I’m rarely intrigued by queer art. Because it usually just literally focusses on the subject or representation without references to art forms itself. But artist Tom de Pekin, who I just happened to find on web, seems to achieve a certain language, seemingly effortless, combining some contradictions from the history of painting. You might know his art from the poster for the film “Stranger by the Lake” (org. “L’inconnue Du Lac”) Honesty, sadness and vulnerability. Inspiring!
“Should I Really Do It” by Berlin based director Ismail Necmi was released in 2008 and has been a success at film festivals around the world in 2009/2010. The film reflects on the life of its main protagonist Petra Woschniak, whose life changes drastically when her twin sister, who lives on the German countryside and is diagnosed with cancer, is not able to take care of herself anymore. Petra quits her flamboyant live style in Istanbul’s fashion scene and moves to a small town in the North of Germany. She reflects about this critical moment in her life in conversations with a pretty unconventional therapist called Herold.
The film, which mixes documentary scenes with reenacted and fictional scenes footage, is not necessarily queer-themed, but deals with the questions that arise when life concepts collide and death as a “hard fact” overwhelms an individual’s life. Since early December you can rent and buy “Should I Really Do It” on Vimeo.
This recording of the live show “Common Visions” is a rare opportunity for non-New-Yorkers to see the post-drag (don’t find a better word) sisterhood Chez Deep in full force. Watch the collective consisting of Colin Self, Alexis Penney, Hari Nef, Sam Banks, Bailey Stiles re-interprete and transcend songs by artists like Lana Del Ray, PLANNINGTOROCK, Christina Aguilera, Kat Bush, Diana Ross, Imogen Heap and Brownstone through dance and lip-synch pieces full of mystic passion, dark glamour and DIY-creativity. It feels like the show is taking the original political spirit of drag and taking it to a new place by giving it new, contemporary forms of expression. The video was taped by Tony Lowe on June 28 2013 in the Ace Hotel NYC and edited by Drew Bolton. More information about the show and the performers in the “Common Visions” Facebook invitation and this article on aqnb.com, where all Chez Deep members of them share their influences through YouTube videos.
Perreo is a street dance very popular in Latin American countries like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or Cuba and usually danced to Reggaeton beats. The style is a Southern American equivalent to grinding (= twerking) in the US Bounce music culture and might even be its original form, although as far as I could figure it out the connections between the two aren’t really clear yet. The word “perreo” means dancing doggystyle and derives from the Spanish word “perro”. And yes, it has increasingly become a guy-on-guy thing, especially amongst younger guys of all sorts of sexualities – sometimes more serious, sometimes less. Here’s a little YouTube video compilation.
In his article Hey Mrs. Carter—What About the Gays? published on Slate.com a week before christmas author Matthew Capetola criticizes Beyoncé for her take on sexuality and gender on her new self-titled album. He states that especially the videos promote a heteronormative value system based on family and monogamy, where sex is only functioning as highly stylized counterpoint to ”a vision of the family and childhood purity”. This is why according to Capetola queer protagonists only appear in the video for “Haunted”, where they are presented as as part of a “freak show” that Beyoncé rather observes than actually taking part in it. ”In this light”, he conclues “the album starts to seem more conservative than revolutionary”. And he asks himself: “Does she have my back?”
I agree that even though she seems to take her feminist approach very serious, queer or gender-bending moments are rare on the album. And yes, especially the videos are clearly targeting a straight audience. But if you dig a little deeper it gets obvious that the Beyoncé’s politics are not as clearly black and white as Capetola describes them.
Let’s take a look this BuzzFeed-style and start with “Haunted” by Jonas Åkerlund. Okay, we can see that Beyoncé only walks the halls of the mysterious mansion / hotel and does her highly sexual dancing in a separate room. But hey, isn’t she totally enjoying what she sees? Isn’t she turned on? And shouldn’t she be rather shocked if she would be only be there to watch a “freak show”?
And isn’t this strong beautiful back woman who reminds me of Grace Jones (I wish I knew who this is) rather the secret star of this video than just a “freak”?
She’s even so important that Beyoncé (with her Marlene Dietrich/ Madonna-in-her-Erotica-era sort of hairstyle) appears as between her spread legs in Åkerlund ’s vision.
And what is so freaky about this beautiful person in the bathtub?
It’s no secret – I love Christmas. The snow (should we be so lucky), the lights, warm alcoholic beverages, pine scents, tolerable members of your family. Should there be such a thing.
