If you were into rock music in the 1970s and 1980s, then you were probably aware of bootleg LPs, those expensive and entirely illegal vinyl releases of illicit recordings, stolen outtakes and other rarities that insatiable fans would eagerly snap up. And if you were into bootlegs, then you probably bought at least one edition of Canadian publication Hot Wacks – either the book also known as The Bootleg Bible, or Hot Wacks Quarterly, the magazine version. Both were the best guide to what was out there, though of course the bootleg world was so mysterious that no one could ever hope to keep track of everything released (some of which were in runs so short that it would be almost impossible to even find a copy).
Launched in 1974 as a decidedly cheap and cheerful fanzine, Hot Wacks was a somewhat hedonistic affair, very much of a 1970s rock ‘n’ roll mindset, as it celebrated both illegal record releases and drooled over female rock stars (and groupies), with sexy rock chicks in assorted states of undress more often than not both the cover stars and scattered throughout the magazine. But the freewheeling style somehow captured the feel of the era more than any of the other rock press. There was a sense of anarchy and bad behaviour that permeated Hot Wacks. And the actual content was pretty solid.
Edited by Kurt Glemser, Hot Wacks was a thorn in the side of the record industry (even though labels and bands alike often took a more laid back approach to bootlegs back then than they do today, recognising that these releases were not going to impact on their sales one iota), and in 1980 both the FBI and the Mounties raided his Blue Flake Productions, claiming to have seized master tapes and bootleg albums – though these were actually just Glemster’s own collection. The case quickly fell apart, and while the magazine ceased publication in the 1980s, Hot Wacks would continue publishing books until the turn of the century, when the market for bootlegs was quickly being eroded by file sharing and changing tastes.