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Dangerous Minds fully endorses Sharon Needles


 
...to win Season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, RuPaul’s Drag Race is THE best reality show on TV right now. No, wait, let me rephrase that: RuPaul’s Drag Race is THE best reality show in the history of TV. Yes, I’m fucking serious.

It feels a bit like coming out all over again, to admit an obsession with a show so frivolous and outrageously camp as RDR. But I’m not ashamed, no siree. I couldn’t give two hoots what any of the detractors say, Drag Race is fun, funny, glamorous, touching and educational. It delivers on so many levels that it puts the bigger, mainstream reality shows to shame, a fact acknowledged by Pamela Anderson, who has stated that the talent on Drag Race easily outclasses that on American Idol.

And I’m not even a reality TV fan. I hate it! You know how these competition shows seem like such a fucking lie cos all the contestants are MOR dweebs hand-picked for their inanity, and the judges spew out bullshit platitudes when the truth is they have no clue how to control the market forces of the entertainment industry? That has always bugged me, as has the premise that somehow a mystical team of background operatives can bestow superstar status on an individual of their choosing. Well, Drag Race is different. Very different. First off, it’s a show about competing drag queens. Case closed. But in case you’d like me to explain further, don’t worry, I fully intend to…
 

 
Right away, out the window goes that hypocritical, bullshit false humility that stinks up reality TV. Being a show-off is always frowned upon on these shows, and a confident extrovert is generally framed as being “arrogant.” It’s a fundamental mythos of the entire reality genre (you know the score, the loveable loser who would still be lingering in a factory or waiting tables if it wasn’t for the grace of Simon Cowell to descend from his throne and bestow fame upon them.)  Realistically the judges and producers need someone who is easy to manipulate and control, but they also need someone who is comfortable in front of an audience and a few cameras yet who knows their place and won’t outshine the real stars, the judges themselves. 

Drag Race contestants are not random losers plucked from the braying horde to be made famous, these girls have been picked to compete because they are FABULOUS, and they are not scared of showing it off! RuPaul herself actively encourages showing-off, with a peacock-parade at the end of each show, and a lip sync competition between relegated queens to see who stays on. These are goddam drag queens after all, and showing off is in their bones, their genes, their very make-up. Seriously, who’s ever heard of a shy drag queen!?

RuPaul doesn’t promise these performers the world on a plate. No, she offers them a slot performing on a cruise liner. That and princely sum of $100,000. The queens are expected to bring their own talents to the table and to show us how hard they can work them, rather than having to bow to the judges nit-picking advice and barely-hidden agendas.

But it’s not even that that’s got me hooked. It’s Sharon Needles herself.
 

 
Here’s the other major lie of reality TV, one that is getting thinner and more see-through as the years go by, and turning off more and more fans of the genre. The lie that they actually produce stars. Seriously, in the ten years now that reality TV has dominated the airwaves, it has yet to produce one genuine superstar. One performer or personality that you can tell will still be around and claiming the spotlight once the promotional budget has run out or the new series has started. Well, step forward Sharon Needles.

Needles (real name is Aaron Coady) is a 31-year-old performer based in steely-grey Pittsburgh, a punk-rock goth queen who exudes wit and warmth and always looks simply phenomenal. Aaron describes Sharon as being “beautiful, spooky and stupid” and she quickly went from being Drag Race‘s rank outsider to head of the leader board, winning a record four challenges with a style that is equal parts Donatella Versace and Lux Interior (Sharon quotes Amanda LaPore and GG Allin as her drag idols.) She is television gold. Seriously, this is the first time I have ever watched anything like this and actually thought “Wow - this person really does deserve to be superstar.” It’s a slightly strange sensation, and is exactly what has made this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race so captivating. 

Needles is not a queen without controversy, either. Within the world of drag Sharon is seen as a freak because she does not conform to “fishy” standards (looking convincingly sexy as a female) and even though she looks fantastic she has had to struggle to prove her worth to the other Drag Race contestants, not to mention to audiences and venues in her native Pittsburgh. But Sharon’s outsider/underdog status has actually worked in her favor. In the insular, catty scene of drag and female impersonation, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that to the straight world grown men dressing as girls is always going to be seen as freaky, no matter how fishy they are. Sharon’s open embracing of her own beautiful freakishness has endeared her to audiences both gay and straight alike.

