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Divine takes the UK: Two Hacienda shows and ‘Top of the Pops’
06.13.2014
10:02 am

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:
Divine
Top of the Pops
Hacienda


 
Divine’s music career was perhaps less well-known than his career acting in John Waters’ films, but his discography contains plenty of music that’ll appeal to fans of Hi-NRG, ‘80s Eurodisco, and good old sleaze. In 1983, he appeared not once, but twice, in that ‘80s dance Mecca, Manchester’s Hacienda.

No expense was disbursed for these shows—Divine was clearly singing along with his records, like karaoke, but with the original vocals still present. I assume the idea must have been for Divine’s planet-sized personality to overcome the performances’ showmanship deficiencies. And such is the nature of Divine’s cult that even half-ass productions like that were recorded for release on CD as Born to Be Cheap, and on DVD as Live at the Hacienda/Shoot Your Shot. However, the between-song banter IS absolutely worthy of Divine’s trash-diva rep.

Here’s footage from both performances:
 

 
And in the spirit of trying to keep everyone happy, here’s a better, if mimed, performance, but what you gain in production value you lose in raunchy banter. It’s Divine on Top of the Pops, lip-synching what may be his best known single, “You Think You’re A Man.”
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Bring back Hothead Paisan, homicidal lesbian terrorist
06.09.2014
11:29 am

Topics:
Art
Queer

Tags:
comics
Hothead Paisan
Diane DiMassa

hotheadcover
 
In the early ‘90s a small independent underground comic by Diane DiMassa featuring a rumpled, wild-eyed, overcaffeinated “homicidal lesbian terrorist” was frequently listed among Riot Grrrl and Queercore zines of the day. The main character, Hothead Paisan, spent a lot of time pissed off at the world, nursing crushes on Madonna and Joan Jett, or looking for love, once finding it in a shaggy-haired character named Daphne whose gender was never specified. The humor was dark and sometimes vicious, but there were also glimmers of a sweet vulnerability in the characters. Giant Ass Publishing’s Stacy Sheehan would send small gifts with the comic to young riot grrrls, including pins/badges and dog tags with messages like “Dyke Warrior” and “No Guilt.”

DiMassa developed the comic while journaling during her early days of sobriety and recovery. She also illustrated writer Kathy Acker’s chapbook Pussycat Fever. In some moments, Hothead Paisan was the kind of character you wanted to read when it felt like having to deal with one more stupid person would be enough to push you to consider vigilante behavior. At other times, when the injustice and prevailing unkindness of the world became overwhelming, Hothead’s depression won out and she would retreat into herself, emerging from the darkness only to interact with her Higher Power (which was a shadeless lamp she named Donna Summer) or her blind, sensible, serene, hippie friend Roz, who would offer her herbal tea and talk her down from the ledge. Then there was the hilarious afterthought known as the Menstruation Museum, complete with Big Ass Mattresses (do you put the emphasis on “big-ass” or “ass-mattress”?).
 
lampy
 
The comic was never going to fly under the political or sociological radar for long, even before people became twitchy over the use of the word “terrorist.” For one thing, her cat, Chicken, wore a fez, which was just one thing that pissed some people off. There was a backlash from the trans community because of DiMassa’s trans-critical opinions. Then there was all the hyperbolic anger toward men and “spritz-head” women and the violent, ax-wielding, gun-toting revenge Hothead fantasized about, the sort of thing anti-feminists suspect is a not-so-secret man-hating blueprint for daily action, not catharsis in the form of a fictional comic book character. Revenge fantasies in feminist work, going so far as armed revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s, were nothing new. Would there have been more of an outcry against the anger and violence if the genders had been reversed? You bet.
 
spritzhead
 
Citing Hothead Paisan with Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. Manifesto, the Radicalesbians’ “Woman-identified Woman,” and Monique Wittig’s novel Les Guérillères, Sara Warner, author of Acts of Gaiety: LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure, wrote:
 

These lesbian revenge fantasies are deadly serious satires featuring vigilante feminist heroines, graphic scenes of retaliation and retribution, cunning linguistic puns, and black humor. Lesbian comedies of terrors exploit for humorous effect the compulsory rites and rituals of heteronormativity. Their plots revolve around the frustrations and unrepressed rage of the disenfranchised and dispossessed. Episodic in nature, they depict highly theatrical spectacles, dark play, blood sports, and war games.

