It’s both funny and sad to think of a time when merely taking off your shirt was enough to excite and stir the masses of closeted gay men, but such was the nature of repression of male/male desire through the course of history. As an example, consider the October 17, 1949 issue of a small magazine called Quick and its cover story “The Birth of Beefcake,” which details the new Hollywood trend of shirtless supermen for its readers. The cover features a smiling photo of the heartthrob Alan Ladd. Inside, the cover story “Hollywood Uncovers Male Appeal” explains the concept of “beefcake”: More…
Monthly Archives: August 2011
Over the past few years Dan Fishback has made a name for himself as one of the most talented young writers and performance artists in New York. When reviewing Fishback’s 2009 play You Will Experience Silence, the Village Voice wrote that he displayed a “[Tony] Kushnerian sense for the complexities of historical memory,” even though Fishback’s piece was “sassier and more fun” than Angels in America. But at the same time that Fishback was experiencing success, an illness was in the process of changing his life drastically. Now Fishback is hard at work on a new show, titled thirtynothing, which will premiere at the end of September and run through October 22nd at Dixon Place. thirtynothing tells the story of Fishback’s quest to learn about unknown queer artists who who were lost to the AIDS epidemic – and how doing so changed his life for the better. Fishback has launched a fundraising campaign on Indie Gogo – which ends tomorrow, and is throwing a benefit tonight at Dixon Place featuring performances by future downtown legends like Molly Pope, Kim Smith, Max Steele, Max Vernon and The Lisps. I called Fishback at home on Sunday night to talk about his show, his health, and what it feels like to turn share a birth year with the most devastating plague in history.
Adam Baran: Why did you decide to call your show thirtynothing?
Dan Fishback: I turn 30 as soon as this production is over. I’ve been looking forward to it for the past five years. When I was 25, I was in this arts fellowship and was the only person in their twenties. Most of the others were in their mid-thirties. So when I would complain about boys or whatever my problem was they would all just yell at me, “Dan, these problems aren’t real problems and as soon as you hit 30, you will see that everything that’s bothering you right now is really stupid and changeable and everything’s just fine. You’ll gain this cosmic wisdom and everything will just be easier.” I believed them so intensely that for the last five years, I’ve just been, like, killing time.
As someone in his 30s, now for about six months, I don’t know if I’ve gotten this newfound wisdom. Problems are problems are problems. Of course, they’re not going to go away when you turn 30. But I’m with you. Just waiting.
Yeah, waiting for the cosmic wisdom of age to descend upon you.
What about your Saturn’s return? That was another thing I didn’t experience.
Really? My Saturn return was fucking intense. It’s still going on. More…
Sunny and green when I wake up, after finishing, early, at 2:30am last night. I never like finishing early because it means we could have shot something else, or something for a little longer. It feels like a waste of hours and having these five weeks of opportunity only to shoot the images of the film. But it’s fine to finish early once in awhile and everyday does not have to be a rush to the finish line. Last night was Christmas, in August. Shooting a holiday dinner at the country house. For the first time, all the supporting players are together in one scene and together with each other for the first time as well. They work very well together and it was easy to find the sense of a group. I felt like the movie was well cast, that these were a group of individuals who also make sense as a group of friends. More…
Last year saw the rediscovery of a major figure whose remarkable story illustrated the secret history of gay life throughout the 20th Century. In Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, author Justin Spring tells the thrilling tale of Sam Steward, a man who documented every one of his many sexual exploits in obsessive detail, providing a wealth of understanding to future generations looking to understand the pre-Stonewall era. Now the artifacts of Steward’s life have been collected and displayed in a brilliant, inspiring show at the Museum of Sex in New York City. Keep the Lights On‘s documentarian Onur Karoaglu asked Justin Spring to show him around the exhibition one morning a few weeks ago. Secret Historian, along with An Obscene Diary: The Visual World of Sam Steward is in bookstores now.
Good day yesterday, and now it’s six a.m. in upstate New York. We are all staying at the Catskills Seasons Inn, a bit like Camp Keep the Lights On, as the boundaries become different, and the times. Instead of everyone going home after the 12-hour shoot, we all go out for pizza and calzones in Phoenicia. The first night, after a day at the Phoenicia Diner and then the Peekamoose Blue swimming hole, I felt so exhausted, it was very difficult to then continue, socially. There is something about leaving a set and being alone that can be a relief. But last night, more relaxed, less tired. I still feel like the camp counselor. Now that Veronica Lupu has gone, I realized that I’ve become the oldest person on set. I call myself granddad with a mixture of pride and aversion. More…
We were already on our third beer, looking at tourists sailing on the Aegean when Nikos leaned over the table. “You’re not straight enough ‘til you fuck a guy up the ass,” he said. It was 1991 and that was my last summer at my father’s village in Greece.
That fall I left my country repressed and hungry, and lived around the world collecting Masters, getting smart jobs, liquor and drugs, fucking and getting fucked up the ass. But I never forgot Nikos’ paradox. I never got over the phallic pride and anal shame that ruled sexuality and gender in rural Greece. Straight or gay, masculine or feminine, fucking or getting fucked was the qualifier in my beginnings. More…
Last night, the Keep the Lights On cast and crew gathered at The Delancey bar on New York’s Lower East Side to celebrate the end of production. After the hard-working team was appropriately intoxicated, extras casting director Jason Klorfein took things to the next level by displaying his unexpectedly impressive breakdancing skills.
We want to send a very special thank you to our talented cast and crew who did such an amazing job over the past five weeks, as well as to our friends, our donors and supporters on Kickstarter and everyone else who helped make this happen. We made a movie!
Fun-loving veteran fashion show and events producer Benjamin Liu came to New York City in 1979 at the invitation of Victor Hugo, a Venezuelan artist with a larger-than-life personality well known throughout the ’70s and ’80s in gay, arts and fashion circles as fashion designer Halston’s lover, muse and window display designer. Hugo was Liu’s tour guide on a rollercoaster ride through the heart of New York City’s most legendary creative period. The trip changed the course of Liu’s life and eventually led to him working for artist Andy Warhol from 1983 to 1986. Warhol passed away a year later and Hugo died in 1993, but Liu still remembers his mentors fondly and remains eternally grateful for the experiences that have shaped him. I met up with him to reminisce about his formative years.
Michael: How did you come to New York?
Benjamin: I came to New York through one friend, Victor Hugo, and I always continually thank him. He signified a whole era. He was a Venezuelan hustler and makeup artist who became a muse to Halston, Andy Warhol and Elsa Peretti. He was Halston’s lover–boyfriend and also a great display person, an artist in his own right and a coke addict. He was famously photographed at Studio 54 in a jock strap, in a celluloid stripped top carrying a women’s purse. At the same time, so manly. He was really like a porn star.
He was sexy to you?
He was sexy to everyone. This was a person who lived at St. Mark’s Baths. More…
In New York, change is part of the landscape. Cherished stores, theaters and bars close and neighborhoods are always in flux. Case in point: The Starlite Lounge, Brooklyn’s oldest African-American-owned bar for gay people of color, was founded in 1959, the same year as Brown vs. Board of Education and ten years prior to the Stonewall riots in Manhattan. Mackie Harris, one of New York’s first gay black business owners, wanted to create a safe, non-discriminating establishment for his community in Crown Heights and it remained open for over 50 years. But all of that came to an end last summer when the Starlite Lounge received notice to vacate. Filmmakers Kate Kunath and Sasha Wortzel were intrigued by the story of a beloved neighborhood bar and cultural institution forced to shut its doors. Their new full-length documentary The Starlite Project asks the questions: “How does an institution like the Stonewall survive, but the Starlite cannot? Who decides what cultural and historic landmarks are preserved and what memories can be erased?”
This Sunday, catch a sneak preview of a rough cut of the film with Kunath and Wortzel, followed by a discussion with owners of the Starlite, Gay New York author George Chauncey and other special guests. The screening will take place 6-9pm at the Guggenheim Lab First Park (Houston at 2nd Avenue). For more on the project, visit the site here.
I met kari edwards in Colorado, in Naropa, in the summer of 1999, a warm, summer afternoon, late enough so that the sun slanted into my eyes when I heard her call my name from afar, almost like putting your ear up to a conch shell, seemingly miles away. I had strayed rather far from the buildings of the school compound towards the river, and I saw kari make her way out of the sun towards me, parting the tall uncut brown grasses with her hands, perhaps not too gracefully but with enormous force and determination. It was nearly a Stanley meets Livingstone thing, we seemed so far from conventional civilization, or the urban in which I spend most of my time. I always come back to that first meeting, me standing in that field and she approaching me like Mrs. Moore in A Passage to India, or Cathy rushing headlong towards Heathcliff in the moor, or really in my head it’s more like the Kate Bush video of Wuthering Heights. Frances Blau was there too, trailing kari by six or seven yards, picking her way through the overgrown fields that are now, I think, practice fields for the University’s football team, rah rah rah. I’m not describing the actual plant life well but think of Christina writhing around on that grass in the Wyeth painting “Christina’s World.” More…