Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of Entrance: Stephen Hawking

Entrance (a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee) just released the great Promises EP and is gearing up for a full-length early next year via Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, he’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Readers, you’re in for some really good stuff.

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“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny. Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
—Stephen Hawking

Blakeslee: “Promises,” the title track from the new Entrance record, is a song that was largely inspired by Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist and cosmologist. While I was writing a series of extended poems exploring ideas surrounding time and the emotional experience of being bound to a timeline, I happened upon two films about Hawking: one, a documentary called A Brief History Of Time, directed by Errol Morris, and the other a bio-pic called The Theory Of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen. I became enthralled with the man and his work, and his story of ceaseless commitment to uncovering the true nature of time—and the many different views on the subject he has presented over the years.

His disability (ALS), which began in the late ’50s/early ’60s when he was studying at Oxford, eventually reduced his physical body to a helpless state, confining him to a wheelchair, and he has since developed a complex computer system that allows him to speak with a robot voice. Against great odds, he seems to have maintained a restless curiosity and a child-like wonder about life and the universe.

It struck me that although he may very well be the leading “expert” on the nature of time, he’s constantly had to change his views on the matter and is still on the same quest to understand the universe that he’s been on for half a century, sometimes closer and sometimes further from a clear understanding. I was trying to pay tribute to him, not as a scientist, but as a human being, a lover, someone with a heart as well as a mind.

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From The Desk Of Entrance: “Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It”

Entrance (a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee) just released the great Promises EP and is gearing up for a full-length early next year via Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, he’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Readers, you’re in for some really good stuff.

Blakeslee: Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai is the Tuareg name for this film, which is an original re-imagining of Prince’s Purple Rain set among the Tuareg people of Niger and starring young Saharan guitar master Mdou Moctar. The evocative title stems from the interesting fact that the Tamashek language of the Tuareg nomads doesn’t have a word for “purple”!! This movie has it all! It’s an archetypal hero’s journey in which a traveling outsider guitar player overcomes many obstacles to gain the admiration of the people of the desert and win the love of a beautiful woman. It looks amazing, all of the music is brilliant, and it gives people outside of the Sahara a rare and reverent view into a world that is alive and thriving, and so different from our own. I’ve long been a fan of Tuareg guitar music, such as Tinariwen from Mali and Bombino from Niger. It’s a hypnotic antecedent to the blues that has re-absorbed the influences of Hendrix and evolved into a vibrant genre that sounds as futuristic as it does ancient. Mdou Moctar’s powerful electric style builds upon this tradition with a youthful adventurous spirit and a wise poetic sensibility. A striking figure, he carries the film, which he co-wrote with director Christopher Kirkley, so effortlessly and embodies the romance and solitude of the city of Agadez, a desert outpost of ramshackle dwellings where guitarists are the rebel heroes of the community and the people trade music on memory cards from their cell phones.

Check out director Christopher Kirkley’s label Sahel Sounds here. And an interview with Kirkley here.

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From The Desk Of Entrance: Sonny Sharrock’s “Black Woman”

Entrance (a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee) just released the great Promises EP and is gearing up for a full-length early next year via Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, he’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Readers, you’re in for some really good stuff.

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Blakeslee: Black Woman is an album of ecstatic music recorded in 1969 by free-jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock, prominently featuring his wife Linda Sharrock’s intense vocalizations. The LP’s climax, “Portrait Of Linda In Three Colors, All Black,” is truly one of the most thrilling and exalted pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It begins with a wordless vocal duet to introduce a majestic major scale, transforming into an insane trumpet solo that sounds like a spiritual awakening, an ego-shattering exploration that sets the tone for Linda to first imitate and then go beyond with unbridled abandon. As the guitar’s manic crescendos transcend all rhythmic structure in savage bursts of melodic madness, Linda’s voice rises to a fever-pitch of blissful horn-like shrieking and moaning, hyperventilating and melting down in an orgasmic release as the drummer sounds like he’s obliterating his kit out of pure love, without any sticks. I’ve been listening to this record a lot on long drives, but the most perfect experience I’ve had with it so far was listening to the whole album in headphones while working out on an “elliptical” machine at my local gym. I believe with an open mind anyone could hear the beauty in this record, but it’s certainly not for the faint of heart! It’s most enjoyable if the listener can surrender and go along for the wild ride. Check out the climactic final song here.

