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Behold the wonders of ‘The Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book’
01:50 pm



Seventy-one years ago today, Harris Glenn Milstead was born at the (appropriately named?) Women’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Decades later, after a potent handful of John Waters movies and who knows how many disco singles, we celebrate perhaps the greatest diva the world has ever known—as Divine.

It’s amazing to think that Divine appeared in only thirteen movies in all those years. Thirteen! At least that’s how IMDb has it. I find that absolutely amazing. You could easily argue that on a per-minute basis, Divine had the biggest impact on audiences in movie history. Who would rate higher, Rob Reiner’s mother?

Much like Groucho Marx, Divine’s characters always had the best names, from Francine Fishpaw (Polyester) and Dawn Davenport (Female Trouble) to Babs Johnson (Pink Flamingos) and Edna Turnblad (Hairspray).

In 1983 Van Smith, who did make-up and costume design for most of Waters’ movies, released The Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book. Today it’s out of print, and is listed on Amazon for more than $300, although a typical asking price is closer to $125. However, you don’t need the book to soak in the bumptious appeal of Divine, we’ve got several pics from it right on this page.

More pics after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Trading cards of some dangerous minds, deep thinkers & radical intellectuals

For those with an interest in big ideas, these trading cards from should fire up your neurotransmitters.

Between 2000-2001, a set of twelve trading cards was released monthly via David Gauntlett’s website This original set of cards featured theorists (and their concepts) from the world of social and cultural theory, gender and identity, and media studies. The first out of the pack was British social theorist Anthony Giddens who devised the theory of structuration and wrote the book on The Third Way. This was followed by theorist Judith Butler whose book Gender Trouble argued that “biological” sexes were just as much as a social construct as gender. Then came the great controversial French thinker Michel Foucault with his ideas about sexuality, gender and power structures. The deck included some interesting choices like artists Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George and concepts like Postmodernity and Psychoanalysis.

This official set of twelve trading cards was thought by some to lack a few key players and its release inspired various academics, students and alike to produce their own cards. These additions included Karl Marx, Carl Jung, Simone de Beauvoir, Edward Said, Germaine Greer, Walter Benjamin and Marcel Duchamp.

Described as “Creative knowledge you can put your pocket™” these cards can be used to play a game of trumps—in which players can match strengths, weaknesses and special skills. For example, Foucault’s special skill of happily rejecting old models and creating new ones, might not quite beat Duchamp’s ability to confuse the hell out of everyone.

The full set is below—but if you want to own a set of these super brainy trading cards (and who wouldn’t?) then deal yourself in by clicking here.
#1 Anthony Giddens—British social theorist.
#2 Judith Butler—American philosopher and gender theorist.
#3 Michel Foucault—French philosopher, theorist, philologist and literary critic.
More thinkers and some big ideas, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When Frankie Goes to Hollywood covered Bruce Springsteen
11:59 am


Bruce Springsteen
Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Bruce Springsteen was 24 when he wrote “Born to Run,” a bombastic, ambitious and successful endeavor to craft the rock-song equivalent of the Great American Novel. It’s all at once a love letter to a girl and a paean to the automobile as a symbol of untrammeled liberation, and it packs a rock opera’s worth of narrative and tension-and-release into four and a half delirious minutes. The indelible saxophone solo that bisects the tune alone is encoded into rock ’n’ roll’s DNA. I’m not particularly even a fan of it, but credit where it’s due: “Born to Run” could well be THE quintessential pop song of the American mythos.

So what did it mean when a British band with openly gay members who celebrated debauchery covered it at the height of the Reagan era?

Frankie Goes to Hollywood were a massive, massive, out-of-left-field success in early ‘80s England. Their first three singles all reached #1, an accomplishment not even the Beatles matched (Gerry and the Pacemakers were the sole precedent for that feat). Their debut album was a 2XLP called Welcome to the Pleasuredome, an ambitious, charming, and often glorious album that cemented their status in the UK, where it went to #1 on the basis of over a million pre-release advance orders. But in the US, though the singles “Relax” and “Two Tribes” did very, very well, Frankie read as an overhyped fluke. Reagan-era America wasn’t going to go all in for a band whose video was banned for a simulated gay orgy, and the revelation that, due to the fussiness of producer Trevor Horn, much of the album had been recorded not by the actual band, but by members of Art of Noise and Ian Dury’s Blockheads acting as studio musicians, harmed their credibility (a silly matter—if only rockist “purists” had any idea how many of their favorite albums were recorded in part by guns-for-hire studio musicians…). Their Saturday Night Live appearance was supposed to blow them up in the States, but their choice to perform the anti-war anthem “Two Tribes” and Springsteen’s “Born to Run” came off to the normals less as audacity than as sacrilege.
Frankie Says ‘More after the jump…’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Keith Haring’s vision of Manhattan as lots and lots of penises
02:21 pm


