September 29, 2017

PRISONER SCARLET 50TH

It was on this day in 1967 that two groundbreaking programs made their debut: Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner and Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. If mystery/adventure of the early 1960s captured the youthful and optimistic energy of the jet-setters, these two programs marked a growing sense of consequences and uncertainty for agents of the space-age and Vietnam era.


McGoohan's Danger Man had been on the air since September, 1960. His stories often exposed the darker side of espionage: moral sacrifices deemed necessary to protect the common good. His John Drake, though slightly insubordinate, presented the image of a man who could recognize -but look beyond- the distasteful consequences of his job in order to carry out his duties. His critique rose to a boiling point in a number of episodes (Yesterday's Enemies, To Our Best Friend) and ultimately became a foundation in his next project, The Prisoner (1967-1968). McGoohan's character in The Prisoner, now an unnamed spy, has resigned his job on a matter of principle. He has been kidnapped and placed in a remote village, where he undergoes constant psychological torture to determine why he resigned and whether he will spill his secrets. Capturing a later-1960s mistrust of authority, he never discovers if his torturers are the enemy after his secrets or his own people testing his loyalty (or indeed, his own mind). Known as Number 6 in the Village, McGoohan's character epitomized the theme of individual freedom, liberty, and rebellion against a surveillance state and conformity. There was a 2010 mini-series based on The Prisoner, starring Ian McKellen. Although it didn't quite measure up to the original, the show did a good job bringing the "Village" concept up to date in the form of complacent, consumeristic communities we see developing around trends in globalization.


Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation programs, high-octane Sci-Spy adventures, had appealed to kids throughout the early 1960s. After establishing himself with inventive programs like Supercar, Fireball XL5, and Stingray, he found international success with Thunderbirds (1965-1966). The show had Anderson's familiar cocktail of futuristic gadgets and intrigue, and featured blockbuster stories that focused on a network of global rescuers determined to keep the world safe. But as he moved into the later part of the decade, Anderson, like others, moved toward darker themes of human nature and consequences, which echoed conversations around the Vietnam War and Cold War. 


Anderson's next project, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-1968), began with a team of space explorers discovering a mysterious city of energy. In a single act of misunderstanding, the explorers mistake an innocent Mysteron gadget as a weapon and obliterate the city from the planet. As it turns out, the aliens can re-create any matter that has been destroyed. The city magically returns and the Mysterons vow to take revenge on humanity for its cruel, aggressive nature. The program was a much more violent affair. Even the hero, Captain Scarlet, began the series as an alien-constructed double agent assigned to assassinate the world's president. There was even a devastating suicide-bomber scene in the pilot. Once Scarlet was killed, however, he was able to regenerate and escape alien control. This established the arc of each episode, where the hero ultimately experiences a brutal death and resurrection. His colleague, Captain Black (below), remained a rogue killer-agent for the enemy. Children's programming? Dark times indeed!



If these two programs illustrated transitions in the popular imagination, the trend seemed to take an odd turn by the following year. In a visit to the 1968 Exhibit in Oakland, I was struck by the odd juxtaposition of truly violent historical experiences in the news, public anxiety and protest, and the strange effort of (especially US) mainstream TV to create a lulling oasis with shows like Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, and I Dream of Jeanie. Filmmakers had more liberty to present subversive material, creating films like Easy Rider, The Monkees Head, and Night of the Living Dead. In the UK, The Prisoner and Captain Scarlet illustrated a culture trying to cope with the circumstances of the times within a mainstream medium. Whether it was questioning freedom and individuality, or consequences and culpability, these programs stand the test of time because they weren't afraid to ask questions and to frame them in ways that evoked excitement and real empathy. Spy Vibe wishes a very Happy 50th anniversary to The Prisoner and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Related posts: Review: The Prisoner Vol 2 (Big Finish), Interview: The Prisoner Guide Portmeirion Photography 1Portmeirion PhotographyThe Prisoner London Flat, Alan Hayes Prisoner Audio ReviewInterview: Ian OlgivyInterview: Brian GormanPrisoner SupergrassPrisoner XTCPrisoner XTC 2Prisoner DC Fontana, The Prisoner 50th Event, Gerry Anderson ComicsInside Gerry AndersonAnderson documentaryThunderbirds Comic CollectionLicense to Kill PuppetsAnderson ModelsSylvia Anderson FashionThe Prisoner and Captain ScarletSet Design Countdown #9Nehru Jackets, Spy Vibe Radio #6 (The Prisoner)


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Hugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

