Archive for the ‘ Inspiration ’ Category

THE 2014 AUTOCULT CALENDAR: FEBRUARY

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013


special thanks to Lariat Tavern, Skinny Dog Design Group, Self Edge, Renza Celotti and Bella Cristina

Ah…the shortest month of the year. And unless you live south of the Grapevine, we’re gonna go ahead and assume February is as hard on you as it is on us. The weather just sucks and sure – it’s the time of year reserved for working on a new project or tearing down the tub or that hateful rewiring job you need to get to – but let’s face it, you’d rather be out on a drive on a beautiful afternoon. And those late afternoons sure do sound good when it’s dark and cold at 5pm. In February.

So, what’s the perfect antidote to February? Anitra and Johnny Koonce’s Model A coupe for the AUTOCULT calendar, of course! Now, we tend to veer away from the rockabilly themes when it comes to our hot rod pinup shoots. Why? Because too many shitty magazines and hack “photographers” have ruined it for the discriminating public. On the other hand, the American rockabilly scene has great roots and when it’s done right, there are few things as fucking awesome as a great rockabilly hot rod pinup girl.

It was with this in mind that we reached out to Johnny Koonce – a member of the venerable Road Zombies car club in San Jose, CA and owner of Kool Cat Kustoms. And, more importantly, builder and owner of this rawmpin,’ stawmpin’ ’30 Model A coupe. Thing does, like, 9s in the quarter-mile. Seriously. And then we called up artist and photographer, Bill Schuch – at a boozy party one night, he showed us some blurry (well, we were probably the blurry ones) shots of a girl he photographed for god-knows-what and we knew we had to get him and her lined up for this calendar.

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THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF MICHAEL SCHMIDT

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

photography: Michael Schmidt

We’ve talked about this before, but we’ll say it again: underground motorcycle culture is at its best right now. It’s hard to pinpoint, but when Jason Jessee and his Black Tibetan were featured in a magazine in the early Nineties, the spark found a little fuel. Bring it up roughly 12-15 years later and Jason’s compadres – the Sinners Brotherhood Of Love And Friendship – presented that same aesthetic in ways that took hold of what the ad industry calls the “tastemakers” of the culture and it was a refreshing revolt against the bullshit bling-a-ling of the fat tire iron cross Walmart douchebag brigade that had taken over the chopper consciousness of the previous decade.

With Jason Jessee as its reluctant messiah, skateboarding had found choppers and a beautiful, energetic, prolific underground culture – complete with its own art, shows, music, style and uniforms – emerged. And really – there’s no other automotive scene that has produced more great stuff – custom shops, handmade apparel lines, parts brands, magazines, books, films, personalities and off-shoot sub-sub-subcultures than this one.

And photography. We’ve been fortunate to work with some of the earliest names in this scene, but one of the latest we’re huge fans of is Michael Schmidt. He’s done some really wonderful work for Matt and Dean over at DicE magazine, as well as some campaigns for some iconic brands, book projects, the list goes on.

What we love so much about Schmidt’s work is what we love so much about underground choppers: there’s a strain of authenticity to it that got lost in the bullshit of the fat-tire era. Sure, it don’t take but a few weeks to grow a beard and buy a 70s-era chop, but even then, the entire approach of this scene that Michael is working in is so much more about respecting its history, building and riding for the love of real freedom and staying way out of the mass media shitstorm.

Schmidt can effortlessly walk between the work of recording the world around him in his editorial style and the commercial work that puts the “pro” in professional photography. He knows how to make some beautiful images. We hope to see so much more of Schmidt’s work before that douchebag element of choppers ruins it. From what we’ve seen, he’s got about a year – we’ve seen the lineup for Born Free 6 and it looks like the times, they are a changin’…

THE AUTOCULT 2014 CALENDAR: JANUARY

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

We just took delivery of the 2014 calendar and if you already placed your order, we’ll start shipping soon. If you haven’t ordered yet, make sure you stock up – there’s literally tons of stunner metal in this thing backed up by a dozen girls you wish you knew a little better. Believe that.

To kick the year off right, we did two things: called Joe Hickenbottom about his killer ’65 Barracuda gasser, “Leggin’ It!” and then placed a call to photographer Jay Watson. As soon as both Joe and Jay gave in to our pleads, we hit up one of our favorite California Suicide Girls, Bob, to see if she wanted to spend the day with us on Joe’s ranch near Salinas, CA. Lucky for us, she didn’t have a better offer for that day.

Now, if you haven’t seen our particular style of hot rod pinup, you’ll be happy to hear we don’t carpet-bomb the land with the likes of the horrendous photos you’ll see on the covers of the ratroddish car magazines these days. Not really sure what happened to the world of pinup photography over the last few years, but yeeeeeeesh…it’s not good, friend. Not good.

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WINNER: BEST USE OF MILK IN PINUP GIRL SHOOT

Thursday, October 10th, 2013


photo: Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz

In our on-going pursuit of putting good pinup imagery back into the world, we submit this freakin’ GENIUS work by photographer Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz: milk splashing against body parts to create the wardrobe in his recreations of classic mid-century pinup illustrations by the greats like George Petty, Al Moore, Alberto Vargas and others.

Since we’re fairly sure Jaroslav doesn’t have control of the God Particle, we totally understand why he had to create each of the milk splash duds with hundreds of photos of smaller, more controlled splashes, but that’s just part of what makes this project so amazing: the combination of planning and experimenting with a nearly-uncontrollable element makes for a beautiful image.

But, we can tell you from more than a decade of working in this space, it’s not just the technical aspects of this project that makes it successful. No, at the end of the day, the photographer still has to make a visceral connection with the model to make a compelling image. Pinup is part fantasy, part reality. And if the shooter doesn’t know how to leave the real world to connect with her in the fantasy realm, it just ain’t gonna work. No matter how good the lighting is.

But Jaroslav is not that shooter. He knows how to make a technically and emotionally beautiful image. Go see more of how he does what he does and we’re gonna try even harder to meet the bar he’s raised. Damn him.

THE AGE OF THE LOW CUSTOM

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

There are few things that remind us we’re more than a decade into the new millennium quite like the strange and ponderous collectibility values of Malaise Era cars.

“Malaise Era?” you ask, “WTF?” And for the most part, we don’t blame you. The most active generation of underground car culture was barely conscious when Vanilla Ice notched his eyebrows in the side-view mirror of his 1st Gen 5.0-litre Mustang GT and slept through American History 101 when the half-chapter on the Arab Oil Embargo of ’73 was pop-quized.

But the era of largely-forgettable, nay laughable American cars are now bathing in the light of nostalgia and we have to just deal with that shit. When the oil embargo of the early Seventies put the kibosh on the great Muscle Car era, the early ham-fisted attempts at fuel economy and safety were the rule of the land and it wasn’t pretty. The Mustang II – need we say more? OK, we will: the Laguna S3, the Chevette, Pinto, Gremlin, 2nd, 3rd and 4th-Gen Monte Carlo and don’t even get us started on the ’78 Dodge Challenger that looked suspiciously similar to a Mitsubishi Galant.

But, here we are – some 40 years after the earliest Dayz Of Malaise – and those awkward rubber-bumpered, steel-bodied, hopelessly underpowered shadows-of-their-former-models are now sorta cool. And easy to pick up fairly cheap right now.

We give you this backstory so that we can bring you the actual story: the rise of the Low Custom. And Skoty Chops‘ 1980 Monte Carlo is the perfect example. Take a 1980 Monte Carlo, airbag it over a set of 14″ or 15″ Keystone Klassics, squirt a late-Sixties to mid-Seventies panel job of some sort over metalflake and you’re pretty much right on. It ain’t a lowrider – the hesher wheel choice should give that away. It’s not a traditionally-accepted custom, either – the body model takes care of that misconception. It’s not a hot rod, a street freak, a classic or an antique. It’s a Low Custom…

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GIRLS OF YORE: HAJI

Monday, August 12th, 2013

In the late Sixties, a filmmaker named Russ Meyer made ultrahipster status with his love of film and beautiful girls with impossible proportions. “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!,” “Motorpsycho” and “Good Morning…and Goodbye!” were a few of his classically terrible-yet-equally-fucking-awesome films shot out in the American Southwest where it seemed that cleavage, bad taste in cars, a shallow script and a taste of early slasher flicks needed no permit to produce and rule us with, some fifty years later.

