I’d moved out on the sidewalk where the action was – the smoking and drinking. One baby hipster standing outside the gallery was sporting a Ramones badge. “God, why are you wearing that?” I chuckled. “You weren’t even born. In fact your parents were probably not pubescent yet at the time.” Baby hipster didn’t snarl or spit in my face. He looked a little hurt. Don't think I didn't feel a bitch: I did, a little. So I told him about the teeshirt I owned a tee-shirt that was worn by Joey Ramone onstage, as well as several of the band’s guitar picks, courtesy of one of their roadies who was cuter than Joey, DeeDee, Tommy and Johnny put together (may they rest in peace [corrected 21/07: Tommy's still alive!]), Danny with the all-consonants Polish name I could never remember, though I fooled around with him quite a bit. I wasn’t a groupie, see? I was a journalist, though I couldn’t even access the venues legally at the time.
Yes, sweet readers, I knew the punk era first-hand in New York and Montreal, though by the time I got to London Sid was already dead. I was dating a singer who’d formed a band with the Damned’s ex-drummer, Rat Scabies, and vaguely hung around with John Lydon for a couple of evenings.
So I can tell you what the punk era smelled of: stale sweat (all that pogo-ing), cigarettes and beer (also used by the boys in lieu of hair gel, though I personally favored a mixture of sugar and water), leather and latex because of the bondage gear. It did not, most emphatically not, smell of metallic lemon and grey pepper, rendered somewhat sickly by the addition of heliotropine on a vague patchouli base (guys who wore patchouli? We used to spit on them).
The new Sex Pistols fragrance distributed by Sephora’s for État Libre d’Orange is a skinny, jumpy masculine signed by Mathilde Bijaoui (who also did the lovely Tilda Swinton-fronted Like This), but who'd hold it against her that she wasn't yet born when it all unfolded? She can't help it. The juice screeches with the trademark neon aldehydes stamped on the house style by Antoine Maisondieu, who's been working them since Gucci Rush, but it has very little else to commend it as “the scent of anarchy” or “revolution in [a] bottle”: ELd’O’s own ferocious, burnt-leather Rien could eat it for breakfast and still feel a bit peckish.
You needn’t have read Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces cover to cover to realize that Malcolm McLaren’s bid to reduce the Sex Pistols to a product entirely fabricated by him is pure buffalo crap, rest his soul. The proverbial monster escaped its maker: if you didn’t feel a pure rush of energy from spine to toe listening to “Anarchy in the UK” for the first time at the time, you must’ve had turnip juice for blood. That the surviving Sex Pistols themselves openly displayed their cynical exploitation of their legend when they reunited for their Filthy Lucre tour in 1996 is a moot point. During their brief, messy life, The Sex Pistols were more than Bay City Rollers with safety pins and green teeth: Johnny Rotten's spat-vomited-howled vocals were the worst assault on the human voice every committed to vinyl.
I wouldn’t say I’m shocked to see the Sex Pistols’ name stuck on a perfume bottle to be sold to baby hipsters with a nostalgic bent in LVMH’s cosmetics emporium. It was a foregone conclusion that if there was one brand that would have a go at monetizing them in fragrance, it would be the so-post-dada-it-hurts ELd'O: zombie are back in style, after all. Anyway, punk was commoditized within months of its birth though it survived much longer than subsequent pop countercultures as a street-level, DIY movement, and I’ve come to terms, if just barely, with seeing a revival of stuff that was fresh in my teenage years. Back in 1976, Johnny Rotten growled “I am an anti-chrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrist”. Now LVMH is taking a shot at the title. Your future dream is a shopping scheme and Lydon is scaring little kids all the way to the bank.
As for the “No Future” bit, BP & co. are taking care of it for us.