By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Now, relaxed and refreshed from the meditation inherent in the concentration process, they leave the amusement center and head for their appointment in Hollywood.Marketing As Entertainment
They drive to the giant three-square-block, Tower Superstore. This computer-organized shopping center is the latest in total entertainment marketing outlets.
Today, a band is plugging its new album by performing in the small smoke-filled Tower Room Disco. A video program of their album plays on a screen behind them. The music is carried into the rest of the store by loudspeakers. In-store live shows are a significant factor in selling product. Short commercials periodically interrupt to advertise a new album or film.
Record stores entered the entertainment business heavily in the '80s in part to defend against record bootleggers, counter-feiters and low-cost mail-order companies. The stores also had to deal with the threat posed by the major performing arenas and concert halls. As concert promoters realized the size and purchasing power of their
captive audience, they successfully began to sell albums and rock merchandise at all live events.
This store is fully equipped to custom mix video discs according to customer preference. The buyer selects the sound track, cut by cut, and combines it with one of a variety of visuals available from the store catalog.
The adults section can even mix porno films to favorite rock, pop or country selections. Artist resistance to pornodiscs was overcome in the late 1980s when their accountants and managers realized the scope and purchasing power of the porno, and, of course, gay market.
Tower innovated the Gay section in 1980 and has always had the nation's best selection of gay porn. Starved for variety, Tower, and most other chains, have instituted revival sales to recycle long-dead albums and groups in new configurations.
Last month, the original Turtles were united to promote a 35-year-old album. This week an album by Lothar and the Hand People is No. 18 nationally. The 33-year-old Record sounds as fresh as new, remixed for today’s sound. The original tracks are available for serious mixers for $45. Bobby picks up the new videodisc by Cindy Silver, the sex goddess on his T-shirt. Steve buys a Cindy Silver poster (over 41/2 million sold). As they charge their purchases, a big board computer, readout over the checkout counter shows national sales of all discs. The charts readjust themselves instantly to reflect purchases, so it's always known which cut is number one on the charts.
A new artist has hit the charts. A bell goes off and a small buzz goes through the crowd. "Another instant millionaire," Bobby says.
The six-o'clock news will probably carry an item about the artist and songwriter, maybe the producer of the album. Most TV news shows and newspapers have a regular "Today's New Millionaire" feature. In mass-marketing America, millionaires are created overnight-though, of course, a million dollars isn't what it used to be. In fact, one of America's most powerful groups is the new billionaire's club, The group now numbers about 130 members from entertainment, sports, real estate, leisure drugs and, of course, oil.The Lady With The Tattoo
Steve points out a girl to Bobby. On her arm, is a tattoo in red of a running dog. It is an unusual tattoo even after the recent wave of popularity for the ancient decorative art, kicked off in the late '90s when a San Francisco company developed tattoo ink that faded in a year. The social stigma of permanence was eliminated and fashion set in.
"That's her," Steve says. Together they move to join the girl. "Let's go outside," she suggests. They stroll toward Sunset Boulevard and the Lillian Roxon Memorial Rock Museum and Center. Passing the modern building, they see a photograph of Lillian Roxon, the pioneer writer of the golden age of rock (1952 to 1969), for whom the museum is named. Inside, they know, is a free exhibit of the history of rock, including a display of Bob Dylan's wrecked motorcycle, rare recordings, Beatles clothes, historic guitars and assorted memorabilia from such early rock stars as Chuck Berry. An exhibit of holographic album cover art is featured this month.
As they walk, Steve and Bobby explain enough of the code-breaking system to permit the transmissions she is planning. The woman, a member of a lesbian artists and musicians collective, has been vouched for by a friend. Bobby detects an uneasiness about her that in turn makes him uneasy.
He attributes it all to the high risk of the situation. When the woman leaves, he says nothing to Steve.
That night Bobby passes up an opportunity to go with Steve to the "Disco Ranch" in Newhall, the giant drive-in disco with seven dance floors accommodating as many as 10,000 people. His parents have gone out for the night to one of the bigger vocales, the sing-along clubs that now flourish in every town in America. Vocales are to singing what discos are to dancing. Bobby considers them dumb but knows that some far-out thinkers, Andy Warhol among them, think that discos and vocales will merge as the wave of the future.
Bobby chooses to go to bed early. He selects a program for his "Nightmind", unconscious learning. Tonight he wants to refresh himself in English vocabulary and spelling, run through some muscle reinforcing sounds and listen to a short self-confidence program by a noted psychologist. The three-hour program will move Bobby’s life ahead as he sleeps. A short, dream-inducing tone serves as an intermission. In the morning he can test himself on the computer to determine exactly what he learned in his sleep.
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