On the Street: The Annals of Outrageous Self-Invention, 1980-1990

Madonna, St. Mark’s Place, 1983; Lesbian couple, 8th Street, 1981

Alan and Charles Rosenberg, Central Park, 1985; Fingernail Extensions, 23rd Street and 8th Avenue, 1988

Pia Guccione, 8th Street and University Place, 1988; Phoebe Lègére Accordion, 10th Street and Avenue B, 1987

Tongues Down, Rafael Araujo, 7th Street and 2nd Avenue, c. 1987-88; Jenny Gift-Wrapped, 59th Street, 1982

Susanne Bartsch, Houston Street and West Broadway, 1987; Miranda Pennell, Columbus Avenue, 1984

Jan Long, Cooper Union Square, 1982; Julio Q, Broome Street, 1985

On the Street: The Annals of Outrageous Self-Invention, 1980-1990

Photography by: Amy Arbus

On the Street is a collection of photographs by Amy Arbus, which were selected from Arbus’s photo-column that ran in The Village Voice between 1980 and 1990, a page that documented New York City’s downtown area’s most vibrant, creative dressers and personalities (many of the photographs were also published in a book).  Amy Arbus has been photographing professionally for more than 25 years.  She has been a contributing photographer to the New York Magazine theater section, and her photographs have appeared in over one hundred periodicals, including The New Yorker, Aperture, People Magazine, ESPN, and The New York Times Magazine.  She is the daughter of the late photographer Diane Arbus.

Now that Manhattan is only habitable for the rich, many New Yorkers love to reminiscently look back to the mad and crazy ‘80s, when the Bowery could be quite dangerous and apartments were still affordable.  Nostalgia presently stalks the five boroughs, whether for acid-washed rap-fashion, Mudd Club art parties or coke in sleazy bars.  But back in the original 1980s-1990s, Amy Arbus found the subjects for her extremely unique photographs mostly by just wandering around the Village, looking for people who were wearing visually creative and unusual outfits, a lot of polka dots, or stripes, or everyone wearing hats in the summertime.  At the time, there was nothing else like it.  Now there are a lot of similar things, but back at the original time there hadn’t been any kind of record of the East Village scene when it was comprised of this particularly promising, hopeful group of talented, interesting people.

Describing her pictures from this 1980s-1990s collection, Arbus stated, “In terms of the clothes, I think they were fantastic and funny and outrageous and silly….There was no kind of judgment going on at the time.  Everyone wanted to be noticed, no matter what it was for.  That’s completely gone.  Being noticed is irrelevant now.  You have to make such waves to be a success at things now that dressing differently may make an impression, but it’s not going to get you a career.”

Included here are a number of Arbus’s vintage photographs, a video from  her documentary film On the Street, a full-screen high-resolution slide show and an additional audio-slide show of Arbus’s photography.

The Clash, Broadway, 1981

Slide Show: On the Street/ The Annals of Outrageous Self-Invention, 1980-1990

(Please Click Image to View Full-View High-Res. Slide Show)

Amy Arbus: A Documentary of On the Street, 1980-1990

Audio Slide Show: Amy Arbus’s On the Street/ Annals of Self-Invention

(Please Click on Image to View Audio Slide Show)

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Ike Turner Dies in California at the Age of 76.

Tina Turner: I’ve Been Lovin’ You

Ike and Tina Turner: Proud Mary

Ike Turner has died at 76. His reputation as a musician was largely overshadowed by his history of domestic abuse towards his partner, Tina Turner. Scott Hanover, his spokesman , said yesterday that “Ike Turner passed away this morning. He was at his home.” He lived in San Marcos, just outside of San Diego, California.

The Mississippi-born bluesman spent years in jail in California on weapons charges and drug offences, and was incarcerated at the very time that he and Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He was released from in 1993 and began touring again, playing guitar and piano. Ike and Tina Turner had many hits in the 1960s and 70s, including River Deep, Mountain High, Proud Mary and I Want to Take You Higher.

While Ike Turner provided much of the inspiration and organisation for the duo and their backing group, the Ikettes, it was Tina Turner’s voice that brought them fame. He first met Tina Turner, then Anna Mae Bullock, an 18-year-old from Nutbush, Tennessee, in 1959. She allegedy grabbed a microphone during a session in St Louis and impressed him enough to be invited to join his backing group.

After they broke up in 1976, mainly as a result of his abuse, Tina Turner continued with an increasingly successful solo career while his declined. He revived it in later life, winning a Grammy this year for best traditional blues album, Risin’ with the Blues.

During the 1950’s, early in his career as a musician, Ike Turner had played with such great blues musicians as B. B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the 50s. He also worked as a talent scout, helping to sign up bluesmen such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Elmore James.

Tom Breihan has posted this eulogy today in The Village Voice:

“It’s a thorny thing, trying to eulogize Ike Turner.  On the one hand, he really was a titanically important musical figure, one who helped to create a sound and then managed to stay relevant for decades, mutating that sound to fit the times; not too many other 50s rock pioneers were making hits into the 70s.  A lot of his music still sounds good today, another thing I can’t say of all his contemporaries.  He had a famously furious live show, and he masterminded the career of one of the era’s most iconic vocalists.  He also beat the shit out of that vocalist, repeatedly, for years.  At this point, Ike Turner is way more famous for beating Tina Turner than for any of his musical accomplishments, which he probably should be.  Plenty of morally bankrupt types have involved themselves in pop music over the years, but I can’t think of any quite as notorious as Turner, who always seemed perversely proud of all the bad things he did.  Complicating things further, it’s hard to write about his music without at least touching on his personal life.  He made most of his best songs with the wife he beat and mercilessly controlled, and some deeply fucked up relationship dynamics are deeply entrenched in many of those songs.  He wasn’t a good person, but he made good music.”

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