Enjoying “Stolen Images”

Restoring this post after this weekend’s spam-fest; apologies if it appears in your RSS Reader twice.

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Here’s something that won’t be around forever: a French MySpace page that catalogues 1,428 images devoted to the bob hairstyle and its derivatives. Brooksie would be proud!

Looking through the images in rapid succession was like shaking a grayscale kaleidoscope of eyes, lips and hair angles into constant new configurations, a delightful experience that left me feeling awed and inspired. I wondered if I should be feeling a twinge of guilt for ravenously going through what can be classified as “stolen images” that have been gathered from the web, scanned from magazines and even manipulated without credit. And then it hit me: I don’t care.

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Of course knowing the artists’ names would’ve been nice, but I accept that it may have been impossible to compile that information. I enjoyed the site anyway. Was that wrong? Depends on where you think the line of theft gets crossed. Of all places, I’ve observed that the most embarrassing attitudes towards image theft come from within the alt photo/modeling scene. What I mean to say is: no one has bigger or uglier watermarks than alt photographers.

Ashworth Rises from the Ashes

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Peter Ashworth’s website just went through the first overhaul it’s had in years. It’s great to see the English photographer out and about, putting up new images on a site that looks like it’s easy to update. Above are two classic images that had a huge influence on me when I first began to do studio photography. The image of performer Lucifire with a gauze “veil” over her eyes pinned to her face by hypodermic needles will always remain, in my mind, one of the greatest fetish portraits ever taken. The image on the right, with its high contrast and clear space, was the first to show me a kind of abstracting isolation that I find crucial in producing a strong fetish image.

Below are two new works by Peter Ashwroth from a series called in excelsis. The models are Ulorin Vex and Viktorya, wearing the recognizable hairstyles of Robert Masciave. There’s a stark economy going on in his Ashworth’s older work with alt models that’s been replaced by high glam, and while I definitely enjoy these new images, I also hope to see more of the reductive, slightly-raw imagery that made such an impression on me in the past.

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Boston Dynamics – More Canine Than Canine

The Tyrell Corporation’s shiver-inducing slogan was “More human than human”. Powerful, yes, but Boston Dynamics will not be outdone! “The Leader in Lifelike Human Simulation” leaves no room for speculation – you want the best, you go to Boston Dynamics, buster.

The video you are about to watch is of BigDog – a rough terrain canine simulator so powerful and elegant, it might make you fall in love and prove a cute thing doesn’t need a fluffy tail, big eyeballs [or a head for that matter], or a LOL-caption to be adored.

BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog’s legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight. BigDog has an on-board computer that controls locomotion, servos the legs and handles a wide variety of sensors. BigDog’s control system manages the dynamics of its behavior to keep it balanced, steer, navigate, and regulate energetics as conditions vary.

– Boston Dynamics

Sit back and enjoy. At 00:39 is an impressive kicking demo. Keep watching, as this mecha-pup slips on ice and catches itself just like a real animal, but better. Carrying a load of 340 lbs it manages to keep from falling and soldier on until the mission is complete.

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D’aww!

Where’s Mer, Part II

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Nils Frykdahl, ask Dawn McCarthy, viagra Kirana Peyton and Meredith Yayanos.

Our dear Mer is a bit of a nomad, view which causes her to sometimes disappear and come back with new stories to tell. Last time she got swept away to tour Europe, she brought back bone-chilling photos of the Tyrolean Towel Rack of Imminent Doom. This time, we may see some weird relics of Americana, for Mer is headed North to bring the music of Faun Fables to Oregon, Washington and Utah. If you’re in Albany, Seattle, Portland, Olympia, Spokane (hometown concert!) or Salt Lake City, mark the dates on your calendar and come see a spectacle of songtelling unfold.

In a brief conversation before taking off, Mer told me that Faun Fables has just finished up a new record as well as an EP, and that a video is in the works.

Du. Du hast. Du hast Milch!

Being mettul is hard on the joints, and no one understands our needs better than German agricultural marketing firms.

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Number of the beast (er, cow?)

With a tag-line like “Hard types need hard bones… drink milk!”, beer is now officially relegated to Trivium fans, folks. The campaign was developed by Hamburg Technical Art School, who will hopefully not be sued by Metallica for using their font.

Advertisers are becoming increasingly metal-friendly, although admittedly the genre is used largely as a vehicle for some ill-conceived punch line. But who can blame them? Metallers look like wankers and write shittier lyrics than Mariah Carey. Everything they touch turns into comedy GOLD:

Zombie Speaks to the Press

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My parents complained the other day because they actually visited the blog and thought that Mr. Pearl was “a scary man.” Mom and dad, no. This is what a scary man looks like!

Readers may remember the face above from BoingBoing, November 2007. Turns out his name is Zombie and that since his last appearance on the web, he’s gotten even more decrepit flesh inked into his dermis, including an exposed brain at the top of his skull. For the first time ever, he speaks! Here are some choice bites from a hilarious interview with BME:

BME: You’re kind of an internet celebrity — what do you think about it?
Zombie: Not much, I don’t even own a computer. So fuck you assholes.

BME: Facial tattoos are a big step from “regular” tattoo placement. How long had you thought it through before you started your facial tattoos?
Zombie: Never really had to think about it… I’ve been white trash my whole life…

BME: Are you single?
Zombie: Yes… Very single… I’m not very dependable… Girls cut into beer time.

BME: What did you family think about your transformation?
Zombie: My mom told me, “You started it, you better finish it.”

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His mom’s right. Also, I think he’s kinda cute! Ladies, what say you?

Big thanks to clockorange for the tip.

