Yoko Ono Turns 80, Still Weird as Hell

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Yoko Ono, never one to bend to the rules of societal convention, has got this old-age shit down to a science. Screw bridge club and Metamucil; this soon-to-be octogenarian is putting your grandma's ideas about the twilight years to shame.

True to form, the famed conceptual artist/musician/fashion-designer/philanthropist/Beatles destroyer (to a few of you, anyway) is not spending her 80th birthday this coming Monday kicked back in her recliner. Spry as hell, she will instead be performing at the Volksbuhne in Berlin.

Ono will be backed by the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, as well as her son Sean Lennon, who also collaborated on the 2009 critically acclaimed album, Between My Head and the Sky.

Don't start covering your ears in a preemptive protest just yet. Yes, a lot of her work has been ridiculous, especially the earlier stuff. But despite some really, ahem, interesting work over the years, it seems Ono has evolved, offering up art that is more than apples with price tags and poorly landscaped crotches.

Believe it or not, Yoko and her electronic-dance remix project, ONO, have done pretty darn well in recent years, releasing nine consecutive No. 1 hits on the Billboard Dance Charts. She's also collaborated with the likes of Sonic Youth, the Pet Shop Boys, and Eric Clapton, just to name a few.

She's also had some successful art exhibits as of late, gaining mainstream popularity with her "Wish Trees" at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and she's done well to commemorate her late husband, John Lennon, by collaborating on tributes to him across the globe.

As a nod to Yoko's 80 years on the planet, let's take a walk down memory lane and reminisce on some of her stranger pieces of art.

The Screaming Song Perhaps related to the Primal Scream Therapy she took part in during the '70's, the screeching, guttural screams of Yoko's "singing" may have helped her release some tension. Unfortunately, watching that video has psychologically damaged me for all of time. Scream Therapy fail.

Vertical Memory Part of her "CONCEPTUAL PHOTOGRAPHY" series (because everything she names must SCREAM at you from this blog posting), "Vertical Memory" consists of 21 blurred, identical photographs with 21 different texts. They are based around fragments of "memory" and begin with Doctor I, as she recalls being slapped in the bum upon birth. Yes, there is a Doctor II, and a Doctor VII... and so on.

Fly film (and soundtrack!) Filmed in a New York attic over a period of two days, Yoko and John filmed actress Virginia Lust lying naked while a fly explored her body. The couple used around 200 flies, all stunned with gas, to create the 19-minute film set to Yoko's song, Fly. Rumor has it that Virginia Lust also had to be sedated.

Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins Released by John and Yoko in 1968, this album was a result of musical experimentation during an all-nighter. It's full of Yoko's ad-lib vocals, conversation with Lennon, and weird sound effects. Much to the dismay of most Beatles fans, the two knocked boots after the recording and went on to collaborate on even stranger art.

Cut Piece The 1964 original featured Ono sitting onstage, draped in a long gown and daring the audience to cut away pieces until she was naked. She repeated the performance in 1965 at Carnegie Hall, and in 2003 for the final time in Paris. Interestingly enough, she appears more at ease in the more recent piece than in the original.

Yoko Ono Fashions for Men 1969-2012 Inspired by the sketches Yoko drew for John as a gift for their 1969 wedding, the men's clothing line is intended to sexually objectify men. The line, which features neon-colored mesh shirts, LED lights across nipples, hands across crotches, and (very unflattering) ass-baring slacks also has the balls to sell this junk at prices in the mid-hundreds. You can find through the U.S. brand "Open Ceremony" if you're interested in obliterating any sex appeal you may have had.

I dig Yoko's style. At 80, my grandma couldn't work the tape player in her car, let alone design man bras and dropping dance hits.

I think I'll take a page out of Yoko's book of retirement and spend my days drinking dry martinis by the pool, tanning my varicose veins, and catcalling all the young bucks. Art at its finest.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.