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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sexy Hooligans keep the spirit of punk alive

Michelle Brigandage/ Sexy Hooligans with Siouxsie Sioux outside the 100 Club in 1976

“There was a lot of talk about anarchy that summer [1976]: Lydon was working on a set of lyrics to one of Glen’s tunes. Vivienne set about making a parallel item of clothing. The resulting ‘Anarchy’ shirt was a masterpiece. Taking a second-hand sixties shirt, Westwood would dye it in stripes, black, red, or brown., before stencilling on a slogan such as ‘Only Anarchist Are Pretty’ . The next stage was to stitch on more slogans, hand painted on rectangles of silk or muslin.. These made explicit references to Anarchist heroes and to the events of 1968 : ’Prenez vos desirs pour la realite’, ‘A bas le Coca Cola’.

The final touches were the most controversial. Small rectangular portraits of Karl Marx (from Chinatown) were placed on the side of the chest, and on the other, above the pocket or on the collar, was placed an (often inverted) swastika from the Second World War. To ensure that the message was received, the whole shirt was finished off with an armband which simply read ‘Chaos’. The intention was the group should not be politically explicit, but instead should be an explosion of contradictory, highly charged signs.” 

[From England's Dreaming, Jon Savage,1992, page 188]
1976 Anarchy shirt- now in New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Centro Iberico was an old school on the Harrow Road in London. It has been squatted by Spanish anarchists, some of whom were veterans of 1936. Every so often there were gigs there- Throbbing Gristle played in 1979. Then after the Wapping Autonomy Centre was closed down, we relocated the punk gigs we used to put on there to the Centro in spring 1982.

We ended up building our own stage (out of old washing machines I think) down stairs in the assembly hall. It didn’t last long but while it did it was amazing. One of the stand out memories from the time was when Brigandage played. About half way through their set the power cut out. Michelle the singer took it in her stride. While she was waiting for the power to get restored she led us through an  audience sing-along to the Sex Pistols greatest hits. Michelle knew her Pistols songs - there is a photo of her in the summer of 1976 standing in the queue for the infamous Pistols/ Punk Festival 100 Club gig- next to Siouxsie Sioux…

These days Michelle keeps the spirit alive by making punk clothes. As well as her creating her own designs she creates reproductions/ reprints of Seditionaries and other punk designs - which in Michelle’s hands still have the capacity to shock even though the originals are now museum pieces. 

Michelle’s creations are labours of love: a fierce, explosive, subversive, passionate punk love woven into clothes that can be worn with pride. 
One of Michelle's designs

Now comes the ‘but’..

But unless more people buy her clothes, Michelle’s business - and with it part of punk’s living legacy- will have to close. So go on punk- make her day and buy, buy the damnation of your soul. Or at least a shirt from Sexy Hooligans.

Update - for more on Michelle and the 100 Club Punk Festival see new post on  Kill Your Pet Puppy.


Anonymous michelle brigandage said...

Thanks Al for this... especailly the bit about the power cut,, remember those gigs at the Centro Iberica like yesterday.

with Blood and Roses ... lack of knowledge etc... the drummer from Ritual lent us his drums once but no CYMBALS! LOL.. those pesky tribal drummers.. had to go and borrow The Chefs drum cymbals... fantastic days..

5:51 pm  

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