The Rake

THE GRUBBY DEMON OF PUNK

It’s easy to hate Sid Vicious. He is, after all, to blame for embodying one of the 20th century’s most exciting art movements in the form of a drooling, talentless junkie in a swastika T-shirt.

Beyond the ferret-faced, sneery urchin cartoon, though, there’s another Sid, not much more real but closer to something celebratory, romantic and even meaningful. Like the Marquis de Sade or Francis Bacon or Quentin Tarantino, he took ugliness and nihilism to their extremes, and found beauty in them. He said it best in an interview filmed in December 1978, close to the end of his brutishly short life. “What would you like to happen over the next year or so?” asks the interviewer, to which Vicious replies, “I’d like to have fun… That’s my object in life.” Its glorious simplicity, ludicrously, stops you short: what else is there, after all?

The trouble is that life isn’t that simple,

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