A flag created by Sveta Barabash, aka Ofelia, and her band of Soviet hippies. In 1975, they participated in an exhibition of nonconformist artists. The original flag (this is a reproduction), with the slogans “World without Borders” and “Make Hair Everywhere,” caused a scandal and was confiscated by the KGB. Image courtesy of The Wende Museum of the Cold War.
FROM THIS EPISODE
Andy Warhol co-founded Interview magazine in late 1969 as a “clever way to receive invitations to screenings and meet celebrities in society and entertainment,” writes art director Charles Churchward in the book “Hollywood Royale.” It was also, for Warhol, a way “to express his ongoing obsession with the idea of fame.”
Along with striking photography, the core of Interview was interviews, by celebrities of other celebrities, then a radical concept.
Interview fast became the bible of cool, and every aspiring musician or actor craved being featured on its cover.
In 1987 Warhol died, but Interview continued until it closed last week amidst dramas including staff being kicked out of their SoHo offices, lawsuits over unpaid bills, and accusations of misconduct against a stylist.
Despite its problems, Interview’s closure was a suckerpunch to many, including DnA contributor Jenn Swann, who wrote her first article for Interview, in the issue that would be the magazine’s last.
Born after Interview’s heyday, she explains why the magazine mattered, with its deceptively simple Q & A interview format, and the glamorized portraits that represented a “total reimagining” of the celebrity interviewees.
One of the artists responsible for this “total reimagining” was Matthew Rolston, the Beverly Hills-based photographer and video-maker who has shot many famous people for all the top glossy magazines.
But he got his start at Interview with an assignment to shoot Steven Spielberg, while still a student at ArtCenter.
Now he’s published a new book, “Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles.” Edited and curated by David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Hollywood Royale is filled with his highly glamorized 1980s images, among them Madonna channeling Marlene Dietrich and Michael Jackson regal in crown against corinthian columns.
The book includes several of his shots for Interview, such as a youthful Spielberg; Cyndi Lauper in a towering, jewelled headdress; Cybill Shepherd and Isabella Rossellini, both porcelain-skinned and luminescent; and Don Johnson with slicked back hair, dressed for polo.
Matthew Rolston. Cyndi Lauper, Headdress, Los Angeles, 1986 © MRPI (Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles).
The images represent his interpretation of 20th century glamour, which he says was invented and reinvented by movie star photographer George Hurrell, high-fashion photographer Helmut Newton and the painter and curator of celebrities, Andy Warhol.
Rolston talks with DnA about the “classic break” at Interview that launched his career; about his first visit to the Interview offices, where he witnessed Andy taking a lunch meeting with Nancy Reagan and the band Duran Duran, and about what made the magazine cool.
“The magazine probably never made a dime,” he says, adding that relative to the towering New York publications like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, “it was countercultural.
It had an unspoken but very present gay aspect... and a true love for Hollywood glamour -- in an ironic sense, in a postmodern sense.”
It was also “nowhere near the scale of what we have now in terms of photography, celebrities, social media, selfie culture -- none of that existed.”
Matthew Rolston’s career as a celebrity photographer began at Interview magazine, which announced last week would close. Photo of Matthew Rolston by Davis Factor.
Michael Shulman considers the legacy of Interview magazine
Interview magazine closes, ending a 50-year survey of Manhattan cool
Andy Warhol Protégé Matthew Rolston Taps Eighties Archive for ‘Hollywood Royale’
In the 1960s, the hippie movement flourished in California, quickly spread throughout the country and then overseas - to the Soviet Union.
Juliane Fürst is a historian at the University of Bristol in the UK, specializing in late Soviet culture.
Now a collection that she has assembled of Soviet hippie clothing, photographs and posters has gone on display at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City.
DnA tours the show with Fürst, and learns about sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and protest, Russia-style.
That meant lots of Beatles, no Grateful Dead; free love but not free sex; more substantial footwear than their Berkeley counterparts; hallucinogenic drugs made of Latvian cleaning agent; handmade jeans and guitars -- and a brutal crackdown from the authorities, “which included forceful cutting of hair or trousers, imprisonment, and incarceration in psychiatric hospitals.”
Cardboard-mounted plastic-covered image of two hippies in blue jeans, with various rock music and political stickers on the sides, referencing, among other things, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and the Polish underground workers’ union Solidarity, c. 1982. Image courtesy of The Wende Museum of the Cold War.
“They saw themselves as part of a global movement and they wanted to imitate it,” says Fürst. “But very quickly they started to develop their own brand,” partly in response to the fact that “they were living under very different circumstances.”
Soviet hippies outlived their Western role models, lasting into the 1990s and inspiring Soviet rock music, which, concludes Fürst, “really played a huge role in the dissolution of the Soviet empire in the end.”
The exhibition, called “Socialist Flower Power: Soviet Hippie Culture” is on display at The Wende Museum in Culver City through August 26.
Azazello, Hippie Peace Ship, 1992. Image courtesy of The Wende Museum of the Cold War.
Juliane Fürst, Social and cultural historian, University of Bristol
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