Viva La Rock (Sid Elvis)

Acrylic on printed paper
60 x 37.6 cms

A poster of Elvis painted over by the Artist to resemble Sid Vicious.


  • Sid Vicious - Jon Savage SHOW

    Sid Vicious - Jon Savage

    In every generation there are the brave ones: the artists, stylists, intellectuals, the street kids who heedlessly launch themselves into the future, who refuse to be trapped by what is known. Within this small group, there is always a figure who doesn’t necessarily produce very much, if anything at all, but whose whole presence defines his or her time and place.

    Their every gesture, captured in a photograph or on film, appears to sum up the spirit of an era. In the late 1920’s – the era of the Bright Young Things – it was androgynous socialite Stephen Tennant. In the Warhol Factory it was the elfin, amphetamined Edie Sedgwick, who danced the high wire with consummate grace. In British Punk, it was Sid Vicious.

    Sid could have been the front man of the Sex Pistols – and eventually was. He was one of the four Johns – Lydon, Wardle, Beverley and Grey: herberts all from North and East London - who crashed down the Kings Road during 1975, sneering at everything in sight. When McLaren decided to hold an audition for the fledgling “Sex” group, Sid was absent. His friend John Lydon got the call.

    /> Unhappy about this turn of events, Sid became the Sex Pistols ur-fan. He began to get attention for violent behaviour. He was one of the Sex Pistols’ entourage involved in the famous, photographed fight at the Nashville in April 1976. He assaulted rock journalist Nick Kent, and was implicated in an incident at the 100 Club where a glass was thrown and a girl badly injured.

    He was, after all, called Sid Vicious. In later years, Lydon would downplay his involvement in what turned out to be the creation of a monster. Sid was known under a couple of names – John Beverley and Simon Ritchie - but sometime in 1974 or 1975, in the spirit of pop re/creation, Lydon gave him a new pseudonym: Sid after his hamster, and Vicious after the song by Lou Reed.

    It was a joke, a laugh. But re/creation is an unpredictable undertaking. In the Warholian ambience of early London punk, Vicious was a leading character: his name offered him a fast-track to fame, if not notoriety. By the time that the music press began to run features about Punk as something more than just a couple of rock groups, Sid

    was highlighted as an avatar of this new, troubled age.

    In Jonh Ingham’s seminal October 1976 Sounds article, ‘Welcome to the “?” Rock Special’, Sid dominated the pull quotes: ‘I didn’t even know the Summer of Love was happening. I was too busy playing with my Action Man’; ‘I don’t understand why people think it’s so difficult to learn to play guitar. I found it incredibly easy. You just pick a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music’.

    And there was more: ‘I don’t believe in sexuality at all. People are very unsexy. I don’t enjoy that side of life. Being sexy is just a fat arse and tits that will do anything you want. I personally look upon myself as one of the most sexless monsters ever’. In the end was a kind of manifesto: ‘I’ve only been in love with a beer bottle and a mirror’.

    Sid’s comments were a mixture of posturing and candid revelation. They introduce him as a character not afraid to take the limelight, with a catchy – if slightly ludicrous: Sid after all was redolent of the 1920’s – pseudonym that seemed to match the half-serious, half- joking brutality of

    early Punk. Violence was both theatre and tool: to clear space, to reproduce the ambience of England in 1976.

    Unlike the moronic monster of legend, Sid was very sharp, as his friend Viv Albertine remembers: ‘I always felt very uncomfortable with him he was so strict, and so idealistic, and so clever, which people don't seem to realise. The reason he went scooting downhill, he was so idealistic, and he really couldn't stand the world and its pettiness’.

    I first encountered Sid in November 1976, at a Clash show at the Royal College of Art. Standing at the front, I became aware of this person standing next to me, swaying and strutting. I kept watch on him, and was not surprised when he got up on stage, sharing Joe Strummer’s mike, and threatened the students who were busy showering the Clash with beer glasses.

    His threat was blunt and to the point: ‘c’mon cunt and I’ll do ya’. It is this brutal earthiness that characterises Sid’s verbal pronouncements – before his persona and the drugs took him over. In the summer of 1977, he gave an excoriating interview to Fred and Judy Vermorel: ‘I

    think that largely they’re scum and they make me physically sick, the general public. They are scum’.

    By that time, he had become a Sex Pistol. The selection had been made not so much on musical ability – although Sid could play Ramonic bass lines well enough – but on his persona and his friendship with John Lydon. He looked like a Sex Pistol and, as the other three members of the group began to withdraw from all the media attention, he began to take centre stage.

    His slow and wracked downfall was conducted in public. Part of Sid’s problem – which is also the reason for his iconic status – is that he followed a bad idea all the way. He was in love with the New York punk ethos than ran from the Velvets to Lou Reed to the New York Dolls and then Richard Hell and the Ramones: that’s where Nancy Spungeon and the hard drugs came from.

    The photographer Roberta Bayley befriended him during the Sex Pistols’ January 1978 tour of the US, when Sid was going cold turkey. The climactic show of the tour occurred at San Antonio in Texas, when the

    band played under a hail of material thrown by the local rednecks: Sid took up the challenge, and clubbed a sample member of the audience with his bass.