September 27, 2017

HUGH HEFNER R.I.P.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has passed away. Hef grew up dreaming of becoming a cartoonist, but found that his greater talents lay in his ability to envision a personal view and approach to living that, as it turned out, many men could relate to. The would-be cartoonist and his creation, Playboy, became a major influence in the 1950s and 1960s, entertaining a way of life based on pleasure, curiosity, and a male aesthetic. He rebelled against the stifling Puritan traditions in the culture, calling out their hypocrisies, and rejected the post-war American ideal based on family and a suburban lifestyle. Instead, he championed what he believed to be a liberating outlook rooted in natural instincts (from a male-fantasy point of view) and his magazine sported gorgeous gals, cutting-edge humor and fiction (he said James Bond and Playboy were a natural pair), hi-tech gadgets, and images of modern pads that electrified the imaginations of men weary of caving to the nine-to-five paradigm of the grey flannel suit-set. History professor Elizabeth Fraterrigo has written a study of the magazine’s influence: “In the 1950s and 1960s, Playboy promoted a decidedly masculine vision for the realms of home, work, and leisure in its textual and literal construction of their spatial corollaries- the bachelor pad, the white-collar office, and the realm of urban nightlife- which served as counterpoints to the cultural emphasis on the suburban-situated nuclear-family home. Through its magazine, television programs, and key-clubs, Playboy identified spaces where men could craft and nurture a masculine identity based on style, leisure, and consumption” (Elizabeth Fraterrigo/UNLV). He was a well-known movie fan and he shared his passion through film preservation and conservation and regular screenings of classic movies at his mansion. Hef was also a patron of the arts and champion of free speech and civil rights. He used the Playboy banner to host an annual jazz festival, as well as to spotlight innovative and revolutionary thinkers and entertainers on his television programs, Playboy's Penthouse and Playboy After Dark (I recommend the Lenny Bruce and Pete Seeger episodes). One of his most controversial debates was with William F. Buckley Jr. in 1966 (watch it on Youtube). His political work continued into his final years, proclaiming that the fight for gay marriage was the continuing fight for the sexual revolution against our past, puritanical times. Hef was married five times and had four children. He finally hung up his velvet robe and left today at the age of ninety-one. Mark Hammill posted today on Twitter: "1st met him months B4 Star Wars opened- Expected stereotyped swinger/wildman not the kind-thoughtful loyal friend he always was to ML and me." Rest in peace. Related posts: Interview: Playboy Deana and Swinging London.


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

JACK GOOD R.I.P.

Jack Good, producer of Oh Boy!, Six-Five Special, and Shindig has passed away. If Pop music was the epicenter of the 1960s cultural revolution, we can't overlook the impact Good had on shaping the way the youth generation saw and experienced the many styles and trends via television. Joining the BBC as producer of Six-Five Special in 1957, Good's vision was to move away from elaborate sets so cameras could film through the milling crowds of kids and dancers to the musicians. Like so many facets of the period, he shifted attention toward a dynamic, active sense of participation- a style that would continue to influence the look and vibe of music programs. A lesser, narrative film adaptation of the Six-Five Special was made without Good in 1958, which remains a time capsule of an era when the music scene was dominated by cross-genre artists from Trad Jazz, Skiffle, and Pop Vocal (It's Trad Dad by Dick Lester in 1962 improved on the idea). Jack Good left the BBC in 1958 to create Oh Boy! for ITV, which focussed more on Rock and Roll. His efforts helped the careers of a golden roster of stars in the UK such as Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, and Marty Wild. He produced an early Beatles special in 1964 called Around The Beatles. And like producer Joe Boyd and Tad Jazz frontman Chris Barber, Good was also a champion of the American Blues (rhythm and blues) boom. His attempts in the early 1960s to create a show for the US market finally developed into Shindig! in September 1964. The musical series brought artists like Bo Diddley, The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Cilla Black, The Dave Clark Five, Donovan, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, Georgie Fame, The Pretty Things, Johnny Rivers, The Supremes, The Who, Howling' Wolf, The Yardbirds, The Zombies, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones into living rooms everywhere. But things moved quickly in the 1960s and the program's wave lasted only two years (Good left in 1965). In the UK, the show was cancelled in 1966 to make room for a new phenomenon, Batman. Jack Good appeared on a number of other programs, and he produced the infamous Monkees special: 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee in 1969. Jack Good devoted his later years to painting and to his commitment to the church. He died on September 24th at the age of eighty-six. Learn more about Oh Boy! and Jack Good


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Interview: Shaken Not Stirred, Callan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

September 26, 2017

INTERVIEW: SHAKEN NOT STIRRED

The incredible world of James Bond is filled with action, style, saucy theme songs, and playful innuendo- perfect ingredients for cabaret! I sat down this week for a quick chat in the Spy Vibe lair with my old friend Peter McCabe to hear more about his new project, Shaken Not Stirred, which he created with Damien Gray. Since our days at boarding school, where he excelled in the dramatic arts, Peter has spent his years as a New York based writer, teacher, actor, producer and dramaturg. He writes off-off Broadway plays, and burlesque operas, has taught writing and literature at the City University of New York, produced LIZZIE (a rock and roll musical about the double bludgeoness Lizzie Borden), and has been the Resident Dramaturg at the HERE Arts Center since 2009, where he assists in the development of inter-disciplinary theater work. Now he and Gray have aimed their talents at 007 to create Shaken Not Stirred: The Music of James Bond. As their press invites: "Come dressed to kill, grab a drink, and take aim at a night of music with everyone's favorite secret agent. Served straight up with a twist, Shaken Not Stirred: The Muisc of James Bond is New York's favorite cabaret of intrigue, featuring songbook hits like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, and more. You can Die Another Day- don't miss the dancing assassins, variety performers, and New York's top musical talent in this immersive cabaret perfect for Bond fans, secret agents, and anyone looking for a great martini." Welcome, Pete!


The show sounds like a fun cocktail of James Bond tunes, satire, and burlesque. Tell us a bit about the program you’ve created.

The program we've created is a concert, that happens all around you. People eat, drink, and are entertained in any direction they look. There are a lot interactions between the performers and the audience, private humor, individuated encounters, sometimes the dancers will take audience members out for a private experience, there's certainly a generous share of surprises, but the meat of the show is great singers singing great songs.

Nice! What are some of the Bond conventions you reference? It sounds like you played with Fleming’s knack for innuendo. 

We've created a character who fancies himself a well dressed ladies man. We have some sultry sirens who are beautiful, but dangerous. We have a trio of dancers, who play on the Bond Girl fantasy, a few villains, and yes, no shortage of innuendo. The fun thing is once you start there's no need to stop. The Man with the Golden Gun, etc.



With 007 music going back to 1962, how did you guys choose which songs to include?

We put a list together that mixes and matches the songs in a progressive order, big, small, fast, slow mash up, etc. There is a "thinly vailed narrative" that loosely weaves them together and allows for a lot of humor and double entendre, but mainly songs best suited to the singers' voices. If you've ever hung out with musical actors after hours, and they top each other with their favorite tunes and backstage humor; that's a lot of the feel of the show.

Sounds fun! Where can Spy Vibers see it? How long will the show run?

The show has two performances every Sunday at The Django- this beautiful restaurant/jazz club in The Roxy Hotel in New York, through November 19th. Tickets can be bought at Shaken Not Stirred. There are two different versions of the show with different casts and slightly different programs. We are hoping to expand and have the show in Las Vegas and Miami.


That would be fantastic! And It's cool to hear the audience can have different experiences depending on their time of entry. I don’t think we ever chatted about Bond in High School (confession: I often carried a Walther PPK capgun in the breast pocket of my blazer in an early form at Cosplay during formal events!). What were your fave Bonds growing up?

I was a Sean Connery guy for the Bonds, but I always preferred the Villains. Jaws, Odd Job, Dr. No, and the like.

Pete, if you were a diabolical mastermind, what would you choose as your secret lair?

I am a diabolical master mind, so I think an urban palace with lots of spiral staircases, secret passageways, an Edwardian library, and access to the launch. A friend went to Prince's house and said he had a glass-top, pool dance floor with an ankh in his private house club- maybe with one of those!


I always knew you were a master mind! Your secret is safe with us. Folks, I still have vivid memories from our youth of enjoying Peter's energy and talent for theater. And now- James Bond! I urge Spy Vibers in the NYC area to make time for this 007 experience. Performances run Sunday nights September 10 - November 19, 2017 at The Django, a Parisian jazz age inspired club in The Roxy Hotel." Tickets available here. 


In other news, check out my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show out of Australia: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), and Episode #5 (The Avengers), and Episode #6 (The Prisoner), Episode #7 (The Ipcress File). And tune in to Cocktail Nation -the number one lounge music radio show- every week for cool soundtracks, swingin' jazz, news and more. Hey, did you know Spy Vibe recently passed Two Million visitors? That was an exciting milestone! Thank you Spy Vibers for helping to celebrate 1960s Style in Action! If you can help us out, please consider dropping a few bucks in our Paypal tip jar at the top-left of this page. Thanks!


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Spy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.
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