I’ll be honest, it’s been a long day, and when I first read about this event, I was really having trouble keeping up. Here’s the first thing I read (you’ll see what I mean): “Jay Michaelson & Sabrina Sojourner Discuss Seeking Spirituality in the Justice Community… and Justice in the Spiritual Community.” huh, right? Well wrong! It’s actually super interesting. Dr. Jay Michaelson is an author, activist, and academic. He’s currently a visiting scholar at Brown University, where he is an advisor to the Varieties of Contemplative Experience project, and the author of five books. Sabrina Sojourner is a facilitator, writer, teacher and speaker on diversity, multiculturalism, leadership and spirituality. She has worked with all sorts of public and private institutions, including the U.S. Department of Labor, National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The point of the discussion is to try and find more ways to bring meditation and contemplation into activism and politics. They’re interested in “contemplative justice” and how to make that happen. As a newbie meditator, I think this is a wonderful endeavor. A little more contemplation in our political system would do a world of good, or more precisely, do the world some good.
Our selection of not-to-be-missed LGBTQ films.
The Tribeca Film Festival starts this Thursday, April 17th and runs until the 27th. There are countless films, over 100 titles and shorts, but just a handful of LGBTQ films of interest, so I thought I’d just cut to the chase and simply list them here for you. I desperately tried to attend screenings of each but got lost in a sea of publicists so only managed to see half of the six playing.
I am confident the following titles will be standouts:
Pelo Malo (Bad Hair):
This film is a thoroughly engaging and at times heart wrenching tale about a young boy, Junior, living with his single mother in Caracas, Venezuela who wants nothing more than to straighten his unruly hair — “a fixation that stirs homophobic panic in his overtaxed mother.” Junior tries an array of home spun procedures to get smooth shiny hair and even gets half a blow-out from his grandma all to no avail. The doting grandmother and female best friend add some levity to the situation that has a poignant and bittersweet end.
A total immersion into the transgender community of Puerto Rico, Mala Mala which basically means “fierce” as in a heightened feeling of elation, as opposed to it’s original meaning, “I’m on my period” covers all the territory from political activism to street walking/prostitution. We follow a diverse cast in this riveting documentary as they campaign for human rights, by appearing in civil court to plead their case for equal employment in the work place. I won’t tell you how it turns out except to say the film is totally “Mala Mala!”
On the heels of his successful 2012 film Keep The Lights On, director Ira Sachs brings us this new take on modern love. Starring actors John Lithgow and Alfred Molina who play a couple separated by extenuating circumstances, Love is Strange takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotion as the two men sort out their relationship up close and at a distance. Sachs never disappoints, I totally look forward to seeing this film.
I just love the writings of Susan Sontag, especially her book ‘On Photography.‘ What a great opportunity this is to have an intimate look at her life written in her own words and narrated by actress Patricia Clarkson. Susan discusses her early infatuation with books, her first experience in a gay bar, her marriage and her last lover, celebrated photographer Annie Liebowitz. Filmmaker, professor, literary icon and political activist, all boiled into one extraordinary tour de force whose work still resonates with great vitality today.
I didn’t see this film but it sounds like a real gem from Sweden that explores the big question of gender and sexuality. There are two main characters who enter a relationship, one defying gender norms, Sebastian and the other straight identifying Andreas. Apparently Sebastian wants to transition to become “Ellie” and Andreas can’t deal with the fact that he is attracted to a man. Sounds like a perfect set up for a thoroughly engaging and thought provoking film.
I started to watch this movie from a reclining position in my bed and thought it was thoroughly engrossing but fell asleep before the end (but don’t let that deter you). What I can tell you is there is a sword wielding figure wearing a white dress running around the forest in East Germany killing people. There’s also a straight laced cop who, as the press notes state “Becomes increasingly powerless to resist the draw of the Samurai’s feral otherness” It’s a bit kinky and scary but in a good way.
That’s my round up. Check the Tribeca Film Festival film guide for theaters, dates and screening times. Each film has multiple screenings. Prices range from $9-$30. Good luck and enjoy the show.
Chris Stoddard on his new book and the state of alternative queer literature.
