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‘Michael’s Thing’: New York City’s once essential queer city guide (as seen on HBO’s ‘The Deuce’)
10.11.2017
12:58 pm
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Early on in the most recent episode of HBO’s The Deuce, which is set in New York City in 1971, Vince Martino (one of the two twins played by James Franco in the show) is looking to get the Hi Hat, the new mobbed-up bar in the Times Square area that he runs, a little more publicity. So he asks the show’s most prominent gay character, a bartender who works for him named Paul Hendrickson (Chris Coy), whether he has seen to it that the establishment has been listed in all of the “bar guides.”

It’s already been established that Vince wants to extend a welcoming hand to the city’s burgeoning post-Stonewall homosexual community, so it’s not a huge surprise when he also adds, “The gay one, too? What’s it called, ‘Michael’s Stick’?” The bartender clarifies that the magazine is actually called Michael’s Thing and suggests taking out an ad, too—the rates aren’t bad for a half-page.

Michael’s Thing—what’s that? Well, it turns out that, just as The Deuce suggests, Michael’s Thing was an essential weekly guide to homosexual life in New York City that literally lasted decades but (in retrospect) seems like it went kind of unheralded. It’s very difficult to find more than a handful of covers online (this for a magazine that ran for well over a thousand issues), and similarly, there is also pretty much a black hole in terms of information about it on the Internet. Most of the images I was able to find are tiny, too. There’s just very little information out there about Michael’s Thing, and that seems a shame.

The most pertinent piece of information I’d like to know is—who was Michael, anyway?

A playwright named Doric Wilson (Now She Dances, The West Street Gang, Street Theater) who was artistically active in New York during the 1970s and 1980s comes to the rescue, with a blog post he wrote about Michael’s Thing in 2011. Sadly, it appears that he wrote his account less than a month before his death. In 1974, Wilson had been instrumental in founding TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), which was a theater company dedicated to gay themes—according to Wikipedia, the first such entity; it’s still in existence.

It turns out that the “Michael” of Michael’s Thing was named Michael Giammetta. Here’s a chunk of Wilson’s tribute to the publication, without which, believe me, there’d be virtually nothing out there about it:
 

Michael Giammetta published Michael’s Thing between 1970-2000 as a guide to cultural and social happenings of the GLTB community. It was the one of the main and most reliable sources of information. It also was a handy guide to the most important institutions of the early days of liberation, the gay bar. The covers of Michael’s Thing may have featured pretty boys almost in their all together but inside the focus was theater, dance, cabaret. They were all there, all the early voices of what would become queer culture. Freeman Gunter was an excellent critic. There are careers in the arts still going full force that began thanks to his taking notice of them.

Mandate magazine was started as an “out” version of After Dark in the early 1970s. It featured some of the early stars of GLBT photography, John Michael Cox, Jr., Jürgen Vollmer, and first and foremost, Roy Blakey. Under the editorship of John Devere, it contained thoughtful reviews covering all of the arts, and essential articles on the emerging gay liberation movement. John Devere’s coverage of the protests surrounding the filming of Cruising is still a high-water mark of gay journalism.

 
Today it seems almost unexceptional that there would be a prominent gay weekly guide in New York City, but as Wilson reminds us, things weren’t so cut and dry in the 1970s: “It was an era when publications like New York magazine dismissed the culture coming from the queer community with a sneer and a snicker. The New York Times refused to even use the word ‘gay,’ and only mentioned our community if the article was derogatory.”

What’s clear is that Michael’s Thing was not just a city guide for queers—it was also a bona fide news outlet that catered to a specific demographic very well, with good reporting and top-notch arts coverage. It’s interesting how much the cover design changed over the years—I count five different treatments for the name of the magazine.
 

1972
 

May 1976
 
Much more after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.11.2017
12:58 pm
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Swallow the Leader: Amusingly titled, tawdry gay pulp novels of the 50s & 60s
10.04.2017
09:34 am
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‘Rally Round the Fag’ one of ten vintage gay pulp novels starring the popular character “Jackie Holmes” from ‘The Man from C.A.M.P.’ series. Artwork by the great Robert Bonfils,1967.
 
Gay pulp novels have been around since the 1930s when the sale of paperback books proliferated. Historically, lesbian pulp was much more popular than novels featuring the exploits of gay men—and that is, of course, because the lesbian pulp was widely purchased by straight dudes. The popularity of the novels continued to rise during 1940s though, as noted in the book Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe edited by pulp historian Steve Berman, the very first true “gay pulp” novel was published in 1952 by author George Viereck. Viereck, a former propaganda tool of the Nazis during WWII authored the 195 page Men into Beasts that used homosexual prison culture as a part of its storyline—something Viereck had observed first hand while he was locked up.

The 50s was not a good time for the gay community, much in part to the gay-hating U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy who in addition to his suspicions that commies, pinkos and reds had managed to weasel their way into government positions, was also convinced that it was swarming with homosexuals, probably commie, pinko homosexuals, too. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” the State Department fired back at McCarthy’s delusional accusations saying that there were no communists on the government payroll. McCarthy sent his right-wing buddies to turn up the heat on the State Department claims which would result in the acknowledgment that 91 employees had been identified as “gay” and were fired under the guise that they were a huge “security risk.” When the news hit the papers and television, the public, as well as Congress, demanded a full investigation.

During this hysteria, a committee of the U.S. Senate launched the ridiculous sounding investigation “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in the Government”.
Upon the conclusion of what is best described as a gay witch hunt, the committee was unable to identify any American citizen who might have sold out the good-old U.S. of A. This didn’t stop the committee from publishing a post-operative paper which “conclusively” established that a gay man or a lesbian possessed “weak moral character” and that the inclusion of only one homosexual can “pollute a government office.” After Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected he signed the executive order 10450 which added “sexual perversion” to a long list of personality traits that could prevent a person from holding a job with the federal government which led to thousands of people losing their livelihoods.

Once the swinging 60s rolled around the U.S. post office could no longer refuse to deliver books that featured homosexuality, which, according to research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Press led to a veritable “explosion” of gay pulp novels.

Now that I’ve shared a bit of the rich history surrounding gay pulp fiction, let’s take a look at some of the more hysterical, tongue-in-cheek covers that created such a stir back in the 50s and 60s, shall we? Yes, we shall. Some are pretty NSFW.
 

1968.
 

1967.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.04.2017
09:34 am
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Stuck in the Mudd! Four decades later, the doorman of the wildest nightclub in NYC lets you in!

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Here’s a drink ticket—enjoy the post!

“If you’ve been standing here for more than ten minutes you’re not coming in” announces Richard Boch in a stern but cute, almost teenaged stoner way. Don’t get me wrong, he means it. This was how “normal people” were greeted much of the time at the door of the Mudd Club (and many other ultra hip clubs in New York City at the time). This made getting in a huge badge of honor and being turned away a major disgrace. Imagine riding on THAT possibility just to pay to go into a nightclub? An anonymous “sniper” refused entrance once even hit Boch with a dead pigeon from a few yards away and sped off in a taxi cab!

Back then these normal people showing up at Manhattan nightclubs were mostly referred to as the “bridge and tunnel” crowd (Queens, Jersey, Brooklyn) a term not heard much these days, but once heard hundreds of times every night in NYC clubs. Some were 9-5ers, some wealthy disco-types expecting to stroll in on the doorman’s view of their Rolex or hot girlfriend. These regular folks were basically told to cool their heels or fuck off while an 18-year-old kid like me dressed to the hilt in what may have looked to them like idiotic rags, parted the seas and strolled in like I was Mick Jagger. This was not Studio 54 as they would find out soon enough. What it was, though, was a trip into known and unknown galaxies of hip culture throughout history, like a living, breathing museum/funhouse/drug den/concert hall/discotheque, mixed with nitroglycerine and LSD and thrown into a blender to create the unknown. The future. THE NOW!

The Mudd Club was almost literally unbelievable. Inmates running the asylum on an outer space pirate ship. This vessel was founded, funded and schemed by Steve Mass, who was on every side of the street all at once. When I first met Steve, he was roommates with Brian Eno and got that input, but he STILL drove me out to my parents’ apartment in Queens to help pull my record collection from under my bed, my parents shrugging their shoulders until reading about us a year later in the New York Times, thereby making it “Okay.” But really he was always very curious, constantly grilling me, getting inside my head. I once told him I thought he should round off the corners and ceiling of the Mudd Club like a giant cave and have live bats flying around the club. He actually considered it! He did this with certain other kids, rock stars, Warhol superstars, models, designers, Hollywood royalty, junkies, freaks and lord knows who else. We all had a bit of our heart and soul in that place.
 
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Mudd Club owner Steve Mass. Photo by Kate Simon

The above mentioned Richard Boch is the author of a incredibly well-written new book from Feral House titled The Mudd Club. Boch was the main doorman there and the book is his autobiography or a coming of age story told in pretty much the aftermath of the glorious Sixties during the truly, in retrospect, harsh, dark, real version of what was hoped for, but lost in that previous decade. Richard’s story is all of our stories, those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have grown up or wound up in New York City’s grimy punk/art/drugged musical and historical mish-mosh. It was the Velvet Underground’s songs come to life after waiting a decade for the world to catch up to it, or crumble to its level.
 
