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‘Funeral Parade of Roses’: Edgy 1969 Japanese drama that inspired Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
02:09 pm



Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses is one of the most audacious and astounding feature films ever made, a visually-stunning hodgepodge of cutting edge 60s graphic design, Warholian underground cinema, documentary filmmaking along with wildly experimental editing techniques. Matsumoto’s dazzling freewheeling filmmaking breaks the Brechtian fourth wall several times—interviewing the actors about their roles and pulling a shot out to reveal the camera and lighting crew—and shows the influence of William Klein’s fashionista extravaganza Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, the films of Jean Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, even Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Funeral Parade of Roses is a furious and dizzying bombardment of violence, sex, and drugs. The 1969 film is well-known to have been a major influence on Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, and we see this in the sped-up montage scenes set to classical music, the sound design and editing style, and art direction (not to mention the false-eyelashes and the phallic lollipops). It was produced via the Art Theatre Guild (ATG) the legendary Japanese production company and distributors of the country’s “New Wave” cinema that was shunned by the major studios. In one underground “in-joke” New York’s avant-garde cinema promoter Jonas Mekas is mentioned by name and quoted:

“All definitions of cinema have been erased. The doors are now open.”


All this and I’ve yet to mention that Funeral Parade of Roses takes place in Tokyo’s gay underworld—Bara no sôretsu is the original Japanese title, “bara” meaning “rose” which equates to the pejorative use of “pansy”—giving it a particularly edgy reputation for a film made in Japan in 1969.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Boyd Rice and Douglas P. get busy in the new fan-fiction comic book ‘Love Holocaust’
09:03 am



Now there’s a Henry & Glenn Forever for the neofolk set.

The latest catalog from Soleilmoon Recordings (home of the affordable Dreamachine and much of the Legendary Pink Dots’ oeuvre) offers Love Holocaust, a new comic book about “an imaginary romantic encounter” between former collaborators Boyd Rice of NON and Douglas P. of Death in June:

The story, written by J. Guignol, draws inspiration from Death In June’s legendary songbook. Illustrator Tenebrous Kate turned the story into a comic book, and has lovingly hand-made each copy. The covers are hand-printed linocuts with gold ink on black paper. Limited numbered editions of 27 hard-bound and 50 soft-bound copies.


The glimpses of the book’s contents on the Soleilmoon website disclose runes, Gothic script, tiki mugs, and other totems of these men’s mythologies. I see that J. Guignol describes their assignation in the kind of prose Terry Southern used to call “brutally frank” and “frankly explicit”:

Boyd wanted to feel the tightness of Dougie’s anal swastika, he wanted to open the “brown book” of his love. Boyd began to pull Dougie’s pants down; his hot breath send [sic] shivers down Dougie’s spine as he whispered in his ear, “Put the mask on. You know I like it with the mask on.”

More fun after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Meet Tuttii Fruittii and Toni Tits, the ‘drag clowns’ of London
02:21 pm



The memorably named Tuttii Fruittii and Toni Tits—Tuttii’s the one on the bicycle above—are inclusive clowns for the generation that has decisively rejected the imposition of restrictions on gender identity. Operating out of the Deptford neighborhood of London, they go by the name Jûngølā Klöwñz, and they are an “experimental comedy art duo” inspired by a generous grab-bag of sources, including drag, clown, and tribal culture.

Tuttii and Toni both cut their teeth at the Haus of Sequana, a women-only group inspired by the tribal practices of the African, South American, and Asian diasporas that after “rampant orgies of imagination and joyous mashings of minds” created a group of performance artists that liberally uses body paint, movement, and chanting “to challenge patriarchal norms and prescribed gender roles.”

In what passes for “regular life,” Tuttii is a hair sculptor and Toni is a video artist. Photographer Poem Baker has been capturing the duo as they go about their business for over a year, and that time has culminated in the colorful series of pics seen here.

On the Klöwñz, Baker writes, “Their psychedelic creations being so entrenched in their daily lives has made it impossible to distinguish between persona and performer, between art and life.” The two clowns have given Baker an occasion to ponder why she does what she does too: “London is my home, and I love photographing all its wonderful, colorful characters— the eccentrics, the artists, the crazies, and the the bohemians.”


More after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cute Jehovah’s Witnesses animation teaches kids how to be homophobic
08:31 am



If you want to get through Jehovah’s metal detector into paradise, you’ll have to leave behind that bag full of love and inclusivity

Jehovah’s Witnesses have released a cute Pixar-ish animation intended to teach children that same-sex marriage is against the will of God.

Lesson 22 is titled “One Man, One Woman” and is part of a longer series called “Be Jehovah’s Friend!” The animation shows considerable influence from Pixar’s monster hit from 2015, Inside Out.

