Alice in wonderland in New York City with sexual deviants and absurdist monologues. The white rabbit that sets this Alice (Sarah Kennedy) on her journey down the rabbit hole of avant-porn filmmakers, subway exhibitionists and lesbian housewives is not just any dirty phone call. Sex-starved Alice immediately falls heels over head for “the world’s greatest obscene caller” who gives his name as John Smith and tells her “I’m in the book, find me,” sparking her quest through, above and below the streets of Manhattan.
The Telephone Book charts Alice’s encounters with perverts of all persuasions, peppered with various fourth-wall breaking confessions from apparently real dirty callers detailing their histories and compulsions, and features cameos from several Factory alumni including Warhol superstar Ultra Violet as a whip cracking dominatrix (Warhol himself apparently featured in a dropped scene). Smith (played by radio presenter and voiceover artist Norman Rose, once nicknamed the “Voice of God”) eventually shows up in a pig mask to deliver a freewheeling monologue outlining his previous life as a war hero, astronaut and suburban family man whose anti-gravity experiences triggered his obscene compulsions and telephone obsession, leading to his fleeing his family and the suburbs for New York City and taking up prank calling as a full-time occupation.
Despite Alice’s plea for him to fuck her, Smith is unable to be intimate physically. Alice then convinces him to get dirty with her in the only way he knows how and the two retire to adjacent phone booths at Columbus Circle for the climactic phuckathon, the film even levelling up from black and white to colour for the occasion. Do we get to see/hear what constitutes the “world’s greatest obscene phone call”? Not unless it is actually ten minutes of uber-wet slurping noises accompanying an eroto-anime freakout that’s Rs Crumb and Bakshi meets Belladonna Of Sadness by way of Flying Circus cut-scenes, full of anthropomorphic tongues, tits-with-legs, penus-Babushka dolls, cocket ships and a giant robot vagina that fucks the Empire State Building into oblivion. Despite being a direct influence on Bertolluci’s Last Tango In Paris, The Telephone Book was all but forgotten upon release, eventually enjoying some cult status as a home video hit in Europe and Australia, but mainly known as the sole movie directed by one-time filmmaker (and apparent inspiration for the Sticky Fingers’ album cover) Nelson Lyon, who went on to a stint as a Saturday Night Live writer in the early eighties before becoming primarily (in)famous for being the other guy present during the three-day bender that killed John Belushi (and effectively killed Lyon’s career) in 1982.
Brendon Urie's Stylist on the Panic! at the Disco Singer's Colorful Tailormade Style: Exclusive
For Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie, the embrace of “emo” spans at least a decade. But thanks to stylist Anthony Franco, the band is changing its tune, donning a new, colorfully clad style.
The self-taught designer and stylist first cut his teeth in the ‘80s and '90s dressing Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men and Lauryn Hill and outfitting MC Hammer for his “2 Legit 2 Quit” video. “When you come from making clothes for stars, you can’t give it up, which is why I like working with Panic!,” Franco tells Billboard in an exclusive interview.
After being introduced to the Las Vegas-bred group through their Nothing Rhymes With Circus tour director – who Franco worked with while styling Fall Out Boy – it was a match made in sartorial heaven. “I just threw a whole bunch of stuff in my bag from working on films like Waterworld and X-Men, made a bunch of sh–, met the boys, and they were like, 'We love you,’” he recalls. “They were babies, 17 to 20 years old, and I was already in my 30s, but from that point on, I became really close with them and have literally done every single thing with the band and Brendon since.”
How would you describe Brendon’s style?
The thing I love about the band is they’re from Vegas, so they kinda had a Rat Pack vibe with emo elements to them. With all groups, it’s the singer who usually has their individual style, and Brendon will wear anything I ask him to. He trusts me, and that’s a big thing; when an artist does not allow their stylist or creative team to help them create an image, a lot of times it looks like it’s forced. Personally, I can’t think of anyone out there with his sense of style. He loves his shiny fabrics, has stage presence, and to me, he’s always been a one-man show. He does take over, and the fans love it, and it’s great.
