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‘Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground’: The best book yet on the dawn of punk rock

Early band shot of Blondie

In the now long line of endless punk rock history cash-in books being pumped out from every corner of the world it’s shocking to find the one book that’s not like the others. Paul Zone’s Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground published by Glitterati Inc. is a coffee table book brimming with amazing, unseen photos and the life story of Paul and his brothers Miki Zone and Mandy Zone and their bands The Fast and later, Man 2 Man. What makes this book different is its author and the time frame it takes place in.

There was a short moment when everything was happening at once, no one knew or cared and the only band that had an audience or a record deal was the New York Dolls. As early as 1974 Patti Smith was playing, as was Television, Wayne County, Suicide and Blondie. The Ramones were starting to play at CBGB (opening for a drag show that starred Tomata du Plenty later of Screamers fame), KISS was pretty much in this same scene playing to about five people with many bands like The Planets And Paul’s brothers The Fast were playing alongside of them. At one point, sub-culturally speaking, all the cards were thrown up in the air and no one knew where they were going to land. It was a very small group of friends almost all of whom would, in a few short years, become icons of pop culture,
Johnny Thunders, early 70’s

At the time, Paul Zone was very young. Too young to be in a band, but not too young to see a band or be snuck into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. And not too young to document this exciting time in his life by photographing everything. There are very few photos of this period when punk rock was actually occurring in the midst of the glitter rock scene. When the up and down escalators of rock ‘n’ roll infinity met and EVERYONE was hungry on the way up AND on the way down. There was change in the air, excitement and confusion.

Seeing Alan Vega of Suicide performing in a loft in 1973 with a huge blonde wig and a gold painted face is unbelievable. The years the photos in the book span are 1971 to 1978. Most are snapshots of friends hanging out when everyone was still on the starting line. The Fast were one of the more popular of these bands who let their new friends Blondie and The Ramones open for them in small New York clubs.

Early photos of The Fast show them amazingly in full glitter regalia with KISS-like make up (Miki Zone has a heart painted over one eye, etc.) but this was before KISS! There are a few photos of icons of the time like Alice Cooper (watching cartoons in his hotel room), Marc Bolan, The Stooges, etc. (a good one of KISS with about three people in the audience, as mentioned above). Most are of friends just hanging out, having a ball, not knowing or caring about the future and without that dividing line in music history called “punk rock.” It is truly a treasure to see something this rare, and even better, 99% of these photos have never been seen before.
Wayne County long before becoming Jayne County

By 1976 Paul Zone was old enough to join his brothers and became the lead singer of the version of The Fast that made records. Sadly due to poor management decisions The Fast got left behind that first punk wave and watched as almost all of their buddies become some of the most famous faces in music history. How amazing that all of these people were friends just hanging out, broke and creative going to see each other play, talking shit and influencing each other in ways they didn’t even realize?
Joey Ramone eating dessert at Paul Zone’s parents house at 5 am

Linda Ramone, future design icon Anna Sui, Nick Berlin and me, Howie Pyro (The Blessed) at Coney Island 1978

After a few years of struggling, The Fast trimmed down to just brothers Miki and Paul Zone and some early electronic equipment. They finally let go of the name The Fast and became Man to Man, one of the first Hi-NRG electro dance music groups, recording with the likes of Bobby Orlando and Man Parrish. They had huge hits worldwide and here in dance clubs like “Male Stripper” and “Energy Is Eurobeat,”
Suicide’s Alan Vega, early 70’s

This book is three quarters a photo book and one quarter autobiography, cutting to the point and perfect for this modern, short attention span world. It is packed with so much amazing first hand information in such a short amount of text that no one will be disappointed. Playground was co-written by Jake Austen of Roctober Magazine, with a foreword by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. The book is available here
If you are in the Los Angeles area this Saturday, June 28th, there will be a book release party and photo exhibit (with many of these photos printed HUGE) at Lethal Amounts Gallery at 8 pm.

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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An Old Punk Kicks New Ass: The Bob Mould interview
10:49 am


Boing Boing
Bob Mould

bOING bOING’s David Pescovitz got a chance to interview one of his musical heroes—and that would be none other than Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü fame. They talk guitar gear, gay life, story-telling through music, what inspired his new album and the DIY spirit of punk rock. There are also several musical performances.

For 35 years, Bob Mould has been an icon of punk culture. In 1979, he and Hüsker Dü played their first show, paving the way for Nirvana, The Pixes, Foo Fighters, and really the entire realm of alternative rock. Hüsker Dü burned out in 1987, but Bob kept his creative fire burning, releasing more than a dozen albums as a solo artist and with his beloved 1990s band Sugar. Bob has always followed his own path, taking a brief detour as a writer for World Championship Wrestling, embracing his life as a gay man outed later in life, penning a funny and moving memoir titled See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, playing in the house band for the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and supporting numerous righteous causes at every turn. Everything Bob does, he does on his own terms. He is humble, yet takes his legacy very seriously. He is warm, funny, earnest, and wise and continues to inspire young musicians and artists pushing the limits of independent culture.

On the occasion of this month’s release of his latest album, the majestic Beauty & Ruin, Bob Mould kindly spent a day with Boing Boing to share his songs and stories. We are honored to bring that singular experience to you.

Take it away Pesco and Bob Mould…


Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Bijou’: Wakefield Poole’s pioneering gay art film, a sensual and sensory experience
05:18 pm


Wakefield Poole

Montage in Wakefield Poole's Bijou
The early 1970s was an electric time to be an artist. All of the currents of change and cultural revolution were crackling, helping create a creative atmosphere that was the perfect hothouse to challenge and re-route convention. A filmmaker that emerged in this era that broke ground both for the LGBT community as well as the cinematic community was Wakefield Poole. He’s a southern boy with an enviable resume in the theatre, including working with the Ballet Russe before becoming both a respected choreographer and Theatre director. By 1971, he broke new ground with his film Boys in the Sand, a pioneering explicit gay film that achieved mainstream crossover success and was positively reviewed in Variety. Following up the huge success of Boys, Poole created something truly unexpected, unique and dreamlike. He made Bijou.

Bijou is less of a structured, narrative film and more of a living, breathing sensual and sensory experience. The human center of the film is a young construction worker (Bill Harrison), who looks both masculine and boyish. He finishes his shift and starts to head home. On the way, he ends up seeing a lanky woman (Cassandra Hart) getting hit by a car. Her purse ends up flying in the air near him and impulsively, he grabs it, but not quite for the reasons one would think.
An invitation to Bijou
Instead of dashing for the cash, once home, he examines the contents, all basic items like lipstick and keys, almost like a curious child. Curious is the right word for it since the one unique item he finds is an invitation to a place called “Bijou.” He showers up and heads to this mysterious place. As soon as he arrives, the starkness of the concrete jungle on the outside, not to mention the muted tones of his teensy apartment are replaced with bright, vivid, Italian-style lighting set against black walls. He hands his invite over to a ticket-taker worthy of a Fellini film. He enters the main area.
Get your ticket here
Lit up theatrical style signs instruct him to remove his shoes, then clothing. He is flanked by a Dan Flavin-inspired lighting design, then descends deeper into a surrealistic landscape where sculptures and objects are framed in a way that makes them transformatively huge and take on a new life. He then stumbles upon a nude man, lying face down and supine on the ground. They start to make love. More men enter and instead of the aggressive, slap and tickle orgy antics that such a scenario would normally entail, especially in explicit film, what follows is a sweet, intimate and yet, a 100% artsy experience.