Keith Haring

Of the ‘80s class of NYC artists, graffitist Keith Haring probably punctured the mainstream deepest of all (lots of points awarded to Barbara Kruger for “I Shop Therefore I Am,” though). But while middle America delighted in t-shirts and tote bags of his famous “Radiant Baby” and three-eyed smiley face, Haring directly confronted Apartheid, perceptions of homosexuality, and the AIDS crisis, especially between his 1988 AIDS diagnosis and his 1990 death.

But well before that diagnosis, Haring depicted gay male sexuality much more playfully—in the late ‘70s, he executed a series of simple graphite drawings depicting Manhattan as an island of dick. Buildings, streets and people are all rendered as the kind of cartoon dicks you can find any given 8th grade boy doodling in study hall, but Haring being Haring, his renditions are quite wonderful. They’ve been compiled onto the new book Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks. Per Hyperallergic:

Haring envisions the city as a kingdom of phalluses: he transforms Manhattan’s churches, skyscrapers, and fire hydrants into architectural penises. The Twin Towers become twin penises. There are penises drawn in front of Tiffany’s, in front of the Museum of Modern Art, while “waiting for a yam.” There are minimalist penises, composed of as few lines as possible. There are also Gucci penises, alphabet penises, flying torpedo penises, optical illusion penises, deconstructed penises, “actual size” tracings of penises, and clusters of penises on the subway at rush hour.

Unlike his “popnography” works in series like Sex is Life is Sex, Manhattan Penis Drawings are about as erotic as Dr. Seuss creatures, desexualized and abstracted into weird shapes ... they’re a light, playful version of his then-controversial pop celebration of gay male sexuality.

There’s sort of an underground precedent for a collection like this in Raymond Pettibon’s limited artist’s book Thinking of You, but that’s a much darker work—Pettibon’s penises are shadowy and menacing monoliths compared to Haring’s sprightly everydicks. Images here are reproduced from the book’s publisher, the Zurich-based Nieves. Since they’re, you know, pictures of dicks, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to be careful if you’re reading this at work?

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Go directly to Castro Street: ‘Gay Monopoly’ an absolutely fabulous vintage board game from 1983
08:51 am


Gay Monopoly

Gay Monopoly, a very gay board game from 1983.
Like many people I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet. Which is a problem if you happen to be in the line of work I’m in. Today, however, is a day that I am in LOVE with the Internet and I don’t care who knows it. Check out this absolutely fabulous board game put out in 1983 that took the Parker Brothers staple Monopoly and gave it a drag queen style makeover. I present to you one of the greatest board games ever to be pulled out of a closet—Gay Monopoly.

An idea conceived by the cheekily named company Fire Island Games out of (natch) West Hollywood it’s hard to say what I like most about this whole riff on Monopoly. Like the game pieces that include a leather cap, high-heeled pumps, handcuffs, a hair dryer and a teddy bear. Or the properties up for grabs on the game board of notable gay destinations and landmarks such as Castro Street in San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, and good old Tremont Street—and of course Provincetown—in Massachusetts. And of course instead of building hotels on your property in Gay Monopoly you build bars and bathhouses. Of course since this is Gay Monopoly that we’re talking about here, the railroads have been replaced with discothèques. Yes. As I was reading through the insert that helps explain the game I came across some tongue-in-cheek text detailing the “rules” for Gay Monopoly:

Remember that nothing in the rules is sacred. They are not carved in Quiche. Rules are for people “living” in Straight City. When you play GAY MONOPOLY be inventive like gay people always are.

So the next time your boss tries to tell you what to do like “make sure you’re not late again tomorrow” or to “not to drink a bottle of wine at lunch” you tell them that unless those rules are carved in quiche then no dice. As you might imagine this game is a difficult one to track down as Parker Brothers came hard for Fire Island Games and sued them for copyright infringement. As it turns out Fire Island donated the vast majority of whatever profits they made for the fifteen-dollar game to AIDS research and support organizations. I did find a few going for multiple hundreds of dollars over on Etsy and Ebay if you’d like to add this fantastic artifact to your board game collection.


More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Motor City is burning: A gorgeous look at the thriving queer vogueing scene in Detroit
09:52 am



Family portrait
The seminal queer documentary Paris is Burning famously captured the underground NYC voguing scene while still keeping an eye on the violence and poverty its subjects endured—a difficult balance to strike. Filmmaker Mollie Mills managed the same delicate storytelling, and captures something really intimate in her little mini-doc, Vogue, Detroit. What’s startling is the similarities between the two documentaries, which have 600 miles and nearly 30 years between them.

It’s encouraging to watch progress like the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and the mass cultural shift regarding queer people, but the majority of the country is still pretty homophobic, and the voguers Mills found have formed de facto families, just like the NYC voguers of Paris is Burning. Some things have changed, of course—Mills travels to an LGBTQ youth center, who have designated resources specifically for vogueing, but even in a post-Madonna world, vogueing is a thriving scene for a working class queer subculture, an escapist artistic outlet in the midst of urban decline.

And of course, the dancing is amazing.

Via Dazed

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie!’: True tales of Black Randy, first wave Los Angeles punk icon

The many roads that led to the happening that was to be referred to as “punk” are varied and often way more interesting than punk itself. It’s still a wonder to me to see the various ways so many very opposed situations all wound up in one place, at one time. In other words, to skew a quote from the the old TV show Naked City “There are eight million stories in punk city. This is one of them.”

My personal introduction to Black Randy was when I arrived (by bus!) in Los Angeles from New York with some friends and bandmates to visit our new found buddies who had come to New York six months before. We let them stay in our sorta squat (in actuality it was the storage space of the drummer of The Lovin’ Spoonful, who our friend babysat for!) and they said to come to LA. These new pals consisted of Brian Tristan (later to be known as Kid Congo Powers), Trixie Plunger, Mary Rat, Rod (from LA band The Mau Maus) and Hellin Killer. Lifelong friends, all. In LA we bounced between the three places most people in our circle did: The Screamers house (aka The Wilton Hilton, where Brian/Kid literally lived in a closet); The Canterbury on Cherokee, off Hollywood Boulevard, an entire apartment complex stuffed to the gills with punk rock kids in every room and across from infamous punk club The Masque; and Joan Jett’s house, then a looney bin party pad.
When entering the Canterbury I was warned by Screamers drummer KK Barrett about a guy named Black Randy who was crazy and to “definitely not shake his hand”! The next morning we went out and in the lobby of the Canterbury, on the huge maybe seven ft by eight ft art deco-ish mirror was a thick covering of human feces. THIS was a typical Black Randy gesture to humanity. I was then told that when he went to get assistance from the government due to his mental problems (SSI aka “crazy money”) he had his pockets stuffed with his poop and went in with his hands in his pockets and gratefully shook the worker’s hands when greeted…of course causing a mini riot at the welfare office and speeding up his paperwork just to get him the hell out of there! This is why you do not shake Black Randy’s hand. He was also known to poop in party hostesses’ purses and worse. His phony phone calls are legendary and can be heard here!

I then found out Black Randy had a band. This I had to see!
I saw Black Randy and The Metrosquad at the Masque. At his very first show there the first words out of his mouth were “I’m glad to see there aren’t any punks here tonight… because I HATE PUNK.” Being from New York it reminded me of James Chance and the Contortions. It had a similarly fast and funky element, but unlike Chance’s bands, the subject matter was scathing and funny with lots of gay, street and political references. Songs about Idi Amin, porno, fighting the police, narcs, sex and death. His backup singers—the Blackettes (think the the James Brown Revue on glue) were the scream of the then new crop of punque chicks including Exene Cervenka, Alice Bag, Lorna Doom, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and others.
To quote

Black Randy and his Metrosquad were a supergroup of the Hollywood punk era: the lineup included members of the Randoms, Eyes and the Dils as well as one of the other founding partners of Dangerhouse, David Browne. Musically, they were nothing like the hard-fast-loud sound of punk- if anything they were a ‘60’s Soul/James Brown style funk/soul band that played rather fast. They also had echoes of early Blondie and the Who, with their tough and tight rock and roll. They were a funny band, a joke band in the sense that humor was key to understanding what they were about. The band’s’ music, with its circus-like Woolworth Doors organ vibe, played the collective straight man to Black Randy’s drunken, buffoonish, drawling, sneering voice. His voice is one of the few truly filthy voices I’ve ever heard in music—every word he says is dripping in self-hatred and general loathing, a venomous nicotine and beer-stained voice that’s just laughing. His voice is sleazy enough that you don’t just think that he just slept in a porn arcade (as the lyrics to his anthem “I Slept in an Arcade” discuss), you think he INHABITED it. The band was perfectly in sync with Black Randy, playing covers of “Shaft” and “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” while he took aim at the songs, exaggerating the swaggering manhood of one and the simple-minded racial pride of the other to grotesque proportions.