—snip—

Their humor stems from the protagonist’s skillful manipulation of ludicrous situations and her virtuosic display of anarchic wit.

 
There has been one performance of the musical adaptation of Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, staged at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in 2004, with music and lyrics by Animal Prufrock of the punk band Bitch and Animal. Animal had discovered the comic in a bookstore while she was a frustrated theater student in Chicago. She told Sara Warner, “I SAW ME. I immediately said, ‘I’m gonna make a fucking musical out of this.’”

The cast featured cult singer-songwriter and Righteous Babe Records founder Ani DiFranco, wellness activist Susan “Stop the Insanity!” Powter, Toshi Reagon from Sweet Honey in the Rock and BIGLovely, and Alyson Palmer of BETTY RULES! and The L Word. To many attendees, who had been buying the comic by mail order or at the shrinking number of feminist bookstores in the country, the Hothead musical was the highlight of Michfest. Animal intended to take the musical all the way to New York but immediately encountered roadblocks. A project about a lesbian terrorist is not easy to fund, even if the country isn’t at war against terrorism. Rumors occasionally surface of a new production with the likes of Joan Jett involved (may I suggest Brody Dalle?), but they disappointingly remain rumors.

After over twenty years Hothead isn’t as well known as one would expect, still a fringe character, unlike the sexier Tank Girl, who at least got her own movie and decent soundtrack. DiMassa and Hothead were the subject of Heather Pearl’s independent film The Village Idiot, which included songs by L7 and Joan Jett, that was screened at the Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1993. “Gayploitation” fimmaker Lola Rocknrolla is still looking for investors to fund her live-action Hothead film.
 
LGBT Authors Gather in Boston, 1993, with a brief chat with Diane DiMassa at 1:37:

 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Fantastic posters for the Cockettes, Divine, Sylvester by Todd Trexler
06.04.2014
10:09 am

Topics:
Art
Queer

Tags:
Divine
Sylvester
The Cockettes
Todd Trexler

Trexler
 
In San Francisco in the 1970s, Todd Trexler was one of the most prolific and sought-after poster artists for the city’s predictably amazing drag scene. He generated many posters for the Nocturnal Dream Shows and midnight movie screenings at the Palace Theater on 1741 Powell Street (it was also called the Pagoda later on). His attention-grabbing yet stately posters captured and perhaps helped define the distinct aesthetic of San Francisco’s drag happenings. The contrast of art deco filigrees to big personalities like Divine and the Cockettes is very effective.

Sadly, Trexler passed away in February of this year, at the age of 70. His essential posters can be seen in an exhibition that opens this week at Magnet (4122 18th Street) in the Castro district. Some of the items have not been on display in 40 years.

As an art student in 1968, Trexler began making posters, many of them hand-drawn. He was close with Sebastian (or, as he was also known, Milton Miron), a key member of the Cockettes. Todd continued to do work for them for a number of years in the 70s, before moving to Monterey to attend nursing school in 1979.

Here’s Trexler on the “Divine Saves the World” poster shown above:
 

I absolutely adored working with Glenn on the few occasions that I did! The day that we planned to take photos for the VICE PALACE poster I’ll never forget. Glenn and I sat in the back seat of a car with Sebastian in the front. We drove around San Francisco looking for a place to use as a backdrop. We ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts and decided it was perfect! Glenn was in makeup, bib-overalls with the sides split to make them large enough. He had tossed a couple of 50’s net prom dresses in the trunk of the car. He slipped into a pair of open-toed backless mules and wrapped the prom dresses around himself and instantly became DIVINE! I took the photo and that poster is an all- time favorite of my poster career.

 
Todd Trexler
 
Todd Trexler
 
Todd Trexler
 
Todd Trexler
 
Todd Trexler
 
More dazzling posters plus an interview clip with the artist after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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What if heterosexuals were a bullied minority?
05.29.2014
01:21 pm

Topics:
Movies
Queer

Tags:
bullying
LGBT

breederpic
 

Why the hell were there no After School Specials like Love is All You Need? The short film by Kim Rocco Shields depicts an alternate reality where heterosexuality is a societal taboo. “Breeders” are denigrated, even the proud ones with pink and blue bumper stickers on their cars, harassed on a daily basis, constantly told they are going to hell and have disgusting, perverted, sinful lifestyles, and subjected to violence. The main character, Ashley, is a young girl who is horrified to realize that she is attracted to boys.

