Monday, December 31, 2007

Rumble Monster Dooms Erostika!

As promised, here are some posters by Rockin' Jelly Bean that I picked up at Erostika in Harajuku, Tokyo! (for full story, click here) The posters are beautifully printed and signed, in limited editions of 500 or less. I only regret one thing: that I did not buy ALL the posters in the store!

These two are my favorites, perhaps because they look like movie posters. But if these were real movies, they would be the greatest movies ever made - a bizarre mix of grindhouse / kaiju / explotiation / race car sleaze, all crashing together in Rockin' Jelly Bean's deranged mind!

I also love this series of 3 matching "Barbarockets"

Erostika also does big business in T-shirt featuring Rockin' Jelly Bean designs. I picked up this one, riffing off Japan's unique Sukeban (girl gang boss) and Sasori (female prison) genres.

Talking of Sasori, I'll finish with a T-shirt from Hardcore Chocolate in Shimokitazawa, another shop well worth visiting if you find yourself in Tokyo

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Silent night, bloody night...

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year - I hope to see you soon with more amazing posters from the vaults! Here's the Swedish poster for Black Christmas (1974), directed by Bob Clark, who was also behind classic like Deathdream, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, and, ahem, Porky's, but who died tragically in a car accident earlier this year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tales from Tokyo part 4: Pop on with the Wimpy's!

My last night in Tokyo I went to a pop concert at Shelter in Shimokitazawa. Shimokitazawa is one of the nicest parts of Tokyo, with a lot of record shops and low-key bars, but is currently under threat since there are plans to build a motorway that would destroy the whole area! If you have a chance, you should go there and remember to take the South exit from the train - that is where the action is!

Due to a series of strange coincidences, I was introduced to Takeuchi "Hirocky" Hirokai of Oasaka indie pop combo The Wimpy's through Ola Hermansson, neuroscientist and singer in classic Swedish surf band Sonic Surf City. As luck would have it, The Wimpy's were supporting Australian garage rockers The Stems together with Japanese acts Faceful and Supersnazz! Being a long-term Stems fan and curios about the Japanese pop scene, I simply had to go...! I arrived early and had time to hang out with Hirocky (center), his wife Beccee and friend Lee (as in Marvin, not Bruce!)

First band on stage was Faceul, with an energetic female singer

Then came veterans Supersnazz, who started out as an all-girl rock band but now is gender neutral

Hirocky's band The Wimpy's were next, and I could see the connection with Sonic Surf City right away - both have a hard, poppy sound that really gets the crowd going!

Finally, The Stems - I thought they went away in the 80's but apparently they reformed 10 years ago and have a new album out!

It was a lot of fun meeting some musicians and fans and seeing some cool live music! And just to prove what a small town Tokyo sometimes can be, Ox from Rockin' Jelly Bean's shop Erostika showed up, and of course it turns out he knows Hirocky! Next time in Japan I really hope I can catch Rockin' Jelly Bean's surf band Jackie and the Cedrics who played Shelter just a few weeks ago!

Thanks to Hirocky and all the bands and the great people at Shelter! I won't be blogging for a while but stay tuned - next time I'll post some great poster from Japan and elsewhere...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tales from Tokyo part 3: Biru Mecha!

One night in Tokyo, when going out to an izakaya with some people attending the Tokyo Filmex, I happened upon this amazing contraption: A draft beer vending machine! Yes it is true: you put in some coins, place your glass, press a button and the machine pours your a perfect glass of beer, complete with foam crown!

Press play if you don't believe me, and excuses for the fact that I couldn't figure out a way to rotate the picture right...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Intermission: Plugging the pluggers

Many thanks to Popcorn and Sticky Floors for the recent plug for yours truly! For a blogger who doesn't read many blogs, P&SF is easily the one I appreciate the most, and Colin and Michael are as close to being my soul mates as we can get without turning all gay here (don't know about that Jesse guy though). Group hug!

Our regular Tokyo Tales programming will return soon.

Tales from Tokyo part 2: Rockin' Erostika

Finding anything in Tokyo is almost impossible unless you know exactly where it is. Well, you will stumble on the obvious things (Shinjuku crossing, Akihabara electronics shops, Kiddyland in Harajuku) but to go deep, you need help. The most interesting places are invariably hidden away in a basement (like Secret Base), or several floors up in an unmarked residential building (like Akasaka Cinematheque), or many train stops off the regular tourist haunts (like Nakano Broadaway). This is where alternative guides like Tokyo Underground and Cruising the Anime City are invaluable, because no matter how many times you visit the city, there will be places you never heard of.

Of all the new shops I visited this time the best one was Erostika, which can be found in a basement in Harajuku, and is the official shop of artist Rockin' Jelly Bean. The mysterious wrestling-masked avenger and part-time musician, with shops in Los Angeles and Tokyo, designs posters and T-shirts that are a delirious blend of rock'n'roll, sex, horror and exploitation - like the best grindhouse movies never made! I was led to the shop by film expert Marc Walkow, who was in town for a festival, but it also appeared in the Tokyo Underground guide. The Erostika operators had not seen the book so they were more than happy to pose with my copy!

I bought 5 signed limited-edition posters, a Sukeban (Japanese girl-gang) T-shirt, and a bunch of stickers. I'll post images of those later, but here are a few interiors...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tales from Tokyo part 1: Shopping in strange places

I'm back from Tokyo (and London and Cambridge and Amsterdam, but that's another story) and had a great time as usual! I only bought a few movie posters, but of course I shopped a lot of other stuff. A great help was the new book Tokyo Underground from Super 7. It's a detailed guide to shops selling designer toys, T-shirts and other amazing stuff, complete with maps (always a necessity to find anything in Tokyo!) Among the highlights I found through the book were Hardcore Chocolate in Shimokitazawa, which sell rock'n'roll, wrestling and B-movie wear; Graniph, great for unique T-shirts with shops in Shinjuku and elsewhere; and Secret Base in Harajuku, home of the bizarre Skullbrain toys.

But the most mysterious shop (at least for an un-initiated shopper like me) is Original Fake. Located in super-trendy Ayoma, in an exclusive basement shop next to Gucci, Prada and BAPE, I had a really hard time figuring out exactly what they sell! Most of the items seem to be either variations of artist KAWS' signature weird toys, or clothing with very subtle, almost invisible designs (like the XX embroidered on the sleeve of an extremely expensive plain black T-shirt!) - but almost nothing seemed to be actually for sale! Still, the space is amazing, with the signature feature being the almost 3 meter high KAWS "Companion" in the entrance - take a look...

Watch out for more Tokyo tales very soon!