One from the vaults: An interview with Robert King, formerly of the Scars, about life and love with the Moon Goddess otherwise known as Nico. Despite my best efforts at the time, I was unable to get a book deal for a Nico project. I’m happy to see a major new biography has been published. However, it’s unfortunate that publishers now consider academics to be writers and writers to be under-qualified unless they are academics, a situation that is increasingly prevalent in the U.K.
In the interview, Robert provides us with an intimate snapshot of latter day Nico, strung out in Notting Hill, yet still formidable. It was only until recently, the market being run down in preparation for a new shopping mall that one could still catch a glimpse of the Ghosts of Portobello, an international throng of tatterdemalion bohemians in the fading colours of a long dead summer who appear momentarily as the day turns to dusk. Nico dressed in black, emerges as a shadow in preparation for the night.
Uncertainties is an anthology series — featuring authors from Canada, America, the United Kingdom, and the island of Ireland — each exploring the concept of increasingly fragmented senses of reality. These types of short stories were termed “strange tales” by Robert Aickman, called “tales of the unexpected” by Roald Dahl, and known to Shakespeare’s ill-fated Prince Mamillius as “winter’s tales”. But these are no mere ghost stories. These tales of the uncanny grapple with existential epiphanies of the modern day, when otherwise familiar landscapes become sinister and something decidedly less than certain . . .
Published by Swan River Press, Ireland’s sole independent publisher of the fantastical, supernatural, and phantasmagorical. Featuring Nina Antonia’s short story, Away. For more info and to order, go to Uncertainties Volume V.
“A beautiful film…Ultimately a wonderful celebration of friendship.Thanks for the laughs, the thrills, the tears and some of the best fucking rock n roll music ever made.”– Steve Kane, President Warner Music Canada
TVO and Feltfilm are pleased to announce the world broadcast and online premiere of TVO Original Picture My Face: The Story of Teenage Head, Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at 9 pm ET on TVO and tvo.org. This relevant and poignant documentary tells the story of Canada’s glamour punk band, Teenage Head, determined to re-enter the limelight some 40 years after causing legendary punk rock riots at Toronto’s Ontario Place. But first they need to save their founder and lead guitarist Gord Lewis from crippling depression. Features appearances by Marky Ramone, Rob Baker (The Tragically Hip), and renowned punk writers Jon Savage and Nina Antonia.
Unlike some essays, ‘A Purple Thread’ was not commissioned but evolved at its own pace. The Oscar Wilde market is already brimming with product including books, articles and films, even ornaments. Wilde has infiltrated the mainstream as martyred poet, gay rights pioneer and Victorian dandy, his flame tended by the likes of Matthew Sturgis who recently ensured Oscar’s posthumous longevity with a poised, authoritative biography. Preferring the obscure and unsung meant that Mr Wilde was never going to join my stable of subjects for a full length volume. Besides, being a ragamuffin of the literary world meant that I would never score the kind of book deal that such a venture would require. Unlike Oliver Twist in the workhouse, I never ask for more, only different, chronicling the waifs and strays that haunt the twilight borders and are of no account to sale teams at larger publishers.
My favourite book length account of Oscar Wilde has to be the largely forgotten ‘Aspects of Wilde’ by Vincent O’Sullivan. Originally published in 1936, O’Sullivan who knew both Oscar and Lord Alfred Douglas gives us snap shots, insights and recollections in his quirky account. Written years before Oscar’s ‘Sainthood’ O’Sullivan’s ‘Aspects’ is kinder in tone to Lord Alfred Douglas than most contemporary books. An expert in the field of Wilde studies informed me that prior to 1960, ‘Bosie’ Douglas was not reviled in print, in the way he is now* (*Aleister Crowley being the exception to the rule). The simple device of creating a foe for the hero to rise up against is usually reserved for cinema but works a treat in sustaining the Wilde myth. If everyone had a copy of ‘Aspects’ Lord Alfred might be less denigrated but alas they do not and Vincent O’Sullivan went to a pauper’s grave in Paris, in 1940. One can safely assume that Oscar never paid Vincent back the money he gave him so that he could be with Bosie in Italy. It’s just as likely that O’Sullivan would have demurred repayment from one of his heroes. Sadly, Vincent remains a ghost of his era, his work occasionally reprinted in anthologies of the supernatural, to which he was prone. Whilst ‘Aspects of Wilde’ is not a paranormal tome, O’Sullivan’s spooky sensibility is tangible and proved to be the inspiration for ‘A Purple Thread: The Supernatural Doom of Oscar Wilde.’ One paragraph in particular, where the author notes that Aubrey Beardsley was amongst many who believed that to own any of Oscar’s books was unlucky, stayed with me, just as the music from a song does, playing over and over.
