're lookin' at ads from around 1968 - 1973, the primetime for minis, when every catalog and every magazine was filled to the brim with the glorious miniskirt. So, sit back and enjoy a time when minis were in vogue and men were very, very happy.


Saturday Morning Cartoons #3: Valley of the Dinosaurs

What kid didn't love Valley of the Dinosaurs? As a kid, I didn't pick up its similarities to Land of the Lost. In many ways the shows were identical. Here's just a few similarities:

1. Both families (the Butlers in VOTD and the Marshalls in LOTL) were river rafting when they were mysteriously transported to another time/space

2. Both families consisted of a straight laced dad and his two kids - a boy and a girl.  The only difference was VOTD also had the mother with them (who was voiced by the same lady who did Wonder Woman on Superfriends).

3. Both families encounter a primitive tribe and ally themselves with them; the youngster of the primitive tribe (Tan in VOTD and Chaka in LOTL) then becomes very close to the family, a good friend to the children.

Initially, I was inclined to think VOTD was a cheap knock off of the brilliant LOTL, but these two shows actually both premiered on the same day in 1974!

Opinions and Rants #24: Tea Partiers and Hippies:Two of a Kind

I know tea-partiers will hate to hear this, but I’ve got to say it: tea partiers are a lot like the hippies of the 60s and 70s. This is not a criticism of either group – just an observation.

The hippies hated the government – they didn’t trust it, and felt it was too big, too powerful and too forceful with its power. If you listen to the likes of Glenn Beck, you’ll quickly learn the tea partiers feel exactly the same way. They don’t even want to give out information for the census! [Newsflash to tea partiers: if you have a credit card, own a home or file taxes, you have already matriculated TONS of information about yourself into the system that makes the census data look trivial.]

The hippies loved their country, I’m sure; however, their actions and words often sounded highly unpatriotic. They burned draft cards, rioted, and painted Nixon and LBJ into demonic figures. Their view of American history was also tinted with a pessimism and anger. Remember the teacher in Dazed and Confused?

"OK, guys, one more thing. Hey, this summer when you're being inundated with all this bi-centennial, Fourth of July, bru-ha-ha just remember what you're celebrating. That's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning aristocratic white males didn’t want to pay their taxes."
I had a lot of teachers that felt that way. It was a far, far cry from the so-called “greatest generation” who glorified American history, and practiced an unquestioning allegiance to the flag. The tea partiers would like to associate themselves with that group, but I hate to break it to them – they have a lot more in common with the hippies.


Viva VHS #4: My Eyes! Horrible DVD Covers (Part Two)

To analyze every single DVD cover fail would take months. Simply put, a good DVD cover is the exception, not the norm. Some perfectly good movie posters from yesteryear have been cast aside in favor of novice Photoshop work.  These are not just bad, they are outrageously bad, as you will see as we continue browsing through examples. (If you missed part one, go here)  The movie poster art is on the left, and the DVD cover is on the right (as if you needed me to tell you that).

Viva VHS #3: My Eyes! Horrible DVD Covers (Part One)

I don't understand it. Time after time I keep running into the same scenario - the movie poster looked great  but the DVD cover is awful! What gives? What is it about marketing the DVD that makes the "creative" directors turn a perfectly good piece of movie art into a horrible Photoshopped piece of garbage?

It just doesn't make financial sense to throw out the old artwork in favor of new artwork that looks like it was thrown together in two minutes, especially when this is a product that consumers may be wanting to add to a collection.

It would be one thing to replace old artwork with something better, but why in the world would you commission cheap Photoshopped trash? Do the marketing strategists know something we don’t know? Perhaps it’s been determined that people will more readily buy a DVD if the cover looks like something made by a 9 year old.  Are they designed strictly for passerby in Wal-Mart, with no thought whatsoever for the collector?


The Vintage Home #2

In part one, I dealt primarily with the walls and color schemes of the typical 70s home. I think it also deserves mention that it wasn't just the shag carpets, wood paneling and loud colors that defined the style of the decade - the unique furniture also set the it apart; the bean bag chair being a prime example of "innovative" furniture.  But it went way beyond the benign bean bag chair....

My parents were never "cool" enough to decorate our home with :A Clockwork Orange style furnishings.  Looks like the perfect place to sit back and light up a joint cozy up with a good book.