Poole’s theatrical directing background shines sweet and strong. He frames the human body like a trained painter or sculptor. Every physical act is there not so much to arouse pure pleasure, but more to invoke a quizzical but sweet mood. Our protagonist is basically cocooned in a languid landscape of love. Like any proper dream, there are hints of darkness, including one gorgeous, but troubled looking Steve Reeves look-a-like who wanders around brandishing a whip like Chekhov’s gun that never, ever goes off. He never gets directly involved, except at one point loosely wrapping the whip around the lead’s neck. But that never quite goes anywhere, as if the affection of the other men exorcises the violent threat away before it can bloom into anything truly sinister.
Angst with the muscleman.
Poole has very carefully weaved everything together here, with every element, whether it is the lighting, composition, the use of audio (including one of the best incorporation of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” ever) or even the dearth of dialogue, which is basically relegated to the tiny handful of lines the human pastiche ticket taker utters, creating an experience like no other. Even more important, though, is is his body of work, with Bijou being a huge part of the picture. This film was a revelation for the gay community. Gone are the stereotypes, especially the “self-loathing” homosexual and in its place are human beings of different physicalities being expressive in a way that conveys the message that hey, not only is it okay that you are gay but in fact, it is beautiful. This is some life altering and occasionally, life saving, stuff, especially when your realize that the specter of the Stonewall riots were only three years behind the film. Even more importantly is that Bijou was made the year before the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
Reflection and Self Love in Bijou
Luckily, Bijou has recently gotten a very nice DVD release courtesy of the great folks over at Vinegar Syndrome. The print looks lovely and there are some terrific extras, with the absolute highlight being a director’s commentary with Poole himself. He reveals himself to be incredibly sharp, funny and quite warm. Hearing him talk about how he intentionally crafted Bijou to be obtuse, leaving everything wide open for any and all interpretation, is a gem. There are no right and wrong answers, granting all the power to the viewer. Which is a ballsy move, all the more fitting for such a bold movie.

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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CIA facial recognition software identifies pic of ‘unknown woman’ as Francis Bacon in drag
08:47 am


Francis Bacon
John Deakin

Francis Bacon?
“Unknown woman, 1930s” (detail)—is this Francis Bacon in drag?
In April of this year, the British newspaper The Guardian ran a gallery of photos by John Deakin, a well-known British photographer from the postwar era who was part of the Soho circle of artists and writers centered around the Colony Room, a private drinking club, that included Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and J.P. Donleavy. Deakin worked on and off for Vogue, but his alcoholism and tempestuous personality ruled out sustained employment. Deakin had aspirations to be a painter, like Freud and Bacon, but his most resonant work came as a photographer; he died in near-obscurity in 1972, but his reputation has blossomed since then. The Guardian ran the gallery as a tie-in to a retrospective of Deakin’s work, “John Deakin and the Lure of Soho,” at the Photographers’ Gallery in London that will be on through July 20.
John Deakin
“Unknown woman, 1930s”
The final picture of the Guardian’s gallery of 12 pictures was titled “Unknown woman, 1930s.” Commenter bullshotcrummond pointed out that a press release had identified the image as “Transvestite, 1950s.” In response, another commenter, congokid, replied, “Or is it Bacon in drag?” At this point, Paul Rousseau, collection manager of the John Deakin Archive, decided to give the image a second look. He quickly determined that congokid’s remark might have merit. “I’d never considered it before, annoyingly,” he said.

As The Guardian reported:

Searching through the archive, he was able to establish that the photo was one of a set dated 1945 (making them some of the oldest in the Deakin collection), possibly taken for Lilliput magazine, a publication with a reputation for risque photography. There were 15 images in all, and Rousseau immediately set about establishing who the models might be. “I quickly landed on his closest friends Denis Wirth-Miller and Richard (Dickie) Chopping. Denis was a painter and Dickie was semi-famous for designing the original dustjackets for the James Bond books.”

“Dickie was known to love dragging up; he was dame every year at the RCA when he became a lecturer there in 1962. And there are many references to Bacon’s interest in drag, his wearing of women’s knickers and stockings.”

Using facial recognition software developed by the CIA, Rousseau produced videos which show that the similarity between Deakin’s cross-dressing sitters and these men is, if not conclusive, then certainly startling.

