A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[URBAN NOTE] “Partying with John Waters in 1970s Provincetown”

Via 3 Quarks Daily, I came across Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s Vice article talking about one man’s perspective on Provincetown in the 1970s, a New England beach resort that was briefly the centre of interesting happening in popular culture.

America used to have sanctuaries across the country where fuck-ups, weirdos and other “marginalized” people could hide out and live without much contact with “straight” America. Places like downtown New York City in the East and West Village, Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, and, of course, Provincetown, that great artistic outpost at the very tip of Cape Cod. All these locations provided affordable living, while tolerating bizarre lifestyles. Hallelujah!

Now most of these sanctuaries have been wiped out by yuppies and gentrification, or in downtown NYC’s case, fucking idiot students who’ve made the East Village their own private frat party. Gone are these special places to live out your life exactly as you wanted to, so we thought we’d provide a reminder to all those kids who have told us they were born too late and look fondly to the past—Quaaludes, 45 records, black beauties, 16 millimeter movies, and when “making art” was not just a hobby. You lived it.

Philippe Marcade is an old friend who lived a wild life as the lead singer of the Senders, and hung out with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan, as well as Richard Hell, Dee Dee Ramone, Debbie Harry, and Chris Stein. Philippe was also a featured voice in our book, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, which we recently celebrated with a 20th anniversary edition. Get it, it’s good.

But he was more than just a French punk rocker who hung out a CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. He was “in” with a bunch of malcontents who celebrated the idea of “inspired amateurism” from the lonely outpost of Provincetown, Massachusetts before commercialism ruined that town. The crew included Channing Wilroy, an actor who appeared in several of John Water’s movies, the film critic Dennis Dermody, the late photographer David Armstrong, and other experimental artists.

Philippe was also good friends with both photographer Nan Goldin and writer/actress Cookie Mueller, two woman whose lives were the blueprints for today’s punk girls. They were independent, intelligent, rebellious, bi-sexual, and hysterically funny. And they did it before there was this thing called punk. This is the story of the 1970s summer they spent partying in the Cape.


Written by Randy McDonald

January 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm

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