In Christopher Stoddard‘s latest book, Limiters, troubled 16-year-old Kyle Mason leaves behind an abusive, chaotic family in search of refuge wherever he can find it, leading from the rave culture of suburban Connecticut to the harsh gleam of New York City. It’s a tale of exodus that should be familiar to readers of Stoddard’s work, whose debut novel, White, Christian, told the story of a similarly drug and sex-addled protagonist looking for a fresh start. Instead, like Kyle and so many other LGBTQI youth, he came face to face with the inescapable cruelty and duplicity of the human experience, recounted with as much heartbreaking candor as Limiters‘ often tragic subjects. Stoddard, whose prose is sharp and sometimes unforgiving in its realism, is unafraid to lend us an honest look into the lives of those who don’t end up with the longed for, “It Gets Better” version the LGBTQI story, those who are instead scattered into the fringes of American culture with little to no hope of a happily ever after.
Stoddard, who draws from personal experience for many of the misadventures his characters endure, published Limiters on ITNA Press, his own emerging Brooklyn-based press. Since August of last year, Stoddard has published two books aside from his own that focus on provocative subject matter: the surreal, “future-queer” world of La JohnJoseph‘s Everything Must Go, and incendiary artist Slava Mogutin‘s collection of poetry, essays, and collaborations, Food Chain. ITNA is already proving to be a welcome force in the publishing world for queer writers, giving further testament to Stoddard’s indomitable work ethic and perseverance to get atypical fiction published in a culture that doesn’t often give such work the platform it deserves.
We got in touch with Chris to ask him a few questions about future plans for ITNA Press, his own writing process, and why telling the darker side of LGBTQI experiences is equally as important as telling the light.
How did ITNA Press start? ITNA Press started with Satanica — a one-issue magazine that artist Gio Black Peter and I released in December 2012. We wanted to showcase our kind of artists and writers: a supremely talented group whose work is often considered overly transgressive for mainstream audiences. After that, I finished writing my second novel Limiters, and rather than going through the publisher of my first novel White, Christian, or submitting the manuscript elsewhere, I decided to release the book under my own imprint, alongside other authors whose work I admire.
ITNA publishes work that’s deemed “too provocative for the mainstream.” How do you define provocative works in the context of ITNA’s vision and what about that work appeals to you? Why do you feel works that push boundaries — sexual or otherwise — are important? Well, I wouldn’t immediately equate the word provocative with sex. There are a wide variety of provocative subjects in literature that appeal to me. My tastes range anywhere from a novel about drug addiction and inner city poverty to a book about the eccentric, incestuous rich. The first three titles out by ITNA all have alternative gay similarities. However, the next ITNA books may highlight other underrepresented groups.
Were there any books you read in the past that inspired ITNA’s vision for uncompromising literature? Or was the lack of more controversial works what inspired you more? It was the latter — seems the gay presses are suddenly only interested in publishing books about assimilation and those that promote heteronormative values. I wanted to share stories about other aspects of gay life, as difficult as they are to digest.
Considering the numerous pitfalls the publishing industry has faced over the last decade or so, what has been the most difficult aspect of starting up ITNA Press so far? I’d say working on the business side overall has been difficult for me. With the exception of one very part-time assistant and a few freelance editors, I’ve done everything myself. For the industry as a whole, I think the larger publishing houses’ difficulties stem from profit loss, but I didn’t start ITNA Press to make money.
Are you considering electronic publishing for ITNA Press? Why or why not? Yes, we are already doing this. Two of our three titles are available on Nook, Kindle and iBook, but I’ll never just publish in that format. Readers will always want to hold a book in their hands, myself included.
Kyle’s journey in Limiters is realistic in that many LGBTQI teens who run away from unsafe homes look for a new family wherever they can find it, often winding up in dangerous situations as a result. Why do you think telling Kyle’s story is important for queer readers in 2014? On Facebook I often find viral videos and articles about parents and teammates who are understanding when a teen comes out, which are great and inspiring, but not the whole story. Even if a kid is accepted when he comes out, there is still a long journey that happens beforehand. I wanted to show a boy’s maturation into adulthood in the direst of circumstances — dark childhood experiences that inhibit many of us from having healthy relationships or coming to terms with our sexuality. This is especially relevant today for teens in Russia and states in the US that have passed anti-gay laws.
You’ve mentioned that nihilism plays a big part in the content of your novels, and Limiters reflects that with unflinching, often brutal honesty. Did you ever find it difficult writing some of the darker moments in the novel? Some of it was certainly difficult to write. I connect quite strongly with the protagonist because his story triggers memories of my own adolescence, and while I believe in the sensibility of the book and the messaging behind it, it can be hard to swallow.
