From "The Making of a Cowpunk," April 4, 1986
It’s a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll, a Miss-Kitty-dumps-Matt-Dillon-to-join-the-Sex-Pistols kind of look . . . The "cowpunk" look, as it’s been dubbed, is rooted in such peripheral bands as Screamin’ Sirens and Blood on the Saddle . . . whose sound, too, is a classic case of blendo-ism. But before you dismiss this all as just another terminal undergound trend, wake up. Its fans are growing in numbers, and on any given day can be found perusing the pickings at Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills, or tripping through the tony boutiques on Rodeo Drive.
From "Bad Love," April 10, 1987
"I’m a bad girl. I’m never gonna be a good-girl actress." That’s Courtney Love doing the talking, co-star of the new too-cool-for-words Alex Cox film, Straight to Hell . . . And what does Courtney see coming up in the future? More films — films that show "the total experience of being a woman, that show people who are lonely and outcast. I couldn’t be Cinderella. I’m always the wicked witch. It’s not that I think the world is bad. It’s just that nobody talks about the bad as much as they should."
From "Fashionation," July 17, 1987
Blame it on Madonna: "Underwear as outerwear" is this year’s fashion story. What was formerly considered "intimate wear" — bustiers and camisoles, petticoats and pettipants — is being worn out . . .
From "The Re-Beat Generation,"
June 2, 1989
How does the post-punk-reactionary-neoconservative-noncommittal-tabloid-taught culture define itself? Not very readily. Abandoning faddish fashion contrivances and slowly relaxing into a low-maintenance, understated style, we’ve eased into "hip." In the great tradition of the Beat Generation, the nature of hip remains so subtle as to elude description. It just is. Drawing upon the cool sophistication of earlier hipsters — sans the angst, politics and road trips — you’ll find the Re-Beat Generation speaking sotto voce on de Beauvoir and Bukowski in smoke-filled coffee bars like the Sequel on Vermont, Gasoline Alley on Melrose and the Pikme-Up on Sixth . . . Re-Beats may offer a hint of something new. When the smoke clears, we’ll know if they’re breaking new ground or just coffee cups.
From "Great Bodily Charm," June 23, 1989
As the old order continues to break down and "highbrow" art and fashion become increasingly self-referential and unsatisfying, there’s been a revival of the primitive arts of body modification, such as piercing, scarification and, especially, tattooing. More and more people are seeking permanent stigmata to identify themselves as existing outside society — a mark of the beast that will serve as an antidote in a workaday world that seeks to claim our very spirits, a talisman that will confer power and identity.
From "Frieze Frame," September 1, 1989
Vogueing combines the sharp, highly stylized runway moves and photo poses of haute couture with fierce attitude and cool clothes; it’s ritualized posturing set to a beat . . . [a] recent New York trend possibly evolving out of the Harlem drag balls that have taken place since the ’60s . . . Voguers, L.A.-style, share the New York tendency to congregate as "houses" — a group who "show" together, and often with a "mother" or "father," the group leader of sorts . . . Competitions for the all-dressed-up-and-ready-to-strut-and-show are becoming more common in L.A. . . . There was a time when it was an insult to be called a "poseur," but vogueing turns posing into public entertainment. And anyway, in a city already narcissistically obsessed with image, how different is vogueing from what we do daily?
From "The African-American Aesthetic," December 15, 1989
I wanted something to wear that reflected my state of being, that had cultural relevancy. And with fashion’s current preoccupation with retro — in particular the psychedelic soul ’60s, when political consciousness awakened — I got it. A revolution of images is taking Afro-centric Amerika by storm with, as its No. 1 slogan, "It’s a black thang . . . You wouldn’t understand" . . . Where can you get the goods in mighty L.A., the first Third World city in the nation? The mystical Crenshaw District is waiting for those hard-earned dollars, and in many black neighborhoods, any corner grocery sells Africa medallions and Malcolm X T-shirts . . . Take a stand and dress up.
From "Remnants of the Social
Fabric," December 6, 1991
It’s a widely shared assumption that style is a frivolous topic, as illustrated in breathless fashion copy describing this or that designer’s latest whimsical/outrageous/sophisticated collection. Style means nothing more than expressing our interpretations of ourselves to the world through outward appearance (clothes, car, home décor), and either you’ve got it or you don’t, and enough said — or so goes the prevailing attitude. I’d argue that style is as much a cultural indicator as art, literature, pop music, film and politics; it both reveals and reflects us as a society and as individuals. The idea of style takes on profound meaning when certain kinds of baseball caps acquire a status so potent that people will kill for them. "Dressed to kill" — or be killed — has new implications.