Archive for the ‘queer’ Category

Ooops; I forgot to blog, my bad.

November 26, 2008
MILk - Sean Penn as the Milk Man

MILk - Sean Penn as the Milk Man

Argh; I haven’t written anything for the longest time.

It is an annoying irony of blogging – and diaries in general – that the more you do, the less time you have to document it.

I have been busy every single night this week – and actually was double booked for tonight – so freaked out and stayed at home. (Well, kinda – I visited an old friend and went to Pogo for a Punk burger.)

Yesterday I saw Lemon Tree, the uber-PC Israeli film that launched the UK Jewish film festival here last week and on Monday I saw Gus Van Sant’s MILK. MILK is awesome; so fucking ripe what with all this Prop 8 bullshit.

MILK - getting the campaign started

MILK - getting the campaign started


Sean Penn is totally great in it; and I hate Penn as much as anyone else with a sense of humour. But, then again, he did made Vedder-fest, Into The Wild and he and I seem to love Emile Hirsch (now that’s a decent German name) as much as each other so I guess I was starting to give the guy another go.
But, seriously, he’s wonderful as Harvey Milk – totally charming, cute, passionate, dedicated to his righteous cause.

Old skool womens Mag

Women's Mags; they'll make you fat and lonely

Spare Rib - awesome!

Spare Rib - awesome!

Erm, what else have I done? Oh yes – Saturday I went to the Woman’s Library in Whitechapel as my friend had put my name down for the Study Day about woman’s magazine through the ages.

It was SO great to be in an academic setting, talking seriously about pop culture. I miss that! And, the best thing? All the ‘old women’ and Sue O’Sullivan (co-editor of Spare Rib 1979 to 1984).

Seriously, I’m 24, and I was like, the youngest. I was so enthused to see and meet these retired women who although over 60, were lecturers, private tutors or studying themselves.

Every coffee break (NB – good biscuits) saw me meet another amazing woman, inlcuding a member of DIVA’s editorial team (deffo below 60) and a cognitive therapist (over 60.)

NOVA

NOVA

I was also introduced to NOVA magazine – old issues of which look totally cutting edge even today.

Anyway, more about that later – I’m going to watch Gregg Araki‘s TOTALLY FUCKED UP now and I can’t wait – even though it’s really bed time…

Totally Fucked UP - Pecadillo Pictures

Totally Fucked UP - Pecadillo Pictures

Novice Theory on Jools Holland

November 1, 2008

Thanks to Owen for flagging up the fact that my new favourite musician, Novice Theory was on Jools Holland’s tv programme last night, and will be on Iplayer for a week.

Geo Wyeth on Jools

Geo Wyeth on Jools

On a line-up that included Grace Jones and Razorlight (!), Geo Wyeth played ‘About The Dream’ in a darkened studio with just a spotlight. After his performance, Jools said his producer had seen Novice Theory ina  show recently (‘Lustre’, obviously) and have been so blown away they’d booked him for the programme.

Props to the Jools producers!

Geo starts to sing

Geo starts to sing

Justin Bond’s ‘Lustre’ and Novice Theory in London

October 15, 2008
Justin Bond in New York I presume

Justin Bond

The hubby and I braved the pesky rain to get our fix of transvestite cabaret, courtesy of Justin Bond and pals at the Soho Theatre last night.

Justin Bond, one half of Kiki and Herb, first entered my radar (gaydar?) thanks to John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus. (see video clip here).

He played the madam of this wild DUMBA sex-den which allowed people to get their freakiest of freaks on, while he match-made and sang.

he’s great. Kinda mistake-laden, he nevertheless sang with feeling, gave some cracking insights into her world (“trans people are the closes thing to God because of their potential to be anything”) and reminded me of the difficulty in climbing on a piano elegantly in a mini-skirt when you don’t want anyone to see your crotch.

But it was Novice Theory who blew me the fuck out of my seat and into his arms. Creaking down the theatre’s stairway, accordion in hand and ripped, Oliver Twist-style suit.

Novice Theory is the first of three guests that fill Bond’s Lustre show, and I hadn’t realised they were all trans.

