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The freak scene was originally a component of the bohemian subculture which began in California in the mid-1960s, associated with (or part of) the hippie movement. The term is also used to refer to the post-hippie and pre-punk period of the early to mid-1970s. It can be viewed as encompassing a range of disparate groups including hippies, pacifists, politicized radicals, as well as psychedelic and progressive rock fans. Those connected with the subculture often attended rock festivals, free festivals, happenings, and alternative society gatherings of various kinds.
In the United States of the 1960s, especially during the heyday of the hippie counterculture on the west coast, many teens and young adults that were disillusioned with the austere confines of the postwar, suburbanite American way of life, and some of the resultant countercultural and New Left movements defined themselves as "freaks". During the early 1960s, painter, sculptor and former marathon dancing champion Vito Paulekas and his wife Szou established a clothing boutique on the corner of Laurel Avenue and Beverly Boulevard in Hollywood, close to Laurel Canyon. Paulekas and his later associate Carl Franzoni (known as "Captain Fuck") were known for their sexual appetites and unconventional behavior.They and an expanding troupe of associates called themselves "freaks" or "freakers", and became well known in the area by about 1963 for their eccentric free form dancing in Sunset Strip nightclubs, being described as "an acid-drenched extended family of brain-damaged cohabitants".
Barry Miles wrote that: "The first hippies in Hollywood, perhaps the first hippies anywhere, were Vito, his wife Zsou [ sic ], Captain Fuck and their group of about thirty-five dancers. Calling themselves Freaks, they lived a semi-communal life and engaged in sex orgies and free-form dancing whenever they could." Frank Zappa said of Vito's freaks: "As soon as they arrived they would make things happen, because they were dancing in a way nobody had seen before, screaming and yelling out on the floor and doing all kinds of weird things. They were dressed in a way that nobody could believe, and they gave life to everything that was going on."
Musicians and others who became associated with the scene at the time included Zappa, his later wife Gail Sloatman, Kim Fowley, Arthur Lee, David Crosby, Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart), and The GTOs.Zappa and The Mothers of Invention became central to the freak scene in Los Angeles, and the term freak appeared throughout the liner notes of the 1966 Mothers of Invention album, Freak Out! . At the first Mothers of Invention concerts, audience members were invited to "freak out!", which meant to express themselves freely, be it through dancing, screaming, or letting a band member spray them with whipped cream. In terms of concert culture, the freak mentality influenced similar bands of subsequent musical generations. The freaks, by Zappa's reckoning, resisted the binaries of right versus left, dominant culture versus counterculture, or squares versus hippies, preferring instead to align themselves with an aesthetic not narrowly defined by fashion or political leanings. The concept also allowed The Mothers to celebrate the freak identity, which until then was used to describe perversions of nature or carnivalesque sideshows. 'Bearded and gross and filthy, entirely obscene, they...were freaks. They were meant to be. They were playing the same old game again, épater la bourgeoisie , but this time round it wasn't called Dada or Existentialism or Beat, it was Freak-Out'. "On a personal level", wrote Zappa, "Freaking out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricted standards of thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express CREATIVELY his relationship to his environment and the social structure as a whole"'.
The term "freaks" became much more widely and generally used in the late 1960s and early 1970s, often as a synonym for "hippies" (although Zappa, in particular, regularly drew a clear distinction between the two subcultures). The freaks, with their aggressively anti-social stance, came in for much criticism, not only from conventional culture but from within the counterculture itself, for their 'pretext of a theoretically total but actually quite false revolt against the "conventional lies of civilization"'.John Lennon sang how '"freaks on the phone won't leave me alone"', explaining how he was 'sick of all these aggressive hippies or whatever they are, the Now Generation...demanding my attention as if I owed them something...under a delusion of awareness by having long hair and that's what I'm sick of'. Dylan also suffered from 'Dylan freaks...once more trying to force him to live up to their concept of what he should be'. In a not atypical exchange, he'd be told '"you've got to live up to your responsibility as a culture hero – you're DYLAN, man, every freak has a soft spot in their heart for ya...you're DYLAN, DYLAN, DYLAN."' only for him to reply '"I'm not Dylan, you're Dylan"'.
