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Deep Desires & Broken Dreams

Deep-Desires-and-Broken-Dreams

For the past five years Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios has hosted Deep Desires & Broken Dreams, a week-long season of gay film, including premieres, previews, Q&A’s and all-round quality LGBT cinema. I’ve been a few times and seen this mini festival go from strength to strength, offering a truly diverse choice of events – there’s something for everyone here.

This year’s season begins with the UK premiere of Chris Birkmeier’s In Bloom, a debut feature from a young director with an equally young cast.  The film tells the story of two partners whose relationship is threatened by the arrival of an enticing stranger. Birkmeier is being touted as a talent to watch and Riverside are offering their audience the chance to be among the first to see for themselves what the hype is all about.

There are two further U.K premieres: a dark German thriller Lose Your Head, about a Spanish tourist dancing with danger in Berlin’s gay club scene; and U.S filmmaker Mike Skiff’s documentary about the history of San Francisco’s annual leather street party, the Folsom Street Fair (Folsom Forever).

Deep Desires & Broken Dreams will be hosting some of the creative team behind Codebreaker, a drama-documentary examining the pressures, including homophobic laws pursued by the UK government, which may have contributed to wartime hero Alan Turing’s suicide.

Other possible highlights include previews of Nanouk Leopold’s It’s All So Quiet, in which an isolated farmer’s repressed sexuality is shaken by the arrival of a young farmhand (can you spot a recurring theme here?) and UK director Simon Savory’s American road movie Bruno and Earlene Go to Vegas followed by a Q&A with Savory.

San Francisco-based director Travis Mathew’s will join the festival via Skype following a screening of his and James Franco’s co-directed experimental docu-drama Interior. Leather Bar. I’ve written about this project extensively for Polari Magazine in the past.

Dallas-Buyers-ClubFree-FallTom-at-the-Farm

New releases also feature, including Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm screens as a preview, and Stranger by the Lake, Floating Skyscrapers and Free Fall are three examples of contemporary European gay cinema well worth making the effort to see.

 

Above all, ventures like Deep Desires & Broken Dreams should be supported by as many people as possible, especially if they’re to continue. It provides a real sense of community, offers great opportunities for meeting people and showcases high-quality queer cinema that so often gets overlooked.

Click here for dates, times, and to book tickets.

Querelle, as seen by Dame Effie Sprinkle IV

When Fassbinder’s Querelle was released in 1982 there were hardly any films available with a gay subject. Dame Effie Sprinkle IV watches it on iTunes and is thankful that gay films no longer have to be incomprehensible ‘art’ films.

Querelle by Dame Effie Sprinkle IV for Polari Magazine

In the very early 1990s when I was a student, I used to pass a HMV (anyone remember those quaint things called shops?) on the way to university every day. In the window was a display of foreign films including the box for an intriguing looking film called Querelle – which consisted of a photo of an oiled-up bare-chested mini-hunk called Brad Davis wearing a silly sailor’s hat. The word Querelle looked a bit like the word Queer and I was certain I had thus cracked a secret code – this was a gay film!

In those days porn wasn’t allowed in Britain (as all sex was considered fundamentally disgusting and sinful) and the internet was no use either because it only consisted of 10 geeks at UCLA, so I knew I had to have that video. But it cost 420 shillings (or £21) – a week’s rent – and I had to endure several months of alcohol-free anticipation before I could save up enough to afford it. You can imagine how my lusty eagerness turned into disappointment when I realised what a boring old load of nonsense it was. I lost interest halfway through and switched off, feeling very conned.

Querelle by Dame Effie Sprinkle IV for Polari Magazine

You see, in the homophobic horror that was the year 1982 (when Querelle was released), anyone involved in making a gay film was instantly ostracised from Hollywood and expelled from polite society and never worked again. So to get round it, film makers had to dress up gay things as “art” or “intellectual”. Hence, you could only make a film which showed a bit of male nudity or kissing if it was based on some book by some French writer that hardly anyone had ever heard of (Jean Genet in the case of Querelle), or if you were Derek Jarman (who actually made a film which had dialogue entirely in LATIN!) If you were gay in the 1980s, you couldn’t help but become an intellectual by default due to the fact that in order to see a man’s bottom onscreen you had to watch a lot of foreign films with no plot and lots of subtitles that were shown on Channel 4 in the early hours of the morning.

But now, at a more mature age with much more life experience (I’ve been on holiday to France and have Grade 5 piano), I feel ready to evaluate Querelle all over again. Browsing the iTunes store, that torso of Brad Davis looks just as enticing as it ever did, back when I was yet to see one in real life close up. And as it was only £2.49 to rent, I thought I’d give it another go. It would be an interesting test to see whether I’d actually developed intellectually at all.

Querelle by Dame Effie Sprinkle IV for Polari Magazine

And, well, I’m afraid I haven’t developed. It’s still a load of pretentious old nonsense. But what I didn’t notice the first time round was how unintentionally bad it is. It becomes an interactive cult experience, a bit like watching the Joan Crawford biopic Mommie Dearest. There are so many awful lines in the film that you want to scream them back at the screen. And as they are all intoned as woodenly as possible (many of the actors are dubbed or appear to have been prescribed Mogadon) your efforts will make you feel like Laurence Olivier by comparison. There’s a delicious cast of odd-ball characters including big brute of a bear Nono (I can’t write his name without thinking of that hair removal advert for no!no!) who runs a dockside brothel and makes his customers play a dice game with him (if you lose he gets to fuck you). Querelle naughtily loses on purpose and Nono later laconically boasts that when he pulled out of him there was shit on his dick (classy). Nono’s wife is a very haggard looking drag-queen-esque Jeanne Moreau who sings “Each man kills the things he luffs!” while real drag queens sway around in the background. Her stage act resembles that of seminal BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo where Rene’s wife Madame Edith was equally awful (but for comedic effect). Another sailor, Gil is clearly in lust with a curly-haired twink but pretends to be hot for the twink’s sister (we’ve all tried that one). Gil resents any implication that he might be gay though and responds to a bit of jocular teasing by pulling his pants down and presenting his bottom to a laughing crowd. It’s nowhere near as erotic as it sounds. He later says “I’m all man, I even fuck guys!” and you may feel you’ve made a wonderful discovery that SEXUALITY IS FLUID!

Querelle by Dame Effie Sprinkle IV for Polari Magazine

The set looks like a school play (one of those plays where the same person plays several roles because not enough people wanted to be in it – it’s the same here, actor Hanno Poschl plays Gil AND Querelle’s brother Robert). And for some reason everything is continuously bathed in an orange glow – you might be mistaken for thinking that a nuclear war was under way and you were accidentally watching another 1980s film, Threads. Just as things threaten to get interesting, the scene cuts to a random jumble of big words which appear onscreen. It is impossible to care about any of the characters as they go about their lives murdering each other for no reason whatsoever.

The unintentional camp aside, the film is also notable for Brad Davis wearing a vest that shows the most man cleavage ever seen, although Nono comes a close second. Oh well. At  least it didn’t set me back a week’s rent this time round.

As a coda, years later, after my disappointing video purchase, I visited a small art gallery in Manhattan and some artist was selling screen prints of gay icons. One of them was the picture of Brad Davis in his sailor drag. It cost a lot of shillings ($800 to be exact) and even though I wanted to buy it and hang it above my bed, I still couldn’t afford him. Some things never change.

Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland on MOCAtv

This special preview from MOCAtv looks at the exhibition Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Artist Richard Hawkins tours Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Mizer (1922-1992) and Touko Laaksonen, a.k.a. “Tom of Finland” (1920-1991), at MOCA Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Hawkins, who guest co-curated the exhibition with MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson, examines selections from the first-ever presentation of catalogue boards of Mizer’s Athletic Model Guild studios, which to him are enthusiastic celebrations of everyday youth and beauty, as well as Tom of Finland’s pencil drawings and pen-and-ink illustrations of radical sexuality. As an artist who has produced collage work, Hawkins pays particular attention to Finland’s collage binders, which appear to investigate icons of popular culture for their innate “hotness.” In light of the sexual freedoms still denied in Russia, the “titillating, thrilling and sex-positive” work created by Mizer and Tom of Finland decades ago remains as relevant today. 

Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, currently on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, is the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Bob Mizer (1922–1992) and Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland” (1920–1991), two of the most significant figures of twentieth century erotic art and forefathers of an emergent post-war gay culture. The exhibition features a selection of Tom of Finland’s masterful drawings and collages, alongside Mizer’s rarely seen photo-collage “catalogue boards” and films, as well as a comprehensive collection of his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial, where drawings by Tom were first published in 1957. Organized by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and guest co-curator Richard Hawkins, the exhibition is presented with the full collaboration of the Bob Mizer Foundation, El Cerrito, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland. Organized by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and Guest Co-Curator Richard Hawkins. MOCA Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069. November 2 – January 26, 2014.

Boycott Coke

Don’t share a Coke. Share this image instead.

Boycott Coca-Cola products and send them a message: if you make money from those who oppress people’s rights then you have no right to make money.

Click here to share this image on social media and show the CEO of Coca-Cola how many people are boycotting their products.

Polarimagazine.com #boycottingCokeareyou?

Boycott Coke image: share a Coke with no-one

A Christmas Present from Maggie & Martin

Lonely This Christmas
Maggie and Martin
4:03 min • Beauty Box Recordings • December 2013
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Maggie and Martin are pop royalty. Martin started writing music for Marc Almond in the 1980s, and continues to do so. Maggie sang with the bands Swans Way and Scarlet Fantastic, and recently collaborated with Japanese DJs Kill the Hero.

This festive season they are giving away a download of their tender cover version ‘Lonely For Christmas’.

Click here to download Maggie and Martin, ‘Lonely This Christmas’.

Read the 5 star review of Union in the Music section, and the interview The Perfect Union.

The Penetrated Male

Jonathan Kemp introduces his new book, The Penetrated Male, in which he reclaims the male body from modern masculine subjectivity.

 

“…the man who does not feel his body will never
be in a position to conceive a living thought…”
-        E. M. Cioran, A Short History of Decay

“He who wishes to know the truth about life in its
immediacy must scrutinize its estranged form”
- Adorno, Minima Moralia

 

The Penetrated Male scrutinizes literary representations of the male body in what is perhaps its most estranged form: in the process of being penetrated.  It does this both in order to suggest that penetration is a condition of modern masculine subjectivity, and to reclaim the male body as a penetrable body.  The submission by which masculinity registers within the socio-symbolic order is effected by a process of penetration that remainders the male body, marking it as waste and associating it with a pejorative femininity.

Taboos not only against anality and anal intercourse, but, by extension, against so-called passivity and powerlessness, come into play in our traditional understanding of the penetrated male body.  Through the traditional cultural associations that exist between the concept body and the concept woman, the name feminine is given to any breach of the taboo against penetrating the male body.  The chain of equivalences binding these two abject bodies significantly includes the notion of psychosis and waste. Through close readings of various texts from the period 1860-1947, this books aims to show how the penetrated male body figures as a site of ambiguity hovering behind the protocols of representation that govern its emergence.

The politics of the anus

Michel Foucault’s work on the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome has demonstrated how the male-male eroticism permitted was governed by a strict understanding that the penetrated partner was a non-citizen: that is, a slave, a woman, or a young boy.  The civic status and political power of the adult male citizen was contingent upon his body remaining impenetrable, for it was understood that “when one played the role of subordinate partner in the game of pleasure relations, one could not be truly dominant in the game of civic and political activity”: to be penetrated was to cease to be fully human.  This pattern was to re-emerge throughout Europe after about 1700, as Randolph Trumbach’s work on eighteenth century sexuality shows.  The only remotely acceptable form of male-male sodomy became that performed by an adult male upon an adolescent boy, who was seen to exist “in a transitional state between man and woman”, and therefore neither fully male nor fully human.  Trumbach’s research reveals a consolidation of gender difference taking place in the 1700s by which effeminacy became associated with anal passivity: “Adult men were deemed effeminate only when they allowed themselves to be sexually penetrated”.

