Friday, August 23, 2013

Catching Up With Some FFanzeen Contributors 1

Text by Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2013
Images from the Internet

In the years I was publishing FFanzeen as a print ‘zine, from 1977 through 1988, I was incredibly fortunate to have so many talented writers and photographers come through my pages. Here, in no particular order, are some of the wonder women of FFanzeen.

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When I first met Mary Anne Cassata, she was already writing for a number of other higher-end magazines, including a New York-based Music Paper, but she would rise way above that. Even when she was writing for me in 1984, she was interviewing some of the top artists of the time, including those who did not fit into the concept of my ‘zine, such as Elton John, Cher, Boy George, Cyndi Lauper, Alice Cooper, and just about every hair band you can think of that was popular at the time, including Iron Maiden and Ratt. These were published worldwide in so many different glossies, that I know I could never keep track, such as Tiger Beat, Hit Parader, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, Goldmine, American Songwriter, People Weekly, and even Rolling Stone. For FFanzeen, she used her magic touch to bring in interviews like the Animals (I went with her for that one), Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Spanky McFarlane of Spanky and Our Gang, Gary Glitter (went to that one, too), Patti Smith, and Iggy Pop (who had originally refused unless he was on the cover).

After the hard print version of FFanzeen was put to bed, Mary Anne has kept going, interviewing and writing, as well as being Editorial Director of Faces and Popstar! Publications for a number of teen-based magazines, and some special projects including whoever was big at the moment, and even one on Elvis. She is also known for the numerous of books she has written about artists of many genres, such as Michael J. Fox: The Year of the Fox (1986), Hey, Hey It’s the Monkees (2002), The Cher Scrapbook (2002), The Essential Jim Carrey (2010), and The Elton John Scrapbook (2002). Other books she has authored include biographies of Britney Spears, 'NSync, Kirk Cameron and Alicia Silverstone. And her star still rises.

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Mary Anne also brought photographer Cathy Miller into FFanzeen’s domain, when they were working on joint projects, and I am incredibly grateful. Cathy's work is stunning for capturing musicians at their best, both onstage and off. At some point, she must have a book published of her work (she has had a number of gallery shows). Why she was so willing to have me use her output, I do not know, but I’m not going to look a gift photo in the flash. Even though I was taking pictures myself, I happily gave her the covers and photo posters of the last few issues, including The Blasters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gary Glitter, the Cramps, BowWowWow, and Dave Edmunds. She also supplied snaps for articles about Divine and the Vipers, among others. I also remember enjoying hanging out with her, and how excited she was when she saw Prince back in the ‘80s.

She quickly graduated to bigger mags, like Spin and Rolling Stone. She’s even done album/CD covers for Johnny Thunders’ Gang War, The Rockats, The Fast, Dirt Club Compilations, and Quimby Mountain Band.

These days she still covers live events, but also does headshots and lots of corporate work for different agencies in New Jersey, including Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, and for publications like Inside Jersey Magazine, The Express-Times, The Arc, and The Aquarian Weekly. Be sure to check out her link below to see some of her stellar work.

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Nancy Foster is known by many names: currently it’s Nancy Neon, but she was also Suzy Q, and when I met her via letter in the late 1970s, she was going by Nancy New Age (New Age was the name of her fanzine out in North Carolina). I knew of her way before I met her, and when she moved to NYC, we became instant great friends, frequently hanging out at CBGBs, but especially Max’s Kansas City. I saw countless Heartbreakers / Heroes / Waldos shows with her, with her powerful voice repeatedly shouting out “Wal-tah!”(that’s Walter Lure, in case you didn’t get it) in a Greensboro twang.

Nancy introduced me to a new level of pop writing, using terms such as “gr-8” to punctuate her excitement. That high intensity love of music always came through as a baseline to whatever she wrote, and she did that often for the mag. Some of Nancy’s pieces include in-depth interviews with Walter Lure (of course; it was in the infamous back room at Max’s night they closed that section down for good), Leee Black Childers, Nico, and other pieces on Nikki and the Corvettes, the Rockats (we sold our tickets to see the Clash at Bonds to go to the recording of the Rockats’ live album at the Ritz; she sang Chuck Berry’s “Round and Round” with them during their finale, which is not on the recording), comedian Dave Street, Levi Dexter, and the late ‘60s songwriting icon Tommy Boyce (I met him in her living room at 111 Third Ave, NYC).

These days, Nancy lives in Boston, married to ex-Real Kids guitarist Billy Borgioli, who now fronts the Varmints, that Nancy manages. For about a decade, she booked shows for the Kirkland and Cantab. She is the associate editor for the music mag, The Noise, as well as working on her memoirs. In the works is a Borgioli painting exhibit and a new Varmints EP, and if that isn't enough, Nancy is currently working on interviews with members of the Lyres, which may grow into a book.

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Julia Masi is a Brooklyn girl, through and through. And behind that unassuming “how you doin’?” outer shell lurks quite a, well, brilliant mind, as well as an honest, deep blast of a laugh you can hear from blocks away (actually, come to think of it, volume is something that many of FFanzeen women writers share). She has earned many academic degrees, and works in high charitable social stratas, such as being a Board Member at Children of the City and volunteering at several non-profits that help those living with HIV/.AIDS; she even learned Mandarin.

But even back when she was writing for the ‘zine, she had a razor sharp sense of humor that got a rise out of whomever she was in contact, I’m sure a reflection of the eccentric Italian family from which she was raised. Her dad was a big, gruff, intimidating guy who liked to scare her boyfriends, but also made the most delicious and delicate cheesecakes you could imagine; her mom was sweet from one end to the other, always making sure the was food and drink to be offered, and occasionally was baffled by the whole punk crew that would occasionally show up at her door (our interview with Würm and Powertrip guitarist, the late Ed Dankey, was priceless as he tried to understand the full frontal assault of Julia, myself, and her parents). After my first managing editor left because I didn’t want to print an article about a local talented-but-dull band, Julia quickly rose to the occasion and remained in the post for the run of the ‘zine.

She probably wrote more articles than anyone else, including a raucous one with Joan Jett, Jim Carroll,Cheetah Chrome’s Skels (a rare piece on the band; I was there for that one), R.E.M. (one of – if not the – first articles on them outside of Athens, GA), Urban Verbs, the Stimulators (one of the first hardcore pieces we published), the Undead (even getting Bobby Steele’s then girlfriend, Lori Wedding, to pose for the cover of one issue), The Blasters, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns (I was present then, too), Annabella Lwin of BowWowWow,Jeffrey Lee Pierce of Gun Club, quirky violinist Walter Steding, Divine, Diamanda Galas, Clint Ruin of Foetus on the Wheel, Salem 66, Hoboken’s own The Cucumbers, the Mad Orphans, and even some fashions pieces, including one about the infamous Natasha Adonzio, and that’s not even the full list.

She definitely helped make FFanzeen what it was, and I am grateful to her, and everyone else on this list. Thank you all.

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