Books: Johnny Thunders, In Cold Blood, The New York Dolls, The Prettiest Star, The Only Ones, From Albion to Shangri-La. Films: 'Arthur Kane-New York Doll. 'Looking For Johnny', The Greenwood Faun, Incurable: The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, the Decadent Era's Dark Angel. Liner Notes: Nico, The New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers, Iggy & The Stooges. Contributions to: Mojo, Uncut, Classic Rock. Anthologies: 'Bosie & The Beast' - Fenris Wolf 8'. 'South-West 13' Egaeus Press. Forthcoming: 'How Shall Dead Men Sing' - Egaeus Press - 'A Midwinter Entertainment.'
“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!
What are faeries and how did W.B Yeats, one of their most vocal aficionados, develop his fascination? What did the Sidhe mean to him? Where did he find them? Is there a connection between nature, standing stones, corpse roads and faery paths?
Yeats changed public perceptions of the faeries – outlining the differences between Celtic faeries and English faeries. He was fascinated by the beliefs of the Irish Peasantry and used faeries as muses.
In this magical session we’ll be looking at Yeats best faerie poems as well as his influence on other Irish poets who also became faerie-fixated.
This talk stems from a feature ‘The Host of the Air’ by Nina that appeared in a recent anthology dedicated to W.B Yeats entitled ‘The Far Tower’, courtesy of Ireland’s only gothic/supernatural publisher, Swan River Press.
Nina Antonia has been a published author for almost 30 years but it is only in the last three years that she gained the confidence to begin writing about the supernatural and exploring esoteric themes.
She frequently wears green, the favoured colour of ‘The Good People’.
A return to the pleasant surrounds of Kensington Library heralds my first public engagement of 2020! Bet you can’t wait……it’s also the first time I’ve been asked to talk at a Folklore Festival where I shall be pondering W.B Yeat’s faery fascination and exploring how it affected his poetry. Although the Faeries or in Yeats’ case, the Sidhe, have long been muses to poets, no other versifier has captured their wilful glamour quite so well. We will be travelling far from the cloying imagery beloved by Disney into the bloodless and bejewelled caverns of the Fay. Assisted by the elegant Sir Darcy Sullivan, President of the order of the silk cravat, I will also explore Peasant Lore in Ireland and discourse upon how one might live in harmony with ‘The Good People’. Tir – Nan-Og here we come…….
Honoured to have a feature in this very attractive tribute to W.B Yeats. Featuring an introduction from the inimitable Mark Valentine who did the same for ‘The Greenwood Faun’ (Egaeus Press). Thank you to Swan River Press, Ireland’s only independent gothic & supernatural publisher for asking me to contribute to this spectacular anthology. Every Swan River book serves to remind us of Ireland’s lambent literary history whilst captivating the modern reader. Thank you again to everyone for working on this project. It turned out beautifully–wait until you see the cover, which we printed in gold foil.