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SATURDAY FEBRUARY 7

SUICIDE GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN

There's been a certain amount of gratuitous talk around the site this week, from me on this page and from others over at the Pub, about breasts, be they Janet Jackson's, Jordan's, Jodie Marsh's or Johnny Rotten's. So it seemed only appropriate I attended the Knitting Factory Thursday night for the New York stop on the Suicide Girls' debut burlesque tour, where breasts were not just part of the discussion, but the main attraction.

Having always applauded women who take control of their sexuality (in a non-Sun 'Page 3 Stunner' manner), I view the Suicide Girls site as a revelation, perhaps even a mild revolution. If you surf on over there (yet again, this phenomenon started on the Web, and yes, it was started by the girls themselves, not some manipulative media company), it's immediately apparent what's going on: punk-goth-alternative girls, mostly tattooed and/or pierced, so fully aware of how much more sexy they are than any number of silicon-enhanced porno chicks that they'll pose naked to prove it. The thing being that within the Suicide Girls' site, they're posing naked to a web community comprised of their peers.

...Peers who pour on the praise, it should be noted. Every Suicide Girl hosts an interactive blog, and every photo session immediately invites awe-struck comments of worship from others. With men, such open admiration would be considered homo-erotic; for the Suicide Girls, it's simply cool.

Beyond the blogs (posted not just by the girls who strip, but also by those who don't and by the many boys who have also signed up to the club), and beyond the discussion boards that host conversation on everything from masturbation techniques to ricin alerts, the Suicide Girls site enables its members to hook up off-line, runs a wider range of news stories than most daily papers, and posts many a magazine style feature. I was flattered to be interviewed about Hedonism in the Words section (keeping company with people like Martin Amis and Karl Hyde), all the more so because Hedonism was written about a period when such girls were genuine outsiders; my novel's lead female character, Monkey, is in fact marginalized even within the sex industry by her body modifications.

No such problem a decade later. And no surprise that as the cheerfully exhibitionist Suicide Girls gain mainstream media acclaim (they've featured on HBO's Real Sex, they've partnered up with Playboy, and Dave Grohl and Lemmy just enlisted some 66 of them for their new Probot project's debut video), the most outgoing of the pin-ups have decided to put out on the road. It certainly doesn't harm that the rise of their own fiercely proud, self-assertive feminine/feminist chic has coincided with the return of Burlesque, whereby the strip tease leaves its seedy connotations behind in the sex joints and moves into the more mainstream bars and clubs. Unlike the Super Bowl's feigned outrage, and unlike the Sun's male-driven titillation, modern Burlesque offers boobs in abundance, without apologies or excuses. It's fun for the whole family. Or at least for the adults.

Above left: Lemmy Loves Life... as Suicide Girl Katie's tattoo puts it. (Katie is also cover star of the new While You Were Sleeping.) Above right: Dave Grohl loves Suicide Girls life too...


So the nicest thing about the Knitting Factory Suicide Girls show was to see as many girls down the front ogling and cheering on the performers as boys. No shortage of people out with their lady lovers either, especially among the ladies themselves. And only the barest smattering of peep show rejects. The funniest thing about the night was that downstairs, in the Tap Room, the Factory was playing host to the most derivative and uninspired of frat bands, who had pulled the straightest Upper East Side crowd imaginable, leading to a totally incongruous mix of polar opposite cultures on the stairwells. But inside the main performance space, the Suicide Girls' audience was very much their own. Which meant, of course, they were truly at home.

The show, once the Girls finally got to it after performances by the fun-punk band Stupid and the direly unoriginal Bloom (sadly the tour didn't feel confident hitting rock venues without bringing rock bands in tow) was every bit as good-natured and flamboyant as hoped. Led by bright-eyed, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her–mouth, six-footer MC Tegan, the touring party started with a conventional strip tease routine set to 'Hey Big Spender.' At its conclusion end of which one man audience center loudly proclaimed "Hot Damn" and the rest of the crowd, male and female alike, echoed agreement.

Such comments proved superfluous as the show got steadily steamier and yet simultaneously sillier. The steaminess came mostly in the solo performances – a Cat In The Hat-attired girl stripping to an Eartha Kitt-like double-entendre song about a girl's pussy (cat); a seductive blues rendition of 'Little Red Riding Hood'; a leopardess moving beautifully to Björk's 'The Hunter.' These performances were artistic by any definition of modern movement and put the Kate Moss trend for pole-dancing back in its boring place.

It's Chocolate Balls time... The Suicide Girls enjoy a food-fight finale on stage at the Knitting Factory to a South Park family favorite.

