Nov. 14, NY: Arthur presents TULI KUPFERBERG MEMORIAL SCREENING at Anthology


(212) 505-5181

A tribute to the 60s icon, Fugs co-founder, cartoonist, and New York underground beat poet laureate, who passed away in July. Two shows of shorts, clips, and U.S. premiere of the new high-def transfer of the long-unscreened underground film VOULEZ-VOUS COUCHER AVEC GOD?

Sixties icon, Fugs co-founder, cartoonist, and New York underground beat poet laureate Tuli Kupferberg passed away in July 2010 at age 86, leaving a rich legacy of a lifetime’s worth of artistic radicalism and fun, including many rarely-seen film and video appearances. This special memorial screening presents a diverse collection of short films and videos from the 1960s onward, including Tuli’s appearances on the public access programs REVOLTING NEWS and IF I CAN’T DANCE YOU CAN KEEP YOUR REVOLUTION, some of Tuli’s more recent web clips, and other odds and ends. Not to mention the first screening in many a moon of the long-lost counter-culture feature VOULEZ-VOUS COUCHER AVEC GOD?, starring Tuli in the title role!

To be screened:


Shorts, clips, and odds & ends, including Edward English’s short film:
(1960s, 12.5 minutes, 16mm)
“(Sights and sounds of the lower East Side rain forest.) This film captures a bit of the Fugs’ environment, which includes the lower East Side, the Waldorf Astoria, the MacDougal Street scene, police harassment, show biz, humanity, their audiences, and the filmmaker.” –E.E.
–Sunday, November 14 at 6:00.

Tuli with hat, taken from the film. Tuli plays God. Image courtesy Jack Christie and Michael Hirsh


Michael Hirsh & Jack Christie
(1972, 69 minutes, 16mm-to-video.)
(U.S Premiere of new high-definition transfer from original 16mm elements.)
Voulez-vous coucher avec God? Judge for yourself at the New York premiere of this vintage, Canadian-made experimental flick featuring a groundbreaking potpourri of live action and animation, backed by a rollicking soundtrack of 1960s hits. As portrayed by Kupferberg, there’s no messing with this Yahweh who’d just as soon enjoy a blow job from an inflatable schmoo as mastermind a presidential election from the cozy confines of his bathtub in Hashish Seventh Heaven, where a cast of pipe-dreaming souls journeys to be reborn. All hell breaks loose when the angel of the Lord attempts to cover up his failure to avert the sacrifice of young Isaac by his father, Abraham (also played by Kupferberg).
–Sunday, November 14 at 8:30.

Directions: Anthology is at 32 Second Ave. at 2nd St. Subway: F to 2nd Ave; 6 to Bleecker. Tickets: $9 general; $8 Essential Cinema (free for members); $7 for students, seniors, & children (12 & under); $6 AFA members.


TONGUE TOP TEN by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore

1. Been a while. We realize that, and there are various excuses we could proffer, but we won’t bother. Suffice to say, we’re sorry. But time flies. Been receiving much good stuff. Have even written some of it up here and there, but in truth, there’s a book that came out a while back which we wanted to review. But it was such a long, horrible slog to get through the thing, we were totally thrown off our game. It took actual physical months to read the bastard, and we were so fucking upset by the very idea of evaluating it when we were done, we considered giving up reading FOREVER. Since reading and writing are linked at the hip ‘n nip, well…you get the idea. That book is Through the Eyes of Magic (Proper Books) by John “Drumbo” French.

On one hand, the book has an insane amount of new detail about the machinations and evolution of almost everyone involved with Capt. Beefheart & the Magic Band, and that’s good. French was in many of the group’s line-ups, and he interviewed pretty much everybody, except Jeff Cotton and Don himself, neither of whom speak to him.

Beginning long before the Magic Band came into existence, the book tells the saga of the early ’60s high desert rock scene, then goes into the saga of Beefheart-proper in staggering detail—pretty much gig-by-gig and session-by-session (excepting the years French was out of the band in the early ‘70s). The legends surrounding Beefheart’s creative process have already been pretty well debunked by now. Indeed, the privations the band endured were common knowledge by the time Trout Mask Replica turned 25 in 1994. French, however, has the inside track. And that’s fine. But it’s clear his publisher decided at some point to exercise absolutely no editorial oversight, all but destroying the book’s worth to anyone excepting the most fact-crazed Beefheart fan. And that’s bad. The book is full of digressions, pointless personal anecdotes, whiny chest-thumping, repetitions, Christian bullshit, and is organized in a discursive format we found maddening. At one point, French comments, “I don’t think that will make it past the editor,” and we can only groan and wish someone had seen fit to liberally red-line this unwieldy 864 page opus. With a complete re-write, Eyes could have been a fine book at a third of its current length. As it is, it’s a mess, albeit a perversely compelling one. The facts and photographs add substantially to our working knowledge of the Magic Band’s history, but man, getting through this monster was about as much fun as french-kissing a duck. And to cap it all off (SPOILER ALERT), French gets himself exorcised at the end of the book, loudly barfing Beefheart’s evil mojo straight out his mouth. What the fuck was Kris Needs smoking when he blurbed this book so positively? Kris?

