In the mid 1970s, there was a crossover between punk rock and porno movies. Maybe it was because we were all fighting the system, or because we were looking for an anarchic and creative outlet for our energy. Or maybe it was just because we were kids with no money and we were acting out… I don’t know, but the reality was that a lot of us would hang out together. from Part 1: Elda Stilletto, Warhol, Glitter Rock, and the Birth of Blondie [NSFW, words & pictures]
The remarkable life and career of Elda Stilletto reads like a history of the 1970s New York music scene: she was a ubiquitous Zelig operating in a vibrant period when the city’s artistic world was at its most creative and exciting. Elda was a proto-feminist trailblazer, part of the Warhol, glitter rock, and punk movements. She had long relationships with legendary Andy Warhol superstar Eric Emerson, New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, and New York punk darling Television’s Richard Hell. She appeared in influential theater pieces and on the hallowed stages of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. She made stage costumes that inspired the flamboyant look of various bands when rock was at its most visual. There’s even a case to be made that without Elda, the superstar band Blondie would not have existed. And then there is the untold story of her adult film career.
Part 2: Debbie Revenge, The Punk in the Photograph For years, I wondered about this girl: who was she? What was her story? I found more pictures of her, and learned that her name lived up to expectations: she was Debbie Revenge. Part of a gang called the Revenge Girls. They ran a legendary punk clothing shop called Revenge in the East Village. They claimed to be the first punks to have colored and shaved hair, they turned up to every punk show, and kept pet tarantulas in a fish tank. I learned that Debbie was also an adult film performer. In fact, she had two separate adult film careers. The first, as a punk in New York, the second fifteen years later in Los Angeles. When I came across pictures from her west coast films, I noticed a big difference. Gone was the young, pouting girl in the photograph. Debbie looked much older, ill, and strung out. It was striking and disturbing. What had happened to the girl in the photograph? I tracked Debbie down – and heard her story. A remarkable journey from being a heroin-addicted underage prostitute in Times Square to her role in New York’s punk music scene, and what happened after that.
This is one of those stories from NYC in the seventies where, on the one hand, there are a whole lot of names that I recognize from my cultural formative years and I instinctively wish that I'd been a bit older so that I could have theoretically checked out that scene in person, and on the other hand, it sounds like it chewed up and spit out a lot of people, like this Eric Emerson guy, who I'd never even heard of. Sometimes there's an advantage to being a tourist.
my favorite photograph from the time didn’t feature anyone famous. It wasn’t even of a band. Just a couple of punk groupies sat on a staircase.
It DOES mention Velvet Underground and Nico? But the Factory is not the center of this story in my read.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed makes a nice accompaniment/coda to these articles.