I HEARD THEY SACRIFICE GOATS AT THAT CLUB ON LA CIENEGA
Seminal Punk ‘Zine Slash Magazine Sees New Life With A Glossy Imprint
At Flaunt we like to think that we are not without a certain edge—that there’s a bit of the hard-core in our blood. But compared to the punk ‘zine Slash, we can’t really claim too much cred. Maybe we just have a soft spot for the finer things; or maybe, like Cyndi Lauper intoned in her classic verse, we really just wanna have fun; but probably, it’s mostly because Slash was so hardcore that no one can really hope to come close. From the broadside they fired against the music of the establishment with their first issue: “Enough is enough, partner! About time we squeezed the pus out and sent the filthy rich old farts of rock ’n’ roll to retirement homes in Florida where they belong,” to the full-length interviews (with pictures) about “Local Shit” that included gag-inducing descriptions of the goings-on at a fetish brothel near their offices, to the weird gore-porno and totally un-P.C. collages that often filled their pages, Slash made it clear from the beginning that they were a new and different animal.
Their pulpy spot–colored newsprint issues came to define the aesthetics and the ethos of punk in late 1970s Los Angeles, but original issues are few and far between—they were built for dissemination after all, not durability. Luckily for all of us, Hat & Beard Press has collaborated with the Slash team to bind the best of the magazine’s 29 issues into a big, gorgeous book called Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles, 1977–80.
The ‘zine was born out of a “relationship that burned hot” between Steve Samiof and Melanie Nissen in 1977, Hat & Beard Press founder Brian Roettinger recalls. They ran it out of a studio/storefront that Samiof rented for 100 bucks a month in midtown L.A., a space that soon became the nucleus of the punk scene. “I think every punk in L.A. was at my studio for The Screamers’ debut.” Samiof recalls. “It was maybe 100 people. That was pretty much the punk scene in 1977.”
There’s nothing quite like Slash now. “They were the alternative to the alternative weeklies and mainstream newspapers of their day,” Roettinger says; “It was a cut and paste print publication, pieced together through blood, sweat, and beers.” I ask if Slash has anything in common with the alt-mag gone mainstream (i.e. VICE) that could be considered its progeny.
“Slash was a true punk collective,” Roettinger responds, “not paradoxical in the way that so-called alt-media is today, where everything is a late-capitalism ruse funded by Disney and Viacom, or underwritten by poison-in-a-can ‘energy drinks.’”
Exene Cervenka (X), 1978/79. Photo: Melanie Nissen.
Written By Sid Feddema
All Images From Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles, 1977–80 (2016). Courtesy Hat And Beard Press.