Monday, October 23, 2023

Bobby's Costume Clique

 While Charles Manson was sitting in a federal prison Bobby Beausoleil was playing dress-up with his friends. Bobby was four days shy of 18 years old at the time this article was published. Now we know where Bobby got the idea for some of his clothing choices, namely the top-hat. He had kind of an early day steampunk look during the time he was with Kenneth Anger.

Poor Snow Fox looks woefully under fed.

A translation of the article that accompanied the photo. Bobby isn't mentioned in the article. The photo is classic though and the article adds context. Ahoy me hearties. Blow the man down. Aaaarrrggghhh!

By Andrew Briggs
Special to the Times

The gangly young man danced and moved his hands as if making incantations to some primitive god; he was wearing a ranch-hand's outfit and a 10-gallon hat.

A girl near him was dancing in a hooded black velvet travelling cape that might have come from Shakespeare's England.

The scene could have been a masquerade ball, but no one was wearing a mask. It was the Saturday night "happenings" of a loose-knit group of Los Angeles youths who believed clothing is an art form and a means of self-expression. Members feel what they wear is a symbol of their individuality.

According to Phil Licherman, 18, a theater arts major at Los Angeles City College, there are about 50 members of the informal clique in Hollywood and 200 throughout the city. However, there are a lot more "would-bes" who want to be "in", but are "too lame."

The group ranges in age from 18 to about 25, many of them students and most aspiring artists, actors, sculptors, musicians and singers. They gather at Bido Lido's, 1607 N. Ivar St. for the "happenings."
Licherman was "in the groove" at the rock 'n' roll night club, with long hair, a wrinkled butcher's hat, a blue bandana around his neck, a striped English button-down collar shirt and a wool-lined leather hunting jacket.

"The people in this bag (one's social image or role) are individualists," he said. "They don't care what society says. This bag is like a beat, but it's not self-sacrificing and it's not a way of life. It's an exploration.

"I'm myself in any bag, but I like this bag because the people who are in it are Dylan lovers (Bob Dylan, a popular recording artist who symbolizes the values of the group) and speak the truth. Ther are a lot of cool people in other bags but I'm comfortable in this one. The clothing makes me feel free and I dig blowing people's minds (upsetting people)."

Is way-out clothing a symptom of way-out behavior?

"We're all individuals here," said Licherman. "We do what's good for us. I can't speak for anybody else."
One youth's nose was painted blue. One wore rags of a wino, with gypsy earrings; another wore earrings with bell-bottom pants and a turtle-neck sweater.

Another lad, whose girlfriend called him "the real Wyatt Earp," needed only a gun to look the part; he had a badge already.

A girl wore pince-nez sunglasses, which are considered "trip" - in excellent taste. Another danced in what appeared to be a black terry cloth bathrobe. 

To Susan Papacek, 18, a Pasadena City College speech major, the happenings are "a contest to see who can show the most creativity and originality."

Miss Papacek isn't a member of the clique. Her eye is on more conventional goals. But she admires the group.

One Non-Conformist

"These kids are way ahead of most of the kids their age. What's happening here is new. They're conforming to the smallest possible group."

One member- the wife of a sculptor - is a member of a very large group-- motherhood. But she strikes a non-conformist note by wearing a baggy one-piece playsuit with striped tights and nursing her baby in public.

Members of the clique point out that dress rebellion, or exploration, is not local but international, with such idols as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Byrds setting the style.

"Clothing as a costume relaxes these kids," said Valorie Porter, hostess at the club. "They feel free. They're not trapped in a uniform. They don't feel like they're conforming.

" A businessman's suit is a uniform. It forces him into a conformist part. What these kids wear lets them play any part they want to."

How far will the non-conformists go? As far as the gods of non-fashion dictate. Right down to the nudity, if it's a "trip."

"I guess I'd go for it," said one youth. "My name is Adam." 


SixtiesRockRules! said...

Can't prove it definitively from this article, but I'm almost certain the "wife of a sculptor" mentioned briefly is none other than Szou Paulekas, who was 22 at the time and married to the notorious Vito Paulekas. Don't know if Beasoleil was ever questioned as to how well he knew Vito, but it's an interesting possibility, given how closely (so it's been said by some authors/journalists) Vito's "troupe" foreshadowed Manson's "Family". If you haven't already, read the late Dave McGowan (yes, some of his work has been rightly criticized for zero footnotes and other issues) and what he said about the Paulekas ain't pretty, to put it mildly. One wonders how much of an influence old degenerate Vito might have exerted on young Bobby. Anyway, kudos to you Deb for finding this article & photo.

brownrice said...

Great post, Deb. Thank you.

I think it's a dead certainty that Vito and co would've been part of this scene, SixtiesRockRules. The LA freak world in '66 would've been quite small I'd imagine. Personally, I wouldn't put too much faith in any of McGowan's claims though. He's got an awful habit of saying 2 plus 2 equals almost anything except 4 :-). Many of the things he lists as "facts" are just plain wrong. In many ways he reminds me of the writer of this article (and many other journalists of the time). In the immortal words of Ken Kesey, "They know where it is but they don't know WHAT it is". A fascinating read though.

starviego said...

Bobby was hippie before hippie was cool.

DebS said...

Sixties and brownrice, that is really interesting. I've never heard of Vito Paulekas. I will read up on him.

So, it seems like Bobby was like a couple of other guys that found their way to Manson, namely Brooks Poston and Mark Ross. Brooks first explored Jim Jones before joining up with Manson and then he hooked up with Paul Crockett after being left in the desert to guard Barker Ranch for an extended time.

I'm not sure what Ross did before Manson but while the dust was settling on the TLB murders he "found" Father Yod and the Source.

Bobby aligns himself with the clothing clique and possibly Paulekas then he gets together with Kenneth Anger, who had his own brand of weird, before meeting Manson.

These guys were looking for something to enrich their lives without having a plan of their own making but rather using a blueprint others had set out. It ended very badly for Bobby.

brownrice said...

DebS said...
These guys were looking for something to enrich their lives without having a plan of their own making but rather using a blueprint others had set out. It ended very badly for Bobby.

That's for sure. Young guys, unable to relate to their parents' worldview and looking for a father figure and male role model... there was a fair bit of that about at the time :-)

Pamela Des Barres in her book "I'm With The Band" gives (to my mind) one of the less hysterical accounts of Vito, his dance troupe and the whole LA freak scene of '65/66.

Torque said...

Deb, as always, thanks for the story and photo. That's another rare photo in the early days of Bobby. An interesting time indeed for the young Bob and those his age. It would be important, I think, to know more about Brooks' association with Jim Jones/People's Temple, pre-Manson, too.

I don't know if Bobby had anything to do with the Temple, but they of course were headquartered in the Ukiah area after migrating there from Indiana. Of course, many in the Family spent considerable time in that area as well. Then the Temple HQ moved to San Francisco, enabling even more wayward youth to get turned on to Jones.

Doug said...

Early LOVE rehearsals as they transitioned from The Grassroots to LOVE were held in Vito and Szou's studio. Their drummer, Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer lived there for a while and, they had a very "hot" residency at Bido Litos so, I am pretty sure that Bobby knew Vito and the Hands. Then there is the semi-believable rumour that Bobby was part of the assortment of the "Freaks/Hands" who appeared on the centerpiece song of the Mothers "Freak Out" album l. The same people circling around the various touchstones of that vibrant, exciting time in LA...


DebS said...

I've done a little reading on Vito and the right names have popped up to make a case for a connection between Bobby and Vito. Arthur Lee, Kenneth Anger and Frank Zappa all knew Vito and interacted with him on some level. The rumor that Bobby appeared on the centerpiece song of the "Freak Out" album has legs.

Vito also was known to frequent the Whisky-a-GoGo. I wonder if Manson also knew Vito via Bobby and perhaps Manson was imitating Vito and his dancers when he did his celebrated dance routine at the Whisky. Manson really didn't have original ideas but piggybacked off the ideas of others. I see Vito and Manson as adversaries, certainly not allies.

Toadstool Shadow said...

Regarding Bobby's clothes, an LA girlfriend of his did clothing design for Sonny & Cher circa 1965 or so. I think that info is in Bobby's 'Lightshows for the Blind' essay that used to be online. Regarding Vito, a while back, I searched for videos of his and his 'freaks' dance routines, but couldn't find anything. They were renowned for dancing at pre-fame Byrds shows and such. As I recall, there is a very brief scene of a man believed to be Vito dancing wildly in "Gimme Shelter," the Altamont film.

Peter said...

Off topic but an interesting intersection.

Monica said...

Check out the movie Mondo Hollywood - the one in which Jay and Bobby both appear. Vito and Szou are in it too, and they perform a bit in the movie. Everyone was connected at that time in Hollwood!

Tragical History Tour said...

And for about 53 years now Bobby has been wearing the same clothes every day.

Now that's lame.

Peter said...

You think there is any connection between the choice of the name Sadie Mae Glutz and Suzie Jane Hokum aka Nancy Sinatra on the Lee Hazelwood LPs?

brownrice said...

More likely Daisy Mae Scragg from Li'l Abner. Really though it's a fairly generic "hillbilly" name, isn't it?

Peter said...

I think they prefer "mountain people"

Peter said...

I think they prefer "mountain people"

DebS said...

Sadie Glutz, minus the Mae, was a soprano and actress back in the 20's and 30's.

brownrice said...

Peter said...
I think they prefer "mountain people"

Indeed that's true. Hilbillys & hippies though are the last two social enclaves you can make fun of with impunity. Personally, I've got one foot in either camp. :-)

DebS said...
Sadie Glutz, minus the Mae, was a soprano and actress back in the 20's and 30's.

Interesting. Charlie referring back to his childhood influences perhaps.

grimtraveller said...

DebS said:

Sadie Glutz, minus the Mae, was a soprano and actress back in the 20's and 30's

brownrice said:

Interesting. Charlie referring back to his childhood influences perhaps

According to Nicholas Shreck, Charlie's Mum told the LA Times that his cousin would step in to fight for him if he got into scrapes as a boy at school and elsewhere. That cousin is never mentioned by name in Shreck's quote, but in his 988-page marathon "The Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman" he names the cousin as Sadie Mae and refers to her as Charlie's guardian angel. He specifically states that Charlie was paying tribute to her in giving Susan Atkins the name Sadie Mae.

brownrice said...

Well-remembered, Grim.

Dan S said...

Golers. South mountain style. Doug knows what I'm talking about

Doug said...

Vito and Szou interviewed about their freakiness and, of course, the Freaks/Hands

Doug said...

Vito and the Freaks are well documented in this brief silent clip of The Mothers playing in LA in 1966

Doug said...

They even made (a relatively early) record that was helmed by another notoriously creepy character

Doug said...

Yours...for only $455 + commissions and postage!

DebS said...

Thanks for all the links, Doug!

Doug said...

No problem!

DebS said...

Shindig! magazine has an article about the LA Freak Scene in their current issue. It's a UK publication, I found a copy on Ebay. Shindig! #145 Nov. 2023

Bobby is not mentioned in the article but Manson is mentioned, by last name only, in the final paragraph of the article. It insinuates that Manson along with other events current at that time spelled the end of the Freak Scene era.