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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
This 90-minute film is edited together extracts of the Divine David’s late 90s Channel 4 show The Divine David Presents, produced by World Of Wonder.
At the time this show originally aired was one of the most out-there things on TV, and you know what, it’s still pretty damn bizarre and hilarious. Thanks, of course, to the wonderful stylings of the Divine David himself, who now goes by his real name of David Hoyle and regularly performs in London and Manchester.
If any one person was responsible for kicking drag square on the backside and, erm, dragging it into the 21st Century, it was David Hoyle. You could even say his look goes beyond drag, as it’s an over-the-top parody of a form that is already a parody, and which coupled with his pissed-and-paranoid English gent persona can lead to belly laughs simply from a knowing glance or a flick of the wrist. It can be grotesque, yes, but I dare you not to laugh the laugh of wrongness.
‘Til this day David Hoyle remains criminally neglected outside of the UK, and under-rated even in his homeland (except to comedy nerds that is - Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker personally selected Hoyle for the older rock star character in Nathan Barley.) His strange comic genius is as relevant as ever, and needs more exposure - so please, PLEASE World Of Wonder, don’t yank this off YouTube!