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Archive: Drag


“The Queen” by director Frank Simon is a documentary about the 1967 New-York Miss All-American Drag Beauty Pageant. The contestants of the competition are drag queens from all over the US, competing in disciplinces like walking, talking, bathing suit, makeup and hairdo. The film is now online on YouTube, a great way to pass the time until tonight’s season 6 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Nice short documentary about San Francisco drag culture by NYC based portrait photographer Danielle Levitt. Featuring Alexis Blair Penny, (La) Monistat, Elijaa Minelly (above), Juanita More, Glamamore, Miss Rahni, Lady Bear, Cousin Wonderlette and Myles Cooper. Did I miss someone? Photographs of the girls that where taken in conjunction with the movie can be found on Danielle Levitt’s website.

Rumi Missabu (picture above by Christelle de Castro) is one of the few surviving members of San Francisco’s gender-bending performance groupe The Cockettes. Fans of the troupe will know her especially from her hilarious performance as the “rebellious elevator girl” Maxine in the legendary Cockette movie “Elevator Girls in Bondage” from 1972 (picture (c) David Wise) – the film was re-released on DVD two years ago and can be ordered directly from Rumi by sending an email to ($27.95 incl. shipping/handling).

Today the Oakland based artist owns a huge archive of the group’s work and aside from her job as the official Cockettes archivist is still a very active performer: In 2009 she has been starring in the successful stage production “Pearls over Shang-Hai” at the Hypnodrome Theatre, San Francisco, in which she played the “Madame Gin Sling” (see video below by Ben Wa). She has also recently appeared in couple of independent movies such as “The Glitter Emergency” by Paul Festa, “Uncle Bob” by Robert Oppel and the Cockettes documentary “Children of the Cockettes” by Ben Wa.

Rumis most current project is the video to “Interior”, the new single by NYC duo Mirror Mirror (new album “Interior” due August 16), which is another proof that she is still an exciting performer.

In an interview with Opening Ceremony which was published on their website just a few days ago, Rumi has also announced that she will be touring New York this October, supported by artists such as Jean Franco and French singer François Chaignaud. The interview also features a couple of really nice pictures of the artist from the last few years, so go check it out.

I unfortunately missed to inform you guys about the presentation of Jon Davies‘s book “Thrash” about the Warhol / Morrissey film that took place at Arsenal cinema yesterday – I had found out about the nice little event hosted by Marc Siegel only a few hours before it started. Davies ist a writer, curator and queer film theorist from Toronto and is not only in Berlin to promote his book, but also to present films by queer video artist Colin Campbell (1942-2001), which will be shown at Berlinale today and tomorrow (Mai 3+4). The program of the screening series “People Like Us: The Gossip of Colin Campbell” can be found on the Arsenal Hompage, as well as a little introduction to the artist and the focus of the screenings. You should also check out this extensive website dedicated to Campbell and his work for more background information about this artist who’s still quite unknown in Europe. Here’s a snippet of his film “The Woman From Malibu” from 1976, which will be shown today at 7:15.

Alexis Blair Penney is a drag artist from San Francisco, where he is especially know as the host of “High Fantasy”, a weekly party at the legendary drag bar Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. He also runs a blog called SORE I featured here a while ago, on which he regularly posts pictures of his live and of drunk folks performing and having a good time at his party. (One of the contributers of the blog used to be Penney’s friend Seth Bogart). After I already stumbled over a couple of rather crappy, but artistically promising YouTube videos of a live performance of Penney in a club in Los Angeles a while ago, I’m happy to annouce that he now his first official single out: “Lonely Sea” is a beautiful housey tune with a Chrystal Waters beat produced by Nick Weiss (Teengirl Fantasy, H.U.N.X) and just got a gorgeous video by Justin Kelly. Here it is:

You can order a limited 7″ of “Lonely Sea” via Honeysound System. It comes with a remix of the guys themselves and a nice trashy cover. You also find two entertaining interviews with Penney from last year about blowjobs and his side job as a sex worker on Slutever Blog.
Picture on top via Plain Pictures

