Monday, February 22, 2010

“Things The Cramps Taught Us”

a blog about odd German 45s by Andreas Michalke, a cartoonist from Berlin, Germany

February 12, 2009

While I was writing my last post at the Jungle World headquarters, I got the news that Lux Interior had died. Now, I`ve never been a big fan of the Cramps, but I`m not a big fan of anybody really. I`m pretty fanatical about Rock`n`Roll, but not about any artist or group in particular. I know that`s a contradiction, because I should acknowledge the people that are making the stuff that I love so much. And I do. I just don`t like to call myself a fan.

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But of course I really love the Cramps. I`ve seen them three times: back in 1986, again in the late 90`s and then the last time in 2003. That`s two more times than I`ve seen most bands. The Cramps also inspired my collecting habits. Lux and Ivy are collectors themselves, dedicated to the most obscure and wild popular culture. Maybe it`s not fair to blame the Cramps for collecting the kinda garbage that I present here, but they did lead me further off the beaten path…

That show in 2003 at the SO36 in Berlin, Kreuzberg was side-lined by a group-exhibition of Cramps-inspired artwork curated by the Knoth & Krüger gallery: “Things The Cramps Taught Us”. I took part in that exhibition but two days from the show I had still not finished my last painting. Like most participants I had done portraits of Ivy and Lux and I had four more detailed paintings but one piece was still not finished. The characters I had painted on that canvas were boring and clichè and not worth to be hanging in a exhibition dedicated to the Cramps! But then it hit me: I took a copy of the German pressing of the Trashmen`s “Surfin` Bird” 45 that I had and nailed it onto the canvas! That looked better.


The next day after we had set up the show Ivy and Lux arrived and took a quick look around. They were dressed very casually and inspected the artwork closely. Lux even took some photos with his 3-D camera. They seemed very humble and honored by the pieces that were dedicated to them. I asked to have a photo taken with them but they declined, because they were worn-out from the long trip and didn`t think they looked presentable. Then they went off, but returned shortly after with the rest of the group for a autograph-signing . This time dressed in their stage outfits. They all sat at a table and a line built outside the gallery. Meanwhile I was spinning records but when fellow Berlin cartoonist Reinhart Kleist stood in line to have his painting signed, I followed suit.

When it was my turn Lux looked at the piece and seemed appalled. As a record collector he must`ve thought it was a shame to destroy that beautiful old record. But then he got in the mood and signed it and even wrote Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa , the chorus of “Surfin`Bird”, all around the record. All of the band members signed it and I was happy, because with all the magic-marker on the painting the piece was now finally finished. The most personal Cramps souvenir I could wish for.



  1. Nice story, and nice souvenir. It really hurts looking at pics of the Cramp relaxed with fans offstage. Knowing I'll never meet Lux or see the Cramps perform, it still hits very hard. Poor, poor Ivy.

    Rockin' bones, Lux. I really love you.

  2. Yeah, I saw something on YouTube with him signing autographs and goofing around after a show, and it affected me the same way.
    I only met him once, for all of about thirty seconds, but it is a memory I treasure.