The video depicts a young girl telling her mother about an episode at school involving a friend named Carrie who drew a picture of her family, which has two mommies but no daddy. The girl passes on the comment from the teacher—a liberal heathen and a threat to everything right and good—that “all that matters is that people love each other and that they’re happy.” This bit of commonsense truth provides an opening for the girl’s mother to bring down the hammer and explain that Carrie’s mommies are never going to get into heaven if they persist in such unholy pursuits.

“People have their own ideas about what is right and wrong, but what matters is what Jehovah feels,” says the mother. The mother then makes an analogy that compares the gatekeepers of heaven to a kind of celestal TSA with a metal detector to deny entry to those with false beliefs:

It’s kind of like going on an airplane. What would happen if someone wanted to bring something on the plane that wasn’t allowed? ... To get [to paradise], we have to leave some things behind. That means anything Jehovah doesn’t approve of.

At the end of the video, the girl, newly motivated to get her friend Carrie to change her parents’ ways, says, “I can tell her about the paradise, and about the animals, and about the resurrection!”

And then her mother says, “Let’s practice!”

A disclaimer at the end of the video states that it was produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, a Jehovah’s Witness organization.

SMH, SMH…...

via Gay Star News

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Meet Wilma Burgess, country music’s first openly lesbian singer
04:29 pm



When country singer Chely Wright revealed to her fanbase that she was a lesbian back in 2010, many of the magazine articles at the time referenced k.d. lang or Melissa Etheridge, to name two earlier gay performers who opted to be true to themselves in public, but very few mentioned an even earlier lesbian country music singer to come out of the closet.

Actually, Wilma Burgess, who had several hit singles in the mid-1960s was never in the closet to begin with. Burgess was a protege of the great country music producer Owen Bradley, one of the chief architects of the slick, string-laden “Nashville sound” of the 50s and 60s. Bradley, who had been Patsy Cline’s producer, heard in Burgess’ powerful voice a performer able to do something similar to the deceased singer and he signed her to Decca Records in June of 1964. Interestingly Burgess was reluctant to perform teary ballads where she was singing to a man, and preferred her material to be gender neutral and ambiguous. When she did agree to sing a song like “Ain’t Got No Man” it was something she negotiated with her powerful hit-maker mentor: One song she liked but that he didn’t have to, for every one of his choices that she went along with but wasn’t too fond of. Their partnership worked well and produced several hits, most notably the Grammy-nominated “Baby,” a 1965 hit Burgess was seen singing in the Jayne Mansfield B-movie The Las Vegas Hillbillys, and “Misty Blue” in 1967.

For obvious teasons, Wilma Burgess ultimately found herself frustrated by the strict and ostensibly pious Nashville scene and left the music business in 1978. She would go on to open The Hitching Post, the first lesbian bar in Nashville, in the late 80s with the money she made during her career. Wilma Burgess died at the age of 64 from a heart attack on August 26th, 2003.

More clips of Wilma Burgess after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Derek Jarman: The iconoclast filmmaker as painter
10:02 am



Derek Jarman became a filmmaker by accident. He was originally a painter, an artist who started making home movies with friends at his Bankside home in London. These Super-8 films slowly evolved into movies and one of the most exciting, original and provocative filmmakers since Ken Russell arrived. During a seventeen-year career Jarman made eleven feature films—from the Latin and sand romp Sebastiane through his punk movie Jubilee (1978) to Caravaggio (1986) and the final one color movie Blue. During all of this time, the artist, director, writer, gardener and diarist painted.

Jarman was a student the Slade School of Art in the 1960s where he was taught—like everyone else—to be an “individual.” Jarman felt he was already managing that quite well in that department without being told how. He left art school and worked as a set designer with Ken Russell—most spectacularly on The Devils in 1971 and then Savage Messiah in 1973. His painting career splits into different sections; his early work reflected his interest in landscape, form and color—something which would recur in his films—his later work reflecting his more personal experience. However, as he began making films Jarman shifted from using paint to creating pictures with celluloid.

His return to painting came after his HIV diagnosis in 1986, when he produced a series of Black Paintings—collages made from objects found on the beach at his cottage in Dungeness. He placed these objects on an oily black background—similar to the contrasting black of the tableaux he used in Caravaggio the same year.

As his condition worsened, Jarman painted larger, more abstract canvases. He given a room to paint in where he splashed the canvas with thick bright paints and scrolling words and statements. His influence came from his life, his own films and the work of Jackson Pollock. The brightness and color of the paintings were a defiance in the face of illness.
‘Landscape with Marble Mountain’ (1967).
‘Landscape with a Blue Pool’ (1967).
‘Avesbury’ III (1973).
More of Derek Jarman’s paintings after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Vomit, piss, shit: Freak icon Leigh Bowery’s deliberately offensive art-punk performance art, MInty
02:00 pm



Although there is currently but a skeletal entry for Minty on, the tags alone are intriguing enough:

“Harsh.” “Outrageous.” “Provocative.” “Quirky.” “Self-Conscious.” “Stylish.” “Uncompromising.”