Was Oscar Wilde under a doom?
We all like to believe that we are at the helm of our own destiny, steering a course driven by free-will. Yet sometimes it appears that fate plays its part, something that Oscar grasped early on in his Gothic poem ‘The Harlot’s House’ where the dancers are compared to automatons whose movements are governed by invisible hands. ‘Then turning to my love I said, “The dead are dancing with the dead, the dust is whirling with the dust.” Which has proved to be Oscar Wilde’s afterlife – a drama of unquiet spirits who still manage to enthral us, a shadow play that never ends………
Upon completion, ‘A Purple Thread’ loitered in the wings, its future uncertain, too long for a magazine article, too short for a book, perfect for a novelette though hardly anyone publishes them.
Have you ever tried to get something off the ground and no matter what you do, how hard you try, everything is against it? As if life is saying, ‘Sorry, can’t oblige right now’ so you let it go. There’s no point in banging your head against the wall if it’s not the right time and obstacles manifest in all directions. The dust however continued to whirl with the dust, prompting Clint Marsh, the creator and editor of ‘Fiddler’s Green’ a charming journal hailing from Berkeley, to make contact. A heady pot-pourri of the esoteric and olde-worlde, decadent and quaint, ‘A Purple Thread’ had found its forever home in the Peculiar Parish of Fiddler’s Green, with the able assistance of artist Nathaniel Winter-Hebert whose marvellous illustrations have brought an extra dimension to the project. I’d always dreamed of having my work illustrated and am grateful to both Nathaniel for his lively interpretations and Clint for creating something quite magical and without precedent.
“Glamorous teen heartthrob Brett Smiley had the looks and the talent of a future superstar, but fate had different plans for him. As much the work of a detective as a biographer, The Prettiest Star, Nina Antonia’s expert excavation of the life of Smiley tells one of the most fascinating and tragic ‘what if’ stories of the rock era.” ~ Richard Metzger
Previously out of print since 2005, The Prettiest Star: Whatever Happened to Brett Smiley? is now available as an eBook on Kindle with an enhanced photo gallery.
The epitome of Fey, ‘Beautiful’ Brett Smiley was primed for fame in the frenetic era of Glam but success was illusory. A former child actor, Brett had everything including a Mephistophelean manager, Andrew Loog Oldham who had steered the Rolling Stones to mega-stardom. Meanwhile, in Liverpool, Nina Antonia, a disenfranchised teenager witnessed Smiley’s sole television appearance in the UK. Interviewed by a concerned Russell Harty, the fate of the young singer was already in jeopardy. With a one way ticket to the boulevard of broken dreams, Brett was to become a missing piece of Nina’s childhood, until their paths crossed, almost 30 years later.
Prior to lockdown, I was interviewed by the sartorially splendid Darcy Sullivan for the equally dandified spring edition of ‘The Chap.’ Darcy asked some unusually pertinent questions that included a fine quota of Thunder’s related queries and also provided the opportunity to recollect seeing Quentin Crisp in conversation at the Royal Court in Liverpool. Crisp was the first author I’d seen address an audience and he was as you might expect, very witty and engaging. He was also most gracious when the time came for me to get a copy of ‘The Naked Civil Servant’ signed. Pete Burns was also getting his copy signed. Both gone now in the twinkling of gloriously painted eyes that recall the mad decadent verse of Edmund Gosse:
‘Prince-jewellers, whose facet-rhymes combine/ All hues that glow, all rays that shift & shine/ Farewell thy song is sung, thy splendour fled.’……….
This informative and lavishly illustrated book is out now.
Includes the four versions of In Cold Blood, two versions of Too Much Too Soon and the Johnny Thunders Sleeve Notes by Nina Antonia as well as her interview with Brian Young. Thank you, Hiroshi and congrats!