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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
Claude Bessy
Kickboy Face
October  2, 1999
Age 54
 
 Lung Cancer 
 
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OBITUARY 
        
 
     
  Ex-Slash Magazine founder, Claude Bessy, dies
  
                 As confirmed by several sources, Slash Magazine editor and former Catholic 
                 Discipline frontman Claude Bessy (AKA Kickboy Face) succumbed to 
                 cigarette-induced lung cancer at his home in Barcelona on Saturday, October 
                 2. Hit List editor Jeff Bale had warned me Bessy was gravely ill a month ago 
                 when I requested Bessy's email address toward interviewing him for The Big 
                 Takeover, having seen his column byline appear in Hit List for the first time 
                 on American soil in two decades (his inclusion on the roster was a major 
                 inducement for me to write for them, too). Those of you who have issue 28 of 
                 The Big Takeover may recall I devoted an entire page of that 10th anniversary 
                 issue to record reviews penned by Bessy in Slash from 1977-1978, because 
                 he inspired me so much when I was a teenager with his style, and a total fullout 
                 passion I could never hope to match (nor could anyone else) for the things he 
                 liked, and even for those things that offended his editorial soul (as anyone who 
                 remembers his immortal "I have excellent news for the world" ad lib in the 
                 Decline of the Western Civilization L.A. punk movie, quoted below, could 
                 attest!!!). No other music writer inspired me more to want to start a magazine. 
                 I never met him, but I wanted to for 21 years, and even just missed him in Los 
                 Angeles 19 years ago, arriving to find he had just moved to England. His new 
                 column in Hit List made it clear he still had plenty to say. In an e-mail 
                 statement, Bessy's old friend Brendan Mullen, who booked the legendary L.A. 
                 punk club The Masque in Slash's heyday, said of him: "The town cryer, the 
                 poet laureate and beloved tavern habitué in our little village of late '70s L.A. 
                 punk, died Saturday. Claude moved to Spain 12 years ago after a seven year 
                 sojourn in England. Originally from Normandy, Claude came to the U.S. in 
                 1973, and founded Angeleno Dread, the first reggae fanzine in L.A. County. 
                 He adopted the Kickboy Face pen name from some Jamaican dub artist 
                 before meeting graphic artist Steve Samiof in Venice circa '75-'76, whereupon 
                 the two launched Slash with Philomena Winstanley and a group of other artists 
                 in May, 1977. As Slash's chief editorialist, and in person, he was one of the 
                 most passionately irreverent characters I have ever met. No one was sacred 
                 from his barbed wit, not even myself (and I liked to think of him as my favorite 
                 drinking crony), and certainly not the major record companies, who'd 
                 frequently find their full-page ads adjacent to an editorial review mercilessly 
                 trashing the record. Claude was the first writer to predict the Germs and X 
                 would be the most influential of L.A.'s Class of '77 bands, and was 
                 immortalized in the Decline movie saying: 'There was never any such thing as 
                 New Wave, it was the polite thing to say when you were trying to explain you 
                 were not into the boring old rock 'n' roll, but you didn't dare to say "punk,' 
                 because you were afraid to get kicked out of the party and they wouldn't give 
                 you coke any more." He is survived by Philomena and his mother. As Claude 
                 himself once wrote in a brilliant, unpublished poem: 'Death is often trampled, 
                 and the bars never close.'" He was 54. ~http://www.bigtakeover.com/news.html
    
City of Night Punk rock mourns a pioneer 
By Lisa Derrick  

Sadly, word has reached L.A. that noted punk-rock critic and musician Claude Bessy died on Friday, 
October 1, in Barcelona, Spain, of lung cancer. He was in his mid-40s. Bessy was one of the founding 
editors of Slash, the influential Los Angeles punk magazine that eventually turned into a record label, and 
he performed in the band Catholic Discipline under the name Kickboy Face. Catholic Discipline was 
immortalized in Penelope Spheeris' punk-rock chronicle, The Decline of Western Civilization, which 
also featured Bessy declaring to the camera: "There is no such thing as New Wave." (Alas, he was wrong, 
and Bessy's denial couldn't hold back the onslaught of A Flock of Seagulls and Kajagoogoo.) His distinct 
personality, both in print and in person, helped shaped the burgeoning Los Angeles music scene.  

