Prague's Only Guide With Style...

 

Welcome to the Archives of Velvet Magazine! For those of you who might not know, Velvet was Prague's first city magazine and sadly published just a few issues. I, Jeffree from Think Magazine, designed the very last issue of Velvet, which was killed the day it was to go to press... and thus, I turned my attention to making Think. A lot of the contact, adresses and business information here is too old to be useful, but why not take a walk down memory lane and enjoy yourself?


Photo by Sean Gallup

ennis Hopper didn't make it to Prague's second Harley-Davidson National Rally this summer, but judging by his age, income, and hophead-turned-high roller status, the darker half of the Easy Rider duo would have fit in well.

The more than 350 bikers who roared into Areal Dzaban like a squadron of B-29's came from all over Europe. The German clubs showed up en masse to party with their Czech hosts, but apart from language it was hard to distinguish nationalities. Hog riders exist for their own culture, a sort of rawhide-and-steel version of Deadheads, which have been around, in various forms, since the beginning of the century. The inner circle is still male and most are over 35; women generally are girlfriends in tassels and tight jeans. The uniform-leather, shades, bandanas, beards you could build a tree house in, and hair begging for the wind of the open road is international.

The bikes aren't cheap (200,000 Kc to 500,000 Kc a shot), which means that riders have to be career types or willing to make a lot of sacrifices to ride. Most are both and this creates a kind of paradox among them: they have to work to be able to escape from work. George Orwell dressed up as a tramp and changed his name to elude the British public school society that spawned him. When bikers hit the road, they step out of their imposed professional identities and change back into themselves, they say.

"It's freedom. You can be yourself," said Constantin "Connie" von Kalckstein, a 31 -year-old with blue eyes and the elegant charm of an aristocrat. "Whether you're a plastic surgeon or a dustbin man, it levels all the differences."

"Bikes are spiritual. If I'm on my bike, I become the bike. We're one integrated entity," said 33-year-old Petr Vlasak, a Praguer who has been riding bikes since he was 15.

"It's not aggressive-you just get into the vibe of the engine, and the resonance relaxes your body. I live for it."

At times that way of life has been hard. The Czechs founded their first owners group in 1928, and within a year they had 150 members. (The first U.S. owners group, by comparison, didn't form until 1983.) Until 1938, Harleys were used by both the police and the Army, and even as taxis. But during the Nazi occupation the club was dissolved and the Brown Shirts were reputed to have confiscated over 25,000 bikes. Members met in secret, small groups. Sometimes they took apart their machines and hid the pieces.

With the establishment of the communist regime in 1948, the situation continued to stagnate. After 1968, the secret police arrested and sometimes interrogated them for encouraging Western fashions and philosophies. "It was because we represented freedom. We were a threat to the status quo," said Vlasak.

It wasn't until June of last year that the first Harley dealership opened in Prague, according to owner Josef Benes. And Eastern Europe is Harley's newest market.

H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) international, the rally's sponsor, claims 30,000 members in Europe and 270,000 members world-wide, said H.O.G. Europe Manager Nigel Villiers, a 39-year-old bushy-bearded Brit who, true to the creed, never stays too long in one place, "I went to the south of France for a holiday years ago and ended up staying for a lot longer than I expected."

The bikers chose Prague because of the "anarchic," out-of-the-past feel of the place. "Prague's got it all. It's cheap, the beer's great, and of course it's beautiful," said Villiers, listing the city's attributes in descending order of importance. "God it's a great place!" The group is planning a much larger rally here in 1998.

The riders no longer rile the government, but there's still plenty of room for trouble at home. "Harleys and relationships don't always mix," said the twice-divorced Villiers. Harley freaks, however, are bound toge7ther by an almost mystical love of riding, stronger than blood or love. "I haven't seen my father for nearly a year and he only lives down the road from me. Yet I can work more than 16 hours a day and then go riding on weekends. There's just no room for anything else," von Kalckstein said.

With a missionary's zeal these guys will seize the smallest sign of an outsider's interest try to make a conversion.

"What does it feel like?" von Kalckstein asked. "You wanna ride?"

Does anyone know where I can find some tight jeans and tassels?


This month's FIRST contributors are Omri Ben-Amos, Michelle Legge, Michael Wayne Jr., David Freeling, Radha Burgess and Anne Renahan.

 

 

 

Cover credits

  Pg. 07 Editor's Letter
  Pg. 09 FIRST: Ghost Busker
  Pg. 10 The King is Dead
  Pg. 10 Kik's Kaka
  Pg. 11 Trick of the Trade
  Pg. 11 Telephone Obsessive
  Pg. 12 The H.O.G.s are here
  Pg. 12 Fugazers
  Pg. 13 Windex
  Pg. 14-15 POLAROID: Laurie Anderson
  Pg. 17 Letter From L.A.
  Pg. 18-19 6 Kc and Peace of Mind
  Pg. 20-23 Velvet Devolution
  Pg. 24-27 FASHION: Cafe Couture
  Pg. 31 REVIEW: Jiri David's "Hidden Image"
  Pg. 32 Czech Cubism 1911-1919
  Pg. 33 REVIEW: Klub Lavka
  Pg. 33 REVIEW: Subway Club
  Pg. 34 MUSIC: The Ecstacy of St. Theresa
  Pg. 36 RESTAURANTS: Here's the Boeuf
  Pg. 37 RESTAURANTS: Comedy Cafe Akropolis
  Pg. 42 COFFEE: Meduza Kavarna
  Pg. 43 ALTERNAMALL: Jilska 22
  Pg. 44 SHOPS: Ligne Roset
  Pg. 45 Above & Beyond
  Pg. 47-48 BOOKS: Expat Mixed Bag
  Pg. 50-51 MUSIC REVIEWS
  Pg. 54-55 MOVIES: Karlovy? Very.
  Pg. 52 Scene
  Pg. 53 LAST: Intro to Cool.
   
 

Volume 1, Number 1
August 1995

Editor and Publisher MICHAEL WAYNE JR.

Executive Editor CHRISTOPHER HOLLAND

Senior Editors
WALTER R. DEVINE, JOYCE-ANN GATSOULIS

Associate Editor
SUSANNAH ROSENSTOCK

Editorial Assistants
HELENA SIPKOVA
MAURA GEDID

Contributing Editors NICHOLE ACHS
OMRI BEN-AMOS
MATT WELCH

Contributing Writers RADHA BURGESS, LOU CHARBONNEAU, DAVID FREELING, JOHN HECK, MARKETA JIRASKOVA, ANNE RENAHAN, JENNIFER TORPIE, LAURA ZAM


Creative Director GERMAIN E. DESEVE

Senior Designer
CLARE MANIAS

Production Associates STEVE ROWLAND
D.A. STRUBLE

Staff Photographer ZUZANA OPLATKOVA

Contributing Photographers
SEAN GALLUP,
AHMED RAHIM

Publicity
MICHELLE LEGGE


Advertising Director CHRISTOPHER LOVERING


The Prague Review s.r.o.

CEO: NICOLAS R. PERKlN

CFO: DAN ROSE

COO: MICHAEL WAYNE JR.

Main Offices:
Velvet Towers East
Zitna 30, 120 00 Prague 2

Editorial: 24 22 29 37
Production: 24 22 30 35
Advertising: 24 23 23 04
Voicemail: 430 430 ext. 82

Velvet is a publication of the Prague Review, s.r.o. (c) 1995, The Prague Review, s.r.o. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited by law.

Printed in the Czech Republic.

Produced entirely on Apple Macintosh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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