Coilhouse Presents: Matthew Borgatti’s OWS Bandanna Remix Pack!


Photo, model and wardrobe styling: Numidas Prasarn.

Last fall, artist and maker Matthew Borgatti (previously on Coilhouse) released a snappy Guy Fawkes bandanna in solidarity with OWS in his Etsy Store. ”This is the hanky code for revolution,” wrote Matthew. Perfect for protecting oneself from “sudden dust storms and outbreaks of authoritarianism,” the bandanna’s design includes tips for peaceful protesting, advice for dealing with pepper spray, phone numbers to call in case of arrest, and the words “Never Forget / Never Forgive / Expect Us” emblazoned on the corners. (The disclaimer reads, “all advice offered on this bandana should not be construed as legal council. Consult a lawyer in the event of any involvement with the law. If you cite a bandana as your legal council in court you will be laughed at by a man in a wig.”)

The bandanna quickly went viral thanks to BoingBoing, Reddit (featuring the best comment thread ever) and Laughing Squid. The mask was soon adopted by artists involved in the Occupy Movement, including Neil Gaiman and Molly Crabapple, as well as protesters nationwide.

Debuting here on Coilhouse under the Share-Alike Attribution Non-Commercial license, we proudly present the OWS Bandana Remix Pack! The zip file (1.7 MB) contains elements to remix as masks, prints, bandanas, and posters. Included are vector files with elements, stencils, and a copy of the full text on the bandana. “If you’d like to create your own Fawkes bandana,” writes Matthew, “I’d suggest cutting out a stencil on acetate and bleach printing.” Add your own layers, create new patterns and print as many as you want.

Click here to download the OWS Bandana Remix Pack! And do send us or Matthew the artwork, posters or fashion that results. We’d love to see what you come up with. After the cut, a brief interview with the maker.

Are you at all worried about the film studio suing you?
I am, a little, as I think I’ve got a solid case for the independence of this art from the works that it references, but can easily be shut down by the studio on a whim. I don’t have the financial weight to do anything but to submit to an injunction or C&D, as I can’t afford the kind of legal representation it takes to swat off Time Warner. Guy Fawkes has gone from a person, to a caricature represented in mask and effigy, to a comic book character, to a film character, to an iconic mask, to the face of an ambiguous entity, to a symbol for revolution and direct action for social change. How a single company could own all that baffles me.

Grandma Turns Superhero

A few years ago, the French photographer Sacha Goldberger faced a distressing problem. His 91-year-old Hungarian-born grandmother, Frederika, felt lonely and depressed.

His innovative solution was to turn “Mamika” into a larger-than-life superhero and photograph her. According to a post in My Modern Metropolis, “Grandma reluctantly agreed, but once they got rolling, she couldn’t stop smiling.”

The story went viral, even leading to talk of a movie deal. It’s easy to see why. Goldberger’s pictures convey the warmth and sense of wonder that made many of us love the superhero genre in the first place.

Additionally, the images are a reminder that for such a seemingly superficial thing, unique personal aesthetics can have a lot of power. It does everyone good to be a character, if just for a little while.

Of course, there’s also this:

Frederika was born in Budapest 20 years before World War II. During the war, at the peril of her own life, she courageously saved the lives of ten people. When asked how, Goldberger told us “she hid the Jewish people she knew, moving them around to different places every day.” As a survivor of Nazism and Communism, she then immigrated away from Hungary to France, forced by the Communist regime to leave her homeland illegally or face death.

Costume or no, heroes are in the most unexpected places. More photos, below the cut.

North Korea’s Hell March


Mmm. Military upskirt.

Earlier this year, North Korea let a bunch of international journalists in to document evidence of the country’s enormous, throbbing doom cock. Apparently the military parade was part of a campaign to establish Kim Jong-il’s youngest son as ruler-in-waiting.  This stunning slow-motion footage (shot on high end Canon60D and 1DmkIV camera with a smooth-tracking pocket dolly) was captured by UK Guardian reporters. Shortly thereafter, Galaxygamma came up with the completely unsettling idea of juxtaposing the “Hell March” theme from Command & Conquer: Red Alert with the Guardian’s footage.

Happy Black Friday, y’all! Wooo!

Melting Your Face With Electric Bass

Are you ready to have your mind blown? If the answer is yes, prepare for the bass stylings of one Hyunmo Kim, a South Korean man who “hopes to be the world’s greatest stupid idiot bass player”. He does this in a dress. With pigtails. He is a pigtailed man in a dress with mad bass skillz who does not drink milk until he gags or examine his delicate faux-cleavage with the aid of his camera. You must be imagining things. It’s probably the awesomeness of his bass, frying your brain.

Teddy Boys

The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period, which Savile Row tailors had tried to re-introduce after World War II. The group got its name after a 1953 newspaper headline shortened Edward to Teddy and coined the term Teddy Boy (also known as Ted).

So sayeth the neck-beards at Wikipedia in the entry for Teddy Boy, a sub-culture heretofore unknown to me. The article goes on to credit the Teddy Boys with helping to create a youth market in England, having been one of the first groups to identify as teenagers with a specific code of dress, perhaps only predated by the Scuttlers of mid 19th century Liverpool and Manchester. Scuttlers, as an interesting aside, were identified as wearing an eclectic get-up of:

[...] brass-tipped pointed clogs, bell-bottomed trousers, cut like a sailor’s (“bells” that measured fourteen inches round the knee and twenty-one inches round the foot) and “flashy” silk scarves. Their hair was cut short at the back and sides, but they grew long fringes, known as “donkey fringes”, that were longer on the left side and plastered down on the forehead over the left eye with oil or soap. Peaked caps were also worn tilted to the left to display the fringe.

Coilhouse Tee Shipping Status

By now, Coilhouse tees are appearing in mailboxes all over the world. We’ve seen a few tweets come through from satisfied customers (enjoy your shirts, atavistian, rickiep00h, msalistar, girloncamera, Jerem_Morrow!), some comments on the blog (glad you got it in time for your Recycled Rainbow meet, Jezcabelle), and photos are starting to pop up on Flickr. But also, we’ve received a couple of emails stating “where’s my shirt, beyotches?!” To those people we’d like to apologize for the delay and let you know that the shirts will be on their way shortly, if they’re not already. We originally indicated in our T-Shirt Ordering FAQ that there’d be a 2-week delay between the time or ordering and the time of shipping because of the time it takes to screen-print the shirt, but we’ve fallen a couple of days behind due to the sheer number of orders. We are shipping them out in the order in which they were received, and all shirts should be mailed by the end of the week at the latest.

So if you haven’t received your shirt, hang in there – it’s on its way. And when you do receive it, or if you already have: pictures, pictures NOW! Take a snapshot and post it in the comments. We want to see the Coihouse Army in uniform!

UPDATE: We shipped the last batch on Wednesday. Everyone’s shirts are in the mail.

Hussar Ballad: Soviet Crossdressing Wartime Musical


Left: Durova as a noble lady. Right: Durova as a soldier in uniform.

When she was an infant, her father placed her under the care of a soldier after her abusive mother threw her out of a moving carriage. Growing up, she memorized all the standard marching commands, and her favorite toy was an unloaded gun. A noblewoman by birth, Nadezhda Durova wanted nothing more than to don a uniform and defend Russia against Napoleon. At age 24, she did just that. “With firmness so alien to my young age,” she wrote in her memoirs, “I was wrecking my brain about how to break free from the vicious circle of natural and customary duties assigned to us, women.” In 1807, disguised as a boy, she left home on the back of her favorite mount, Alchides, and enlisted in a Polish uhlan regiment. “At last I am free and independent. I had taken my freedom, this precious, heavenly gift, inherently belonging to every human being!”

Durova’s service in the military earned her distinguished honors, and throughout her career she was, by all accounts, revered by everyone in her chain of command. A few officers knew her secret, but most did not. Tsar Alexander I, aware of her true identity, awarded her a cross for saving a soldier’s life and gave her permission to join the regiment of her choice. He gave her a new male surname, Alexandrov (after his own name). Durova continued crossdressing after retirment from the military. She died at age 83 and was buried dressed as a man, with full military honors.

In 1962, the Soviet Studio MosFilm released a musical called Gusarskaya Balada (“Hussar Ballad”) based on Durova’s life. In what’s certainly a complete misrepresentation of Durova’s complicated existence, the musical paints Durova as a young patriotic woman in love with a male soldier, eager to win him over on her terms, as a fellow fighter. The film is without subtitles, but has enough colorful characters, costumes and music that I think a non-Russian-speaking audience would appreciate the clip above, which showcases Durova’s character first dressed as a woman, then dressed as a man. I love actress Larisa Golubkin’s confident, homoerotic swagger in the second half of the clip.

It’s difficult not to revel in the fabulousness of Gusarskaya Balada, but I wish that someone would make a textured, compassionate film that dug deeper into Durova’s life. There are many different ways for this play out, for many facets of Durova’s identity are still debated to this day. On the topic of her gender identity, Wikipedia states that “some readers interpret her as a cisgendered woman who adopted celibacy and male clothing to achieve professional freedom,” while others believe that Durova was transgender. Similarly, Durova’s sexual orientation remains a mystery. She eloped with a man when she was young, against her father’s wishes. However, she omitted her marriage (and any description of attraction to men or women) from her memoirs. When it comes to her relationship with women, one biography notes, “Durova felt uncomfortable around other women. On at least two occasions women recognized her true identity and addressed her as ‘Miss.’ Her fellow officers often joked that Aleksandrov was too shy and afraid of women.”

The deeper I dig, the more fascinating scenes I find. Beyond the obvious allure of wartime crossdressing, there are many odd tidbits, like Durova’s powerful connection with animals. As a child, she “frightened her family by secretly taming a stallion that they considered unbreakable.” Later in life she provided shelter to stray cats and dogs that she rescued, and she passed on her animal-taming abilities to her descendants, circus legends and founders of the Durov Animal Theatre in Russia. Then, there’s her horrible mother, who only wanted a boy, and seemed to punish Durova for being born a girl by making her spend countless hours doing monotonous “women’s work” like sewing and crocheting. That’s a whole other story itself, right there.

Hopefully, one day soon, someone will make a serious film about Durova. Until then, enjoy the song and dance.

First-Ever Coilhouse T-Shirt: On Sale This Monday!

Get ready to INFORM. INSPIRE. INFECT! Next week, and next week only, we will be offering our first-ever limited run of Coilhouse tees.

We’re screen-printing these shirts in reflective silver ink on black T-shirts from American Apparel. We will be offering two different unisex styles, which you can check out in the pictures after the jump. On the front, we have the monocled, corseted, seahorse-obsessed INFORM cover girl from Issue 01, drawn by Zoetica (here’s the original sketch). On the back, our slogan. Simple, sexy, eye-catching.

The shirts will go up for sale on Monday, and the last day to order will be on Friday. This window of time will be your last chance to get a Coilhouse shirt for a while, because after this sale is over, it’s crunch time on Issue 03 for us. It will be your only chance to get this particular style.

Image gallery, sizing chart and mini-FAQ about the shirts after the jump. Other questions are welcomed in the comments.

Yuri Gagarin, Space Cadet Under the Sea

The ever-weird EnglishRussia just posted a rare collection of Yuri Gagarin photos. I’m used to seeing this hero of my childhood, the first man in space, smiling like Superman while decked in Soviet bling, so the image above of Gagarin posing with a skeleton and his creepy friend, Russian Crispin Glover, took me by surprise. There are so many things to love about this image. I love the expression on the skeleton’s face! I love the buttons on that coat! This is definitely the kind of pin-up I’d put on my wall.

And below, we have… well, I’m not entirely sure what we have there. It appears to be Gagarin dressed as Neptune for a play. But if he’s Neptune, then who’s the guy in the turban? And doesn’t it look like they’re in a gym locker room? Someone help me decipher this mystery.

Rise and Fall of the Nazi Dinosaurs

When I was wee, I didn’t play with Barbies. I preferred toy soldiers, plastic dinosaurs, Briar horses, Transformers, etc. Admittedly, I related to these objects a bit differently from my guy pals. I’d still knock my toys around as enthusiastically as the little boys who lived up the street, but at playtime’s end, something shifted in my psyche. A deeply ingrained maternal instinct compelled me to soothe and calm my action figures, tucking them into snug swaddling “nests” I’d make from stockings and underoos. The walls of my room were often lined with balled-up socks that had the heads of D-Day soldiers and T-Rexes sticking out of the top. I’d sing to my podlings, “flying” them slowly through the air to help them fall asleep. My parents looked on in confusion and dismay. (But hey, at least I wasn’t finding new and interesting ways to vivisect Malibu Stacy.)

This pointless and meandering trip down memory lane is brought to you by the discovery of Alex Poutianinen’s ridiculous short film Rise and Fall of the Nazi Dinosaurs, as well as my desire to bump that potentially libelous Danzig post down as swiftly as possible. Yay, internets!