The silliness came, not surprisingly, in the team routines: a 'Cheerleader-vs. Cool Senior' catfight to the Ramones' Rock'n'Roll High School; a light bondage duct-tape cop-and-robber routine straight out of a Penthouse editorial backed by Stealers Wheel's 'Stuck in the Middle With You'; a white-trash-drag in male Y-fronts grooving to her/his porno mag before being discovered and avenged by his/her 'lover', all set to Joan Jett's 'I Hate Myself For Loving You'. And finally, a hilarious whipped cream and chocolate food-fight, and then a lick-it-all-off-your-partner's-body fest to the Isaac Hayes South Park standard, 'Chocolate Salty Balls.'

You could only laugh. Which was largely the point of it. This was Burlesque exactly as it should be - stripping as erotica, but also as comedy - with the important caveat that the whole night was controlled and inspired by the lady performers themselves. The Jordans of this world can have their affairs with ex-Spice Girls' husbands (or not, as the truth may out) and sell themselves to the celebrity culture; the Janets can flash a breast with cold calculation on prime time television and risk the consequences. These girls are the ones truly taking control of their sexuality.


Playboy loves Suicide Girls too. (As long as they can choose the big-breasted, minimally-pierced ones, like Mary here.)

That, at least, is the positive spin on the phenomenon. The cynic – or perhaps just the experienced old hand – sees the Suicide Girls being co-opted by the mainstream even as we talk. The partnership with Playboy, for example, can be viewed as a victory for tattoos-as-turn-ons, but look at the grand old dame of girlie mags' first choice for pin-up. (As with the Suicide Girls site, Playboy will be asking for you to sign up for membership if you want more than a brief 'free tour.') Not only is 'Mary' bigger-breasted than all but one of the Suicide Girls who took the stage Thursday night, but she's also agreed to a particularly Playboy-friendly bodily modification since her last Suicide Girls-exclusive photo spread (hint: it involves bodily hair). Add in that she must be the most minimally-pierced of the entire roster of 266 (and counting) photo-providing Suicide Girls, for most of whom nipple piercings are a pre-requisite, and it's pretty clear who's compromised their credibility in this hastily-arranged relationship. (Hint: it's not Playboy.)

In addition, the sight Thursday night of so many barely-dressed girls (New York laws require pasties and panties, FYI) showing off their elaborate tattoos hinted at an alarming new conformity. As Steve Marchese writes in the new issue of Vice-influenced punk mag While You Were Sleeping, "Ten years ago, most of these girls would be unanimously voted best looking in their high school polls, egged on to run by their A-list peer group. Now, in a society where bodily modification is no longer underground or taboo, they get arm, leg, chest and back tattoos – of angels and stars and Betty Page - and while each is undoubtedly driven by honest self-expression, the view from above shows a large, homogenized army of girls as trendy, manufactured and unvarying as mainstream hip-hoppers sporting their requisite uniform of caps, throwbacks and faux-bling."

He has a point. (Then again, WYWS put one of the Suicide Girls on its cover: the editors clearly had a point of their own.) One reason I can't credit Siren, Snow, Stormy and Violet for their individual moves Thursday night is that they were genuinely hard to tell apart, except by tattoo minutia. Other than Tegan, only Brandy stood out visually and that for two blatant reasons: 1) she's non-Caucasian, and 2) to directly quote Tegan at the end of the night, she's "got the biggest tits I've ever seen."

But that's just my negative side talking. The optimist in me found the Girls' burlesque routine hot as hell, hilarious and humbling, all at the same time. It managed to be dirty and clean. It was definitely entertaining and certainly not exclusive. Can anyone say Girl Power?


THURSDAY FEBRUARY 5

KEEPING A BREAST

Yesterday I re-posted a picture of 'Busty Brit' Jodie Marsh, noting there's been a sudden surge in Google Image searches for her likeness. (And not only laughing at the fact that those searches are bringing people to iJamming! but reprinting the picture with the full intent it will bring MORE Jodie Marsh fans to iJamming!) No sooner do I upload than Lee from England pops into the Pub asking what the fuss is about Janet Jackson's breast(s) and alerting us to John Lydon's swearing antics on the Brit Reality TV show I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! Within hours, Rich from England has informed us that another former page 3 girl, Jordan (easily confused with Jodie Marsh, as I did initially in the Pub) is another competitor on the same show , and that "seeing her and her ample 'assets' day-to-day in just a skimpy white bikini is worth the daily hour slot on TV alone."

By this point, it's lunchtime and I'm in the physical company of another regular iJamming! pub regular, who points me to the Sun's website for the real low-down. We type in the URL (no, it's not bookmarked!) and on the front page Jodan is claiming an affair with David Beckham. Also on the Sun's site I see an absolutely brilliant picture of Homer Simpson impersonating the former Sex Pistols singer. Who apparently quit the reality show of his own volition yesterday. Because iJamming! is equal opportunity and can not justify printing pictures of Jodie Marsh for no other reason than to lure people to the web site, I'm printing this picture of a topless Lydon today. Though I think it should come with a Parental Advisory Warning.



