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Richard Hell: the misfortunes of the punisher | Culture

by News Room
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I must warn that today’s column revolves around rags and sex. It is not a routine warning: despite what one might imagine, there are many musicians who get angry if we approach the art of song through the prisms of fashion and eroticism. In the present case, it is urgent to dispense with puritanism. Summary: he has become a (modest) best seller the little book A Year on Earth with Mr. Hellchronicle of the relationship, essentially sexual, between a historical punk rock New Yorker, Richard Hell, and a woman born in Korea but raised in the United States, Young Kim, who acts as narrator.

Hell went through legendary groups—Television, Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers—until forming his own band, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, with Robert Quine’s porcupine guitar. The rock business involved too many chemical temptations and he ended up recycling himself into a writer, columnist, and lecturer. Hell never sold records in industrial quantities but it blazed trails. Performing in 1974, he fascinated an Englishman named Malcolm McLaren with his snipped hair and torn clothes held together with safety pins. “Those are the clothes we should sell in my London boutique.” And not just clothing inspiration: he detected nihilism in Blank Generation, a song that Hell sang (“I belong to the blank generation”). With these wickers, McLaren would outline an explosive group, the Sex Pistols, which viralized the punk attitude before it acquired ideology.

A fabulous trickster, McLaren would achieve fame and fortune as a music producer, recording artist and visual creator. And a thousand other adventures, although what interests us is that, at the end of the last century, he met a Korean design student, Young Kim, in Paris. They did not separate until Malcom’s death in 2010. Kim was designated the deceased’s universal heir, who even forgot her only son, born from her relationship with Vivienne Westwood.

So there is a certain inevitability in the fact that Kim, McLaren’s muse, ends up seducing someone who also served as Malcolm’s inspiration. It is she who approaches Hell; However, Richard walks into a minefield by suggesting that he write in detail about their joint sexual experiences. Kim is not satisfied with that (in truth, there were only four love affairs): she recounts the previous encounters, the email exchanges, the preparation of meaningful gifts, the clothes she wears. In the background, life in jet set of contemporary art, from Basel to Venice, with stops in Paris and New York.

Richard Hell could not imagine that those texts would become a book. A Year on Earth with Mr. Hell It evokes, in design and size, the volumes of Olympia Press, the Parisian publishing house that published eroticism and experimental literature. Hell did not appreciate the bibliographical nod: she considers herself a victim of “revenge porn,” that deplorable practice in which a jilted lover circulates intimate photos or recordings.

It’s not a great defense. In his memories of the musical years, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp (2013), Hell bragged about his sexual episodes with many celebrities in the world. downtown rocker. But now the paradigm has changed: indiscretions in bed matters are no longer a largely male prerogative..

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