Sharon’s outsider status has also brought to the fore stories of Aaron’s childhood bullying and social exclusion, from not only the straight world but also the gay scene itself. Aaron is an eloquent speaker against discrimination and bullying of all kinds, and Sharon’s warm acceptance of all of nature’s little oddities is a refreshing change from mainstream gay society’s focus on the shallow beauty of the image. In an era of institutionalised discrimination against homosexuals, where the battle for our basic human rights is still very much happening, Sharon Needles is the unlikely hero that we need. That we ALL need, regardless of gender, orientation, color or any of that. If you’ve ever felt even a little bit at odds with society and its relentless conformity, Sharon Needles is the fierce bitch for you.

A genuine one-off with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to burn, Sharon Needles is a true star. In fact, she’s exactly the kind of contestant you don’t see on reality TV shows because they are just too good! And that’s why we here at Dangerous Minds would like to throw our full support behind her in the race to become America’s Next Drag Superstar.

VOTE NEEDLES 2012.

This video is a compendium of Sharon Needle’s best moments in the earlier stages of Drag Race, mixed with performance footage from the streets and bars of Pittsburgh:
 

 
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Logo TV, and the winner of Season 4 is announced on Monday.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Spiritualized ‘Hey Jane’: is this video art or exploitation?


 
I still don’t really know what to make of this - it’s a 10 minute music video-cum-short film for the British band Spiritualized, trailing their upcoming album Sweet Heart Sweet Light which is released on Fat Possum Records next week. Directed by AG Rojas, who has also worked with Jack White, Gil Scott-Heron and Earl Sweatshirt, the video follows a day in the life of a drag queen prostitute raising two young children. It doesn’t end very well.

The violent and sexual clip has already caused a bit of a stir since it was released last month. Stereogum seem all in favour of “Hey Jane”:

[It’s about] a transwoman who attempts to raise kids while turning tricks, stripping, and — in one unforgettable long tracking shot — getting into an absolutely brutal fight. There’s probably a term paper to be written about the video’s treatment of race, class, gender, sexuality, and violence. This is a good one, folks.

While on Collapse Board, Lucy Cage writes a scathing review of the Sweet Heart, Sweet Light album (definitely worth a read in its own right) and points out that:

‘Hey Jane’ wears its NSFW like a smug little badge … I don’t like what it appears to be saying about people. I don’t like that said whiney, white, self-pitying, copyist, imagination-free, privilege-flaunting cisman from England [Jason Pierce of Spiritualized] has used this story and these characters from waaaaaaaaaaay outside his experience, knowledge or culture as entertainment, however much Art has given him a hall pass to do so.

To be fair on Pierce, some of this heat needs to be taken by the director Rojas. The video is definitely slick and very well made but does it tell us anything we already didn’t know, or even desperately need to? Is it shock or titillation?

Hats off to the main actors though, who do a great job. The prostitute is played by Tyra Sanchez, winner of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race—easily one of the best reality tv shows ever and I’m totally serious, if you have not seen this you are missing out—she does a great job.

Musically the song is pretty much what you’d expect from Spiritualized, who have been doing this kind of laidback-but-overwrought white-psych-soul thing for over 20 years now. I have to admit a bit of a soft spot for these guys though, who I used to love back in the mid-Ninteties before I delved further into their pool of influences while also gravitating towards more electronic music. The Spiritualized sound, which has barely changed in all these years, is like big, warm, fuzzy blanket. You know where it is coming from and you know where it’s going; it is inherently safe.

And that’s something this video tries very hard not to be:

Spiritualized “Hey Jane” (NSFW)
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Chuck Colson tribute: From the White House to the big house, Jesus and anti-gay bigotry


 
Former Special Counsel to Richard Nixon and the first from his administration to become a Watergate jailbird, influential Christian leader and anti-gay activist Chuck Colson remains hospitalized in critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage last week. In Colson’s honor, Joe.My.God. reminds us of the ridiculous Born Again Christian comic based on Colson’s evangelical memoir of the same title.

Quoting from Gamma Cloud:

Published by Spire Christian Comics in 1978, Born Again is the sugar-coated, “feel good” story of Chuck Colson’s suffering and redemption.  It’s a relatively typical tale in some respects, as Colson professes that he was converted to Evangelical Christianity through the help of his friend Thomas Phillips who had himself been “saved” some time earlier.  Phillips provides Colson with a copy of the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity and Colson subsequently immerses himself in the text, learning all kinds of Jesusy insight. (Incidentally, despite the fact that he apparently needed “saving,” Colson effectively maintains that he was basically law-abiding – and apparently naïve and blissfully oblivious of the wrongdoing and unethical behavior swirling around him – throughout all of his work with the Nixon administration and CREEP.) While serving time in a Federal prison for convictions related to the Watergate scandal, Colson shares his enlightenment with other inmates and he ultimately decides to start a ministry and devote his life to spreading the word far and wide.

Well…I guess some of that story is true.

The fact of the matter is that Chuck Colson: Born Again is nothing short of a grand and glorious collection of obfuscation and half-truths.  Colson’s yarn portrays the man himself as an pious martyr acting in service of a naively innocent Richard Nixon.  In one of the more laughable parts of the story, it’s inferred that John Ehrlichman learned of the Watergate break-in while watching the evening news.  Indeed, the entire question of wrongdoing and guilt is effectively marginalized through the omnipresent argument that Richard Nixon’s coterie of henchmen acted under the Nietzschean principal that “what is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.”  With respect to this particular version of the Watgergate story, it’s basically unclear as to whether the “love” that spurred Nixon and co. to action was an unfettered and dogmatic love of country or a just good old-fashioned lust for power, influence and control.

As soon as I saw the cover, I recalled leafing through this silliness at my parents’ church in the late 70s. At the time, I was reading Kurt Vonnegut’s then new Jailbird and if you know what that’s about, you’ll laugh at the thought of picking up Chuck Colson: Born Again at the same time.

In 2008, George Bush gave this asshole the Presidential Citizens Medal.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Lonely Planet Boy: An interview with ‘Jobriath A.D.’ director Kieran Turner
04.09.2012
12:37 pm

Topics:
History
Music
Queer

Tags:
Jobriath
Jobriath A.D.
Kieran Turner


 
Marc posted here recently about Kieran Turner’s new documentary, Jobriath A.D. and I was thrilled to hear that the film was about to come out.

Kieran was kind enough to share Jobriath A.D. with us and, on many levels, I just loved it and think that a lot of Dangerous Minds readers will really love it, too. Narrated by Henry Rollins and featuring interviews with Marc Almond, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Magnetic Fields’ Stephen Merritt, Ann Magnuson, Kristian Hoffman, Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters and Jobriath’s manager Jerry Brandt, Turner’s film seems set to perform the same task for Jobriath Boone, rock’s first out and proud “fairy” that Andrew Horn’s The Nomi Song doc did for the once similarly obscure Klaus Nomi.

I caught up with Kieran over email:

I was completely wowed by Jobriath A.D. My wife loved it too, and she absolutely hates Jobriath’s music, so that’s really saying something, as well. You won her over.

Kieran Turner Now THAT fascinates me. I had a conversation with a journalist in the UK and wondered what people who didn’t like Jobriath’s music would think of the film. For instance, if you go see this film not having heard anything before and you are exposed to the music and you’re sitting there scratching your head, is the rest of film just a complete wash? Would you just sit there with your arms folded and a sneer on your face every time someone popped up onscreen and offered up some praise? Or could a viewer appreciate the story and say- okay, I don’t like the music, but the guy broke ground, and this is an interesting cautionary tale and great period piece. I honestly didn’t know the answer to that question, and looking at it from my own perspective, I wasn’t sure I could, so how could I expect anyone else to? Because I know everyone isn’t going to like this music and I never expected that in a million years, nor can I fault anyone for it. So to hear that your wife, who doesn’t like Jobriath’s music, was able to take something away from the film and enjoy it- that thrills me to no end.

Jobriath, until the last few years, at least, was not an artist who it was “easy” to find out about. I discovered him myself, completely accidentally at the Sixth Ave Flea Market flipping through albums and going “What’s THIS?” How did you first hear about Jobriath?

You know, I had always heard about Jobriath, as I am a huge music freak and particularly obsessed with the 70s and gay history. I’m too young to have been around during Jobriath’s brief heyday, so I never got exposed to the music. And every time I read about him, he was always described as a joke, so I believed it, since I was unable to hear the music. I guess I stumbled upon the compilation Morrissey put out while I was online, took a chance and ordered it and was just blown away by the music and the talent.  And after that, I was obsessed. I wanted to know everything.  I was expecting to hear a 70s version of Pansy Division and what I got was a real artist.

I never had any desire to make a documentary.  In fact, I had been gearing up to make my 2nd feature film in 2007, and our funding fell through 4 weeks before casting was to begin in NYC and I had nothing going on, no job, I’d sublet my apartment, so I had this chunk of time and I just started researching.  I took 14 months to really track down enough people, get enough information, lock the music up (which was crucial) and feel comfortable enough to know it was safe to start the cameras rolling, which we did in January, 2009. I shot on and off for 2 1/2 years, still researching, finding new people, new information, new materials the entire time, and then began editing last summer.

Where did you find the vast treasure trove of images and film footage that you uncovered for Jobriath A.D.?

All different places. Honestly, it was a bitch. And we were finding material up until January of this year.  In fact, we had what we thought was a finished cut and then a photographer came out of the woodwork with some fantastic photos of which we nabbed a half dozen and put them in at the last minute.  And the interview footage with Jobriath and Jerry Brandt was a complete accident. I had been told that the LA NBC affiliate had filmed Jobriath’s first night at The Troubadour in 1974 and did a simulcast, which I always found very suspicious.  Why would a Big 3 network do that?  It made no sense. That, coupled with the fact that the filmmakers who were doing a doc about Zolar X, who had opened for Jobriath at those shows, had done a thorough search for the footage and had come up with nothing led me to believe it was a myth. Anyway, my co-researcher found some footage at NBC that matched the time period of the Troubadour, but no one knew what it was, only that it was 30 min. So I paid to have it transfered and they sent over a quicktime.  I was so nervous to watch it, I sent it to my editor and the two of us watched it over the phone together. Well, there was NO performance footage, just 10 minutes of rehearsal and then this AMAZING 20 minute sit down interview.  I was near tears, I was so happy, because the dynamic between Jerry and Jobriath, which was just missing from the film up until that point, was so clear in this interview footage. You watch one tiny section of it and it sums up their relationship immediately.

Speaking as a longtime Jobriath fanatic—one of your interviewees, Ann Magnuson, told me about 20 years ago that I was probably the only straight guy in America who even knew who Jobriath was—the part about how all of his costumes and belongings were thrown away after he died was so heartbreaking, but now that your film exists, and is such a testament to this vibrant, talented supernova individual who once existed, more people will hear of Jobriath than ever did during his lifetime and that was very gratifying to contemplate. The film seems such a labor of love, what was the impetus behind the doc and how long did you work on it?

It was sort of three pronged, my reasons for wanting to make this. First, I thought it was hugely unfair that Jobriath was a pioneer of the gay community, the first openly gay rock star (and I mean OPEN and not the bullshit bisexual pose of Bowie, et al, who were just using it for shock and had wives and girlfriends to fall back on). And I get very tired of people throwing out other examples of artists they think were openly gay back then. Trust me, I did the research. In America, it was Jobriath, then Steven Grossman, who even fewer people had heard of. You had Long John Baldry, who was very fringe and really in the UK. But I don’t want to hear about Liberace, Little Richard, Elton John and all those others.  It was Jobriath.

But I would not have made this film if the music wasn’t good. Really good. Because what’s the point? Then you ARE making a doc about Pansy Division who, all they have going for them is the gay gimmick. And I don’t mean to bash PD. I don’t know them, I don’t have anything really against them.  I do find the music to be incredibly reductive and rather infantile, but I also know that people do enjoy it, I guess. I just feel like as a gay man, it doesn’t thrill me to have an openly gay band singing about sucking cock and cruising the local skater boys down at the park. But they do have a following, so they’re doing something right. 

With Jobriath, I was just so thrilled that it wasn’t only a gimmick and that there was some major talent there. Of course, not everyone will like the music, but it’s silly to expect everyone to like something. I just thought there was a larger audience out there who wasn’t aware of him and who would get it.

And lastly, I felt like I could identify with Jobriath as someone who is creative and and often has to depend on the permission of others in order to share my creativity with the world, whether it be through funding or reviews or getting my foot in the door. How many of us really just want to share what we’re passionate about with the world, but because someone in power deems it unworthy, we’re pushed aside or have the door slammed in our face?  That’s all Jobriath wanted to do, just put his gift out there to the world and the world said “Fuck you.”  Before they ever heard the music. Because they didn’t like the image, because they didn’t like being told they should embrace something, because they weren’t the ones to discover it, because they were afraid of it—whatever the reason. And it destroyed him. And who can’t identify with that, with putting yourself on the line for something that you’re passionate about, only to be rejected? And that is why I think this is such a universal story. You don’t have to be gay, you don’t have to like the music, you just have to be human. 

Often filmmakers are obliged to cut something out for running time’s sake. Anything juicy that we’ll have to wait for the DVD to see?

Oh yes, we cut out a LOT of material. Jobriath was in the running to play Al Pacino’s lover in Dog Day Afternoon.  I found that quite interesting, but we just didn’t have time for it in the film, so there’s a section about that.  There’s also a section about a musical he wrote which Joe Papp was developing called Popstar, which I have some material from. There’s also some interesting sort of heresay about him and Bowie in terms of a perceived rivalry. I investigated it fairly thoroughly and the reason I didn’t put it in the film was because I couldn’t come to a conclusion. For as many people who said there was an issue, I had just as many who said there wasn’t.  It’s something worth examining and letting a viewer make up their own mind, but it didn’t fit in the film and it didn’t further the story. And there is certainly more about Jerry Brandt, more about the family. I also have a lot more interview material with the musicians in the film (Jake Shears, Joe Elliott, Marc Almond, et al) who I had to cut most of for time. This DVD will be packed with extras, I hope.  We have the material, it’s just a matter of what sort of distribution deal we wind up getting. But if you like the movie, you’ll want the DVD.

Jobriath A.D. aside from reviving an interest in Jobriath, as both a musician/composer and also as someone who will ultimately be seen as an important and pioneering gay figure in the arts, also seems like it could provide one last big wave for Jerry Brandt to ride. Something like a Broadway musical, as he says in the film, is entirely plausible, don’t you think?

You know, who knows what will happen? Jobriath is a niche figure. I certainly don’t expect FunKo to go into production on a series of Jobriath bobble-head dolls, if you know what I mean. I think everyone involved with Jobriath needs to take it one step at a time. I mean, the music is back out of print, so let’s start there before we make lunchboxes. I’m being facetious, of course, but I think Velvet Goldmine has proven exactly what sort of a market there is out there for fictionalized glam rock.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Jobriath: Rock’s Fairy Godmother

Below, Jobriath and the Creatures on The Midnight Special in 1974:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Passion of the Camp: A Tale for Easter
04.08.2012
03:24 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Queer

Tags:
Easter Bunny
Easter
Summer Camp

summer_camp
 
The Passion of the Camp - a tale for Easter about an egg-obsessed drag queen, Summer Camp, and her last temptation with the Easter Bunny. Written and directed by Chris Farris, Karl Jones and Shea Van Horn.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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New documentary on Jobriath: The true fairy of rock and roll
03.30.2012
12:21 pm

Topics:
Art
History
Movies
Pop Culture
Queer
Sex

Tags:
Jobriath A.D.


 
A new documentary on the ill-fated career of glam rocker Jobriath, Jobriath A.D., screened last night at the BFI London Lesbian and Gay film festival and has received a very warm critical reception. In a glowing review in The Guardian, critic Andrew Pulver writes…

[...] in this fantastically revelatory documentary by Kieran Turner, Jobriath has been thoroughly rehabilitated: as a charismatic performer in his own right, the unwitting victim of record-industry hubris, and an unlikely, reluctant martyr for gay rights.

Haven’t heard of Jobriath? In an article previously posted on Dangerous Minds, R. Metzger, a Jobriath fan, described him in succinct fashion:

If you’ve never heard of Jobriath Boone, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Obscure even by “rock snob” standards, Jobriath was the first really openly gay rock star. David Bowie and Lou Reed flirted with bisexuality, nail polish and make-up, of course, but Jobriath was in his own words, “a true fairy.” He wasn’t just “out of the closet” he was out like a police siren with the volume turned up to eleven!”

And in an article published yesterday in The Guardian, Marc Almond pays homage to his hero and explains why Jobriath may have been too much too soon:

Jobriath (born Bruce Wayne Campbell) was a readymade entity with no big backstory, yet to those in the know he was thrilling and seductive, a guilty secret. I remember, before hearing a note, taking a journey to the big city to buy his first album, the eponymous Jobriath, on import. Its striking cover showed him with porcelain skin and film-star ruby lips, a fallen, broken, beautiful statue. On a first listening, the music is a baffling mix of glam, musical theatre and 1970s rock. At a time when we craved simple guitar chords and a Starman chorus, Jobriath seemed just too musical, too clever – not pop enough. His voice had a touch of Mick Jagger at his most sluttish (like that other wonderful US glam import, David Johansen of the New York Dolls). He was a mix of wide-eyed innocent and world-weary punk. And though there was a nod to Ziggy in the vowels, Bowie he was not.

For me, above all else, he was a sexual hero: truly the first gay pop star. How extreme that was to the US at the time. His outrageous appearances on the hallowed US rock show The Midnight Special prompted shock, bewilderment and disgust. Everyone hated Jobriath – even, and especially, gay people. He was embarrassingly effeminate in an era of leather and handlebar moustaches.

Jobriath A.D. will have its US premiere on Apr 14 at the Florida Film Festival.

Here’s the trailer:
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds: Jobriath, Rock’s Fairy Godmother

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Poet Adrienne Rich has died
03.29.2012
12:22 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Feminism
History
Queer

Tags:
Adrienne Rich


 
Adrienne Rich May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012.

Poet Adrienne Rich was a pioneering feminist and alchemist. Her alchemical compounds were composed of vowels and consonants. She showed us that words, spun from a revolutionary tongue, point the direction while embodying the essence of the destination. The poem arrives at itself with the immediacy of sunlight striking glass.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Pink Flamingos’ on acid


 
A blast from DM’s past:

Babs Johnson and Edie The Egg Lady get psychedelicized.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.”

Mr. Vader: “Do you believe in God?”
Babs Johnson: “I AM GOD!”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Dusty Springfield: Excellent documentary on the White Queen of Soul

dusty_springfield_smile
 
It was summer, I was a young child sitting in the living room drawing pictures when I first heard her voice on the radio. It made me stop and listen to try and understand what it was I was hearing. Her voice was full of a power and emotion that I could feel but didn’t yet fully understand. It gave a hint to some secret, adult world I was still to discover. It was sensual and seductive. The voice was Dusty Springfield. The song, “The Look of Love.”

Dusty was described by Elton John “as the greatest white singer there has ever been.” Never one for understatement, Sir Elton is almost right - though he is a tad forgetful of quite a few others from Maria Callas to Elvis and beyond. Dusty was one of the greats, and certainly the greatest white soul singer there has ever been. No one comes close.

Shown as part of Melvyn Bragg’s always fascinating arts series The South Bank Show, this excellent documentary on Dusty Springfield was first aired in 2006, and contains interviews with Burt Bacharach, Billie Jean King, Lee Everett, Charles Shaar Murray, Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, Camille Paglia, and Carole Pope.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Christeene: An exclusive interview with the legendary drag terrorist

christeene_2011
 
My Dangerous Minds colleague, Niall O’Conghaile conducted this rather fab interview with the one and only Christeene, the legendary “drag terrorist” and “sexually infused sewer of live rap and vile shamelessness”, who is more than “capable of adapting amazingly well to all styles of music”.  Very little is known about Christeene, who has famously seduced and outraged in equal measure an unforgettable career across the U.S.A., leaving broken hearts, devoted followers, and used bodies behind her. Now in an exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds, Christeene tells us all we need to know.

Who is Christeene and where does she come from / how did you meet her?

I met CHRISTEENE in the dirty backyard of a shit shack coffee shop here in Austin called Bouldin Creek during a queer gathering called camp camp. CHRISTEENE was wearing, only, a very messy black rabbit fur coat and a pair of pink junked out high heeled boots. It was love at first sight.

What would you say are the main differences between Paul and Christeene?

I’ll say that the differences are fewer and fewer these days, but the raunch and stank sexuality of CHRISTEENE is something that shifts when it comes back to me. There is a more gentle southern fella on the inside that carries a knife I’d say.

Does Christeene get on with Rebecca Havemeyer?

Only via snail mail, internet, and very brief encounters. They don’t do tea together or anything, but I’m sure it would be a helluva conversation if they did.

Christeene provokes some very strong reactions, good and bad, in both the LGBT press and the mainstream. How do you feel about those reactions? Is there anyone who gets it very well and anyone who gets it completely wrong?

I think that the reactions that come from this work are so very important and need to be heard. All of them. When it all first started with PJ Raval and myself releasing the video for ‘Fix My Dick’, there were a ton of negative comments…especially from this one person who I think of as a kind of internet comment bully….this lone typist who throws verbal missiles from the safety of their stank couch, ya know? This person was so very upset on so many levels…I was called racist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, and the next Shirley Q Liquor. Wowee! This is rough..I’m thinking. I’ve never experienced this kind of an attack before and it’s personal. It’s angry. It’s throwing labels at me. But at the same time it’s fuckin gorgeous and necessary. The stew has been stirred and hot sauce has been thrown in. Good. Very good.

The work being done here is an uncontrollable expression of something very heavy inside of me…it’s not created to merely shock, to splash dick and ass in your face for a laugh. It’s made to make you fuckin think about the state of things…the state of our interwoven communities in the LGBTQIA world and beyond.

CHRISTEENE is an electrically charged dangerous product of our times with a heart of gold, and is used as a very striking yet approachable communicator to the masses. Many fuckin amazing people understand this and attach themselves to the explosion that is taking place onstage with all they’ve got. Those people are wonderful. They offer solid criticism and conversation on what’s being delivered. But the attackers are just as important, and the conversations that come from them, if they have the brains to discuss their anger, are even more wonderful and exciting. Overall, though, the best is the smiling faces from people having the time of their lives with this shit…as we are.

Who are Christeene’s main inspirations? In terms of drag/performance and also musically?

CHRISTEENE is really nspired by the lineage of Drag in performance. The superstars of our day that keep the Drag street in good repair. I have to say that if there is one lady out there that blows my mind, it’s Lady Bunny. Complete adaptation to the times and an impressive hold on the social network. I admire that a lot. But what mostly inspires this work to come out of me is when I think of how I can contribute to all of the amazing forms of Artistic Drag that are out there now and have come before me. It is a beautiful and very historic art form, and I want to explore it and take it to a new level.

It feels like Christeene is an all-round multimedia experience, not just a singer, but a performer/video artist. How do you think she integrates into the performance, video and high art worlds?

I’ll have to say that because of the brilliance of PJ Raval, the work of CHRISTEENE has had the privilege of being put into video and showcased around the world. PJ and I started working together about 3 years ago and our relationship takes the same direction of exploring this new and dangerous creature that is CHRISTEENE with excitement and no restraint. Our videos have been granted access to film fests and art galleries around the world, causing so many people to experience our work who wouldn’t necessarily find themselves in the same room with such stank shit. And in terms of the live shows…they are raw, angry, intimate and real…real as you can get. It’s new, and it burns.

So what exactly is “African Mayonnaise”?

All I can say about African Mayonnaise is that it is a very strange state of mind/experience that we found ourselves in when we were performing at Folsom Street Fair in San Fran back in 2009 I think it was? A very gooood state of mind/experience.

And what exactly is this “new celebrity” and “new America” that Christeene epitomises?

CHRISTEENE isn’t necessarily epitomizing celebrity or America…CHRISTEENE is serving the new breed and brand of it. If this is what these people have become (the current state of things)...if this current state of things is what people have allowed into their living rooms and their states of mind, then this is what these people are going to fuckin get now. Eat it up and hold it in, fuckers.

The video for “African Mayonnaise” is, em, interesting - are there any out takes that didn’t make it in? And who was scarier, the Church of Scientology people who forcibly ejected you form their offices, or the Christians who harassed you on the street at the end?

PJ Raval had sooooo much footage in the end, and our god sent editor, Victoria Chalk was amazingly able to put it all together. She’s the absolute SHIT. There is so much fuckin material that didn’t make it into the video we could make a film out of it. Outtakes? Oh yeah. And by far, the Church of Scientology what the most dangerous place I’ve ever set foot in.

How is Austin at this time of year?

Weather is wonderful, and people are smiling because the devil summer hasn’t hit yet.

Tell us a bit about the Christeene shows coming up at SXSW…

We just performed a show called ‘Get off the Internet” which was created by Alyx Vesey, an amazing writer who gets our shit in all the best ways, and by Homoground and it was fuckin gorgeous. So many amazing bands and people up in the yard of a bar called Cheer Up Charlies here in Austin. And our Showcase was a stank hit as well.

The last thing we’ll kick in the puss is gaybigaygay..and if you are in Austin on Sunday the 18th, you’d be a damned fool to miss this event.

What does the near future hold for Christeene?

A ton of travel with my Boyz, T Gravel, C Baby, JJ Booya and PJ Raval I hope.

And now just a question from me - any plans to come to the UK??

The minute we find a plane that can hold our stank azzesssssssss…we therrrrr.  Hold your breath, Hawt Man.
 
 
Christeene plays SXSW details here.
 

 
Bonus video “Fix My D**k” NSFW, after the jump…
 
With thanks to Niall O’Conghaile
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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