To quote Richard:

I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the scene of the crime, always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended: the day before never happened and the day after, a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle. I thought I could handle it and for a while, I did.

 
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Author Richard Boch. Photo by Alan Kleinberg
 
Boch was given marching orders orders early on to avoid bloated seventies superstars and the limo crowd. On one of his first nights of work he was faced with a huge, loud, and very sweaty Meatloaf. “Definitely not something I wanted to get close to, physically or musically,” Boch says, and ignored him. My first ever DJ gig was early on at the Mudd Club and I was told told by Steve Mass to do things like play Alvin and The Chipmunks records when it got a bit crowded, to “make everyone uncomfortable,” including myself. Of course I had the record. I also gouged a 45 with scissors insuring the record would skip horribly and then pretend that it wasn’t happening. Just long enough to get the asylum to freak out a little bit.

Later this stuff went out the window but it was quite a formative experience. Humor filtered through even to the most deadly serious moments there. The Mudd Club was a place where twenty people could literally have had twenty different experiences on the same night during the same hour as there was just so much happening on different mental/pharmaceutical levels and different floor levels. Everywhere you turned there was someone amazing. From the way I had grown up, seeing Andy Warhol, John Waters, David Bowie and the Ramones within a twenty minute span was “my” Studio 54. Watching Screamin’ Jay Hawkins while standing next to Jean-Michel Basquiat, seeing the Soft Boys, girl groups like the Angels and the Crystals, Frank Zappa, Bauhaus, Nico, the Dead Boys, Captain Beefheart, John Cale, a Radley Metzger film presented by Sleazoid Express or an impromptu freakout by Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis, well this was my dream come to life!

My dream hasn’t changed in 40 years. I’m still in awe that it happened. And in the middle of all that I was allowed to put on my own demented conceptual events with friends (“The Puberty Ball,” etc.) and be a regular DJ. The people I came to know in the punk world who wanted more found it at the Mudd Club. Our mad obsession with the Sixties, especially the Warhol/New York sixties, informed much of what we did, and at the same time the Warhol Factory itself became more corporate. The Superstars were by then getting older and pushed out, but they were looking for more themselves, and they were looking to us to inform them, making for some extremely insane morality and immorality plays coming to life before our eyes. Mudd had the pull of what the press called “downtown,” and for the downtown types, well our voices were about to be heard loud and clear.
 
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David Bowie and Dee Dee Ramone. Photo by Bobby Grossman
 
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Howie Pyro deejaying at Mudd

Richard Boch understood all this, and was also an artist himself so he knew who everyone in the art world was, as well as all the new punk stars and celebutantes, no wavers, new wavers, culture vulture gods and the ones who would become gods themselves in a year or so. In the book he talks about being nervous about starting working there but man, he was the one for the job. In the pages of The Mudd Club, Boch’s quite candid about everything you’d want to know (gossip but not mean gossip: sex, drugs, more drugs, and getting home at ten AM, having done every drug and a half dozen people along the way—normal stuff like that). It reads in one, two, or three page sections, my favorite kind of book. You can put it down in ten-minute intervals or read it in any order you want, IF you can put it down at all. I have literally read certain sections backwards for 40-50 pages while looking for something and didn’t really notice. It made me laugh out loud, and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s kind of like “Please Kill Me, the Day After,” though it’s not an oral history as such, as it is written from Richard Boch’s point of view, but it has the same immediate anecdotal feel.
 
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‘TV Party’ at Mudd. Photo by Bob Gruen
 
The club’s benevolent benefactor, Steve Mass, was responsible for making this incredible witches brew keep bubbling and kept the happenings happening. He was willing to do anything, just for the sake of doing it. Steve originally owned an ambulance service. For my 19th birthday they had a huge party for me on the second floor of the Mudd Club. Since Steve had medical connections, and since we were ALL junkies (well, a good 85% of us were), he furnished a massive cake with dozens of syringes with the plungers & needles removed so they could put the candles in the open syringes. This of course turned into a massive cake fight with the participants looking like the Little Rascals (with pinned eyes). Steve was always down for this sorta stuff. As for the main floor, the bands, writers and performers that I saw in a single month’s time was staggering! More than some people see in a lifetime.
 
From the book:

January 1979. The Cramps freaked out The Mudd Club with a loud Psychobilly grind that included such hits as “Human Fly” and “Surfin’ Bird.” A few months later, the “big names” started to appear…

He goes on to say:

The legendary Sam and Dave got onstage a few weekends later, and it was the first time on my watch that I got to see the real deal. By late summer, Talking Heads took the stage while Marianne Faithful, X, Lene Lovich, and the Brides of Funkenstein waited in the wings.

