After a Fashion

It's SXSW all over, especially all over that other acronymically correct paradise, Austin's SoCo, our hallowed South Congress Avenue, south of the river. See what our Style Avatar has been up to and what he recommends.

The man with all the secrets: Legendary rock & roll photographer Mick Rock on the roof of Factory People praises Austin as a cool, subversive element in the middle of a big red state.
The man with all the secrets: Legendary rock & roll photographer Mick Rock on the roof of Factory People praises Austin as a "cool, subversive element in the middle of a big red state." (Photo By Mary Sledd)

SOUTH-BY LAND Downtown, even at 10am, had SXSW all over it – the hotels and restaurants are loving it, and everywhere we go, the SXSW badges are floating on their lanyards, marking us like the stars on the bellies of the Sneetches. The foot traffic on the street was mainly headed east, as if to morning prayers in Mecca, as SXSW supplicants headed to the Convention Center for a day of music panels, while others hit the streets to take advantage of the glorious weather – shopping and sightseeing. Inside every business on South Congress (the chic SoCo Strip) there was some sort of SXSW preparation going on – even if it was just preparing for the onslaught of patrons and customers generated by the event. Before noon, El Sol y la Luna was already packed – the guests comparing notes on what they did last night – and mostly raving about the Donnas and Billy Idol shows at Stubb's, where it was only necessary to be, say, within a three-mile radius of Stubb's to enjoy it. The Hotel San José was deceptively calm, though the parking lot was abuzz with stages being built and merchandise being arranged. At the adjacent Jo's, the line wrapped around the corner as regulars and visitors alike vied for a soy milk mocha latte moment in the sun. Gomi was busy hanging the art for its Metal Pig show, and Factory People was alive with activity.

THE ROCK On the roof of Factory People the charming and effusive Mick Rock chatted with me over Bloody Marys in honor of St. Patrick's Day (OK, I had a Bloody Mary; he gave up the drugs and alcohol after a quadruple bypass a few years ago). He's here for tomorrow's in-store booksigning event but is enjoying the rest of the scene on his first visit to Austin. Mick did more than just chronicle the wild days of the Seventies. He began shooting in 1969 ("It's about time I grew up and got a real job," he laughed) and became as much a part of the scene as the subjects that he photographed. He achieved notoriety through his photos of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust period, and built a glittering career on photos of Lou Reed, Blondie, John Cale, and the Sex Pistols, among so many others, and continues with newer work with such subjects as Los Lonely Boys and the Raveonettes. On Cale, he said, "John and I had a great session in the Seventies – we were high as raccoons, and the pictures looked like it." On Bowie, he said, "Velvet Goldmine got it all wrong – they portrayed Bowie as passive, but Bowie was never passive." Next month, the deluxe German edition of his Blood & Glitter comes out, and his new book on Iggy & the Stooges comes out in May, followed by a major museum exhibition in the UK in September.

LOVE NOTES The keynote address yesterday by Robert Plant was especially noteworthy, when a voice piped up and asked, "Do you still have groupies?" Plant knew immediately that it was the luscious Pamela Des Barres and leapt up to passionately embrace her. Needless to say, they have a long history between them, though it's been about 10 years since they've seen each other. (He later told her, "I know we're the same age but you look 20 years younger!") Their public reunion was followed by a private lunch ("Just me and him, his son, and all his people," says Pamela) at the Oasis, where the magnificent view had Plant saying that he could be very happy living here. Asked if there would be a randy replay of the relationship they'd had in the past, Ms. Des Barres demurred, "I'm in love with someone else now, so, no."

TODAY On the chic SoCo Strip, Hotel San José is housing the DKNY Jeans/Details magazine Oasis, and their Honky Tonk Parking Lot will feature music from 1pm on… Factory People invites you to recover with a little hair of the dog and a MAC makeover today and tomorrow, 12-2pm, sponsored by Nylon magazine, with great DJs all day... At Waterloo Ice House (Sixth & Lamar) Lee Edwards with Claudia Voyles & Crew play this evening, Friday, March 18, 6-8pm (no cover, no wristbands needed)… Afterburn, an evening of music and style, at K Lounge (600 E. Sixth), with fashion by Upstairs, SoLa, PF Flyers, and more, plus scorching sets from Malente with special guests Thunderball, Fort Knox Five, and Nu-Berlin. Fashion is early and doors open at 8pm. Cover: $7 or $5 w/ SXSW wristband… Pink Salon (1204 S. Congress) continues its series of rebel showcases with an all-day lineup including L.A.'s Drugstore Cowgirls, Billy Harvey, Sheboygan, Lauralei Combs, and Michael HaysFlipnotics (1601 Barton Springs) presents FXNC (Free by No Charge) with an international array of performers – see for all the details.

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Keywords: SXSW, Sneetches, Mecca, Convention Center, El Sol y La Luna, Donnas, Billy Idol, Stubb’s, Jo’s, Gomi, Metal Pig, Factory People, Mick Rock, David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, Lou Reed, Blondie, John Cale, Sex Pistols, Raveonettes

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