“Fuck for Peace” declares a title card at the end of Jerry Abrams’ Eyetoon, an 8-minute slice of psychedelia from 1968 whose second half has a hippyish couple doing exactly that as they run through a few hardcore Kama Sutra moves. The rest of the film is comprised of rapid editing and some brief animated overlays, together with street shots of the residents of what I’m guessing is San Francisco. The buzzing, twittering electronic score is by David Litwin. A year before this Abrams had documented the Human Be-In, the first major hippy gathering in Golden Gate Park in January 1967. His equally psychedelic film of that event can be seen here.
The street is upper Grant Avenue, San Francisco, seven minutes of local colour captured on silent 16mm film by Edward Silverstone Taylor:
This edited Ektachrome home movie with professional titles documents a 1959 street fair, upper Grant Avenue, San Francisco—the center of Beat culture. The film includes shots of filmmaker Dion Vigne and his wife Loreon, artist and occultist Marjorie Cameron, and artist Wallace Berman, displaying and selling their art works.
The presence of Marjorie Cameron (below) is what fascinates in these quarters, recognisable thanks to her red hair and the distinctive profile seen when she played the Scarlet Woman in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome five years earlier. You also see what appear to be a couple of her paintings. The street fair looks pretty bohemian for the late 50s but a glance at Anthony Stern’s frenetic San Francisco short from a decade later shows a much wilder place. (Via Dangerous Minds.)
The flip-side of the kitsch London of Smashing Time can be found in this frenetic short made a year later which presents a fragmented view of that other locus of the Paisley Era, San Francisco. Director Anthony Stern avoids the usual longueurs of silent documentary by chopping his footage to bits to create a tour through the city streets that’s as frenzied as the films of Jeff Keen. The bonus is a score by The Pink Floyd (from the days when they still used the definite article) playing an exclusive version of Interstellar Overdrive. That alone makes one wonder why this film hasn’t received more attention over the years.
Stern’s film reminds me of Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), another short work which is frequently as frenzied and also features scenes filmed in San Francisco. In addition, both films feature some ritual business: Stern shows a group of freaks in a psychedelic house with the inevitable naked woman cavorting for the benefit of clothed men; Anger is rather more serious with shots of a full-blown Crowlean ceremony. Anthony Stern today has established himself as a very accomplished glass artist; you can see his glass work here and watch San Francisco here.