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Posts Tagged ‘1980s new wave’

This past summer (2019), someone showed one of those online deals through a site called Goldstar. He thought I would be interested in a concert featuring ’80s New Wave bands. He wasn’t wrong. When it comes to music, my tastes are a bit frozen in time. While I listen to all genres, my favorite style of music is anything from the 80’s Post-Punk era. That’s right, I’m the queen of knowing who all these obscure musicians are. So he’s showing me the concert ticket deal, where tickets prices were slashed to ten dollars. The event was called The Lost ’80s. Once I saw that Annabella Lwin, former vocalist from Bow Wow Wow was on the bill, it was a done deal.

The rest of the bill didn’t seem bad. Most were acts from my adolescence; The Motels and Flock of Seagulls stood out the most. The venue was located in Coney Island, Brooklyn, at the Ford Amphitheater. That way if the show tanked, Ben and I could always head over to the boardwalk instead.

Annabella Lwin was the performer I was most excited to see live. I had a few Bow Wow Wow releases in my teen music collection. Everyone now associates the band with their biggest hit, a cover of I Want Candy. Before they first arrived on the U.S. airwaves, they were already causing a bit of a ruckus. Bow Wow Wow was a product of Malcolm McLaren, the former manager of The Sex Pistols. Not one to rest on his volatile laurels, he moved on to the next British youth movement. This time, it was the New Romantics. McLaren collaborated with his then girlfriend, designer Vivienne Westwood to create the band’s look. The majority of Bow Wow Wow was the band McLaren swiped from Adam Ant. Annabella was the last piece of the puzzle. Word had it that Lwin was only 13 years old when she was initially discovered.  A talent scout stumbled upon her singing along to the radio at the laundromat she worked at after school.

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McLaren was never afraid of controversy. This could explain why Annabella was seen posing nearly naked next to her fully clothed band mates on the infamous album cover for See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gand Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! It was a recreation of the painting Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) by Édouard Manet. Lwin was only 14 years old when that photograph was taken. By today’s standards (2019), being 14 and posing nude would not be acceptable. That same photograph would be used for the U.S. release of the E.P. The Last of the Mohicans

I remember the cover very clearly, thanks to my mother’s reaction. During my preteens, my mother used to go shopping at the department store Alexander’s. It was a quick ride on the subway from Astoria, Queens to Manhattan, 59th Street and 3rd Avenue. My favorite section of Alexander’s was their small record department. One day while my mother and I were shopping, I pull out a copy of Last of the Mohicans. My mother was horrified because she could clearly see how young Lwin was. She ordered me to put the record back. Which I did, but it should be noted that I eventually brought a used vinyl copy of that EP a few years later. My mother had no knowledge about that purchase. (My mother was also repulsed by a record cover by Nina Hagen – Nunmonsexrock. Later brought that one too.)  As a middle aged adult, now I can see my mother’s POV. After all, a fourteen old teen should not pose nude.

In another post I’ll discuss Annabella and Bow Wow Wow some more. Back to the Lost ’80s concert. Because I wanted to see Annabella, we showed up early to the concert like two nerds. Most of the people on the bill would be categorized as ‘one hit wonders.’ We’re talking about acts like Real Life, When In Rome UK, etc. The audience trickling in was lackluster. I’m not sure if they were there for the music, or was it something to do on a Friday night. The venue itself wasn’t much to write about either. Seating was bare minimum. The white ceiling was looked like heavy camping material. The sound itself was sub-par. It wasn’t impressive. Forest Hills Stadium was a much better venue than this. It’s only saving grace was the scent of the beach trailing in from the boardwalk.

Annabella Lwin was on the very beginning of the bill, in which she only performed three songs: “I Want Candy”, “Go Wild In The Country” and “Do You Want To Hold Me.” Afterwards, she was off stage in a flash. That’s how the Lost ’80s concert went for most of the night, until The Vapors came on stage.

The best band of the night, in my opinion was The Motels. Like Annabella, Martha Davis and her crew only performed three songs. Yet Martha’s voice was on point. It was a pleasant surprise, leaving me wanting a bit more than what Boys Don’t Cry had to offer. I thought The Motels had gotten the shaft on this bill. They performed “Only The Lonely”, “Suddenly Last Summer” and my favorite, “Take The L”. Just like Annabella, The Motels were gone in a flash.

What we didn’t know was in-between sets, you had a chance to take photos with various artists. I found out too late than Annabella was doing a signing after her set. So we jump on line, but time was limited. I was the next person up when security came down and told Annabella she had to stop. That was rather disappointing. As they whisked her away, I gave the middle finger behind security’s back, which wouldn’t helped my case anyway. There were other bands offering to do signings and photos, but I lost interest.

I managed to see Ben smile two sets: during Real Life when doing “Send Me An Angel” and When In Rome’s set as they performed “I Promise.”

Don’t ask me how Boys Don’t Cry was. I went to the bathroom during their short set.

As the night wore on, the amount of songs during sets increased. The Vapors, who were the textbook definition of a New Wave one hit wonder managed to get four songs instead of three. Of course they did “Turning Japanese.”

Then to my annoyance, Dramarama got a full set! They weren’t bad, but in my eyes, they were more of a late ’80s/early ’90s ‘Alternative’ band. Around this time, people that were originally sitting near us had moved up to the front. The venue wasn’t being strict on seating. Ben and I decided to stay where we were at because we were too comfortable to move. From there we could do our reenactment of Standler and Waldorf. Hey, those are my childhood heroes. As Dramarama was performing a tune called “Last Cigarette”, Ben goes “Last Cigarette? They’re smoking the whole pack! Why do they get a whole set!?!”

Later on I found out the venue itself were desperately trying to fill up the seats. At the last minute, they were letting people in for free.

Last band of the night was Flock of Seagulls. This was the third act I was waiting for, after Lwin and The Motels. Flock of Seagulls got a full set, but they were beset feedback issues. The sound mix at the Ford Amphitheater was pretty poor. It wasn’t a total lost. Flock of Seagulls did all my favorite songs, like “Photograph” and their biggest hit “I Ran.”

Hey. Not going to complain over a ten dollar ticket. After all, the New Wave style continues to have some kind of influence over me. Ford Amphitheater itself was poorly run. In the NYC summer months, Forest Hill Stadium is the much better choice. We still managed to have fun. After the show we walked along the boardwalk, before heading back to Queens. It’s nice to visit the past, but one can’t stay there.

On that note, here’s my quick sketch of Annabella Lwin. Pen and ink. I did not want to draw her as barely clothed New Wave Lolita. Instead, my choice was her dressed in classic 1981 Westwood pirate gear. As an adult, I would still love to own a Vivienne Westwood “squiggly line” shirt. A bit of nostalgia while trying to live in the present.

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Quick illustration of Annabella Lwin, best known as the vocalist for the early ’80s New Romantic/New Wave band Bow Wow Wow. Drawn by Michele Witchipo, pen and ink. Done Jan. 2020.

 

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A few weeks back I attended the Culture Club and The B-52s concert over at Forest Hills stadium. It wasn’t my first seeing both of these acts live. It was more that both groups were such a part of my early teen years, and that it was right in my own backyard in Queens, NY.

When I was about 11 or 12, I brought the first B-52s album. I was the first kid on the block to have that record, and most likely the only one. It was early ’80’s in lower working class Queens. I was considered the school weirdo. Having this album only solidified my case. Not that I really cared.

When my friend used to come over, I introduced her to Rock Lobster. I made her wear old wigs dug out from my mother’s closet, which my mom wasn’t too happy about. I wasn’t happy because the wigs weren’t styled like in beehive hairdos. In my bedroom we pretended to be Kate and Cindy, wearing mom’s old forgotten wigs. We danced to most of the songs on side one, because vinyl still ruled in those days. That album cover is still pretty iconic to me.

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Eventually I grew out of The B-52s. By the time “Love Shack” hit the charts, I was more into Post Punk, Goth, Industrial and anything non mainstream.

