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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Blaine L. Reininger: An American Friend

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Blaine L. Reininger, Tuxedomoon co-founder, singer, violinist and composer, is profiled in this 50-minute documentary made by George Skevas for Paraskinio, a Greek television series. Tuxedomoon have long been popular in Europe, and seem to have struck a particular chord in Greece. These days Reininger is something of a star over there, a fact which surprises him still but which has no doubt helped with Tuxedomoon’s fortunes in recent years.

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Skevas’s film comprises a long biographical interview with Reininger, relating his progress from childhood in Colorado, and the formation of Tuxedomoon in San Francisco, to the group’s inadvertent exile in Europe. There a wealth of historical film footage throughout, some of which is familiar from the official Tuxedomoon DVDs but other clips are exclusive to this programme. Among the notable pieces for me were a glimpse of Winston Tong’s pre-Tuxedomoon puppet performances, a performance by the band on Andy Warhol’s Interview TV show, and shots of the recording of the Desire album in London. Few bands from the 1970s have been this diligent in documenting their activities on film and video. In addition to discovering why Reininger’s first solo album is called Broken Fingers, you also get to see some scenes from the Ghost Sonata film/performance, an ambitious project that I’d known about for years but didn’t get to see until it was released on the 30th anniversary box set in 2007.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Tuxedomoon: some queer connections
Made To Measure
Subterranean Modern: The Residents, Chrome, MX-80 Sound and Tuxedomoon
Tuxedomoon on La Edad de Oro, 1983
Tuxedomoon designs by Patrick Roques
Pink Narcissus: James Bidgood and Tuxedomoon

 


Tuxedomoon: some queer connections

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UK poster insert by Patrick Roques for Desire (1981).

Yes, more Tuxedomoon: there’s a lot to explore. It’s always a pleasure when something that you enjoy one medium connects to things that interest you elsewhere. From the outset Tuxedomoon have had more than their share of connections to gay culture—to writers especially—but it’s more of an ongoing conversation than any kind of proselytising concern. This post teases out those connections some of which I hadn’t spotted myself until I started delving deeper.

The Angels of Light: Not the Michael Gira group but an earlier band of musicians and performers in San Francisco in the early 1970s. The Angels of Light formed out of performance troupe The Cockettes following a split between those who wanted to charge admission for their shows, and those who wanted to keep things free to all. Among the troupe there was Steven Brown, soon to be a founding member of Tuxedomoon:

The group began as an offshoot of The Angels of Light, ‘a “family” of dedicated artists who sang, danced, painted and sewed for the Free Theater’, says Steve Brown. ‘I was lucky to be part of the Angels—I fell for a bearded transvestite in the show and moved in with him at the Angels’ commune. Gay or bi men and women who were themselves works of art, extravagant in dress and behaviour, disciples of Artaud and Wilde and Julian Beck [of the Living Theater] … we lived together in a big Victorian house … pooled all our disability cheques each month, ate communally … and used the rest of the funds to produce lavish theatrical productions—never charging a dime to the public. This is what theatre was meant to be: a Dionysian rite of lights and music and chaos and Eros.’

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds

(Special Treatment For The) Family Man (1979): A sombre commentary from the Scream With A View EP on the trial of Dan White, the assassin of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. White’s “special treatment” in court led to a conviction for manslaughter which in turn resulted in San Francisco’s White Night riots in May, 1979.

James Whale (1980): An instrumental on the first Tuxedomoon album, Half-Mute, all sinister electronics and tolling bells as befits a piece named after a director of horror films. Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is not only the best of the Universal horror series, it’s also commonly regarded as a subversive examination of marriage and the creation of life from a gay perspective. (Whale’s friends and partner disagreed, however.)

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Cover art by Winston Tong.

Joeboy San Francisco (1981): The Joeboy name was lifted from a piece of San Francisco graffiti to become a name for Tuxedomoon’s DIY philosophy. It’s also a record label name, the name of an early single, and a side project of the group which in 1981 produced Joeboy In Rotterdam / Joeboy San Francisco. The SF side features a collage piece by Winston Tong based on The Wild Boys by William Burroughs, a key inspiration for the band which first surfaces here.

In one piece, the band cites its influences as: “burroughs, bowie, camus, cage, eno, moroder”. Can you say what you admired or drew on vis-à-vis these artists?

William S. Burroughs — ideas concerning use of media — tapes, projections, his radical anti-control politic in general as well as his outspoken gayness. Early on we duplicated on stage one of his early experiments projecting films of faces onto faces.

Simon Reynolds interview with Steven Brown

Read the rest of this entry »

 


Fast Friends

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My thanks to writer Dale Lazarov for letting me see an advance copy of his new comic, Fast Friends. Despite writing about gay art often enough I don’t see many gay comics but this one had the immediate attraction of being a 62-page wordless story, wordless comics being a minor tradition that I’ve always enjoyed. When description and dialogue are removed, the artist needs to take greater care over the storytelling, even in an uncomplicated story such as this chance meeting between two spurned lovers. That’s not to say wordless comics aren’t still written at the outset: someone has to imagine the characters, create the story, describe the action, and so on. Michael Broderick is responsible for the artwork, and he proves himself adept at dealing with the technical challenges; he’s equally adept at making the erotic encounter into a stimulating, sexy read. Fast Friends is a touching story, and, in the recurring comic books that act as a commentary on the action, not unaware of the romance comic tradition.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

 


The recurrent pose 53

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Self Portrait, Bed Chamber, Stone Ridge, NY (1995).

A couple more examples of the Flandrin pose which, as usual, may or may not be referring to the famous painting. John Dugdale’s photo is a cyanotype print but can also be found in a sepia version. The photo below is from Pinterest via a tip on Twitter. Searching around for the original led to this site but if it was there in the past it isn’t there now.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The recurrent pose archive

 


Weekend links 216

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Why Do The Heathen Rage? (2014) by The Soft Pink Truth. Cover art by Mavado Charon.

Drew Daniel’s latest release as The Soft Pink Truth is Why Do The Heathen Rage?, a witty electronic riposte to the often reactionary attitudes of black metal music and the people who create it. (The album is dedicated to Magne Andreassen, a gay man stabbed to death by the drummer from Emperor.) Dorian Lynskey talked to Daniel about queering the metal world, as did Angus Finlayson at FACT. Daniel’s project has been receiving press everywhere but you wouldn’t know it to read US/UK gay news sites where the music coverage is relentlessly narrow and insular. To date, only BUTT magazine has mentioned Why Do The Heathen Rage? but then BUTT have always stood apart from their parochial contemporaries. Never mind, here’s another fucking article about “petite pop princess” Kylie Minogue.

• “By the letter of the law, Ulysses was obscene. Obviously, gratuitously, relentlessly obscene.” Josh Cook on censorship and dangerous books. One of my own dangerous publications, the fifth issue of the Lord Horror comics series, Hard Core Horror (declared obscene in a UK court in 1995), received a very belated review at The Comics Journal. More censorship: Judy Bloom on the perennial panics in US school libraries. Lest we feel superior to American prudery, Leena McCall’s painting of a semi-naked woman caused some consternation in a London gallery last week.

• “Over and over, we’re told that nobody buys [compact discs] anymore.” Steven Hyden on the latest obituaries being written for a music format. Ten years ago the death of vinyl was being confidently predicted: “The physical presence of the popular song is gone,” Paul Morley declared. Related: The death of mp3s.

There is nothing quite like Maryanne Amacher’s third ear music. It is alarming. Some of her fellow artists never quite believed that their ears were not being damaged. Third ear music invades you, wraps inside your body, your head, your eyes — just like she says. You can’t be sure, after a while, if the sounds you hear are those created by your ears or Maryanne Amacher.

Stefany Anne Golberg on the music of Maryanne Amacher

• At Dangerous Minds: Nothing Lasts Forever (1984), Bill Murray in a “lost sci-fi comedy set in a totalitarian New York City”.

• More Joyce (there’s always more Joyce): Humument Images to Accompany James Joyce’s Ulysses by Tom Phillips.

• Another celebration of Penda’s Fen by David Rudkin, and another reminder that it’s still not available on DVD.

• Stairway to Heaven: Atlas Obscura on the Gustave Moreau Museum, an essential stop if you visit Paris.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 121 by Higher Intelligence Agency.

• MetaFilter has a wealth of links to pulp magazine archives.

Yan Nascimbene’s illustrations for Italo Calvino’s stories.

• Rebecca Litchfield’s Orphans of Time and Soviet Ghosts.

• RIP Charlie Haden

Going Home (1972) by Alice Coltrane (Charlie Haden, bass) | Earth (1974) by Joe Henderson Featuring Alice Coltrane (Charlie Haden, bass) | Malkauns (1975) by Don Cherry (Charlie Haden, bass)

 


 




 

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“feed your head”

 

Below the fold

 

The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire