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His Majesty King Mob


Patrick Sawyer on King Mob in The First Post:

King Mob was the vision of two brothers, David and Stuart Wise, who after a stint at Newcastle Art School centred themselves around the squats of North Kensington. The brothers and their circle sought to combine anti-consumerist theories of the avant-garde Situationist movement with the subversive humour and destructive traditions of the British ‘mob’. Taking its name from graffiti left on Newgate prison by the Gordon rioters of 1780 — ‘His Majesty King Mob’ — the group staged its first public appearance in June 1968. Dressed as pantomime animals, King Mob members encouraged protesting families to occupy Powis Square Gardens, forcing the council to convert them into a playground. In December, 25 members of King Mob, including one dressed as Santa, burst into Selfridges to hand out toys to startled children. The police forced the disgruntled children to return them.

King Mob had no time for the orthodox revolutionary left, which it despised as ‘puritanical’, getting into trouble for disrupting the famous ‘Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh’ chant on the first London anti-Vietnam war demonstration with cries of ‘Hot chocolate, drinking chocolate’. And during the occupation of the LSE, their sexually explicit, scatological posters — to be seen at the Tate — were removed by student leaders.

King Mob’s influence made itself felt long after its active demise, particularly on the punk movement. Malcolm McLaren claims he was at the Selfridges event, and King Mob’s cut up, home-made graphic designs fed into the punk look. …

Related: Hari Kunzru on King Mob. * John Barker. * Custard Pie in the Sky.

First posted: Monday, June 2nd, 2008.

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