Christmas is about tradition, a precarious sentiment when you’re a queer in a season synonymous with Macy’s, normative family values and corporate capitalism. Should we embrace the holidays or deride them, forging new territory with a separatist’s zeal? I’ve always opted for the former. Sorry. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with the normative.
So in the spirit of juggling the conventional with the peculiar, naff or unlikely, I’ve assembled a pedigree of my favorite “Christmas classics” for your seasonal enjoyment, ranging from the obvious (Mimi) to the self promotional (me) in what is, for the most part, an unironic playlist.
1. The Christmas Song – Peggy Lee
This is perhaps the most traditional tune here. Recorded in 1960, it really spins the sensation of warmth and coziness found in suburban fortitude, which was the way of the era.
2. Santa Baby – Kylie Minogue
A few years back, when Kylie was trying to break into the American market for a zillionth time, she thought that the best route was to light up that Rockefeller tree and put out a holiday “EP” (2 songs) – though this recording had been floating around for years. Gotta love this budget video. Is that Kylie or Amanda? We’ll never know…
3. Frosty the Snowman – Cocteau Twins
Christmas Classic. Next.
4. It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas – Pet Shop Boys
This was a nail in the coffin of the Boys 27 year record contract with Parlaphone. Instead of releasing “All Over The World” as the lead single to their 2009 “Yes,” the label was like, “let’s slow the song down, throw on some french horns and toss out a christmas EP.” So they dusted off this track, which was once but a 90s fanclub Christmas card trifle, for what became the Boys’ poorest charting release to date. Watch out for the dancing Christmas trees near the song’s crescendo.
As the name implies, Trasher is a very trashy, but also very flamboyant Bangkok based monthly party dedicated to the world of contemporary pop music. As far as I could find out the party has been going on since 2009 and encourages people to dress up according to the theme of the evening, be it Lady Gaga, Beyoncé or, like the upcoming event, Coyote Ugly. The other side of Trasher are the playful YouTube videos produced by the Trasher team (group of friends from Silpakorn University) and their friends, in which they mostly revisit and famous pop songs and videos. Here’s a little collection of my personal favorites of groups the very campy, often gender-bending parodies (although especially “We Found Love” is actually more like a movie on it’s own and quite serious), and I guess I should mention that some have them have became so successful that they’ve already had more than 1.000.000 YouTube clicks. If you wanna learn more about the party check out this article from the Bangkok times published last year, for more videos check out the Trasher YouTube site or Facebook.
Tokyo based artist Itetsu Ogura turns Bara fans’ kinkiest dreams into campy, action-figure like clay and plastic sculptures. After working as an illustrator for legendary Japanese adult magazines such as Super SM-Z and Barazoku, Ogura decided to work more as an independent artist, focussing especially on watercolor drawings at first, later on the sculptures, which he started producing as gifts for friends. I found them on the website japanesegayart.com, where you can also purchase them.
My buddy Alexander Geist and I just released our second collaboration, “A Woman’s Right to Choose”, a single / art poster with an accompanying music video, in honor of WikiLeaker Chelsea Manning, who was recently sentenced to 35 years in a men’s prison without access to hormone therapy. While preparing for the single release concert (Thursday, December 5 at Monarch, Berlin), Alexander compiled a list of his current YouTubespirations.
1. Tami Tamaki “I Never Loved This Hard This Fast Before”
“I think this record was on of the most enticing things I heard all year, it’s so tenderly raunchy and unexpected, isn’t it? I just want to roll around on that mattress with Tami, hold her to against my chest and whisper, ‘Sing to me lover.’ She can also do really cool magic tricks with coins.”
+++ “Satan’s Angel” is the debut single of New York City based rapper Quay Dash and has been released on the Brooklyn based Cuntmafia label. You should also check out the stunning portrait series of the rapper by photographer Amos Mac (see portrait on top), which has been published on the Original Plumbing website a few weeks ago alongside an interview.
+++ After his beautiful video for “M1NDFVCK” (feat. boychild, see video below), singer-songwriter and Hood By Air associate / stylist Ian Isiah has released his debut mixtape “The Love Champion”. The tape is a bit less spectacular than I expected (imagine Drake with less whining and more sex and sensuality), but still promising, especially because of the collaborations with Le1f and Mykki Blanco. Check it out here:
+++ Really short and not really related to everything else here: Antony has contributed the nice new track “Angel of Fire” to the soundtrack of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. You can stream if on YouTube.