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Concert attendee at the Culture Club/B-52s show at Forest Hills stadium. Sat. July 28th, 2018. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

Fast forward to July 2019 in Forest Hills stadium. (Wasn’t the band’s first time. The B-52s played Forest Hills stadium back in 1983. Most of the crowd was dancing to such classics like ’52 Girls’, ‘Planet Claire’, and what surprised me was ‘Mesopotamia.’ Of course they played ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Roam.’ You can see their set list here.

Thus leads to the first of the two latest sketches of the week. Decided to throw in two instead of one, due to last week’s absence.

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Psycho Bunny’s friends as The B-52s. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo on WitchesBrewPress. Aug. 2018.

After The B-52s came Culture Club. I’ve mentioned dressing like the two women from The B-52s. However, it was the arrival of Boy George that took it from the bedroom to public display. I began to copy the Boy’s look. While going to class, I wore the hat, the baggy clothes, etc. Even had his dance moves down. Once again, I was the first kid on the block to embrace Boy George and crew. Also one of the very few. Boy George wasn’t very popular in the junior high I attended. In fact, that’s when I experienced homophobia.

Dressing like Boy George gave people the impression that they could insult me. Everyday I heard nasty remarks from other schoolmates such as “You know he’s gay, right?” “Why do you like him? He’s a man dressed like a woman!” “Boy George is a fag!” “Fag lover!!!” “You look like a freak!” “Hahahaha….” It was usually followed by “Why don’t you be normal, and listen to Michael Jackson like the rest of us?” Which led to my distaste of anything remotely related to Michael Jackson. To this day, if I hear just a few notes from a Jackson song, it makes me nauseous. I just equate Michael Jackson to general hypocrisy. Jackson is dead, and I still can’t stand the guy. It’s not his fault. It was my junior high classmates. The association. His music and image still reminds me of everything fake in today’s pop culture.

Because of all this rude behavior, it influenced me to look beyond my immediate Queens surroundings. I applied for those magnet high schools just to get away from all those rotten close minded classmates. Eventually I got accepted into the High School of Art and Design. Thanks to Art & Design, it lead me straight into a path of downtown Manhattan subculture, discovering Greenwich Village, stumbling upon small import record shops, cool clothing stores, and of course, Punk and Goth. Thus my high school years fared a helluva lot better than junior high.

I’ll never forget when word came out that I was not heading towards that local war zone, Byrant High School. Some guy quipped “oh, so you’re not going to the same high school as everyone else? What’s the matter? You’re too good for us now?”

Uh actually, when I think about it…yeah.

Not going to Byrant was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. From what I heard years later, my suspicions were all confirmed. Thanks, but no thanks. This should explain my misanthropy.

‘ “Why does everybody gets so excited when we go back into the past? It just amazes me. It’s just metaphorical.” ‘ – Boy George during the Culture Club concert at Forest Hills stadium, New York. Saturday July 28th, 2018. 

But high school is high school, and life is a lot more than that. It’s still nice to reflect, take in some nostalgia, acknowledge your influences. To be ruled by the past though, is a prison you don’t want to be trapped in. Boy George definitely didn’t want to relive his past. In fact, most of the songs on the Culture Club set list was more like a rock and soul revue than Culture Club’s greatest hits. The opening song was a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Fret not, they still did some of their greatest hits.

‘ “We’re a living, breathing soap opera. The amount of collective drama on this stage would kill a beginner.” ‘ Boy George during the Culture Club set at Forest Hills Stadium, Saturday July 28th, 2018. 

I appreciated that Culture Club didn’t want to rest of their retro laurels. Boy George himself waxed philosophically that night on the Forest Hills stage. He came across as intelligent and witty. There were times you sensed that he’s acknowledged lessons learned from his past experiences. This was evident with their recent single “Let Somebody Love You.” You never would’ve guessed he assaulted a male escort back in 2009. Then there was the time when he rebuked my friend’s request for an autograph that was meant to be for his mother. His mother was in her final stages of MS.

