Weekend links 152

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Light Moves on the Water (2010), a collage by Alexis Anne Mackenzie.

“[She] stated, emphatically and more than once, that pornography cannot and should not be linked to LGBT rights…When a gay man lives somewhere where his identity is threatened, it’s clear how sex – including pornography – and sexuality are intertwined. His sexual imagination, which is criminalized, matches the sexual images of gay pornography (which are also criminalized). Since acting out his imagination through sex would be to risk his life, the access to the images is safer. The images, created by gay men wherever it’s legal to create them, provide empowerment and diminish alienation.” An important piece by Conner Habib who asks “Why are we afraid to talk about gay porn?”

• Florida’s Parallel Universe: “The abandoned Nike Missile Site, surrounded by the Everglades, is a reminder of when humans almost destroyed the world and a warning that we could still lose everything today.” By Stefany Anne Golberg.

• In Search of Divine: A Retrospective by Katherine McLaughlin. Related: Jeffrey Schwarz, director of a new documentary, I Am Divine, talks about Divine’s career, and his film to Polari Magazine.

When Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy was banned in 1958, it was said that a man in a pub asked him how much the book weighed, then offered to bring two thousand copies across the border instead of his usual smuggled butter. We might have called it the Black North, for being dark with Protestants, but when I was a child in the 1960s, Ulster was the place British sweets came from: Spangles, Buttons and, most notably, Opal Fruits. It was across this border that the feminists of “the condom train” staged a mass importation of illegal contraceptives in May 1971. When they arrived from Belfast into Connolly Station, the customs men “were mortified”, Mary Kenny, one of the participants, remembered, “and quickly conceded they could not arrest all of us, and let us through”.

Anne Enright on censorship in Ireland.

• Open Culture posts a copy of Nigel Finch’s 1988 Arena documentary about Robert Mapplethorpe.

The Fall of Communism Through Gay Pornography: A video by William E. Jones.

• Surrealism Made Fresh: Sanford Schwartz on the drawings of the Surrealists.

• Cult Classic: Defining Katherine Mansfield by Kirsten O’Regan.

Jonathan Barnbrook (again!) on David Bowie (again!).

Sydney Stanley illustrates Algernon Blackwood

20 Haunting Ghost Towns of the World

• At Pinterest: The Male Form

The Life Divine (1973) by Santana and McLaughlin | The Rhythm Divine (1987) by Yello feat. Shirley Bassey | Divine (2000) by Antony and the Johnsons

Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon

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Nigel Finch was a key member of the team of producers and directors working on the BBC’s Arena arts documentaries throughout their golden run during the 1980s and 1990s. The films he directed himself—among them studies of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography, and a history of the Chelsea Hotel in New York—gave him an opportunity to push some gay content into the TV schedules at a time when Britain’s gay population were seen as enough of a public threat to be legislated against. Some of that proselytising impulse can be found in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (1991), an hour-long documentary which alternates the life and work of the filmmaker with readings and enactments of the lurid episodes recounted in Anger’s scandal anthologies, Hollywood Babylon and Hollywood Babylon II. Finch at one point asks whether Fireworks, the first film in Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle, should be regarded as a pioneering piece of gay cinema; Anger’s says he’s happy if people take it that way but says little else about its evident homoerotic atmosphere. He remains as resistant to identity politics as he’s always been. (See the unauthorised biography by Bill Landis for details.)

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Between the readings and interview sections Finch shows Anger being chauffeured around Beverly Hills in a hearse which stops occasionally at some locus of bygone scandal. Most of the Anger anecdotes are familiar ones from subsequent interviews but there is a bonus for Angerphiles with the appearance at the end of Marianne Faithfull who talks a little about their relationship before singing Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. The picture quality of this YouTube copy could be better but it’s watchable enough.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Lucifer Rising posters
Externsteine panoramas
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally