Monday, August 7, 2023

Fugs Avalon Ballroom Poster


Every once in a while, you run across something that marginally has to do with Charles Manson. This is one of those things.

April 12, 13 and 14, 1968 The Fugs played at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. They were the headliners. On the bill with them were the Ace of Cups, an all-girl band that not only played all the instruments but also wrote their own music. Rolling Stone magazine did an article on them in 2022 if you want to learn more about the band. The opening act was Allmen Joy. Allmen Joy was psychedelic rock band. 

Those particular dates were Easter weekend, Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday which undoubtedly inspired the theme of the poster. It was drawn by Jaxon, a pseudonym of Jack Edward Jackson. Jackson was a co-founder of the Rip Off Press and was the art director of the poster division for Chet Helms’ Family Dog productions.

April 15, 1968 is the legal birthdate of Michael Brunner aka Pooh Bear. It’s safe to say that mother Mary was not exactly sure when Michael was born, she admits it freely, but apparently the birth was sometime around Easter week of 1968. It’s too bad the Family didn’t keep track of time and dates; they missed a golden opportunity to declare that Michael was the second coming of Christ. They were off by one day.  

The poster is set up a little like a playing card but instead of mirror images, right side up and upside down, it features an image of a serene Rasputin-ish Jesus Christ on top with the opposite, a disorganized, chaotic antichrist, on the lower half. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the lower image is the devil but it’s close.

While we all know that Manson projected a Christ like persona, whether he actually stated this himself or his followers deduced it from his many lectures, it is the lower half of the poster that contains more Manson-esque parallels.

The first thing that jumps out is the swastika that dangles overhead in the spider-like doo-hickey. There are three more swastikas in the crown.

The military medals in the poster remind us that Manson had a fascination with war, particularly the Civil War and World War II. The lone head at the bottom hanging off a ribbon used for medals appears to be the head of Hitler.

The dark pink, dare I say Barbie pink, circle on the left eye of the antichrist is reminiscent of the “okay” hand gesture Susan placed over her left eye in a photo op on one of her many trips to the courthouse during the trial.

The overall feeling of the lower half of the poster is doom with many skull-like figures. On the left, looking at the lower half reversed, there are seven skulls and seven crosses that could signify all the victims of the Tate and LaBianca murders.

The bands did not have any say-so on what the poster for their show would look like. The posters were drawn for specific shows and specific dates and were only used at that particular venue. In other words, The Fugs did not have any input as to the poster’s content.

Ed Sanders and The Fugs were not darlings of the establishment at the time. There’s a page in the FBI files on The Doors that discusses The Fugs.  It relates the damage done to our nation’s youth because of the lyrics in their songs. The Fugs were vilified in the document dated one month before the Avalon Ballroom concert.

Little did anyone know in the spring of 1968 that Charles Manson and the Family would make an about face from a slippy, dippy band of carefree souls to become one of the most discussed bands of criminals to span two centuries.

Nor, in the spring of 1968 did anyone know that a counterculture singer and songwriter, Ed Sanders of The Fugs, would write a best-selling book with multiple updated editions about Manson and his Family.

Artist Jaxon created one heck of a coincidence when he drew the poster in the spring of 1968.



The poster or postcard can be purchased at Wolfgang’s or other online retailers.