By focusing on the penetrated male body, this book is thus not only highlighting the ‘repudiation of the feminine’ [1] upon which traditional, patriarchal and heterosexual masculinity is predicated, but is also making a claim for a reappraisal of masculine pleasure, reclaiming that body as something other than grotesque or unthinkable; it might understand the penetrated male body as something other than feminine, and feminine as something other than submissive, powerless and vulnerable. But how has it come to represent these things in the first place, if not through its interpretation by a perceptual system that always already equates these terms with a highly pejorative femininity, that is, a system of mimetic identification and conceptual foreclosure?

The finitude of the flesh from which transcendence is attempted through the traditional process of disembodied masculine subjectivity is clearly linked not only with death, but also with sexuality, desire, eroticism: le petit mort. Erotic submission is a limit-experience. In the words of Steven Marcus, “sex … serves as a kind of metaphor for death”.  The dialectic of death and desire has a tortuous and tangled history in Western thought, and it is not my intention to map it here. But from late nineteenth sexological tracts through to Leo Bersani’s reflections on AIDS in ‘Is the Rectum a Grave?’, the anus has been explicitly linked to death and negation, not least because it is the site of decay, the egress for waste matter. The anus is permitted a single function: ejecting, not receiving; it is a way out of the body, not a way in. In the Victorian homosexual pornographic novel Teleny, for example, penetrative anal pleasure culminates in literal death[2]. The model for a receptive sexual orifice within our thinking remains the vagina – and this despite that orifice’s own duality of functions. Yet, whilst D. H. Lawrence’s remark that “Sex is a creative flow, the excrementory flow is towards dissolution” indicates the horror of mixing these two flows, it ignores the excrementory function of the genitals. As Freud remarks:

Where the anus is concerned it becomes still clearer that it is disgust which stamps that sexual aim as a perversion. I hope I shall not be accused of partisanship when I assert that people who try to account for this disgust by saying that the organ in question serves the function of excretion and comes in contact with excrement … are not much more to the point than hysterical girls who account for their disgust at the male genital by saying that it serves to void urine.

And while Freud’s words still strike a revolutionary note, they are themselves couched in terms that serve to signal Freud’s anxiety over whether he himself might be accused of partisanship, accused of knowing subjectively the anal eroticism it is only his intention to explore under the rubric of an objective science. Rupert Davenport-Hines, commenting upon the media representation of AIDS as a punishment against homosexuals for “abusing their arses”, argued that:

Objectively the discrimination between penises and rectums is nonsense; given the greater horror that shit commands over urine in our culture, the distinction is understandable; but nonsense is still nonsense, whether acculturated, atavistic or adopted as an excuse for journalistic bullying.

Whilst the horror of shit is clearly central to the phobia surrounding sexual use of the anus, an equally nonsensical (though equally powerful) gender discrimination is at work, rendering the male anus a particularly problematical site of such anxiety. For example, the reference in some gay pornography to the male anus as a boy-pussy or man-cunt bears witness to a clear gender ambiguity attending the penetration of that orifice. Mario Mieli called passive homosexuality a form of feminine sexuality, using an idealized concept of woman as the model for a more liberal sexual politics.

The masculine subjectivity that has emerged within Western capitalist discourse is seen as the result of reducing bodily sensation to a programmatic model of procreative sexuality centred on genital differentiation. The penis transcends into the phallus, following the model of the privatised anus. Consequently, the phallicised penis is the only permissable site of pleasure on the male body. In this sense, a binary is established by which the penis is secondary to the concept of Phallus, just as the body is considered secondary to the mind.  The anus is thus excluded altogether from the male libidinal economy, such that its erotic use immediately carries with it the threat of castration. Erotic investment in the male anus is hegemonically disavowed by branding its owners as symbolic women; a kind of castration is performed.  Because “seen from behind we are all women”, because “the anus does not practice sexual discrimination” (Hocquenghem), the role of the phallus is to affirm sexual difference through its presence.  As such, homophobia and misogyny serve the same social function, stem from the same fear of the penetrated/penetrable body – which thus becomes an index of femininity. Taking its cue from Anti-Oedipus, Hocquenghem’s Homosexual Desire argues that the privatized anus, as employed in male homosexual intercourse, can assist in the battle against the entire armature of Western capitalist patriarchal power [3].