He seems to be a big fan of colorful and patterned tuxedo jackets, along with high-collar shirts. Is that your influence?
Yeah, the high-collar thing came about when we were doing the “Hallelujah” video, where it’s a play on clergymen in a confessional. Instead of doing the band in collars – which is a direct reference to priesthood – we implemented that element into the shirts by raising the collar up. I love how Karl Lagerfeld dresses with his collars, so that’s what we go for. It gives an emperor’s look as opposed to looking like a preacher.
Brendon @brendonurie @panicatthedisco ready to give you an amazing performance tonite on @fallontonight - #brendonurie #panicatthedisco #tonight
A post shared by Anthony Franco (@afrancodesigner) on Jan 19, 2017 at 5:01pm PST
What about the colorful and patterned tuxedo jackets?
This started around the '05 Vaudeville eyeliner emo look, but I began noticing that the clothing started to elevate itself with shine and color. I wasn’t so nervous about it since I knew Brendon could pull it off, but it was also something that nobody at the time was doing, and it sort of came across as really Liberace. To avoid looking like a Vegas lounge singer, his fit had to be perfectly tailored and custom-made. I didn’t want to just throw him in clothing that we had to alter but didn’t work for him. As his stylist, I want to make sure that every time he’s out there performing or on the red carpet, he looks different, but it’s still his style.
Is there a pattern or color Brendon wouldn’t wear?
I don’t know if I would ever put him in plaid. I like textures, and leopard works perfectly for him. I think there is not a color now that we haven’t used. That’s why when we did the Grammy red carpet, we went for a clean slate with the white tux with silver thread in it and a fattened collared shirt (exclusive sketch below). Kind of like [Grammy-nominated best rock album] Death of a Bachelor, where a bride wears white. We flew in the shiny fabric from London, and I made the full look (tux, pant and shirt) within a week, because I have his pattern down perfectly. That’s fast for us, but with him, I don’t like to do things with too much of a lead time because we’re so creative we might change our minds. His fans love him, and it’s nice when they get in really close and can spot a new detail within that look.
What influences Brendon’s style the most: comfortability or design interest?
Since he’s an active performer, his pants have a little stretch in them, and his shoes have to be super comfortable. But up top, he will wear anything. I also have to be aware of sweating because he’s performing, so I will never use wool. He’ll start the show looking head-to-toe perfect and will start stripping stuff off, and before you know it, he ends up shirtless. [Laughs] For him, I think it’s really about a full look at the beginning, and then he’ll sort of taper down to get himself into it. For the red carpet, he wants to look perfect from head-to-toe.
When it comes to fashion, what excites Brendon?
He’s interesting because we know it’s the element of dress-up, and he knows that people love him for his music and his clothing. He gets inspired by fashion and is not an off-the-rack kind of guy. Brendon will never follow a designer just because everyone else is following a trend. It’s dress-up, but it’s not a costume nor gimmicky.
Brendon @brendonurie looks so good at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards - he’s wearing a custom Diamond White Tuxedo–We’ve done almost every color in the rainbow – This shining beauty is definitely one of my favorites. #brendonurie #panicatthedisco #grammys
A post shared by Anthony Franco (@afrancodesigner) on Feb 13, 2017 at 10:31am PST
How do you keep it from looking gimmicky?
The good thing is, with well-made clothing; it never looks cheap. And we put a lot into making sure the fit of the fabric and details are expensive, a.k.a. well-thought-out and -executed.
When he’s not performing, what does Brendon gravitate towards?
He’s all casual. Jeans, T-shirt, a hoodie and Adidas sneakers. He is straight-up comfort.
Even at nighttime?
Oh yeah, he would never dress up to go to dinners and stuff like that. That persona of him is strictly onstage.
Brendon @brendonurie giving you one hell of a performance yesterday @iheartradio - wearing one of my favorite jackets in Army Green Lacquer ☠️ #brendonurie #iheartradio #performance
A post shared by Anthony Franco (@afrancodesigner) on Sep 25, 2016 at 10:50am PDT
What is your most memorable styling moment with Brendon?