 Oh that Boy George. He’s such a Gemini.

Despite his shitty transgressions, I will always be thankful for his influence upon my life. It was a positive influence. His public image taught me that it was okay to think outside the box, to be yourself. If it wasn’t for him, Siouxsie Sioux, Joan Jett, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, and David Bowie, my outlook might’ve been very different. Probably a lot more bleak.

While I did accomplish a lot, I’m still residing in Queens. For now anyway. As someone who once wanted to ‘escape’ Queens, it’s now become the complete opposite. No thanks to the overall gentrification of NYC. I’ve learned to appreciate all the different cultures within my borough. Manhattan just isn’t the same anymore. Let’s not even talk about what happened with Brooklyn. The Bronx and Staten Island is too far away from everything. So Queens is where I stay. For now.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Here’s part two of the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. Psycho Bunny as classic Boy George.

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Psycho Bunny as Boy George from Culture Club. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo on WitchesBrewPress. August 2018.

The very next day after the B52s and Culture Club gig, I went to see Slayer over at Jones Beach, Long Island, NY. Talk about one extreme to the other. That will be discussed in next week’s blog post.

…and now. Memorize these social media links:

Facebook: pages for Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt.

Get yourself some cool stuff on RedBubble, featuring my designs. There’s dresses, tee shirts, notebooks, etc. The notebooks, and the Quentin Crisp tees seems to be one of the best selling items. Just in time for Pride.

One of my hobbies is documenting what goes riding the NYC subway lines: Wildlife On The MTA. Cause if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry. MTA passengers know what I’m talking about. Even better: My WildlifeOnTheMTA Instagram is active once again.

Come back next week for a new Psycho Bunny sketch. Remember to bring in good karma.

 

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Continuing where I left off yesterday, (Yesterday’s blog post) now I’m going into music pins, buttons and badges of the 1980s.

My button collection started during my preteen years. It was around sometime during the early ’80’s, and I had just discovered rock music. The closest supplier of these badges was a local head shop called Yogi Lala, located in Astoria, Queens. For a small shop it was jammed packed full of juvenile delinquent merchandise. All sorts of hippie accouterments, silver biker jewelry, patches, drug paraphernalia, and hard rock band tee shirts. If you wanted the back of your jean jacket painted with a rendition of a particular Black Sabbath album cover, this was the place. For good measure, Yogi Lala mixed the sex, drugs and rock n roll wares with some 14k gold trinkets.

There was certainly a variety of genres covered within the rock music merch this place sold. Not only did they have your average classic rock groups like The Who, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, etc., but they also had the burn out Hard Rock stuff, Heavy Metal, and the newer New Wave and some Punk rock stuff. Mostly the more famous, or should I stay infamous bands like The Sex Pistols.

If you couldn’t find what you were looking for in Yogi’s, you could always walk further down Steinway Street, which to this day is one of Astoria’s main shopping areas, and check out Jolly Joint. The Jolly Joint’s store was a bit more spread out. It was a head shop as well, with a tiny more emphasis on the music. Jolly Joint was pretty successful in its day, with a second shop on Main Street, located in Flushing, Queens.

Jolly Joint is no more. Yogi Lala is still around, but they mostly sell gold jewelry now.

Anyway, I would start to buy these small music pins from these kind of stores. The pins would be proudly arranged with style and care on my jacket before heading off to my crappy junior high. The other kids would make fun of me listening to rock music, but I paid them no mind. I loved The Go-Go’s, Joan Jett, Soft Cell, Human League and David Bowie.

Metal David Bowie pin from the 1980s. Let’s Dance era. Most likely brought at Yogi Lala during 1983. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

I was very fascinated with the whole New Wave and Punk subculture, even back in junior high, although my tastes at the time were more mainstream. Guess this is when I started observing different types of counter cultures.

Assortment of Culture Club pins from the 1980s. Check out the “Boy George for President” button. Maybe since it’s election year in 2012, should I start wearing this again? Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

Then came Culture Club. I loved Boy George so much, I even tried to dress like him. If you look in the photo, you can see a button that says “Boy George For President.” As I type this, it’s election year of 2012. Perhaps I should start wearing this one again?

