‘Cowboys’ T-Shirt


A new batch of ‘Cowboy’ t-shirts is now available. They were printed a couple of weeks ago & Johannes who oversaw this took some photos of the process for your pleasure.
A t-shirt print with a lot of history with Westwood it was first created in 1975 for the shop ‘SEX’.

It has for a long time always been supposed that the original artwork was by Tom of Finland or Touro Laaksonen (1920-1991) to give his real name, but this is not the case as I have found by browsing the internet.
The blogger Paul Gorman has done the research & you can read it here: http://www.paulgormanis.com/?p=2935
Apparently the artist is Jim French & it was created in 1969 as part of his series of prints entitled ‘Longhorns’. http://showstudio.com/contributor/jim_french
‘The illustration appeared in issue 7 of French’s magazine Manpower!, which was published in 1974. The late McLaren acquired a copy in New York’s Christopher Street early the following year during his period of association with the New York Dolls’.

‘Longhorns – Dance’ by Jim French 1969. Image from Paul Gorman’s blog May 2011

‘Longhorns – Dance’ by Jim French 1969. Image from Paul Gorman’s blog May 2011

The one change to the original was the addition of the text underneath. Malcolm did this. This text reads:
Bill: “ello Joe been anywhere lately”
Joe: “Nah its all played aht Bill Gettin too straight”

As well as all the other provocative t-shirts produced by Malcolm & Vivienne at the time, the ‘Cowboys’ was one of the most infamous. Shop worker at the time Alan Jones was arrested on the Kings Road for wearing one: http://www.alanj.dircon.co.uk/features.htm
His account from his website is below:

Question - Punk T-shirts!? How did you manage to get arrested for wearing one in the UK?

‘This is a long and very involved story and one I’ve repeated countless times in numerous books from Jon Savage’s ‘England’s Dreaming’ to ‘Punk’ by Stephen Colegrave and Chris Sullivan. I knew Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood extremely well. I worked for Vivienne in her World’s End shop ‘Sex’ for a while. That’s how I got to know the Pistols before the group was formed. I always wore Vivienne’s clothes. One of them featured the now infamous nude cowboy graphic and the police thought it was far too provocative when I wore it for the first time. I was arrested for indecency, Malcolm promised me support and the best lawyer – which never happened – I got fined, made headlines in all the newspapers and it’s one of the many stories I’m now asked about constantly regarding that amazing time. The Pistols would come and see me at the Portobello Hotel and hang out. I was at every single early gig they did – they would often say hello to me by name from the stage. So when they played the El Paradise strip club in Soho they asked me to be their dee-jay. I was on the ‘God Save the Queen’ boat party and have nothing but great memories from the time despite my good friend Sid Vicious becoming its most famous casualty’.

In fact Vivienne remembers that she & Malcolm were also charged soon after, this with the crime of making an ‘indecent exhibition’. The judge gave his reasons for the Cowboy print being of a homosexual nature & these were, because of the closeness of the two penises & also because one of the cowboys is adjusting the handkerchief around the other cowboy’s neck (obviously being a bit too familiar with each other).
Another factor at the time had been that in the same week that the case was taking place a shocking documentary had been aired on television about the homeless situation in London & about how a lot of these young men were having to make a living by prostituting themselves. This documentary was called ‘Jonny Go Home’ http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/1328782/index.html .

It is interesting how differently these provocative t-shirts are seen now. At the time in 1975, homosexuality had only been legal for 8 years Sexual Offences Act 1967 & that with conditions attached. It was only in 2003 in the UK that ‘sexual acts were viewed by the law without regard to the sex of the participants’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_the_United_Kingdom .

Gerry Visco at The Park Royal, NYC, 1976. Photo Bobby Busnach from Paul Gorman’s blog November 2013

Gerry Visco at The Park Royal, NYC, 1976. Photo Bobby Busnach from Paul Gorman’s blog November 2013

Production of the ‘Cowboys’ t-shirt stopped during the 80’s when the shop became World’s End, but it re-emerged again in the late 90’s with the introduction of the ‘MAN’ label, being used in several new incarnations, for instance as two knights in armour for the MAN AW06/07 collection.