And one of the truly God-given gifts Meyer plied often was his ability to find some of the most trance-inducing, exotic women and retain them for said films. So, it makes perfect sense that he’d cross paths with a go-go dancer named Cerlet Catton or Barbarella Catton or, as she’s known to most, Haji.

Something out of a Martin Denny album cover or the mens room wall in the Enchanted Tiki Room design studio at Disney, Cerlet or Barbarella was apparently given her more well-known name by her brother when they were kids growing up in Quebec or Nova Scotia. What we are certain of is that she was Canadian and Haji was a fitting name for such an exotic beauty.

Another thing we know is that, in the absence of facts, all kinds of speculation will make up a biography. And in the world of Haji, not a whole helluva lot has been written about her life outside of her acting career. It’s been said that she dabbled in witchcraft, psychedelic drugs and we’d like to add that she was actually the product of a cellular fusion of fairy dust subparticles, cardamom powder, oil of nightshade and the same stuff in Freesia stripper lotion that Victoria’s Secret put out in the Nineties. We’ll stand by that statement as we honor the life and career of Haji on her passing over the weekend.

We get into this discussion alot – especially when we work on our hot rod pinup photoshoots: Why don’t women look like they did in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies? The natural curves, the long legs, the absence of silicone…the look that Russ Meyer made a career of? Is it the steroid-pumped chicken that kids have been fed for the last 20 years? Is there something in the water? Is it a terrible diet of Papa John’s Pizza and tramp stamp tattoos and too many seasons of “Glee?” What happened in these last two generations that we can’t find a young Haji? Welp, we’ll keep looking.

In the meantime, enjoy a few captures of Haji’s beautiful career and get in touch with us if you know a girl who’s a fitting tribute to the trail Haji blazed five decades ago…

LINDA LOVELACE BUILT MY HOT ROD

Thursday, August 8th, 2013


Linda Lovelace and Funny Car driver, Ed McCulloch

This Friday, a little film with some big names attached to it will release in just a few theaters and video-on-demand. “Lovelace” stars that chick from Allentown, PA – Amanda Seyfried – as the iconic Linda Lovelace and if this movie had its own FaceySpacey page, the relationship with American popular culture would be categorized as “It’s Complicated.”

Now’s the perfect time for a biopic about Linda Lovelace. Why? Well, because everything bitchin’ about the Seventies is hip right now, but we’re all skirting around what made it possible: the sexual revolution. Choppers, halter tops, Funny Cars, feathered hair, street freaks, doom metal, Keystone Klassics, Funk…the list just goes on.

Yeah, yeah, we know you think it’s a stretch, but the sexual revolution of the late Sixties/early Seventies was more than just a sex thing. It was a state of mind that allowed everything to be questioned. Tim Conder talks about how his blue-collar dad in a white t-shirt and perfectly greased Flat-Top Boogie discovered bean bag chairs and shag rugs in the Seventies and that didn’t mean he stopped running through the four gears of his perfect ’55 Chevy on the back roads of Kentucky, it just meant that folks of his generation were allowed, nay, encouraged to walk away from the Howdy-Doody bullshit that had been paving over the depths of the human soul for the last several decades.