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From The Desk Of Entrance: “Pheromone Hotbox”

Entrance (a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee) just released the great Promises EP and is gearing up for a full-length early next year via Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, he’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Readers, you’re in for some really good stuff.

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Blakeslee: Pheromone Hotbox is a beautiful new book of photographs by Amanda Churchman. Shot all over the world—in Cuba, Israel, Iceland, Morocco, Costa Rica, just to name a few places—the book presents raw and intimate portraits of nude female artists in exotic and mysterious locations and situations. I must admit that the project is close to my heart: Amanda is my girlfriend, and we’ve lived together for six years, so I’ve been lucky to observe her working and growing as an artist for quite some time, and I even assisted one of the shoots, holding the lights and helping distract the guard in Carlsbad Caverns, N.M. Amanda followed three basic rules for the creation of the images in Pheromone Hotbox:

“The first precept was that I would find a surreal location in advance, but until I arrived, I didn’t know what I was going to do. My images became an imprint of discovery, a reaction to the time, space and subject.

“The second construct was that the artist should be foreign to the setting—a Sri Lankan actress in Cuba, a Serbian furniture designer in Costa Rica, a Chilean painter in Corsica.

“The act of undressing was a third integral variable in the process, heightened by adrenaline at the intersection of fear and excitement. In that elevated state, I used the camera to point to their elemental characteristics, and document the rawness of the moment.

“By applying these formulas to my adventures, I have, many times, felt connected to something bigger than me, something conspiring toward magic … ”

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From The Desk Of Entrance: Tsegué Maryam Guébrou

Entrance (a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee) just released the great Promises EP and is gearing up for a full-length early next year via Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, he’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Readers, you’re in for some really good stuff.

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Blakeslee: There is definitely no recording I have listened to more in the past 10 years than the Piano Solo album by an Ethiopian nun named Tsegué Maryam Guébrou. Born in 1923, Maryam is now 92 years old and lives in Jerusalem. Her album, which is number 21 in the Ethiopiques series, features meditative, crystalline piano compositions that evoke the Ethiopia of her childhood and merge seamlessly into classical compositions a la Erik Satie and the majestic jazz of Ellington and Monk. It’s the perfect music for early mornings and late nights, hypnotic, soothing and yet infinitely stimulating. Spiritual yet humble and playful, full of stories and emotion yet lacking words. Here’s a link to the entire album.

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From The Desk Of Entrance: The Family Acid

Entrance (a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee) just released the great Promises EP and is gearing up for a full-length early next year via Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, he’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Readers, you’re in for some really good stuff.

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Blakeslee: I first became aware of Roger Steffens and his family around the time I landed in L.A. in the autumn of 2005 when a friend of mine known as the Captain took me on a research excursion to the Steffens home in Echo Park. Without knowing what to expect, I found myself in a cavernous basement with many extra rooms carved out of the unfinished dirt walls, all completely stuffed to the brim with memorabilia of the 1960s and the reggae world of Bob Marley … there was one room with a print copy of every issue of Rolling Stone starting from issue one, which had John Lennon on the cover wearing an army helmet; there were collections of cassettes and buttons, posters, books, photographs galore, and a slide projector set up to view selections from a massive disorganized pile of slides containing photos by Roger … of festivals and concerts, Vietnam War images, candid and intimate shots of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh … The Steffens house was literally a museum of 20th century alternative cultures, overflowing with a priceless and cared-for collection of artifacts from the recent past that would certainly blow the minds of millions of people worldwide. All of this chaotic beauty existing secretly in the unfinished basement of an unassuming California house.

Many years and lots of changes later, I was excited to discover that Roger’s son Devin and daughter Kate had begun digitizing and archiving Roger’s vast collection of photos and started an Instagram account called “The Family Acid”—a project that quickly gained a lot of interest and evolved into a coffee-table book. It’s quite a trip to time-travel through the eyes of Roger, who has casually immortalized so many special moments that might have been lost. Candid images of Fela Kuti playing saxophone shirtless in the Steffens living room, of Roger and his daughter with Timothy Leary, double exposures of Roger’s wife in the raw beauty of early-’70s Big Sur, images of Vietnam, the Island of the Coconut Monk … Not only is it a real gift to be presented with such impeccable documentation of fascinating events and people, it’s a truly inspiring window on the world- Roger Steffens has pioneered a long life of social, political and artistic adventuring fueled by an insatiable curiosity and an always fresh engagement with the present moment. These images and the stories they invoke are a testament to the bravery of so many people who took and continue to take risks and explore the boundaries of what we can do with our lives. Find out more.

