US-California - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 5 - 03/24/97
In 1977 the first issue of the San Fransisco punk zine Search & Destroy was out
on the streets. Vale Vale was the man behind the eleven issues that
were published between 1977 and 1979. Earlier in the 70's he had been
working at City Lights Bookstore, which makes an interesting link between
the beat movement and the later punk scene. Covering international punk and related
stuff, Search & Destroy became one of the essential US zines from this period. Issue 11 was an
all photo supplement, and marked the end of Search & Destroy and the birth
While Search & Destroy mostly featured music articles on artists like Clash, Dead Kennedys, Cramps,
Throbbing Gristle, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads, Roky Erickson, Patti Smith
and Cabaret Voltaire, Re/Search seemed to expand
into the anarchic-intellectual underground, with articles on conspiracy theory, situationism, subversion
of language, mystical erotomania, surveillance techniques, electrical stimulation of the brain, tribal communities,
non-authoritarian science fiction, sado-masochism and body modification.
One of the major influences for the change probably came from new staff
member Andrea Juno, who soon was to become an editor along with Vale. Not surprisingly,
Mark Pauline, founder of industrial destruction team Survival Research Laboratories, was
also a part of this scene.
The first three issues of RE/Search had the outlook of newspaper style zine,
and were less focused than the punk predecessor, but this was to change.
From the double issue #4/5 it was published in book form, with a new theme
for each issue. RE/Search Publications was founded in 1982, and has
since then published an impressing array of interesting books, not only in the RE/Search
series, but also reprints and exclusive editions of otherwise difficult
attainable material, shedding light from different angles on the fringes
of human art and lifeforms...
RE/Search #4/5 (1982, 98 pages)
William S. Burroughs - Throbbing Gristle - Brion Gysin
In addition to a interviews with all of the above, this book contains
some pieces by Burroughs not found elsewhere (I think). Burroughs
also comments Gysin's use of the cut-up method, and Gysin is interviewed
by Genesis P-Orridge. There are several interviews with P-Orridge and
Throbbing Gristle, and a very detailed TG discography. A fine introduction.
RE/Search #6/7 (1983, 133 pages)
Industrial Culture Handbook
This book continues the documentation of the darker industrial music and
art. Several of the artists featured here have been covered in earlier issues,
but packed with new interviews (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire,
SPK, Z'ev, Non, Monte Cazazza, Survival Research Laboratories,
Sordide Sentimental, Johanna Went, Rhythm & Noise), this should be essential
documentation for the initiated, and fascinating stuff for the rest of us.
And to justify calling itself a handbook, each of the interviews are followed
by a detailed reference section. Genesis P-Orridge gives us a total inventory
of his personal library. Nice to see that he too likes Jack Kerouac...
RE/Search #8/9 (1984, 171 pages)
An entire book dedicated to the British science fiction author James Graham Ballard.
The book starts off with two interviews with Ballard himself and continues
with samples of Ballard's work, including a mysterious index to Ballard's
unpublished autobiography. Then follows a nice selection of
articles from various hard to find publications, among them a biography,
and Ballard's praise of William S. Burroughs. Ending the book is a
collection of collages and quotations by Ballard, and an extensive
reference section. Ballard's work is controversial but innovative,
and I guess it may shed light on modern society's use of media, with
its often blurred borders between information and dis-information. And,
if you didn't know, the movie Crash (which was
actually banned from the biggest cinemas in Norway) is based on a story
RE/Search #10 (1986, 211 pages)
Incredibly Strange Films
If you want an overview over American gore (violence) and sexploitation
movies from the 60's and 70's, this is a good place to start. Several interviews kick off our
journey into this B-movie strangeland (Herschell Gordon Lewis, Russ Meyer,
Larry Cohen, David Friedman, to mention some). Then we are introduced to
different genres like biker films, lsd films, women in prison films etc.
A short section features smaller essays on a few genre classics, and a
20-page A-Z encyclopedia of film personalities finishes the book. Focusing
on the obscure, some filmmakers (for instance David Cronenberg)
and genres (like Surrealist/Dada and film noir) are absent because of previous
publicity. This book has been criticized for being to
self-indulgent and taking these films and their directors too serious.
That may be, but it never the less offers the interested reader lots
of useful information.
RE/Search #11 (1987, 233 pages)
This is without doubt the funniest book from RE/Search so far. Vale
and Juno interviews about 40 famous, infamous, and less famous names
about their encounters with or practicing of pranks. As always, most of
the people here have either a punk background (Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins)
or connections to various underground or alternative scenes (Abbie Hoffman,
Mark Pauline, Karen Finley, Boyd Rice, to mention some). Of the more famous,
we find John Cale, Timothy Leary and John Waters. This results in a great
mix of stories about very different types of pranks. A prank can be
playful or mischievous (or both), and have intentions ranging from simple
fun to artistic performances to political activism, of which all
variations are found in this book. Seldom boring and absolutely recommended.
RE/Search #12 (1989, 205 pages)
Subtitled "An Investigation of Contemporary Adornment & Ritual", this book
is a must for people into tattoos, piercings or
scarifitacions. If you're not, and find the idea of modifying your body
using these methods strange and maybe even repulsive, you still ought to
read this book. With emphasis on read, because most of us will first
be captured by the all the pictures in this book, covering all aspects of
the above-mentioned techniques (in explicit details). After enjoying the
shock value of the illustrations and seeing the hows, you should go on
reading the articles and interviews and find out about the whys. Although
many of the people interviewed have modified their body to the rather extreme,
we should be aware of the fact that even in our modern western society,
milder forms of body modifications have been considered pretty normal for some time
(women's earrings, smaller tattoos, etc), and often done without much
personal consideration. However, awareness of the body and the reasons for
deciding to modify it, are key themes in this book. By the way, we get (yet) another
Genesis P-Orridge interview, this time nicely illustrated with several nude
pictures. Study the "shrinkage" effect George (from Seinfelt) experienced,
in close detail!
In part II we will take a closer look at the remaining RE/Search books.
Copyright © 1997 Knut Tore Breivik