Acme Attractions

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Acme Attractions
Type Thrift store
Fetish Store
Record Store
Industry Retail
Founded 1974
Headquarters Kings Road, Chelsea, London
Products Second hand clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, electronics, toys, and housewares.

Acme Attractions was a London clothing store on Kings Road, Chelsea, London that in the early 1970s provided a place for many punk and reggae musicians and scensters to hang out. The "Don" of Acme was shop assistant and manager Don Letts:

Acme was the coolest "club" in town, where the interaction between the different factions became more important than selling merchandise, even though at that age it was a deadly combination.
 

History[edit]

Acme Attractions was inspired by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's Fifties-inspired boutique Let it Rock (revamped in 1972 and renamed Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die). In spring 1974, a radical change saw the shop become SEX: selling fetish wear and Westwood's innovative designs.[3]

Acme's owner, John Krevine, decided to venture into clothing with a man called Steph Raynor.[4] In 1974, Acme Attractions initially opened as a stall on the Kings Road, Chelsea in a place called the Antiquarius. While the store was owned by Krevine and Raynor its public face was Don Letts who says that Acme was selling, "electric-blue zoot suits and jukeboxes, and pumping dub reggae all day long.".[2] The store would actually have to move to the basement, after complaints about Don Lett's pounding dub reggae.[4]

Within two weeks of opening there were queues around the block to get in. Steph Raynor remembers:

We had an office with a (one)-way mirror, and we´d sit in there watching and pissing ourselves because we were so excited at how busy it was, ... I´d get home some nights and I´d have thousand of pounds to count out all over the carpet.
 
— Steph Raynor part owner of Acme [5]
We'd try the clothes on in Acme Attractions, fluffy fake fur jumpers with plastic see-through breast panels, rubber tops and trousers. I wanted plastic dungarees, but they looked horrible. I got Mum to copy the clothes, tight black T-shirts with zips across the nipples. "I should open my own shop. This stuff takes five minutes to make" Mum didn't understand the importance of an original.
 

By the mid 70s, Acme had quite a scene attracting the likes of The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Deborah Harry and Bob Marley. Letts remembers that "Marley ... come by because he knew he could get a good draw from the thriving black-market action that also went on in Acme." [2] The Acme accountant, Andrew Czezowski, seeing the potential in the crowd the store attracted started up The Roxy, the first punk-rock venue in London,[7] so that people could go from the store and have some place to party. Letts was the first house DJ.[7]

Boy[edit]

Seeing the success of punk and how a new market was created for punk related clothing and merchandise John Krevine and Steph Raynor closed Acme Attractions to create Boy. While Don Letts opened the new store, he soon quit, "It was the bastard child of Acme, created to capitalize on the tabloid punk and although I opened and ran the joint it just weren't my speed. I quit to manage the Slits and headed off on the White Riot tour with The Clash."

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Keynote Speech Music Industry Uncovered By Jeannette Lee & Don Letts" (PDF). pub. 26 April. Retrieved 2007-12-17. "Jeannette Lee is one of the co-owners of Rough Trade Records, one of the iconic record labels within the British Music Industry and a brief lists of bands that have been involved with this are The Smiths, Scritti Politti, the Libertines, The Strokes, it just goes on and on, but we are going to hear a lot more about that… Ladies and Gentlemen, Don Letts and Jeannette Lee." 
  2. ^ a b c Don Letts (October 24, 2001). "'Dem crazy baldheads are my mates'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  3. ^ "The sex behind the pistols". London: The Times. 2003-09-06. Retrieved 2007-12-17. "“The idea was we were the Pistols from the SEX shop,” recalls Matlock. “In the Kings Road we were near to Granny Takes a Trip and Anthony Price’s shop. You would see the Faces and Bryan Ferry going there to get their clothes. Malcolm told us they were a bunch of w*****s and we agreed with him. Even though they were all loaded and we didn’t have a pot to p*** in it was a good attitude to have.”" 
  4. ^ a b Charlotte Robinson (2002-07-12). "DON LETTS". popmatters. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  5. ^ PAUL GORMAN (2007). "THE LOOK". THE LOOK. Archived from the original on 2009-10-24. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  6. ^ Boy George (2007). "TAKE IT LIKE A MAN". TAKE IT LIKE A MAN. Archived from the original on 2009-10-24. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  7. ^ a b George Palathingal (2005-09-17). "Good dose of bad attitude". SMH. Retrieved 2007-12-17. ""Anyway," Letts continues, "I'm playing hardcore reggae in the shop and it seemed to draw a lot of people in. So the guys that started the Roxy" - the first punk-rock venue in London - "they said, 'Well, Don, you seem to be getting a good reaction with this music, why don't you have a go at DJing?"'"