Not having the faintest clue about where to buy the platform shoes they saw in rock magazines, the Zone brothers assembled their own version with a hammer and nails. They sawed wood blocks and nailed them to the bottom of boots, which they painted silver and decorated with fake jewels; after their mother taught the boys how to sew, they began frequenting fabric stores as often as record shops. Paul Zone wasn’t in his brothers’ band at this point, but he was still heavily involved with the Fast. “Making costumes was just one of the many things that I had a part in,” he said, “along with taking pictures and doing their lights and sound while they were performing, when I was about thirteen. By the time I hit high school, even in seventh and eighth grade, I was already wearing clothes that were just completely not accepted in a Brooklyn suburban neighborhood. I had platform shoes on. I was wearing satin pants.” What was it like growing up looking like that in Borough Park, a largely Italian and Hasidic Jewish working-class area of Brooklyn? “Of course, the people who would see us, slurs would come out of their mouths,” Paul said. “They would obviously just think we were some sort of flamboyant homosexual, but that never even dawned on us. It was like, ‘This is what British rock and rollers dress like!’ It wasn’t working out, believe me. The band definitely never won the battle of the bands.” But they tried. At one high school dance in 1970, the Fast played in front of a homemade backdrop of cut-out lollipops and stars, and other times they dressed a friend as Alice in Wonderland while other friends outfitted in nun costumes handed out cookies in the audience. Within a couple years, they found more likeminded people in downtown venues such as Max’s Kansas City and the Mercer Arts Center.
From Chapter 32 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore