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‘Jean Cocteau speaks to the year 2000’ (or Jean Cocteau is dead, long live Jean Cocteau!)
11.30.2016
03:50 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies
Queer
Thinkers

Tags:
Jean Cocteau


 
Prior to his death in 1963, Jean Cocteau, the great French artist, filmmaker, novelist, playwright and poet, made his cinematic last will and testament, a time-capsule titled Jean Cocteau s’adresse… à l’an 2000 (“Jean Cocteau speaks to the year 2000”). Cocteau, seen seated in front of his own work at Francine Weisweiller’s Villa Santo-Sospir (where his Testament of Orpheus was shot), offers advice and perspective to a generation just being born. Cocteau gives his definition of genius and of the poet, “an intermediary, a medium of that mysterious force that inhabits.” He also discusses the technical progress of science and how it must not be impeded by intolerance and religion.

In his Cocteau biography James S. Williams wrote:

Just a couple of months before his death, in August 1963, he made one last film: a 25-minute short entitled Jean Cocteau s’adresse à l’an 2000 (Cocteau addresses the year 2000). The film comprises one still and highly sober shot of Cocteau facing the camera head-on to address the youth of the future. Once recorded, this spoken message for the 21st century was wrapped up, sealed and posted on the understanding that it would be opened only in the year 2000 (as it turned out, it was discovered and exhumed a few years shy of that date). If in The Testament Cocteau portrays himself as a living anachronism, a lonesome classical modernist loitering in space-time in the same buckskin jacket and tie while lost in the spectral light of his memories, here he acknowledges explicitly the irony of his phantom-like state: by the time the viewer sees this image, he, J. C., our saviour Poet, will long be dead.

Temporality is typically skewed: speaking from both 1963 and 2000 Cocteau is at once nostalgic for the present that will have passed and prophetic about the future. There is thus both a documentary aspect and projective thrust to the film, another new configuration of ‘superior realism’ and fantasy enhanced by Cocteau’s seamless performance as himself and his now ‘immortal’ status as a member of the Académie Française. He reiterates some of his long-standing artistic themes and principles: death is a form of life; poetry is beyond time and a kind of superior mathematics; we are all a procession of others who inhabit us; errors are the true expression of an individual, and so on. The tone is at once speculative and uncompromising, as when Cocteau pours vitriolic scorn on the many awards bestowed upon him, which he calls ‘transcendent punishments’. He also revels in the fact that he can say now what he likes with absolute freedom and impunity since he will not be around to suffer the consequences.

The status of Jean Cocteau s’adresse à l’an 2000 remains ultimately unclear. Is it a new testament or confession, or a heroic demonstration of the need for human endurance, or a pure ‘farce of anti-gravitation’ as he puts it? Or everything at once? It is entirely characteristic of Cocteau to leave us hanging on this suspended paradox. What is certain, however, and what we have consistently seen, is that Cocteau’s life and body are his work, and his work in turn is always mysteriously alive. This is Cocteau’s final gift to his fellow human beings. Let us retain and celebrate the force of that gesture. He is resurrected before our eyes, ever-present, defiant and joyfully queer.

Jean Cocteau is dead, long live Cocteau!

If you are a Cocteau aficionado, the film is a delight. Here are a few transcribed moments:

We remain apprentice robots.

I certainly hope that you have not become robots but on the contrary that you have become very humanized: that’s my hope.

But I have no idea who you are or how you are thinking, or what you are doing. I don’t know the dances you are dancing.

The dance of our time is called “The Twist.” Maybe you have heard
about it.

You most certainly have your own dance.

I wonder what Cocteau would have made of The Beatles, hippies, gay liberation, punk, Internet pornography, Facebook, the iPhone, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, but this we’ll never know.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Love Saves the Day: An interview with the legendary NYC club pioneer and DJ David Mancuso
11.18.2016
07:02 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Queer

Tags:
Disco
RIP
LGBT
NYC
David Mancuso
The Loft


 
As if 2016 didn’t suck enough already, Monday night saw the passing of one of the most influential (yet unheralded) figures in late 20th century popular culture. That man’s name was David Mancuso, and if you’ve ever danced to great records on a great sound system in a room full of smiling people and thought “could Heaven ever be as good as this?” then David Mancuso is the person you have to thank.

Mancuso, a one-time follower of LSD guru Timothy Leary structured his parties into three stages, and borrowing from The Tibetan Book Of The Dead (as Leary had for his guided LSD sessions) he termed them “Bardos”:

“The first Bardo would be very smooth, perfect, calm. The second Bardo would be like a circus. And the third Bardo was about re-entry, so people would go back into the outside world relatively smoothly.”

The parties Mancuso started throwing in his Manhattan home in 1970–which eventually picked up the moniker “The Loft”—are the absolute ground zero for dance culture as we know it today. This isn’t some hyperbolic statement: practically every one of the great NYC DJs who emerged during the 1970s and 80s—from Larry Levan to Frankie Knuckles to Danny Krivit to Kool Herc to Afrika Islam to David Morales to Junior Vasquez to Danny Tenaglia—are indebted in one way or another to Mancuso’s work (many being regular attendees at his Loft parties). And that’s just the DJs. Plenty of club owners were inspired to open their own nightclubs after visiting The Loft, often with the same shared values as Mancuso’s: peace, love, unity and diversity. While music was the main focus, socially the Loft was incredibly mixed. From day one the majority of the patrons were both homosexual and non-white. The freedom that could be found on The Loft’s dancefloor helped attendees fully express their (often marginalized) personalities, bond with people from both their own social circles and further afield, and helped them shape a vision together of the kind of world they would like to live in once the party had ended and they had left Mancsuo’s home. All to a spellbinding soundtrack carefully chosen by Mancuso himself, music that would later be classified as “disco,” but which was, in reality, simply the very finest in funk, soul, jazz, rock and electronica.

I was lucky enough to meet and interview David Mancuso, for my Discopia fanzine, back in 2003. He had recently come out of a period of relative inactivity, and was touring the world, trying to set up each and every venue he played in to be as close as possible to his New York home. I met him in Glasgow’s CCA, in between testing out the specially-hired audiophile event PA and beginning to blow up the hundreds of balloons that would become his party’s’ signature decoration. What follows is an abridged version of that interview, and while I would have liked for there to have been a happier occasion for digging this talk out and dusting it off, it’s still a fitting tribute to a man who changed not just my own life, but the lives of countless others. Rest in peace, David!

Dangerous Minds: You’ve been DJing for a long time. What is it that makes you still want to do it?

Mancuso: Well, actually, that was the last thing I wanted to do! And to this day it’s the thing that scares me the most.

What, DJing?!

Mancuso: Yeah. I mean it’s not something I fantasized about or wanted to do. But as I started doing my own parties I sort of found where I could be the most help. Also I was into sound systems, so there was a whole relationship there. But the DJ part of it really, and not to be vague, but the music really plays us. Really it’s an opportunity where one can shed their ego. Sort of like having an out of body experience. So I feel there’s a responsibility with the sound, with certain aspects and so forth, that I can contribute to.

Is it still going in New York?

Mancuso: Yeah, I’m about to do my 33rd anniversary. I don’t do it as frequently, as I don’t have a permanent location. The last four or five years the rents and things have gotten so astronomical and the parties are not designed to make a lot of money, okay? And I’m not into having a bar. It’s a very private, very personal thing that’s me and my friends. That’s what this is all about, it’s not about being a club. It’s not out there in the commercial world. The music relates to all these situations, yes, but it’s a very personal thing.

Can you tell me a bit about the sound system and how it is set up?  