Do you write with an audience in mind? Is there someone you hope to reach with a novel like Limiters? I don’t have an audience in mind when I write. I do it more for myself and what I need to get out of my head at the time. But sometimes I get letters from readers who’ve connected with my work, and it gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing others can relate to it — even if it’s just one person.
What’s your favorite gay novel or author? What are you reading now? I’m just finishing up Against Marriage by the underground literary great Bruce Benderson. And my favorite gay novel is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. It’s one of the most honest depictions of our bouts with love and experience, so often overlooked because of our sudden need to adapt to the fantasy of heteronormativity. But stories like these need to be told and acknowledged, too.
Are there any upcoming books or projects ITNA will be publishing that we should be on the lookout for? Yes! TBA mid-summer!
To order books from ITNA Press or submit your own manuscript, visit their website here.
A guide for Artsluts in NYC
Turn around and you will hear the whisper of an ancient queer telling you the time has come to change the tide and make a run for the future blossoming with brilliant colors in a trippy week waiting for you to discover.
Listen to your W33kly mix on Soundcloud by A Village Raid – Never Too Old 13 Final Mix.
HOT FRUIT @ METROPOLITAN (559 LORIMER ST.) One of our favorite bartenders, Pietro is having a bday and David Sokolowski is pulling out SHOWS to celebrate! URIEL, His Unbearable Beauty and bartenders Pietro and Daniel themselves will give you performances that are sure to start your week on a trippy happy wave. DJ Sokolowski and Econ spin house beats all night long while Ethan Weinstock‘s visuals transform the space. 10:00PM, FREE!
BATHSALTS @ DON PEDRO (90 MANHATTAN AVE.) Did you know that if you measured all of the cut off foreskin from all the circumcised men in the world, that it would reach from Don Pedro to LA and back? RuPaul’s Drag Race at 10:00PM, Salty Talk at 11:30PM, BathSalts at 12:00PM. Starring Macy Rodman and Severely Mame with a special live performance by Mat Kestella and MOAR. 10:00PM, FREE!
absentMINDER @ THE MELLOW PAGES LIBRARY (56 BOGART ST. 1S) Its officially the future. Absent Mindr is a poetry chapbook by Tommy Pico and the first one made into an APP for iphones/ipads and such–which you can download from yor friendly neighborhood App store starting April 15th. The launch party will showcase some of Tommy’s favorite writers: Max Steele, Maud Deitch, Lauren Wilkinson, Sean H. Doyle ++ Tommy will read a poem at the end and maybe shotgun a pizza pie. 7:30PM, FREE!
RITUAL @ TANDEM (236 TROUTMAN ST.) MILF episode. The sensational Manifestiny Squirts’ monthly Bushwick drag show featuring performances by Annie Witch-Way, Boy Georgia, Chris of Hur, Nicholas Gorham and Viva Bodyroll. Riki Razo and BCALLA will serve you witchy beats until you find that hot older “lady” to take home and worship. 11:00PM, FREE!
WESTGAY @ THE WESTWAY (75 CLARKSON ST.) We are so pumped for our sister #GIANT Will Sheridan’s first official performance at Westgay! She’s been hosting the fuck outta the place for months and now we invite you to join the court of tranimals as will assemble to serve “sex on a platter” and so much more. Internet sensation Fly Young Red will also perform. DJs Jon Jon Battles and Michael Magnan will keep you dancing all night long. 10:00PM, $5 BEFORE MIDNIGHT.
END OF THE HUMAN RACE RIOT @ LA GROTTA BJ Dini is presenting the first cut of a new film he is very excited to share. Featuring performances by a slew of friends and nightlife creatures, the film explores BJ’s vision of the future while deconstructing civilization, gentrification and the cosmos. The screening is also a celebration of BJ’s birthday and a farewell fundraiser for the provocative artist who will be leaving the city for awhile. 8:00PM, SUGGESTED DONATION.
SCREAM QUEEN @ DON PEDRO (90 MANHATTAN AVE.) Severely Mame’s very own American horror story is Carrie-ing this week with a screening of the classic Stephen King horror tale. Shows by Mame, Macy Rodman, Mark Dommu and more follow once the witching hour has struck. 10:00PM, FREE!