In her review of the film blogger Jennifer Coté said:

The world of this film is one in which the perfect nuclear family consists either of two moms or two dads, and any kid who dares to dream of a future that looks different from this runs the risk of merciless bullying. As you can probably guess from my description thus far, this short film carries some weighty messages about sexually-motivated bullying and suicides, but the fact that the story is set in an alternate universe somehow enables the flick to come off as neither preachy nor heavy handed…  This is to say: the way that writer Kim Rocco Shields thinks to put every heterosexual viewer into the shoes of a bullied kid is absolutely brilliant, and it left me itching to get this movie shown in schools everywhere.

Shields made the film a few years ago at the beginning of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign to illustrate to flummoxed adults why so many LGBT preteens and teen-agers were committing suicide after being mercilessly bullied.

The Daily Californian’s Matthew Kirschenbaum took issue with the predominantly white suburban setting of the film:

First of all, it is important to recognize that the video portrays problematic (mis)appropriations of queer identity and unrepresentative portrayals of only white, middle-class folk. Still, it is beneficial because it puts sexuality-based oppression into a different lens — one for the oppressor to relate to. I don’t believe the target audience of the video is the queer crowd fighting for queer agenda and equality, but rather non-queers who are dubious of change.

The video implicitly advocates issues such as marriage equality and calls hatred into question. Personally, it took me a few minutes to realize what was really happening in the video, and it strikingly resembled something familiar to me, being one of those kids coming to realization. Although unfortunately extreme and dramatic, the common themes of bullying and realizing difference play out to highlight the opposers of queer agenda and their unjustified, harmful acts and sayings.

In an interview with Sonoma SunTV’s Rick Love Shields said:

Actually my first draft of the script, I wrote it for a little boy that was bullied, and I realized that our society is so used to seeing violence against men in general. Our society is very used to seeing violence, so I thought, well, what better way to open people’s eyes is to get a female protagonist who looks like the girl next door, who’s relatable in every way and show her being bullied as a boy would. So in one scene she is hit across the face by an older guy, and that happens to boys all the time. It brings awareness when you’re seeing it happen to a young girl.

 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Earliest known Aleister Crowley manuscript surfaces
05.19.2014
08:28 pm

Topics:
Books
Occult
Queer

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
poetry


 
In 1898, heartbroken Cambridge student Aleister Crowley’s love affair with Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt had ended and he looked to his poetry for comfort. A small notebook of these lovelorn poems will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this week.

Rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who discovered the manuscript during a hunt for early gay literature says:

“The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him – and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.”

Pollitt was a female impersonator who went by the stage name “Diane de Rougy,” the future Great Beast 666 was just 22 when they met in 1897. Pollitt was four years his senior, a friend of both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, had been painted by James McNeill Whistler and was the president of the university’s Footlights Dramatic Club. “I lived with Pollitt as his wife for some six months and he made a poet out of me” is how Crowley described their relationship.

Crowley later wrote of his lover:

“Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise. His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth. He possessed one physical beauty - his hair ... its colour was pale gold, like spring sunshine, and its texture of the finest gossamer. The relation between us was that ideal intimacy which the Greeks considered the greatest glory of manhood and the most precious prize of life.”

 

 
According to bookdealer Pearson it is the earliest known Crowley manuscript, a collection of eight sonnets, composed in pencil in a small notebook. Only two of the homoerotic poems have ever been published. Crowley destroyed much of his earliest poetry, but chose to keep this volume, which includes titles like “He, who seduced me first” and “I, who am dying for thy kiss.”

“He destroyed the poetry because he was the priest, the master, the leader, and it didn’t suit his image to be seen as weak and vulnerable. But he kept this little book all his life, so the poems obviously meant a great deal to him.”

The so-called “Amsterdam Notebook of Aleister Crowley” is priced at £12,500 and can be viewed starting Thursday at the Olympia . Here’s one of the poems.

The Red Lips of the Octopus

The red lips of the octopus
Are more than myriad stars of night.
The great beast writhes in fiercer form than thirsty stallions amorous
I would they clung to me and stung. I would they quenched me with delight.
The red lips of the octopus.
They reek with poison of the sea
Scarlet and hot and languorous
My skin drinks in their slaver warm, my sweats his wrapt embrace excite
The heavy sea rolls languishly o’er the ensanguined kiss of us.
We strain and strive, we die for love. We linger in the lusty fight
We agonize; our club becomes more cruel and more murderous.
My passion splashes out at last. Ah! with what ecstasy I bite
The red lips of the octopus.

