Tag Archives: Art and Autobiography

Production Diary

Day 147: My Boyfriend Boris by


My boyfriend Boris loves the movie. I can sleep at night. That sounds more facetious maybe than I mean it, because I mean it. But sometimes one strong response — he’s a bad liar — is the thing you can hold on to, through the other bumps, other responses.  It also means that in the year ahead, I can keep his opinion, his pride, in my head and know that I have an audience. Someone close to me understood what I was up to, and thinks I succeeded. More…

News & UpdatesThe Movie

Director’s Commentary Part 2 by

In the second part of my in-depth interview with director Ira Sachs, conducted prior to the filming of Keep The Lights On, I asked Sachs about something we’ve devoted a whole section to on our site: the way autobiography intersects with our art-making process. Sachs also discusses another autobiographical film that influenced him, as well as how his decision to live “as transparently as possible” led to him writing the film. It’s interesting to consider Sachs’ responses, which seem so assured and confident, coming after his dramatic production diary post from last week where he realized, upon watching a first cut, that the film was definitely him. To my mind, it shows that the work involved in opening yourself up in the creative process is constantly evolving as one’s autobiography.


Production Diary

Day 133: A Piece Of Meat by


I guess its been a long time, because I forgot the ups and downs of editing, and how vulnerable it can feel. You are on a high, riding through the cutting, the scenes falling into place, and then you are opening the door, and you let people in — damn their opinions, the movie they are making in their head, as opposed to yours — and suddenly crash, bang, boom, and you wake up feeling like its the end of the world. And then the next day, you are back at it, in the middle, everything that was set becomes un-set, all the smooth cuts that you were impressing yourself with, you break apart, and then the roughness is back. The thing becomes alive again. More…

Art & Autobiography

WTC View: My Autobiography of New York After 9/11 by

Brian Sloan on WTC View set

On the night of September 10th, 2001, I placed a roommate ad on the Village Voice website for my 2BR share in the West Village. The next morning I woke up to emergency sirens and witnessed the attack on the World Trade Center from my bedroom window. After a harrowing day, I left my apartment to stay at my boyfriend’s place in Brooklyn. Then, a few days later when I called my machine (remember doing that?) to get messages, there were a number of people who had called asking about my roommate ad. Some people even called me the day after 9/11, casually asking if they could “stop by and see the place.”

This was the strange but true story that was the inspiration for my first full-length play and later feature film, WTC View. It tells the story of a man who, like myself, placed a roommate ad for his apartment on September 10th. Because of this fact, people often mistake the play for being autobiographical. This is a situation that I’m somewhat familiar with because it’s happened before with other works of fiction and films I have written. In some ways, I find this flattering because I think it means people find the story so believable and real that it must be true. However, I also find it somewhat annoying because it assumes I just write down everything that happens to me and that there is little imagination involved in my writing. Still, the burning question remains…is it true or not? Is this the story of your life? Well, here’s my attempt at an answer. More…

Art & Autobiography

Weekend Reading: Director Andrew Haigh on Writing for An Imaginary Audience by


By now you’ve probably heard so much about director Andrew Haigh’s wonderful new gay romantic drama Weekend that you may wonder if the film is really as good as the hype. Happily, as those of us lucky enough to see it before it was released in theaters today know, it is. Haigh is also as charming and easy to talk to as his film is to watch. After a grueling week of interviews and press, I met up with Haigh to talk about how his own sex diary inspired his new film, and his somewhat ambivalent feelings about his success on the eve of his film’s release. Note: There are a few plot points in the conversation that follows that you may not want spoiled. So see the film tonight and then come back and read the interview – yes, you guessed it – this weekend.

Adam: Chris’ character in the film is a character who is an artist and who’s making this kind of diary-like tape recordings of his experiences, cataloguing his experiences with his lovers and I’m wondering if you have any of your own sort of similar journaling thing like he does?
Andrew: I did what Russell did. I had a list that I kept password protected on my computer. I definitely used to come back straight after it happened and write a piece, like Russell does, about that person. It’s crazy when I look back at them now and read the kind of things that I said. They’re always quite sexual and I would just describe who the person was, and what happened. It was weird. It was like I would write it for someone else, even though I had no intention of ever showing that to someone. I came out quite late so it was probably a way for me just to deal with suddenly being out and sleeping with people. I suppose that list inspired elements of the film because I did look back at it before I started writing the script. Although the people on that list aren’t in the film.

Your autobiographical filmmaking -
Doesn’t go that far! More…

Art & Autobiography

There’s Never a “Me” Character by

Annie Baker

In our previous installments of Art and Autobiography, we’ve focused on people who have used the raw material of their lives in an unobscured fashion, whether through diaries or performance. In this installment, we meet an author whose approach is quite different. While Annie Baker’s award-winning plays (Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens) often seem so real an audience may assume they are based on her life, Baker says she cares more about emotional truth than “how-things-really-happened truth.” We conducted an email interview over the past month to explore these layers and how they appear in her work. 

Adam Baran: How is your summer going and what are you doing?
Annie Baker: My summer has been pretty okay. A lot of traveling outside of NYC. I was in Florida, then Boston, then New Hampshire, then the Berkshires, then Maine, then the White Mountains, then the Berkshires again. I spent all of July and most of June away from the city.

How is your broken foot?
Oh, man, it still kind of sucks. The broken bone is healed, but the tendon is still really inflamed and I’m still not allowed to run or jump on my foot. Or dance. That’s the hardest part. No dancing.

I know that was a pretty traumatic experience for you. But did it give you any ideas for any of your upcoming writing?
Zero ideas. More…

Art & Autobiography

Long Ago Tomorrow by

Dennis Cooper, Eileen Myles, and kari edwards at Niagra Falls, photo by Kevin Killian

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…

Art & Autobiography

The Diaries of Kevin Bentley by

Kevin Bentley circa 1978

In mid-July, 1977, after a violent confrontation with his father, young Kevin Bentley lit out for San Francisco, that famous territory that beckoned thousands of gay men seeking a place where they could be accepted and meet each other. Unlike many of his fellow travelers, he kept a detailed diary of his day-to-day experiences, which usually consisted of plenty of good, hot, dirty sex. In 2002, Green Candy Press released Wild Animals I Have Known, which contains Bentley’s journals from 1977 to 1996. The book is a sharp, incisive, fascinating, and very sexy chronicle of real life in San Francisco. Though his sexual experiences are at the forefront of the narrative, the book takes a dramatic turn in the early 1980′s when Bentley contracts HIV, along with many of his friends. Since he was an asymptomatic case, Bentley survived the decade, but eventually witnessed the deaths of many friends and two of his longtime partners. Today, Bentley lives in San Francisco with Paul, his partner of 15 years. He still enjoys his sex life, and is still writing about it. I called Bentley at home to talk about the construction of his diaries, his influences, and the unique pleasure of reading real stories of our gay lives.

Adam Baran: You started writing the diaries that became Wild Animals I Have Known in 1977, right?
Kevin Bentley: The book starts in ’77. I was keeping diaries full-time beginning in college. They’re good for going back and reminding myself of what I’d forgotten. There was a lot of sex in those. But I wasn’t a good enough writer then. More…

Art & Autobiography

Chinese Take Out by

Dominique and her brother

In the Art and Autobiography section, we’ll be regularly featuring interviews with artists from across the creative spectrum who create, or are attempting to create personal or autobiographical work. We’ll also be featuring examples of personal storytelling from many of these artists. For our first post, Obie award-winning playwright and one of the legendary Five Lesbian Brothers Dominique Dibbell has graciously agreed to share an excerpt from “Adam and Jane”, a memoir she is currently writing about her parents.  

After an hour or so, maybe more, my father stopped into one of those Chinese food shops in New York that are very bare bones. Thick, scratched, and dirty plate glass front, approach the counter, order from the menu on the wall above, order taker scurries back through a door to the kitchen and delivers order. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, order taker retrieves your meal from the back and gives it to you. It is in plastic containers, in a plastic bag, and included is a plastic fork, maybe a napkin, and soy sauce and hot mustard packets. If you’re lucky, it comes with a free egg roll.

So we go into this little Chinese food place with my father, and it smells bad. It smells more sad than bad. Like death, sickness, and loneliness are their fare more than lo mein and spare ribs. I am having a moment of disgust for this food and the people who eat it. On the other hand, it is around lunchtime on a cold winter day and I have probably eaten a bagel about four hours ago so I am hungry. I would like to eat some of this Chinese food. Because sometimes, of course, very good food can come out of very sad looking places. Not usually, but sometimes. Also, I am new to New York, so I don’t know that most likely the food from here will be terrible. Also, it might not taste terrible to me because my tastes are not fully matured. More…