Antje Krause-Wahl

Asking for Glamour. Fashion and Music in Artists’ Magazine of the 1970s

Lecture: 5 March 2009

"Glamour" the erotic fascination with superficial effects, finds its perfect embodiment in the image of the Star. Spots of glamour are journals already demonstrating, as the title suggests, that the current concept of glamour is one shaped by images and texts. In "The Future Has a Silver Lining", published on the occasion of an exhibition at migros museum Zurich (2004), Tom Holert traces a change in the meaning of the word and characterises the relationship between art and glamour as one of contradiction and plurality. In this lecture, I will examine the use of glamour in two artist magazines, namely Inter/VIEW (later re-named Andy Warhol’s Interview) and General Idea’s File Megazine, as well as the ways in which glamour was used as a central theme in both publications.

Published in the fall of 1969, the first issue of Inter/VIEW was edited by Gerald Malanga, Andy Warhol and Bob Colacello. It was designed as film magazine, printed on newsprint in newspaper format and includes documentation of film productions, interviews with some of the most the film scene’s most important protagonists and simultaneously serving as a vehicle for announcing the "Factory’s" activities. Besides behind-the-scenes photos and set images, "Inter/VIEW" featured large-scale photos from Andy Warhol’s archive: on-scene photographs from Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals next to headshots of the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Anita Loos, James Dean, and others. The interest in kitsch, decorative settings, the androgynous and the exaggeration of sexual traits in the photographs shows "Inter/VIEW" magazine as a perfect expression of Susan Sontag’s idea of ‘Camp’. Hollywood and Factory stars are featured side by side, in an appropriation and actualisation of glamour’s decay.

The first issue of File, edited by General Idea (AA Bronson, Jorge Zontal and Felix Partz), was released in April 1972. Its cover mimics those of 1940s LIFE magazines while its pages show photographs or complete magazine spreads with new texts and artists’ project documentation on fictional characters including Miss General Idea, a regular feature of several issues and the subject of a number of life actions and performances. The Canadian art scene established a network in the magazine’s glossy pages. At the same time, the notion of glamour in art is especially trivialised by references to Andy Warhol. While Inter/VIEW used the glossy surface and Hollywood headshots as a vehicle for the Factory, General Idea showed an interest in the artifice of glamour and its potential as a subversive tool: "Glamorous objects are emptied by their meaning in order to establish a parasitic and cultural issue". The different attitude towards glamour is figuratively reflected in the way fashion and music are presented: "Inter/VIEW" publishes articles on Elvis Presley and Mick Jagger, showing them as glamorous stars within the common aesthetics of Camp rather than musicians. Likewise, photo editorials by Francesco Scavullo show a play with gender roles. Following the ‘Glamour Issue’ in 1975 and alluding to ‘Fanzines’, General Idea renamed the magazine from File to File Magazine. In the 1977 issue "Punk till you Puke," General Idea shows a strong take on the subject of music by showing their own structural affinity to punk. AA Bronson describes the relation between music and fashion in a instructive text referring to the subversive Pogo dance: Pogo is meant to be an anarchic movement per definition since decisions made in Pogo are less directed by reflexes on hierarchy and control than by connections perforating and visualising the hierarchies of our capitalistic super structure.

This manifests itself in clothing, which is said to be a language rather than simply a high fashion that decorates the body. In isolating part of the body with zippers and slashed fabric, white flesh, "uncombed" hair with leather, safety pins and stilettos, Punk fashion also criticises capitalistic structures through the deconstruction of homogeneous surfaces.

Inter/VIEW and File follow two different notions of glamour, respectively: Inter/VIEW focuses on the Camp of Hollywood glamour and gender role play, which continues in the Factory. In its reference to photo magazines, File comes back to the notion of glamour disposed of by capital for use as a vehicle of critique. Both approaches - as will be examined - show that the use of and reflection on fashion and music can be also considered an internal conflict of 1960s and 70s subculture.