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
It seemed to me as if they were from Mars, because even though it was 1970, 1971 in reality, the fact is that England in 1971-’72 was really still stuck in 1958. So, if you can imagine how 1958 was, and then suddenly you have the New York Dolls, they seemed so intergalactic, absolutely nothing to do with the human race, and thank heavens for that.
But really, people can no longer comprehend how bleak the turn of the ’70s was. There was nothing to buy. You couldn’t buy decent clothes. So therefore, when you would see somebody like the New York Dolls, you would be absolutely mystified as to where they actually found their clothes and their shoes, because certainly in Manchester, there were no accessories. Everything was very, very fundamental and very drab. So, the very idea of, as you term it, glitter rock, or, as some people term it, glam rock . . . It was more extraordinary than people can really even imagine. It was an absolute revolution.
If you can examine what was happening within music, if you can examine all the things that were successful, you can then realize how completely perverse the very idea of the New York Dolls was. For me, when something can break into the mainstream and it’s so obviously subversive, it’s worth its weight in gold. And to me, that’s what the New York Dolls were then. They were smashing through, and to hell with anybody who didn’t approve or didn’t like them. And even now, I look at the old footage and it’s an art form. It’s not even pop music. It’s art. The same goes for certain other people of that period — which was very brave, it was very robust, and it flew in the face of absolutely everything that was accepted and was approved of, and that really takes guts, I think.
The New York Dolls had a kind of — a weird kind of macho quality that T. Rex doesn’t have, or Bowie.
No. Well, Bowie was very womanly. He was very womanly when he originally broke through in England, and it’s largely forgotten now. But if you can imagine him walking onto a British television screen in 1972, it was very, very shocking, very shocking. And it was unimaginable — absolutely unimaginable. And even though punk was a worldwide revolution and fantastically so, it wasn’t quite as threatening as, as you term it, glitter rock.
Well, I usually say glam rock . . .
Well, glam rock. Well, both are slightly trite.
Yeah, what else do you say, though?
I really don’t know. I really don’t know!
Unfortunately, that’s just the American way of trying to pull in all the successes of the early ’80s and saying, we created this, we were part of this. Well, America wouldn’t take the New York Dolls. Rolling Stone would rather self-combust than write about the New York Dolls. Yet they’ll stick the Spice Girls on the cover, Britney Spears on the cover, and much to their shame.
You’re not a Spice Girls fan? Girl power?
I don’t see it as girl power.
No, I don’t, I really don’t, I really don’t. Patti Smith Horses: girl power. Yes.But not the Spice Girls. God forgive you. But of the era, who touched you the most?
Yes, yes, but he was very, very feminine, and there was a reaction against him in England, where he was hugely successful — and very talented.
So visionary, but it was all so very brief, I mean, five years at the most, and then he was just — over. And towards the end of his life, he was bloated, and he was still very young.
Why do you think it is, you have theories on why that kind of effeminate, whatever you want to call it, glam rock is somehow not embraced here?
People are afraid of it because they see that there’s a truth in it, there’s a truth in it for all of us. We all have the feminine side to our personalities, and most people in American society want to deny it, and the locker-room jock is celebrated always, even though their attitude is absolutely thick and useless, but it’s always celebrated, it’s never criticized. The feminine side is associated with art, and it’s threatening because it’s associated with intellect, and superiority.
Which it is! It is a superior way of being.
Most people, I find in life, do not want to be individual. They do not want to be individual. They want to walk in a pack; they want to be part of a herd. God forbid they’re ever considered to be special. And that’s why most people reproduce, because it proves that they’re a regular Joe. But there’s certainly such a pressure in American society to be that regular Joe.
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