Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé article
flag US-California - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 5 - 03/24/97

RE/Search Publications
Part I

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 of RE/Search.

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...

coverpic 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.

coverpic 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...

coverpic RE/Search #8/9 (1984, 171 pages)
J.G. Ballard
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 by Ballard.

coverpic 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.

coverpic 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.

coverpic RE/Search #12 (1989, 205 pages)
Modern Primitives
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 e-mail address

© 2011 Luna Kafé