Black Randy as a lyricist was a satirist who made everything he took aim at disgusting and outrageous, but still rooted in the real world. This is important, as many artists will take satire into fantasy (such as Eminem), making the situations so outlandish they become unreal. Almost all of Black Randy’s lyrics are internal narratives of a person’s feelings at a certain moment.

The other main member of The Metrosquad was David Brown who started the first and best Los Angeles punk label, Dangerhouse Records, who put out classic 45s by The Germs, Avengers, Dils, Eyes, X, Weirdos, Deadbeats and more. The only LP released on Dangerhouse was the incredibly titled Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie by Black Randy and The Metrosquad. The reason to celebrate is that the LP has just been reissued by another classic early punk/post punk/hardcore label, Frontier Records (Suicidal Tendencies, Redd Kross, Christian Death, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks, Long Ryders, Three O’Clock, Damned, Adolescents, etc.), helmed by founder Lisa Fancher and still going strong. It’s been a long time since this LP has been available on vinyl. Get it while you can here.
As an afterthought, I have a really interesting tidbit of info that no one knows: Black Randy had a long history, like so many of the older first wave punk rock innovators. He was a video tech in the earliest days of that field. He was friends with the guys who became LA synth cult icons The Screamers (Tomata Du Plenty and Tommy Gear) long before that when they were doing insane drag performances. I don’t mean Judy Garland impersonations, I mean more like terrorist performance art. In 1974 they had put a show together called Savage Voodoo Nuns which was booked into a new club in the worst neighborhood of lower Manhattan (The Bowery) called CBGB, by Ramones friend (and later their t-shirt designer and lighting director) the late Arturo Vega. Read a review of that show here. They also wanted bands on the bill so Arturo wrangled his friends The Ramones (their second show) and another new band on the scene called Blondie to play.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
The Thief’s Porno: Jean Genet’s existentialist gay smut film from 1950 (NSFW)
03:07 pm


Jean Genet

In 1950, the great French criminal, poet, novelist, playwright and homosexual Marxist revolutionary, Jean Genet—one of the towering literary talents of the 20th century—directed his only film, Un chant d’amour (“A Song of Love”), a silent, 26-minute black-and-white short depicting the sexual fantasies of two male prisoners, one young, one older, and a self-loathing prison warden who gets off watching them. In the role of the younger prisoner, Genet cast his then lover, 18-year-old Lucien Sénémaud, who would later leave him for a woman.

Un chant d’amour is one of the earliest classics of queer cinema and the film caused scandal and censorship crackdowns for several years when attempts were made at public screenings. This controversy—and the difficulty of actually seeing the film allowed Genet to put his well-honed conman skills into action as he sold “the only” print to several wealthy porn collectors. Like his books Un chant d’amour kept Genet’s name in the news with near constant censorship battles.

When Jonas Mekas wanted to screen the film in New York, he had to smuggle it past customs officers by hiding the film—cut into several pieces—in his pockets. As Mekas explains in his intro to Cult Epics DVD release of Un chant d’amour, he happened to be seated next to British playwright Harold Pinter who was flying to America for the 1964 Broadway premiere of his play The Homecoming. Pinter’s fame helped him distract a star-struck customs officer as Mekas whistled by.

Jean Genet with Angela Davis
From an extensive and thoughtful essay about Un chant d’amour at Jim’s Reviews:

When Mekas screened the picture at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative (which he’d co-founded, as he later would Anthology Film Archives and Film Culture magazine), police burst in, beat Mekas, threw him in jail, and sneered that he should be shot for “dirtying America.” The case was later dropped, since Genet was himself something of a celebrity, with two plays running in New York; but Mekas received a suspended six-month sentence for screening another landmark LGBT film, Jack Smith’s gender-bending Flaming Creatures. Déjà vu: more police raids a few months later in San Francisco when Genet’s film was shown to private groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought suit, enlisting the expert testimony of the brilliant critic Susan Sontag, but to no avail. The California District Court of Appeals banned the film, and the decision was upheld by the US Supreme Court.