There were so many great performances: Scheduled, impromptu, logical and out of left field. The locals and the regulars were the staple and the stable and performed as part of the White Street experience. They included everyone you could imagine and some you never could. John Cale, Chris Spedding, Judy Nylon and Nico, John Lurie and Philip Glass were just a few. Writers and poets such as William S. Burroughs, Max Blagg, Cookie Mueller, and “Teenage Jesus” Lydia Lunch all wound up on the Mudd Club stage. The talent pool was so deep and occasionally dark that even Hollywood Babylon‘s Luciferian auteur Kenneth Anger got Involved.

Steve’s willingness and generosity along with his guarded enthusiasm offered support to a local community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Together with Diego (Cortez)’ and Anya (Phillip’s) short-lived but “dominating” spirit, the Mudd Club became an instant happening, a free-for-all with No Wave orchestration and very few rules.

Diego described the Mudd Club as “a container, a vessel, but certainly not the only one in town.” What made the place unique was its blank-canvas emptiness. When the space filled up, IT happened and everyone wanted to be a part. A living, breathing work of art, it was beautiful and way off center, a slice of golden time.

I was lucky, and soaked it all in.

 
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Nico playing her wheezing harmonium. Photo by Ebet Roberts

All of us who got to be there were lucky. This was a timeless world of it’s own. A world that could be compared to any and all magical artistic movements, scenes or spaces. Dada. Warhol’s Factory, the Beats in NY and SF, Surrealism, etc.—times, places, people all endlessly written about as there’s just so much to say. Everyone involved had a unique experience, true to themselves. This wasn’t just a nightclub, it was so much more. It almost seemed like a private place where, on the best nights, people’s lives and fantasies were put on display and the public was allowed to watch. The public who just came to do coke and dance (as we all did) but who accidentally got touched by a bizarre and wonderful world that lived in the shadows of the city then, usually just brushing against them like a ghost in the night. Whether they even noticed or not, well, who cares?

This first book on the subject (I guarantee it will not be the last) is Richard Boch’s own experience, peppered with those of us who he interviewed for the reminders. This book is about his eyes opening, his chain-wielding power stance, his blowjobs, his drinks, his drugs, all of which are plentiful. It includes a little of most of us, the people we loved, the ones we lost, the games we played, and the love we shared of each other and our mutual history. Still though, there are a million stories in the Mudd’s microcosm of the naked city, this is just one of them.

And what a glorious place to start: right at the front door.
 
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The trailer for the book
 
More Mudd Club after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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09.19.2017
02:47 pm
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The Male Figure: Bruce of Los Angeles and the perfection of midcentury beefcake
09.19.2017
01:31 pm
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When you ponder improbable destinies for high school chemistry teachers, it’s likely that almost everyone reading this would instantly think of Walter White, who went from being a lowly chemistry teacher to a major drug kingpin in the U.S. Southwest—at least in the fictional narrative that is Breaking Bad.

Bruce Bellas never became a drug lord, but his tale is still worthy of consideration. Born in 1909, Bellas grew up in Alliance, Nebraska. where he was a chemistry teacher into his late thirties. Something caused Bellas to leave Nebraska for the West Coast in 1947, however, and there he became a magazine publisher of men’s physique magazines and a significant pioneer in the development of the American gay aesthetic.

Once he found himself in Los Angeles, Bellas adopted the uncannily apt sobriquet Bruce of Los Angeles. According to a 2008 exhibition dedicated to the artist, Bruce started out taking pictures of bodybuilding contests while working for one of Joe Weider’s many muscle magazines. In 1956 Bruce created what was ostensibly a magazine for aspiring artists called The Male Figure, which supplied him with the proper prerogative to present photos of muscular dudes with hardly any clothes on. Even leaving the beefcake aspect aside, the Male Figure covers are models of midcentury simplicity. 

In the unaccountably well-written Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures, edited by George Haggerty, Bruce’s output is described thus:
 

Equal parts chronicler of the sport of body-building, photographic artist-technician, and carnal visionary, Bruce made his mark in both studio and natural settings, in both shimmering black and white and lurid Kodachrome, in both formal poses that sculpted titanic champions and informal portraits that recorded illicit interactions. Only occasionally taking up the pseudoclassical plaster pillars of tradition, Bruce registered a documentary preference for corrals, motorcycles, navy yards, and the vinyl flotsam of suburbia.