After the show, I bought his CD for a fiver (I never do that!), so smitten was I with his one song, ‘About The Dream’.

The song – pure vocal prowess and accordion made me think of one of my fave films of 2007, Into The Wild (almost ruined by Eddy Vedder’s gross soundtrack) and Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006). The forlorn lyrics, his disheveled alter-ego lost-boy look and the pure acoustics (no mics, just squeezebox and voice) would have been a perfect addition to Into The Wild‘s soundtrack.

Emile Hirsch - Into The Wild

Emile Hirsch - Into The Wild

To see how versatile his style is see The D Word’s three tracks – they couldn’t be more different from the album, ‘In The End We Listen’ which is what I bought and is on his myspace.

He’s a video from Homophonic, talking about Viktor Shklovsky and art as interruption. I can’t embed it so I’ll drive traffic to Homophonic’s site. It’s a really great video.

Novice Theory - H/she misses rap, but his/her accordion playing rules

Novice Theory - H/she misses rap, but his/her accordion playing rules

Oh – and interestingly, Yale-educated Geo Wyeth (aka Novice Theory, former rapper turned everything else really), is also ‘bi-racial’ as his ma was African-American and his dad was white. (I wonder if he’s also Jewish, due to his song Yom Kippur on the album.)

Anyway, in the above video, he discusses it all. It’s a rare example of an in-depth interview and the goddamn opposite of what I had with Joanus Cuaron the other day.

Except that after a great interview, I’ve just noticed that in a performance of the song Vignettes, the bleep out the lyric ‘nigger‘, which is totally unacceptable. You can’t mess with the dude’s art!

Here’s some WAY different recordings of him: http://www.thedword.com/geo.html

Midnight Movies at the Curzon Soho – John Waters’ CRY BABY

September 28, 2008
Cry Baby (1990)

Cry Baby (1990)

The midnight movie, mainstay of the American alternative scene in 1970s has all but dried up.

I mean, there are pockets of witching hour showings like this one, but in England it’s seen an a tribute to an American way of life, where the public transport doesn’t stop when when the moon comes out.. (or indeed, to a country where the car is king).

With the internet facilitating The Long Tail, whereby any film (and pretty much anything you desire) can be summoned at your convenience because alt. items are no longer priced out of business due to not selling enough in addition to high store rents (the flat-earth the net created means your bedroom can be your warehouse) , we can see any blockbuster or almost as easily as we can see re-runs of an old show (hello, my so-called life) as well as an indie no-budget flick.

 

my so-called life

my so-called life

However, as of the start of September, the Curzon cinema in Soho has just breathed life into the midnight movie, and was last Friday showing John Waters’ CRY BABY. Horray!

So after that BUCk think (see previous post), I headed to Shaftesbury Avenue only to spot bookworm comedian Robin Ince lurking outside the cinema.

I perused the DVDs inside while I waited for the hubby to turn up after Critical Mass. (Apparently it was super-aggressive this month, following last month’s over-zealous police activity, this month saw no police turnout but a lot of angry cabs and camera-stealing kids, says he.)

Anyway, he arrived with but minutes to spare so we got inside (he loaded with popcorn) and, after a so-so intro from Ince, who’s choice the screening of Cry Baby was, settled down to watch one of the world’s silliest musicals.

Interesting fact alert: The guy and girl behind the Curzon’s midnight movie screenings apparently make no money from it, and are just doing it outta love. Yay! Love!

They had lined the cinema’s walls with pics of Johnny Depp (below) photoshopping his head into a cutesy pink heart. (On the way out, we stole one we we now have a heart-shaped Johnny crying at us from our bedroom wall….)

Johnny Depp as Cry Baby - he knows how hot he is

Johnny Depp as Cry Baby - he knows how hot he is

The next midnight movie takes place on halloween, and is an all night screening of Scream, Blacula Scream with others and brekkie in the morning!

 

Scream Blacula Scream - blaxploitation at midnight!

Scream Blacula Scream - blaxploitation at midnight!

