Friday, July 16, 2010

Alison East: Trash and Vaudeville

Just a little postscript to my tribute the other week to pioneering punk-rock (should be a legend) girl guitarist Alison East of The Swinging Madisons:

As you may recall, in said tribute I lamented the fact that no footage of Alison (who died at age 19 shortly after her stint with the band) performing seems to have survived. Apparently, that may not be strictly true.

Turns out that the Spicy Bits, a band she was in before the Madisons, appear in Punk Rock, a 1978 soft-core porn flick shot the year before by director Carter Stevens.

There's a brief flash of what may be the Bits in the Punk Rock trailer on YouTube, and damned if this screen cap from it...

...doesn't look an awful lot like Alison in this Madisons photo circa 1980.

Punk Rock is currently available (along with Pleasure Palace, another Stevens classic) on DVD. Personally, I don't feel like shelling out twenty bucks for the disc just to see if Alison is actually on it, but if you want to -- and feel like lending it to me afterwards -- you can order it over at Amazon here.

Here's the aforementioned trailer on YouTube.

I should also add that Jaimie Gillis, who plays the private dick(!) in Punk Rock, was a very famous porn star at the time, and a house-sitting friend of mine once actually boinked him on my couch while I was out of town.

Hey, it was the 70s -- we were all a little over the top.


steve simels said...

BTW -- I wrote this a few days ago, and had it lying around in waiting.

I am NOT slacking off on the Shoes intro.

Anonymous said...

First of all that is Spicy Bits and Alison in Punk Rock. They do an entire number in the sort core version of the film that is on sale on Amazon and elsewhere from After Hours Video
That much you got right. However Jamie Gullis is not in Punk Rock. The Private Dick isw played by Wade Nichols (Dennis Parker) who later went on to play Derick Mallory on EDGE OF NIGHT. Jamie is the bad guy/co star of Pleasure Palace the other film in this 2 film package.

Carter Stevens

steve simels said...

I stand corrected.

steve simels said...

And astonished that Carter Stevens just posted on this blog.

Anonymous said...

The song Spicy Bits performs in the R-rated version of PUNK ROCK is called "This Is Rock 'n Roll." The film also features The Squirrels and The Fast, all of whom were shot at Max's specifically for the film. A nice little peek at the late-70s NY indie music scene.

I contributed liner notes to the Secret Key DVD release of this film and also included the following:

"Spicy Bits was another short-lived ensemble featuring singer B. G. Berlin, guitarist Alison East, drummer Mark Edmands and bass player Kip Kuba. In many ways the most authentic “punk” outfit represented in the film, Berlin slouches elegantly as the group’s heroin-skinny Stiv Bators-style frontman, while Alison East – who reportedly died at an early age – steals the show with her hard-rockin’, tomboy charisma. Kuba (under his real name, Gregory Pittman) would later be the mastermind behind Gregory’s Playhouse."

If you're interested in footage of any of the bands mentioned above, be careful not to buy the hardcore X-rated version, in which they do not appear.

Kip Kuba helped me with my research on the film.

Michael Bowen

MBowen said...

Hey, wait just a goddam minute, here...

mrptvamp said...

Later Kip"gregory" became really famous for Gregory's Funhouse,not Playhouse. B.G. Berlin <singer of Spicy Bits ,runs Exile in NYC ,a club next store to the old CBGC. Mark Edmands w/ his wife Martha owns a hotel in Santa Fe N.M. and their daughter was named after Alison East,I believe she was born in the very early eighties!.Great site ! Awesome!.I remember the Spicy Bits were around for about 3 years before Alison became ill,Spicy Bits ended about 1980. After not getting a contract w/ Mercury records. Alison played a vintage SG Gibson guitar,Mark played on Slingerland drums and Kip played a vintage pre CBS bass guitar:Kip also played with The "TWO TIMERS","MODEL CITIZENS","RED TRANSISTOR" 'VON LMO'(Where he and guitarist Lou barone played to packed houses at Max's because they played like mad.Kip and Lou Barone were the first guys to invent SPEED METAL.ask anyone who was there to witness them play!) Mark Edmands and Kip loved to play together so Kip got Mark into the Two Timers and Von Lmo. Mark also played a ton of demos and studio stuff in NYC. Kip hit the lotto later and became a song writter,many of his tunes are covered by european groups,Kip was first asked to write for Aerosmith and Bon Jovi in the early 80's,but refused to sell his songs for pennies.He later went on to MDA and Premier Talent and toured all over the place. B.G. has become very successful as an event planner in NYC,just google B.G.Hacker and he comes up. Always the showman for Spicy Bits and when he worked the door at CBGB, finally managing the place for eons! He has a very very sucessful business now. But, he always had a great personality!After Alison started getting ill ,the group new it was not good to carry on despite not getting the contract w/ was a sad time for them all. Alison will be remembered as an original RUNAWAY before leaving to come back to NYC and as a really great punk guitarist. Her Gison and orange amp combo later was copied by all the punk guitarists,it sounded great!!!!She is in Heaven these past 30 years,but you cannot ever forget how much influence she had on the NY scene. I am sure the 3 remaining members are proud of their contribution to the NY scene in the 1970's...they are still remembered today!!

Nick said...

Alison died of cancer in 1982 aged 23,
her last band was Minors Aloud named after her favorite Lenny Breau album.
The members were Mark Edmands on drums,Danny Hirsch on bass, Todd Dimic on vocals and Alison East on guitar.

Mark Edmands said...

Thanks for getting a few facts in this blog Nick. Joe Savage was the original bass player for the Minors.
Alison and I started the band after I left the Two-Timers and she had left the Madisons. We still lived in the same building from the Bits' demise until the start of the Minors.
Danny died from a drug OD while in the band. Alison was ill and it all fell apart in '81.
She was my musical soul-mate and I miss her everyday. My Facebook page has pictures of her and the bands if anyone wishes to see them.
Love, Mark Edmands

kip kuba said...

Gee,this is such a surprise to see all this lovely stuff about the Spicy Bits,I believe most of it is true,I do not remember all the particulars!..B.G. and Mark and Alison were wonderful,wonderful people. I am so happy that they are remembered so fondly!.A great time in a great city with a wonderful scene. Mark is a wonderful drummer who played perfectly on the 2 timers records. Alison will always be remembered by whom ever saw her play!...yours Kip Kuba

Mark Edmands said...

Kip! It's been years mate. My E-Mail is Drop me a line my friend.

Mark Edmands said...

Angie Pinter has put a Spicy Bits video on YouTube. It has some wonderful pictures and two songs recorded at CBGB in 1977.