Managers tend to get a pretty bad shake in punk history, particularly string-pulling, half-brilliant ones like Malcolm McLaren, but now that the dust has settled, it’s remarkable how many great ideas he’s had a hand in. The Sex Pistols are the big one, of course, but there are all sorts of minor creations in the years after, not the least of which is his son’s Agent Provocateur line. It’s a less interesting scene without him.
The music business will always be full of hustlers, but it’ll be a while until one as dapper as Mr. McLaren comes along again.
Agent Provocateur has been pushing the envelope with interactive promotion (with good and bad results), but they’ve finally outdone themselves. Their latest temptation is a video choose-your-own-adventure, guiding you through a mansion of decadence inhabited by a coven of scantily clad witches, a bleeding tomato, a virgin in peril, a half-nude albino and a conquistador. The goal is to save the virgin without succumbing to sexy enslavement but the real point is just to admire the scenery. As you can imagine, there’s a lot to take in.
It turns out even the great MOTH Malcom McLaren isn’t immune to a little swindle now and then. His historic punk clothing line—originally titled *SEX*, but eventually known as *Seditionaries*—has run into a nasty counterfeiting trade run by Simon Easton. Of course, the 30-year-old threads are collector’s items by now, so the price tags get pretty high. WWD reports that Easton has sold 80,000 UKP worth of fake merch to collectors, including artist Damien Hirst.
McLaren comments in the article, “I would never have thought 30 years ago when I was making this stuff on my kitchen table that someone would want to copy it like a Goya or a Van Gogh.” Of course, knowing McLaren, the thought has probably crossed his mind dozens of times, but it's a little too flattering. The clothes are more like history than fashion or art. The reason collectors and museums are clamoring for them—and creating a market for counterfeits—is because of McLaren’s own swindle. His SEX shop in 1977’s London was the first time anyone had thought of charging top dollar for ripped, stained clothing.
He did it all with a knowing smirk, but it didn’t stop him from getting rich. Surely he wouldn’t begrudge a fellow con man a swindle of his own?