The Dave Russell Interviews reborn ( Notting Hill Arts- 1967-72)


Hello Good People who read this blog

If you go back in time to my earlier entries you will find some interesting stories about Notting Hill in the 60s and 70s and also Anti-Media activities in the 80s , bits about the gigs before Club Dog etc….

However I have been having problems with technology and the Dave Russell interviews being repeatedly deleted .

Therefore I have re-issued part one of this interview on Youtube. It’s the first time I have ever done anything like this so don’t expect miracles!

Enjoy ! and to read onthe background to the things mentioned in this interview go back to my previous post called

Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Gong and more…(Episode One)

This was written back in the winter of 2007 and the weather today is about the same.

here is part two of the interview for more information go to my previous post

(Episode two) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell -Psychedelic rock bands, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, lightshows, poets, and drug-taking in a crypt

Part two

Part Three

of the interview below please see this post for more details:

(Episode Three) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Jazz, Psychedelic Rock Bands, Poetry, Frestonia, Release and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments

The final part

read more on

(Episode Four) Dave Russell – Notting Hill 1967-1972 The Free School, Destruction in Art Symposium, Friends/Frendz magazine and the Rural Retreat

Love and peace

Born2rant

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Goings on in Pentameters Theatre:Anti-Media event, rantings on TV, fashion slavery and incompetent policemen(Anti-Media stories part 2)


I was told to go to a fringe theatre in Hampstead called “Pentameters” above a pub called “The Three Horseshoes” opposite Hampstead tube station.
A lovely smiling woman called Leonie was running this theatre and had allowed the mysterious anti-media people to run an event there. She had no idea what she had taken on. In an interview with the Camden New Journal about her theatre she later said
“…I was doing some amazing shows. We did anti-media shows. And they were as radical as you can get.”
Considering that before us she recently had Rik Mayall , Jennifer Saunders plus some of the Young Ones and the Comedy Strip performing there you have to take this as a compliment.
I was quite nervous when I arrived at their first gig to perform my alien act complete with green slime and cling film. I was also there to do others things in the show but I had no idea what. We were backstage and a fairly manic tall young man was on roller blades wearing a pig’s head mask , he shook hands with me and introduced himself as Andy.
Hogan and Richard looked nervous and then said “Let’s go on”.
I said ” What? What do you want me to do?”
They said it didn’t matter we all just had to go on stage and improvise something,anything that came to our heads and be spontaneous.

So we went on stage. Me in my glistening glowing costume, Andy on his roller blades and pig’s head, then there was this quiet guy simply called “OM” who never said anything but was a cool gentle hippie who had cut his hair and now wore a Nazi uniform with a silver polished Nazi helmet and then Hogan and Richard in their untrendy attire.
That was my first experience of Anti-Media.
We walked around the stage area in interweaving circles mumbling things to ourselves and occasionally to one another to a fairly packed room.
Later I performed as Astragone, I had written an extra song called “The Television’s on Everywhere”
I can still remember the opening lyrics
” The television’s on everywhere,
If I want to know nothing all I have to do
is switch on to TV A.M. ,
I really must stay in to wash my brain tonight,
because Quincy is dissecting in my living room,
I hope the sofa don’t stain.”

and here is an Interlude….cue a potter throwing a pot…..an Interlude of ranting about TV:

You have to understand some of the reasons for our rebellion against TV. We were the first generation of children brought up with TV. Our parents didn’t watch it as much or if they did it was with some background of life without TV in their lives.
My mother used to say TV was a great babysitter.She told me how she could place me in front of it all day long propped up with a pillow when I was a little baby and leave me in front of the Test-Card with music playing while she worked . I reckon at least I had a pretty great early music education thanks to hours in front of the Test-Card and I remember from an early age imitating the sound of the TV going “ooooh” in perfect unison with the high pitched tone it would blast out once all the music was played and there were no more broadcasts. I used to sing to it. But don’t pity me I was a sixties baby and millions were like me, plonked in front of the TV from birth and through all the stages of childhood.
I used to have nightmares about advertisements for fairy liquid .The perfect woman/mother/housewife in it was coming to murder me and I had bad dreams about other advertisements too.
I used to have sleepless nights after watching horror films late at night from an early age with images of scenes from Hammer Horror films like flashbacks that stayed with me for years.
I heard debates of how important it was for women to have “sex appeal” and what was “sex appeal” and how we all had to be stick thin. I grew up with the messages that if you are not stick thin and do not have sex appeal that you are worthless and no one will love you.
Any psychologists who dare to say we are not brainwashed by TV and that our children are not affected by it are plain stupid, crazy or blind or trying to protect advertising / TV/ Film companies. Or maybe it’s like smokers in charge of telling us smoking is bad for us .They’ll tell us it’s OK for years until they get found out. Maybe they are simply in denial themselves.
TV is a passive addiction that induces a semi-hypnotic state. That is why advertisers use it. If TV was not the best vehicle to brainwash people with then why on earth would they spend billions on their 20 second slots to sell millions of products. Anyone with a logical brain or business sense can see TV is a brainwashing device even if it wasn’t designed to be like that.