New Queer Cinema; My Own Private Idaho to The Living End

September 23, 2008
Where are they today? Wooden actors Craig Gilmore and  Mike Dytri in The Living End (1992)

Where are they today? Wooden actors Craig Gilmore and Mike Dytri in The Living End (1992)

So, as I said, I like (really like) John Waters’ movies, but not as much as I like him and the ephemera that goes around midnight movies, dressing up, having bad taste-themed parties.

A far more moving piece of indie queer cinema that I watched recently was L.A Times reviewer-turned film-maker (only in Hollywood, huh), Gregg Araki’s The Living End (1992) which is getting a UK DVD re-release soon.

Clearly taking its ideas from Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho which came out the previous year (1991) and John Waters’ own silly melodrama, it may take someone watching it for the first time in 2008 a little bit of time to take seriously.

It did me. Like, after the ridiculous scene were hustler, Luke narrowly escapes being shot in the head by two OTT lesbians in the make of their cherry-red topless car and then when he again narrowly escapes being bludgeoned with a meat cleaver by the wife of the man who was, for that night, his John (see here for through description of the word in the sexual sense) , I was like ‘ARGH. THIS IS SO STUPID. GAYS DESERVE BETTER – HECK, WE ALL DO.’

But then, you know, it got kinda good. And, though I haven’t seen My Own Private Idaho for a good long while (and whenever I see it am always dissatisfied), I think I may even prefer it!

River Phoenix as Mike Waters in My Own Private Idaho

River Phoenix as Mike Waters in My Own Private Idaho

I feel a bit scandalous saying that since as a girl who became a teen in the nineties, I am of course still besotted with River Phoenix. The link above offers quite a good opening para about the film and how crucial River and Keanu Reeves are to any modern day readings of it.

Marianna Martin says:

Let’s acknowledge up front that, no matter how hard we strive to focus on directorial matters, the star personas of River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves must come to the forefront of any discussion of My Own Private Idaho, and we might as well let them do so rather than prevaricating uncomfortably. Idaho is a key film in understanding these two actors’ careers. In the years following Idaho, Keanu Reeves went on to become Neo and die for our sins in The Matrix, and River Phoenix simply died, overdosing two years later in a Hollywood club. His star image is forever frozen in the “live fast, die young” mode, placing him alongside James Dean, but that is far from all the two young stars from different decades had in common. In 1991, at the time of Idaho’s release, it was still no small matter for a male star to “play gay” in a film, and a great deal of press was generated by the “controversial” and “courageous” choice by these rising young actors to play gay hustlers. The “official” story, as propagated by those involved in the production, was that Reeves and Phoenix were such good, professionals that they were able to artistically transcend the nature of these characters so alien to their true selves, as is often hyped about performances by versatile actors.

Ewww. I just realised that though I’m a year older than River was when he died, I have still never done a speedball in a Johnny Depp-owned club. Sigh. (Bad taste? You decide)

Anyway, The Living End ends brilliantly; after a long, dusty road trip involving two godforsaken guys that appears to be going nowhere (and isn’t that the point), you’d hardly be surprised should the movie fizzle out and the camera stays still as the boys just keep driving, or crash or something.

But not this one – on a Californian beach with the pink sun setting around them, the two Aids-carrying lovers lie down together. One ties the other up, pulls down his pants and rapes him, while holding a cocked gun in his mouth. The idea being, he’ll blow himself up as he cums.

And he tries, but….well that’s more than enough spoilers for one blog post. But seriously, check it out on its re-release. It’s not perfect but it’s now, what, like 17 years old and a bona fide piece of movie history.

Now, after seeing Kalin’s Savage Grace earlier in the year, I just need to see Swoon, which wikipedia tells me is as important as any Araki movie.

The Living End (again)

The Living End (again)

Ooh and read Mark Adnum’s piece about new queer cinema – it’s interesting!

Eau de Toilette – John Waters delights at the Hammersmith Apollo, with ‘This Filthy World’

September 21, 2008
Divine!

Divine!

Last night the hubby and I went to see ‘pope of Trash’. John Waters in his one-off show at the Hammersmith Apollo – horrible place. We dressed up in our finest (me in 1960s’ Wednesday Adams/American Gothic dress and he in what I refer to as his psycho-cowboy shirt) and ate greasy chips as we headed to the tube.