Mancuso: Well basically it’s set up around the fundamentals of physics, of sound. And this is not magic, some kind of formula for having, you know, a really great sound system. It’s not about that at all. It is set up and designed to be honest and respectful to the music. You wanna hear the music not the sound system. Usually what happens is, you’ve probably seen this yourself, they put four stacks up, then face them toward the middle.

Right.

Mancuso: Well that’s just not how things work. Your voice is coming from there, my voice is coming from here… You get my point? It’s not coming from [over there], there’s not two more of us. But that’s a formula people have used and in some cases they just don’t know, but it’s got nothing to do with music standards. I mean if you take two flashlights and you switch two beams at each other they cancel.

So you start with the centre ‘cos there’ll be three speakers. The centre channel is mono. It has a lot to do with the vocals. You come down the room, and there’s two more, one in each corner. Then two on the sides which are delayed, but reinforce the sound. So whatever the artist is doing [it replicates], just as my voice is travelling from this point down that room as if you were sitting down there and vice versa. You relay exactly what’s happening. It’s all mathematics. So it’s set up to be as though there people, standing there playing instruments.
 

An action man styled as David Mancuso by Reggie Know
 
Over here [UK] we get told a lot about certain clubs and the Loft is one of them…

Mancuso: Correction, it’s not a club, please! Sorry, I got a little out of hand…

That’s okay.

Mancuso: ...but once you start going in that direction you start getting away from what the Loft is all about. I mean I’m here on a tour, but this is not the Loft. First of all the Loft is a feeling. While there are certain aspects that reflect the Loft and how it develops, it’s not the same. The name “The Loft” itself is not a name I gave it, it’s a given name. People eventually started saying that, ‘cos what is it? Oh, it’s my house! This is not about the club scene. I find some of them are really good, but that’s not what this is about. Sorry, I’m not trying to give you a hard time.

No that’s cool, it is a distinction that need to be made. But in terms of the clubs that people hear about over here, especially the New York stuff like the Paradise Garage and the Gallery, did you go to any of them?

Mancuso: Yeah, of course. I mean, I know Nicky [Siano] very well,  I knew Mike Brody very well, I knew Larry [Levan] very well, and the bar for quality as far as a sound system goes was much higher. Part of what the Loft did was contribute to that. People started, in about ’73, opening up other lofts and things, and they had to have a good sound system ya’know. So that’s one of the things the Loft has done. But these days the quality has gone down, in a lot of situations.

In terms of general quality?

Mancuso: Yeah, be it musical, or less musical. I mean you ever go into a place and you can’t make out the words, or you can make out some of them? It should be very precise.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Trials of Eyeliner’: The massive new 10 CD Marc Almond box set is best of the season
11.15.2016
03:29 pm

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:
Marc Almond
Soft Cell


Photo: Damien de Blinkk

Let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, that there’s been a recent national (or even international) event so seismically disturbing that your entire worldview has crashed on the rocks of Reality Beach, a well-tended waterfront property under the maintenance of a bunch of mean-faced racist and xenophobic rich old white men in their 70s with much younger wives.

More than once, during particularly stressful times in my life, I’ve gone into a well-stocked record store to ask someone whose opinion I respected to recommend something by a non-mainstream artist who I might’ve missed, but whose work would blow my mind and draw me deep into its mystery, to move my head from the place it was in to someplace else. It almost doesn’t matter where. Makes sense, right? The power of music. A therapy of sorts. A diversion. A solace. A form of self-medication. Prayer, even.

Can’t be anything frivolous. It has to transport you. Change your mood. Change your mind. Transform you. It must be magical. Holy. It’s got to move you from here to there.

The “correct” response to my record store query might be something like “Well, have you gone through a Sun Ra phase yet?” “Do you have the Faust box set?” or recommending both of these Big Youth anthologies.

My prescription for what psychically ails you? Do take me up on this sage advice, I promise you my rock snob reader that it will work: Trials Of Eyeliner: Anthology 1979-2016, the newly released and truly magnificent 10-CD, 189 track anthology of the life’s work of Marc Almond.