Crowley’s bisexuality and libertine ways led to his expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1899, clearing the way for Crowley to develop his own magical order.
 

 
Via The Guardian

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Adorable photos of kids at a camp for gender nonconformity
05.13.2014
12:43 pm

Topics:
Queer

Tags:
kids
children
queer


 
We here at Dangerous Minds generally steer clear of the “cute.” It’s not that we’re actively anti-cute or anything, it’s just that “cute” rarely intersects with our curation filter of “dangerous.” The kids in Lindsay Morris’ photography however, manage to be both dangerous and adorable. Morris documented children aged 5-12 attending a camp where children are free to express their gender. They call it Camp “You Are You” but that’s actually a pseudonym to protect the campers’ privacy and all children were photographed with parental permission.

From Morris:

For many of these children, their perceptions of their gender are misaligned with their bodies. They may later identify as gay, transgender, or somewhere in between. This is just one way of being that has always existed, but only now are we developing the ability to say it’s OK not to put everyone in a neat little box. It will require all of us to break the habit of assigning individuals a gender label and to start thinking of gender on a broader spectrum. I know how lonely, and at times traumatic, life for an LGBT child can be. Looking over your shoulder and navigating your way through curious classmates and the occasional bully can be exhausting. That need to explain one’s self does not exist at camp. Pure freedom of expression is a compelling and emotional thing to witness.

Lindsay Morris is publishing a book in October, a resource for adults working with queer youth and she’d like to eventually travel with a multimedia show of the project. Her biggest goal is to start a fund for the kids who can’t afford the camp so that every child can have access to a safe space of their peers.

Related: 12 Things Every Gender Nonconforming Child Wants You To Know
 

 

 

 

 
More of Lindsay Morris’ photo series after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Derek Jarman: Early Super 8 movie ‘Sloane Square: A Room of One’s Own’
05.13.2014
07:24 am

Topics:
Movies
Queer

Tags:
Derek Jarman

namrajkered1.jpg
 
Derek Jarman was no slouch: he was a film-maker, writer, artist, set-designer, gardener, political campaigner and diarist. Jarman began his film career as a set designer working on Ken Russell’s The Devils and Savage Messiah. With the flamboyant Russell’s encouragement, Jarman picked up a Super 8 camera and started making his own personal short movies. These films enabled Jarman to “make rapprochement with [his] real world.”

“The world of painting was sterile empty… Although I didn’t believe it at the time because I didn’t have any confidence, I had been isolated by being gay in painting. Film restored that connection missing in my painting.”

Film also allowed Jarman to develop his “aesthetic explorations in a medium more amenable to [his] political concerns”. His early Super 8 films dealt with space, magic, light and sexuality.

Jarman’s 1976 film Sloane Square ironically subtitled “A Room of One’s Own” documented his eviction from a friend’s apartment, after the friend had died. Jarman lived a precarious existence during the early seventies, at times dependent on the kindness of his friends to keep a roof over his head. Jarman had been living in a vacant dockside warehouse, which had proved insufferable during the winter months. His friend and mentor, the writer Anthony Harwood, invited Jarman to live in his rent-controlled, two-bed apartment. Alas, Harwood was the kind of man who “sailed through life on unpaid bills,” as Jarman wrote in his memoir Dancing Ledge:

When [Harwood] received unpleasant-looking brown envelopes through the post he put them into the kitchen cupboard unopened. Every now and then he tripped up. This month [January 1976] has been overshadowed by the court case over a year’s unpaid rent at Sloane Square—which the landlords have refused to accept from me as they would be able to charge a fortune for this flat if they could get it back in their hands. It’s £15 a week and worth over a hundred.

With Harwood absent in New York, a notice of eviction was served, and Jarman attended court proceedings instigated by the landlords, where he offered to pay the outstanding back rent.

I put on my grey suit and sat through the afternoon in the magistrates’ court. Capital and County mounted a really mean attack through Bob the porter, accusing Anthony of everything in the book short of sodomy, but that was hinted at as well. I thought there was no chance but we won. The judge asked how many bedrooms there were—‘Two’—‘Well if that’s the case I see no reason for Mr. Jarman not to live there and take care of the place.’ The landlords brought up the lack of furniture, which Bob himself had helped to remove in the last onslaught when he let the bailiffs in. The judge smiled when I said Mr. Harwood, a writer, lived a Japanese lifestyle—‘It’s better with no shoes,’ he wrote, ‘no shoes at all.’

Not long after, Harwood died, and the landlords refused to recognize Jarman as tenant or accept his payment for rent arrears. At the age of thirty-four, and in the process of directing his first feature, Sebastiane, Jarman found himself homeless once again.

The apartment at Sloane Square was where Jarman cast for Sebastiane, where he spray-painted the walls, anticipating the set designs of his second feature Jubilee. It was also where he filmed and documented his life and friends, before the apartment was vandalized and abandoned.

Sloane Square was co-directed by Jarman and Guy Ford, and has been described as “the most Situationist of [Jarman’s] early films, in terms of both content and structure.” It’s a piece of personal, political and artistic filmmaking, which as the film switches from opening time-lapse to color film, Jarman presents himself as a filmmaker on the verge of his cinematic career, before returning to the apartment documenting the final leave-taking of a place (a past) he had once called home.

Jarman died of an AIDs-related illness in February 1994, days after his 52 birthday.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Der Untermensch’: Choreographing queerness under Nazi rule
05.07.2014
08:09 am

Topics:
Dance
Queer

Tags:
Nazis
Simon Vermeulen


 
When the movie Frances Ha came out, named for its choreographer protagonist, I had hoped for a renewed interest in modern dance—perhaps a small, young fandom would emerge over Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, or maybe Twyla Tharp’s The Catherine Wheel, which has the added cool cred of a score by David Byrne. Tragically, most folks are still pretty put off by dance, and I can never find a date to anything at The Joyce. However, the perspicacious readers of Dangerous Minds are always willing to try new things, right, especially when they’re as bold as Der Untermensch (German for “under man”, “sub-man”, or “sub-human”), a short dance film from Quebecois dancer and choreographer Simon Vermeulen. The concept is as daring as they come:

Staged against minimalist backdrops and accompanied by a hypnotic original score, this highly cinematic contemporary dance film abstractly depicts the persecution of homosexuals at the hands of the Third Reich.

That’s right; not only is it modern dance, it’s gay, French-Canadian political modern dance. If you’re intimidated by the medium, allow me to give you my simple dance appreciation advice for the unsure: it’s art made with the body. You have a body, too. Don’t overthink it. There’s no “plot,” and the performance isn’t literal, so Der Untermensch is pretty accessible, and whether you’re a fan or not, the visceral performance and abstraction of theme is absolutely captivating.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Lavender Country’: The world’s first gay country & western album, 1973
05.01.2014
09:37 am

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:
Lavender Country


 
For better or worse, the primary milieu attributed the gay American man is camp, and gay art can often suffer some typecasting and miscategorization as a result. It’s not like I don’t love camp, and I think campy stuff should be afforded far more dignity than it usually is, but the campy crown can be a little restrictive when art defies expectations. I’ve raved about the song, “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” by Lavender Country for years now, but the cheeky title always seems to conjure (erroneous) images of a queer Hee-Haw novelty act. While Lavender Country is sardonic, and most certainly witty, they’re absolutely devoid of camp. Their self-titled 1973 album is simultaneously brutal and heartfelt.
 

Patrick Haggerty in drag during a 4H play, 1959

Patrick Haggerty grew up on a dairy farm in Washington state, but with a supportive father who allowed him to dress in women’s clothes and try out for cheerleading wearing glitter. After being dismissed from the Peace Corps for his sexuality, Haggerty made his way to Seattle and formed Lavender Country in 1972. The eponymous album was recorded with help from the Seattle gay and lesbian community, and it’s now recognized as the first openly gay country record. It’s been a rare collector’s item for years, but was recently released on North Carolina label, Paradise of Bachelors.
 

Only known band photo

The songs are often overtly political—you can hear it most explicitly in what is arguably the record’s foundational anthem, “Back in the Closet.” Turning a critical eye to the counterculture of the 60s and 70s, the lyrics tell the story of a literal revolution, where feminists, workers, Black Panthers and gay people fight for a new world. They emerge victorious, but after the dust settles, gays are marginalized once again, this time by their so-called comrades. It’s the kind of bitter story-telling that’s just so darned perfect for country music.
 