I caught up with Kate Steffens to ask her a few questions about the project and her life in the Family Acid.

Given that the archives from which you’ve compelled and shared the Family Acid material have been around for so long, what inspired/motivated you to start the process on a public level these past few years?
The impetus to share dad’s photography came after my brother spent a year scanning 40,000 of my dad’s slides. We grew up having family slide shows, but it wasn’t until we had the archive centralized on a computer that I could begin to truly explore the photos and understand how remarkable they are. I initially began the Instagram as an easy way to show our friends and family these photos, but had no idea it would take off like it did. The public response has been extremely validating for my dad, who didn’t take these photos expecting anyone to ever see them.

How do you relate the legendary/heroic/iconic status of so many of the subjects of the pictures given that to you personally they are just your parents’ friends and people you’ve spent time around all your life?
Given the unorthodox way I grew up, an early lesson was that behind every “legend” is a human and most people do not want to be treated very differently than you or me. I suppose it also jaded me a little bit, because fawning displays of affection toward celebrities is sort of anathema to me. When you’re watching a movie in your PJs with your brother and the front door opens and an entire band is there to visit at 11 o’clock at night, you kind of have to let go of any pretense of trying to act cool around famous people.

While there is an obvious historical value to the archive, what really strikes me is the potential of these images and the activities of your family and all the people depicted in the photos to inspire the young people of today to take their interests and experiments further than most of us currently are. It seems like your father is still engaged with the present moment and the joy of living that comes across in the photos is an important message and reminder to the people of today. Can you say a few words about how you all view the current cultural climate through the lens of the Family Acid?
The Family Acid provides me with a daily reminder that you can create your own reality and to some extent, live in a very different way than what current society recommends. Both of my parents grew up in relatively conservative households, and were able to take the important life lessons from that experience, like basic respect toward other humans, and discard what was not working for them, like organized religion. My wish with this project is to inspire people to look beyond hyper-corporatization and personal branding toward a more authentic lifestyle that doesn’t include turning your interests and explorations into a product. These days, the ability to live an artistic life inexpensively is virtually impossible. That said, I connect with people often through this project who are actively attempting to live in alternative ways, and I can only hope that exposing them to our family’s lifestyle inspires more people to reject conformity in favor of curiosity and hope. It is very easy for me to be cynical and angry at the state of the world, so having the perspective of my dad, who was drafted into the Vietnam War and managed to turn his experience around, receiving a Bronze Star for helping refugees, makes me try daily to flip my anger sideways into positive action.

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night”

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: I planned to end my stint as guest editor with a grand finale featuring my favorite dream sequences. But there are too damn many of them! Besides, there are already online lists galore. This one, from Welcome to Twin Peaks ain’t bad except it doesn’t include some of my favorites:

Ingmar Bergman’s classic dream from Wild Strawberries
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Mia Farrow being impregnated by Satan in Rosemary’s Baby (even scarier dubbed in Polish!) YouTube Preview Image

The unnerving surprise ending from Carrie
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Every moment in the Japanese ghost-story movie Kwaidan (this isn’t technically a dream sequence, but the whole movie plays like one, even more than Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams)
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So does everything by Andrei Tarkovsky, cinema’s true poet. So many of his films, like Solaris, feel like dreams from beginning to end. There are too many bona fide dream sequences in Tarkovsky films to list but you can peruse them here on YouTube.
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This dream from Ivan’s Childhood is particularly sweet
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This one from Stalker is particularly haunted

But my personal favorite is this sequence from Nostalgia. It’s deceptively simple and deliberately slow. There are no fisheye lenses, no frenetic edits, no crazy colors, disturbing clowns, little people or pink elephants on parade. But what happens at the very end is quite profound. Working with time and poetic simplicity (as well as a legacy of Russian mysticism), Tarkovsky manages to express something that is beyond understanding.
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Clinical psychologist and University of Toronto professor Dr. Jordan Peterson brilliantly articulates this “something that is beyond understanding” in his lecture, deconstructing David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (possibly the best movie about Hollywood ever!)

