Anonymous Heroes

 

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Playing the part of Barney

Fulcher became Barney Bubbles as a permanent thing between ’67 and  ’68. The name was first used in the credits for Oz 12 which I wrote down after I asked him, “Hey, what do you wanna be called?” It happened organically; slowly over the months as ‘Fulcher’ became a ‘Barney.’ During his San Francisco adventure the name was emphasized partly as ref to ‘Barney’s Beanery’ an LA roadside food-shack notable for it’s sign refusing custom to gays. The Bubbles was a riff on his light show.

In San Francisco artist, Bruce Connor’s obituary, by Kenneth Baker in the Chronicle, I read that Connor famously said, “On the 12-step program of Artists Anonymous, the first is never acknowledging any of your work, after never signing it… ”

Who?

Connor also made a movie of clips from found old newsreels and flicks with a music backing that some say was grandmother of all music videos. In 1991, it was selected for the Library of Congress, by the National Film Registry. There are definite direct connections between the Connor ethic and the Bubbles show.

I can recall the always plugged-in Fulcher mentioning him and the 1958 movie. The movie would be a natch for him to enthuse over – found object, industrial, and collaged. Barney did see the Connor movie in 1966, he made sure I watched it too, “It’s very important.” he said. He called my mum to tell me. I saw it on TV at my parents house in Teddington, while he watched it in Whitton – there was no TV at our A1Good Guyz HQ, at Leigh Court.

From the NY Times, “A key figure in the San Francisco Beat scene in the late 1950s, Mr. Conner first became known for his assemblages made from women’s nylon stockings, parts of furniture, broken dolls, fur, costume jewelry, paint, photographs and candles. These works, created between 1957 and 1964, had the aggressive appearance of avant-garde sculpture but at the same time seemed old and musty, like broken-down junk found in a forgotten attic or props for a scary Hitchcock-like movie. They were a vehement rejection of the optimistic, consumerist spirit of mainstream American society.

The Grandfather Of All Music Videos

In the late 1950s, Mr. Conner also began an influential parallel career as an experimental filmmaker. Under the influence of his friend and fellow filmmaker Stan Brakhage, he created collages of found and new footage.”

Like I say, a big influence. Fulcher did meet Bruce Connor in 1968 in San Francisco, but he had an awful time, he said Connor’s wife kept him talking for hours in this dismal junk ridden apartment. Barney said you shouldn’t get too close to your heroes.

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