By the time car culture finally got all the butch wax washed out of its hair in ’72, Linda Lovelace had brought sex grinding onto the silver screen in “Deep Throat.” The first film of its kind to actually wake up the American consciousness, the $50,000 investment (little more than $270,000 in today’s cake) by Louis Peraino and his mutton-chopped gang came to define the core of everything we loved. Namely, Freedom. Freedom to do whatever and whoever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to. And that kind of freedom – the kind that Linda made us all aware of in some very memorable ways – ended up in the haze-smoke of Bob Gerdes’ Circus Paint, the Funny Car circuit that Jungle Jim Liberman and Jungle Pam Hardy made so popular, the music of Pentagram, the mad lab of Dick Allen, the hot rod styling of “Lil John” Buttera, the custom van movement, “Convoy,” the cane-n-cape swagger of Evel Knievel, KISS…the mind just boggles with wizards, metalflake, Jesus toe sandals, Gold Streaks and shaggy-haired jet boat parties.

We could go on and on about Linda’s force majeure that excused an entire generation from the fate of its parents, but hey – that shit’s been done before. We’ll take the time to make the connection between the cult of personality of Linda Lovelace and everything we love so much about car culture. Swallow that.

WORLDS COLLIDE…AGAIN

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013


photo: Tatiana Gerusova

If you have one of our 2013 calendars, you know Tatiana Gerusova’s work: her images of Cherry Martini for the cover and the month of March are unforgettable. And now, we’ve just learned that Tatiana has been picked up by one of the greats of the world of photography: Art + Commerce! Not only that, but she and Gia Genevieve have been tapped for a new campaign for that icon of itty-bitty-triangle-tagged jeans, GUESS?…

Just another killer example of how exceptional photography breaks down walls between the subculture of cars and popular culture strains like fashion. We know we’ll keep hearing the tired-ass “I ain’t into all that fashion-y bullshit, I just been out there workin’ on my car,” and other various strains of that same sentiment, but the world keeps evolving despite that limited – and dying – perspective. And we dig the hell outta the amazing art that comes from this kind of fusion.

Great work, Tatiana – you deserve every bit of it. We’re just honored to know ye, girl…

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


photo: Brian Bossone

We were over on FaceySpacey a few weeks ago when we stopped dead on our keyboard: Brian Bossone had posted up two shots of a Buick Nailhead that looked achingly familiar.

Back in the mid-Nineties, we found a ’63 Buick Riviera stuffed into a basement-turned-living room in central Pennsylvania and plunked down $1500 for it before the owner could get out a “Well…”

LOVED that car. As far as a factory custom, nothing came as close as the Riviera that ended up in the Buick camp for the 1963 model year after the boys over at Cadillac turned the design down. Now, this one was bone-stock, but rusty. Typical PA car. But that mattered not. Nearly 20 years ago, there just weren’t many Rivs in the general consciousness of the custom car magazines and Rob Fortier – who was at Custom Rodder at the time – was the only one touting the lines of Riviera in the magazines.

Much as we loved the Riviera, the 2-speed DynaSlow was keeping that 401 Nailhead from realizing its full potential, we thought. Not only that, but we thought that motor could breathe a little better and be, well, FASTER. Picked up Pat Ganahl’s “Street Supercharging” book and cover-to-covered that sumbitch for a whole summer between beers and stair-diving at a summer share in South Bethany Beach, Delaware. And that was IT, brother: a blown Nailhead was what we needed, but we didn’t want a roots-type sticking up through the hood, so a centrifugal type that could be hung off the motor somewhere under the closed hood was the answer.

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CAR CULTURE NOW

Thursday, July 25th, 2013


photo: Gregory Bojorquez

Hey, while GWCs (guys-with-cameras) are dragging those unfortunate girls out to car shows in the orca-betty retro-hog getups, burning up the free pixels on squinty looks and horrible poses and promising online magazine glory, real car culture is happening.

Keep your eyes open, don’t stop and stare when you stumble over the train wreck “photoshoot” happening in the show parking lot (you’ll know it when you see the dude in lion-tamers and beat-up crosstrainers with a digital camera sweating over a chick in clown makeup and a “vintage” outfit from Hot Topic draped over the radial of a rattle-canned Buick sedan with the rear doorhandles shaved off) and you’ll notice it.

Just like anything else, you gotta work a little harder to get to the good stuff.