Hocquenghem argues for anal pleasure not as a specifically homosexual activity, but as a way of undermining all sexual categorisations. The symbolic role of the anus is pitted against that of the phallus, the latter’s private status correlated with the former’s function as the public marker of sexual difference.  If “the body gathers round the phallus like society round the chief” (Guy Hocquenghem), it unravels around the anus. Whereas only approximately half the population have a phallus, everyone has an anus, its universal possession overriding its privatised and individuated function. In Hocquenghem’s view sexual use of the anus is therefore revolutionary [4], not simply in terms of overturning sexual categorisations but also by undermining the economic sublimation equating faeces with money.

Along with Robert Mapplethorpe’s (in)famous photographs of gay fisting, and his self-penetrating self-portrait with a bullwhip unravelling like a demonic tail from his behind, the work of Mieli and Hocquenghem can be located within a geneaology throughout the 1970s and 1980s that worked alongside gay activism’s promotion of sexual freedom. The advent of AIDS, however, cast a shadow within which this discourse on pleasure became viewed pejoratively as highly utopian, if not downright irresponsible. By 1987, for Leo Bersani at least, the rectum had become a grave, once more a signifier of negation, dissolution and death  In his essay ‘Is the Rectum a Grave?’, Bersani refers to the “seductive and intolerable image of a grown man, legs high in the air, unable to refuse the suicidal ecstasy of being a woman”. Why intolerable?  Why suicidal? And why a woman?  The Penetrated Male offers instead a reading of the penetrated male body that suggests another way of seeing it – one that resists the non-contradictory nature of such identity thinking.


[1] This phrase is from Jessica Benjamin’s The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and the Problem of Domination.  She argues that the boy’s identity as male must inevitably involve a rejection of the mother and all she represents and in this sense masculinity is a reactive process of dis-identification.

[2] Teleny’s authorship is attributed, in part at least, to Oscar Wilde.  See Winston Leyland’s introduction (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1984).

[3] In a later essay, for example, written in 1987, he states that “homosexuality is baroque, dramatic, it is an ‘effect’, not a principle”, claiming that the term expresses “a certain ‘attitude towards life’ rather than an ‘identity’”, prefiguring one of the tropes of later Queer Theory (see, for example, the introduction to Warner 1993).

[4] In a later essay, Hocquenghem declares “Our assholes are revolutionary”. ‘Towards an Irrecuperable Pederasty’, trans. Chris Fox, in Jonathan Goldberg (ed), Reclaiming Sodom.

Introducing The Familyyy Fierce Collective

The irrepressible Rubyyy Jones introduces The Familyyy Fierce Collective, cabaret stars who dance, strip and flip.

Familyyy Fierce, Rubyyy Jones

The Familyyy Fierce Collective © Paul Singer (Click images to enlarge)

The Save Rubyyy Jones Revue is London’s queerest, raunchiest and most provocative cabaret experience. Launched with The ‘There’s-No-Wedding-Party-Wedding-Partyyy’ show in late 2012 in Finsbury Park, Rubyyy Jones and The Familyyy Fierce have been delighting, shocking and changing audiences ever since.

The Familyyy Fierce Collective are a cast of fabulous, fun and freaky queer cabaret stars who dance, strip and flip together every month at The Save Rubyyy Jones Revue. Our shows are raucous, political, and good, clean, dirty fun. Using our multi-faceted talents, we charm with clowns, cabaret Queens and glitter, we seduce with sideshow, striptease and circus and we inspire with song, Drag and dance.