"Kickboy was as influential [to the scene] as the bands themselves, " recalls Hal Negro of Hal Negro & 
the Satintones. "He had the loudest written voice, and his pieces were a mirror of the scene. Some in the 
punk scene contributed by being in bands; some contributed in style. But Claude was a leader in both 
poise and attitude, and he was able to communicate both through his writing. I'll always remember when 
he shoved a piece of cake into my father's hair at my 21st birthday party, which was held at the Masque." 
Convinced that Ronald Reagan's election as president promised nothing good, Bessy permanently left the 
country for Europe in 1980. At press time, no Los Angeles memorial service had been scheduled....  

Speaking of punk rock, filmmaker Dave Markey (The Year Punk Broke, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls) 
was scheduled to show his rarely seen one-hour documentary, Reality 86'd, last weekend as part of a film 
festival at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Unfortunately, the screening itself got 86'd by SST 
Record's big kahuna Greg Ginn. Markey -- who was once a drummer in the band Painted Willie -- had 
shot the footage when his band was part of the final Black Flag tour in 1986. The six month U.S. 
onslaught, dubbed "In My Head," featured Ginn, Henry Rollins, Cel Revulta, and Anthony Martinez 
performing as Black Flag, along with Ginn's instrumental band, Gone, and Painted Willie. Tickets had 
been sold for the Yerba Buena showing, and the film had been scheduled as the first screening of the 
evening when a fax from Ginn's attorney ordered the organizers to shut down the screening or face a 
lawsuit. Reality 86'd was still shown at a secret location, while some uncomplaining ticket holders viewed 
a copy of Lovedolls that festival organizers hastily dug up from a local video store....  

Last Friday night, the photography of Nadar and Warhol was the inspiration for five spoken word pieces 
at the Getty Center, created to illustrate and elaborate upon the works of the celebrity photographers. 
(Warhol, of course, snapped his celeb pals during the later half of this century, while Nadar was one of the 
earliest famous portrait photographers, snapping shots in the 1850s.) Coifed and gowned like early Warhol 
superstar Baby Jane Holzer, L.A. glamazon Vaginal Davis told outrageous stories about his band, the 
Afro Sisters, being interviewed by Interview magazine (one of the last interviews Warhol oversaw), 
explaining that the band had lied to get press by saying they had a record deal. "Interview must not have 
had fact checkers," laughed Vag. She also recalled that she dressed as Frida Kahlo (complete with 
unibrow) for a "Come as your favorite dead artist" party at the New York club, Area, and had to spend 
the entire night explaining to everyone (including Warhol!) just who Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were. 
(This was in the early '80s, folks, a decade before Madonna popularized the Mexican artist.) Exene then 
played off the Warhol myth by bringing out time capsules from behind the stage, each time morphing 
more and more into Warhol with the aid of a wig and makeup. Mimicking Warhol's ennui laden whine, 
she riffed on John Kennedy Jr.'s death ("All that beauty at the bottom of the ocean") and celebrity status, 
before she was joined by Sara Flicker, who was dressed as the legendary 19th-century actress, Sarah 
Bernhardt, one of Nadar's subjects. Flicker then performed a spoken duet, "If I Had Lived," with Exene's 
faux Warhol.  

Poet Pat Payne read pieces inspired by Warhol's Polaroids of painter Basquiat, while slides screened on 
the white dress she was wearing. Singer-poet Barnes (who will perform his work in progress, Loud Boy 
Radio, on October 22 at the St. Genesius Theatre in West Hollywood) did his stripped-down beat stuff, 
debuting "Club Kids in New York City," which was inspired by Warhol. Finally, event organizer Lisa 
Freeman delivered an internal monologue from the point of view of one of Nadar's subjects that began 
"Kiss my ass, Nadar." Kudos to Freeman for conceiving and curating this sold-out night of creative 
deconstruction of celebrity mythology, which enthralled guests ranging from elderly art patrons to such 
L.A. artists as Ron Athey, Glenn Meadmore, and Phranc. The exhibit runs through next Wednesday, 
October 10....  

The following night, LunaPark was awash in goodwill for booker Jean-Pierre Boccarra's birthday 
celebration. Boccarra began his club career with the avant-garde Lhasa Club on Hudson Avenue in the 
early 1980s, then opened Largo before moving onto LunaPark. His latest establishment has a no-cover 
downstairs club, featuring a variety of DJs spinning nightly, along with eclectic bands and performers on 
the upstairs stage....  