Unwittingly, Genet had helped narrow the US’s legal definition of obscenity, which had earlier been expanded to include explicit works with “literary or scientific or artistic value.” In the UK, despite a scattering of underground screenings over the years, the film was not even presented to the British Board of Film Classification (i.e., censorship) until 1992. Happily, times have changed – even if it’s taken several decades – and we can now appreciate Genet’s film on its own terms… even if, ultimately, Genet himself could not.

Today, perhaps the most shocking aspect of Un chant d’amour is Genet’s denial of it, beginning around 1975 when he huffily refused a 90,000 franc award from the Minister of Culture, of office which he equated (not unjustly) with censorship: and by the way, hadn’t he made the film a quarter of a century earlier. Edmund White offers some intriguing speculations about Genet’s denunciation: “perhaps because as his sole film it seems a slender accomplishment given his overwhelming lifelong ambitions towards cinema, perhaps it reminded him of a sterile, unhappy period in his life and of his now-dead love for Lucien, or perhaps because it was one more instance of his trafficking between art and pornography in an ambiguous territory he never felt happy about… [And] the extra-artistic reactions to his work – legal, moral, titillated – irritated him. He told Papatakis he didn’t like the film because it was too bucolic and not sufficiently violent. It is also Genet’s last attempt to portray homosexual desire.”


Genet marching with two of his revolutionary queer literary compatriots, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.
If you look at late 60s issues of The Village Voice and other underground newspapers, there were often small ads advertising screenings of Un chant d’amour along with films like Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks or Scorpio Rising (or Andy Milligan’s Vapors, which mostly takes place in a gay bathhouse) at cinemas with names like “The Tomkat Theater” or “The Adonis Lounge.” These film titles were pretty much code words indicating gay cruising scenes, but in a manner likely to fly right over the heads of the NYPD’s vice squad.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Marianne Breslauer’s gorgeous photos of queer, androgynous and butch women of the 1930s

The photography of Marianne Breslauer is striking for both its intimacy and its subjects—women, usually of the sleek, chic and gender-bending variety, posed to optimum androgynous elegance. A bohemian Berliner by birth, Breslauer studied under Man Ray for a time in Paris and achieved some commercial success before returning home to an increasingly volatile Germany. As a Jewish artist working in an obviously queer milieu, Breslauer eventually fled to Switzerland and retired from photography early, eventually marrying a man and becoming an art dealer.

Among the many beautiful faces captured by Breslauer was her dear friend, Swiss writer, journalist and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who she described as “neither a man nor a woman, but an angel, an archangel.” A libertine and rebel, Schwarzenbach defied her wealthy, Nazi-sympathizing family, funding anti-fascist publications and later supporting American unions at the height of the Depression—this is not to mention her adventures hitchhiking across India and Turkey, or the many lesbian affairs. Surviving addiction issues and a suicide attempt, Schwarzenbach nonetheless died at the young age of 34 after a fall from a bicycle, leaving behind a prolific body of work, 170 articles and 50 photo-reports.



More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Underground erotica: Konstantin Somov’s secret stash of gorgeous gay art
01:22 pm


Konstantin Somov

The Boxer (1933)
Russian painter Konstantin Somov isn’t very well known for the dreamy, homoerotic portraits you see here. He was a successful commercial artist from an artistic family, but his most acclaimed work might better be described as “retro,” or even “camp.” Somov was essentially a Rococo revivalist, forgoing the somewhat harsh realism that was popular in Russia at the time for a whimsical gouache and watercolor style that was nearly 200 years old—think big wigs and giant skirts, a lot of fussy-looking depictions of 18th century aristocracy. In some ways, his commercial work was even gayer than his gay boudoir scenes.

In Russia, Somov was an integral part of a thriving and lush arts community centered around a publication he co-founded—World of Art, which also included lavish costume and set design for the Ballets Russes. There were a lot of gay men involved in World of Art, and its predilection with fantasy and luxury were very much out of step with the 19th Century Russian Realism. After the Russian Revolution, Somov likely anticipated his work being denounced as decadent so he immigrated to the U.S. and then Paris. His commercial work is auctioned off for millions at Christie’s, but it’s his underground gay portraiture that’s got the cult following.

Naked Young Man (1937)

Portrait of A Man (1933)
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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