 
As a “carnal visionary” he stands alongside Tom of Finland and George Quaintance as a small group of gay male graphic artists who helped define the homosexual aesthetic under conditions of extreme danger and secrecy, as the phrase “illicit interactions” above suggests.

In The Naked Heartland: The Itinerant Photography of Bruce of Los Angeles, Robert Mainardi noted that Bruce’s work “would one day be recognized for its classic elegance, Hollywood glamour, and camp wit, as well as for its restrained sensuality.” Bruce was a major influence on photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber, and Herb Ritts.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.19.2017
01:31 pm
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Artificial intelligence will soon achieve near-perfect gaydar
09.11.2017
09:00 am
Topics:
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We all have a friend who claims to have “perfect gaydar”—maybe in some instances we are that friend. At the risk of venturing into “special snowflake” territory, my own tendency in this area is to assume that a person’s sexuality is usually at least somewhat unknowable from surface appearances.

However, the artificial intelligence community is intent on proving me wrong! That confident friend who can claim to pick “the gays” out of any crowd…. might exist fairly soon, in the form of computer applications, which have recently seen startling success in identifying sexual preference based on a single photograph. And they are doing it without the benefit of a gif of the person doing that limp-wristed “tinker-bell” gesture that was universally acknowledged to signify “gay” in 1980s TV (watch any episode of Three’s Company).

Gay traits may mostly be a stereotype, but a Stanford University study into facial features has demonstrated that a computer could determine sexual orientation in men an astonishing 81 percent of the time and in women 74 percent of the time—on a sample size of a single image. When the program was given more than one image, the success rate increased to 91 percent and 84 percent, respectively. For some reason, it will be noticed, gay men are easier to “identify” than gay women. One theory states that perhaps (as is generally suspected) sexuality really is more “fluid” for women.

Note that for comparison, when people assessed the same images, they had a success rate of just 61 percent for men and 54 percent for women. Those numbers sort of establish that gaydar among people is an actual thing, right? 54 percent is close to a coin flip, though.

The AI was trained to assess bone structure and facial features, on the premise that gay men were more likely to have feminine features and gay women more likely to have a masculine appearance. The study looked at jawlines, hairlines, nose length, among other features. According to The Guardian, “The data also identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads compared to straight women.”

As amusing as the concept of gaydar AI is, the prospect of its existence does suggest some fairly obvious potential problems, including the possibility that organizations premised on homophobia could use such technology to discriminate against LGBTI people. Since the program appeared to use physical characteristics to make its assessments (and not aspects that are a later choice by the user), it suggests that homosexuality may be more innate than it is a product of a person’s upbringing and environment.

It’ll be very interesting indeed to track the progress of this technology over time.
 
via Lost at E Minor
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.11.2017
09:00 am
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Meet Anita Berber: The ‘Priestess of Debauchery’ who scandalized Weimar Berlin

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The woman with the shock of dyed red hair, her body wrapped in a fur coat, and a pet monkey grinning and holding tight to her neck was Anita Berber. She danced across the foyer of the Adlon Hotel opened her sable coat and revealed her lustrous naked body underneath. Men leered, goggled-eyed. Women giggled or turned their heads in shock and embarrassment.

Anita Berber didn’t care. She liked to shock. She liked the attention. If she didn’t get it, she would shout and throw empty bottles or glasses on the floor. Smash! Berber was a dancer, an actor, a writer, and a model. She was called the “Goddess of the Night,” the “Priestess of Debauchery,” the very symbol of Weimar decadence, and a drug-addled degenerate. She was all these things and more. And during her brief life, Berber utterly scandalized Berlin during the 1920s. Not an easy task!

The daughter of two musicians, Anita Berber was born in Dresden in 1899. Her parents divorced when she was young, Berber was then raised by her grandmother. By sixteen, she quit the family home for the unpredictable life as a dancer in cabaret shows. The First World War was at its bloodiest height. The daily reports of casualties and death meant people were reckless with their passions. It was then that Berber started a series of relationships and dangerous habits that became her life.

After the War, Berber began her career as a movie actor—starring opposite Conrad Veidt in The Story of Dida Ibsen in 1918 and then in Prostitution and Around the World in Eighty Days the following year. While Veidt went onto become a major movie star with a career in Hollywood, Berber’s career stalled and she became best known for her performances as a dancer, a sultry temptress or a drug-addled prostitute. With her dark bobbed hair and androgynous good looks, Berber created a style that was copied by Marlene Dietrich (who basically stole her act), Leni Riefenstahl who idolized Berber, was her understudy and had a brief intense relationship with her, and Louise Brooks, whose seductive image in Pandora’s Box was a copy of Berber’s. She had relationships with both men and women, seeing no difference in taking pleasures from either sex. Berber married in 1919, then left her husband—a man called Nathusius—for a woman called Susi Wanowski. The couple became a fixture of Berlin’s growing lesbian scene.