Here are two films to look out for at this year’s Berlinale (February 10-20):

Bruce LaBruce: The Advocate For Fagdom
by Angélique Bosio, France

!Women Art Revolution – A Secret History
by Lynn Hershman Leeson, USA

Other intriguing films include:
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 by Göran Hugo Olsson, Sweden/USA
We Were Here by David Weissman, USA
Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo (Rent Boys) by Rosa von Praunheim, Germany
House Of Shame / Chantal All Night Long by Johanna Jackie Baier, Germany

Hard Ton are Max and Mauro, a duo from Venice that manages to melt together three decades of dance music: While in their tracks they mix disco and italo disco with nineties house and chicago house, singer Max’ outfits and his stage appearance make you instantly think of queer icons such as Divine, Leigh Bovery and even Rob Halford (Judas Priest). The guys have recently gotten a lot of attention for the cover of their “Selfish”-E.P. – a remake of Grace Jones’ “Island Life” album cover (remember?). For PICK 5 they have put together a nice collection of their favourite webclips. But see yourself…

1. Phyllis Nelson – I Like You

It’s the perfext party track… since 1985″

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After the brilliant “O Fantasma” (“A Fantom”), which is still one of my favourite movies ever and “Odete” (“Two Drifters”), “To Die Like A Man” is the third full-length film by Portugese director João Pedro Rodrigues. The movie about an aging drag performer struggeling with his life premiered at the Cannes film festival in spring last year and received only few attention (except for this pretty ugly review of Variety). Rordiquez describes the movie as his most feminine one, although there are no (biologically) female actors amngst his staff: “To Die Like a Man” is inspired on personal accounts from transsexuals, drag artists, doctors, and showbiz people that I interviewed during the months when I was preparing to write this story”, he explains here. “However, it was never my intention to follow these stories closely. Rather, I adjusted my writing to the demands of the fictional development of the characters, entering into dialogue with the codes of musical comedy, melodrama, and tragedy.”
The movie is shown in French cinemas since May and is (according to my personal movie  information source Jan) supposed to premiere in Germany in the next few weeks. You find a longer review of the movie and an interview with Rodriques here. I also guess there will be a DVD realease pretty soon. Portugese and French speaking people as well as people who want to see the movie trailer in a higher resolution should skip the video below and click here.

In the documentary “The Legend of Leigh Bowery” from 2002 filmmaker Charles Atlas explores the life of Australian performance artist and fashion designer Leigh Bowery from his early London years to the nineties when he became the muse and subject of British painter Lucian Freud. Bowery died in 1994 from an AIDS-related illness. The video below is just a trailer, the complete version of the movie can be watched here.

“I like underarm smell, but I’m not big on stinky breath. I’m okay with like, you know, a sweaty crotch or maybe one days worth of filth. I appreciate good oral hygiene.” Joel Gibb (Hidden Cameras) via BUTT Magazine

“When it comes to performance art, I am more interested in the failures then the so-called successes. I have never cared for entertaining anyone. My performances may have elements that some may find entertaining, but that’s not my main purpose. If you want pure entertainment value just go and see something like Stomp or Blue Man Group.” Vaginal Davis via Interview Magazine

“In fact, I sniffed her like a kind of aggressive beast. And as we got closer, she actually put her tongue in my mouth. She just went for it. It was really good.” Heather Cassils via (and yes, the rest of the interview is interesting as well)

Hard Ton from Venice is the guy responsible for the impressive “remake” of the cover artwork  of Grace Jones’ “Island Life” (I recently posted it here). The awesome omg blog just helped me finding out that the picture is the cover of his own E.P. called “Selfish” (via Gigolo Records). More of/about the “biggest disco queen of the 21st century” on her MySpace page.

Took me a while to realize that these two belong together:

Grace Jones: “Island Live”

Hard Ton: “Selfish E.P.”