Friday, February 12, 2010

SEX PISTOLS: Pretty Vacant

Text by Sue Starstruck, intro by Robert Barry Francos
Interview © 1979; RBF intro © 2010 by FFanzeen
Images from the Internet

The following article about the Sex Pistols was originally published in FFanzeen magazine, issue #3, in the Winter-Spring 1978-79 issue. It was written by Sue Starstruck.

Do I
really need to go into any background or detail about the Pistols? Didn’t think so, thereby let me say that Sue Starstruck, along with her cohort Alex, used to live in Whittier, California (near Disneyland), and published their own fun and fabulous fanzine, called / (which as subtitled “The fanzine without a name”). I was friendly with them, and somehow, when they both moved to England, I lost contact with them. If anyone knows their whereabouts or what happened to them, please let me know. – RBF, 2010
It’s fucking St. Valentine’s Day, and I celebrated by playing a Bryan Ferry record. Now I’m in my room, there’s a kite on the bed – but no wind outside.

So: The Sex Pistols. When Alex and I first worked out the idea of doing their fan club, we knew it wouldn’t be ordinary. That wasn’t what the Pistols were about. We just wanted to share information, to give people a chance to get t-shirts, posters, all that; and to just DO SOMETHING, in a personal, non-boring way.

Well, the fan club never got off the ground due to delays and the increasing possibility that it would be run by a merchandiser – the same one who supplies the KISS Army.

Time dragged on; the album was released, the film off and on and finally off (good). Then it hit. The Pistols were coming to America. Then they weren’t. OK, they were. It was enough to drive a crazy person sane!

Knowing I didn’t want to see them at Frisco’s Wonderland (too big and too crowded), I scraped together fanzine money and some I was saving up to move out, and went to Dallas.

As soon as the show at the Longhorn Ballroom was underway, I thought I’d wasted my money and my effort. The Sex Pistols were so bad; they reminded me of the New York Dolls, who I don’t think were ever what they are now thought to have been – Sid Vicious was so gone, but we’ve probably all read about this in Rolling Stone…The band was furious, but the music wasn’t. It was just sloppy and self-centered.

The next night was Tulsa – Cain’s Ballroom. I waited for hours in the snow, but I’m not complaining. I thought it was great! (It was only the second time I’ve ever been in snow, so you’ll have to excuse me.) The Pistols arrived late afternoon in their tour bus. They clowned around in the snow. Another kid who had been waiting outside went to shake Sid Vicious’ hand. Sid hit him, not hard tho. I thought it was funny and I was glad it wasn’t me.

I managed to see some of the soundcheck. Boy, I saw enough to know. “Let’s do it together this time,” Rotten pleaded. During “Liar,” which I don’t think they ever did in the actual shows, John (I must be trendy and call him John) just sat on the edge of the stage and looked out, hollow, empty – what am I doing here?

The show that night was fantastic despite the fact that Rotten had the flu. Paul played well as ever, Steve (who looked none too happy) explored a new guitar, Sid was carefully watched by a guard as he fought the temptation to swing his bass at the people like myself who were smashed together right in front of the stage. And John – definitely on, like a man possessed, his performance sliced by his cat-and-prey stares with the crowd. It occurred to me as I caught his stare, “It’s all for him. He’s putting forth so much but he’s doing it for himself, and not for the audience.” I stared back with a vengeance.

But this was the show I had waited for since way back when. I’m glad they had it in ‘em like I’m glad I wasn’t wrong.

A few days later was the SF show topped off by the break-up. Why it happened, who threw out who more exactly we may never find out. But what will happen next: Paul & Steve form a power pop band (here we go again with labels!). John does reggae – “I mean it, mon.” Sid with Jerry Nolan… is luckily yet to be learned.

By the way, I really recommend a book that is, as far as I know, only out in England: The Sex Pistols by Fred & Judy Vermorel it’s called, and try writing to Tandem Publishing… It’s pieces of interviews, news stories, and best of all, portions of Sophie’s (McLaren’s secretary) insightful diary. The book’s loosely done but it speaks for itself as in “look afar and see the beginning” – I got that in a fortune cookie once.

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