From Paradise Row To A Rock & Roll Toilet

On Thursday (17 November 2011) I went to the opening of Margarita Gluzberg’s Avenue Des Gobelins. She seems to do a solo exhibition with her London gallery Paradise Row more or less annually. For 2011 her focus is photography – last time around she was showing paintings and before that drawings of pugilists. In Avenue Des Gobelins Gluzberg projects slides and video onto graphite paper, thereby referencing drawing – which lies at the heart of her multidisciplinary practice – in the way she presents her photographic and film work.
Gluzberg is also exhibiting platinum prints – the most expensive photographic developing process – featuring similar subject matter to her projections. The images are double and sometimes triple exposures of shots of expensive department stores. This exploration of the display of luxury goods very consciously draws out parallels with various modes of museum exhibition and interpretation; it is therefore implicitly critical of both consumerism and the institution of art. Gluzberg’s opening was busy and there was an after party at Chinawhite – a one time haunt of celebrities whose idea of living dangerously was to frequent a nightclub named after a specific type of heroin.
I didn’t make it to Chinawhite. Instead I headed to The 12 Bar – a rock and roll dive on Denmark Street – where I heard a set of tunes that thirty plus years ago were regularly described as ‘love songs for objects’ (and within which heroin addiction forms the central subject matter). Former Hearthbreakers’ bassist Billy Rath was playing a bunch of songs mostly written by his old group’s front-man Johnny Thunders. He had with him a pick-up band consisting of Chris Low on drums and Nuno Viriato on guitar. As far as I can recall, I’d last seen Rath play as part of Iggy Pop’s backing group at The Lyceum in London’s Strand back in 1979. Rath had disappeared from public view in 1985, only to re-emerge on the music scene a few years ago  – having done both rehab and university (psychology at graduate level and post-grad in theology) in a ‘lost weekend’ that went on for more than two decades.
Among the select crowd present the arrival onstage of Billy Rath’s Street Pirates was greeted with rapturous applause. The band started with Pipeline, the tune that opened Johnny Thunders’ solo album So Alone. The Street Pirates were rough and ready but had the right chemistry to rock out. They ran through a half-a-dozen or so familiar songs – some of them twice – including Pirate Love, Born To Lose, Chinese Rocks and Do You Wanna Dance. The audience were ecstatic. A Spanish punkette in tightly fitting cropped shorts, black stockings, knee high books, and a Sex Pistols shirt, got up on the tiny stage and spread her legs wide across the boards, before proceeding to make amateur erotic dance moves.
Billy Rath lost his left foot in a car accident some time ago and now has a prosthetic leg. It’s a real effort for him to stand upright while wielding a heavy bass guitar onstage – he needs both hands to play so he can’t use his walking stick. The Spanish punkette clearly didn’t know this and arched over backwards with her legs spread to grab Billy’s right calf with both hands – she then mimed sucking Rath’s dick with her face beneath his crotch. Billy accepted the situation and treated it with good humor, but the girl didn’t want to let go of him. I was amazed and impressed Rath managed to stay upright. Afterwards people were laughing about this and imagining the Euro punkette’s shock if she’d grabbed Billy’s other calf and discovered that like story book pirates, Rath had a false leg!
I left The 12 Bar with a grin on my face and confident that I’d made the right choice in ducking out of the Chinawhite party. That said, I was left wondering what kind of work Margarita Gluzberg might make about Billy Rath and other members of The Heartbreakers…. A series of drawings of these notorious New York degenerates would be every bit as powerful as her wonderful pugilists. And just in case you don’t know, both Johnny Thunders and Heartbreakers drummer Jerry Nolan died in the early 1990s; while according to Wikipedia lead guitarist Walter Lure now works on Wall Street (presumably as a stockbroker).
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Bluebeard on 2011-11-20 16:57:00 +0000

Yo ho ho & a bottle of rum
Euro punkettes are so hot they’d make a dead man cum!

Comment by VK on 2011-11-20 17:40:47 +0000

What about the Ventriloquist dolls. Are they involved? I can’t read just any old thing you know though obviously the false legs have got me very interested.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-11-20 19:37:44 +0000

No ventriloquist dolls that night I’m afraid… there were a few showroom dummies in Rita’s photographs!

Comment by VK on 2011-11-20 20:51:14 +0000

OK, well, with showroom dummies I think you’ve twisted my arm.

Comment by HUO on 2011-11-20 21:37:17 +0000

Margarita Gluzberg rocks!

Comment by Invisible Hits on 2011-11-20 22:14:01 +0000

Give it to the Soft Boys!

Comment by RH on 2011-11-20 23:03:12 +0000

I got locked with a couple of chicks in a rock & roll toilet!

Comment by John Roberts on 2011-11-21 09:56:19 +0000

Blimey you lot are pretentious! “Gluzberg’s pugilists” – so why not just call them boxers?

Comment by MTM on 2011-11-21 10:08:58 +0000

Just one small correction… Billy lost his leg cos of a bone infection not cos of the accident (everybody thinks that but he said that was a lie) The infection got so bad and was spreading so fast that the only way to go was to get rid of the leg just above the knee… It could have been worse… He also says that he still feel his toes sometimes like if they were still there…

Comment by Fanny Cradock on 2011-11-21 13:25:36 +0000

I thought there were some images of Primark mixed in with the department store stuff in Gluzberg’s double exposures.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-11-21 16:39:13 +0000

I did notice something of Primark on at least one double exposure but it is the luxury brands and outlets that dominate – and they and Paradise Row (as an upmarket white cube space) gave me a nice contrast to The 12 Bar as a rock and roll toilet!

Comment by John The Cabbie on 2011-11-21 19:54:51 +0000

All this punk nonsense is for teenyboppers. If you want to hear some classic English rock and roll check out Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-11-21 20:59:36 +0000

I think you’ll find most punk rockers these days are approaching middle-age (or have hit it) rather than teenyboppers – the kids are into a different scene entirely. Anyway Billy Rath makes a big issue of how he and the Heartbreakers weren’t doing punk group but rock and roll. And strangely before Billy Rath went on stage they were playing some Johnny Kidd in The 12 Bar… I’m too young to have seen The Pirates with Johnny Kidd but I did see them when they reformed in the late-seventies and they were one of the most powerful live acts I’ve ever experienced. Mick Green was a truly incredible guitarist.

Comment by Guy The Bore on 2011-11-21 21:36:29 +0000

Never mind rock and roll toilets, I’ve got a situationist toilet, it never works and as a result my entire apartment stinks!

Comment by Steve on 2011-11-21 22:37:06 +0000

Walter Lure works on Wall Street, that kinda makes sense! Guess you’d have to be a junky or ex-junky or some kinda addict to hang with all those money addicts. OCCUPY WALL STREET and clean up New York City!

Comment by Dougie Smith on 2011-11-22 09:52:49 +0000

I heard that Margarita Gluzberg’s father is the Russian writer Zinovy Zinik – but if the rumour is true I don’t understand why they have different surnames….

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-11-22 15:11:56 +0000

Zinovy Zinik is a pen name – and I understand it is some kind of nonsense name in Russian…. Margarita is Zinovy’s daughter and in private life they have the same name but not for public purposes! Confused? You will be!

Comment by Jo Harding on 2011-11-22 15:56:55 +0000

The other day I went into the public toilets in Regents Park and could hear someone moaning in the next cubicle. I thought they might be injured but I also thought they might be having sex or a really bad poo but eventually I asked if they were okay. They said they were fine. The moaning continued. Other people joined in asking what was going on. Eventually a cleaner/toilet attendant told the moaner they would have to come out of the toilet because they were disturbing other people. It turned out the person in the toilet had injured her foot running in the park and was trying – unsuccessfully – to take off her trainer. So it wasn’t someone having sex in a toilet but I’d imagine that’s the sort of thing people do in a rock and roll toilet.

Comment by 12XU on 2011-11-22 21:05:29 +0000

I’ve got you in a cottage….

Comment by Jayne County on 2011-11-22 23:30:20 +0000

Anyone out there up for some Toilet Love done old school New York club style?

Comment by GG Allin on 2011-11-22 23:43:17 +0000

Billy Rath looks like he died a week ago.

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