FULL MOON SHOW @ LA MAMA ETC (74 A EAST 4TH ST.) In this homage to the moon goddess Luna Macaroona on the occasion of the April Full Pink Moon, AUNTS presents a stellar lineup of performances and a touch of mayhem. Featuring appearances by Lumberob, Brooke O’Harra and Sharon Hayes, Diana Y. Greiner and Heidi Dorow, Stan Baker “The Human Television,” Salley May, Antonio Ramos and The Gang Bangers, Matt Romein, Chris Tyler (who we can tell you will be deconstructing RENT the musical), Katy Pyle, The Impact Addict, and video tributes by Love Everyone Movement and Becca Blackwell. 10:00PM, $15.
DRAGNET @ METROPOLITAN (559 LORIMER ST.) Hooray it’s the 2 year anniversary of Merrie Cherry’s monthly Drag Competition! She’s premiering a new “performing art collective” with her sisters Horrochata and Untitled Queen called TURNTUP TRIFECTA and that has us intrigued. Also performing are seasoned Brooklyn queens Darrell Thorne, Miz Jade, Minnie Cupcakes, Aja Nicole Marie, Elle Emenope, Lady Simon, Charlene Issa Israel and much more. Beats by Jessamess. 11:00PM, FREE.
WITCH CAMP @ THE WILD PROJECT (195 EAST 3RD ST.) Amber Martin and Nath Ann Carrera transport you through drop-off, Learning Yurts and beyond, while ridding the room of chode intentions! Grab your baggie full of hair and your black latex glove and gather around the fireside for a battle cry against the patriarchal rape heads in this ONGOING inquisition! We saw this show a few months ago and were blown away by these extremely talented performers as they are both ridiculous and completely serious at the same time. 8:00PM, $15.
FANCY @ THE HO_SE (28 LAWTON ST.) Shane Shane’s basement arty party is back and this edition is super STUDLY, so get your chaps dry-cleaned or whatever the fuck you need to do to clean cum out of leather. Performances by Big Huge, Adrienne Anenome, Pearl Hunter and Tom Barranca, with a sneak preview of The Hussy’s new music video ‘Studs in Love.’ 9:00PM, $6.
DIZZYLAND @ THE SPECTRUM (59 MONTROSE AVE.) WHEN A GIRL WALKS IN WITH AN ITTY BITTY WAIST AND A ROUND THING’S IN YOUR FACE YOU GET #SPRUNG. Trey La Trash’s monthly is getting extra #turnt to celebrate the beginning of spring, so wear as little as possible (it get’s hot in that little mirrored room, girl!) and enjoy performances and music by BOYWOLF, Rify Royalty, G H O U L S, Poolboy92, Lady Miaou, Mind Dynamics and many more. 10:00PM, $5 BEFORE MIDNIGHT, $10 AFTER.
PSYCHIC SPRING @ MISTER ROGERS (231 ROGERS AVE.) Caling all Queerdos, Faeries, Freaks, Soul Searchers and Cosmic Travelers: Paul Leopold and David Sokolowski compel you to awaken the dawn of our dreams! In an expansive symphony of vibrations carefully selected by some of Brooklyn’s most robust DJs and paired in tag-team duos with 2-hour sets, this party will give you the freshest incremental sonic experience of the season featuring DJ Sokolowski + Mikey Hefez, JLamar + JX Cannon, Jacky Sommer + Vivian Baron and Riki Razo + A Village Raid. There are so many hosts we can’t name them all here but rest assured EVERYBOOTY will be there. Psychedelic portals to the unknown will be opened and explored through special light installations, moments of spoken word and inspired physical actions facilitated by Paul Leopold and his performance group DESCENT. The bar will go beyond the basics with a specialty cocktails, telepathic treats and late-night libations. Skylights will illuminate the morning glow as we usher in the HIGH HOLY DAZE. 11:00PM, $8 ADVANCE, $12 DOOR.
420 @ THE SPECTRUM (59 Montrose Ave.) Assuming you haven’t slept since Thursday night and you’ve just ate some kinda mushroom and you’re mind is feeling, well, ya know… there is a place to go… Bearcat invites you for “green tea” at The Spectrum. Featuring music by Calore, Sexoesthetic, A Village Raid, Sadaf and Dreamboat Crusaderz there will be hot dagz and faerie cake. 2:00PM, $10.