Members of the Weather Underground drafted their manifesto and declaration of war on the U.S. state with the sentence: "Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks".
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The hairstyles were mostly long and unkempt but people were experimenting with other possibilities. Rock stars of the era such as David Bowie and Roxy Music were trying shorter styles and hair dye. Roy Wood of the pop group Wizzard had hair down to his knees with odd colours dyed in. These musical icons were influential. Shaven heads were seen occasionally but were not yet as common as they would become when punk began. There was a reluctance to make hair too short, for fear of looking like skinheads, who were considered by many to be violent hooligans. The clothing of the freaks used elements of roleplay such as headbands, cloaks, frock coats, and kaftans, suggesting either a romantic historical era or a distant region. These were combined with cheap, hardwearing clothes such as jeans and army surplus coats. The effect was to make a group of freaks look like a gathering of characters from a fantasy or science fiction novel. All of these appearances were intentional and enjoyed by the participants of the freak scene.[ citation needed ]
Freak scene music was an eclectic mixture based around progressive rock and experimentalism. There were crossover bands bridging rock and jazz, rock and folk, rock and sci-fi (space rock). BBC radio presenter John Peel presented a nightly show that featured the music. In 1967, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's album parodied the expression in the sleeve notes for the song "Cool Britannia", which said "Someone letta Freak-Out? What do you think Reader?" Another musical reference is in Joni Mitchell's 1971 song Carey: "A round for these freaks and these soldiers / A round for these friends of mine..." Ian Gillan of Deep Purple often referred to himself as a freak, such as in the song "Space Truckin'" (with the lyric "The Freaks said 'Man those cats could really swing'") and the song "No No No" (with the line "Looking at them all it feels good to be a freak").
The freak scene made inroads into the underground comix movement in The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers by Gilbert Shelton in 1968. J. R. R. Tolkien novels were big influences on lyrics of bands like Led Zeppelin, which created interest in the novels among followers of the bands. Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, an original underground comix scene, over three decades had influenced thousands of people and thousands of new readers yearly.
Following the success of the 1978 smash hit "Le Freak" by Chic, the term enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence on the funk scene by the early 1980s, thanks to artists like Rick James, Whodini and Midnight Star. In 1981, Was (Not Was) released "Out Come the Freaks". The 1988 album Bug by Dinosaur Jr includes the song "Freak Scene".
Lana Del Rey references the freak scene in her song "Freak."
Jason Atomic comments on the dark arts in pop culture and the underground scene; "Underground comix are incredibly honest, they make no compromises or concessions. It’s of vital importance to know one’s place in history."
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashion, and other forms of expression, visual art, dance, literature and film. It is largely characterised by anti-establishment views, the promotion of individual freedom, DIY ethics, and is centred on a loud, aggressive genre of rock music called punk rock.
A hippie is a member of the counterculture of the 1960s, originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster and was used to describe beatniks who moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie first found popularity in San Francisco with Herb Caen, who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Anarcho-punk is punk rock that promotes anarchism. The term "anarcho-punk" is sometimes applied exclusively to bands that were part of the original anarcho-punk movement in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some use the term more broadly to refer to any punk music with anarchist lyrical content, which may figure in crust punk, hardcore punk, folk punk, and other styles.
A counterculture is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. A countercultural movement expresses the ethos and aspirations of a specific population during a well-defined era. When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes. Prominent examples of Late Modern countercultures in the Western world include Romanticism (1790–1840), Bohemianism (1850–1910), the more fragmentary counterculture of the Beat Generation (1944–1964), followed by the globalized counterculture of the 1960s (1964–1974), usually associated with the hippie subculture and the diversified punk subculture of the 1970s and 1980s.
Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. It is also called The Haight and The Upper Haight. The neighborhood is known for having been the birthplace of the hippie counterculture of the 1960s.
Freak Out! is the debut studio album by American rock band the Mothers of Invention, released on June 27, 1966 by Verve Records. Often cited as one of rock music's first concept albums, it is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa's perception of American pop culture and the nascent freak scene of Los Angeles. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music, as well as the first two-record debut album. In the UK, the album was originally released as an edited single disc.