Berber enjoyed opium, hashish, heroin, and cocaine—which she kept secreted in a silver locket around her neck. She also had a strong predilection for ether and chloroform mixed together in a small china bowl, into which she scattered white rose petals. Once these were sufficiently marinated in this heady concoction, she ate the petals one by one until she fell into a delicious sleep.

Berber’s louche lifestyle coupled with her fame as a movie star and dancer meant she was the subject of gossip and cafe tittle-tattle. It was said over black sweet coffee she was once kept as a sex slave by a married woman and her fifteen-year-old daughter. It was claimed between mouthfuls of chocolate cake that she wandered through casinos and hotels flashing her naked body. While in the bars, it was overheard that she exhausted her lovers with her insatiable demands for sex. 

Some of these tales were false. Most were true. But all of them kept Anita Berber fixed in the public’s imagination.

In 1921, she met and fell in love with the Sebastian Droste, a bisexual dancer who was known as a performer in Berlin’s gay bars and clubs. They became lovers and married in 1922. They formed a scandalous dance partnership choreographing and performing together in Expressionist “fantasias” like Suicide, Morphium, and Mad House. They also collaborated on a book of poetry and photographs called Die Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase (Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstasy). A typical routine went something like this:

In the dance, “Menschen,” or, “People,” we find,

Only two people

Two naked people

Man

Woman

And both in a cage

Hard stiff horrible cages

The two king’s children sang songs

But with tears

The man smashes his cage

Tradition

Society

Convention he spits out.

Which is the kind of nonsense we nowadays associate with the overly pretentious rather than the naturally gifted…but at the time… You can imagine: shock, horror, and spilled sherry.

Berber’s and Groste’s relationship was intense, passionate, and drug-fueled. Because of her considerable use of cocaine, Berber often hurled champagne bottles at the audience if they failed to appreciate her genius. It was inevitable their marriage would not last long and they separated in 1923.

By the time artist Otto Dix painted his famous portrait of Berber in 1925, the years of drug abuse, frenetic lifestyle, and lack of nutrition was plain to see. The painting looks more like a woman in her fifties than a twenty-five-year-old. The woman who once scandalized Berlin with her androgynous looks, her erotic and seductive dances and her sultry on-screen appearance was no longer so appealing. Berber was out of favor as a younger generation of ingenues took over. She began touring her dance shows. During one such tour in Damascus, Berber became fatally ill with tuberculosis. She returned home to Berlin where she died “surrounded by empty morphine syringes” on November 10th, 1928. Anita Berber was twenty-nine. She was buried in a pauper’s grave and may have been long forgotten had it not been for Dix’s portrait that kept her legend alive.
 
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More photos of the ‘Priestess of Debauchery,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.14.2017
09:52 am
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The boys of Paris: The trailblazing transgender performers of Madame Arthur’s


The great cabaret performer, “Coccinelle.”
 
After yesterday’s utterly vile offerings from our Shithead-in-Grief, I was determined to pull together a post on a favorite topic of mine—shining a bright, warm light on notable and obscure transgender and drag performers. I’ve done several such posts on this very topic while on active duty here at Dangerous Minds, and so have my colleagues. It seems like every time we do, there is a positive reaction from our readers. To me, this is an affirmation that the hateful, racist rhetoric coming from our nation’s capital is not collectively who we are as human beings or else not many of our good-looking high IQ readers are Trump fans. I was fortunate to have been raised by two incredible people who embraced the LGBT community at a time when there wasn’t a lot of support for people who chose “non-traditional” relationships and gender roles. Thanks to them, I’ve simply never thought of someone who doesn’t look or swing like me as anything but another person. Unless of course, you are the type that is prone to behaving in a way that physically hurts or openly discriminates against another person. If you happen to be one of those flatulent assholes that shits bricks full of hate, then please, PLEASE feel free to leap off a goddamn cliff. Now, if you’ll once again forgive my affinity to digress from the topic at hand—let’s all take a much-needed look back at one of Paris’ most famous cabaret nightclubs, Madame Arthur’s.
 

An article on Madame Arthur’s from the men’s picture magazine SHE, 1957.
 