Cowboys print t-shirt in blue £40.00 at World’s End.
E-mail worldsend@viviennewestwood.com

P.S I have heard that the Kings Road shop will be open just in time for Valentines Day.

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27 thoughts on “‘Cowboys’ T-Shirt

  1. It’s nice to see that this iconic print and design is still available and not lost to the ravages of time.
    It’s on my shopping list. Thanks for posting.

  2. I love the cowboy t-shirt. You feel so good in Westwood’s clothes. You just know that you look good!

    I think the best punk shirt is the ‘tits’ top. So effective, simple but provocative. I still wear mine and I can’t believe that today, still, people ask or comment about it. These shirts have been available for 40years or so.

    Thanks for the post x

  3. Paul’s blog is the best source of info on pop culture and punk out there! Do you have small sizes for girls?

  4. Is it the SAME Paul Gorman who is suing Vivienne? This is in the Daily Mail :


    Vivienne Westwood accused of plagiarism of her own life-story.

    Author Paul Gorman claims 40 passages from his own work have been used.

    He has accused Vivienne Westwood and publishers of not crediting him.

    Gorman branded Westwood’s book ‘sloppy’ and ‘riddled with inaccuracies’ .

    He is set to sue publishers Pan Macmillian for using sections without credit
    Neither fashion designer or co-author have responded to allegations made.

    Vivienne Westwood has been accused of lifting passages for her new autobiography from the work of another author.

    He claims her self-titled autobiography is ‘riddled with inaccuracies’ and cites two instances where passages from his work are represented as the fashion icon’s own words – once in direct quotes.

    Mr Gorman is set to sue Picador, publishers of the book, Vivienne Westwood and co-author biographer Ian Kelly.

  5. Dear Ben

    Thank you for crediting my research in your blog about the Cowboys t-shirt. Thanks also for the link.

    You’ve used a couple of images from my site:

    Cowboys scan – which Jim French gave me permission to reproduce – and the photo of Gerry Visco supplied to me by Bobby Busnach for usage on my blog.

    I’d like you to caption them as follows but if you aren’t minded to, please remove them:

    1. ‘Longhorns – Dance’ by Jim French 1969. Image from Paul Gorman’s blog May 2011.

    2. Gerry Visco at The Park Royal, NYC, 1976. Photo Bobby Busnach from Paul Gorman’s blog November 2013.

    BTW the Sid Vicious shot should be credited to Dennis Morris, 1977.

    All best



  6. Wow what history!!! I just thought it was a pic of 2 gay dudes. Fantastic story. Has blogger paulgorman any more great story/info on Westwood clothes?& were do I get it

  7. Gorman’s a pompous no-nothing who wasn’t even there! whywould you even bother quoting him when Vivien made the clothes? She was there, so speak up Queen Viv!

  8. i seem to recall that many years ago marco told me that his mum used to sew up sid’s holey SEX t-shirts & clothes when he stayed with them – not quite getting the “distressed” thing. most interesting post ben. Fx

  9. Dear Ben,

    It is curious to see Paul Gorman being given credit on the Worlds End blog regards ‘his research’ into the origins of the Cowboys T-shirt design, especially when he has instructed lawyers to serve a claim against Vivienne Westwood, Ian Kelly and Picador publishing, accusing the trio of plagiarism. He further attacks Vivienne Westwood for not giving proper credit to various photographers.

    So, it is with a sense of amusement that I relate the following:-

    In 2011 Paul Gorman produced on his blog a rather dubious theory with regards to the origins of the Cowboys T-shirt design titled Roots Of The Cowboys T-Shirt which was accompanied by a totally bizarre and unrelated photographic story taken from the vintage fetish publication Atomage. Although Gorman claims McLaren told him he had little memory of where the illustration was found, in the past McLaren had claimed the design was his. Of course, anyone with a modicum of SEX/Seditionaries clothing knowledge knew McLaren had not created the original Cowboys illustration.

