You down the Met the other night? Seminuwl.
Took me back to ve Pistols’ first gig down the 101 Club. ’77: we was all there… Siouxsie, the Slits, Trump, Bob Hope, Anna Wintour’s publicist. Red carpet was mentuwl… all these fanzine hacks trying to photocopy everyone as we was going in. “Can you just stick your face piercings on ve 8×11 bit of ve screen? It’s for our autumn-collection edition.” Fack off. “What’s your look?” “You want a look, you pap bastard?” Yozz!
Punk is a beautiful fing. It’s this… this flower that blooms in unexpected places, like in the sellotape on your nipple. It’s not about nipple sellotape, though. It’s not even about the music. The music was just somefing that came out of our instruments when we was onstage or in ve studio. Punk is a belief, a philosophy… it’s a way of looking at ve world. Punk is giving the Suits the fingers and going: “fack you, you conformist peasant-killers… stop matching your trousers wif your jackets!” But punk is more than that, too. It’s not just a political manifesto, or being an anarchist. It’s the snarl on your face… it’s the way you walk around… the cloves you’re wearing… and ve accessories. Praps it is about nipple sellotape, come to fink about it. If I was point to one fing that defines punk, I’d probably go for the leopardskin gown Donna Karan done for Beyonce the uvva night. One side of the dress was this lycra index finger and the other was this spotty taffeta midduwl finger and she just put them together, so it’s just vese two textile fingers stuck right up, going: “I’m a leopardskin dress, I am. What you going to do about it? Ey?”
Punk is what Miley Cyrus said to me down the Met: “It’s all a bit disorganized, isn’t it?”
It’s about museum upheaval. Fack the coat-check queue! Weimar Germany had a lot of queues, and look where they ended up.
Walking into the 101 club in 77 was like walking into vis culturuwl crucibuwl. There were faces everywhere. Sid was doing ve pogo wif blood all over im, Captain Sensibuwl and Shane McGowan were gobbing into each uvver’s moufs and Nicklaus was giving a putting exhibition on a little green e’d set up down the back. Nobody did long putters back ven… nobody. It’s like Nicklaus was tearing down the old golf right before our eyes. Nicklaus had a big influence on the movement, as it goes. Sid nicked his sticks at one point and that changed the way he did hotel rooms overnight.
We actually invented the A-list that night at the 101 Club… someone just drew one of them A symbols for anarchy on a piece of paper for a laugh, and someone else started writing names on it. To us, it was just a list, wif an A on it. We was making it up as we went along. We didn’t know we were starting vis revolution. Firty-five years on, I’m at the Met, and they can’t find my name on the list. “I invented all this bollocks,” I said. That didn’t work. So I pretended I was wif ve cleaning crew.
After the gig in 77, me, Trump, and a few Kennedy scions went to vis private Egyptian artifact collection near Soho to talk about dosh. I was gagging for a bit of Greek and Roman statuary myself, but as long as it was antiquities, I was into it. Looking back, I was getting high culcha far too much at the time. But when you’re in the middle of it, you can’t fink rationally. Someone says: “Malcolm’s got a crowd going down to ve pottery show opening at Barnard’s Gallery off the King’s Road…” and you just go: “Wot, Ming era? You aving a laugh? Course I’ll ave a bit of it… pass the catalog, mate.”
It was different back then: museum security was alright. None of vis shushing shit, kna ut I mean? Everyone was just doing veir own fing… walking around, and not touching fings. Talking about insurance values—just going for it, basically. You didn’t have these prerecorded guides that you have to hang around your neck like facking slave collars.
That’s what I loved about the Met the uvva night. It was the Met, yeah? But it wasn’t the shit Met. You didn’t have to kowtow to some fascist handing out green stickers. I have to wear this in your museum, do I? Why? So your facking shushy security guard can round me up and tie one of those prerecorded guide fings around my neck? This is how Warsaw started, you bawstards.
Know oo I saw in ve twentief century furniture collection at the Met? Lydon. I haven’t spoken to that cahnt since he left me and Sid for dead at a Givenchy retrospective in 81. People fink Sid was this wild creature wif paper clips frough his ears. He wasn’t like that, not at the beginning. When e started out, he used to read mainstream fashion magazines, and wear a lot of straight lines and muted color palettes. It was Lydon and Malcolm who cut up his T-shirts when he was down the museums. Yeah, he yozzered geezers randomly and all vat, but you’ve got to understand. Sid and me was spending up to 12 hours a day in art galleries and fashion shows toward the end. It does your head in. You get dizzy.
I chucked a canapé at Lydon. He ducked behind a Tiffany lamp, a facking Venetian desk job, irregular lower border, circa 1911.
“Facking sellaht,” I said.
It was seminuwl, man.