Our VIP launch is on December 9th, at the legendary Madame Jojo’s. It will be a showcase of our best and baddest shenanigans. And if you’re a busy holiday hussy, we have a saucy XXXmas Show on December 22nd, also at Madame Jojo’s, which will have our usual electric show, queer caroling, a little market for last minute shopping, games and more!

rubyyy jones and the family fierce cabaret

The Familyyy Fierce Collective © Magnus Beuys

The Familyyy Fierce are: Pioneer of Queerlesque, Meth/Mr Mistress (Performer of the Year Erotic Awards 2013, 1st Runner Up Dusty O’s Tranny Academy 2013, London Cabaret Award Nominee 2014); Gender Disillusionist Miss Cairo (Time Out’s Rising Star Drag Queen 2013, Performer of the Year Erotic Awards Nominee 2013, Drag Idol Semi Finalist 2013); Lolo Brow (London Cabaret Award Nominee 2014, Rarely Wears Lipstick Best Burlesque, 1st Runner Up Burlesque Idol 2012) and Ruby Wednesday. There’s also our extended Familyyy: The Late Night Shop Cabaret (London Cabaret Award Nominee 2014, Performer Of The Year Finalist The Erotic Awards 2012, Rubyyy Award For Sinister Sisterhood).

The show is hosted by me, Rubyyy Jones, a force of nature who, along with this show, has been profiled in the Sunday Times Magazine as a leader and innovator in cabaret and burlesque. My mission is to educate, entertain and elevate you, with evocative, genuinely subversive and truly Neo shows and performances.

The Familyyy Fierce offer you an experience – something alive, live and happening right in front of you. We will challenge your ideals of beauty, gender and sex. We will move you, with flesh, skill and the opportunity to expand your mind and heart. When you leave, you will walk into the cold Soho night a liberated, elevated, kinky, queer, loved-up pervert.

You’re welcome.

Click here for further information and tickets for The Save Rubyyy Jones Review featuring The Familyyy Fierce.

 

Pride 2013: Glitterous

Zak Black’s Glitterous celebrates Pride 2013 with style, fire and hula-hoops. And Paul Heron.

Zak Black, Mahdi Shay, London PrideAnna Hulagan, London PrideDavid Stewart, London Pride

Floridita Images © Deborah Jaffe   (Click images to enlarge)

As London Pride fractured in 2012, and last minute restrictions were forced onto Soho bars, one event remained immune: GLITTEROUS at Carom on Wardour Street. It was, as a result, dubbed “the saviour of Pride”. Zak Black managed to pull this together with no budget, and just the desire to create an event that London Pride deserved as it celebrated its 40th anniversary. This year Zak has gone all out to create a 12-hour long free event (but if you can make a donation to Pride on the door it would be appreciated). It is going to be a funky, fabulous and chic way to celebrate Pride.

Zak is full of energy, as anyone who has been to his wonderful events at Floridita will know. He orchestrates a great show because he understands the importance of the high quality spectacle. For Glitterous, he and his hosts are celebrating the Love and Marriage theme wearing hand-made couture by James Kelly, Wardrobe Master to the Royal Opera House.

Paul Heron, London PrideE.N.V. London Pride

I caught up with Zak a few days before the event to talk about the spectacular line-up.

“This is different from a Gala variety show. It’s over 12 hours, so it is going be a gigantic club with intermittent entertainment throughout the day as well as DJs. The headline crowd-puller is the international DJ Paul Heron, who will play between 7 and 9 pm. While he’s playing I have podium dancers, two men and one woman, dressed to reflect the Love and Marriage theme. 

One of my favourite burlesque stars is Anna Hulagan. She strips while spinning a hula-hoop of burning fire. She’ll be on for 3 shows – after sundown of course as it’d be wasted during the day. 

E.N.V., the openly gay rapper, is one of the hosts. He’s played at Pride events all around the world. He’s a mix of a rapper and a classical pianist. He’s also playing on the Trafalgar Square stage and at Summer Rites.”

To have a look at the full line-up, which includes peformances from David Stewart and Chloe AKA, take a look at the listing for Glitterous on the Pride Arts Programme website.

Glitterous is at Carom, 100 Wardour St, W1F 0TN, from 2 pm on Saturday 29th June, 2013.

 

Alp Haydar’s Dirty Demographic

Derek Jarman’s The Garden at the Barbican