The question of the identity of the photograph’s subject touches on issues of taboo and criminality of the era. Before the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which decriminalized homosexuality in the UK, pictures of men in drag were used in prosecutions against gay men. As a results, Deakin’s vague labeling of the photo and the fact that he never published the photo in his lifetime may relate to the important ramifications that distributing it might have incurred. As the Guardian notes, “By never publishing the photos, Deakin may have posthumously undermined his reputation as the nastiest man in Soho.”
Francis Bacon
The similarity in the facial structure is compelling, to be sure, but there is a picture of a bare-chested Bacon dating from 1952 in the same Guardian gallery in which “Unknown woman, 1930s” appears. In that picture, he looks, to my eye, a good deal younger than the person in the “drag” picture, which Rousseau has dated as 1945.

There is also the question the Guardian brings up, namely that of “cleavage”:

While the face is very much like Bacon’s and the mole on the model’s chest closely matches that which can be seen in the famous picture of Bacon holding two sides of meat, it is impossible to ignore the substantial cleavage.”

“Deakin was known to fiddle about with photos using basic overpainting techniques,” says Rousseau. “Or did Bacon learn to manipulate his ‘moobs’ like that from his years in Weimar Berlin?”

Francis Bacon
Here are four brief videos by YouTube user jerseyrousseau, who is presumably Paul Rousseau, comparing “Unknown Woman, 1930” to various photographs of Bacon.

More videos after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Fanny and Stella: The two Victorian gentlemen who shocked England
07:52 am


Fanny and Stella
Neil McKenna

Victorian England is sometimes thought a stuffy, sexually oppressive, puritanical world, where one did one’s duty, where children were seen and not heard, and table legs were covered to prevent lustful thoughts. But in truth, Victorian England was a world full of hypocrisy, where sex, poverty and crime were rampant.

The great parliamentarian and Liberal politician William Gladstone was notorious for his visits to brothels where he claimed he was attempting to “rescue” fallen women. Gladstone had been an habitue of London’s bordellos since he was in his twenties with his visits to prostitutes creating feelings of guilt and remorse which he expunged by flogging himself. When Gladstone became the British Prime Minister, he was known to have invited prostitutes back to number 10 Downing Street for a cup of tea and a reading of some uplifting passage from the Bible. Happily married and a father of eight children, Gladstone kept visiting brothels until he was 82 years of age, but by then he was just watching the young girls at work.

Though it was the Protestant work ethic that was outwardly promoted, Victorian Britain was obsessed with sex. In a survey of prostitution made in 1838, James Beard Talbot noted that there were 219 brothels in Edinburgh, 770 in Liverpool, 308 in Manchester, 175 in Leeds and 194 in Norwich. In London there were 5,000 brothels. To give an idea of scale, there were only 2,150 schools, churches and charitable institutions in the great metropolis at the time. If all Europeans are supposedly related by bloodline to Charlemagne, perhaps it could be argued that most Brits alive today are related to a Victorian prostitute.

Of course not all Victorians relied on prostitutes for sexual pleasure, some, as Nigel Cawthorne describes in his book The Sex Secrets of Old England, achieved considerable gratification through the use of dildos (or “dil-dols”).

Advanced varieties were on the market in Victorian England. There were double-ended dildos that could be used by two women at the same time. Others had two prongs that penetrated vagina and anus simultaneously. Another had an attachment for the chin. There was also an astonishing amount of literature advising young ladies on the correct usage.

Those who couldn’t afford a dildo were encouraged to carve a penis-shape out of a candle, but not to use a carrot (because of its hardness) or an eau-de-cologne bottle (because of the damage it could inflict). Bananas (if available) were okay.

Queen Victoria could just about believe that homosexual men existed, but didn’t believe there could ever be lesbians, as “Women do not do such things.” Of course, there was considerable sapphic sex in the olde queen’s day and long before, with women living together as couples. The most famous was John Ferren and Deborah Nolan, two women who married in 1747 and lived disguised as man and wife until Nolan died, and husband Ferren was revealed to be a woman. Many other women disguised themselves as boys and successfully served in the British army and navy, for example Hannah Snell (1723-92), Phoebe Hessel (1713-1821) and Mary Anne Talbot (1778-1808), who went from drummer boy to powder monkey.

