Weekend links 307

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Demon (2014) from the Witch Series by Camille Chew.

• Released next month, Machines Of Desire is the first album of new music by Peter Baumann since Strangers In The Night in 1983. Baumann’s first two solo albums, Romance 76 (1976) and Trans Harmonic Nights (1979), are exceptional works of analogue electronica that frequently outmatch his former colleagues in Tangerine Dream. Both albums have been unavailable for over 20 years so it’s good to know that Cherry Red are reissuing them at the end of May (see here and here).

• RIP Jenny Diski whose death from cancer wasn’t a surprise when she’d been writing about her condition for many months. Linked here in 2013 was this pre-diagnosis meditation on death that takes in Nabokov, Beckett and Francis Bacon (philosopher, not artist). “Jenny offered a living example of how, sometimes, compassion can be born of misanthropy,” says Justin EH Smith. The LRB’s archive of Diski writings is currently free to all.

Murder by Remote Control, a graphic novel by artist Paul Kirchner and writer Janwillem van de Wetering that “resembles a Raymond Chandler-esque noir ‘whodunnit,’ viewed through the psychotropic lens of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky”.

Inspired by Gore Vidal’s 1968 satirical novel, Myra Breckinridge which was denounced as obscene by conservatives, [Boyd] McDonald embarked on a radically, offensive publication, one that avoided the sexless influence of middle class gay mores that sought to whitewash the homosexual experience in order to present a more palatable image of assimilated gays to the general society. This political strategy was successful in achieving gay marriage and more tolerance, but, in the opinion of McDonald, came at a cost. Straight to Hell was in fact the first queer zine. Utilizing erotic photos, interviews and news, McDonald saw it as a “newsletter for us,” the small group of deviates who were its earliest subscribers.

Walter Holland reviewing True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell by William E. Jones

• “HP Lovecraft’s…fascination with all things tentacular and aquatic is unmistakably imprinted on Evolution“, a new film by Lucile Hadzihalilovic. Watch the trailer.

• At Dangerous Minds: Broken, the notorious Nine Inch Nails video collection with “snuff movie” interludes by Peter Christopherson, is available online (again).

BEAK> (Geoff Barrow & Billy Fuller) make “claustrophobic, hypnotic music, drawing…on krautrock, post-punk and Interstellar-Overdrive psychedelia”.

• Mixes of the week: Bacchus Beltane 3 : The Age of Abrasax by The Ephemeral Man, and Secret Thirteen Mix 183 by December.

Tease by Jan Rattia, photographs of male strippers on display at ClampArt, NYC.

Wu Zei (2010), a sea-monster sculpture by Huang Yong Ping.

• “I was born weird,” says Robert Crumb.

Sacred Revelation by Susanna

Broken Head (1978) by Eno, Moebius & Roedelius | Broken Horse (1984) by Rain Parade | Broken Harbours (Part 1) (2001) by Stars Of The Lid

Weekend links 284

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Les Hanel I by Pierre Molinier. There’s more at The Forbidden Photo-Collages of Pierre Molinier.

• Western anti-hero Josiah Hedges, better known as Edge, was the creation of prolific British author Terry Harknett. The famously violent Edge novels, credited to “George G. Gilman”, were ubiquitous on bookstalls in the 1970s. They were Harknett’s most successful works, and are still collectible today; if you’re interested there are 61 of them to search for. Amazon Originals have just launched Edge as a new TV series although anything for a mass audience is unlikely to retain the exploitative qualities of novels that often sound like pulp precursors of Blood Meridian.

Related: Terry Harknett discusses the creation of the Edge series at Drifter’s Wind; Ben Bridges on Harknett’s career, including a look at the writer’s many other Western and thriller novels; Bill Crider on Edge, Harknett and the British group of Western novelists known as “The Piccadilly Cowboys”.

• Boyd McDonald’s queer-eye film guide, Cruising the Movies: A Sexual Guide to Oldies on TV (1985), has been republished by Semiotext(e) in an expanded edition. Related: True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell by William E. Jones.

• “Zdenek Liska’s music thrived in unrealities,” says David Herter in a lengthy appraisal of the great Czech film composer (whose name would be accented if the coding of this blog would play nicely with diacritics).

• “…a film that plumbs the dark recesses of all our imaginations: dangerous, glorious, absurd, vivid and terrifying by turns.” Charlotte Higgins on her favourite film, The Red Shoes (1948).