BME Interview with Zombie

The Bath House, the Banya and the Harem Wench

On Sunday I had the heavenly pleasure of discovering another one of those LA places you won’t hear of too often. Olympic Spa is a women-only retreat in an otherwise barren stretch of Koreatown. Believe it or not, I’d never been to a spa unless you wish to count trips to the banya as a kid growing up in Russia.

Banya is one of those unforgettable [read: traumatic] quintessentially Russian experiences I’ll always treasure. At its core a bath house/steam room, the banya employs some interesting props and tactics, beyond the expected towel or, perhaps, loofah. Take, for instance, the venik. This is a bunch of actual fresh n’ leafy twigs with which one is expected to self-flagellate in order to achieve some ultimate softness. You have not known true confusion until you’ve seen a nude 70 year old babushka operate one of these things inside a packed steam room. An impressive explanation of banyas can be found on Wikipedia, where I chuckle at the writers’ innocent explanation of the term “podjopnik” as “something to sit on”. Pdjopnik, literally, translates to “under-ass-nik”. I’ve never actually heard anyone use it. But I digress.


Russkaya Venera [Russian Venus] by Boris Kustodiev

My banya experiences left me comfortable with the idea of a hall filled with nude wet women of all shapes, sizes and ages. Once the initial panic subsides, it all becomes relaxing and comforting in a primal way, as was the case at Olympic Spa. I began with a proper dry steaming, followed by a dip in a glorious tea pool, then a mineral pool and salt steam room. A very small lady called me from the salty vapor to begin the main event. As I followed her to the massage table my cobalt hair and tattoos earned a few sideways glances, but just a few – everyone was much too busy luxuriating to concern themselves with my towel-staining.

For the next two hours this tiny hurricane of a lady did things, things unlike any I’d experienced until that point. This involved an extremely vigorous scrub, buckets of seaweed water, what felt like at least a gallon of oil and more. I don’t want to spoil the actual magic of what their signature Goddess Treatment entails, but take my word for it – so worth it. Suffice to say within 20 minutes I was convinced I was in a harem filled with beautiful slave girls, being prepared for the Sheik [really]. And no, there was no happy ending, you perverts – just a very intense massage and exfoliating treatment that left even my elbows and knees velvet-soft. It would have been criminal not to share this place with the good women of Coilhouse and I fully intend to drag a few friends next time I go. Velvet-flesh for all!

Mr. Pearl on Corsetry, Technology and Posession

“The gentleman who has the pleasure of tying the final bow owns you.”
– Mr. Pearl, interview

What strikes me about fetish legend/corsetier Mr. Pearl’s images is how much he looks like a true English gentleman – and how, magically, his 18-inch corseted waist works to enhance that image, the opposite of what one might expect it to do.

Mr. Pearl grew up in South Africa and moved to London at the earliest chance after completing his military service. He spent three years in New York in the early 90s, where he did his most intimate published interview, of which there are few. Already a renowned tightlacer by this time, Pearl treated corsetry with such reverence that he insisted on precision in every aspect of his involvement with it; when his New York interviewer described him as a corsetier, he interrupted. “Forgive me,” he said. “I am a designer who employs the corset and lacings into his designs. I am not a corsetier – I have not attained that specialized knowledge. There are only about five left in the whole world now, who possess that art. I hope one day to be amongst them.”

Fast-forward to the 2000s: Mr. Pearl is a successful corsetier, commissioned by Mugler, Lacroix, Galliano and Gaultier when they need a master to produce their corset designs for the runway. Clients include Dita, Kylie Minogue and Jerry Hall. He lives in Paris, and works out an atelier behind the Notre Dame.


Pearl & his creations. Corsets, BW: Michael James O’Brien, color: Francois Nars.

Despite his success, Pearl doesn’t have a flashy website. There’s no web store to offer plastic-boned corsets that bear only his name, no MySpace page and no blog. He’s known for his aversion to modern technology, and his only web interview was handwritten and transmitted by fax.

Paint It Black: Goths!

From the made-for-TV anthology, Spine Chillers, comes this short comedy Goths, starring Mackenzie Crook (The Office) and Mark Heap (Jam, Big Train). Our pathetic heroes, struggling to find a flat in London, think they’ve finally found the perfect gaff from the perfect landlord, when they discover they may have bought into more than they’ve bargained for:

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You may recognize the pub in the first scene as being that of the iconic Devonshire Arms; you can even spot some of their current staff in amongst the punters.

Inside Scientology’s “Psychiatry Kills” Exhibit

Ahh, do you smell that, citizen? Scientology’s in the air! The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a Scientology-funded organization and I’d been meaning to investigate their ominous Psychiatry Kills exhibit for years. A sunny Friday morning one day past L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday seemed as good a day as any for this mission. My roommate, who happens to be 2 quarters away from an M.A. in Clinical Psychology came along.

The lobby felt like a movie set – huge CCHR emblem above a reception desk, lots of white, another CCHR crest inlaid into the floor. We were greeted by an unblinking curly-mopped cherub, signed in with fake names and explained we brought no purses when asked if we minded a bag inspection. The entrance to the exhibit itself was special-effects-rusty with random metal chunks protruding and overall very Silent Hill. The “Abandon all hope…” quote from Dante’s Inferno above completed the look, which the cherub politely asked us to read while thinking about entering the final level of hell. Charming.

Through the doors, a padded room and introductory video featuring doctors and professors, edited in the same sensationalist Fox network style as other Scientology media, statistics and numbers flashing in a rusty and blood-stained font, culminating in the words “Psychiatry – an industry of DEATH”. A wave of blood washed over the screen and it went black. The mood was set.

The museum past the padded room has several sections, each with LCD screens showing 15 minute videos, which I will describe in an almost entirely opinion-free virtual mini-tour beyond the jump.