Hull reconnects with punk past through iconic imagery.
In his first visit to Hull Captain Zip, film-maker and documentarian was invited to show his highly prized collection of seventies street punk films at the newly opened Museum of Club Culture.
Captain Zip (real name Phil Munnoch) is famed for capturing young street punks in their regular haunts from 1978 to '82. During a four year shooting spree he built up an intimate honest record of the much maligned punk subculture.
He outlines the main reason as to its popularity thus: 'escapism from the mundanity of averageness' I was fortunate to gain an interview with Captain Zip - who recently appeared on the BBC Homemovie Roadshow series - he went on to explain that the punks felt an overwhelming need to rebel against the expectations of the previous generation.
Captain Zip was given the snappy moniker by Helen Berenger of the Arnold Bowes Comedy Improv. Group Hampstead, in 1977 after he - an office worker normally dressed in shirt and tie - stepped out wearing an outfit bedecked with zip-fasteners.
The young London lad was no stranger to filming street scenes he had in 1969 filmed anti-war protestors marching against the war in Vietnam. So it was one Saturday afternoon in 1978 Captain Zip set out along the Kings Road in order to, 'preserve punk.'
The advantage that Zip had over anybody else was that he was accepted within the punk scene. He was not an outsider looking in, he was simply a punk with a camera. He goes on to say that punks would charge the tourists eager for that iconic image. Prices started off in '78 at 10p each but by '82 the average tourist could be charged as much as £2.00.
It is a common misconception that the punk movement was all about violence, hatred nihilism and destruction. The press often portrayed punks as being unsavoury characters with dubious Nazi leanings.
It's true that the emerging music scene - having caught the wave of new sounds coming from across the pond from NY clubs like CBGBs - chose these themes to propel their music, but Captain Zip suggests that they were just using punk; that they were jumping on a bandwagon to carve out some kind of career.
The truth is punk meant different things to different people (it still does). For some it was the music; for others it was all about the look; wild vibrant colour, the narrow tight trousers in stark opposition to the wide flares and seventies flamboyance that went before. Something else as well, real punks wouldn't wear denim; the black leather, shiny plastics safety pins and zips, were all part of an anti-fashion attitude.
As for the accusations of Nazism coming from the press: punks were taking the swastika, the militant imagery and subverting to shock the rest of society. In truth many punks were members of an anti-fascist movement called the Anti-Nazi League, they were strongly opposed to racism and discrimination in all its forms.
Captain Zip points out that many of the punks were jobless and living off the state, so any real attempt to overthrow the establishment would result in the loss of their dole cheque, leaving them with nothing to live on.
They may not have been the dangerous underclass some suggested they were but punks knew about the collective power of mass protest. In 1979 Zip filmed streets in and around Beaufort Market as punks from all over the country, gathered to make a stand against the developers and the closure of two punk shops.
Beaufort Market was a popular haunt for the punks with clothes and record shops in an around which they would hang out, be seen and strengthen their group ties whilst endeavouring to maintain a strong sense of individuality.
The band The Clash were supposed to be playing, holding a protest gig, but they didn't show up, this didn't stop hoards of punks trying to defend one of the few places they felt was theirs.
I asked Captain Zip whether he'd ever filmed gigs with his cameras he'd moved from Super 8 to 8mm - larger pictures - aside from filming a friend's band rehearsing it didn't appeal to him. The myriad of problems arising from recording sound, getting good light and permission from venue owners were just too many obstacles to overcome.
He adds that he has filmed in punk shops and in the slightly less salubrious, 'punk squat.'
Captain Zip's Squatparty based on a 70's show called Houseparty, is to me an example of blogging before the internet. Although what he (Captain Zip) has captured is the human element of the ramblings of punks. This is something void on the world wide web.
Evalynne Kimberley (HSAD Student Union President)
Captain Zip's unique footage has been used a number of times by different programs over the decades; programs looking for a faithful depiction of the punk phenomena are limited to where they can go for archive footage, so film and film-maker were in demand by the established media outlets.
Tonight the screening, usually shown in original format, was lacking the nostalgic light and sound of the film projector and the footage was shown by way of DVD and VHS conversions. The films often compered and narrated by Captain Zip show a wide variety of punks filmed throughout the four years, in four minute shooting stints; punks plastic piercings shocking on purpose hair and make-up, playing up to the camera.
Far from looking false this play acting it has a very genuine quality, it feels like a window to another time. There's a sense of privilege at being allowed to see the humanity; to share the humour, the fun and sense of theatre that the punks embody.
Some of the footage has been sound-tracked at a later date so the glorious sounds of The Buzzcocks, The Clash and Elvis Costello accompany the cinematography.
After the screenings there was something of a Q and A taken by Captain Zip. This turned into something of a discussion with Hull punks in the audience comparing their understanding of being a punk with what they had seen on the screen.
It was abundantly clear that there were many differing views and experiences among them. Captain Zip stated bluntly that punk was dead by 1982 I said that I wasn't so sure seeing that the first gig I ever went to in Hull was a punk gig in the mid nineties at Adelphi. Thereafter there were many years of following that scene and crowd.
It was suggested (rather unkindly I thought) that Hull probably hadn't realised that punk was over: being that with our non-modish ways we are usually fifteen years behind the rest of Britain...
It was this discussion that I feel highlighted the need to explore further, what it was to be a punk in Hull, whether in the seventies or later. Every day there are people drawn to the raw energy, the ideology of liberation and freedom of expression long associated with punk. I hope we can continue the debate that brought forth such passionate discourse, strongly held viewpoints and cherished memories.
I had to ask Captain Zip whether he had a favourite punk song he did so here it is...
Films on Show,
The Way We Were,
The Great British Home Movie Roadshow,
Home Movie Roadshow (uncut),
Death is Their Destiny,
Don't Dream IT - See It,
We're No Angels,
Citizens Banned www.movinghistory.ac.uk
link to Death is their Destiny Part 1, listen out for Concorde song
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