Trials of Eyeliner, I reckon is one of the most essential box sets of the day, an all-killer, no-filler jam-packed to the bursting point celebration of one of our greatest living vocalists, a singular talent who will never be equaled or topped in the niche that he created for himself as the ultimate gay torch singer/diva. And this is the definitive study of Marc Almond’s work, chosen by the artist himself, with singles, deep cuts and unreleased numbers from his collaborations with David Ball in Soft Cell, the Marc and the Mambas/Willing Sinners/La Magia period with Anni Hogan, solo work and duets with the likes of Siouxsie Sioux, Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell, Jimmy Sommerville, Gene Pitney and PJ Proby. Packaged in a slick, glossy box with a copiously annotated hardback book, it’s a luxurious item, but one with a very reasonable price (around $80-90). Want something to lose yourself in musically? This is it.
 

Photo by Pierre et Gilles

I’ve been a massive Marc Almond fan for pretty much the span of his entire career, from the first Soft Cell album onward and I have to say that there are few disappointments, in terms of tracks not included on Trials of Eyeliner, although I can still think of a few dozen off the top of my head. These 10 CDs make a very, very clear—and as far as I am concerned unequivocal and definitive—musical argument that Marc Almond is one of the greatest artists of our age, a one-of-a-kind vocal talent who will probably be ranked alongside of Frank Sinatra, Nick Cave, Scott Walker, Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf and even Judy Garland by future generations of musical historians for a unique ability to breathe life, but also unutterable grief into a sad song. His decidedly homoerotic artform also compares to French poet and revolutionary Jean Genet, but I believe Marc Almond will ultimately achieve a stature far greater than Sartre’s “Saint Genet” as a pioneering gay artist of the 20th century when all’s said and done.

And I gotta say, I can only imagine what Marc Almond himself thought when he got his own copy of Trials of Eyeliner. He must’ve been fucking pleased. All in one place like this? It’s a staggering accomplishment.

Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite things on Trials of Eyeliner. Truth be told, I love pretty much everything on it.

The quintessance of Marc Almond’s artistry is on display here in his heart-breaking performance of Charles Aznavour’s “What Makes a Man a Man?”
 
Much more Marc after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Kinky erotic portraits of Yukio Mishima

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In 1961, a young photographer named Eikoh Hosoe was asked by writer Yukio Mishima to take his portrait picture. It was a humbling yet surprising commission. Mishima was then Japan’s greatest living novelist—the author tipped to one day win the Nobel Prize. Hosoe was relatively unknown. The commission made Hosoe deeply curious as to why the great Mishima had chosen him.

When they met in the small garden at Mishima’s house, the author anticipated Hosoe’s question:

“I loved your photographs of Tatsumi Hijikata. I want you to photograph me like that, so I asked my editor to call you.”

“Mr. Mishima, do you mean I can photograph you in my own way?” I asked.

“Yes, I am your subject matter. Photograph me however you please, Mr. Hosoe,” he replied.

All my questions and anxiety faded.

The photographs Mishima so greatly admired were the ones Hosoe had taken of the dancer Tatsumi Hijikata. 

Hijikata was an originator of Butoh—an apocalytpic dance form developed in Japan after the Second World War in opposition to western influence. Mishima had similarly broken away from the prevailing western influence that had altered Japan after the war and during the 1950s. Mishima wanted a return of the Emperor and the ancient samurai traditions.

Mishima had been a puny kid. As he matured he changed his body through rigorous exercise and weight-lifting to become toned and highly athletic. His books often deal with the theme of the split between intellectual ambitions and the man of action.