Who wouldn’t want to see a provocative, quirky, harshly outrageous and self-consciously stylish, uncompromising pop act? Count me in. Yes, please!

Minty were an obscure fashionista/club kid/performance art musical combo from the early 90s. If they were really known at all, they were known for the fact that freak icon Leigh Bowery was the original lead singer. Bowery formed Minty with knitwear designer Richard Torry, his wife Nicola Bateman, and club promoter Matthew Glammore. When Bowery died suddenly of an AIDS-related illness on December 31, 1994, after a time the rest of Minty decided to carry on without him. They recorded just a small number of singles—including Bowery’s amazingly foul-mouthed “Useless Man” rap—and one highly original album—Open Wide—that was, I think, unjustly neglected, although the AV Club named it as one of the “least essential albums of the 90s.” I totally disagree.

Although they hailed from London, Minty were hardly what you’d call a Britpop group. They had little to do with the likes of Blur or Oasis, but they did have a benefactor in Pulp who asked them to be the opening act on one of their tours. The outrageous, deliberately offensive avant garde group was banned from several venues in Britain when word of Bowery giving birth to a shit and blood-covered “baby” (Bateman) onstageno really—got around. To say nothing of the urine drinking, vomit and the stuff he did with the chocolate! In 1994 the Westminster City Council closed down a two-week long Minty residency at London’s Freedom Cafe after only one night.

Although Boy George would later play Leigh Bowery onstage in the Taboo musical, Minty were probably a lot closer to the Butthole Surfers than Culture Club. I have also described them as “Plasmatics meet Soft Cell” or “COUM Transmissions meet Dee-lite,” and even as “the B-52s meet Hermann Nitsch...”

Get Minty fresh after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Love and Affection: Vintage photos of gay and lesbian couples
11:39 am



A couple’s photographic portrait is an affirmation of their relationship. It states for all to see: “We love each other. We care for each other. We are proud of who we are together.”

During the Victorian era many gay and lesbian couples proudly expressed their love for each other in studio portraits. Unlike the common belief that such relationships were “the love that dare not speak its name,” as Oscar Wilde so famously described same sex attraction in his poem “Two Loves,” gays and lesbians often dared to show their love. Indeed, many gay and lesbian couples more or less lived openly together throughout their lives. This was far easier for women than for men as women were expected to live together if they were not married, or to live with the euphemistically termed “female companion.”

Men, no historical surprises here, had their own haunts for meeting like-minded souls. In London these could be found in the “Molly houses” and gentlemen’s clubs or pick-ups haunts at Lincoln’s Inn, or St. James Park or the path on the City’s Moorfields, which was charmingly referred to as “Sodomites Walk.”

Theaters and circuses were also well-known dens of homosexual activity—this can be traced all the way back to Elizabethan England, when male prostitutes plied their trade at theaters.

The armed forces, in particular the Royal Navy was notorious for gay relationships—understandable with all the horny seamen looking for any port in a storm. Apparently word got around.

It is a moot point that the change in public attitude towards homosexuality commenced with the Labouchere Amendment to the Sexual Offences Act in 1885, which “prohibited gross indecency between males.” This was the law under which Wilde was infamously prosecuted and the law that heightened discrimination against gays.

Before that there had been the Buggery Act—against anal penetration and bestiality—which was introduced during the reign of Henry VIII. This led to numerous executions (hangings) and imprisonments. It was briefly repealed, then reinstated by Elizabeth I. However, there were few prosecutions under the act and it was repealed again in 1828—though “buggery” remained a capital offense. James Pratt and John Smith became the last two men to be executed for buggery, in 1835.

The Labouchere Amendment outlawed homosexuality and made it more difficult for gay men to live the lives they desired. Labouchere did not include lesbians in the act as he believed drawing attention to lesbianism would only encourage sapphic desires amongst most Victorian women.

So even when gay relationships were outlawed in England, they still thrived in open secret. In America, the sodomy laws varied from state to state. What one state tolerated or had no opinion about, another state punished. However, as with England in the Victorian era, America gay and lesbian couples would often openly express their love for each other in portrait photographs.

