Haidee Findlay-Levin Remembers Malcolm McLaren

I could sit for hours, and often did, as Malcolm told and retold stories and accounts of his past, sometimes two quite different versions in the same day. His longtime friend, Gene Krell, once commented that Malcolm never felt inhibited by the truth. I always thought Malcolm should have his own talk show and imagined it would be more of a monologue.

I first met Malcolm circa 2001, through Joe Corre, Serena Rees and the whole Vivienne Westwood scene. I was living in London at the time, although I think Malcolm was living in L.A. Later I met his partner and girlfriend Young Kim, and that’s really how I came to know him. They used my apartment in New York as an office before I even moved in or slept in it once. The paint on the floor was still wet. I, too, would stay at their place in Paris on occasion.

Listening to Malcolm, whether at dinner or a lecture, could be fascinating or funny, and usually both. I always left wishing I had recorded him. Eventually I did, an interview for Acne Paper about one of his recent “musical paintings.” But then I decided it should be about his Paris album of 1994 instead. “Why Paris now?” he asked. But once he got going—complete with impersonations of Juliette Gréco, Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau—I realized he enjoyed recreating the experience as much as I did listening to it. I think it rekindled his interest in Paris, which became the subject and soundtrack of his last musical painting.

Most people remember Malcolm as the controversial manager of the Sex Pistols and king of punk. In this regard, I felt his impact when, on a trip to London as a kid, I saw my first punk walking down The King’s Road, magnificent and majestic in his disenchantment. I swore I would move to London one day—and I did. But aside from his cultural contributions, there is so much that can be said about Malcolm. I will miss his provocative wit and humor, his creative vision and his many pep talks. I will miss his storytelling and his ability to rewrite history.

Rest in peace, Malcolm—or wreak some havoc.

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