 
But it’s the aforementioned “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” that I heard first and it remains my favorite Lavender Country song. Haggerty describes it as, “both the boon and the bane of Lavender Country,” with its scandalous title and pull-no-punches lyrics. A lesbian DJ friend of his was even kicked off the radio for playing it. It’s definitely their best-known track since it was up on YouTube years before the re-release of the record, and though Haggerty has since made peace with his most infamous song, it definitely eclipsed his larger artistic project at times . Don’t let the incendiary title mislead you though. With lyrics like, “I’m fighting for when there won’t be no straight men, ‘cuz you all have a common disease, can’t give very much, for loving and such, but you take wherever you please,” it’s a scathing take-down of the worst tendencies of masculinity and as feminist as anything.
 

 
What I can’t stress enough is that Lavender Country isn’t “merely” just a groundbreaking album in terms of gay visibility and explicit politics, it’s a really, really excellent country album. I don’t just recommend it for the novelty of them being the first gay country band—anyone who digs Graham Parsons or Emmylou Harris will find it a beautiful record.
 

Lavender Country’s Patrick Haggerty in 2000 at Seattle Pride
 
Via Pitchfork

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Why was transgender punk icon Jayne County banned from Facebook?


 
Punk pioneer, transexual trailblazer and Stonewall Riots veteran, Jayne County is a national treasure. However, the most recent coverage of County has not been on her legacy to punk rock or transgender history, but rather a petty bit of Internet activism. It appears the groundbreaking transexual foremother was banned from Facebook for 24 hours, presumably for her affectionate use of the word “tranny”—the exact phrase being, “I am having a party tonight and all my breeder, fag, dyke, tranny and shemale friends are invited!”

To call Jayne County an “icon” insinuates that she’s a paragon of her field, and that doesn’t quite do her justice—she just has too many fields. She came from Georgia to NYC in 1968, a draggy outsider who knew she’d find a more vibrant (and safer) community in the New York arts scene. New York was no picnic however, and Jayne quickly found herself fighting for gay rights in the Stonewall Riots. Before she was Jayne, she picked “Wayne County” as her nom d’arts alter-ego—a reference to her love for Detroit music. As Wayne she acted for Jackie Curtis, then onstage for Andy Warhol in Pork. By 1972 she had started an early protopunk band, Queen Elizabeth.

County’s hand in punk wasn’t just relegated to her androgynous persona and raunchy stage antics—the 1974 stage show, “Wayne at the Trucks” was an early rock theatre experiment, very reminiscent of Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour. In 1974, Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys were regulars at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and County appeared in the 1976 punk film, The Blank Generation. By ‘77, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs had developed a following in Europe, and Wayne began her transition to Jayne, making her the first trans rock star. She’s never stopped moving, and even now sells her art as she cares for her ailing mother in Georgia. I highly suggest you check out both her music and her autobiography—Man Enough To Be A Woman. She’s a lovely, fascinating person with an unbelievable story, and we at Dangerous Minds couldn’t be more pleased to get an exclusive interview with her.
 

 
Dangerous MInds: First of all, how did you make your way from Dallas, Georgia all the way to New York City?

Jayne County: From Atlanta to NYC was a trip indeed! I first heard about Sheraton Square and The Stonewall from a group of gay hippies that I was hangin’ out with on 14th Street in Atlanta. 14th Street at that time in 1967 was the hub of everything that was cool and different in the repressive state of Georgia! It was wild and all types were welcome! Straight, gay, men, women and anything “in between”!

There was a big crackdown on anyone and anything the least bit different and unfortunately for me and my friend, drag queen Davina Daisy, that included being shot at by a truck full of chicken-carrying rednecks from Alabama! Rednecks would bring in the chickens they had raised on the back of their trucks to be sold at the local farmers market. Davina and I were prancing down 14th Street dressed in all our 60’s finery, and that included something that in those days was called “semi drag”!  We would go, “Ooooooooo Miss Woman !!! Lookatchew! In SEMEYE DRAG, lookin guuuud!!!” Semi drag was a term that just meant that you were not in full drag, which was usually reserved for Halloween or very special occasions! Full drag was good for Halloween because Miss Alice Bluegown, (the police) couldn’t legally arrest you for female impersonation.

In Atlanta there was a law that if a male’s hair touched the tip of his ears, he could be arrested and thrown in jail for impersonating a woman! The Southern Baptist Church, which controlled just about everything in those days, wanted to make sure that their young, straight Christian men didn’t mistake one of these demon possessed sodomites for a woman and commit a horrible, unforgivable sin!

By law you were required to wear a couple of articles of men’s clothing so people wouldn’t mistake you for a “real woman”! That’s the way it was! Your clothing was policed, and you could be put in jail for wearing the wrong attire! Back in those days, no one used the term “trans.” I didn’t even know what a transexual or transvestite was!

If the police caught you, sometimes they would drag you down to the police station and hold you down and shave your head. More than likely you would be severely beat up or raped or both! The cops would sit back and do nothing or laugh of even take part in the “festivities”! Such was life for trans people!
 

 
That day Davina and I were shot at, you could actually hear the bullets zinging past our ears! It was a truck full of rednecks! You could hear the chickens in the back of the truck just a cluckin away! I turned to Davina and told her that I was getting the hell out of there! I bought a one-way ticket to NYC and that was that!

DM: How did you get into theatre? You got involved with Warhol through Jackie Curtis, correct?

JC: Yes, I got in to theatre because of the fab Andy Warhol drag queen, Jackie Curtis. I say drag queen to avoid confusion because Jackie didn’t call herself a drag queen! She just called herself Jackie! She stated in an article that she wasn’t a man and she wasn’t a woman. She said,  “I’m just ME! Jackie!” At the time this seemed quite revolutionary! She wrote a play, called Femme Fatale, while stirring speed into her coffee every day upon waking up! It was performed at La MaMa [Experimental Theatre] as a sort of a tribute to the song by The Velvet Underground. I played a lesbian prison inmate named Georgia Harrison. In the play I swatted flies with a fly swatter then ate them! Like that nutty guy in Dracula! Don’t ask me why—it was art! Patti Smith was also in the play sporting a three-foot long cock ! A phallus like they used in ancient Greek theatre! She played with her over-sized Oscar Meyer, rubbing it and thumping it against the furniture shouting out lines like, “Hey, imma gonna fuckka you witha my hot pepper,” and “benda over Rover! And letta my big pizza taka over!” At one point she started waving it in my face and I started beating it with my fly swatter! It was ridiculous! The entire play was ultra offensive!!!
 

Above, from Rosa Von Praunheim’s City of Lost Souls
 
DM: You were a part of the Stonewall Riots as well—can you tell me a little bit about that?

JC: The Stonewall Riots were a turning point for gay people’s rights. People, especially the obvious femme queens and drag queens, were totally fed up with the treatment we were receiving! The queens stood out like sore thumbs, so naturally it was the queens that got all the shit on the streets! You had to know how to run fast! And some carried weapons like those fab metal tipped teasing combs! The ends could be sharpened and become very adequate weapons! Of course hair spray in the eyes was another good one. Some of the girls hid knives in their highly teased up wigs! It got really bad when the cops started doing “sex searches”! Taking the drag queens into the women’s rooms and forcing them to show their genitals to the officers. Some of the pigs were laughing at the queens who were in tears and begging to be left alone.

Well people simply snapped! We started throwing bricks, setting fire to trashcans or anything else that would burn . Turning back buses, chanting “Gay power! Gay power!” Marching up and down Christopher St. with our fists in the air! Causing mayhem anyway we could think of. It lasted three days and things were never the same again! We had had enough!!! It was time to fight back!
 

 
DM: At what point did Wayne become Jayne, and what was that transformation like for you, personally and also artistically?

JC: I remember being so thrilled when my breasts began growing ! My roommate at the time was the legendary underground rock-n-roll photographer, Leee Black Childers, who just recently passed away, bless his heart! Leee was a close friend for many many years and knew me better than anyone else on planet Earth, including members of my own family who don’t really know the real me at all ! Leee was and will always be a big piece of my life ! It was funny to watch Leee’s reaction to my breasts becoming large! He couldn’t even look at them! He would quickly cover his eyes when I would trick him in to seeing them! I had been Leee’s friend Wayne for years. We would go bar hopping together and go see all the bands at the Fillmore East! Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Iron Butterfly, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Led Zeppelin, oh I could go on and on!!! We were both big rock fans! And Leee was used to being pals with Wayne . And he had to watch Wayne disappear right before his eyes and Jayne take his place! As I think back it must have really been hard for him! I’m sorry Leee, my dear dear ole friend, but I had to do it!

In Atlanta I saw The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, The Shangri Las, The Ronettes, The Shirelles, Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Turtles, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Sonny and Cher, The Supremes, Tom Jones, Otis Redding, Peter and Gordon, etc., etc., etc. I saw all the greats!  And when glam came in, I was right there! I started experimenting with both sexuality and gender during the so-called “glam movement” which Leee and I played a big part in. We both worked for David Bowie’s Mainman Records and I was one of their signed artists alongside of Bowie, Iggy And The Stooges and Lou Reed. I had been dressing as a woman on and off my entire life—since age three or four. I can actually remember doing it at age five and six! But during the glam period I began taking it more seriously. And in 1974, I began taking female hormones A few years later I read a book that Leee brought home called Canary Conn. It was the story of a M to F trans woman—true story and it had a huge influence on me. But I didn’t change my name officially from Wayne to Jayne until 1979. It was a gig at CBGB! There were these big pink posters up all over NYC with a really good and very femme photo style drawing of me saying WAYNE COUNTY ! But the “W” was Xed out and a “J” was put in over it! It looked fantastic and it was my first gig as Jayne County!
 

 

”(If You Don’t Wanna Fuck Me, Baby) Fuck Off!!”

DM:You were a pioneer on the punk scene since before punk was punk—how did you transition artistically to music?

JCOh I have always been heavily in to music so there wasn’t really much of a transition from theatre to music! In fact I mixed my music and theatre together ! My big stage show and musical, “Wayne at the Trucks,” was a forerunner of Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” tour and was produced by Bowie’s MainMan Records! When punk happened, it was a reaction to the over excesses of both glam and progressive rock, but at least Bowie’s music contained a lot of great rock and roll and some really amazing androgynous images. Punk rock had to happen in order to sweep the slate clean and make two and three chord music featuring guitars, bass and drums once again the focus point of some of the best rock and roll music ever created!

DM: Your success in Europe was much more distinct than in the US, where you’re considered more of an “artist’s artist.” What do you think the difference is between US and European audiences?

JC: European audiences seem more ready to accept what the artist is trying to do on stage and will usually cheer the bands on, even when the bands sometimes appear to be struggling just to keep themselves from falling apart right there in front of your eyes, as in the cases of The Cramps and Johnny Thunders. American audiences are too quick to judge and shout, “Get off!” at you! In America the audience want you to go overboard to prove to them that you are valid! In Europe it’s just, “Shit, we are so glad that you’re here!”

DM: Recently, some sanctimonious (self-appointed) social media police reported you on Facebook for hate speech—what the hell happened?

JC:I’m laughing my big egotistical head off right now. Oh no, I said “head!” Someone may be offended by that mean ole powerful word and report us to the trans authorities! Anyone could you know? That’s how easy it is now for some uptight “new” version of an old, fuddy duddy, party poopin’ Baptist church lady, to report you!

And I must say that since the crap hit the fan about the transfascists trying to burn books by banning one word at a time, my following has skyrocketed! I seem to have hit a nerve! And that nerve is that thousands of people disagree with them! They are actually trying to silence people that disagree with them as well by trying to pressure papers and magazines like The Huffington Post not to print articles by people that have a different opinion from them! Now that is pure evil! Self appointed, condescending little academic snobs that think they have some divine right to lord over the rest of us by telling us what words we can and cannot use. In other words, they want to let the homo and transphobic bigots take our words from us and use them against them! You can ‘t do that! It won’t work ! You can ‘t erase words like “tranny,” “shemale” and “gender bender,” just because a bunch of psychos try to use the words against us!

Some African Americans now use the “N word” within their own community. They have taken the word away from the racists and made the word their own and by doing so that word cannot harm them! It’s the intent behind the word, not the word itself that is harmful. Trans activists have it completely wrong! And some people are standing up to their bully tactics of forcing their narrow-minded views on the rest of us! No means no, and I will not be intimidated or silenced by any self-appointed guardians of a delusional morality! It’s in your head honey, not mine!

The word tranny belongs to me! You will not take it away from me, because some transphobic bigots are trying to use the word to hurt me! The word does not harm me because I do not allow it to do so! The intent behind the user of the word is what should concern us, not the word itself!
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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