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Next Thursday will be the closing party at SAGE Restaurant for the group art exhibit. The opening party last month was very successful. I have two pieces on display as part of the show. Come check it out, Feb. 27th, 2020.

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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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Today is Chinese New Year. Otherwise known as Lunar New Year. The ‘year of the rat’ first came to my attention because Industrial legends Einsturzende Neubauten is touring the U.S. for the first time since their aborted attempt back in 2010. It’s in celebration of their 40th anniversary, and they have named this tour ‘Year of The Rat.’

I haven’t followed Chinese New Year as much as I should. Considering I live in Queens, NY, where there’s a diverse Chinese demographic. Especially around in the Flushing area.

The story goes that the Emperor had a race. Twelve animals participated, but the rat won the competition. It was due to the rat’s cleverness. This year’s rat has the elements of metal and yang.

Here’s my illustration of the Chinese Lunar Rat.

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Year of the Rat, 2020. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo. Jan. 2020. 

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Tomorrow night will be the opening of another art exhibit. This one is a group art show, and I’ll have two pieces in the show. The opening party hours are from 8-10 pm at SAGE restaurant, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The restaurant has an art gallery in the back.

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From the Facebook invite: Ringing in the new year with some Killer artwork from some of the best artist New York has to offer.

“The Walls of SAGE”
is a group show featuring artwork and Photography
from these talented artists.

SELF INDULGENCE
CRYSTAL LANTIGUA
SUBTEXTURE
MICHAEL DIETRICH
ANTHONY WHITE
MICHELE WITCHIPOO
J LAWRENCE BRANDT
KELLY BARBIERI
ZERO
JOHNNY V
BRETT WINGATE
STEFANIE GIERS
ROBERT BARRY
SOL
DARRYL LAVARE
VINNIE LI

Come down and have a drink and some great THAI food while you check out some amazing artwork & photography.

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Another decade is about to wrap up. Lately I’ve been reminiscing about the oddest things. These memories are usually induced by something completely random. As with the case prior to this post. Tonight I wasn’t in the mood to go out. As I’m scrolling through Facebook, somebody on my feed posts an sex article. It was published on the Vice website. The content was really about why people get attached to someone after sexual relations. Particularly to those not normally considered. I read the entire article. What caught my attention was certain hormones released during mating, male v. female. As the rest of the article went on, I was reminded of an incident during the ’90s.

Around mid-’90’s, I worked six months at some fetish/sex shop. It was located in the West Village. When applying, I was informed that out of all the applicants, I gave the impression of being a sane person. All the others who applied seemed unbalanced. My mental stability got me hired. I took the job because it meant no dress code. I didn’t have to take out my nose ring, continue dying my hair that shade of Manic Panic Vampire Red, etc. Perfect for me! That’s all I cared about. So much for priorities. The pay was shit, off the books, and the hours long. I could, however, play whatever music I liked. My selections ranged from RuPaul to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Got a crash course about fetishes 101. After that gig ended, I had knowledge about dark human sexuality.

One night, a friend dropped by my store. For her, the party never ended. She was always looking for an excuse to hang out at places like Coney Island High. In hindsight, we both may have graduated high school, but we still had that mentality. Eternal teenagers. We might as well been like Dante and Randal from Clerks. Anyway. She came by after she was finished her shift working at some vintage clothing store. Tagging with along was her co-worker. He was a generic ’90s sub-cultural male. The guy quietly observed his surroundings. Fetish wear, BDSM outfits, whips, floggers, bondage items, and trashy lingerie was sold in the front of the store. Sex toys and porn was displayed in the back.

As both the friend and her co-worker walked in, the store was unpacking newly arrived merchandise. I was in the back, nonchalantly arranging the latest products as if they were grocery items. Three months into this job, and comfortably numb. While the boxes were being unpacked, I picked up one of the new items. It was one of those weird pheromone colognes.  The sample bottle was placed on the counter along with assorted vibrators, lubes, and penis pumps. My friend and I look at the cologne bottle. The cologne looked cheap. The owner was hardly around. There were no customers in the store. This being the ’90s, we weren’t constantly video monitored. It was safe for me to loudly mock the product.  My friend makes some kind of sarcastic quip. I think my friend’s co-worker might have also made a snarky comment. As a joke, I sprayed the cologne all over the back room. Whoa – it totally stunk! We started laughing, cause we were that immature. After the initial gagging wore off, it was time to close up for the night. When the shop gate was pulled down, all three of us head over to the East Village to hang. As we usually did.

That night was nothing new. There might have been a party at the Flamingo East. Along the way, my friend and her co-worker started to get chummier. A few hours in, those two, who never had romantic intentions, mysteriously started to make out. I was used to my friend’s romantic shenanigans. Every week there was a new hookup. I was apathetic to her conquests. Just like how I was detached selling butt plugs.

