Sexy Sixties – Prologue

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

The man is walking along the corridor. His expression shows anything but happiness, yet he goes on head strong with a light, almost imperceptible grin on his face. It is not the first time he’s looking at those walls. They’re quite familiar to him; many a time he’s been judged and condemned in that very place. But he’s not concerned about things to come. Not at all. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. The faces of the two guards at his side are indifferent, controlled by years of routine.

“Let the culprit in” – a voice says.

The trial begins.

The corpus delicti is an illustrated magazine, “Folies de Paris et de Hollywood”. It sells very well but some issues are blocked and seized by the police. Needless to say, it’s not the usual magazine that middle class families like to be found at their homes.

Less than fifty minutes later, the defendant is charged with several crimes, all connected with the word ‘decency’.

The year is 1957 and the place is Paris. The man is taken away from the court and arrested but he knows he’s going to be out of jail within three weeks. As a photographer, he considers himself an artist. Taking pictures of naked women – completely naked – is part of his art, part of his talent. How can they expect him to stop using his talent just because they deem it ‘offensive’ to public morality? It’s never going to happen, of course.

The problem is that we are in the Fifties and showing pubic hair in a nude picture is considered a proper crime, according to French law – especially when a lot of the girls depicted look so much more like typical girls-next-door than actual experienced models. This is totally intolerable to the bourgeoisie of Paris, a city ironically well known for decades of licentiousness.

The man grins, thinking about himself appearing in the papers, often described as a ‘subversive’, while his hands are soaked in the photo-processing liquid, lifting the paper from one basin to another and contemplating the images emerging from the white.

Another set of pics, another girl, another issue of “Folies” ready to be printed with its sexy contents. And – probably – another charge with offence to public morality. There’s nothing he can do about it: he loves women and he loves the way he can celebrate their beauty through his very own vision of sexiness – a sexiness often blatantly exhibited but also ironic, suggestive, sometimes even poetic. From time to time he also becomes the subject of his shots, being photographed with his models.

The photographer produces a huge quantity of pics during the years, out of the Fifties, straight into the Sixties, Seventies and so on, a true, original agent provocateur of sensuality, establishing – very much like Russ Meyer – a new direction for erotic imagination. As times get more tolerant, he finds himself less involved with courts and judges – a sort of victory, we’d say.

            Is this the end of the story?

            No, it’s just the beginning.

            And, by the way, did I not mention the man’s name?

            Serge Jacques.


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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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January 26, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Front Page Inspiration Literature Style Tags:, , ,
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The Age of Charm & Restlessness (Sexy Sixties: 1959-1961)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

Sexy Sixties – Chapter 1 Part A

The Age of Charm and Restlessness (1959-1961) Girls of the ‘Nouvelle Vague’

The young man leaves the cinema with an expression of deep satisfaction printed on his face. The film he watched had very little to do with anything he had ever watched before. It was a French movie and it had that continental charm that wasn’t very common in British films. And that girl, the actress Jean Seberg… the girl with the very short hair. What a girl! And how cool she was!

He is aware that there’s gonna be something new in the very way he’ll perceive these new films. Because they ‘are’ new, aren’t they?

These French films talk about the present, about real problems, tormented and contemporary love stories. They’re not just ‘movies’. They are the changing.

Walking under the thick rain of a greyish London, the young man knows that things will never be the same again. He thinks he’s falling in love with Jean Seberg. Or maybe with some other actress he’d watched in some other French film? Was she Jeanne Moreau? Brigitte Bardot? Bernadette Lafont? Anna Karina? God! They all look so modern, so different… Their world is made of groundbreaking frames, striking whites and deep, very deep blacks.

They don’t just ‘play’ the part. They are the part, they mean, resume, represent, symbolise the part. They produce real emotions and create from nothing a brand new way of being sexy. Hands up who wouldn’t date Jean Seberg, the young man thinks, his post-War shoes completely soaked with water, sinking in a landscape made of brown puddles.

And who are these new directors? Truffaut, Malle, Godard, Chabrol… Their names sound rather exotic. Where are they from? Are they all French? And – above all – why are their films all so incredibly sharp?

The young man is going home. Probably he’d find his mum screaming at his dad: “where ‘ave ya been? You’ve ‘ad a couple, you did. Didn’t ya?” and probably his dad would answer “Well, leave me alone now, I’m dead tired!”.

Yeah, probably.

But one thing is for sure: he’s not going to have something like that planned for his life. He doesn’t want that. He wants Jean Seberg.

The young man is continuing to walk, his home now behind his shoulders. He can’t see what his mum and dad are saying. Are they arguing or something? His girlfriend’s house is a few yards away, a two-storey Victorian semi-detached. He thinks he’s going there.

Knock knock.

His girlfriend opens the door. She’s nothing special really. And she does look a bit too old fashioned, with those curly things coming down off her head. “Too bloody Shirley Templish!”, the young man thinks.

“Hi”, he says.

“Hi” she says.

“Know what?”, he says, “Get a new haircut, girl, time for a change!”.