Got a hearse? Well, the Orpheum Theatre is planning the world's longest hearse procession on October 
22 as part of their fifth annual Spook-a-thon. The weeklong event also includes a tribute to director Tim 
Burton on October 15 and a devilish burlesque show on October 29, as part of the Friends of the 
Orpheum's fund-raising efforts to help save and restore the famous landmark showcase. Call 
213-239-0949 for more details....Other Halloween theme scares for this final year of the century include 
Rob Zombie's haunted house at Universal City Walk. Speaking of whom, former White Zombie 
bandmate Shawn Zombie and her new band, Famous Monsters, will be opening for the Cramps during 
their annual L.A. Halloween week shows at House of Blues. (By the way, the Cramps' new bassist is 
Tim Ferris, formerly of the Leaving Trains and Celebrity Skin.) And, of course, L7's Halloween show 
at the Palace is another hot ticket....  

Those looking to get out of town for All Hallows' Eve may want to check out Las Vegas' version of L.A.'s 
own glam club, Makeup, when it makes its "Sin City" debut at the Hard Rock Casino. Tickets for the 
event are available in L.A. at Retail Slut, but there's a limited capacity of 800 at the Hard Rock, so get 
'em while they last. (The Hard Rock Hotel is already booked solid for the Halloween weekend.) By the 
way, limited capacity is also creating long lines at Makeup's Los Angeles location at the El Rey Theatre, 
which reached capacity by 10:15 p.m. last Saturday. In other words, clubgoers, get dressed and get in line 
when the doors open, instead of following that oh-so-El-Lay late-arrival ethos....  

Finally, Joseph Brooks -- the promoter of Makeup -- is usually in the DJ booth at the El Rey, but this 
past Sunday afternoon, he was onstage at the club as one of the models wearing the lush, sexy clothes in 
Monah Li's Spring 2000 fashion show. The presentation also included turns on the catwalk by singer 
Kathleen Wilhoite (radiantly pregnant) and actress Marissa Ribisi, as well as slews of gorgeous, 
normal-sized women, proving that haute couture isn't simply for the skinny. Actress Tippi Hedren was 
the hostess for the event. On hand to view the spring collection were authors Bruce Wagner and Jerry 
Stahl, film directors Jonathan Craven and Modi, and designers Cynthia Vincent and Alicia Lawhon, 
as well as loads of press and fans of the designer. The event helped raised funds for two charities: 
Children of the Night and the Shambala Preserve. 

 
 
        
 CLAUDE BESSY, BON VOYAGE 
   
            Claude Bessy, town crier, poet laureate and beloved tavern habitué in 
            our little village of late-'70s L.A. punk, died at his Barcelona home last 
            Saturday from cigarette-induced lung cancer. He was 54. Claude 
            moved to Spain 12 years ago after a seven-year sojourn in England. 
            Originally from Normandy, Claude came to the U.S. in 1973 and 
            founded Angeleno Dread, the first reggae fanzine in L.A. He adopted 
            the Kickboy Face pen name from a Jamaican dub artist before meeting 
            graphic artist Steve Samiof in Venice circa '75-'76, whereupon the two 
            launched Slash with Philomena Winstanley and a group of other 
            artists in May 1977. As Slash's chief editorialist, and in person, he 
            was one of the most passionately irreverent characters I have ever 
            met. No one was spared his barbed wit, not even myself (and I liked to 
            think of him as my favorite drinking crony), certainly not the major 
            record companies who'd frequently find their full-page ads adjacent to 
            an editorial review mercilessly trashing their record. Claude was the 
            first writer to predict the Germs and X would be the most influential of 
            L.A.'s Class of '77 bands and was immortalized in the Decline movie 
            saying: "There was never any such thing as new wave. It was the 
            polite thing to say when you were trying to explain you were not into 
            the boring old rock & roll, but you didn't dare to say punk, because 
            you were afraid to get kicked out of the party and they wouldn't give 
            you coke anymore." He is survived by his long-time love, Philomena, 
            and his mother. Claude once wrote in a brilliant unpublished poem: 
            "Death is often trampled, and the bars never close . . ."  

                                              --Brendan Mullen

 
 
 
       
 

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