Peterson gives us a crash course in Freud, Jung and why David Lynch is a “Post-Freudian” like Salvador Dali.nWhile Tarkovsky is not specifically mentioned, it’s easy to see that his artistry is far more Jungian. Peterson knows his stuff. Check out the many other fascinating videos on his YouTube channel!

I could go on and on (and have), but we’ve finally come to the end of our MAGNET-sponsored Dream Weeks. As a final farewell, I had planned on posting the 1967 American Bandstand appearance of the Electric Prunes singing “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night).” After all, as Dick Clark says here in the clip, “It’s a gassy thing.”
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But then I discovered an incredible cover version of the song by … the Space Lady! Yes, I am admittedly late to the Space Lady Party, but now that I’m here, I’m ready to put an intergalactic lampshade on my head and trance-dance until dawn! The Space Lady is spectacular! She’s renewed my faith in DIY and is my new spirit animal! Her renditions (and street performances) of the songs “Strawberry Fields” and “Major Tom” are pure genius. Her version of “Across The Universe” is cosmically healing!

So this one is for all you space ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for hanging out with me these two weeks. It’s been a gassy thing! See you in my dreams!

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: David Bowie And Carl Jung Rockin’ The Persona

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson:  It’s hard to imagine a world without David Bowie in it, but … here we are. It’s been especially hard on certain folks in my generation. Bowie was our Starman, our Shaman, our Thin White Shape-Shifter who reimagined Jung’s archetype of the Cosmic Man as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and, well … “Bowie.” Many of us used the easy shorthand, “Bowie” (usually said in low, revered tones), to connote an entire ethos, an artistic way of life, and…dare I say it? A religion!

Bowie first appeared to most of us as an androgynous alien, an oversexed Pied Piper in kabuki drag who led us innocent teens out of Denim Hell and into a Moonage Daydream full of hedonistic highs (cosmically enhanced by Mick Ronson’s transcendentally sexy guitar work) until Ziggy/Zarathustra/Icarus fell from the peak, hitting his own all-time “Low.”

Ironically, Bowie ran from the Dream Factory of Los Angeles into the decaying arms of Berlin to try to save his soul. Drinking himself into a vomiting mess with Iggy wasn’t exactly the healthiest way out of madness but he did manage to shake off the Ziggy persona, which was well on it’s way to becoming the haunted mask that cannot be removed. By Bowie’s own admission, Ziggy Stardust nearly killed him. Plus there was all that cocaine. Given his history, it’s somewhat of a miracle that David Bowie managed to live to the relatively ripe old age of 69. (About 112 in Rock ‘n’ Roll years.)

All this and much more is brilliantly parsed in psychologist Oliver James’ new book, Upping Your Ziggy: How David Bowie Overcame His Childhood Demons—And How You Can Too. I just finished reading it and I have to say, it’s a must read for not only Bowie fans but for anyone in the arts (especially those in the theater!) Actually, it’s a must read for everyone because, as the author stresses throughout, we all adopt personas, often self-destructively, to cope with life.

It’s known to be unethical to analyze a person one has never met. However, these days everyone is doing it with Donald Trump (with good reason.) So much so that the American Psychiatric Assn. recently issued a statement reminding it’s members to avoid psychoanalyzing presidential candidates. There is an excellent op-ed piece in the L.A. Times explaining why. Having said that, Oliver James makes a compelling analysis of how David Bowie used persona therapy to save David Jones. Given Bowie’s own interest in all things Jungian, I think he might have dug it. (Then again, he was famously private and infamously obfuscating so, maybe not.)