Anyway, my attempts of emulating the Boy just resulted in more verbal abuse from my classmates. The comments got more ignorant too. My favorite one? “Are you a fag lover?”

Since I hated my junior high so much, I swore I would never continue getting my education alongside these ignorant f-heads. So I applied for a whole bunch of the NYC ‘magnet’ schools. To both my surprise and relief, I got immediately accepted into the High School of Art and Design. From there I met more like-minded peers. One of these kids would take me to my first ‘underground’ club, despite the underage factor. It was the original Danceteria, and I loved every second of it. Another girl took me to my first excursion into Greenwich Village. It was up and down 8th street to be exact. Eighth street at the time was the main shopping strip of the village area, full of record stores, imported shoe shops, clothing stores, etc. Located towards more going 6th avenue was The Postermat. That was my new found base for my button fix.

During my freshman year, my tastes in music was leaning towards mainstream rock, top-40, new wave and imported UK pop bands. I was still big into Culture Club then. For a brief time though, I was listening to the newer metal bands like Motley Crue and Twisted Sister.

Dee Snider, lead singer of Twisted Sister. 1980s pin. Possibly gotten from a button trade. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

Sometimes us A&D students would trade with one another. I traded something for the U2 band shot, as seen in the middle of the pic below. I think a friend gave me the Cyndi Lauper and Prince pins. A loner guy mysteriously gave me the Billy Idol one. I forgot where the Frankie Goes To Hollywood button came from. Check out the photo below. I’m surprised I still even have these.

Various 1980s music buttons. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

Needless to say this phase didn’t last long. I discovered Siouxsie and The Banshees. Right there everything changed. Went to Astor Place for a major haircut, dying my hair much to my father’s chagrin. My wardrobe completely changed. I discovered Bleecker Bob’s, purchasing a second hand pair of combat boots. Boy, did those boots piss my mom off.

Most importantly, my music tastes had changed. I embraced the classic 80s Goth and Post-Punk bands. I liked much of the seminal ’77 Punk stuff, like The Ramones, for example. Although I never got into the Hardcore or crossover genres that much. As you can guess, my button collection reflected this. Instead of Culture Club and U2, I had bands such as The Damned, Bauhaus, and Sisters of Mercy. Most of the classic 80s Goth bands found a spot on my schoolbag. Only I wasn’t going to school as much. I had also discovered playing hooky. That particular discovery is something I still regret to this very day. I’m making up for lost time now, but there’s still a ping of regret somewhere.

Unfortunately, most of my button collection from that particular time is gone. Don’t know where they went. Perhaps they’re in a draw somewhere at my parents’ house, but at this point I’m not going to bother looking. It’s the past after all.

I did find this, however. An X-Ray Specs pin, which I think I might’ve gotten from the original Manic Panic shop in St. Mark’s Place. Was it that, or was it the pin that said “Oh bondage up yours!” I think it was the latter. That particular pin was stolen by none other than this kid Mike Waste. He stole from almost everyone. Not only did he steal that pin, he also stole my Cure shirt and something else. A total creep who told tall tales. He had ratty hair extensions that clung for dear life from the brim of his cap. Yet I heard about the early Industrial bands through him. I always knew he lifted from me. I suppose twenty years later I’m kinda sorta getting my revenge by calling him out on a public blog.

Here’s the X-Ray Specs pin that escaped Mike Waste’s grimey paws:

X-Ray Specs badge. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

Now that I’ve blogged about these pins, perhaps its time to finally get rid of them. After all, they served their purpose. Maybe sell them on eBay or something. Besides, I’ve got my memories. You can never take that away.

However, if all else fails, you can tell people this:

Where’s the beef? Button from mid-1980s television commercial ad. The slogan was part of the Wendy’s burger campaign during 1983-84. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

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When discussing the history of Soft Cell, you’ll hear about a certain early ’80s club kid. This downtown vixen went by the name of Cindy Ecstasy.

