CHOKING ON ONE’S OWN ‘VOMITORIA’: A RECOLLECTION
Late Spring nineteen eighty two: Aside from the mock-serious business of the cruel, monastic preparations of self-denial, rigorous psycho-gymnastics that members of the ‘popular’, ‘anarcho-punk’ combo known as ‘PART 1’ were undertaking, in lieu of their forthcoming recording for the legendary vinyl E.P. ‘Funeral Parade’, it seemed also that more ‘off-message’ musical/art projects were quietly gestating in a new, twisted flowering…
Robert Leith, a ‘skin and stools man’, had recently undertaken the recording of a ‘solo’ cassette album, ‘Mongo Chutney’; Mark F, not to be out done in the ‘creative genius’ stakes, had set his jaw likewise, producing a C90 ill-adventure called ‘Dog City’. Naïve in extremis, this ‘lost classic’ conveyed a mordant low-fi strum-slum, somewhere betwixt Bowies’ ‘Diamond Studded Canines’ and the ‘UK Decay/Pneumania’ split single. Yes, quite an oddity…but even greater oddities of audio were set to follow!
‘ONKER THE DWARF’, a deftly experimental, self-proclaimed ‘killer concept cassette album’, beginning protean life on the C90 ‘Memorex’ label, was an audio collaboration between Mark F and Robert Leith, seeing limited ‘day release’ on the long bygone imprint ‘Semen Tapes’, irksome cassette sibling to the then growing, dark vinyl empire of ‘Paraworm Records’.
Truth be told, ‘ONKER’, with its moody abstractions of deranged baby cries, looping flanged echoes and bashing piano chords (some stretching past the fifteen minute mark) presented rather a ‘listening challenge’ to the dullard auricles of the punkoid mass. Already beset by some vast collective of irritated cochlea, wax-thick, irrevocably damaged, nay CLOSED but to the most formulaic, obvious ‘shout-ie shout-ie shout-ie’, it was an audience guaranteed none too receptive, nor enthusiastic, to such ‘subtle influence’… making it fair to say its reception was…‘mixed’.
The recording of ‘ONKER THE DWARF’ had followed close on the kicking heels of my then recent brush with the Queens’ authorities at Royal Mail. This hysterical episode, over an ‘obscene’ drawing of Jesus Christ in receipt of fellatio by a giant centipede, had featured on an envelope I’d mailed through the post, this being subsequently confiscated and destroyed. Yes, tawdry stuff, and in truth, little more than a public schoolboy’s approximation of Felicien Rops, scrawled in biro on the back of a lavatory door. But the threat of prosecution had been enough. Enough to convince me to render such meanderings INSIDE the envelope…hence:
‘VOMITORIA’ arrived on paper rather like a skin eruption! Please note: often, with the application of various ‘sensible’ creams and ‘serious’ unguents, any ‘rash’ will settle down, often deceptively, ultimately seeming to calm itself. But in this instance, restive in the flesh, ‘VOMITORIA’ would ALWAYS return, more florid and deranged than the time previous, bravely expressing itself, unbridled at that barely visible, mysterious juncture between pen and paper, writing anew.
Irreverent, possibly even irrelevant, ‘VOMITORIA’, the self-proclaimed ‘magazine that dares to treat YOU differently’, grew in some semi-conscious part as mocking reaction to the moribund, photocopied sloth that often found its way through my mail slot: fanzines demanding free demo cassettes, interviews, artworks, all for inclusion in their supposed ‘next issue’. This mortifying stream, typified by cruddy ‘eh-fore-eh-wot?’ sheets, littered with an endless, stencil gram parade of predictable, second-hand slogans and yawn some reviews, had come to form the lazy totality of a ‘zine scene’. Infact, all the crap I myself had been guilty of excreting months earlier in the thankfully short lived drab, ‘Hateful Solitude’!
Like some ill-gained basterd child, cross-born out of some bone-deep admiration for the classic D.C. comics title ‘Plop’, the ‘Skywald’ horror magazines of the early ‘seventies and, of course, ‘Mad’ magazine, ‘VOMITORIA’ trod a queasy path, gladly avoiding all the yawn some pratfalls that littered the all-too-predictable pages of the ‘anarcho zine’.
True, it was the work of one hand. But that hand tried to convey, gathering from the corridors and shadowy annals of an eighteen year old brain, an impression that its brief, intimate pages of A6 were the caustic scribble of a number of ‘artistes’. A gathering of ‘talents’, an irksome ‘stable of vomiteurs’ if you like, each of a differing graphic style.
Poor deluded fool…eighteen year old fool…just who the fuck were you anyway?
Of its contents, benchmarks were set from the off. Bemusing, troubling, but always carrying some vestige of sardonic charm, we see a self-portrait of the artist as a spikey-haired, discombobulated head, a pool of dark inky blood gathering from the neck stump, out toward a hopelessly grasping severed arm; then a comic vision of male genitalia, sprouting some mutant, sentient appendage, an independent growth finally able to vocalise, “Oi mate, have you got ten pence?”,an utterance, implicit with violent threat, long familiar as barked by many a skinhead in ones’ direction; and naturally, graphic variants of a quasi-horror-tragi-romantic musing on the supposed ‘necrophilia question’.
One can only wildly guess at the heinous literary import of the ‘Laurel and Hardy Murders’, being grateful perhaps that such a perverse narrative of ill-comfort did not stretch beyond its spare, solitary episode of what appears to be some unwholesome act of weird mummification and a gallows hanging.
