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Malcolm Garrett’s “Orgasm Addict” Artwork, Reimagined 120 Times

Because one time is never enough...

In 1977, the artist Linder Sterling spliced together the image of an iron-headed woman with gnashing fangs for nipples using pages from a girly mag and an Argos shopping catalogue. Resized, organized, and formatted by graphic designer Malcolm Garrett using a photocopier, the explosive collaboration culminated in the iconic design for the single Orgasm Addict by British punk band The Buzzcocks.

 

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the single’s release, a new exhibition curated by Garrett along with studio DR.ME asked 120 practitioners to reimagine the original design. There were only two restrictions: the work should be the original colors (a riotous, pure yellow and a relieving blue pantone 286), and it should be square-shaped, like a 7” record.

The contributions are now on display at bars and restaurants across Manchester for the duration of the city’s design festival (rumor has it that Peter Saville’s work is in a porn shop in the city’s northern quarter, scan his QR code on the left to see the NSFW reason why). We got in touch with five of the contributing designers to hear more about their unique responses.

1
DR.ME

“As we knew that we wanted a lot of people to create sleeves, the selection process was quite simple: we just reached out to people whose work we loved and Malcolm did the same. The responses were really great but also interesting: they show the power of punk. We had a lovely email from [American art director] George Lois which read:

“Dear Eddy,

I’ve certainly had experience with orgasms, but I don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about. 

In any case, I’m drowning in projects so let me beg off. 

Sincerely, and Orgasms Forever,

George

“He ended up making it into the show in a way as Ryan (the other half of DR.ME) included the reply in the piece that he made for it.”—Mark ‘Eddy’ Edwards

2
Textbook

“The original sleeve was pretty much burned in my teenage mind—I’m a huge Linder fan—so I didn’t have to think too hard about responding to the spirit of the thing. It took me a lot longer to think about how to respond visually without wanting to imitate, replicate, or distort the original. In the end, time decided for me.

I had to leave to go to the airport, and the pair of tights I was wearing had a pretty big hole in them. I’d been musing over the cobwebby beauty of that, choosing clothes that covered it up in different ways, and I thought about that scene in Tank Girl, where she cuts her tights up (‘snip, snip’). I thought that ripped tights were kind of sexy and fit with the brief.” —Vicky Carr, Textbook

3
Hort

“I wanted to keep the spirit and the irony of the original artwork alive. Nearly all sexual music is still written from a heterosexual, male perspective. Therefore the naked, female body is always used for advertising; it’s the easiest thing to do. When reinterpreting Malcolm Garrett’s original cover, I focused on the iron as symbol of conservative and oppressive gender roles. I made that the center of my ironic illustration of a female orgasm.”—Teresa Schönherr, Hort.

4
Braulio Amado

“We were limited to only yellow and blue. Blue is the color of the PrEP pill, so I thought that was a good way to illustrate the theme of sex addiction that the Buzzcocks sing about in the song. As a gay man living in New York City, PrEP is very important in my community: it’s a pill that you take daily along with anti-HIV medications to keep HIV negative people from getting infected. I was surprised it wasn’t available in the UK yet, so I wanted my cover to contain information about it.”—Braulio Amado

5
Studio Dumbar

“The name and design of Orgasm Addict embodies the frenetic attitude of late ’70s punk and its anti-establishment sensibility, with its vibrant colors, basic typography, and provocative collage.

“With our contribution, we wanted to maintain that essence and attitude. We call it The Destroyed Bathroom, which was inspired by an album by Sonic Youth. The name gestures to the years where punk and counter-cultural movements begun to emerge in an increasingly conservative society. Needless to say, The Destroyed Bedroom could not have existed without “Orgasm Addict”—and that’s what we wanted to communicate with our homage.”—Jonathan Castro, Studio Dumbar.

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