Sticking with the media, but closer to my home, in this week's Village Voice, Robert Christgau, so-called Dean of Rock Critics, prints his monthly 'Consumer Guide' column and announces Massive Attack's 100th Window a 'dud'. Thanks for the heads up, Bob. Most of us reached a similar conclusion when the album came out – exactly a year ago. What can we expect next week? Christgau discovers drum and bass? Actually, next week we can expect his annual essay to accompany the paper's Annual Pazz and Jop Poll, in which over 1000 American music journalist's best-ofs for the previous year are tabulated into one highly influential chart. And outsiders wonder why Bob Dylan won Best Album just two years ago?

(In brighter news, this week's Step On is a recommended pick in both the Village Voice and Time Out. What are we doing right?)


I wrote last week about Brooklyn Papers' publisher Ed Weintrob using his own front page to assail developer Bruce Ratner's plan for a 'land grab' surrounding the proposed Nets Stadium over the Brooklyn-Atlantic Rail Yards. In his editorial, Weintrob pointed out the New York Times' conflict of interest - Ratner just happens to be the Times' real estate partner for that papers' new offices. Weintrob should look even closer to home. At rival publishers Courier Life (which publishes a number of similar papers like the Park Slope Courier, though there appears to be no web-site.), co-publisher Dan Holt apparently sees no contradictions between printing a gung-ho fourth page puff piece (Hoop Scoop: Bigwigs Back Basketball in the Borough) and an (uncredited) positive editorial endorsement 'In Support of The Brooklyn Nets.' The paper may well feel the arena is the right thing for the borough, and that no questions need be asked or improvements recommended. But they could at least make it a little less blatant that they've bought out with a little VIP treatment. For, accompanying the page four feature is a photo of Holt at the big press conference, offering a thumbs-up for the project - alongside Bruce Ratner himself. I don't know which is worse: The Times' veneer of journalistic independence or the Courier's complete disregard for it.


WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4

SEARCH ME!

Jodie Marsh: Printing this picture (again) ensures that people searching out her image will find themselves directed here. Hey, newcomers, that's the way the web works.

It's always fun to see how people end up at iJamming! For example, last summer, after reading about Jodie Marsh in Britain's Front magazine, I snagged a picture of her from Google Images, and asked readers to tell me more about her. Now, if you go to Google Images and type in 'Jodie Marsh,' that week's iJamming! home page is one of the first to come up. I hope the literally hundreds of people tracking down tacky pictures of Britain's renowned flirty Essex Girl are enjoying the rest of iJamming! Though I somehow doubt it.

Likewise the hundreds who type in the word Hedonism at various search engines every week. Naturally I want to believe they're desperate to find out more about my novel, but I know they're probably trying to find out more about the naughty Jamaican holiday. Do they surf right on out of here when they find out my Hedonism is set in Manhattan, not the West Indies? I don't really know.

At least those ones make sense. But how does anyone end up here by looking for 'Brazilian Diet Pills'? Or 'cooking disasters'? Or the 'American Porno Awards, all of which I typed in on the same specific search engines out of curiosity; if iJamming! came up, it certainly wasn't in the first list of results. Of course, in the manner of the 'miserable failure' google bomb, by printing those phrases today, I've now confirmed that future searches of those terms definitely WILL bring people here in the future. (Hey, future web surfers: welcome to iJamming! This page was posted on February 4 2004. Click on the Home button up above to see what we're talking about today.)

Fortunately, the web search engines are not entirely arbitrary. For those of you looking for 'TV On The Radio OK Calculator,' hey, so was l just the other week. 'Underworld quotes' are indeed here in abundance. Both' 2 Many DJs' AND '2 Many DJ's' can be found here. We don't fully satisfy those looking for 'cline ancient vines reviews' though we have no shortage of writing about Cline's wines; those looking for 'honig wines' also have a choice of features. We have, sadly, an obituary for 'Timothy White'. And yes, we did rave about Landon Donovan during the 2002 World Cup. Anyone know how his current season is going?


MONDAY FEBRUARY 2

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST

The first Hitlist of 2004 is in fact the last of 2003: Ten That Got Away. A few albums I'd been late in getting to, and a few I went back and bought through the recommendations of readers here and various Best of 2003 Lists. As befits a year when rock nationalism became increasingly irrelevant, the featured artists - Café Tacuba, Fiery Furnaces, Fonda, Hot Hot Heat, Mando Diao, My Morning Jacket, the Postal Service, Sidonie, Singapore Sling, Ted Leo/Pharmacists - hail from such disparate countries as Mexico, Iceland, Sweden and Spain, as well as the USA and Canada. (The lack of British artists also makes up for the predominance of UK acts in my various December Hitlists.) You can access the reviews here. Previous Hitlists are Indexed here.

