Ads from Slash Magazine

by Derrick Bostrom


History has come to view the early Los Angeles punk scene as a group of enthusiastic closeted drug addicts living in squalor, partying all night, dodging the Hillside Strangler and waiting for the influx of suburban kids to come in and take over. But back then, I was a true believer -- even though I never experienced the original scene firsthand. The Meat Puppets wouldn't play their first shows in LA until late 1980, so I had to make due with the records and the fanzines until then.

I was particularly hooked on Slash magazine. If Slash featured a band in its pages, I was an immediate fan. If they extolled a record in the review section, I bought it without hesitation. Slash introduced me to reggae. Editor Claude "Kickboy Face" Bessy even deemed one of my submissions cool enough for publication. I studied at Kickboy's feet.

I suppose in most respects, Slash was typical of its day. Its prose was uncompromising,  florid and self-important. It reported its half-dozen or so favorite local bands in excruciating detail. What made Slash stand out from the pack was its design sensibility. Borrowing from tabloids like Wet and Interview, Slash was commercial without sacrificing street credibility. Its high ad count only bolstered the aura of legitimacy. In fact, if you were to read the ads alone, you might think that the punk rock movement was a rising and significant musical force. Funny what effective marketing can make you believe.

Slash folded in 1980. Years later, I sold everything I owned to maintain the requisite unemployment of a struggling artist. This included my complete collection of Slash magazine. But now, thanks to Ryan Richardson at circulationzero.com, I can revisit this vital piece of my past. I encourage everyone to check Ryan's site, and if you like what he's doing, donate to one of the charities on his list. In the meantime, here's a small sampling of some the ads I loved so much in my youth.