There were those who did champion its ‘cause’ and were admirers. Amongst this modest number were Sir Nickolas de Penile, who used to masticate it regularly between his redoubtable, discriminating jaws; Dan ‘Anti-Christ’ Mac Intyre, another prolific ‘stool and skins’ man, then of The Apostles punk group, ultimately having the unique honour of seeing his own artistic rip-roar, ‘The Adventures of Rodney ‘The Laff’ Cazzolini’ published in ‘VOMITORIA VOLUME THREE’, and of course, Mr. Richard Crow, a resident of North London, who became both ‘VOMITORIA’ neophyte and publishing house groupie.
These pages often ranged from buttock-clenching ‘Death to the Family’ graphic rants of quasi-porno-juvenilia, to more dreamy, relaxed, hippy-sphincter, ‘pastoral’ moments of withered skeletal trees, cemeteries, lonely hill tops squat with the odd, seated, pensive silhouette, stole in part from a lengthy, guilty, and very secret admiration for the meditative ‘seventies art of Roger Dean. Surely a hanging offence in anybody’s’ book ?
Format wise, ‘VOMITORIA’ was melded from two sides of A4 zexored sheet, glued and folded, often slipped in to the packages of the lucky few as an uncalled for ‘freebie’ item, there amongst some mailed cassette order. To compliment this, a modest number found their way to the Autonomy Centre and West London’s’ Moonlight Club, all thanks to Mr. Richard Crow. Always a reputable and supportive figure, possessed of a discriminating and adventurous palate, Richard had seemingly taken the role of admirer, advocate and ‘head of distribution’, though its doubtful he knew it at the time…as I probably never mentioned it. For my part, I simply had the desire to literally just ‘throw it’ at people, to have them physically struck by ‘VOMITORIA’, to stumble, recover their senses, fall over again, then look at the blasted thing. Of course, these were halcyon days, long before the enamelled jackboots and stultifying heels of current health and safety legislation, so I suppose anything then may have been possible…if at all.
Noticed amongst a final panel of ‘acknowledgements’, a regular feature on the back page of ‘VOMITORIA’, comes what purports to be ‘a word from our sponsors’. Infact, it is nothing less than genuine text, clipped from that most dreaded of black-letter of those past times, being the brusque, no-nonsense call into the offices of the local DHSS to explain, ‘under-pain-of-death’, ones’ long sojourn on public funded unemployment benefit.
Being of the ‘long term’ and having never held a ‘job’, its fair to say that, after three years, I had no-doubt come to represent rather a ‘challenge’ to the local job finding team, these unwelcome missives appearing with alarming, monotonous regularity through the mail slot.
There was little to compare, by virtue of sheer fright power, with its implicit ability to oppress, or gravely darken the day, than the arrival of this small, sinister manila envelope with the murky grey tracery of its paper window. Never good news, real consternation was sure to follow as, yet again, some pen-pushing, busy-body arsehole had decided that it was their sole mission, their soul-calling, to find and threaten you with that most terrifying of prospect: EMPLOYMENT.
Indeed, many the time I recall swapping a tearful ‘tea and sympathy’ conference call between myself and Sir Nickolas de Penile, shivering light-weights both, traumatised and depressed by the prospect of further DHSS thumbscrews and E.C.T. The puzzle was how to, yet and yet again, explain these lengthy, unwarranted periods of ‘unemployment’. Eventually, the death squads were called off as they realised each case was utterly hopeless…until the next time at least. In truth, it was the only mail of concern and interest that the ‘offices’ of ‘VOMITORIA’ ever received!
After four utterly fun packed and fruitful issues, ‘VOMITORIA’ decided to go big, massive infact, stretching its single, slightly atrophied muscle to A4 dimensions. In truth…a complete sell out! But, thankfully, there was little to fear in terms of some imaginary loss of integrity. Simply this: because the publication flipped over onto the twist of a recalcitrant, warped spine and promptly DIED. YES. DIED.
In true rock ‘n’ roll style this paper-trace gurgled, chucked and choked on its own febrile vomit. But, before pennies-on-the-eyes, a single paste-up of ‘VOMITORIA VOLUME FIVE’ was miraculously produced. A cover, presenting a beaming facial disfiguration, derived in part from a magazine clipped portrait of none other than Diana Ross, beleaguered beneath by some obscure textural quote from Dame David Bowie, his most royal-male-self no less. Yes, ‘VOMITORIA’ had sold out, perhaps…soul-led out…but…thankfully…gratefully…IT WAS FINALLY DEAD. AND YOU KILLED IT. ALL OF YOU.
From po-faced, to poe-faced toward poo-faced, ‘VOMITORIA’ dared to carry a new kind of questioning, faecal flow into the spike-haired mind-lavatories of the day. Yes, it may have dared, it may have trod a path none had thought a great deal of before, or even cared to, but was it taken any notice of ? ANY ? The short answer is ‘no’. The slightly longer answer would be ‘absolutely not’. But who gives a fuck? NOW THAT’S PUNK ROCK.
Ferelli – August 2013
Kill Your Pet Puppy are indebted to Mark F for sharing this material, for writing the essay and for letting Kill Your Pet Puppy have this ‘exclusive’ on the blog!
The images of the issues of Vomitoria may also be viewed in the Kill Your Pet Puppy photo archive folder ‘Vomitoria Mark F’ HERE
Part 1 will be performing at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool on the Bizarre Bazaar stage at the PAVILION on Saturday 10th August alongside Andy T, The Astronauts, Hagar The Womb, Zounds, The Mob, Decadent Few, A Headz, Lost Cherries and Citizen Fish. Stage times and ticketing details HERE
On the 29th August Part 1 will be performing at The Buffalo Bar, 259 Upper Street, Highbury Corner, London N1 (flyer above and heading this post)
For further information on anything to do with Part 1 the official Facebook page can be found HERE