Monday, November 24, 2008

The Cure

Many of the films released in the UK were ‘cut’ by the British Board of Film Censors (now the British Board of Film Classification), but until I spent afternoons slumming on 42nd Street - usually with Eric Maché - watching Dyanne Thorne in all her magnificent wonderment in ‘Wanda, the Wicked Warden’ -
Richard Butler, ht, Dyanne Thorne, John Lydon, Joey Ramone
Halloween, NYC
Gene Shaw

- or the latest Italian imports – 'banned in 37 countries' - I had no idea what I’d been missing. Often, the films we did get would have whole scenes hacked out of them but, more to the point, there was a whole mess of films that simply never made it to England. Eric had a friend called Rick Sullivan who published the splatter-film equivalent of punk-rock’s ‘Sniffing Glue’. Called the ‘Gore Gazette, an 8-page xeroxed fanzine would arrive (sporadically) in the mail, alerting subscribers to all the latest films stuffed with NO redeeming qualities, whatsoever. Rick’s writing style was shockingly sociopathic but hysterically funny and when he started a regular Wednesday night film series at The Dive on 29th Street (6 blocks from where I lived), around 50 or so sickos would gather to marvel, laugh and barrack lost classics like ‘Last House On The Left’ or drive-in doozies like ‘2,000 Maniacs’ by splatter pioneer, Herschell Gordon Lewis. I met Dyanne Thorne there when she did a Q&A after a screening of ‘Ilsa, Harem Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks’ and she was a doll…sweet, smart, fun and very easy on the eyes. (These days, if Little Richard’s busy and you need someone to turn you and your partner’s, uh, partnership ‘official’, the right Reverend Dr. Dyanne Maurer will do it for ya, in Vegas, where she lives).
Anyway, in 1985, Fiction Records' boss and producer/manager of The Cure, Chris Parry, called to suggest I got to know Robert Smith a little better. After a string of commercially unsuccessful albums on Passport, A&M and Sire, The Cure had been picked up by Bob Krasnow not long after he took the reigns at Elektra Records. Bob’s son Mitchell had made the initial introduction but there wasn't much of a personal connection there and Chris thought Robert might relate with me. He told me Robert "has this weekend free and is looking for something to do. This might be a good opportunity to foster some record company/artist relations…and, by the way, Robert likes the kind of films that are banned in England"…could I sort something out?
I called Sullivan and he told me he was going away for the weekend but would leave it the capable hands of his g/f Alison and Dive-denizen Lesya K, luscious guitarist from NY psychedelic garage rockers, The Tryfles. I chose ‘The Gore Gore Girls’ and 'Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS' as our entertainment and Rick arranged for us to take over an Upper East-side bar the following Saturday afternoon. The day arrives, the girls show up and get the the screen and projector ready. Robert, Lol Tolhurst (keys) and Simon Gallup (bass) stroll in and introductions are made. Beers were handed out and soon enough buckets of fake, crimson-saturated blood flowed on the screen. The guys kept themselves to themselves for most of the afternoon but they made all the appropriate exclamations as a stripper got her face deep-fried in a chip-pan and another’s bare butt got beaten to a bloody pulp with a meat tenderizer.
The Cure
Lol Tolhurst
, Alison, Simon Gallup, Lesya, Robert Smith
Upper East Side, NYC approx 1985
photo: ht
scanned from a 3-D lenticular print

Relations improved (their success helped a lot!) and they invited me to accompany some of the band and their friends to Disneyland after a show in LA once and later I asked Robert to write out the lyrics to one of his songs. He chose 'Let's Go To Bed'...
Another time, my secretary Valerie told me Ita from the Cure’s office had called and asked if I could have a couple of cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon flown over to the UK so Robert could celebrate a birthday, or something. I figured he must have recently watched ‘Blue Velvet’ and was happy to arrange it.
In 1989, Bob Krasnow told me we had to go to England to hear the new Cure album. By now the band were getting pretty big. They’d had a couple of decent sized hits - Close To Me, Just Like Heaven, Hot Hot Hot, Why Can’t I Be You? which, like 'Pretty Vacant', seemed (among other things) to be a great excuse to get the word 'cunt' blaring out of radios everywhere (see video) - and had built a large following, selling out venues like The Greek Theater in Berkeley, Irvine Meadows Amphitheater near LA, Pier 84 in NYC. They were now on the verge of breaking through at mainstream radio. Until then, they’d been heavily supported by college radio and a handful of modern-leaning rock stations, but top 40 and regular rock radio - as consulted by dopes like Lee Abrams - had more or less eluded them..."too weird, too freaky". So Bob and I fly to London and hook up with Mitchell, who was based in Elektra’s UK office. We go to Chris Parry's office on Ivor Place and listen to 'Disintegration'. I loved the record but there was no consensus as to what should be the first single. I asked Chris if they had anything else kicking about for b-sides or extra tracks, knowing that they often over-recorded and usually had spares. He said they had a tune they’d recorded for a movie called Lost Angels, but it was supposed to be exclusive for that soundtrack. I asked him if they’d just let us hear it. I got the impression they wanted to make a little extra money with it elsewhere and this was not on the agenda, but he played ‘Fascination Street’ anyway and as it finished I blurted, “that’s'll set up Lovesong perfectly!”. Chris looked at me like I was crazy and I’d just totally fucked up his plan. But Bob and Mitchell felt it too, and we went into a pitch that resulted in Chris calling Robert to ask him if he’d have a problem putting it on the album. Turns out he didn’t and we went heavy to rock radio with it. It became the group's first #1 in the US (Billboard, Modern Rock) and it got to #46 Billboard Hot 100 without any big push at top 40 radio. That was reserved for ‘Lovesong’ which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart).
I still like The Cure. Robert has a great knack for moody yet extremely commercial songs and he's a very underrated guitar player and producer.
Robert Smith
on the way to Anaheim, CA July 1986
photo: ht

scanned from a 3-D lenticular print
For more Dyanne Thorne pix, click on "slideshow" here -
For more Cure pix, click on "slideshow"
here -


usedtobe said...

thanks for the link, howard! :* your dipstick cousin

Rich said...

thanks 4 reminding us of GORE GAZETTE!

ht said...

hi A - nice to hear from you. Hope you enjoyed the read.

and ACC, I wish I'd kept all my copies. Someone should reprint and bind all the issues like they did with Sniffing Glue. It was such a disgustingly funny read.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow. That's amazing. I was just listening to "Fascination Street" yesterday walking around. I've owned "Disintegration" since 1994, and it's still an amazing song. Thanks for getting it onto the album. I can't believe Robert almost excluded that.

Love to hear more Cure anecdotes -- more about what the band members are like, etc.