The British counter-culture or underground scene developed during the mid 1960s, and was linked to the hippie and subculture of the United States. Its primary focus was around Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill in London. It generated its own magazines and newspapers, bands, clubs and alternative lifestyle, associated with cannabis and LSD use and a strong socio-political revolutionary agenda to create an alternative society.
Jesus freak is a term arising from the late 1960s and early 1970s counterculture and is frequently used as a pejorative for those involved in the Jesus movement. As Tom Wolfe illustrates in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the term "freak" with a preceding qualifier was a strictly neutral term and described any counterculture member with a specific interest in a given subject; hence "acid freak" and "Jesus freak". The term "freak" was in common-enough currency that Hunter S. Thompson's failed bid for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado was as a member of the "Freak Power" party. However, many later members of the movement, those misunderstanding the countercultural roots believed the term to be negative, and co-opted and embraced the term, and its usage broadened to describe a Christian subculture throughout the hippie and back-to-the-land movements that focused on universal love and pacifism, and relished the radical nature of Jesus's message. Jesus freaks often carried and distributed copies of the Good News for Modern Man, a 1966 translation of the New Testament written in modern English. In Australia, and other countries, the term Jesus freak, along with Bible basher, is still used in a derogatory manner. In Germany, there is a Christian youth culture, also called Jesus Freaks International, that claims to have its roots in the U.S. movement.
A rivethead or rivet head is a person associated with the industrial dance music scene. In stark contrast to the original industrial culture, whose performers and heterogeneous audience were sometimes referred to as "industrialists", the rivethead scene is a coherent youth culture closely linked to a discernible fashion style. The scene emerged in the late 1980s on the basis of electro-industrial, EBM, and industrial rock music. The associated dress style draws on military fashion and punk aesthetics with hints of fetish wear, mainly inspired by the scene's musical protagonists.
The 20th century saw the rise and fall of many subcultures.
The Mothers of Invention were an American rock band from California. Formed in 1964, their work is marked by the use of sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows.
Underground music comprises musical genres beyond mainstream culture. Any song that is not being legally commercialized is considered underground.
The GTOs were an all-girl group from the Los Angeles area, specifically the Sunset Strip scene. Active for only two and a half years (1968–1970) with a single reunion in 1974, their only album, Permanent Damage, produced by Frank Zappa, was released in 1969.
"Who Needs the Peace Corps?" is the second track on the 1968 album We're Only in It for the Money by The Mothers of Invention. It is also part of the soundtrack of the 1969 film Medium Cool.
The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon that developed throughout much of the Western world between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. The aggregate movement gained momentum as the Civil Rights Movement continued to grow, and, with the expansion of the US government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam, would later become, in the eyes of some, revolutionary. As the 1960s progressed, widespread social tensions also developed concerning other issues, and tended to flow along generational lines regarding human sexuality, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, experimentation with psychoactive drugs, and differing interpretations of the American Dream. Many key movements related to these issues were born or advanced within the counterculture of the 1960s.
Joseph Vito Marcello DeSantis was an American radio, television, movie and theatrical actor and sculptor.
The hippie subculture began its development as a youth movement in the United States during the early 1960s and then developed around the world.
Underground culture, or simply underground, is a term to describe various alternative cultures which either consider themselves different from the mainstream of society and culture, or are considered so by others. The word "underground" is used because there is a history of resistance movements under harsh regimes where the term underground was employed to refer to the necessary secrecy of the resisters.
Vitautus Alphonsus "Vito" Paulekas was an American artist and bohemian, who was most notable for his leading role in the Southern California "freak scene" of the 1960s, and his influence on musicians including The Byrds, Love and Frank Zappa.
Fred Davis, Laura Munoz (2011), "8. Heads and freaks: patterns and meanings of drug use among hippies", in Lee Rainwater (ed.), Deviance and Liberty: Social Problems and Public Policy, Aldine Transaction, pp. 88–95, ISBN 978-1-4128-1503-1