2. Not too long ago, we made the drive down to Maxwell’s in Hoboken to see When Giants Walked the Earth, a brilliant one-man show put together by Andy Shernoff. Although he was very mean to rock writers in the course of the evening, it was still funny as hell. Shernoff’s personal history is pretty rich. He went to grade school with Johnny Thunders, hit high school with the Fleshtones, ran the legendary Teenage Wasteland Gazette fanzine when he was in college, and founded the Dictators in ’73. The Dictators were a band whose aesthetic (cars, girls, surfing, beer) was immediately embraced by Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer (among others). The band was signed to Epic before they’d played a singe live gig and uh…well, you should listen to Shernoff tell the rest. Andy has done lotsa stuff, from producing Joey Ramone’s solo LP, to touring the UK with the Stranglers at the height of the Gobbing Era, and even opening for Rush in Atlanta—which is not the least incongruous of the Dics’ early live pairings. He told excellent stories and interspersed them with acoustic versions of his songs. From “Master Race Rock” (whose opening lines—“Hippies are squares with long hair/And they don’t wear no underwear”—sounds exquisite in this format) to “Baby Let’s Twist,” the tunes smoked.

Shernoff’s gonna be back working with his current band, The Master Plan, for the next few months, but he promises more of these solo shows ‘fore long, and you would be a goddamn square to miss an opportunity to glom the wit and wisdom of the man who wrote so many immortal tunes.

3. Steve Lowenthal first appeared on the scene in NYC as the editor of Swingset, which was a fairly boss fanzine. Unfortunately, Lowenthal-the-man sometimes reminded me of Terry Southern‘s great short story, “You’re Too Hip, Baby.” Lately, though, Steve has returned to school and he recently visited to do some interviews for his thesis work on John Fahey. He was a changed man, in our estimation, and he has also embarked on producing a very cool series of solo acoustic guitar records for the Vin Du Select Qualitee label. The first volume is by Joshua Emery Blatchey, a California-based dude who plays in Mountain Home with Greg Weeks and Marissa Nadler. On this LP Joshua plays very much in the American Primitive tradition, evoking Epstein-Barr-era Fahey as well as anyone this side of Terry Robb.

Volume Two is by Mark McGuire, the steroid-drunk baseball player who founded the band Emeralds soon after he left the major leagues. On this solo set, Mark’s playing has some of the same kosmiche moves as his work with Emeralds, but the tools are stripped down to guitar and pedals, so the smoke glows with a distinctly volky quality, a la certain periods of Ash Ra Temple, Popol Vuh and others. McGuire unpeels notes and lets them pile up in shimmering coils, awaiting trans-substantiation through listening. Nice trope. Volume Three documents work by the brilliant journeyman, Chris Brokaw.

Chris’s take on the project is the most song-like of the three. His pieces are shorter, generally more evolved melodically, but still simple, stark & lovely. They also take some unexpected stylistic turns (as on the percussive “Undrum”), and pleasure is the sweet result.

4. Not sure how we missed this for so long, but the From Tapes & Throats LP by Ludo Mich & Blood Stereo (Giant Tank) is a woggle-fest that won’t let you down. Mich is a Fluxus-related sound artist from the depths of the Low Country underground who has been active from the ’60s onward. Blood Stereo is this hideous coupling of Dylan Nyoukis and Karen Constance, and the racket the three create when gathered in a single lump is inelegant, malformed and harmful to aesthetic health. That said, the album is a gas. One side’s live, the other was recorded by Ludo at home, then sent to Brighton, where the Bloody Duo fucked with it until it squoke. The sonics are relatively sane (inside the given parameters) and this will flow past yr ears like a river of steaming tapioca. Also more recent than several diseases we could name is Nyoukis’s solo LP, Inside Wino Lodge (No Fun).

Again, this is less gibberous than you might expect, and is a nearly-beautiful melange of brillo’ed electronics and vocals, weeviling into occasional acoustic drones, and trying to surge underneath everything like blood clots. Something like the Three Stooges trying to take a serious whack at the Angus Maclise songbook with tuned shovels or something.