While many musicians adopt stage names (and some, seeking similar success, full-blown Bowie-esque personas) Oliver James points out that:

“In most cases they fell far short of Bowie … The difference was that Bowie was using personas to understand his current psychology and it’s history. Like most art of any profundity, it was an expression of his inner conflicts—but in his case it was a desperate and more or less deliberate attempt to use personas to overcome then. Ziggy may have started life as a gag through which to achieve fame, but he was also the culmination of Jones’s struggle to experience madness in a safe way, much as the ‘schizophrenese’ of his lyrical style was a way for him to be safely psychotic. It was a means to develop multiple personalities without becoming a case of multiple personality disorder … The persona therapy that was the Ziggy project was his way of dealing with his family’s myth of genetically transmitted intergenerational madness and of addressing his personality disorder, caused by the way his parents cared for him. “

Oliver James’ main theory is that early childhood experience determines personality more than genetics. Actually he doesn’t believe genes have much to do with it at all. Comparing and contrasting the histories of David (Bowie) Jones and his half brother Terry —who went fully “mad,” was committed to an asylum and later committed suicide—James theorizes that David, often teetering on the edge himself, managed to escape a similar fate because a) he wasn’t treated as cruelly as his half-brother growing up and b) Bowie was able to channel his demons via his music and persona therapy.

Every performer knows that ‘acting out’ on stage (or in any art form) is a lifesaver. Every performer (especially The Method actor) is very aware of the line that can easily be crossed—onstage and off. Crossing that line on stage makes for a great show. Crossing the line off stage makes for a very messy life.

It’s no secret that David Bowie’s life got messy. Iman helped clean it up. She has said, “We both understand the difference between the person and the persona … I fell in love with David Jones. I did not fall in love with David Bowie. Bowie is just a persona. He’s a singer, an entertainer. David Jones is a man I met.” Bowie likewise said (in 2005), “The Bowie character, for me, is strictly to be used on stage. With my family, I am David Jones, very much.” Both of them knew they had to drop the schtick with one another. Late-in-life marriages are smart that way.

Carl Jung firmly believed one had to recognize and integrate personas that compose our defensive (and often offensive) ‘provisionary’ selves in order to find wholeness and health; a process he called Individuation. Usually occurring in middle age (hence, the ‘mid-life crisis’) this self-actualization is an integration of the conscious and unconscious. The 12- step process of Alcoholics Anonymous brilliantly provides very specific steps that can lead to that integration. (In fact, Bill Wilson sought guidance from Jung himself when starting it!)

Bowie famously found sobriety in mid-life and probably engaged in some deep Jungian housecleaning. (This ain’t rock ‘n roll, this is persona-cide!) I wonder if he ever read James Hollis’ The Middle Passage: From Misery To Meaning in Mid Life? I’m on my fifth reading of it. I can’t recommend it enough. Hollis’ book is an excellent explanation of this whole process; a process that Jung believed every human being must go through.

It’s a process that Oliver James discusses very specifically in relation to David Bowie in “Upping Your Ziggy”. James’ book may, in fact, be the easiest way into Jung for novices– at least a first step. Especially for those who find The Red Book tough going.

David Bowie certainly knew his Jung. But just how deep it went, I didn’t know until I found Tanja Stark’s remarkable essay Crashing Out With Sylvian: David Bowie, Carl Jung And The Unconscious.

Tanja Stark is an artist and deep thinker who lectured on Bowie during the Australian leg of David Bowie Is…, the travelling V&A exhibit. She also made a series of very Jungian “pop art mannequins” of the various Bowie personas (featured in the extremely agonized Bowie video “Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix By James Murphy For The DFA-Edit).” The mannequins, ostensibly commissioned by Bowie’s “team,” are now housed in the Bowie Archive in New York.

In the Bowie/Jung essay, Stark writes: “When Bowie famously sung of ‘Jung the foreman’ on Aladdin Sane, with it’s iconic ‘lightning flash’ cover and word play on sanity, it seems the artist was heralding the pivotal resonance the psychiatrist’s ideas had upon his life. Forty years later, artist Tony Oursler, Bowie’s long-term friend and director of the Where Are We Now? (2013) film clip, affirmed Bowie’s deep and abiding connection to Jung. “David Bowie inhabits Carl Jung’s world of archetypes, reading and speaking of the psychoanalyst with passion,” revealed Oursler, who also accompanied Bowie to the first public exhibition of Jung’s Red Book in New York in 2009.”

She goes on to explain that “Bowie’s often cryptic, multi-layered work … often conceptual and poetic barely touching the nuances inherent in Jungian psychology but nonetheless compellingly suggests Jung has been a central influence upon (and compass for) Bowie as both men have navigated the mysterious, sometimes perilous, depths of the psyche.”

Stark’s essay discusses Bowie’s work in connection with Jung, The Unconscious, Dream Dystopia, Mystic Myth, Personas, the Numinous … and so much more! This stuff is must reading for Bowie fans. Indeed, for all artists and dreamers!

I first learned about Tanya Stark when she replied to a Twitter post by Oliver James (who had just begun promoting Upping Your Ziggy this past May). Stark pointed James to another essay she wrote on the archetypes of death in Bowie’s work, adding, “It’s eerie to read now.” The two Bowie/Jung enthusiasts then twitter about meeting and possibly collaborating. Now that should be interesting!

Gosh, The internet really can be an astounding place, can’t it? (Trolls notwithstanding.) No wonder Bowie took to it from the very beginning. Carl Jung would have, too.

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: The Far Out World Of UNARIUS With Jodi Wille

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

Uriel

Magnuson: There is nothing more cosmically “out there” than the UNARIUS Academy Of Science. Warning: This isn’t your grandma’s “science.” But it is your fairy godmother’s science!

I used to watch the UNARIES public-access show back in the mid-’80s when I first started hanging out in Los Angeles. The group’s very theatrical pageants presented personal psychodramas that involved past lives, extraterrestrials and a benevolent geriatric leader. Her name was Uriel (an acronym of Universal, Radiant, Infinite, Eternal Light), and she offered her followers unconditional love while channeling teachings and prophecies from the Space Brothers (a.k.a. advanced inter-dimensional beings who exist on higher frequencies). Oh yeah, and she looked like Barbara Bush dressed up as My Little Pony. It’s kind of hard to describe. An ex-boyfriend, who actually turned me onto UNARIUS, put it this way: “Imagine if Aunt Clara from Bewitched had a religion.” But that’s from a non-believer.

Jodi Wille is a believer. Jodi wrote the book on the Source Family and directed the extremely popular documentary about them as well. Both were hits among The In Crowd. (I’m not the only one who ascribes the current rage of young women dressing like ethereal hippie chicks to the publication of the Source Family book.) Now Jodi is doing for UNARIUS what she did for the Source Family, bringing their guileless message of love and healing to the wider world. Yes, even to the pithy cynics!

Ann: Jodi, the short film you did for The Front on the Unariuns is the perfect primer for folks just hearing about these UFO spiritualists. How can people see the film?
Jodi: Right here. They have a couple extra offerings on the site, too, including the article “What Is Psychodrama?” written by the Unariuns and Songs For Space Travelers, a ’60s and ’70s spiritual underground music playlist I curated.

Ann: Tell me what is so important about the UNIARIUS message, especially during this election year.
Jodi: Our world is such an apocalyptic mess right now. Anyone who can move past the cynicism and hopelessness, bring deeper meaning to our lives and point a possible way forward has value. Unariuns are unrepentant idealists who believe that there’s no greater power in the universe than love and that the future of planet Earth is positive and progressive. They don’t deny their dark side but aim to transform and heal it through self-examination and creative expression—painting, writing, singing, dancing, etc. Whatever they’re doing works for them and encourages them to be decent, caring people, the kind of quiet Americans who help hold this country together. If only we could get Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton—hell, most of Congress—to do a past-life psychodrama therapy session together re-enacting their regrettable deeds in the Orion galaxy 100,000 years ago, we’d have unicorns (or at least alpacas) grazing on the front lawn of the White House.

Ann: I vote unicorns! I wonder if the UNARIUS members used dreams in their work with psychodrama therapy? Certainly those films and plays they make are quite dream-like. Nearly all the stories represent the archetypal hero’s journey. Even if one doesn’t believe in the “reality” of past lives, the Unariuns have recreated legitimate archetypes that live within each person, spinning modern myths in a culture that has lost touch with essential life-transition rituals. Since we don’t have many left, we must create our own. UNARIUS seems to me a trippy example of how that can be done.
Jodi: Exactly. Plus, because of their practices, which aim to enhance their psychic and intuitive abilities, the Unariuns have extremely vivid dreams. They communicate with benevolent spirits and extraterrestrial beings in their dream state and receive personal guidance and revelations that frequently benefit them in their waking lives, even sometimes resulting in radical physical healings.

Ann: What are the similarities between the Source Family and UNARIUS?
Jodi: Both groups attracted a number of very good-looking, creatively talented, idealistic young people who were willing to dedicate themselves entirely to the experience. Both had charismatic leaders who are still beloved by most members of the group and who had a highly original, audacious sense of style—both in their teaching methods and in the way dressed. Both groups produced creative work (Source Family: music; Unarius: films and videos) that for decades was disregarded or mocked by many but that in recent years has become increasingly collected, respected and even revered by certain music and film aficionados, fashionistas, writers and artists.

Ann: How do millennials react to all this? So many young people were dressed up in cosmic retro-wear at the premiere (in L.A. at the Standard, Hollywood). Do you see a hunger for deeper meaning, healing and spiritual life—no matter how that may manifest—in an increasingly narcissistic culture?
Jodi: Absolutely. So many of the Source Family and UNARIUS fans I’ve met in their 20s and 30s seem to be drawn to the DIY collective and idealistic aspects of the experience, people coming together in a creative, wildly outside-the-box way to create a world they want to live in. The so-called kitsch and far-out aspects of both groups bring provocative, aesthetically exciting and even slightly dangerous elements, adding allure and a high playfulness that other spiritual groups and practices and things like yoga don’t really have.

Ann: How would you best describe Uriel, a.k.a. Ruth Norman (the spiritual leader of UNARIUS.)
Jodi: Today my friend Jon described her as “Divine meets Carlos Castaneda.” I like to say “Imagine if Glenda the Good Witch had a baby with Liberace on a spaceship.”

Ann: That’s the perfect description! What lies ahead for you and UNARIUS?
Jodi: We just returned from mounting an 100-piece UNARIUS art, photo, film and artifact exhibition at the Horse Hospital arts center in London, and I’m currently developing the material into a project I’m very excited about but can’t talk about yet. Meanwhile, on October 8-9, UNARIUS is hosting its annual “Interplanetary Conclave Of Light” weekend at their center in El Cajon, Calif., and the public is invited. This will be their biggest celebration in years, and they’ll have a full tour of the center including the video lab, printing press and costume room, with special workshops, a trip to the Space Brothers landing site, a procession down Main Street with banners and the Space Cad (which will release 33 white doves) and a screening of a brand new transfer of their 16mm masterwork The Arrival.

Ann: Wow! I better dig out my purple Quina gown and silver lamé cape and get down to El Cajon!

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Kitty Brophy

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

StoryOfMyLife

Magnuson: Kitty Brophy is an artist whose time has come. Until recently, her erotic, psychologically raw, politically charged and deeply personal art was practically unknown. But in 2017, it will be featured at the Museum of Modern Art in a show about the neo-dada cabaret/arts lab/funhouse Club 57. I first met Kitty at that club when I was the manager (1979-1980). Gorgeous Kitty was moonlighting as a model and dating artist Kenny Scharf. Kenny was among a group of art students from SVA (that included Keith Haring, John Sex and Wendy Wild) who gravitated to the club. Kitty was part of that gang, and together with many other bright young things, we ran amok. Kitty is one of the smartest, wittiest women I know and not only is she still modeling (her latest shoot, “Beautiful Mess,” in Territory is to die for!), she is making art with a vengeance. Her work has recently been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.

Ann: Kitty, when did you start making art?
Kitty: As soon as I could hold a crayon. I wanted to be a fashion designer or illustrator. In the first half of high school my art was more decorative- and design-oriented, and then in the second half, after I started having sex, taking drugs and drinking a lot, my art started to reflect that. I was also dealing with manic depression, which wasn’t helped by all the hormonal changes and self-medicating. So, you take all those things—plus the music of David Bowie, T.Rex and Patti Smith—and my art went from pretty and nice to disturbed, imbued with dark humor, text and poetry. The work became much more sophisticated, with more nudity and costuming of my models, and I started putting in S&M design elements where the women were in positions of power, humiliating the men who had wronged them. And I still was voted artist of the year at my high school and was accepted into seven top art schools.

