Friday, October 17, 2014

outlaw bikers - 1971 - Buttons: The Making of a President

Buttons: The Making of a President
Jamie Mandelkau
Sphere Books Limited
1971
157 pages

Buttons was, briefly, the president of the Hells Angels England chapter, and the man who obtained an official charter from the California chapter for the England Hells Angels. Not long after he officially became an Hells Angel, he wrote and published his memoir of his experiences as a biker. Some time after the publication of this book he must of lost his president status as a 1974 BBC documentary of the England Hells Angels shows Mad John as their president and the only mention of Buttons featured in the documentary is a flash of the cover of this book.


I don't know who author Jamie Mandelkau is/was but I suspect that his book was rushed to market to cash in on a late-60s/early-70s craze for biker stuff, and more specifically, Hells Angels stuff. This craze was due in part to the 1967 publication of Hunter S. Thompson's bestselling book Hell's Angels, as well as some high profile criminal incidents stemming from club activity, most notably the death of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont Free Concert in late 1969. The content of the book shows that there's not a lot of history to Buttons' life and very little to his life as an Angel, at least by the time of publication. The book seems to break down into two large parts: his life as a Rocker fighting the Mods in the mid-60s, and his trip to California to hang out with the Hells Angels and rape teenage girls. His lurid anecdotes of pointless violence and sexual abuse are the stuff of fantasies for impotent men and the sort of deranged losers who also admire serial killers. Wilhelm Reich describes this books target audience in his Mass Psychology of Fascism.

Mandelkau's transcription of Buttons' dimwitted life story is a dull view into the world of dying masculinity and white supremacism. Getting it on with a bird, doing a blokes head in, etc, in repetition with slight variations, occasional violence and plenty of sexual violence, that's the content of this book. Pornography for people who felt that Hitler's definition of freedom suits them just fine. The book does include a couple of interesting bits about the biker culture in England circa 1971, though: in England bikers all over were wearing Hells Angels patches, and it almost sounds as though bikers who wanted to declare themselves outlaws would do it by putting on their patch. One of Buttons tasks was dealing with unofficial Hells Angels chapters in England. Also, Buttons wore a small deaths head patch, which apparently had some link to the origins of the Hells Angels MC, and only the first four chapters wore that patch until Buttons put it on for England.

The last interesting aspect of the book are with Buttons stories of being a Rocker and fighting Mods in the sixties. I don't know much about these subcultures although I think Dick Hebdige might discuss them to some extent in his Subculture and the Meaning of Style. Rockers are apparently greaser guys into leather jackets and motorcycles and sixties rock. Mods are different although their difference isn't discussed in the book. Still, as far as I know, this is a significant source of information about the Rockers of mid-60s England.



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