In 1966, KSHE was not playing rock, and KXOK was the big dog in town. For the first year or so, KXOK had a personality go out and visit the club. But in 1967, Ron Elz from KSHE had approached the owners with a proposal. As Gary recalls it, “He came to us and told us about the new radio station that he was going with. That it was going to be a much hipper format, and [was] going to play a little bit more underground music and record cuts were going to be longer than two minutes.” So they severed ties severed with KXOK and embraced KSHE..
Gary Koen, Page 40

Electrical Overload

Sales for this show [Big Brother & the Holding Company, Iron Butterfly...] exceeded fifty people but didn’t surpass 4,000. But the worst was yet to come. “Knowing St. Louis was a union town, we knew we were losing money,” said Gary. “We had to have all these electricians come in and plug in the instruments and union projectionists for the light show.” Nita Koen recalls what came next. “At midnight, (union electricians) were going to go into overtime.”
What took them to midnight were the four local bands that opened the show, and Iron Butterfly doing the long version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The show had to be shut down because the union kicked in overtime charges. Big Brother was 15 minutes into their set when the plug was pulled. Brother Love, the shows host, said, “I’m not going out there.” It was Gary who had the honors of breaking the news. “She got pissed!” remembers Sherre Birenbaum. “Janis was screaming without a microphone.
You could hear her all over the auditorium.”
Big Brother, Page 44

Velvet Plastic Ball

Daved Frerker also did work for concert promoter Jorge Martinez, who ran Velvet Plastic Productions. Martinez held the first Velvet Plastic Ball in 1967 in the Grand Hall on thesecond floor of Union Station. At that time, the magnificent train station had yet to be restored, so Martinez reserved the ornate hall for a reasonable price. “Jorge was a little short guy and he lived in LaClede Town,” said Frerker. “There was, in those days, a socialite event called the Veiled Prophet Ball. They even had a parade. As a counter-culture response, Jorge said ‘We’ll have the Velvet Plastic Ball.’ With an artist from LaClede Town named Rocky, Frerker used two pieces of a clock, some food coloring and oil and did the light show for the event. Jorge’s girlfriend made an indelible impression on Frerker: “She came in see through plastic, like Saran Wrap, and that was her top.”
Under the Bandshell, Daved Frerker, Page 44

The Prophet Unveiled

The tradition that the counter-culture of St. Louis took aim - the Veiled Prophet Ball - wasn't limited to the creation of the Velvet Plastic Ball. The following was an article published in the underground newspaper Mill Creek Intelligencer in September 1968:
Since many residents of the Mill Creek Valley are new to these parts it would seem necessary to explain one of the vagaries of the folkways and, at the same time lay to rest one of the happy, but erroneous myths.
   Soon the streets will be awaken with men in normally sober men in Arabian Knights costumes, complete with pointes shoes. They are a high class fairly subdued lot - like shriners without whoopee cushions - but a festival air reigns. The occasion is the Veiled Prophet Parade, the high point of the St. Louis social calender. It resembles a dull Mardi Gras.
   In the past, and perhaps again, a few disgruntled civil rights leaders will threaten to lie down in the path of the parade, perhaps protesting a peculiar ancestral sameness among the participants, but the show will go on.
   The night before the parade, the Veiled Prophet Ball is customarily held in Kiel auditorium,. The Ball is quite exclusive - last year, only about 10,000 of the elite were invited.
   The climas of the evening comes when the Veiled Prophet, an incognito St. Louis civic leader, chooses the Queen of Love and Beauty, who will spend the rest of the year cutting ribbons and gracing banquets. Sort of a Junior League Miss America.
   When the Queen's name is announced, everyone will gasp, and she will approach the Prophet's chair. She will carry enough orchids to take care of half the senior proms in the city.
   As she reaches the Prophet's feet, she will fling herself at them in a st, according to the official phamplet, to carry on the Prophet's maidenly grovel. Which bring us to the myth.
   The Queen is supposed to, according to an official pamphlet, to carry on the Prophet's "reign of happiness" until his return the next year. What does this entail?
   Diligent research has uncovered a possible answer. The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, and his chosen maidens, come from a mediocrely obscene poem by an 19th century Irishman named Thomas Moore.
   The V.P. pamphlet tells us of the "dazzling brilliance of his brow, which shone more intesne that the sun." The lines are copied almost directly from the first page of the poem. However, the poem is a hundred pages long, and it turns out the prophet was putting on on. Near the end, prophet removes his mask and discloses to the queen:
...features horribler than Hell e'er traced
On its own brood: no demon of the Waste
No churchyard ghoul caught lingering in the light
of the blasted sun, e'er blasted human sight
With lineaments so foul, so fierce as those..
The rest is silence. Mothers of Ladue, beware.
Harper Barnes


Pages 46-51