A magazine article published in 1957 by SHE (pictured above) referred to Madame Arthur’s as “The Sodom of the Seine.” This lascivious-sounding description is reflective of the article itself which laments “Les Boys” takeover of the Paris nightclub scene and the disappearance of the beloved “decorative” showgirl. Madame Arthur’s would open its doors in 1946. The club’s name comes from a song originally written back in 1850 by Michael Feingold, which was later translated to French by author Paul de Kock. The song was then popularized by French cabaret performer and actress, Yvette Guilbert. Here are some of the cheeky lyrics from the song:

Madame Arthur is quite the lady
They chatter and chatter about her all over Paris
She may be mature and slightly shady
But each man is her lover-to-be!

Oui, Oui! The club and its sister establishment Le Carrousel were playgrounds of sorts for famous transvestite performers such as Coccinelle who debuted her act at Madame Arthur’s in 1953. According to historians, an artist would be hired first by Madame Arthur’s and the cream of the crop would then be given the opportunity to take the stage at Le Carrousel. Occasionally exceptions were made for international acts that had credibility or notoriety worldly enough to bypass Madame Arthur’s, and allowing them to go straight to Le Carrousel. Incredible images of the Parisian trans trailblazers below. Some of the photos are NSFW.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.27.2017
12:20 pm
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The homoerotic ‘needleporn’ art of Zachary Nutman (NSFW)
06.05.2017
08:57 am
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A naughty ‘needleporn’ creation by artist Zachary Nutman.
 
When I first came across the needlepoint of artist Zachary Nutman I could hardly contain myself. Not only are Nutman’s needlepoints, or “needleporn” as Nutman calls them, expertly executed, they are also so completely NSFW that I just want to hand the four-letter warning to Nutman as a prize for his efforts in presenting hardcore scenes of queer sexual interludes using a craft generally associated with your grandma or someone who owns way too many cats.

The young New York-based artist left London when he was twenty and enrolled in film school at New York University. Now 22, Nutman has created more than 30 pieces of queer-oriented needlepoints, many which can take the young artist a staggering 100 hours of work to finish. Much like Touko Valio Laaksonen—better known as the artist Tom of Finland, whom many consider to be one of the very most influential contributors to gay fetish art—Nutman says he isn’t aware of any kind of scenario he would shy away from when it comes to creating his needlepoints. The artist also gets lots of requests from his fans to make customized needlepoints depicting sexual scenarios that involve their partners, so that they can hang on their walls. Awww. All of the work Nutman has done to date are one-of-a-kind, and I’ve featured a large selection of his gloriously-porny needlepoints for you to ogle below.
 

 

 
Much more of Zachery Nutman’s needleporn after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.05.2017
08:57 am
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William S. Burroughs’ answer to the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’


The author at home
 
It’s the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen,” and you know what that means: it’s the 40th anniversary of the letter of support William S. Burroughs sent the band, along with his own all-purpose slogan and answer song, “Bugger the Queen.”

Victor Bockris writes that Burroughs’ piece predated the Sex Pistols’ single by three years, but even so, “God Save the Queen” was the occasion for its debut. As far as I can tell, Burroughs never mentioned “Bugger the Queen” without reference to the Sex Pistols. In October ‘77, writing from Naropa, Burroughs sent Brion Gysin a Rolling Stone feature on the Sex Pistols (presumably Charles M. Young’s contemporary cover story) along with the words to “Bugger the Queen,” which he referred to as a new song he might record with Patti Smith. Though the published letters haven’t yet caught up to the punk rock period, Ken Lopez Bookseller has made the typescript of this one available. Punctuation and spelling are WSB’s:

Dear Brion:

Enclose article from the Rolling Stone on the Sex Pistols and punk rock, in case you didnt see it. This explains the action in Paris. I guess we are classified with Mick Jaeger. I am writing some songs and may do a record with Patti Smith. Here’s one
My husband and I
The old school tie
Hyphonated names
Tired old games
It belongs in the bog
With the restofthe sog
Pull the chain onBuckingham
The drain calls you MAM.
BUGGER THE QUEEN
Whole skit goes withit illustratting everything I dont like about England.

“Bugger the Queen” was still on Burroughs’ mind one year later when he told a writer for the San Francisco punk zine Search & Destroy about his letter to the Sex Pistols (as quoted by Victor Bockris):

I am not a punk and I don’t know why anybody would consider me the Godfather of Punk. How do you define punk? The only definition of the word is that it might refer to a young person who is simply called a punk because he is young, or some kind of petty criminal. In this sense some of my characters may be considered punks, but the word simply did not exist in the fifties. I suppose you could say James Dean epitomized it in Rebel Without a Cause, but still, what is it? I think the so-called punk movement is indeed a media creation. I did however send a letter of support to the Sex Pistols when they released “God Save the Queen” in England because I’ve always said that the country doesn’t stand a chance until you have 20,000 people saying BUGGER THE QUEEN! And I support the Sex Pistols because this is constructive, necessary criticism of a country which is bankrupt.