But in Victorian times, one of the most infamous cases was that of “Miss Fanny Park” and “Miss Stella Boulton,” whose arrest and trial became one of the era’s most shocking episodes.
Misses Park and Boulton had been seen attending the Strand Theater in London, where they flirted with the men in the balcony. This pair of seemingly attractive Victorian women were in fact two men, Thomas Ernest Boulton (Fanny) and Frederick William Park (Stella).

From an early age, Boulton had identified as female and was encouraged to wear dresses. He formed a friendship with Park and the two became a theatrical double act, touring as Stella Clinton (or Mrs Graham) and Fanny Winifred Park to mainly favorable reviews. They also began frequenting houses and theaters while dressed in women’s clothing. A third man, Lord Arthur Clinton, a respected Liberal politician and godson to PM William Gladstone, became a lover/husband to Stella.
Boulton, Park and Clinton (seated).
In April 1870, Boulton and Park attended the Strand Theater dressed as men, there they changed their clothes, and re-appeared as the glamorous Fanny and Stella. Their flirtatious behavior attracted considerable male attention, as their biographer Neil McKenna explains Fanny and Stella: The Two Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England:

Fanny and Stella were hard to fathom. They had behaved with such lewdness in their box in the stalls as to leave not the faintest shred of doubt in even the most disinterested observer that they were a pair of hardened and shameless whores. And yet, close up, Stella was revealed as a beautiful, almost aristocratic, young woman who showed flashes of an innate, and most decidedly un-whorelike, dignity and grace.

One newspaper said later that she was ‘charming as a star’, another christened her ‘Stella, Star of the Strand’. And despite all the opprobrium that would later be heaped upon her, despite all the mud that would be slung at her and all the mud that would stick to her, she never lost the mysterious aura of a great and stellar beauty.

Mrs Fanny Graham, too, was clearly a woman of some education and breeding, and was certainly very far removed from your common-or-garden whore. Here in the saloon bar, it seemed harder to reconcile their obvious quality with the ogling, tongue-waggling, chirruping lasciviousness of the stalls. They spent half an hour or so in the refreshment bar.

Before they left, Mrs Fanny Graham, unaware that she was being watched, betook herself to the Ladies’ Retiring Room and asked the attendant there to pin the lace back to the hem of her crinoline where she had trodden on it. At a quarter past ten, Mr Hugh Mundell had been despatched in ringing tones by Mrs Graham to go and call for her carriage and soon afterwards the remainder of the party made a leisurely progress to the foyer and pushed their way through the noise and confusion of an emptying theatre to the waiting conveyance.

Just as the carriage was about to depart, one of the men who had been shadowing them all that evening jumped up and swung himself in through the door.

‘I’m a police officer from Bow Street,’ he said, producing his warrant card, ‘and I have every reason to believe that you are men in female attire and you will have to come to Bow Street with me now.’

These two young ladies were arrested and charged with “conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence.”
Clinton was named in the subpoena but it is believed he committed suicide rather than face the scandal, though it has also been suggested that he fled the country to live in exile. Fanny and Stella went to trial in 1871 (along with six others) and after a long, sensational trial, all were eventually found not guilty.

Neil McKenna’s biography on Fanny and Stella is published by Faber & Faber.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Divine takes the UK: Two Hacienda shows and ‘Top of the Pops’
10:02 am


Top of the Pops

Divine’s music career was perhaps less well-known than his career acting in John Waters’ films, but his discography contains plenty of music that’ll appeal to fans of Hi-NRG, ‘80s Eurodisco, and good old sleaze. In 1983, he appeared not once, but twice, in that ‘80s dance Mecca, Manchester’s Hacienda.

No expense was disbursed for these shows—Divine was clearly singing along with his records, like karaoke, but with the original vocals still present. I assume the idea must have been for Divine’s planet-sized personality to overcome the performances’ showmanship deficiencies. And such is the nature of Divine’s cult that even half-ass productions like that were recorded for release on CD as Born to Be Cheap, and on DVD as Live at the Hacienda/Shoot Your Shot. However, the between-song banter IS absolutely worthy of Divine’s trash-diva rep.