    As far as Sid was concerned, he was the only one of the band who had stood up to the cowboys. He was the true Sex Pistol. But the expectation of his name was all too much. ‘I was sitting with him at the soundcheck,’ Bayley remembers; ‘He said “I wanna be like Iggy and die before I’m thirty,” and I said: “Sid, Iggy is over thirty and he’s still alive, you got the story wrong’.

    A week later, the Sex Pistols broke up and Sid was in Jamaica Hospital after an overdose on his flight from LA. He was all alone, and reflective when Bayley called him up: ‘I’ve got six months to live’, he tells her. ‘Oh well don’t drink. You asshole’. ‘I’ll end up burning myself out’. ‘But what will you do if you go back to London? The same thing?’ ‘Yeah, I probably will die in six months actually’.

    Sid’s self-destruction cast him as an archetypal Romantic hero and the embodiment of London Punk’s headlong,

    heedless momentum that in 1978 was on the point of burn-out just as it was becoming mainstream pop. After John Lydon abdicated, so Sid became the singer: fronting on “My Way” and the group’s two best sellers of the 1970’s, “Somethin’ Else” and “C’Mon Everybody”.

    These Eddie Cochran covers recast Sid as the archetypal ‘Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die’ rock hero. This had been one of McLaren’s names for the shop at 430 Kings Road, and the Sex Pistols’ manager remained in love with the nihilistic, primal drive of fifties rock’n roll. As filmed in “My Way”, Sid was the young gunslinger, the fanatical assassin out to murder a world.

    There was a human being under this: one who did not have much of a chance. The most disturbing moment in “My Way” comes when Sid shoots a middle-aged woman: the idea was that this was not only a representative of the hated hippie generation, but also Sid’s mother, Anne Beverley – the woman who bought the heroin that would kill him in February 1979.

    In the Vermorels’ interview, Sid locked into one of his characteristic rants: ‘Grown-ups have just got no intelligence at

    all. As soon as somebody stops being a kid, they stop being aware. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. You can be 99 and still be a kid. And as long as you’re a kid you’re aware and you know what’s happening. But as soon as you “grow up”….’

    Sid never grew up. In all his spectacular crash and burn, there was not much that was not the action of a child. This concentration on child-like awareness had, ironically, been one of the hallmarks of the hippies, and had – in the hands of leading exponents John Lennon (“Strawberry Fields Forever”) and Syd Barrett (“Mathilda Mother”) had been just as redolent of emotional damage.

    But then Sid also did it to himself. He bought the script, much of which was already a cliché by the time that he was living it. How wearing was that New York junkie style, that blind sense of Rock ’n' Roll entitlement – with the black clothes, leather trousers, and sunglasses after dark. You’d avoid those people on the street, not because they were dangerous, but because they were boring.

    Even so, there was something in Sid that made the

    script all his own, that transcended his self-destruction. In his thuggish poses and rebarbative discourse, Sid now announces himself as a particular kind of English archetype – the stylised, intelligent hooligan whose sarcasm flays the established, the bourgeois and the boring, who tells a truth that this country never wants to hear.

  • Masks or How To Be A Dandy - Sebastian Horsley SHOW

    Masks or How To Be A Dandy - Sebastian Horsley

    Dandyism is a form of self-worship which dispenses with the need to find happiness from others - especially women. It is a condition rather than a profession. It is a defence against suffering and a celebration of life. It is not fashion; it is not wealth; it is not learning; it is not beauty. It is a shield and a sword and a crown - all pulled out of the dressing up box in the attic of the imagination.

    The estrangement of the thorough going dandy is not from women, but from life. It is taking up a posture of ironic detachment from the world and living it out in scrupulous detail. Dandies are a brotherhood of higher types. The true princes of the world. And the true priests of the world. To become a dandy your days will become so ordered they will make the life of a Trappist monk seem like an orgy.

    Here are the lessons in self-transformations I apply so rigourously. You must empty yourself of the dreariness of mere personality, and make yourself available without reservation, not to individuals but to the world at large. But you will find

    that this way of life is only in a certain sense fulfilling. It is also a martyrdom of sorts. If you choose to share your life with the world rather than one person then you have to forfeit marriage, children, happiness - all the things, of course, that don’t matter. So, how exactly is it done? It is time to take off my face and reveal my mask.

    The projection of dandyism can be effected by three principal means - speech, movement and appearance.


    Unless you can improve on silence - keep your gob shut. To justify its existence speech has to be extraordinary. If it’s ordinary it’s less than worthless ; it’s clutter. If language is the dress of thought then there is never any excuse for denim.

    Read every day something no-one else is reading. Think every day something no-one else is thinking. Above all be witty. Wit enables us to act rudely with impunity. And wit has truth in it.

    Remember : The beginning of wit is to desire it. Read wit continually, exercise the mind, simply to keep the muscles at attention,

    like a person who tries to do a marathon. Turn your pain into humour and your anger into wit. Embrace life as a great metaphysical joke to which the only logical response is laughter.

    The key is to make people believe everything you say, though not a single word is sincere. The only terror is the terror of being understood.


