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

Continue reading “Tuxedomoon: some queer connections”

Weekend links 58

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Oya by Alberto del Pozo (1945–1992). Also known as Yansa, Oya is Changó’s third wife. She is the goddess of the winds and of lightning and is mistress of the cemetery gates. Passionate and brave she fights by her husband’s side if needed. Her favorite offerings are papaya, eggplant and geraniums. From Santeria at BibliOdyssey.

Austin Osman Spare is a good example of the dictum that quality will out in the end, no matter how long it remains buried. Overlooked by the art establishment after he retreated into his private mythologies, a substantial portion of his output was equally ignored by occultists who wanted to preserve him as a weird and scary working-class magus. One group dismissed his deeply-felt spiritual interests in a manner they wouldn’t dare employ if he’d been a follower of Santeria, say (or even a devout Christian), while the other group seemed to regard his superb portraits as too mundane to be worthy of attention. Now that Phil Baker’s Spare biography has been published by Strange Attractor we might have reached the end of such short-sighted appraisals and can finally see a more rounded picture of the man and his work:

[Kenneth] Grant preserved and magnified Spare’s own tendency to confabulation, giving him the starring role in stories further influenced by Grant’s own reading of visionary and pulp writers such as Arthur Machen, HP Lovecraft, and Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer. Grant’s Spare seems to inhabit a parallel London; a city with an alchemist in Islington, a mysterious Chinese dream-control cult in Stockwell, and a small shop with a labyrinthine basement complex, its grottoes decorated by Spare, where a magical lodge holds meetings. This shop – then a furrier, now an Islamic bookshop, near Baker Street – really existed, and part of the fascination of Grant’s version of Spare’s London is its misty overlap with reality.

Austin Osman Spare: Cockney visionary by Phil Baker.

Austin Osman Spare: The man art history left behind | A Flickr set: Austin Osman Spare at the Cuming Museum | HV Morton meets Austin Spare (1927).

• More quality rising from obscurity: Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End. Skolimowski’s drama is one of unpleasant characters behaving badly towards each other. Anglo-American cinema featured a great deal of this in the 1970s when filmmakers disregarded the sympathies of their audience in a manner which would be difficult today. John Patterson looks at another example which is also given a re-release this month, the “feral, minatory and menacing masterwork” that is Taxi Driver.

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Echú Eleguá by Alberto del Pozo. Among the most ancient of the orishas Echú Eleguá is the messenger of the gods, who forges roads, protects the house, and is heaven’s gate-keeper. In any ceremony he is invoked first. He owns all cowrie shells and is the god of luck. A prankster, Echú Eleguá frequently has a monkey and a black rooster by his side. Like a mischievous boy he enjoys gossip and must be pampered with offerings of toys, fruit, and candy.

Minutes, a compilation on the LTM label from 1987: William Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, Tuxedomoon, Jacques Derrida, The Monochrome Set, and er…Richard Jobson. Thomi Wroblewski designed covers for a number of Burroughs titles in the 1980s, and he also provided the cover art for this release.

Mikel Marton Photography: a Tumblr of erotic photography and self-portraits.

From Death Factory To Norfolk Fens: Chris & Cosey interviewed.

NASA announces results of epic space-time experiment.

Oritsunagumono by Takayuki Hori: origami x-rays.

Plexus magazine at 50 Watts.

Mother Sky (1970) by Can | Late For The Sky (1974) by Jackson Browne.