Here’s footage from both performances:

And in the spirit of trying to keep everyone happy, here’s a better, if mimed, performance, but what you gain in production value you lose in raunchy banter. It’s Divine on Top of the Pops, lip-synching what may be his best known single, “You Think You’re A Man.”


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Bring back Hothead Paisan, homicidal lesbian terrorist
11:29 am


Hothead Paisan
Diane DiMassa

In the early ‘90s a small independent underground comic by Diane DiMassa featuring a rumpled, wild-eyed, overcaffeinated “homicidal lesbian terrorist” was frequently listed among Riot Grrrl and Queercore zines of the day. The main character, Hothead Paisan, spent a lot of time pissed off at the world, nursing crushes on Madonna and Joan Jett, or looking for love, once finding it in a shaggy-haired character named Daphne whose gender was never specified. The humor was dark and sometimes vicious, but there were also glimmers of a sweet vulnerability in the characters. Giant Ass Publishing’s Stacy Sheehan would send small gifts with the comic to young riot grrrls, including pins/badges and dog tags with messages like “Dyke Warrior” and “No Guilt.”

DiMassa developed the comic while journaling during her early days of sobriety and recovery. She also illustrated writer Kathy Acker’s chapbook Pussycat Fever. In some moments, Hothead Paisan was the kind of character you wanted to read when it felt like having to deal with one more stupid person would be enough to push you to consider vigilante behavior. At other times, when the injustice and prevailing unkindness of the world became overwhelming, Hothead’s depression won out and she would retreat into herself, emerging from the darkness only to interact with her Higher Power (which was a shadeless lamp she named Donna Summer) or her blind, sensible, serene, hippie friend Roz, who would offer her herbal tea and talk her down from the ledge. Then there was the hilarious afterthought known as the Menstruation Museum, complete with Big Ass Mattresses (do you put the emphasis on “big-ass” or “ass-mattress”?).
The comic was never going to fly under the political or sociological radar for long, even before people became twitchy over the use of the word “terrorist.” For one thing, her cat, Chicken, wore a fez, which was just one thing that pissed some people off. There was a backlash from the trans community because of DiMassa’s trans-critical opinions. Then there was all the hyperbolic anger toward men and “spritz-head” women and the violent, ax-wielding, gun-toting revenge Hothead fantasized about, the sort of thing anti-feminists suspect is a not-so-secret man-hating blueprint for daily action, not catharsis in the form of a fictional comic book character. Revenge fantasies in feminist work, going so far as armed revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s, were nothing new. Would there have been more of an outcry against the anger and violence if the genders had been reversed? You bet.
Citing Hothead Paisan with Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. Manifesto, the Radicalesbians’ “Woman-identified Woman,” and Monique Wittig’s novel Les Guérillères, Sara Warner, author of Acts of Gaiety: LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure, wrote:

These lesbian revenge fantasies are deadly serious satires featuring vigilante feminist heroines, graphic scenes of retaliation and retribution, cunning linguistic puns, and black humor. Lesbian comedies of terrors exploit for humorous effect the compulsory rites and rituals of heteronormativity. Their plots revolve around the frustrations and unrepressed rage of the disenfranchised and dispossessed. Episodic in nature, they depict highly theatrical spectacles, dark play, blood sports, and war games.


Their humor stems from the protagonist’s skillful manipulation of ludicrous situations and her virtuosic display of anarchic wit.

There has been one performance of the musical adaptation of Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, staged at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in 2004, with music and lyrics by Animal Prufrock of the punk band Bitch and Animal. Animal had discovered the comic in a bookstore while she was a frustrated theater student in Chicago. She told Sara Warner, “I SAW ME. I immediately said, ‘I’m gonna make a fucking musical out of this.’”