 

The cover (cropped) of ‘Little Caesar’ #9, the first publication of ‘Bugger the Queen’ (via dennis-cooper.net)
 
The “skit” Burroughs mentions in the letter to Gysin, or a later version of it, is one of the entries in the essay collection The Adding Machine. Burroughs read it toward the end of 1978 at the Nova Convention celebrating his work. It was first published in the ninth issue of Dennis Cooper’s zine Little Caesar, whose previous number featured an interview with Johnny Rotten; International Times ran it too. The gist: chants of “Bugger the Queen” lead to a spontaneous uprising that forces Her Maj to abdicate. From the opening, a few words of inspiration, and the annotated lyrics:

I guess you read about the trouble the Sex Pistols had in England over their song “God Save the Queen (It’s a Fascist Regime).” Johnny Rotten got hit with an iron bar wielded by HER Loyal Subjects. It’s almost treason in England to say anything against what they call “OUR Queen.” I don’t think of Reagan as OUR President, do you? He’s just the one we happen to be stuck with at the moment. So in memory of the years I spent in England—and in this connection I am reminded of a silly old Dwight Fisk song: “Thank you a lot, Mrs. Lousberry Goodberry, for an infinite weekend with you . . . (five years that weekend lasted) . . . For your cocktails that were hot and your baths that were not . . .”—so in fond memory of those five years I have composed this lyric which I hope someday someone will sing in England. It’s entitled: Bugger the Queen.

My husband and I (The Queen always starts her spiel that way)
The old school tie
Hyphenated names
Tired old games
It belongs in the bog
(Bog is punk for W.C.)
With the rest of the sog
Pull the chain on Buckingham
The drain calls you, MA’AM
(Have to call the Queen “Ma’am” you know)
BUGGER THE QUEEN!

The audience takes up the refrain as they surge into the streets screaming “BUGGER THE QUEEN!”

Suddenly a retired major sticks his head out a window, showing his great yellow horse-teeth as he clips out: “Buggah the Queen!”

A vast dam has broken.

Alas, no one has stepped up to record “Bugger the Queen” during the intervening decades. I hold out hope Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye will set it to music. Below, for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in June 1977, the Pistols make themselves heard from a boat on the River Thames in what must surely be Sex Pistols Number 2.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.02.2017
09:30 am
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‘Female Trouble’ dolls and other imagined retro toys based on John Waters films
05.25.2017
10:01 am
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Divine as “Dawn Davenport” doll
 
Opening today at La MaMa Galleria at 47 Great Jones Street in Manhattan (and there until June 24) is “Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders” a show featuring shouldabeen toys and other fake retro “merchandise” based on characters and situations from the films of John Waters:

Do you remember eating Divine breakfast cereal or sleeping on Pink Flamingos bed sheets when you were a kid? Neither do we, but you just might upon viewing this oddball array of rare collectibles. Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders is a showcase of kitschy and ironic retail items based on the early films of Baltimore director John Waters. Discover forgotten toys, home decor, and seasonal artifacts featuring familiar Dreamlander movie personalities. Presented in the spirit of a Sunday morning garage sale, the exhibit revels in the strange, nostalgic appeal of the 70s and 80s.

The Dreamlander exhibition is the brainchild of Tyson Tabbert, a sculptor at New York’s Asher Levine fashion house, who looked into officially licensing some of John Waters characters for the toy market a few years ago, but found that this probably wasn’t in the cards:

“I was initially able to contact someone at Warner Brothers to discuss the possibility of making the figures legit. But the possibility of licensing them was, as I interpreted it, slim at best.”

Undeterred, Tabbert got some artist friends together to create some of the products he had in mind for an art show. Everything in the show is a period piece (ahem) designed to look like vintage toys. There’s even a bedspread! Tabbert self-financed much of the work, which also includes plastic Halloween masks of Connie and Raymond Marble from Pink Flamingos, a Desperate Living tea service and a metal ashtray inspired by Lobstora, the giant lobster that rapes Divine in Multiple Maniacs.

If you are looking for some officially licensed Divine swag, there’s an online Divine shop that sells T-shirts, tote bags, pins and other stuff.

 
The final scene from ‘Female Trouble’
 

Taffy’s parents, Dawn and Earl (both played by Divine) meet cute in a tableau inspired by a scene in ‘Female Trouble’
 

Metal Lobstora ashtray
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.25.2017
10:01 am
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