    If all speech should be a kind of literature, every movement should be a form of dance. Every day put on your best trousers to go out to battle for freedom and truth. One must always look beautiful, look up and smile at the camera - even if it’s only a security camera - or a satellite. Contra Mr Orwell : be grateful to be worth watching. Curl your skip into a smile and your smile into a show. Your gait, should be a purposeful lope, taut with authority. Walk in the perfect glow of self adoration, striding invincibly through London's awe-struck and fawning populace.


    When it comes to dress, it takes a strong man to be an extrovert. A true dandy, needs a complete conviction

    that he is right; the views of the rest of the world simply don’t matter. “If someone looks at you, you are not well-dressed“ Mr Brummell tells us. But then Mr Brummell would say that: prissily precise, he was essentially a conformist. True dandyism is rebellious. The real dandy wants to make people look, be shocked by, and even a little scared by the subversion which his clothes stand for.

    And yet, dandyism is social, human and intellectual. It is not a suit of clothes walking about by itself. Clothes are merely a part - they may even be the least important part of the personality of the dandy. Dandyism isn’t image encrusted with flourishes. It’s a way of stripping yourself down to your true self. You can only judge the style by the content and you can only reach the content through the style.

    Mr Brummell was the original and most celebrated dandy but he was no hero of mine. He was so refined that I do not regard him as a dandy at all. I am more concerned with style than breeding. And the key is to dress in such a style

    that you would attract attention at a Liberace concert.

    Being “well dressed” is not a question of having expensive clothes or the “right” clothes. You can wear rags, but they must suit you. In fact to be able to sustain an existence on nothing and rags is the epitome of style. A curious dignity and a refusal not to keep up appearances is what we want. Style is not elegance but consistency. So, take heart, you will not need any money at all. A modest sufficiency cramps style; extreme poverty, like great danger, enriches it.

    Remember : Life is nothing but a game of dressing up and make-believe. All dress is fancy dress except our natural skins.


    Works of art do nothing but they do it passionately. So, retire at birth. You must have no obligations, no attachments, no wife, no child, no occupation, no possessions, no obvious means of support, visible or invisible. Basically no use whatsoever. Are we agreed about that? Good. Looking beautiful and being stylish is essential. A purpose in life is not. I have never had a career - but I do

    a splendid job as one of the handsomest men in the world. I don’t want anything. I am completely un covetous. Unless it is under the covers avec tous.

    Family life.

    As a natural loner and auto-invention you will have grasped early the irrelevance of family life. Dandies reproduce themselves through emulation and style, not through family descent. So, get rid of them. Distant relatives, are the best kind, and the further the better.

    Love, marriage and sex represent species sameness and so the defeat of individuality. And so, they gotta go. A dandy will not be link in the chain of being, exchangeable with any other and expendable in himself. They are not a piece of animated meat. A fornicating carcass. He must defeat his animal function at all costs.

    The only place a dandy would push a pram is into the Thames. Of course, it is fine to date children but never to have them. You must raise nothing but your cock.

    As for women? Women are on this planet only as trumpets of our glory. To love, even in the least elevated sense, means to desire,

    which means to be dependent. The key is to be disinterested and not become giddy from the heads you turn.

    Life trajectory.

    Dandyism oscillates between narcissism and neurosis, vanity and insanity, Savile Row and Death Row. All the great dandies have ended in the flophouse or the madhouse. Gutter or nutter. You have lived like a king and shall die like a beggar.


    As all self-respecting dandies know, suicides are the aristocrats of death. They represent a triumph of style over life. Your existence is a work of art. It deserves a frame - if only to distinguish it from the wallpaper. Suicide will look nice. It will match the home furnishings.

    Write a note. If you are young perhaps something like :

    “I have decided to stop living on account of the cost”
    Or if you are old (say 90)
    “I am committing suicide because I am worried about my future.”

    Remember : It is not enough to know how to make a dazzling entry : you need to know how to vacate the stage with the same panache. Dandyism is a modern

    form of stoicism. It is a religion whose only sacrament is suicide. Fear not : by the time you have reached the end of the run you will be as God. You will not be committing suicide but deicide. Pesticide is for mere mortals.


    From Savile Row to Death Row. Of course Dandyism fails. How can originality replicate to create a whole movement? How, on the one perfumed hand, can you talk about freedom when you willingly give it up with the other un-gloved mitt? How can you be unique and yet part of the gang? There are two universal truths about human beings. One : they are all the same. Two : they all say they are different. Two is of course the result of one. The dandy just happens to be the biggest, the best and most beautiful fraud of them all. His doctrine is a laughable conceit, a delightful illusion.

    But so what? Life is absurd and so the only way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in a perpetual orgy of absurdity. A man gets up to speak and says nothing. Nobody listens and then everybody disagrees. Nothing

    solves the meaningless absurdity of life. But we can clothe the abyss and make it wearable.

    When you hear thunder, take a bow.
    When you hear rain, assume it is applause.
    And so like the sun, shine, having no alternative.

    You shall be a reprobate dandy; that’s your job. And the good lord will forgive you : That’s his.