The cast featured cult singer-songwriter and Righteous Babe Records founder Ani DiFranco, wellness activist Susan “Stop the Insanity!” Powter, Toshi Reagon from Sweet Honey in the Rock and BIGLovely, and Alyson Palmer of BETTY RULES! and The L Word. To many attendees, who had been buying the comic by mail order or at the shrinking number of feminist bookstores in the country, the Hothead musical was the highlight of Michfest. Animal intended to take the musical all the way to New York but immediately encountered roadblocks. A project about a lesbian terrorist is not easy to fund, even if the country isn’t at war against terrorism. Rumors occasionally surface of a new production with the likes of Joan Jett involved (may I suggest Brody Dalle?), but they disappointingly remain rumors.

After over twenty years Hothead isn’t as well known as one would expect, still a fringe character, unlike the sexier Tank Girl, who at least got her own movie and decent soundtrack. DiMassa and Hothead were the subject of Heather Pearl’s independent film The Village Idiot, which included songs by L7 and Joan Jett, that was screened at the Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1993. “Gayploitation” fimmaker Lola Rocknrolla is still looking for investors to fund her live-action Hothead film.
LGBT Authors Gather in Boston, 1993, with a brief chat with Diane DiMassa at 1:37:


Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Fantastic posters for the Cockettes, Divine, Sylvester by Todd Trexler
10:09 am


The Cockettes
Todd Trexler

In San Francisco in the 1970s, Todd Trexler was one of the most prolific and sought-after poster artists for the city’s predictably amazing drag scene. He generated many posters for the Nocturnal Dream Shows and midnight movie screenings at the Palace Theater on 1741 Powell Street (it was also called the Pagoda later on). His attention-grabbing yet stately posters captured and perhaps helped define the distinct aesthetic of San Francisco’s drag happenings. The contrast of art deco filigrees to big personalities like Divine and the Cockettes is very effective.

Sadly, Trexler passed away in February of this year, at the age of 70. His essential posters can be seen in an exhibition that opens this week at Magnet (4122 18th Street) in the Castro district. Some of the items have not been on display in 40 years.

As an art student in 1968, Trexler began making posters, many of them hand-drawn. He was close with Sebastian (or, as he was also known, Milton Miron), a key member of the Cockettes. Todd continued to do work for them for a number of years in the 70s, before moving to Monterey to attend nursing school in 1979.

Here’s Trexler on the “Divine Saves the World” poster shown above:

I absolutely adored working with Glenn on the few occasions that I did! The day that we planned to take photos for the VICE PALACE poster I’ll never forget. Glenn and I sat in the back seat of a car with Sebastian in the front. We drove around San Francisco looking for a place to use as a backdrop. We ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts and decided it was perfect! Glenn was in makeup, bib-overalls with the sides split to make them large enough. He had tossed a couple of 50’s net prom dresses in the trunk of the car. He slipped into a pair of open-toed backless mules and wrapped the prom dresses around himself and instantly became DIVINE! I took the photo and that poster is an all- time favorite of my poster career.

Todd Trexler
Todd Trexler
Todd Trexler
Todd Trexler
Todd Trexler
More dazzling posters plus an interview clip with the artist after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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What if heterosexuals were a bullied minority?
01:21 pm




Why the hell were there no After School Specials like Love is All You Need? The short film by Kim Rocco Shields depicts an alternate reality where heterosexuality is a societal taboo. “Breeders” are denigrated, even the proud ones with pink and blue bumper stickers on their cars, harassed on a daily basis, constantly told they are going to hell and have disgusting, perverted, sinful lifestyles, and subjected to violence. The main character, Ashley, is a young girl who is horrified to realize that she is attracted to boys.

In her review of the film blogger Jennifer Coté said:

The world of this film is one in which the perfect nuclear family consists either of two moms or two dads, and any kid who dares to dream of a future that looks different from this runs the risk of merciless bullying. As you can probably guess from my description thus far, this short film carries some weighty messages about sexually-motivated bullying and suicides, but the fact that the story is set in an alternate universe somehow enables the flick to come off as neither preachy nor heavy handed…  This is to say: the way that writer Kim Rocco Shields thinks to put every heterosexual viewer into the shoes of a bullied kid is absolutely brilliant, and it left me itching to get this movie shown in schools everywhere.