At the time of the Anti-Media events we had a new channel, channel 4 .We suddenly had 25% more TV to watch in the UK and we now had just invented breakfast TV where you could still be half awake and watch TV. I remember when I first saw adverts in the morning, I couldn’t cope as there were times I thought I might be still dreaming and any tune from early morning ads would stay in my head for the rest of the day echoing round my brain like a tape loop.
I guess I’ve acclimatised to it now. I do love watching films and programmes, often the most shallow ones but at least I am an adult.At least I know that what I am watching is bad for my mental health in large doses just like I know smoking ten fags a day is bad for my physical health but I can make a choice. I try to limit my TV/film viewing to a maximum of 2 hours a day now and although I frequently fail ,I certainly feel emotionally and mentally better off from my TV diets. I think watching TV with other people if you are discussing and sharing the programmes is different you can question it but watching TV alone for hours on end should definitely carry a mental health warning.

End of ranting Interlude and back to recollections of first Anti-Media event:
After my alien act, I remember seeing Andy roller-blading in his pig’s head for a bit and possibly OM playing the guitar dressed as a Nazi.

Then of course there were the films made by Hogan and Richard. They liked to film people and scenes in the street :homeless alcoholics dressed in layers of rags , a dog wearing a big plastic collar to help heal some wound, footage of police riots at Wapping and the miner’s strikes. Their films were not staged but often interesting things happened on these and created more of a story. One film taken I think at Wapping showed a load of aggressive policemen standing in line taunting members of the public, one looked directly at the camera and suddenly blew his nose from a great distance deliberately expelling a bogey onto the camera lens and completely obscuring the picture. It kind of reflected their maturity in dealing with the public at that time.

An ad break to make a cup of tea or to rant about police in the 80s…..
We lived at a time of riots in Brixton ,Liverpool , Bristol and near revolution. National Front Skinheads and protesters from the Socialist Workers and The Communist Revolutionary Party were clashing and rioting in the streets.

As for my friends ,we weren’t interested in riots , we were listening to music and playing music and having a good time with our friends but we were constantly stopped and searched by the police .Myself and my partner used to get searched whenever we went anywhere in our van ( a 1960’s VW camper van…not a very good disguise for hippies). Eventually we twigged that our number plate was on the Special Branch computer probably because we had gone to the Stonehenge festival while it was still reasonably legal . Once we moved house and got another vehicle life was a lot easier, getting searched once or twice a day at times was extremely stressful and gave us a healthy disrespect for the law which came out in our creativity.But other “normal” friends of mine also got searched constantly. Some looked completely law abiding and respectable, one of our normal looking friends got searched four times on the same day in Finchley by different groups of policemen. They never found anything yet we felt nervous whenever we saw police walking down the street. There’s no denying the police really harassed alternative non-violent young people . They searched us hoping to find large quantities of drugs but they’d seen the “French Connection” ( not the designer label..the films!) far too many times and they had no idea how to find any drugs. In fact their search methods were hilarious except they were constantly humiliating us by strip searching all the guys in public, as a woman I was fairly safe as legally they needed a woman to strip search me and it was always men who stopped us . However I got frisked with my clothes on by male policemen which was pretty awful at times for a young woman. The only people I knew who got busted successfully by the police were the ones with dogs, they were far more talented at this. But to me drugs were not important , they are still not important to me and to the Anti-Media group drugs were not used or needed.

“And Now…..Back to the Anti-Media event…”
Our evening ended with a kind of open chat show. Hogan and Richard had invited a fashion clothes designer to interview him in a kind of open Terry Wogan chat show with questions from the floor.
The designer looked happy enough to start with sitting back in his chair, all debonair ready to answer questions on his new collection and how successful and great he was. Unfortunately for him though ….they had also invited someone who I think was from Oxfam, in any case they only wore charity shop clothes or ones from jumble sales. The designer talked about his work but then was challenged on clothes made by child slaves in sweat shops and how we didn’t need a constant supply of new clothes and how it made more sense ecologically to recycle all our clothes by buying second-hand. At that time charity shops were dirt cheap, much much much cheaper than Primark in case you were wondering. Also people from the audience joined in who shopped at Camden and bought second-hand clothes. They were commenting how we didn’t need designers to tell us or guide us on what to wear that fashion and style could be created by the wearer in an ethical way by sewing old clothes together to make new creations.
There were no set questions and no set beginning or ending or cute jokes like on a TV chat show. I know that now the ideas in this interview are pretty well-worn ( pardon the pun) but 23 years ago it was the very first time I had ever thought of fashion as being unethical and questioned who had made my beautiful Indian Hippie clothes. As an indirect result of that evening I then bought second-hand clothes for years and worked for a couple of years in an Oxfam shop where I made some fantastic friends. While writing this I have to say that although Primark has been my friend these past 2 or 3 years I think I’ll go back to making my own clothes or buying second-hand in less expensive charity shops. In fact even charities have been brainwashed and operate so much like businesses that there is hardly any difference. Some charities pay their employees such high revenues that people who only care about their bank balances are working for them.
After the Anti-media event we all went back to Bob’s who had recently moved to a flat a few doors down from Pentameters. Michael had come to see what I was doing although it was good for me to be involved in performance independently from our gigs and him . My alien act enabled me to do this subsequently in many different types of venue away from our psychedelic gigs. Some members of Treatment were also there and attended the subsequent Anti-Media events.
That was the first Anti-Media event I can recall but it got wilder as time went on…..

to see an interview with the lovely Leonie Scott-Matthews who was not part of Anti-Media but let us use her theatre see:www.camdennewjournal.co.uk/archive/f041203_3.htm

Modern Life is Rubbish and Harpers and Queen, glossy fashion magazine!(Anti-Media stories part 3)