Ann: Damn, you went to a more progressive high school than I did! When Kenny first showed me your early work, I was blown away! We wanted to make sure it had a prominent place our East Village West show at Royal-T in 2011. I know it was disheartening to have the male artists at the time, like Keith and Kenny, getting all the recognition but did it ever stop you from creating?
Kitty: My teachers at Parsons were not encouraging or positive about the kind of work I was creating which was very disheartening. Keith and Kenny were both very encouraging to me, and loved my art, but their careers were starting to take off and they had to focus all of their energies on that. It was an immensely creative time in all artistic disciplines, but the kind of small delicate line drawings I was doing—that dealt with issues of female sexuality, powerlessness, depression, and repression—didn’t seem to fit in with the bigger, more colorful art usually representing the 1980s. I eventually dropped out of art school. I worked as a model, paid and unpaid, in NYC and Paris from 1979-1986, but mostly in the early ’80s. When I got clean from drugs and alcohol in early 1985, I stopped doing any art for 12 years and focused more on writing.

Ann: Your art gives a strong, unashamed voice to the female libido including “forbidden” sexual urges, frustrations and anger in ways few women at the time—or even now—dare express. What were your influences?
Kitty: My biggest artistic influence was Aubrey Beardsley, who I discovered in my senior year of high school. What he did was revolutionary in terms of using ink-line drawing and various printing methods to produce art that was not only incredibly beautiful, but oftentimes sexually charged and decadent. His drawings of men walking around with gigantic penises and women looking powerful and sexy moved me away from straightforward representational depictions to a more fantastical autobiographical one; oftentimes filled with sex and violence. I saw my art and writing as a way to own my sexuality, my body, my gender fluidity, my anger, my desires, and to use it to freely express everything and anything. I wish I had known about all of the amazing women artists and the work that they were producing in the 1970s, but it was much harder to get information then and it sure wasn’t being taught in schools.

Ann: You once told me, “Most of my art comes from my ‘id,’ when the conscious part of my brain shuts down and allows the creativity and thoughts to flow freely.” This is a good description of the dream state. Do you ever work directly with your dreams?
Kitty: I have very involved, vivid, Technicolor, dreams, like movies. Through them I live in an alternative reality, much like the depiction in The Matrix. But it’s really that moment upon waking, that semi-conscious state where the ideas start to take shape. I can also get into that state late at night when there are no distractions. Or while hiking in nature. Some of my drawings and paintings take days or even weeks to fully gestate into a reality. I keep extensive art journals filled with writing, sketches, ideas, many of which I never produce. It’s not about that. I never force anything. It’s almost as if I have to go into that near sleep state while sitting in front of my paper to begin. Anytime, I plan or try to force out a vision, I end up tossing it. My art has to flow out of my hands the same way it flows into my brain, with minimal interference from my conscious self.

Ann: The Memory Card Project you participated in is great. Those are illustrated poker-sized cards that look almost like snapshots of dreams. Yours really capture the realm of the subconscious complete with a hallucinogenic desert vibe and talking reptilians! I love that they’re for sale at MOCA Tucson. Exit through the gift shop!
Kitty: Those were fun to make and are very id-oriented. I chose to mix Sonoran desert creatures with faces and text, using a limited color palette.

Ann: Tell me how your experiences in the meat market of fashion influenced your work. Did art help you survive the indignities of that industry?
Kitty: When I was a young model, I was subjected to a lot of sexism and sometimes even expected by my agents to go out with men and sleep with them (which I never did) in order to further the agency’s image. That was one of the many reasons why I eventually quit modeling. I saw myself as a professional doing a job, but that wasn’t always how others saw or treated me and the other models. A lot of this anger and humiliation did end up in my early work. In almost all of my art, past and present, the women are in positions of power, and the men who have wronged them are the ones being subjected to degradation and punishments. But then there are also the early works that depict my depressed and discouraged mental state where all the characters act out in suicide or homicide.

Ann: I’m so glad you acted out in your art and not real life! Art really does save lives! We were lucky to have that amazingly rich “alternative” universe known as the punk-rock/new-wave counterculture scene in downtown New York. And lucky, we survived it!
Kitty: I’m so fortunate to be an artist and writer and have a creative outlet for whatever goes on inside my head. Now, my life is wonderful, and I am in a stable, healthy place mentally, emotionally and physically. I still use my art and writing to express personal or larger issues of living life as a woman and human being. I’m not sure we’ve really come a long way, baby, so I keep putting it out there. Judging by how many young fans I have who relate and identify with my work, I see that world peace and gender equality still has a very, very long ways to go.

Ann: Thank you, Kitty. You continue to inspire. And I assure you, we both have come a long way, baby!

Good interview here as well.

Another photo after the jump.

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