“A few nights later I was to find myself in an after-hours club called Berlin. There I met the girl who had saved me at Studio 54 and who was to have a major part in changing my life. In fact she would change both my life and Dave’s profoundly, and our work in Soft Cell from then on.” – from the book “Tainted Life (the autobiography)” by Marc Almond.

As the story goes, Cindy Ecstasy was a drug dealer. Her moniker came about from what she supplied: Ecstasy. In 1981, it was a drug for the nightclub elite. Hence, the name Cindy Ecstasy. Somehow, someone came up with the idea of having Cindy sing back-up on many of the classic Soft Cell tracks. That way she’ll always be around. A decade after Cindy weaved her chemical spells, Ecstasy became known to the general public.

Yet despite me just being a third generation spectator, I somehow have to agree with record producer Mike Thorne. “In one book about the group, Cyndi is obnoxiously described as ‘a drug dealer’, which is glib and convenient journalistic nonsense. She was a camp follower who contributed to the general party energy level and had her own distinctive style and rasping Brooklyn sense of humor and delivery. She passed on wonderful substances to Marc and Dave et al, but in a street social way. Ms Big she was not. I wonder where she is now.”  – from Thorne’s website: www.stereosociety.com

Cindy Ecstasy became the electronic duo’s accidental muse of sorts. She made appearances in the Soft Cell videos “Memorabilia” and “Torch.” Cindy even went as far as appearing with Soft Cell on the classic British countdown show “Top of The Pops.”

Alas, fame was only fleeting for Ms. Ecstasy. She did background vocals for the first Marc and The Mambas album. When her friendship with Marc Almond dissolved, she formed her own band called Six Sed Red. The band had two members. It was herself along with musician Rick Holliday, formerly of the early 1980s band B-Movie. The single was co- produced by the seminal Electronic/Industrial band Cabaret Voltaire, and remixed by Depeche Mode producer Flood.

Never heard of Six Sed Red? Don’t worry – not many people have. The single failed to chart much, and soon Cindy disappeared. Since then, her whereabouts have been largely unknown.

“She had a band called Six Said Red, and that was, like, 1984. I don’t know what became of her after that. Someone told me that she had a guest house in some seaside town in Britain somewhere, that she’s running a hotel. But I have no idea!” – Marc Almond, 1999 interview from the online magazine Chaos Control.

Who knows what would’ve happened if Six Sed Red had been more successful. Cindy did have some potential. Personally, I think the single could’ve been a bigger hit. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.

Little known fact: right before her disappearance, Cindy and Rick Holliday wrote a song for 80’s pop trio Bananarama.

On the other hand, since she was dealing with drugs, perhaps she had to…”disappear.”

There’s really no new crucial information here regarding Ms. Ecstasy. What’s posted here isn’t any different from what anyone else has written. It’s more like wondering out loud; “where is she now?” Even if we never hear from her again, at least she already left a legacy of some kind. In the meantime, I shall leave you with a small watercolor portrait of the accidental chemical muse, Cindy Ecstasy. Created tonight in watercolor, pen and ink by me. Enjoy.

Small portrait of Cindy Ecstasy. Watercolor, pen, ink. Created by Michele Witchipoo, May 2012.

*UPDATE Jan. 2020: A review of Marc Almond in concert. Brooklyn Bazaar, Brooklyn/NYC, on Nov. 1st. 2019: https://witchesbrewpress.wordpress.com/2020/01/21/sex-cells-marc-almond-live-at-brooklyn-bazaar/

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Blistering hot summer heat in NYC. Bleh.

I’m not a hot weather kinda gal, so I stayed at home. Spent most of the afternoon trying to invoke the Goddess of the Air Conditioner. (Another post about her forthcoming…) Meantime, I did this quick sketch:

Jungle Girl. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo, June 2010

Just now after posting the illo on this blog, an old Bow Wow Wow song popped into my head. “Go Wild in the Country” off the album, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy

I know…my musical tastes are pretty relic. Time for me to plop down in front of the air conditioner again.

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