lewd & company: they fought the law

by Art Chantry ( art@artchantry.com )

this is one of my favorite objects. i’ve owned a LOT of great rock posters over the years – and given away or sold almost all of them off. but, i always keep this thing in a box somewhere. it makes me feel good to have it. i even pull it out once in a while and sort of examine it and marvel at it. it never fails to impress me. at the time i found this, i’d never seen anything quite like it before. i’d seen and saved other punk posters, but this thing was so extreme that it stood out on a wall of other punky posters like a neon sign in the wilderness.

AC:i did a cd cover for a re-issue collection (chuckie-boy records) of the lewd. i basically cobbled together all of satz's old punk posters and publicity photos ("just like satz woulda") and that was the cover. it was called "kill yourself... again!!! pretty funny. lotta fun doing that project.

i pulled this off a wall (staples ripping holes in it) on a cold very very wet rainy late night stumbling around pioneer square in old seattle in 1978-9. i think it was the night of old Fat Tuesday celebration (the infamous night back then when the police cracked the heads of the bawdy drunken street crowd filling pioneer square – especially any drunk punks they saw. a lot of old seattle punks got clubbed that night by the cops. that was a WILD violent night.) i tore this poster off the huge plywood construction ‘wall’ erected at the corner of 1st and yesler for years – that one that was caked inches deep in punk posters. i yanked it soggy and soaking wet and folded up into 1/8ths. then i drunkenly shoved the wet wad into my hip pocket, where it got ironed dry by my ass. when i scanned this, i tried really hard to preserve all the wrinkles and stains and tears and holes so you can see them if you look real hard. the TEXTURE of this poster is stunning.

the lewd were one of seattle’s earliest punk rock bands. their lead singer, known as ‘satz” was originally a drag performer in the early punk/drag/theater troupe called “Ze Whiz Kidz” (this group also included the legendary tomata du plenty, among other notables). i recently got a chance to see a vhs tape of the whiz kidz performing on the local pbs station from back in about ’72 or so (i think). satz’s impersonation of bette davis was amazingly ahead of it’s time, where he didn’t try to LOOK like bette davis, so much as EVOKE the tawdry drunken smoking asshole version of bette davis. it was pretty incredible. the guy was really amazing to watch. back then, his drag name was ‘satin sheets’ (thus shortened to ‘satz’).

when punk started to emerge in seattle (along with the rest of the world – virtually simultaneously), there were a number of bands that formed (the tupperwares, the meyce, the telepaths, the girls, red dress, the mentors, the enemy, chinas comidas, the feelies, the refuzors, etc.) many of these bands went on to morph into such notable ensembles as the screamers and ministry. The lewd went through several personal changes. for instance, soon after this poster was made, a guy named ‘blobbo’ joined the band. when the lewd decided to move south to san francisco’s blossoming punk scene to seek fame and fortune or whatever (like so many seattle bands before them), blobbo stayed behind, went back to his real name of kurt vanderhoof and formed the heavy metal band called ‘metal church’.

the lewd was right up there in the scene and even though they sounded terrible, they looked really cool. they were the gnarliest-looking punky punks in town – spikey hair, tight black jeans, studded leather, make up. this was in 1978. in effect, satz was simply doing an exaggerated ‘drag’ image of punk for the seattle scene (later imitated by young seattle punkers like nikki sixx). they were even SCARY to most if us. satz was intimidating.

this poster sort of gives you an idea of what they were like back in their seattle days – downright nasty. rocket editor robert newman called this the first punk show he ever went to, “i couldn’t believe a band could be THAT bad. little did i realize that bands i would later see would make the lewd look like technical geniuses.” i saw that show, too. bob was smack on. it was exhiliarating and thrilling and really really loud. i fell in love with sheer noise. a proud incompetent guitar cranked to “11″ will always be close to my heart because of the lewd.

the wipers and the subhumans are gone now. scratching records, the golden crown and even the bon marche are all gone, too. but, recently satz re-united the lewd and have been gigging again, even touring back up to their old original stomping grounds of seattle. so, the world may come and go, but the lewd live on. like a bad penny, they always show up. hunter thompson like to say, “the scum also rises…”


AC:satz’s design work is where i realized the wonders of old crummy presstype. NOTHING else in the whole world looks like rotten presstype. i’ve used that look on a bazillion priojects since i found this poster. franko’s posters taught me how to properly use bad presstype. satz taught me about texture. this very copy of this poster taught me that lesson….well, frankly, there is nothing remotely original out there in graphic design – hasn’t been for every and ever. these guys were inauthentically ripping off drag posters, psych posters and even dada. some of them intentionally. and a lot of it was just the way working with this old technology just plain LOOKED. if you tried your hand at this look (even on a computer), it’d

k extremely different – that’s because of the different technology and the different mind working that technology. basically you CAN’T do this look, no matter how hard you try because you are not satz in 1979. so, feel free. whatever YOU do will be YOU experimenting with the world around you. that’s all. don’t worry about’ authentic’ or ‘ripoff’ or cheating’ or whatever. that’s nonsense….

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