This collection of beautiful, brave people gives us a small visual history of LGBT relationships from the 1860s-1960s. Many of the couples are unidentifiable, but where possible their names have been given. (Editor writes: Mild disclaimer: Of course it’s difficult to say that in all cases these photos are of gay couples.)
Anna Moor and Elsie Dale, 1900.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The B-52s and Friends’ Art Against AIDS commercial, 1987
12:25 pm



In 1987, the B-52s produced an incredible public service announcement for AMFAR (The Foundation For AIDS Research) with the late NYC-based video artist Tom Rubnitz (best known for the “Strawberry Shortcut” and “Pickle Surprise” videos) and several of their closest famous friends. The colorful tableau vivant recreated the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s album cover with the flowers spelling out “Be Alive”

Along with the B-52s, you’ll see Korean video artist Nam Jun Paik, Allen Ginsberg, Dancenoise, “voguing” pioneer Willi Ninja, Nile Rodgers, Joey Arias, Tseng Kwong Chi, Mink Stole, ABC’s David Yarritu, “Frieda the Disco Doll,” John Kelly as the Mona Lisa, Lady Bunny, performance artist Mike Smith, Kenny Scharf, David Byrne and then-wife Adelle Lutz, model Beverly Johnson, NYC “It Girl” Dianne Brill and Quentin Crisp among many others.

If this isn’t eighties enough for you already, note the presence of “Randee of the Redwoods” (comedian Jim Turner) the acid-fried MTV “presidential candidate.”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Moms Mabley, the original wise old black lesbian comedian: ‘Comedy ain’ pretty’
06:31 am




“He said, ‘Now what would you do if I died?’ And I said ‘Laugh.’”

If you have the opportunity to see the 2014 HBO documentary Whoopi Goldberg presents Moms Mabley, don’t pass it up. Clearly a labor of love, Goldberg recreated Mabley’s act as a young performer at Berkeley in the ‘80s and was obviously very inspired by her work. The doc was originally called Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ To Tell You and was supported by Kickstarter donations. Then HBO bought it and no doubt asked for a title change to include Goldberg’s household name due to the relative obscurity of its eponymous subject some forty years after her death in 1975.


“What’s she got that I ain’t had thirty years longer?”

Unless you’re a real comedy nerd or over the age of, say, 55-60, you probably have little direct experience of Jackie “Moms” Mabley or remember seeing her on television. She could be seen mostly on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, maybe Laugh-In and various talk shows doing a toned-down version of her “blue” stage act. She was billed as “the funniest woman in the world” and was one of the first female stand-up comics, black or white, if not the very first. (Even Phyllis Diller claimed to be indebted to Moms Mabley.) I only really knew of her via seeing her albums in the comedy album cut-out bins of the late 1970s or hearing snippets of her stand-up on a long-running radio show called The Comedy Hour that used to air after The Dr. Demento Show back then. Her act was that of a straight-talking, dirty-minded, toothless old black lady who made jokes about chasing young men around. I had but a vague awareness of her at best, so I can be forgiven for assuming that her comic persona was something akin to the way she might be in real life, but exaggerated a bit, like say Minnie Pearl.


“Did you know I was on President Nixon’s enemies list? Yes darlin’, I told Tricia that if the Pilgrims had shot bobcats instead of turkeys for food, we’d be eating pussy for Thanksgiving.”

Nothing apparently could be further from the truth: The mismatched old lady clothes and the Gilligan hat merely clothed a character that Jackie Mabley had developed—and aged into—from the late 1920s onwards on the black vaudeville touring circuit, or the “Chitlin circuit” as it was called, including the big rooms of Harlem, like the Apollo Theater. “Moms” had a costume, the character’s “look” completed when she took her false teeth out. In real life Jackie Mabley was a proud and defiantly out butch black lesbian woman, at a time when the very concept of such a person would probably not have computed even to people who worked with her on a day-to-day basis. Offstage the dresses she claimed to buy from the S&H green stamps catalog were exchanged for the sort of smartly cut men’s suit that Janelle Monáe might favor. (She can be seen in a man’s suit in 1933’s Emperor Jones.)

Moms Mabley was one of the great 20th-century comedians, up there with any of them, although she’s little recalled today. She’s also someone who figures into the civil rights movement and the nascent gay liberation movement, too. (Even if few actually knew it at the time. It’s not like she was trying to hide her sexuality from the world, because she obviously wasn’t.)


“That man so old… he’s older than his birthday.”

As Goldberg states at the beginning of the doc, the reality is that not all that much is truly and factually known about Moms Mabley’s life. One can surmise certain things, or know what sort of money she made ($10,000 a week, which was a fortune then and not too bad by today’s standards either) or find posters of her on a bill at the Apollo and YouTube clips of her TV performances, but the details of her life are quite scarce and ephemeral at this point. Most people who would have known her or worked with her in her heyday would be long dead. Goldberg deserves thanks for rescuing this fascinating woman’s life story and helping restore her rightful place in comedy history, not to mention her role in helping white TV viewers and nightclub audiences of the 1960s to understand the POV of a wise old dirty-minded black woman. Had she been a few years younger, it’s easy to imagine Moms Mabley in a Norman Lear-produced sitcom of the ‘70s and as well-remembered today as say, Redd Foxx is, another risque black comic who was lucky enough, for posterity’s sake, to be born 26 years later.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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