Last Sunday I did something I haven’t done on a Sunday in a long while: I partied hard. I don’t know what came over me, I guess ‘cos I didn’t go out on Saturday night, I thought, fuck it, let’s just pretend I can sleep in tomorrow! I remember at one point during the evening I started to freak out a little thinking about getting up early for work the next day. Then I thought whatevs, you could have a heart attack (that’s one of my big fears) at any moment, so you might as well enjoy the night. The next day I was a mess, but it was worth it. It was a great night, with great friends. Which is all a long winded way of saying that you should go out this Sunday night. Tell that pesky voice in your head to go eat a bag of dicks and go live a little. Here’s where you’ll be. Sloan Morgan, and Westgay’s Frankie Sharp, are joining forces to create a new party called SUNDAY at Maison O. There’s a lot going on at this thing so bare with me. At 7:00PM join friends for Linner upstairs — grab a bite, and settle in for dining room performances by Coby Koehl, plus the incredibly funny Bridget Everett. Downstairs at 10:00PM Frankie takes over with a “full on rage” called ‘Frankie’s Kansas City’ with Good Kids & Lady Starlight DJing along with William Francis. It goes till 4:00AM, which you may, or may not make it till. Either way you should be there — trust me you’ll remember the night way more than the hangover.
Oh the 80’s, it was a time of casual racism, blatant homophobia, and only 4 channels on TV, but boy did people have a good time! The coke was uncut and flowing freely. People didn’t have smartphones, so distractions we’re kept to a minimum — if you were at a party, you were there to party. Solid Gold was a syndicated music TV show that ran from 1980-1988. It was sparkly, campy and everyone on it looked like they were high as fuck. This Saturday night Casey Spooner is going to try and replicate the heady days of Solid Gold with a one night only celebration for his friend Hans Dorsinville (who’s celebrating his 45th birthday, pictured). It’s a “gold themed spectacular with 2 performances, 10 Broadway dancers” plus special guest host Shequida. Music is by DJs Adam Dugas, Lauren Flax and Gavin Russom. The performances are choreographed by Benoit-Swan Pouffer, with stage and costumes by the sexy Dominican Renato Dicent. It’s free, but you must RSVP to HD45solidgold@gmail.com. Expect one “crazy over the top dance party and a crazy recreation of Solid Gold.” Call your dealer ASAP!
A bi-annual publication that documents the Black Gay Community
The Company is celebrating their anniversary with some new work
Stephen Petronio has run his dance company for thirty years — no small feat in the demanding world of dance. We were fortunate enough to attend the stellar gala celebrating this momentous anniversary at the Joyce Theatre with a program that featured a new solo performce by Petronio called ‘Stripped‘ set to Philip Glass‘s Etude No. 5 with a costume intervention by artist Janine Antoni who sewed silk ties end to end that were wrapped around Petronio’s head then systematically unwrapped. For this piece, “Mr. Petronio loads himself with 30 gestures as well as a series of emotional states some recalled from his youth and with these materials he enacts his choreographic process onstage” — to great effect I may add.
Also on the bill is Petronio’s piece from 1999 ‘Strange Attractors Part l‘ a classic of sorts in it’s tension between chaos and order as well as the world premiere of ‘Locomotor‘ which is all about moving backwards — literally. The piece, which incorporates dancers moving backwards at break neck speeds with searing elan, has an original score by electronic/hip hop innovator Clams Casino and costumes by Narciso Rodriguez, with a peek-a-boo back. This collaboration works seamlessly as most of Petronio’s do, I say Bravo and look forward to thirty more years!
Remaining performances for this week are Friday, 11th, Saturday, 12th at 8:00PM and Sunday, 13th at 2:00PM & 7:30PM. Joyce Theatre, 175 Eighth Ave. NY, NY. Click here for tickets.
We’ve missed the first 5 weeks of Mx. Justin Vivian Bond’s new show The Drift, which V created with Scott Wittman and Matt Ray. This is the last week of the six show run at Joe’s Pub and we are excited to be able to finally take it all in. The show is a “new, free associative, collage of spoken word and song inspired by The story of Karen Stone, a retired actress who drifts from one space to another — either in her mind, in couture or in bed.” JVB wrote the show, or at least planned it out, in an unexpected way: “I was feeling bored, uninspired and depressed. So I came home and began to look through notes and ideas I had been collecting for years and years: snippets of books, favorite quotations, poems, unfinished lyrics… I let my mind drift from one glittering bread crumb I’d left for myself to another until I’d written the show.” We don’t care how you did it JVB, we’re just glad you did. See you this Friday.