His light-blue jacket with leopard T-shirt from his last tour. A couple, who met at a Panic! concert and eventually got married, sent a photo of their baby dressed up for Halloween in a leopard shirt and blue onesie jacket over it. It was so damn cute, and when fans start re-creating his looks, it’s flattering for us. The most incredible moment was when Brendon met President Obama after performing at the Kennedy Center Honors in a gorgeous bronze tuxedo, which we custom designed. It photographed beautifully, and I felt so proud to see my work on him while meeting the president.
One of my favorite fashion moments - Brendon @brendonurie & Sarah @sarahurie at the Kennedy Center Honors 2013, both look so stunning wearing my designs. #love #friends
A post shared by Anthony Franco (@afrancodesigner) on Nov 11, 2016 at 2:35pm PST
•This is an Historically Accurate Transcription featuring Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Judge Sarah T. Hughes, and Jacqueline Kennedy, aboard Air Force One, on November 22, 1963•
LADY BIRD: Hello, Judge Hughes! So good to see you! LBJ: Hey Bird, can you stop smiling and acting so cheerful? LADY BIRD: I’m just trying to be polite and greet Judge Hughes. LBJ: I understand, but maybe today…especially right now…with you-know-who standing right next to me…you should probably turn down the sunshine. JUDGE HUGHES: Mrs. Kennedy, how are you doing? JACKIE: How am I doing?! JUDGE HUGHES: Did you enjoy Texas? LBJ: You know why you’re here, right, Judge Hughes? JUDGE HUGHES: Of course. I’m just curious about Mrs. Kennedy’s thoughts about Texas. JACKIE: Oh…ummm…I don’t know…someone just blew my husband’s head off while I was sitting next to him. JUDGE HUGHES: Sure, that was a shame. But the weather was nice, wasn’t it? LADY BIRD: Clear and warm for November, wouldn’t you say, Lyndon? LBJ: I really think we should just bypass the pleasantries. JUDGE HUGHES: Other than that one incident, Dallas sure did seem to love the President…or, loved the former President. JACKIE: You mean other than the assassination? JUDGE HUGHES: Yes, other than that the majority of your trip must have been fun. Fort Worth was nice, no? It’s a disappointment that you won’t get to see Austin. LBJ: Let’s just move on, please. JUDGE HUGHES: Of course. Mrs. Kennedy, did you want to go change? JACKIE: I’m sorry…what? JUDGE HUGHES: You seem to have dropped your hot dog all over your dress at lunch. LBJ: Oh God. JACKIE: No, that’s my husband’s blood and brains. From when someone shot and killed him just a few hours ago. JUDGE HUGHES: And did you want to go change your clothes? JACKIE: I want everyone to see what they did to my husband. JUDGE HUGHES: Well, I don’t know if that’s appropriate for the swearing-in of a new President, but I guess that’s how you were raised. Just out of curiosity, who killed your husband? LBJ: Not me! JACKIE: I don’t know. LADY BIRD: I think it was somebody in that brick building that we passed. LBJ: And on that grassy knoll. LADY BIRD: Probably Fidel Castro. LBJ: And Khrushchev. LADY BIRD: J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI obviously was involved. LBJ: I bet Nixon had something to do with it. LADY BIRD: I’m suspicious of the limo driver. LBJ: Bobby can’t be trusted. LADY BIRD: It might have been his Addison’s disease. LBJ: Just swear me in as President and we’ll figure it out. I’ll put Carmen Sandiego on the case immediately. JUDGE HUGHES: Yes, sir. Mrs. Kennedy, honey, did you want to take a few minutes to clean yourself up and, oh, I don’t know, maybe change your clothes? JACKIE: Just administer the fucking oath of office. LADY BIRD: Oh my. JUDGE HUGHES: Looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning! LADY BIRD: And slipped in a pile of blood and brains! LBJ: – JUDGE HUGHES: – JACKIE: – LADY BIRD: I did not mean to say that out loud. My apologies. LBJ: Worst. Inauguration. Ever.