His first novel Confessions of a Mask examined the “reluctant masquerade” between the perceived and actual life. Mishima was bisexual. He was married with two children but had an intense and active gay life. He was a sadomasochist, who believed in the living of a life through force of will. A life that he claimed adhered to the strict codes of the samurai. His books were fixed in this tradition—though his subject matter was preoccupied with sex and death. This led many critics in the west to misunderstand Mishima. One of my collegues here label him as a cross between “Proust and Jeffrey Dahmer.”

That fine day in September 1961, Hosoe quickly realized Mishima did not want a banal author portrait:

In offering himself as the “subject matter” of my photographs, I thought he might have wanted to become a dancer himself. I was still in my twenties then, so I was naïve. I did not make the distinction between an international literary figure and a dancer.

Mishima’s father happened to be watering the garden, so I grabbed his hose, and I wrapped Mishima’s entire body in the hose and kept him standing in the center of the zodiac, where he was planning to erect a statue of Apollo.

I asked him to look up and concentrate on my camera, which I was holding from a ladder above. I shouted, “Keep looking at my lens very intensely, Mr. Mishima! Okay, that’s great, keep going . . .” He never blinked while I shot two rolls of 35mm film. “I am proud of my ability to keep my eyes open for minutes,” said Mishima.

“I have never been photographed like this,” he said. “Why did you do it in this way?”

“This is the destruction of a myth,” I replied.

“You should wrap the hose around Haruo Sato,” he laughed. Haruo Sato was considered to be a literary giant at that time. But what I really meant was that I wanted to destroy the preconceived ideas about Mishima’s image in order to create a new Mishima.

After the shoot, Hosoe thought he may have gone too far. Two days later, Mishima phoned him to say he loved the photographs and wanted to collaborate with Hosoe on some more.

Over a period of six months Hosoe worked with Mishima on a series photographs which he hoped would capture the writer’s soul. These were eventually published as a book—with text by Mishima—called Ba-ra-kei or Ordeal by Roses.

In November 1970, Mishima together with four members of his secret army attempted a military coup. They broke into the eastern headquarters of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces taking the commanding officer prisoner. Mishima demanded 800 soldiers gather outside the offices to hear a speech and a list of demands he had written. Mishima hoped this speech would inspire the troops to rebel against the corruption of western influence and join his rebellion. Mishima wanted an end of democracy and a return of the Emperor. His rebellion was a literal union of the artist and man of action changing history.

The troops laughed and jeered as the author spoke. The coup failed. Mishima returned inside where he committed seppuku (self-disembowelment) before one of his soldiers attempted to decapitate him. After several blows failed to remove his head, another of his soldiers eventually managed to decapitate Mishima.

Mishima’s biographer John Nathan suggested this military coup was only a pretext for Mishima’s ritual suicide—something he had long dreamed about. In his short story “Patriotism” Mishima described an idealized seppuku where the central character pulls a blade across his abdomen cutting himself open:

The vomiting made the fierce pain fiercer still, and the stomach, which had thus far remained firm and compact, now abruptly heaved, opening wide its wound, and the entrails burst through, as if the wound too were vomiting. . . . The entrails gave an impression of robust health and almost disagreeable vitality as they slipped smoothly out and spilled over into the crotch. . . . A raw smell filled the room.

Hosoe’s photographs of Mishima taken in 1961 and 1962 capture the author’s terrible beauty, eroticism and conflicted sadomasochistic nature.
 
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More of Hosoe’s photographs of Mishima, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The mysterious ‘Love Is A Drag,’ an album of songs for gay lovers from 1962
11.01.2016
03:38 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Queer

Tags:
Love Is A Drag


 
Anyone who thinks the vinyl revival is some hipster fad that’s going to fade as quickly as a cloud of Beaujolais-flavored gas from a ten dollar vape pipe is not paying attention. With 1000s of new titles being released every month and instantly selling out, crate diggers who run indie record labels are plunging further down the vinyl mine shaft and coming up with freshly discovered gems that were obscure even in the years they were released. The thrift store and garage sale flotsam and jetsam, the goofy records we used to chuckle at as we ransacked cardboard boxes looking for first pressings of Pink Floyd or 13th Floor Elevators albums, are now the new drug for vinyl junkies. Lunatic lounge singers, hippie dippy regional folk albums, high school band recordings from the astral plane and scores of vanity projects slapped on wax by the delusional, demented and visionary have always had a fan base among a certain kind of hardcore collector, but the audience for outré coolness on vinyl is expanding as music lovers are demanding more than the umpteenth re-issue of Hendrix and Floyd on 180 gram virgin vinyl. We’re all looking for the next vinyl high, the record that drops our jaws as soon as the needle drops into the groove.

The future of vinyl is as endless as its own past. And man I love it. Among the very best labels resurrecting lost titles from the vinyl crypt is Sundazed Music and their new off-shoot Modern Harmonic. With a focus on loungey exotica, Sun Ra’s interplanetary space jazz, experiments from John Cage and soft-pop chanteuse Margo Guryan, Modern Harmonic’s taste in the offbeat and wonderful is impeccable. That’s particularly true of their latest release Love Is A Drag, a five-decade old lounge record that shatters taboos with its low-key subversion.

Love Is A Drag (“for adult listeners only”) has been veiled in mystery since it was first released in 1962. On the surface it sounds like dozens of similar jazz records of the era fronted by a male vocalist with a seductive style of crooning. What makes Love Is A Drag unique and groundbreaking is that all of the tunes on the album are love songs from one man to another. Titles like “The Boy Next Door” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” are Sinatra-like amorous ballads but from a gay perspective. There’s not a hint of camp or irony in the vocals and the backing band, composed of jazz pros, is playing with heartfelt conviction. The subject matter might be gay, but the artists are playing it straight. That’s what makes Love Is A Drag so unusual. It’s not a novelty record played for laughs. It’s as sincere as anything recorded by any A-list lounge singer celebrating heterosexual romance.

Up until a few years ago no one knew who the singer on Love Is A Drag was. From a professional standpoint singing gay-themed love songs was probably not a great career move in 1962. Though the record sold well in certain circles and had admirers like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope (!), anonymity was essential for the guy doing the vocals, particularly if he was heterosexual and married. Finally, the mystery was solved when the identity of the man behind the songs surfaced when J.D Doyle of the Queer Music Heritage project was contacted by a friend of the singer and shared what he knew. Vocalist Gene Howard who fronted Stan Kenton’s big band was the voice that sang so convincingly of the love that dare not speak its name. Gene died in 1993 so sadly doesn’t know that his legacy lives on thanks to Sundazed.
 

 
Love Is A Drag is being released on November 25 as part of Record Store Day’s Black Friday event. Even though I own a record store, I avoid Record Store Day for reasons I won’t go into. But this record may be worth fighting the crowds to get your hands on. Or you can wait for it to pop up on eBay and buy it for some inflated amount. Or maybe Sundazed will re-release it for those of us who buy records when and how we want. As a vinyl guy, I can’t imagine owning Love Is A Drag in any other form. Another example of the vinyl revival continuing to surprise and please.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Behold the wonders of ‘The Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book’
10.19.2016
01:50 pm

Topics:
Books
Movies
Queer

Tags:
Divine


 
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

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

Between 2000-2001, a set of twelve trading cards was released monthly via David Gauntlett’s website Theory.org. 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.
 
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#1 Anthony Giddens—British social theorist.
 
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#2 Judith Butler—American philosopher and gender theorist.
 
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#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
09.07.2016
11:59 am

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:
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
08.16.2016
02:21 pm

Topics:
Art
Queer
Sex

Tags:
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?
 

 
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Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Go directly to Castro Street: ‘Gay Monopoly’ an absolutely fabulous vintage board game from 1983
08.03.2016
08:51 am

Topics:
Amusing
Games
Queer

Tags:
1980s
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.
 

 

 
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Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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