An interview with the Artist/Curator Robert W. Richards
The exhibition Stroke: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Walls on view at Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art until May 25th, is a spectacular show of “erotic illustrations by 25 artists who made work for gay male magazines from the 1950s to the 1990s.” We were lucky enough to have a sit down interview with Robert W. Richards, the artist/curator of the exhibition. Here’s what he had to say.
Where are you from? Originally many moons ago, I’m from Maine. The southern part of Maine. Between Ogunquit and Kennebunkport, but inland. No glamour at all. Actually it was the coast. I left home very young. I was about 15.
So you moved to New York. I moved to Boston. I went to school there and then came to New York in the 60’s.
When did you first start drawing? I never didn’t draw. I always drew. I was one of those kids that stayed by themselves you know. It was either go out and play sports or stay home and color. So I stayed home and colored.
What was the subject matter of your earlier work? My very earliest work was fashion and I did fashion big time. Right up until the mid 70’s. Then I just didn’t want to do it anymore because by that time, it involved traveling a great deal. You know it was a circuit, Paris, London, Rome, Milan, Los Angeles, New York. Which was okay for awhile, it was fun but then when all the couture houses began doing ready-to-wear, they had two showings a year. So it was Paris Paris, Rome Rome, London London, and you were just never home and you lose track of yourself. You know, you meet friends on the street and they say, “Oh, you’re in town!” You say, “well I do live here,” but after awhile you realize you have to be in one place. I mean you can travel, but not 30 weeks a year.
How did you get involved curating this exhibition Stroke? After I left the fashion thing, I wanted to draw men. So I started drawing for the magazines that are in Stroke.
What magazines were they? Mandate, Honcho, Torso, Manshots, All Man, Advocate Men, all of them. I did up until, when the VHS came in — the videotape, the magazines started failing. Then when DVD came in, it got worse. Then when porn became available on the computer, there was no need for the magazines so they just died, which was okay. You know I had a long run. I paid my rent off with them for many years and it was fine. But from the 90’s on, all this great work by these great artists was forgotten and that really bothered me because I think people began to think that these magazines were just trash. Some were and some weren’t. But all these great artists like Antonio [Lopez], Mel Odem, Richard Rosenfeld, Benôit Prévot, all had this huge body of work and I just decided I wanted to show them. I’m on the board of Leslie Lohman, so I went to the board and I made this proposal. At first they were a little “iffy,” because they thought it was going to be a jerk-off show, which I assure you as you have seen it, it is not. It’s a beautiful show.
It’s Stunning. Thank you. Beautiful work by great artists. So that was 4 years ago that I made the proposal, so it’s been in the back of my head for all this time. And then for the last year I worked on it literally every day, because I had to find this work and I knew where to find a lot of it because I was contemporary with a lot of these people and they were still in my life. The ones that were dead, I kind of knew who had the estate. The others I just hunted down. Families were not cooperative — the artwork was under the bed in a box until that day when they decide to throw it out. In hunting I found collectors who had a lot of this stuff, so that’s how I found it. That’s my involvement in Stroke. It’s commitment really. I mean I’m barely in the show myself. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a show of my own some day, I’ve had many shows of my own but you know what I mean. It’s not about me, I only have that Toby drawing in there, because that’s the boy I created for Torso.
The guy with the long hair? Yeah, who had adventures every month and I just used that, when I do tours of the show, which I do every Saturday and Sunday from 3-5. It gives me something — just another dimension that was in the magazines because people forget it wasn’t all just boys in beige living rooms, with a hard on and a plant in the corner. There was a lot more at one time, it devolved to that. It devolved to whoever was making a movie took stills for the magazines, and no longer did shoots at the end.
So what was the criteria for choosing which artist to show? Quality. Quality was the only criteria. Absolutely. Beauty, real art, real drawing, real painting. Real quality work. A lot of it was junk and I didn’t want junk. As a matter of fact we’ve gotten a book deal on ‘Stroke.’ I can’t give you any details but we are going to expand, it’s great. It’ll be a good book. There’s never been a book that examined these artists.
