Author Archives: jonmwessel
Apparently in the 70’s and 80’s in Chicago (and probably else wear) gangs carried with them a nice little bit of PR – calling cards. These come from the days when a gang was more of a neighborhood crew then what it has become. These were the days of “fists, bats, and bottles” rather than AK-47s and drive-bys. Most of the gangs were just about the neighborhood and hanging out. Though I don’t think I’d trust The Almighty Gaylords or the Gaylordettes if I wondered into their turf.
The Almighty Bishops
From photographer Gil Rigoulet – “For four months, I followed Marco, Raynald, Michel, Éric, Boumé, Lionel, Titi, Denis, Alan, Jimmy, Laurent, Bouboule, and others, at home in their bedrooms, at work, in the King Bee record shop, at the market where they’d buy their outfits, and on their nights out. The boys all dreamed of moving to the United States and listening to Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, and Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers. They usually met up at the Liberty Bar, which dated back to the time when American air forces were based at Evreux in the early years of the Cold War. They hung out in parking lots where they repaired their classic cars—French Simcas, not Chevys”.
“Over the course of a few months, I went from being a photojournalist interested in them as subjects to someone they knew well; they invited me over to their houses, and I’d have lunch with their parents. After a while, they even invited me to come along to their hair appointments. Their salon was owned by Mr. Tuffier—a man who always wore glasses, a goatee, and a wide tie with a floral print. That was an honor: Mr. Tuffier was the quiffmaster of Evreux, so a visit to him was the most sacred of their activities”.
Burlesque, Burlesk, Burly-Q. However you spell it it’s still all the same – Great! Burlesque as a form of entertainment lasted a good long time. Starting in the 1860’s and sort of ending in the 1960’s with a resurgence in the 2000’s, Burlesque basically meant Variety Show with (hopefully) a striptease in there somewhere. It evolved into pretty much all Striptease by the 1950’s. Never overly raunchy or pornographic, Burly-Q was all about suggestion, the hope to see a shapely leg or glimpse of a breast. Toward the 60’s it got a bit dirtier, but as they say, “The times, they were a-changin'”.
Bryan Gregory (Gregory Beckerleg, February 20, 1951 – January 10, 2001) Bryan Gregory was an interesting guy. Standing not much more than 5’6″ in heals and hair Bryan made a splash on stage w/ his poka dot Flying Vee, black and white hair and an ever present cigarette. His career was spotty to say the least, Bryan helped form the first version of punkabilly killers, The Cramps in NYC in 76. He played guitaron their first 2 LPs, Gravest Hits and Songs the Lord Taught Us. Bryan left the band unexpectedly in Cleveland in 1980 (along w/ all the bands gear and only van). In 1980 he formed horror shock band BEAST – that lasted ’til 83 and then – Poof! What happened to Bryan? Rumors of Satanism, heroin overdose, porno stardom. No one knew what happened to Bryan, when in fact no one was looking all that hard. Truth is always much more boring than fiction and Bryan was no exception. Turns out he was running an adult book shop in Sarasota Fla. He was a zombie in George Romeros’ Day of the Dead, drew a bit and designed some jewelry. I prefer the Satanism story. He eventually made up w/ the rest of The Cramps apologizing for stealing all their shit and was living the high life of a Florida Man when he suddenly passed away from multiple system failure at the age of 49 on Jan. 10 – no one saw it coming. Bryan was cool, not a great musician, but he was cool. I loved his look and stage presence and best of all a story that sounded great and evil and mysterious but turned out to be a bit mundane and sad – though sitting in the sand in Fla. designing jewelry and drinking Mai Tais doesn’t sound all that bad.
Bettie Mae Page (April 22, 1923 – December 11, 2008) I’ve posted a ton of photos of Bettie over the years. She is a mixture of sex kitten and girl next door, sultry and fun loving all at the same time. The 1950’s No. 1 pin-up queen. Bettie was a knock-out. If you’re not familiar w/ her stop reading this and look her up right now. Hers is a story of sex, religion, fame and fortune, high highs and low lows. It’s a mystery w/ a happy ending. These aren’t her most famous photos – in fact some I’ve never seen before. Bettie would have been 94 today. Happy Birthday Bettie!