    Here is the link:-


    Despite Malcolm McLaren apparently informing Paul Gorman that he did NOT design the Cowboys T-shirt, on the 8th June 2014 ( long after McLaren’s death ) Gorman made the following statement on his blog :-

    “The Cowboys t-shirt was designed by Malcolm McLaren in 1975 for sale in SEX”

    In fact, around 2008 I interviewed Bernard ( Bernie ) Rhodes who informed me that Vivienne found the illustration in a “American gay boys magazine and she loved it”. He further informed me that Vivienne often liked looking at American gay porn due to the physique of the men which was so different to the British, and was curious about various ‘leather man’ codes of dress. In retrospect one can see how Vivienne was inspired by items such as the leather mans harness which she interpreted for the Parachute shirt.

    I own a copy of the COLT book in which the original Cowboys illustration appears so I contacted Paul Gorman in 2011 after reading his bizarre “archeological dig regards the origins of the design” and advised him that McLaren did NOT create the Cowboys image and that it was the work of Jim French who worked under various aliases sketching for various mens gay porn magazines. To give Gorman his due he did credit me on his blog with supplyIng him with the correct information.

    Since McLaren’s death Gorman has been determined to position himself as ‘THE EXPERT’ on Westwood and McLaren’s working relationship, in his role as one of the guardians of the McLaren Estate, and to help promote his proposed book on McLaren and other related activities.

    So it is with interest that I note you have given credit to Paul Gorman for ‘his research’ into the Cowboys design – however, I was content in the knowledge that if people read Gorman’s blog they would see I was credited as the original source that gave Gorman the correct information. And this is where the story should end….BUT…

    Yesterday, out of curiosity, I took a fresh look at Gorman’s blog to see if I was still credited, and I was not remotely surprised to witness that he has totally removed the credit he gave me in 2011; so yet again, he has attempted to position himself as the ONLY source of information when discussing Westwood and McLaren clothing.

    However, on January 28th 2014 I took a screenshot of Gorman’s blog for my records (a copy of which I have sent to you under separate cover) which included the credit he gave me – and I have taken a new up-to-date screenshot today to show exactly where Gorman has removed my credit. Sadly I am unable to post the two screenshots side by side on here, but I may do so on my Tumblr and Instagram accounts.

    I really do not care who knows what about the Cowboys, or where the information comes from, but it is always preferable to get the facts correct in the first instance and to acknowledge the source. So I find Gorman’s double standards and hypocrisy difficult to comprehend when he is at one and the same time accusing Vivienne Westwood of not giving credit where it’s due, and of plagarism in the Media. And he has also taken the same approach in announcing his battle with Westwood on his recently constructed promotional Wikipedia page.

    It appears that Paul Gorman, just like Malcolm McLaren before him, seems to be very good at rewriting history when it suits his purpose to appear as the fountainhead of knowledge on the Westwood/McLaren period, which was, and is, plagued with misinformation and misunderstandings.


    • Arnt you the guy McLaren spoke about in an interview saying you sell fake reproductions, on eBay and your website……. Your all bitter, sitting behind your laptops trying to out do one another…. Oooooh I own Westwood first ever pencil, that she hand draw that thing with that nobody knows about, …

      • Yes, to a degree you’re correct.

        I contacted McLaren in 2006 and asked him if he would like to write something for my proposed book SEX & Seditionaries. We agreed a fee, but first he asked to see a quantity of images from the book. I emailed him a large quantity of images, and then he wrote a draft and sent it to me.

        I rejected his first draft as there was so many appalling inaccuracies. I knew he would have looked utterly foolish if I had published what he had written. In retrospect maybe I should have just left his piece as it was and let the public decide for themselves.

        I paid his fee into his Coutts & Co bank account in London. And I hand-delivered a copy of the book to his home in NY on West 13th St, NY10011.

        It took nearly a year before he attacked my book ( if he didn’t like it, what took so long? ) – but in the process of attacking
        it he also described the cover and layout. The problem was he was not describing my book at all. He was describing another book. Confused? I was!

        Yes, Malcolm later stated I’d sold some fakes – and in some cases he was correct. I’d sold items which I’d purchased from various international auction houses, which we later discovered were indeed fakes. We then had to get the Art & Antiquities Fraud Squad involved. But more confusingly amongst the ‘fakes’ was a genuine Jamie Reid designed ‘Young Flesh Required’ Sex Pistols t-shirt based on an American Express card. McLaren claimed the t-shirt was ridiculous as hardly anyone in the UK had seen an American Express card and no such t-shirt was ever produced. Either McLaren’s memory or eyesight were failing because anyone with some Jamie Reid / Sex Pistols knowledge will know the American Express ‘Young Flesh Required’ design exists – it was created for The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle in 1979. Confused? Yes, I was, yet again!

        I do not own any of Vivienne Westwood’s pencils – but I do own some of her original paper patterns. Do you want to see them? I’m more than happy to share anything from this period that I have – I’m no longer precious about it.

  10. Hi Simon

    I made the substitution because:

    A) Like all right thinking people I want nothing to do with you; and most importantly

    B) I clarified in an interview last year that Ted Polhemus was the source of identifying Jim French/COLT as the originator of the Cowboys image, not you. That this is confirmed by page 388 of your own 2006 book, and that you fail to make that plain and give Ted credit in your bizarre rant above speaks volumes.

    Trust this ends this dialogue. I’m sure you won’t be able to resist having more pops at me – seems your interest in me verges on the unhealthy – but let’s not waste this site and Ben’s time. You have anything to say to me be a man and say it to my face, by email or via the comment spaces in my blog.


    • PG,

      You purchased my book in 2014, so I advise you to read the Ted Polhemus piece which mentions the Cowboys again. Absolutely NOWHERE does he mention the name Jim French. He only mentions COLT Studios, so your statement is incorrect.

      For the record, many gay men growing-up in the 1970′s (who enjoyed illustrative pornography) collected the work of Tom of Finland, Jim French and Dom Orejudos. This is a part of our history. To imply a gay man in his 50′s would only just be learning about these illustrators is farcical.

      Ted Polhemus wrote a very informative article for me, but I can assure you I’ve known the work of Jim French and looked at Colt Studios magazines, etc, since I was around 16 years old.


  11. Ello Paul, Been anywhere lately – nah it’s all played aht Malcolm and i keep getting it wrong !

  12. what a bleedin’ sour joke Paul Gorman is. Last year we shared some photos on Facebook of Michael Colllins working inside Seditionaries. Gorman didn’t have a f”ing clue who he was. Michael worked for Viv at Sex/Seditionaries/Worlds End and Mud. How could pofaced Gorman not even recognise him???!!! Guess his head was shoved up his arse as usual.

    • I decided to leave the SEDS Facebook group after Paul Gorman took the decision to Lord it over everyone by becoming a moderator … I cannot stand that man’s grandiose pompous attitude ….he sucked all the joy out of the group. ..He’s an opportunist using McLaren’s death for financial gain.

  13. the only reason people go ape-shit on “credit” is because they want to be seen as the authority on a subject – or be connected to it, or to control it. No one is really an authority on anything – only those people who were there can give an opinion but then their opinion or take on something is only that – an opinion. Some opinions can be backed up with facts – but the longer in time that the facts are away the more the truth can be manipulated. So in other words don’t believe anyone

  14. Hands up if you only know Paul Gorman from this blog and you think he’s a tit ! What a joker !
    I know about him causing a scene about the book and to be honest no one gives a shit Mr Gorman ! So stop lording around.

  15. when Paul GOrman’s name is mentioned people call him a pompous bore. Young Kim Jong-Un has no relevance to the period or clothing at all. They are jsut trying to make money out of Malcs legacy. I hope Talcy Malcy is laughing.