Are you drawn to any artist’s work in the show specifically? Do I have favorites? Yeah. Of course. Antonio [Lopez], actually that’s an interesting little tidbit because Antonio was the reason I didn’t want to do fashion anymore, because when Antonio came in, I knew that the next generation belonged to him and that I was the previous generation. It was time to go. Plus as I said, I wanted to draw men. I wanted to draw people, not people in clothes necessarily but I wanted emotion in my drawings. I wanted people without clothes. Where the issue was with clothes. So of course Antonio remains despite the fact that he pitched me out of the business, he remains still an idol of mine. Richard Rosenfeld who is a professor, at both F.I.T. and Parsons, those are my two favorites of the show. Mel Odem of course, the great Mel Odem, who is more famous for the work he did with Playboy and Time Magazine, because he did several Time Magazine covers. But he still did this, and I knew it.
Whose work do you feel you were influenced by, if you were to look back? Primarily a great fashion illustrator who is no longer with us, named Kenneth Paul Block. That was what I aspired to but I was also very influenced by music and other things — you know I was a kid from a small town in Maine, and to aspire to be in fashion is a little ridiculous. I was very influenced by fashion magazines. That was what I wanted. Some of it I got. Obviously I didn’t get Architectural Digest (laughs).
Can you talk about the significance of the title, the part that says “from under the mattress to the museum walls”? Because for many men, these magazines were all they had to relate to, that was gay. They would go out for the evening to a bar, to a movie or whatever and if things didn’t go their way, whatever they desired, these magazines were a very nice “date” that you could stop at the newsstand and buy, because they were distributed everywhere. The smallest towns, had these magazines and the problem was people were afraid to buy them in their own neighborhoods because they knew the drugstore guy or the newsstand guy, so they didn’t. They went across town or stole them. Which was my method (laughs), or I would buy Vogue, tuck Physique Pictorial into it, pay fast and run, I probably did this two or three times. I had to do it.
Why were you into those magazines? Desire. It’s a part of your sexuality, I’d wanted those magazines, and like everybody else I hid them. So that’s the “under the mattress,” that became a cliché — under my mattress. It’s a big journey this year, at this particular moment in gay history, for these magazines to make that journey from under the mattress to the walls of what’s now a very prestigious museum.
You mean the show at MOCA and the Leslie Lohman show. MOCA of course.
There was also a show at the NYU gallery, the Bob Mizer show. And MOMA has the Tom of Finland, but they didn’t buy them, they were donated, under condition that they’d show them, and they showed two. But if you’ve seen the show, there’s a Tom of Finland of a guy getting fucked and he’s sucking a cock, that was of course necessary to show some of that material. But strangely Huffington Post did a great piece on “Stroke”, and they showed 8 images, and they printed that one, and I thought “This is great, we are pioneers.” So, I’m not saying our problems as gay men are solved, but we are making strides in imposing our desire and taste on people. And that’s the mission of “Stroke” to free people and to realize that we’ve always produced wonderful work.
That’s very inspiring to see, all the wonderful work together in one room. How do you think the viewing experience differs from a more mature viewer to a younger one? I think there are definite differences, I think older gay men are more interested in what I just described, sexual acts being portrayed. The older men are still interested in the bad boy aspect of it. The look, “I’m here in this gallery, and I’m looking at men fucking, and sucking, and having sex.” Young boys have had access to this since they learned how to turn on a computer, so it’s a very different thing. So young boys want to see the line quality, they want to see the design quality, they want to see how the drawing is positioned on the paper, they are interested in it as art already. We are not having to sell them that aspect of it. A lot of people will be disappointed it isn’t more of a jerk-off show, but it isn’t, and I’m hoping that some of the museum aspect will rub off on those who come to see a sex show. You can see a sex show at home and you can also see a lot of the more graphic artists like The Hun and Etienne, the ones that do have very graphic pieces in the show, I mean my god you can see stuff that would curl your hair.
What pornographic materials did you use to masturbate when you were young? The ones I’ve described, because that’s all there was. I mean that was it. If there had been DVD. If I had the money, and a television set, and a place to watch it, certainly. But it was fine, I think that, for the men of my generation, a couple generations really, these magazines taught us to use our imaginations. Like reading porn fiction taught you to visualize and by the time this other stuff came, you were kind of okay, it wasn’t as thrilling as the magazines had been because it wasn’t as forbidden.
Yeah the magazines are a treat.