Shields made the film a few years ago at the beginning of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign to illustrate to flummoxed adults why so many LGBT preteens and teen-agers were committing suicide after being mercilessly bullied.

The Daily Californian’s Matthew Kirschenbaum took issue with the predominantly white suburban setting of the film:

First of all, it is important to recognize that the video portrays problematic (mis)appropriations of queer identity and unrepresentative portrayals of only white, middle-class folk. Still, it is beneficial because it puts sexuality-based oppression into a different lens — one for the oppressor to relate to. I don’t believe the target audience of the video is the queer crowd fighting for queer agenda and equality, but rather non-queers who are dubious of change.

The video implicitly advocates issues such as marriage equality and calls hatred into question. Personally, it took me a few minutes to realize what was really happening in the video, and it strikingly resembled something familiar to me, being one of those kids coming to realization. Although unfortunately extreme and dramatic, the common themes of bullying and realizing difference play out to highlight the opposers of queer agenda and their unjustified, harmful acts and sayings.

In an interview with Sonoma SunTV’s Rick Love Shields said:

Actually my first draft of the script, I wrote it for a little boy that was bullied, and I realized that our society is so used to seeing violence against men in general. Our society is very used to seeing violence, so I thought, well, what better way to open people’s eyes is to get a female protagonist who looks like the girl next door, who’s relatable in every way and show her being bullied as a boy would. So in one scene she is hit across the face by an older guy, and that happens to boys all the time. It brings awareness when you’re seeing it happen to a young girl.


Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Earliest known Aleister Crowley manuscript surfaces
08:28 pm


Aleister Crowley

In 1898, heartbroken Cambridge student Aleister Crowley’s love affair with Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt had ended and he looked to his poetry for comfort. A small notebook of these lovelorn poems will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this week.

Rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who discovered the manuscript during a hunt for early gay literature says:

“The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him – and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.”

Pollitt was a female impersonator who went by the stage name “Diane de Rougy,” the future Great Beast 666 was just 22 when they met in 1897. Pollitt was four years his senior, a friend of both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, had been painted by James McNeill Whistler and was the president of the university’s Footlights Dramatic Club. “I lived with Pollitt as his wife for some six months and he made a poet out of me” is how Crowley described their relationship.

Crowley later wrote of his lover:

“Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise. His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth. He possessed one physical beauty - his hair ... its colour was pale gold, like spring sunshine, and its texture of the finest gossamer. The relation between us was that ideal intimacy which the Greeks considered the greatest glory of manhood and the most precious prize of life.”


According to bookdealer Pearson it is the earliest known Crowley manuscript, a collection of eight sonnets, composed in pencil in a small notebook. Only two of the homoerotic poems have ever been published. Crowley destroyed much of his earliest poetry, but chose to keep this volume, which includes titles like “He, who seduced me first” and “I, who am dying for thy kiss.”

“He destroyed the poetry because he was the priest, the master, the leader, and it didn’t suit his image to be seen as weak and vulnerable. But he kept this little book all his life, so the poems obviously meant a great deal to him.”

The so-called “Amsterdam Notebook of Aleister Crowley” is priced at £12,500 and can be viewed starting Thursday at the Olympia . Here’s one of the poems.

The Red Lips of the Octopus

The red lips of the octopus
Are more than myriad stars of night.
The great beast writhes in fiercer form than thirsty stallions amorous
I would they clung to me and stung. I would they quenched me with delight.
The red lips of the octopus.
They reek with poison of the sea
Scarlet and hot and languorous
My skin drinks in their slaver warm, my sweats his wrapt embrace excite
The heavy sea rolls languishly o’er the ensanguined kiss of us.
We strain and strive, we die for love. We linger in the lusty fight
We agonize; our club becomes more cruel and more murderous.
My passion splashes out at last. Ah! with what ecstasy I bite
The red lips of the octopus.

Crowley’s bisexuality and libertine ways led to his expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1899, clearing the way for Crowley to develop his own magical order.

Via The Guardian

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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