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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.



The bulk of The Original 99 Cent Roxy at Greenwood and Danforth has been demolished.   The front lobby remains, as does a stripped-to-the-girders marquee out front.   They’re going to turn it into a convenience store that will adjoin a gas station.   This is the back of the building.  Someone’s spray-painted “Bye Bye Roxy” on the wall.


Nash the Slash used to live in the apartment above the lobby.   He was supposed to jam with Teenage Head during The Last Pogo, but when he knocked his mandolin on the floor and broke it, he punched a wall and broke his hand.   The first live appearance by Nash was at the Roxy.  With tape-decks humming, electric mandolin in hand, and a candelabra beside him, he performed a live soundtrack to the Bunuel/Dali short film Un Chien Andalou.  And jaws dropped.


After initiating midnight screenings at Cinecity on Yonge Street, Gary Topp (later of The Garys) started The Original 99 Cent Roxy in the early seventies.  Many of who would later be called Toronto’s punks got their first taste of Roxy Music, Velvet Underground, Little Feat;  Russ Meyers, John Waters, Fellini (and much more) there.   The Last Pogo director Colin Brunton got interested in film while working there as an usher.  Filmmaker/Raving Mojos Blair Richard Martin and Viletones’ Steven Leckie were regulars, and cite the Roxy as one of the biggest influences on the Toronto punk rock scene.  Handbill courtesy of Gary Topp.


After Gary began showing Reefer Madness to stoned midnight crowds, the joint was jumpin’, pun intended.  When a severely edited version of John Waters’ Pink Flamingos played, he complained that the Ontario Censor Board “Cut out the sex, and kept in the shit.”  Photo of poster in lobby courtesy Cheryl Daniels.


The lobby in the mid-forties, courtesy of Toronto Archives.  (Please do not reprint.)   The art deco display window and doors in this photo remained the same up to the seventies, but the walls were plastered with posters and photos.


The Original 99 Cent Roxy played the best music in between shows.  Gary Topp used to offer to let people in for free if they could identify Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry from a photo, but not many could.  When Roxy Music came to Toronto for the first time, in 1975, Gary Topp got artist John Pearson to create hand-made invitations to the show for the entire Roxy staff.  (John would later design the titles for The Last Pogo.)  We had fifth row centre seats;  it was awesome.  After the show Gary Topp said:  “All the girls wanted to be in his pants and all the guys wanted to be in his shoes.”


The Roxy matchbooks that were given away.   Plans to hand out Roxy rolling papers never panned out.  On weekends there was a cloud of weed and cigarette smoke in the theatre.  Jpg courtesy Gary Topp.

New Yorker-high res

In 1976, Gary’s last year at the Roxy, he and partner Jeff Silverman opened up The New Yorker Theatre on Yonge Street.  Needing to get their snack-bar redesigned, artist David Andoff introduced Gary Topp to carpenter and ex-music promoter Gary Cormier.  They immediatly hit it off and became known as The Garys.   The first band they booked into the New Yorker was The Ramones.  David Andoff painted the outside of the theatre, and built a huge paper-mache King Kong.  Photo courtesy David Andoff.

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