2004 MUSINGS
JAN 26-FEB 1: Starsailor/Stellastarr*/Ambulance live, Tiswas, Wine Watch, Politics Watch
JAN 19-25: Brooklyn Nets? LCD Soundsystem, Iowa Primary, The Melody, TV On The Radio
JAN 12-18: The Unicorns live, New York w(h)ines, Sex In The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, S.U.V. Safety, Bands Reunited
JAN 5-11: Tony's Top 10s of 2003, Howard Dean and his credits, Mick Middles and Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones and Don Letts,

2003 MUSINGS:
DEC 22-JAN 4: Blind Boys of Alabama live, Joe Strummer, Year-End Lists, Finding Nemo, The Return of The King
DEC 15-21: Placebo live, Park Slope, Angels In America, Saddam's capture
DEC 8-14: The Rapture live, Guardian readers change lightbulbs, Keep iJamming! Thriving
DEC 1-7: Cabaret Laws, Ready Brek, Kinky Friedman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Lethem, Julie Burchill, Blizzard running
NOV 17-30: Lost In Music, Lost In Translation, Neil Boland, Political Polls, Press Clips, Australian Whines
NOV 10-16: Ben E. King live, Hedonism readings, A***nal, Charts on Fire
NOV 3-9: Brother Bear, Oneida, P. Diddy, Steve Kember, Guy Fawkes, Iraq, the Marathon
OCT 27-NOV 2: CMJ Music Marathon report, NYC Running Marathon preview, Prey For Rock'n'Roll, Yellow Dog, Gen Wesley Clark, Halloween
OCT 20-26: Television Personalities, defending New York rockers, Bill Drummond Is Read
OCT 6-19: LCD Soundsystem live, Renewable Brooklyn review, Blind Acceptance is a sign...
SEP29-OCT 5: New York w(h)ines parts 1 and 2, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium.
SEP 22-28: Atlantic Antic, Pacifists for War: General Wesley Clark and the Democratic Debate, Danny Tenaglia, Running Wild, Steppenwolf
SEP 15-21: Radio 4/DJ Vadim live, Manhattan Mondaze, Circle of Light, Renewable Brooklyn
SEP 8-14: Central Park Film Festival, Roger (Daltrey) and me, September 11 Revisited, The Raveonettes/Stellastarr* live, Recording Idiots of America,
SEP1-7: Film Festivities, Party Monster, Keith Moon RIP
AUG 25-31: Punk Planet, Carlsonics, Copyright Protection, Cline Zinfandel, BRMC
AUG 18-24: Black Out Blame Game, John Shuttleworth, British Music mags, Greg Palast, The Thrills live.
AUG 11-17: The New York blackout, Restaurant reviews, The Media as Watchdog, What I Bought On My Holidays
AUG 4-10: Step On again, Shaun W. Ryder, Jack magazine, the BBC, the Weather, Detroit Cobras, football and Rock'n'Roll
JULY 28-AUG 3: De La Guarda, The Rapture, Radio 4, Stellastarr*, Jodie Marsh, A Tale of Two Lions, Hedonism launch photos,
JULY 14-27: Manchester Move Memories, Hedonism is Here, Holiday postcard
JULY 7-13: Chuck Jackson live, Step On, Beverley Beat, British Way of Life
JUNE30-JULY6: David Beckham, Geoffrey Armes, Happy Mondays, Step On at Royale
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Feet Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE:


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2004




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FEATURED WINE:
Kunde Estate Sauvignon Blanc Magnolia Lane Sonoma Valley 2002

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
Ten That Got Away

NEW YORK W(H)INES Part 2

THE BEST OF 2003
Tony's Top Tens

FEATURED WINE REGION:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES
updated and re-designed

The DECEMBER HITLIST
Bruce, Bowie, Iggy, Joe and Jodie...

From the Jamming! Archives
TONY PARSONS on BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, 1984

THE IJAMMING! HITLIST:
Global Techtronica

THE DECEMBER HITLIST Part 2
TRIPPED OUT BRITS: Nine albums of vaguely psychedelic bliss

FEATURED ALBUM:
Eargasm by Plump DJs

FEATURED WINE:
Paul Durdilly Les Grandes Coasses Beaujolais Nouveau 2003

THE DECEMBER HITLIST Part 1
BRITISH DANCE MUSIC:
Down But Not Out

THE OTHER NEW YORK MARATHON: 10 Live Reviews from the CMJ Music Marathon, October 2003

THE OCTOBER HITLIST:
Albums from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Denmark, New York and New Jersey.

NEW YORK W(H)INES:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

DANCING IN THE DARK:
Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium

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