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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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May 22, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Fashion Film Front Page Inspiration Scene Style Tags:, , ,
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Sexy Sixties -Those hedonistic Modernists (1959-1961)

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

Sexy Sixties – Chapter 1 Part B 

Those hedonistic Modernists (1959-1961)

The suit is a blue pinstripe model, made by that Italian tailor cat somewhere just behind Charing Cross Road. It looks good. Well, it looks damn right. It has three front pockets, plus one for the hanky, two eight inch side vents and it’s cut like a piece of art. It’s just perfect. Jean Paul Belmondo and Marcello Mastroianni couldn’t have desired anything better than that.

The owner of that suit – and many others – is a seventeen years old boy from Stepney Green. He works, of course, and his job is all about metal sheets to be folded and shaped. Not that it can be called “the best job in the world”, but it’s enough money to make him afford some very good clothes and fuel for his Lambretta Li 150. And some pills, too. “’Cause life’s gotta be brilliant. You have to be brilliant, mate”, he usually answers when someone asks him questions.

Meanwhile, he also invests his wages into the latest jazz imports from the US, exploring all those many microscopic Soho music shops. He spends a lot of his spare time looking at his image in the mirror, and – hey!, he likes a lot what he sees. He meets somewhere in the West End with a few other cats very much into the same music and lifestyle, but he doesn’t consider himself as part of a group. In fact, he’s an individual. He’s a Modernist.

Music and cinema started it all, in the 50s or maybe earlier. American GIs living in UK wanted jazz musicians to play for them. A bunch of sixteen years old boys, bored to death with the too understated, post war-ish national imagery, found themselves tasting a bit of that ‘modern jazz’ thing being imported. And they liked it. In the same time, French and Italian films added new ingredients to the cinema as a form of art, making British films look plain and unexciting, to say the least.

If we add to these two fundamental things a third, no less important one, the mass motorization, with the introduction of brilliantly designed Italian scooters, you should have a complete frame about our boy with the pinstripe suit, or about his attitude and lifestyle. “Being brilliant” as the opposite of “being plain”, “being dull”, “being a post-war number dressed in a boxy, badly cut jacket”. Or, in one word, “being square”.

All of a sudden these hedonistic teenagers didn’t want to be the average English boys anymore, they wanted to be American, French or Italian. And for the first time ever, they had enough money in their pockets to look smart, to buy imported records and to drive a very good looking scooter – a wheeled piece of the most desirable Italian design.

And the boy with the pinstripe suit irons the crease of his trousers to a sharp, razor-like finishing. A light-blue, tab collar shirt is waiting on a hanger, as the ice-white mac, ready to be worn.

“Just stick a good John Coltrane or Wayne Shorter on the record player, before I go. That will give me a kick”. It’s nine o’clock pm, and the night is there, just behind your flat’s door.

The night is yours and it’s full of new sensations.The gathering of a new kind of knights – the Modernists – will take place at the club, all night long.

You only need to read a book, to learn what’s the story. And this book can only be Colin McInnes’ “Absolute Beginners”. It’s all there.


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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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August 8, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Fashion Film Front Page Inspiration Media Scene Style Tags:, , ,
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Sexy Sixties – The ‘Dolce Vita’ Effect

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

Sexy Sixties – Part 4, Chapter 1C – The ‘Dolce Vita’ Effect

Yes, that film. That actor cat. What’s his name? Marcello Mastroianni. Hmm. A bit ruthless, in the film. A bad-guy character, indeed. But – God – he’s smart as hell. Went to the movies three months ago and woke up the morning after with a strange feeling. A feeling that I had to dress, walk, behave and act like Mr. Mastroianni. Sure enough, he’s got that somewhat I was always looking for.

1960. “La Dolce Vita”, the new film of Federico Fellini, divides critics and public from day one, but is about to become both a classic and one of the most influential films ever. The film is formed by various episodes, all connected with the late 50s high-life in Rome.

Marcello Rubini is a journalist, writing gossip features but dreaming his immediate future as a proper writer. Life in the mid-late 50s Rome is made of chances and he’s always there to get them. He’s got to aim high, so he embarks in all those adventures that can shorten the distance between himself and his career. Hiring his photographer friend Paparazzo, to take pics of this blooming jet set, no place in and around Rome is too far for his ambitions.

Despite the producer De Laurentiis’ scepticism – he and Fellini argued about the choice of the main actor – La Dolce Vita earned a lot of money in the first two weeks of screening in Italian cinemas, and the sharp characters Marcello and Paparazzo (the latter eventually becoming a common name for any kind of gossip ruthless photographer) set the ethos and the aesthetics of a brand new young and modern man-about-town.

So, here we go. Marcello. Trying one of them well-tailored Italian suits. I have three of ‘em. Got the first one from a Soho spot, that man in his forties, how’s he called? Mario, I think. I popped there one day and told him “I’d like to look like Mastroianni. Can you make a good suit for me? I mean, the works”. And he went, with his very typical Southern Italy accent: “eh, I do wottya like, young man, but you gotta wait a week, so fulla bizinéss to do, diz days…”

And then, the following week I went there again for fittings. He took him sort of one month, which is not that quick, but – oh boy! What a result. I know my name ain’t Marcello, nor I am a fashionable Italian actor, but this is exactly the way I want to look like.

Can you imagine? Very few films have been so influential to early 60s Mod culture as La Dolce Vita. The very expression “Dolce Vita” became synonymous with “high life” and “jet set” , and eventually went to represent a new style for wool jumpers in Italy – dolcevita = turtleneck.


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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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November 22, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Fashion Film Front Page Inspiration Media Scene Style Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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