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Notes from the Niallist #3: go see SSION live, immediately!
10.05.2012
03:36 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Queer

Tags:


SSION in Bullett magazine
 
Surely you’ll know by now that we’re big fans of SSION at Dangerous Minds. The album Bent (which was originally released as a limited edition free download last year) was one of my favorites of 2011. It’s the kind of artful, emotional, electronic dance music that I always wished the Scissor Sisters sounded like, or that Madonna would make instead of chasing Lady Gaga’s crown.

Well, Bent has now been given the full, physical release treatment by Dovecote Records, and SSION are out on tour to promote it this autumn. That means they will soon be coming to a town near YOU and, godammit, I wish I lived in the States so I could catch one of these shows!

As someone whose music I greatly respect and admire, for the third Notes From The Niallist column I caught up with Cody Critcheloe (who, for all intents and purposes, is SSION), to ask him what he has in store for this tour, and how the album promotion is going:


The Niallist: You’ve stated that you plan on producing a video for each track on your album Bent - how is that going? Is there a narrative thread between these videos? I have noticed some slight stylistic similarities.

Cody Critcheloe: That is true, we’ve completed 5 of the 10 videos so far. We’re still waiting to release a few while we are on tour. The wait is killing me! Yes, there is a narrative thread between all of the videos… I’m not sure if everyone will pick up on it and i don’t know if it’s really important that they do… We will see, I guess.

TN: You put out Bent as a limited edition free download last year, and now it is being re-released physically. How do you feel the free download worked in your favor? Or did it?

CC: Well a lot of people are familiar with the songs, they come to shows and sing a long, and that’s cool. I think it worked in my favor for sure. I mean, do people even buy records anymore? i do sometimes but not like i did when i was a kid… I feel like things are on the uprise though, but then again I don’t have anything to compare it to. This is just they way it turned out.

TN: You put a lot of effort into your stage shows - what can we expect from Ssion on this tour? Any secrets you might be willing to give away?

CC: I think a lot of people have seen photos from shows we did 5 or 6 years ago and assume that they are going to get that, or they see the “Clown” video and think that’s who i am and what we do. That’s not the case. iId need some insane funding and the audience to put on shows that big! When we get the opportunity to do a lavish pop show I go all out, but when you’re touring in a van and sometimes playing to 100 people in a basement or dive bar you can’t really do that! And i actually sort of like stripping it down, i like forcing people to have to deal with it on a strictly musical level… For this tour it’s me and a live band, some visual elements but nothing really over the top. It doesn’t seem to bother people who come to the shows either. It’s still good. I’m a good performer and the band is tight. Also, we have House of Ladosha supporting us on the tour, they are my favorite band in NYC. Check them out!

TN: Who are your primary influences as a live performer? And musically and more generally, in terms of art and style which you poses a lot of, who has influenced you to do what you do?

CC: Courtney Love, The Cramps, Prince, Little Richard, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Queen, Sonic Youth, Darby Crash, the B-52s, and a lot more.

TN: Thanks, Cody!


Here’s the latest SSION video, an interview about the upcoming Live & Wet tour:
 

 
And here, for your diary, is the full SSION tour date schedule:
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:

‘My Love Grows In The Dark’: SSION’s springtime pop perfection

SSION’s ‘Earthquake’ will rock your world

Feeling good 4-evr, it’s another great SSION promo

Getting ‘Bent’ with SSION: an interview with Cody Critcheloe

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #2: Tranarchy in the UK
10.03.2012
09:52 am

Topics:
Activism
Dance
Queer
Unorthodox

Tags:


 
I ended my first Notes from the Niallist column by mentioning the collective I am a co-founder of, and performer with, called Tranarchy.

Frankly, it’s Tranarchy that has been taking up most of time, and distracting me from mining the cultural coal face for Dangerous Minds. But that’s the trade-off I guess, as Tranarchy is helping to create the diamonds people discover under all that dust.

As the name would suggest, Tranarchy is a drag-and-trans-heavy collective interested in subverting, and commenting on, normative gender roles. I know that all sounds very serious, but Tranarchy is dedicated to putting the fun first, and letting people discover the message for themselves, without having it rammed down their throats. There’s just too much hectoring in this world already, and not enough people willing to lead by example, i.e. living the life they want to live regardless of what society says. Sniff all you like at the supposed frivolity of drag queens and the “feminine” aesthetic, as historically has been the case with male-dominated, straight society, but always remember how much guts it takes to flaunt your otherness in public.

Besides the political aspect, however, there’s something almost magical going on with Tranarchy. And I mean “magical” in terms of seeing dreams and desires become a reality. We started the collective just over a year ago, and as we have grown at a surprising rate, we have managed to put on events and happenings that, just 18 months ago, we (literally) could only have dreamed of.

So far, we have hosted Manchester’s first ever vogue ball, called Vogue Brawl (now into its second year.) We’ve held a number of interactive film screenings in the style of the legendary Peaches Christ’s Midnight Mass in San Francisco (Showgirls, Zoolander, Mad Max: The Road Warrior with Empire Drive-In and Abandon Normal Devices.) We have created promo videos and photos shoots for our events that show off much of Manchester’s untapped talent, and these are beginning to get attention in the States and further beyond. Our most popular film so far is the promo for Vogue Brawl 2: Pride Is Burning, which can be basically summed up as “The Warriors in drag.”

The collective is very aware of gay and trans history and we want to celebrate that. We’ve held a few outlaw parties inspired by the original New York club kids James St James and Michael Alig, and documented them in the style of the sadly-missed pioneering NYC videographer Nelson Sullivan.

This is where it gets interesting, though. Our first outlaw party was a reclaiming of the Manchester tram system, which, as anyone who has ever used public transport will know, can get pretty hairy if you stand out in any way. Our last outlaw party was even bigger, in terms of execution and impact. It was an invasion of, and statement about, Manchester’s annual “Pride” festival of gay culture and awareness.

Every year, Manchester Pride is held in the city’s Gay Village and attracts up to 40,000 people, making it one of the flagship gay Pride festivals in the UK. However, the amount of money raised for charity as opposed to the amount of money raised for personal profit has been a major, running issue for a while, as has the fact that a festival celebrating gay visibility, and interaction with the wider, local community, is held in a walled-off compound that charges people to enter.

However, the one thing the Manchester Pride organizers don’t have control over is the large canal that runs right through the Gay Village, and along side Canal St, where much of the festivities take place. So, as a bit of a lark, Tranarchy took a barge down to the Village this year, and crashed the Pride party to perform a few numbers and make a basic point.

We have issued an official Tranarchy statement detailing some of the problems with Manchester Pride to accompany the YouTube video, and here is an extract from that:

Freeing Pride is not an attack on Pride as a party, and it is not just about the fences and the ticket prices. Its about setting Pride free from the businesses and individuals who seek profit before the well-being of our community. It’s about asking what the event is really about, who benefits from it who should pay for it, and remembering why we do it in the first place! Its about asking whats more important; extra cash for an organization reaching out to the most vulnerable among us, or getting to see Steps [90s pop band] one last time before they slip into room 101?

In short, we were all incredibly nervous about pulling this stunt, but it turned out better than we could have hoped. Check out the old voguing queen we encountered at the end of the video, in the Piccadilly basin, which is a well-known cruising ground:
 

 
Our YouTube video channel is here, and for regular news updates, subscribe to Tranarchy on Facebook.

For more info on Tranarchy, and past event pics, visit tranarchy.co.uk.

A much longer piece, detailing the objections to how Manchester Pride is run, can be found at Manchester Pride Investigation.

You can find the Niallist at Niallism.com and on Facebook.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #1: an introduction
09.28.2012
06:06 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop
Queer

Tags:


 
The truth is, I haven’t been posting as much on Dangerous Minds lately as I would like to. And why, you might ask? Well, because my extra-curricular activities have been getting in the way. Music, performance and film-making are all beginning to take up a lot more of my time, and while this is not a bad thing in itself, I feel I have been neglecting my duties here on the cultural vanguard.

To remedy this sorry situation, I have decided to start keeping an update of my work outside of Dangerous Minds, for Dangerous Minds. So welcome to a new, regular series of posts (a “column” if you will) called Notes From The Niallist.

These columns are a chance for me to talk about my work (ok, and maybe also show off a wee bit) but it’s is also a chance for me to explore, in more depth than usual, some of the themes, works, artists, scenes, politics and people that inspire and influence me. These includes some of topics I post about already, and I have been pleasantly surprised how well people have reacted to them in the past.

But some of this will also be fresh territory for Dangerous Minds. There is definitely going to be heavy queer-slant to my content, and opinions that might be in direct contrast to views expressed elsewhere on the website. Musically, what I want to focus on has not been covered much on Dangerous Minds, if at all. Under-reported, underground dance cultures of the past and the present, the crossroads of black and gay culture from disco and Hi-NRG up to the modern ballroom, bounce and homo-hop scenes. In terms of the people I will be interviewing, you’ve had a good glimpse at some of those folks already: gender-bending performance artists, extreme drag queens, fearless comics and characters whose work, and very existence, push at the boundaries of what is acceptable to “polite” society. In fact, anything that falls outside the remit of “good taste” is fair game. As is anything that that defies accepted notions of what makes a person “beautiful” or “sexy”. Being a sexually active fat gay guy, body-image, self-esteem and self-acceptance are all important to me, and areas that I feel we need more discussion of in general, regardless of gender or orientation.

I’m not too worried about the difference in content, though. I think, after writing here for well over a year and a half, I have a pretty good grasp of what you folks appreciate, and in return, I think you’ve got a pretty good appreciation of what I have to offer. Anyway, I will still keep posting snarky film reviews, ridiculous videos and facehugger bong pics, as well as interesting new music that falls outside the remit of The Niallist—what I was originally hired to do for Dangerous Minds—so there’s not that much to worry about.

My aim is for this column to run once a week, but sometimes more, and sometimes less, depending on the content. Be prepared for a follow-up to this post early next week, though, when I will be introducing what has become the number one focus of my time and energy, and what has been creating a real buzz in the people and places around me, our drag-performance collective Tranarchy.

But to kick things off, here’s a new(ish) video from my album AKA, an ode to outsider, out-size desire over a P-Funk hip-hop beat that’s, well, pretty fat:
 
The Niallist “Like Em Fat”
 

 
AKA is available to download, in full, on Bandcamp.
 

 

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Dilemma for Dumbshits: If Chick-fil-A stops anti-gay donations, will there be a right-wing backlash?


 
Rumors have been floating about for a few weeks now that Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy has been interested in wiping the shit he stepped in earlier this year—when he declared himself “Guilty as charged” for supporting anti-LGBT political groups like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage, including some that heave been called “hate groups”—off his corporate shoes.

Although I commend Mr. Cathy for stopping his multi-million dollar donations to anti-gay groups—if this rumor is in fact true and doesn’t turn out to be a Yes Men-style prank aiming to “punk” the delicious fast food chicken sandwich chain preferred by bigots, homophobic Christians, Fox News viewers, Drudge and Breitbart readers and talk radio fans—I can’t help but wonder how this news will play in red states and in the far right blogosphere.

The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Alderman Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A.  Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A.  Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.

—snip—

Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”  This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.

Last Friday, Tara and I went to see Aziz Ansari’s wicked good stand-up show at the Orpheum Theater in downton Los Angeles. At one point, he was riffing on the whole Chick-fil-A controversy and lamenting that he could no longer, in good faith, eat there and indirectly support bigoted organizations that oppose full civil rights for his LGBT friends. Many of you reading this feel his pain.

As he did the bit—I’m embarrassed to admit to this, but it’s true—I did the mental calculation in my head of how much of the price of a single peach milkshake would end up going into the coffers of an anti-gay group and debated on whether or not it was okay if I had one, just one, on the way home (My beautiful wife nixed this idea before it even got all the way out of my mouth, incidentally).

So if this new news is true, then Aziz Ansari and I can eat at Chick-fil-A again with clear consciences. Bearing this in mind, the flipside of feeling GOOD about the today’s announcement, or the widely-reported rumor I should say, that Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to anti-LGBT groups, is how this information might be processed by the far reich crowd?

Tell me that the likes of Dana Loesch, or Michelle Malkin won’t feel BETRAYED and FIRE-SPITTING FURIOUS by the fast food chain COWARDLY WITHDRAWING FROM THE FIGHT FOR ‘TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VALUES.’ It’s gonna happen.

All the assholes who giddily participated in the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, waiting hours in line to stuff their faces full of fried chicken sandwiches to stick it to them uppity gays (and in support of “free speech” and Jeebus of course) are going to feel, well, butthurt by the news. Can a Sarah Palin-led Chick-fil-A backlash be far behind?

I hope Palin goes for the (fool’s) gold. It’s probably her very, very last chance to be relevant again. Her fifteen minutes of fame has about five seconds left, but leading a populist revolt against Chick-fil-A could re-start the clock for the fading celebrity of the half-term Alaska governor. Glenn Beck is probably wondering how he can hop on this train himself. Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Allen West, Michael Savage… who will be the first one of them to go there and accuse Chick-fil-A of cowardly betraying Christian Conservatives?

I’m also counting down the seconds before I get an “email alert” from wingnut central, WorldNetDaily, asking (because they always phrase things in the form of a question there, just like I did with the title here, in their honor): “GUESS WHO is no longer supporting the traditional Christian marriage definition of “one man, one woman”? The answer will SHOCK YOU” and then you’ll have to link to their website for the answer.

Five, four, three, two, one…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Divine & Holly Woodlawn discuss ‘The Neon Woman’, 1979
09.19.2012
10:10 am

Topics:
Heroes
Queer
Television

Tags:


 
Here’s something to make up for that Divine interview on The Tube I posted on Monday - a whole thirty minutes of Genn Harris Milstead discussing Divine’s role in the 1979 theater production of The Neon Woman.

The interview is hosted by TV personality Tom Snyder, and also on hand are The Neon Woman‘s director Ron Link and Divine’s co-star (and another stone cold legend of drag/gender-bending and Warhol’s Factory scene) Holly Woodlawn.

There’s still a bit of a naff “wtf?” tone to Snyder’s questioning, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Muriel Grey’s Divine inquisition on The Tube. In fact, Snyder does a decent enough job of eventually getting past his own preconceptions and treating Divine and Woodlawn not as freaks, but as human beings with something interesting and intelligent to say.

This interview was taped for NBC’s Tomorrow show in 1979, and appears on YouTube in three parts. The quality isn’t immaculate, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s just a joy to see these people in the same room together hanging out and shooting the shit:

Divine and Holly Woodlawn on Tomorrow, 1979, part one:
 

 
After the jump, parts two and three…
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
 
Divine in highlights form ‘The Neon Woman’ from 1978
 
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983
09.17.2012
03:34 pm

Topics:
Dance
Heroes
Queer
Television

Tags:


Glenn Harris Milstead, aka Divine
 
Or to be more precise, here’s a very awkward interview with an out-of-drag Glenn Harris Milstead on the British music television show The Tube, from 1983, which is followed by an excellent performance by Divine of her club hit “Shake It Up.”

While it’s understandable that straight-laced, square TV presenters might not know what to make of Divine (whose very raison d’être was to make people laugh by overturning preconceptions of gender and beauty), you would expect the producers of a supposedly hip, youth-oriented TV show like The Tube to be a bit more switched on.

Instead we get an interview by the bumbling Muriel Grey in which she suggests that Divine is insecure, repulsive, and somehow an affront to women. The hapless Grey comes across as the dullest of squares in this clip, which I guess is a danger to be considered when you go up against a glamor icon like Divine, but unfortunately Grey has previous form in conducting cringe-worthy interviews.

Thankfully, Milstead takes it all in his rather large stride, and reacts with the grace befitting a true star:
 

 

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Derek Jarman: Interviewed on Spanish TV from 1989
09.08.2012
08:29 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Movies
Queer
Television
Thinkers

Tags:

king_derek_jarman
 
When asked how he felt about the fact he’d received £400,000 to make Caravaggio in 1986, and the director of Chariots of Fire, Hugh Hudson had received 4 million to make his film, Derek Jarman replied, ‘Fortunately, I’m one hundred times more intelligent than Hugh Hudson, so it doesn’t matter.’

It certainly didn’t matter as Jarman’s output, during his 20-year career, pisses from a great height on Hudson’s work. What Jarman would have made of this year’s London Olympics, with its recurring reference to Chariots of Fire, would certainly have been interesting. Yet, Jarman was never fooled by his position as an outsider, he was well aware that there ‘is a complicity between the avant-garde and the establishment, it’s symbiotic, they need each other,’ as he explained to Peter Culshaw in the NME, April, 1986.

‘..all avant-garde gestures have been appropriated by just those people they sought to undermine. Dada was conceived as a full-scale assault and now Dada sells for millions. But what people never point out about me is that I’m probably the most conservative film-maker in the country. I’m not talking about Thatcherite-radical conservatives, who are anti-traditional and destructive, and who see progress as heaven, I mean more like the conservatism of groups like the Green Party.’

The artist Caravaggio fascinated Jarman, because ‘he was the most inspired religious painter of the Middle Ages and was also a murderer.’

‘Imagine if Shakespeare had been a murderer - it would completely alter the way we see his plays. [Caravaggio] was particularly taken to heart by the Romans because he painted real people. The girl next door was Mary Magdalen. Or in Death of a Virgin he painted a well-known prostitute as a virgin. It was the equivalent of Christine Keeler being put up over the high altar at Westminster Abbey.’

Jarman felt a tremendous parallel between Caravaggio and his own life, and he believed that ‘the cinema of the product precludes individual voices…’

‘...and I think unless one can put one’s own voice into a film, then there’s an element of dishonesty in it.’

In this short interview Derek Jarman talks about his life and films, Caravaggio, The Last of England and War Requiem,  taken from Spanish TV’s Metropolis from 1989.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Glitterbug’: Derek Jarman’s final film


Photo-spread of Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, from 1978


 
Bonus interview of Jarman talking about ‘Caravaggio’, after the jump…
 

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Ann Romney can be a guest on ‘Modern Family’ when gay marriage is legal, says co-creator
08.30.2012
10:54 am

Topics:
Amusing
Queer
Television
The wrong side of history

Tags:


 
It’s well-known to be the only weekly TV series that President Obama watches with his daughters and on Tuesday, Ann Romney told Entertainment Tonight that Modern Family is her favorite show, too.

Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan responded on Twitter:

“Thrilled Ann Romney says ModFam is her favorite show. We’ll offer her the role of officiant at Mitch & Cam’s wedding. As soon as it’s legal.”

 

 
Nice one. Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays uptight lawyer, Mitch, on Modern Family chimed in with:
 

I have to say, I’m actually thrilled Mitt & Ann Romney love “Modern Family”. I hope it sparks something in them! #Equality

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hijabis sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Though rock ‘n’ roll is banned in Iran, Queen is still king
08.19.2012
10:06 pm

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:

Freddie Mercury
 
While one more rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” might be enough to drive one to Queen overload (as if that is humanly possibly), when we remember that “Western Music” is forbidden in Iran, and homosexuality is punishable by death, the sight of Iranian men and women (badly) singing a Queen song takes on new meaning.

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution spurred a rejection of all things “Western,” and rock ‘n’ roll was one of its causalities. Until the 90’s, all rock music was banned. Today most Iranian rock bands operate underground or flee to other countries to play (like New York’s own The Yellow Dogs). Some rockers skirt the rules by placing traditional Persian poetry over classic rock melodies. Others play instrumental music (metal is big), or write fairly “safe” lyrics in Farsi and submit them for approval from the Ministry of Culture.

So why were the Iranian representatives for the World Choir Games able to perform Queen? Well, Freddie Mercury, also known as Farrokh Bulsara, was Parsi, a Persian ethnic group that commonly practices Zoroastrianism. Growing up in India and Zanzibar, Mercury’s Zoroastrian funeral was noted after his death, but his ethnic identity was never a secret. Illegal Queen bootlegs have been floating around Iran forever, but in 2004, the first legal classic rock album was released, Queen’s Greatest Hits.

There were even translations of the songs in the liner notes, though “Bohemian Rhapsody” already had the Arabic word for God (“Bismillah”) proclaimed by the protagonist in a plea for redemption. Love songs (and presumably “Fat-Bottomed Girls”) were cut, but Mercury’s heritage and underground Queen fans greased the wheels for the Ministry of Culture. With a bisexual frontman and a sound steeped in American rock ‘n’ roll, Queen’s connection to the Persian world has been lauded by Iranian rockers since the beginning.
 

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Happy (Belated) Birthday to Lady Bunny
08.15.2012
08:11 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Pop Culture
Queer

Tags:


 
We couldn’t let the occasion of Lady Bunny’s birthday pass without doing a post to mark it (even if it was yesterday.) She ain’t no spring chicken, but she’s as rulin’ as ever.

And here’s the proof, some seldom-seen footage of Lady Bunny performing in 1986, filmed by New York nightlife chronicler, and friend of DM, Nelson Sullivan. The “psychedelic disco” act is called SHAZORK and also features Sister Dimension and DJ Dmitry (later of Deee-Lite.) Who knew Bunny could sing this well? And I love Sister Dimension’s smurf-like outfit!

Here’s to you Bunny!
 


 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:

‘The Ballad Of Sarah Palin’ by Lady Bunny
Lady Bunny’s ‘West Virginia Gurls’
Nelson Sullivan: pioneering chronicler of NYC nightlife in the 1980s

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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