Also, very nice to have an easily available domestic issue of an LP by thee great insane couple of the sound-art field—Kommisar Hjuler and Mama Baer, Amerikanische Poesie und Alkoholismus (Feeding Tube).

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Tuli Has Left the Planet

Paul Krassner, Tuli Kupferberg, and unidentified woman. Photo by Paskal / The Rag Blog.

Tuli Has Left the Planet
by Paul Krassner
for High Times

Prologue: Ah, the songs . . . “Boobs a Lot” . . . “Nothing” . . . “Morning, Morning” . . ..

I first met Tuli Kupferberg in the early ’60s at the Paperback Gallery in Greenwich Village. I was delivering my magazine, The Realist, and he was delivering his booklet, Birth. Sharing a concept that tragedy and absurdity were two sides of the same coin, we bonded immediately.

In 1966, I published an article by John Wilcock, “Who the Fugs Think They Are.” Tuli talked about the importance of sexual liberation. “Americans like to kill or be killed,” he said. “Aggression is reaction to frustration. Sexual frustration is still the major problem to be solved and in my opinion the appearance of sexual humor is a healthy sign. And if we can put some joy, some real sexy warmth into the revolution, we’ll have really achieved something.”

When Norman Mailer wrote his first novel, The Naked and the Dead, he used the euphemism “fug” for “fuck,” which was then a literary taboo. At our first encounter, I asked him if it was true that when he met actress Tallulah Bankhead she said, “So you’re the young man who doesn’t know how to spell fuck.” With a twinkle in his eye, he told me that he replied, “Yes, and you’re the young woman who doesn’t know how to.” Anyway, that’s where the Fugs got their name. In “Doin’ All Right,” they sang, “I’m not ever goin’ to Vietnam/ I’d rather stay right here and screw your mom.” Tuli told me, “That was enough to get us beaten up if we did it in the right place.”

In 1968, at the counter-convention in Chicago, hash oil in honey was the drug of choice. The Fugs co-founders, Ed Sanders and Tuli, sampled it. This was strong stuff, and they got completely fugged up. Sanders described the grass he was walking on as “a giant frothing trough of mutant spinach egg noodles.” Tuli’s friends had to carry him by the armpits back to the apartment where he was staying. “They’re delivering me,” he explained.

There was a rumor that Philip Roth had lifted the masturbatory obsessed theme of his novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, from a Fugs song, but that notion was disavowed by Sanders, who assured me, “Philip Roth did not plagiarize a Fugs song. He came to a Fugs show in 1966, and I think he was inspired by Tuli, in top hat and cane, singing ‘Jack-Off Blues.’ Many times in reunion concerts, introducing Tuli singing that song, I have suggested that Roth got some of the impetus for Portnoy’s Complaint from that time he was inspired by the Tuli tune.”

Another rumor was triggered by Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem, Howl. Tuli acknowledged that he had been the inspiration for this passage: “…jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer…” Actually, it was the Manhattan Bridge. Tuli was just out of college and in the throes of the break-up of his first major love relationship, which contributed to a nervous breakdown that precipitated his suicide attempt. He was rescued by a passing tugboat and taken to Governor’s Island Hospital with a broken transverse process that put him in a body cast.

“Throughout the years,” Tuli complained, “I have been annoyed many times by, ‘Oh, did you really jump off the Brooklyn Bridge?’—as if it was a great accomplishment.” At first he had refused to talk about it, but as Ginsberg’s myth spread that he had simply “walked away” after jumping off a bridge, Tuli became concerned about wrongly influencing young people. He didn’t want anyone else to take a similar chance of being severely injured if they survived.

Tuli was the first Poet-in-Residence at the Bowery Poetry Club. Proprietor Bob Holman sent an e-mail two days before Tuli’s death on a gloomy Sunday: “I am in Medellin at the amazing International Poets Festival here—100 poets! Ten days of it!—and Tuli’s spirit is everywhere. Tell that bum to get up and out and over here.” Norman Savitt, producer of Tuli’s TV show, Revolting News, reported from the hospital bedside that Tuli reminded him “what a shame it was that I had my son circumcised, how I should be putting lyrics to all my instrumental music, and the importance of raw garlic in my diet.” And Larkworthy Antfarm adapted a Fugs song, applying the original lyrics to the BP catastrophe, singing about “a river of shit.”

Epilogue: Ah, the condolences: “Tuli, may you see Boobs a Lot in Heaven” . . . “This Monday will be just a little more Nothing” . . . “Mourning, Mourning” . . .

Check out to see the digitally colored edition of the infamous Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster.