Back To The Future? THE REPROBATE – FIRST TRANSMISSION Reviewed

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The Reprobate – First Transmission. Edited by David Flint. A Colmena Publication. P/B. ISBN 978-0-9955719-0-7

One of the things that the current Mrs F found particularly entertaining about your humble blogger, in the early days of our acquaintance, was the spectacle of me carting my granny’s wonky shopping trolley around Manchester, stuffed with copies of Samhain to be hawked to Forbidden Planet, Odyssey 7 and assorted smaller retailers. Yep, I’ve paid my dues in the  ‘Zine trade…

Mrs F was particularly tickled by the regularity with which the wheels came off and required fixing and how some misaligned spoke or metallic whatnot hanging off this contraption would scour a record of my passage in the pavement behind me. Legend has it that instalments of my progress around Albert Square and up and down Oxford Road are still traceable to this day, which will no doubt be helpful when the burghers and aldermen of Manchester finally get round to putting up some of those blue plaques to mark the landmarks of the ’80s-’90s North West fanzine scene…

… and what a golden age it was, yielding among others (and apart from my contributions to the seminal Samhain) Paul Higson’s Bleeder’s Digest, Ian Caunce’s mighty Absurd (still my all-time favourite ‘Zine) and Sheer Filth, courtesy of one David Flint. David Kerekes and others were lurking in the wings and I also seem to remember a fresh-faced kid called Hayden Hewitt…nice guy but it was always clear to me that he was never going to amount to anything. The acuity of my judgement was recently confirmed to me when I saw Jeremy Paxman interviewing him on Newsnight.

Here we are, towards the end of 2016 and I’m sedately ensconced in the blogosphere. It took me quite a while to get here (The House Of Freudstein hasn’t even been online for a full year yet) but now I’ve arrived, I’m happy to say that it suits me just fine. No more lugging bags and boxes of hard copy around to distributors who might or might not cough up (obviously this became even more of an issue for me when I started running my own show with Giallo Pages, et al)… sure, there’s no prospect of turning the kind of small profit that occasionally came your way in the Golden Age of ‘Zines, but nor are you subject to the kind of loss that was much more frequently your lot … and people still send you stuff to review! So no more ‘Zines, fan or pro, from your truly… uh-huh… and that’s a fact, Jack! But apparently not everybody feels the same way…

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… the aforementioned David Flint, for example, has clearly never lost his love for the print medium. After Sheer Filth he was a founder editor of Headpress before flying solo with Divinity and Sexadelic. David’s interest in horror and exploitation has always been part of a wider-ranging focus on transgression that has involved him in many other genres and art forms. Having run the Strange Things Are Happening (Popular Culture Gone Bad) website for several years, he’s now fronting up the The Reprobate, which has maintained an online presence (https://reprobatemagazine.uk) for some time and now here’s the long-gestated first quarterly issue of its namesake magazine “for the modern contrarian.” Is the very act, nay, the very idea of publishing  such a thing in 2016 itself the dictionary definition of contrarianism (if, indeed, such a word can be found in any dictionary)? Well, the evidence is here before me in the shape of 164 glossy, perfect bound A5 pages, dripping with seditious text and heavily illustrated in both black’n’white and colour. Looks nice, now let’s investigate the contents…

The (one imagines) regular “Reprobates In The News” section features, among other scoops, the notorious case of the Devon woman who sexually abused a plastic tyrannosaurus emerging from an egg (the very one pictured below) on Exmouth’s Dino Trail. We Freudsteins were also rather disappointed with this particular “tourist attraction” but none of us felt the need to mitigate our disappointment by masturbating over any of the paleantological tableaux.

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David himself interviews Human Centipede auteur Tom Six but chooses to concentrate on the latter’s notions of personal style rather than the meanings beyond his films, possibly because there is no discernible meaning to those films beyond the idea that shock is, in and of itself, a good thing, an idea towards which I’ve never felt particularly sympathetic. Some would argue that this makes Six a kind of latter-day John Waters, but I’ve always loathed Waters’ films too. Hey, what’s the world coming to if I can’t review this cavalcade of contrariness without tossing in a few contrary opinions of my own?

Daz Lawrence’s profile of “Reprobate Hero” Lord Buckley is engaging stuff. Daz might also have mentioned that Buckley plays a role in one of several competing theories about how Prog Rock pioneers The Nice got their name. He might have but doesn’t, probably on the reasonable grounds that he’s nowhere near as obsessed with such Prog minutiae as I am. The ever readable Mr Lawrence also gives us the amusing lowdown on his quest to bring faux fag wrestler Adrian Street’s music to the masses and remembers Tiny Tim.

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Objects Of Desire that get promoted herein range from luxury chocolates and undies, off-the-peg bar cabinets, a penis-shaped flash drive containing the collected works of some Danish comedians, Arrow’s homounguous Herschell Gordon Lewis box set and the monstrously priced Pink Floyd Early Years collection.

Expensive as it is, I’m more likely to be seen purchasing that Floyd anthology than anything by noise terrorist William Bennett who, under the handle Whitehouse, assaulted our ears and morals with such family favourites as Tit Pulp, Just Like A Cunt, Shit Fun, Rape Master and I’m Coming Up Your Ass. As reported by Bruce Barnard, they signally failed to ignite the anticipated dance craze with their anthemic Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel. Elsewhere Mr Barnard inveighs against the vapidity of the cocaine lifestyle.

Nigel Wingrove returns with a primer on Scandinavian Black Metal and accompanying Chris Bell fashion shoot. Wingrove’s Redemption outfit are allegedly releasing Japanese Cosplay / mutilation epic Mai Chan’s Daily Life in the US and Mister Flint gives us the lowdown on that later in the mag.

Eli Bell interviews Billy Chainsaw, a man with far more strings to his bow than I’d previously suspected, some of his canvases reproduced here (striking collisions of Burroughs and Baphomet, Crowley and comix) being genuinely impressive. The man himself later takes time out from his artistic creations to interview Michelle Mildenhall, “the Latex Queen of the Art Scene.”

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A visit to The Demis Roussos Museum in Nijkerk inspires CJ Lines to remember the great man’s extraordinary career. Keri O’Shea surveys the history of Great British Courtesans and rates the beers and museums of Prague. Flinty flexes his Jeffery-West shoe fetish by interviewing that company’s Guy West in their swanky Piccadilly Arcade store. Then he reviews Victor Matellano’s recent Vampyres remake, comparing it unfavourably with Jose Larraz’s cult original, a judgement with which I concur elsewhere on this blog. Somebody called White Dolemite fills us in on his non-existent films (don’t worry, it’ll all make sense when you read it… or maybe not) and if Gipsie Castigloione’s interview with novelist-turned-perfumier Sarah McCartney doesn’t get your olfactory bulb twitching, I don’t know what will!

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Arguably the highlight of this volume, Gavin and Lucy Morrow’s Close Encounters relates their experiences “travelling the extraterrestrial highway” in words (hers) and photos (his.) Apparently they’ve got enough documentation of their explorations of arcane Americana to fill a book of their own and I, for one, would very much like to see it.

Further reviews of books, film, music, food and drink, grooming and lifestyle, places and events follow before the proceedings close with a personal memoir / true confession regarding a spontaneous S/M orgy that broke out in a nightclub toilet on Valentine’s Night, 1991… more tea, Vicar?

The Reprobate’s First Transmission is a fine maiden effort, most worthy of your attention… a trustworthy map to guide you down the road of excess which will lead you, inexorably, towards that palace of wisdom. Has it tempted me to consider a return to physical ‘zine publishing? Nah… my granny’s shopping trolley has gone the same way as my granny and there are no scratch marks on the sidewalks of cyber space. But do I wish David well with his new endeavour? Sure I do and would urge you to visit, post-haste https://reprobatemagazine.uk/2016/11/29/buy-the-reprobate-first-transmission/

Is the print revival going to take off, then? The outcome will (hopefully) be in your hands…

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