I didnt look like this but thought this unusual take on the trad American Gothic picture was too good to pass up

I didn't look like this but thought this 'unusual' take on the trad American Gothic picture was too good to pass up

After a long trek from south London to the far reaches of West London (as cyclists, we cannot understand how the tube takes so long to get where its going, or rather, sometimes going), we had to risk life and limb to actually enter the Apollo since it sits obtusely behind a fly-over with little pedestrian access).

But Waters, well, he lit it up. We were very lucky to have been donated super good seats, so we got to see him and opening burlesque act, Ivy Paige’s Sex Doll up close and sweaty. Paige particularly.

Ivy Paige likes it red hot

Ivy Paige likes it red hot

Note to self (and nutritionists): Does Waters, at 60-whatever years if age even have enough body fat to survive sweating any out?

Anyway, from what I understand he regurgitated a lot of his ‘This Filthy World’ act on stage – he made a movie with Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin, which documented the same stage show in New York in 2006.

But no matter, while die-hard fans are going to O.D on Waterisms, there’s little harm in being exposed to outré snippets of wit consistently is there?

And while I like his movies (though some parts of Desperate Living are too terrible to take), I actually think he’s far funnier in person than his films end up being.

Desperate Living

Desperate Living

Obviously, stylishly unsurpassed and always ‘button-pressing’, I sometimes find all the hyped-garishness off-putting. It took me a long time before I would watch the unashamedly camp Hairspray (1988) – and not least because I was four when it came out.

I fought my friends arguments as to its merits, and eventually watched it one night while my then far-too-old for-me boyfriend was watching straight-edge punk bands while dressed as a women down in Brighton, where he lived/lives.

Debbie Harry holds her own in Hairspray (1988)

Debbie Harry holds her own in Hairspray (1988)

Anyway, I liked it n all but it didn’t affect me as it has done others. I like being part of sub-culture that appreciates what John Waters does, and I very much like his insistence on the ceremony of cinema, like 50’s techniques of employing ODORAMA, or ELECTRIC SHOCKS IN CINEMA SEATS TO TINGLE AUDIENCES, or FAKING FAINTINGS TO HYPE UP A HORROR or GETTING AMBULANCES TO WAIT OUTSIDE etc.

Oh and his soundtracks rule – all creepy 1960s freak-out and sing along tragi-comi melodies (Is there a better genre?)

I’m listening to The Meteors‘ typically haunted copy of John Leyton 1961’s ‘Johnny Remember Me’, –click here for it on youtube – in a kind of homage to the man.

But in terms of queer cinema, I’m like : ‘that was okay’.

John, recently

John, recently

I just found this lovely piece of prose from the New York Times in 2002 which sums up Waters’ snappy humour brilliantly, and what I do love about him. (NB= writer, John Leland even calls Johnny-boy, Mr. Waters throughout! )

It stands to reason that you cannot become John Waters, auteur of such Oscar-free classics as ”Female Trouble” and ”Hag in a Black Leather Jacket,” without drinking long and deep of the cultural gutters of downtown Manhattan. Baltimore may have its gothic charms, but if the Dutch explorers had not settled this other lustrous, grubby isle, the world might never know the cinematic sensation of Odorama.

Mr. Waters offered a tour, beginning in the living room with a witty sculpture by George Stoll. On an ordinary toilet-paper holder, mounted in a wall, Mr. Stoll, who had a small role in Mr. Waters’s 1972 movie ”Pink Flamingos,” replaced the tissue with a roll of chiffon. Mr. Waters needed approval from the condominium to install it. He could only imagine what the super thought.

To facilitate his vision of semi-patrician Manhattan, he hired a Baltimore decorator named Henry Johnson, the first time he had ever used a professional. ”I told him I just wanted a symphony in puke green, and I got it,” Mr. Waters said. He had always considered that his signature color. There’s a slightly different shade in each room.

Mr. Waters explained: ”When I was a child I wanted my skin to be that color, like the Wicked Witch of the West. Now, as I get older, it’s getting close. It’ll match the apartment.’

John Leyton sings Johnny Remember Me: