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Monty Python’s Graham Chapman’s curious, courageous, poignant video op-ed, 1984
12:26 pm


Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman
Among his other gifts, Graham Chapman may have been the Python most capable of eliciting feelings of pathos in the audience. Chapman arguably had the least range of the Python troupe but there was always something “realer” about his performances. It’s no coincidence that, even though he was the least reliable of the Python troupe due to his heavy drinking (this is well documented), he played the lead role in both of the two Monty Python narrative features, Holy Grail and Life of Brian. The world would later learn of his alcoholism and his homosexuality, and, for the millions of Python fans, his death in 1989 came as a true shock.

In 1984 Chapman participated in a Channel 4 program called Opinions in which, every week, a different person would make a case on some topic, direct to the camera like a newscaster. Chapman’s entry, which aired on November 16, 1984, is a remarkable blend of Pythonesque madness and brazenly unfiltered confessional of a type that utterly absent from, say, the Flying Circus run—nakedly autobiographical was the one thing the Circus never was. As a result, Chapman’s Opinions piece, from the viewpoint of 2013, feels distinctly modern. In tone, It’s not far off from one of Stephen Colbert’s “The Word” segments, although far more dangerous in more or less dispensing with the use of a “persona” outright.

Similar to a TED Talk in length and scope, Chapman dedicates his allotted time to a discussion of the role of peer pressure in fueling overpopulation—the subject is a clear proxy for a subject close to Chapman’s heart, the feelings of alienation that a gay man experiences; Chapman alludes to this aspect a couple of times directly, as does the voiceover intro. Watching it, you have the distinct feeling of Chapman finally getting something off his chest, and at times his actorly anger seems entirely synonymous with his own actual anger—the contempt and pain that mention of his “neighbors” elicits seems wholly unfeigned. In the years of Thatcher and AIDS, such a talk must have seemed bold indeed. Towards the end of the program, Chapman talks quite frankly about sex, links repression and substance abuse, and even addresses the proper attitude towards death.

What the show isn’t, particularly, is funny, although I’d presume it was a good deal more amusing than the other Opinions pieces. Full of a kind of enraged whimsy and complete with the engagingly “meta” device of onscreen graphics tallying his use of various tropes, it fits comfortably in the impressive Python gallery of silly talking heads on telly. It’s a fascinating, risky document—one that will definitely leave you with more insight into the “real” Graham Chapman—as much as a produced television program can, anyway.

via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Is Andy Kaufman alive? His ‘daughter’ says that he is
05:37 pm


Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman Awards, 2013
Michael Kaufman standing next to a woman who either is or is not Andy Kaufman’s 24-year-old daughter

Every year for the last several years, at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York, a ceremony called the Andy Kaufman Awards takes place in which the eponymous, dearly departed, and much-missed comedian is celebrated, and current performers carrying on the spirit of his baffling comedy are singled out for recognition (Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts have been two of the comedians so honored).

On Monday evening, this year’s edition of the Andy Kaufman Awards took an unusually Kaufmanesque turn, not only when Kaufman’s brother Michael took the stage to announce that Andy is indeed still alive but even more so when a young woman took the stage, claiming to be his daughter and likewise “confirming” that Andy is alive and well.
Andy Kaufman
The woman in question did not, apparently, give her name, but she did reveal her age—24, which would put her birthdate at around 1989. The fact that intrigues is that Kaufman died in 1984 at the age of 35.

Killy Dwyer, who was part of the event as one of the potential honorees, posted the following on her Facebook page:

Ok. Tonight was a mindfuck. Anyone who was there will attest. Andy Kaufman’s daughter came onstage and claimed he was alive. It was. It was…I can’t tell you how it was, only that it was as real as any reality that i’ve seen. and yeah. I get that it is—could—might all be a hoax. That was the only and last thing I want to say. it was fucking fucked up. She said he is alive and that the passing of his father this July made him want to reach out via her- to Michael, Andy’s brother. She said he is watching the award entries, semi and finalists with great interest always. He just wanted to disappear. To be a father. To be an observer. As much as this seems like bullshit as I type it, it was as real as anything I’ve ever seen. There is video. It was chilling, upsetting and absolutely intriguing. I bawled my eyes out. The entire room was freaked out. It was, if nothing else, brilliant. and incredibly mindfuckng and AWESOME.

To supply a little background, the basic facts are these. Between roughly 1970 and his passing in 1984, Kaufman established himself as one of the most original voices in comedy, primarily through his appearances on Saturday Night Live and his status as a regular player on the cast of Taxi (1978-1983). He gave a number of live performances coinciding with his run on Taxi that are considered legendary, particularly his April 1979 show at Carnegie Hall in which, among other things, he took the entire audience out for milk and cookies (this required the use of 24 buses) and invited everyone to join him on the Staten Island Ferry the next morning.

Long accustomed to baffling and irritating his audiences, in his last years Kaufman refined what can only be called an especially provocative form of anti-comedy to its most sublime expression. Kaufman became renowned for belligerently boasting that he could beat any woman in the sport of wrestling—and several such matches were staged. He also had a scuffle and a heated exchange with Memphis wrestler Jerry Lawler on Late Night with David Letterman.

He developed an alter ego named Tony Clifton, whom Kaufman insisted be hired as a guest actor on Taxi—Kaufman’s partner in crime, a curious figure named Bob Zmuda, later continued with the Clifton persona after Kaufman’s death of lung cancer in 1984, in part to fuel speculation that Kaufman was still alive and controlling this macabre anti-comedy from offstage.

Rather brilliantly, Kaufman—alive or no—managed to set up conditions whereby almost anything that happens can be said to further corroborate either the facts of his death or the concocted nature of same. It is well known that Kaufman spoke often of faking his own death, but most reasonable observers have concluded that this is highly unlikely.

This is what makes the events of last Monday night so compelling and weird. Nobody claims to know who the young woman is or whether she is telling the truth. At the Andy Kaufman Awards on Monday, Michael Kaufman, Andy’s brother, told a story about Andy’s supposed promise to meet up with Michael on Christmas Eve of 1999, on which date Michael showed up at the appointed restaurant but Andy did not—however (according to Michael) an emissary did hand Michael an envelope that evening explaining about Andy’s faked death and his new family, including a daughter. 

So what we know is, either Andy Kaufman is alive or his brother and an unidentified woman staged a remembrance of his brilliantly perverse comedy in the most attention-getting manner imaginable.
Kaufman in rare form, taunting Jerry Lawler and wrestling a woman named Susan:

(The best account of this bizarre turn of events can be found at the Comic’s Comic.)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Pretty—and bearded—in pink: Poster boy takes shot at pro-military attitude in gay rights movement
09:55 am



Published in 1993 by the Queer caucus of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, (formerly the above-ground auxiliary to the Weather Underground), this sly little bit of radical propaganda was handed out during the 1993 National Lesbian/Gay Rights March in Washington, DC. The event was far from culturally or ideologically uniform, with Sir Ian McKellen, RuPaul, Eartha Kitt and Urvashi Vaid (radical, anti-assimilation queer activist) all present.

At the time, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was becoming a high-profile issue, and as gay rights began to seep into the mainstream, the more radical queer communities began to push back with a critique of the newly “family-friendly” direction of the movement. Of course, now queer rights are almost wholly represented in mass media as naught but marriage and military service, and those who want no part of the US military or the wars they fight are dismissed as marginal malcontents.

Given the scatter-shot state of the anti-war movement at present, maybe we can bring this guy back as a new mascot?
Via Bolerium Books

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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This latex Woody Allen mask will be the most horrifying thing you’ll see all day

I turned this up completely by accident yesterday searching for something that wasn’t even Woody Allen-related. What in the name of Silence of the Lambs did I stumble upon? Apparently this latex Woody Allen mask was sold on eBay back in 2007. I-I, I have no words…

This is as hellish as it gets, m’ friends.

I can’t find much background information on it, but you can click on this link and maybe you’ll have better luck than me.

All I can say is, if you’re able to get your hands on one these for Halloween, you’ll definitely be the creepiest-creepster creeping around your burg. Ugh.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Whatever happened to Dzhambulat Khatokhov, the World’s Heaviest Child?
10:45 am


Dzhambulat Khatokhov

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Dzhambulat “Dzhambik” Khatokhov became world’s heaviest child in 2003. “Dzhambik”  was 3-feet 11-inches in height and weighed 123lbs.

He was just four-years-old.

His mother, Nelya Kabardarkova, said Dzhambik’s ambition was to become a Sumo wrestler.

When he was five, Nelya took her son to Japan to appear on the TV show Impossible. It was the start of a brief media career that led to several documentaries, and a rash of news items on the child.

Dzhambik weighed 6-lbs 6-oz at birth. As he grew, Nelya said that he ate 3-4 meals a day. He was always hungry. She has denied that she deliberately overfed him.

By the age of seven, Dzhambik was 4-ft 3-inches, and weighed 224lbs..

By the age of nine, he weighed 406lbs.

In an interview with the Guardian in 2006, Neyla told Nick Paton Walsh:

“He does not eat that much.”

Then she adds:

“He is happy that size. It is not shameful. He likes showing people how strong he is.”

So, whatever happened to Dzhambik?

Anorak recently posted a blog asking the same question. It would appear, that Dzhambik continued to grow, continued to make money, and continued to have a form of celebrity. Yet, the videos they posted only take Dzhambik up-to the age of eleven.

Where is he now? What is he doing? And is he happy doing it?

On September 24th, Dzhambik will celebrate his fourteenth birthday. It is difficult not to think of Dzhambik in terms of statistics: weight, height, age. But that sadly is perhaps how Neyla wants him to be seen. For being the world’s heaviest child can still make money.

Bonus clip, plus 2006 documentary on Dzhambik, after the jump…
H/T Anorak

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the kitschy Christian Americana of the Precious Moments Chapel!

Artist Samuel J. Butcher is about as American as an artist can possibly be, like, say Ansel Adams, Norman Rockwell or even Andy Warhol. He draws, paints in oil, water-color, acrylic and sculpts in mixed-media.

Butcher is primarily known as the artistic creator of the Precious Moments brand. His easily identifiable big-eyed characters, originally modeled after one of his toddler sons, and his American-Christian themes make his kitschy work instantly recognizable. Chances are your grandmother has at least one Precious Moments statuette. Precious Moments is the second most lucrative brand in the figurine marketplace.

A deeply religious man, Butcher purchased a parcel of land in the Ozark Mountains near Carthage Missouri and set about building the Precious Moments Chapel, which he worked on, really, really obsessively for years before it opened in 1989.

In the Precious Moments Chapel, Butcher used his characters to bring Bible stories to life in dozens of murals—9,000 square feet of them all hand-painted by the artist—including the Creation myth and the resurrection of Jesus.

There is also mural called “Hallelujah Square” that memorializes the lives of real children who died young and depicts them being reunited with their parents in Heaven. Naturally the ceiling of the Precious Moments Chapel has been called “America’s Sistine Chapel” by the aesthetically undiscerning, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s not sort of weirdly cool anyway.

Would it surprise you to know that the country’s largest Precious Moments gift shop is adjacent to the Chapel? No?




Below, some smart-asses from an indie band called Fishboy stop by this unusual roadside attraction and crack wise over the Precious Moments Chapel:

A more sincere look around the Precious Moments Chapel:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Meet Hard Ton, the disco love-child of Divine, Sylvester & Leigh Bowery
11:35 am


Hard Ton
House music

Ladies and gentlemen, all the way from disco-licious Italy, let me introduce you to the wonderful Hard Ton!

This Italian house music performer comes across like the bastard offspring of Divine and Sylvester (and with more than a little Leigh Bowery to satisfy your outlandish-costume-and-make-up needs.) Hard Ton makes a righteous, soulful noise that harks back to the original pioneers of sleazy, seedy Chicago house like Mr Fingers and Robert Owens. In a sea of anonymous dance-music acts that seem happy to bask in the hazy glow of their battered MacBooks, Hard Ton stands out not just for making authentically retro-sounding house, but for making a huge visual statement that reminds us that house was once the realm of the weirdos and the outcasts.

Hard Ton is actually a duo composed of Mauro Wawashi, a formidable producer and DJ in his own right, and vocalist/front person Max, here taking a break from his day job in various metal tribute acts to channel his inner disco diva, including wrapping himself up in the kind of glad rags that would make a hooker blush. Being quite the big guy, this in itself is a bit of a statement, and a beautiful act of plus-size body positivity. Not surprisingly, Hard Ton are fast gaining a hardcore following among the gay bear community.

To my shame, I have known Hard Ton for quite a while now (we even shared a label, Dissident, a few years back) but have failed to feature them on Dangerous Minds before. Let’s remedy that right away! With a new EP to promote and a current tour of the States for Pride season, I sent the formidable Max some questions to wrap his tongue, and brain, around.

The Niallist: Who and what is Hard Ton?

Hard Ton: A multi-sensorial experience: you can dance to me, you can watch me, you can touch me. Sometimes you can also bite me.

The Niallist: What inspires you musically?

Hard Ton: Acid house, disco music, pop. But I suppose I got inspired from everything I ear, it could be a techno track in an underground club, a metal song in a concert, or the shit played on the radio. Outside of music I find inspiration in pop culture, club culture, photography, fashion and art. Well, some fashion and some art. And definitely all the queens who stood up against the police at Stonewall back in 1969!

The Niallist: What can someone expect form a Hard Ton show?

Hard Ton: A ton of meat screaming like a real diva. 

The Niallist: What is the strangest reaction you have had live?

Hard Ton: A guy kissed me in front of his girlfriend while I was singing, and I’m not talking about that kind of kiss that your mama would give you…

The Niallist: What is in the near future for Hard Ton?
Hard Ton
: Our new E.P. has just been released [via Killekill Records - check it out here], and we are very proud of it. We’ve also just finished a remix for S’Express, and produced some tracks for Paul Parker. And of course we are working on new tracks. As for an album… is there really anyone who still buys CDs? Well, I do!

Hard Ton “Work That Body”

You can find Hard Ton on Facebook, and keep up with the latest news via Hard Ton’s Twitter.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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The ‘Rusty Knife’ of Arigó, Brazil’s amazing psychic surgeon
08:55 am


Psychic Surgery

With their sleeves surreptitiously stuffed with chicken blood and pig guts, so-called “psychic surgeons” have been hoaxing the vulnerable (the most vulnerable) for centuries.

Yet every vein of the paranormal has its hero, its standard-bearer… and psychic surgery is no exception. Nestled in its dubious and oft-maligned ranks is the charming, beguiling and relatively well-authenticated instance of Arigó, Brazil’s celebrated “surgeon of the rusty knife.”

Regardless of its veracity or verifiability, it is an incredible story—science and spirituality shaken together into a narrative cocktail worthy of the finest magical realist imagination.

Born José Pedro de Freitas in 1921 on a farm in the Brazilian Highlands, Arigó was an entirely unschooled miner up to the age of thirty. Then, however, his life took an unexpected turn, when he became plagued with terrible depression and headaches and hallucinations. A local spiritualist informed him that the maladies were symptomatic of a spirit’s attempting to work through him: they would persist, he was assured, until he obeyed the entity’s bidding.

How Arigó first succumbed to the will of this sprit (ostensibly a German surgeon called ‘Dr Adolphus Fritz’, who died during WWI) is one of the more colorful episodes of a colorful life. Attending some political convention with fellow miners around 1950, an entranced Arigó reportedly entered a sleeping senator’s hotel room, and carved out a recently diagnosed tumor with his razor.

A little later, he similarly plunged, blade first, into an unwell relative’s vagina, plucking the cancer from her uterus. In both instances, the recipients of such spontaneous and unorthodox treatment apparently experienced no pain or panic whatsoever, nor subsequent infection, and were completely healed—all elements that remained characteristic of this strange surgeon’s practice for years to come. (Arigó never, I should stress, made use of any anaesthetic.)

Arigó went on to treat thousands from every walk of Brazilian life, from peasants to politicians, sometimes up to 300 a day, never accepting payment, diagnosing with instant, unerring accuracy, and occasionally complimenting his free jazz operations with detailed prescriptions this illiterate and unschooled man would churn out in an unusually academic example of automatic writing. While at his work Arigó would speak, fittingly enough, in a thick German accent.

Although he operated in relative harmony with the medical profession—sometimes he would send people away without treatment, telling them a less transcendent physician would suffice—this establishment still persecuted him, in concert with the Catholic church, and Arigó would serve some time in jail for unlicensed practice. He died in 1971, a controversial legend and enigma.

Now cop the following: the American intelligence asset, psychic researcher, and author of The Sacred Mushroom Andrija Puharich’s account of his own time with Arigó—and his own brief but remarkable experience under the latter’s notorious blade. The not-a-little sinister Puharich’s credentials are far from impeccable (he was, after all, patron of that “spoon-bending” charlatan and spy Uri Geller), but his tale is still a powerful one…

Finally, watch some of Puharich’s bizarre footage for yourself, and see Arigó gouging out cysts, fishing out tumors and whipping out cataracts as if it ain’t no thing, while his unflinching patients sit there cool as cucumbers. You even see him rooting around in a guy’s skull.

While I would hardly describe the following as “safe for work” (puss flies, blood oozes), your correspondent happens to be an almighty wuss about this kind of thing, with an outright phobia of doctors, surgeries, surgeons, gory flicks et al— yet still managed to find this footage quite bearable. Either because it’s uncanny. Or because it’s bullshit. Take your pick…

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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Your new favorite cult film: ‘Grey Gardens’ fans will love ultra-twisted ‘Little Lady Fauntleroy’
11:45 am


Lauren Harries
Keith Allen

In the late 1980s, British talkshow host Terry Wogan introduced his viewers to the curious sight of ten-year-old James Harries, a supposed child prodigy “expert” on antiques.

The young Harries sported fancy dress, a bow tie and a curly bleached-blonde perm, making him look like a pint-sized Harpo Marx. However, Harries, apparently convinced of his own genius, was anything but silent, you see, and came off as an imperious, snobby and obnoxious kid to the general public, becoming one of those brats that you really love to hate. (To be honest, I can’t call to mind a similarly obnoxious kid from the entire history of American TV, either real or fictional. James Harries, as the British public were to find out, was a bit of both...).

Harries “act”—a supposed talent for spotting antiques at flea markets for a few pence that were worth thousands of pounds—was bullshit (based on a single example trumped up by his father to a local newspaper and then parlayed to televsion). The child published a guide to antiquing, Rags to Riches, and the family opened an antiques shop in Wales. As Harries got older, the novelty wore off and the family fell on hard times and lost their business.

The next time anyone heard about this strange little boy, it was in 2001 when the notorious dark lord of Fleet Street public relations, Max Clifford, whipped the tabloid papers in to a frenzy over his new client, now known as Lauren Charotte Harries. Money from the media interest is what funded Harries’ sex change. After this, with Clifford’s help, Harries went about trying to become a celebrity transsexual without that much success.

Enter comic actor Keith Allen (father of Lily) who made the 2004 documentary Little Lady Fauntleroy about Harries and her ludicrously dysfunctional family for Channel 4. It’s truly one of the most insane and riveting things I’ve ever seen. And don’t worry if you’ve never heard of James/Lauren Harries, because it doesn’t matter, you get crash landed from the very start into the world of this zany family—every one of them a “genius” with a PhD in Metaphysics from a fake university somewhere in America. They also confer advanced degrees on each other and believe themselves to be morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us, including the father, a convicted arsonist, who comes off like a caricature of a mad Tory. Allen does an admirable job of playing nice with the fucking crazy Harries family, but eventually, like the viewing audience, he just loses it on them.

You’ll be appalled, but you will watch the entire thing, I’m quite sure…

On Snag Films, so you’ll have to register first to see it:

Thank you Chris Campion!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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WTF?: An outdoor toilet in Scotland?
11:09 am



Santa delivering his presents early?

Either that, or perhaps some disgruntled customer taking revenge on the emporium below? Fish & Shits?

Not much else to be said about this picture other than to reassure Dangerous Minds’ readers that we do have indoor toilets in Scotland. I should know—I live in the Bonnie country.
Via The Poke (25 Reasons Why We Love Scotland)

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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