At one point, my friend’s co-worker mentioned that pheromone cologne back at my job. He wondered loudly if the cologne had something to do with the impromptu tongue dance. They went back to smooching. It didn’t get any further than that.

The next day the friend’s coworker had second thoughts. He more or less disappeared. 

In recent years, millennials have given this practice a name. It’s now known as “ghosting.”

My friend also blamed the previous night on that cheap cologne. It’ll get you laid, but it won’t make the person stay.

Taking note, I stayed away from the cologne itself. While the product did sell, it also stunk. The store re-ordered poppers, the Sta-Hard creams and Anal-Ease, but not the cologne.

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Hit the fast forward button to 2019. Curiosity getting the best of me, I decided to look up pheromone colognes. Just to see if they were still on the market. Well hot dang. Pheromone products are more popular than ever. It’s an advertised ingredient in many items. There’s fragrances marketed for men and women. Even Dial got in on the act. They have a men’s pheromone infused body wash. If I was a guy, I would be buying cases of this stuff.

.But then I saw this. For those who are fans of the film Anchorman. Sex Panther cologne. ‘Cause 60% of the time it works. Every time. And it stings the nostrils.

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Where am I going with this post? I don’t even know myself. Memories are dangerous.

One of these days I’ll unwind more tales about my sex shop gig. Out of respect, I won’t reveal the name of the famous Broadway actress who I sold anal beads to. I will tell you of the time a customer raged into the store with a penis pump he brought the night before.  How he managed to burn the inside of the pump from fire engine red to pitch black – and how he demanded a refund. I’ll hold off for another time.

Below is a sketch done just for this blog post. Enjoy.

Human Sex Pheromones – Wikipedia Entry

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Sketch by Michele Witchipoo. Dec. 2019

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That f’ing banana got me into an art benefit.

It’s for a very good cause. Supermoon Art Space is having a benefit for the Ridgewood Tenant Union, a local organization dedicated to fighting gentrification. The opening reception is scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 14 and 15th. The show is curated by Rute Ventura and Isabelle Schneider.

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More information about RTU: The Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU) was founded in 2014 and is an all-volunteer, tenant-led and independent anti-gentrification group whose mission is to grow the power of tenants in Ridgewood to collectively fight displacement. We work towards our mission by door-knocking to inform tenants about their rights, holding monthly tenant assemblies, organizing tenant associations, holding know-your-rights trainings, creating neighborhood-wide campaigns, and working in coalition with other housing groups in NYC. One of our current campaigns involves building up opposition against Avery Hall Investments’ proposed 24-story luxury tower at 1590 Gates Ave, the site of our community’s Food Bazar Supermarket. This luxury tower will further increase rents in a neighborhood where so many of our neighbors are already rent burdened.

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That illustration I did of that damned Art Basel Miami banana will be part of the exhibit. When so many people are starving, some art collector brought a banana duct taped to a wall for $120,000. However, in a case of turning lemons into lemonade, I’m glad my work can go for a cause I fully believe in. My framed print will be available for purchase. The best part is you don’t have to worry about being upstaged by a “hungry artist.”

Check out the Facebook invite here.

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Think next year I might go to Art Basel Miami. ‘Cause they be wildin’ over there. Like that banana with the duct tape that sold for $120,000.

Not to be outdone, another artist stepped up, took the banana off the wall, and ate it. The crowd snapped away with their cell phones, while four police officers were brought in for crowd control.

It’s 2019. You can’t make this up.

So as Art Basel Miami wrapped up, I decided to do my own rendition. Pen, ink, and digitally colored. Hand drawn in lovely Queens, NY. Which probably took more effort than the act of taping the banana to the booth wall over in Miami.

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$120,000 Banana (Don’t Hate The Playa, Hate The Game). Hand drawn, pen and ink. Digitally colored. Illustrated by Michele Witchipoo, back in Queens, NY. Created in Dec. 2019.

I’ve titled this piece “$120,000 Banana (Don’t Hate The Playa, Hate The Game!). Because that’s what the fine art world is all about. A game. As soon I read about everyone going bananas in Miami, that old street slang came to mind: “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game!” Exactly what my friend used to shout obnoxiously into my answering machine back in the late ’90s.

 I probably would’ve been slightly amused maybe around five years ago. In the age of economic inequality, this comes off as a bad joke. When David Datuna causally strolled over to chomp on the fruit, he probably symbolized what we were all feeling.

Back to reality with the next post. In the meantime, check out Art Basel’s Instagram. Telling you, they be wildin’

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