Art Forms from the Abyss, a new collection of illustrations by Ernst Haeckel for the report of the HMS Challenger expedition (1872–76). Related: Silentplankton.com

• “The biggest kick I ever get is to find myself pursuing some group of images without knowing why,” says M. John Harrison in conversation with Tim Franklin.

• “Plots didn’t interest him much. They were just pegs on which to hang characters and language.” Barry Day on Raymond Chandler.

• At Dirge Magazine: S. Elizabeth delights in the dark decor of Dellamorte & Co.

• Nabokov scholar Brian Boyd selects his ten favourite Nabokov books.

• Mix of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XIII by David Colohan.

Take me to the cosmic vagina: inside Tibet’s secret tantric temple.

• Pour Un Pianiste (1974) by Michèle Bokanowski | 13’05” (1976) by Michèle Bokanowski | Tabou (1992) by Michèle Bokanowski

Gay slang from the 1970s

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Browsing through the available back issues of Oz magazine recently I noticed a guide to gay slang which I didn’t recall seeing before. The underground magazines and newspapers of the 60s and 70s were a lot more tolerant of the nascent gay rights movement that their “straight” (ie: non-freak) counterparts. Oz magazine published pieces about gay rights, notably so in issue 23 which ran an extract from The Homosexual Handbook (1969) by Angelo d’Arcangelo among a couple of other features; the UK’s first gay magazine, Jeremy, advertised regularly in Oz and IT; later issues of Oz carried ads for another gay mag, Follow Up, and there’s a letter in one issue from a gay freak complaining about the state of the few gay pubs in London where the clientele was apparently not freaky enough. (His solution was to try and persuade them all to drop acid.) Arguments which still circulate today, between those who want to assimilate and those who prefer to remain separate from general society, go back a long way.

The gay slang guide was extracted from The Queens’ Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon by Bruce Rodgers (1942–2009), published in the US by Straight Arrow Books in 1972. Straight Arrow was affiliated with Rolling Stone magazine, later publishing two volumes of Wilfried Sätty’s art, and Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon. Rodgers’ book was reissued in 1979 as Gay Talk: A (Sometimes Outrageous) Dictionary of Gay Slang (Formerly entitled The Queens’ Vernacular) but has been out-of-print since, unsurprisingly since so much of it is now completely outmoded. That doesn’t make the content uninteresting, however. The phraseology may be ribald, obscene and offensive (misogynist, especially) but the book has been described as “the first serious dictionary of gay slang and the definitive gay American jargon resource”. Rodgers was a serious researcher with an interest in all forms of slang. Just as the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811) by Francis Grose gives a more-or-less unmediated insight into the lives of the working and criminal classes of 18th-century London, so Rodgers’ dictionary tells us something about the way gay people, especially gay men in the US, were talking to each other for much of the 20th century. What’s striking now about this truncated list is the degree to which so much of the language is obsolete—nobody under the age of 60 would use the term “queen” with such frequency—while the wider acceptance of porn has made once-esoteric terms like “golden shower” much more common. Notable by its absence is “queer” as a purely positive description (not reclaimed until the 1980s), and no mention of “twink” (which goes back to the early 60s) or “bear” (another term from the 80s).

There’s a tendency when looking at lists such as this to imagine a group of people using most of the terms all the time, but as with any form of slang this would be unlikely. The same goes for Polari or the handkerchief codes of the 1970s. As you’d expect from a document that’s 42 years old, some of the language that Rodgers collected tramples over many current sensitivities.

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Illustration by Rod Beddall.

THE QUEEN’S VERNACULAR, Oz 46, Jan–Feb 1973

Gay slang has been coined and used by those within the gay subculture who themselves feel the most oppressed—the flagrant wrist benders, the screaming queens, the men who look like women, the women who don’t shave their moustaches.

It is a form of social protest, aimed at the establishment; it is also self-protective and self-defeating. Gay militants would like to see it go, and argue rightly that gay jargon is yet another link in the chain which holds the homosexual enslaved and oppressed—yet its widespread use and complex vocabulary indicate that gay liberation has still along battle in front of it. The selections which follow are taken from a Straight Arrow publication, The Queens’ Vernacular by Bruce Rodgers. The words are mostly American. Even the classic English phrase, “queer basher” is not included.

* * *

advertising 1. to dress in a sexually provocative manner. Gay maxim: “It pays to advertise.” 2. (camp) to pluck and then paint the eyebrows.

army style (mid ’60s) beating the cocksucker after the act.

bumping pussies the embarrassment of two homosexual men who find themselves too passive, active, or in other ways too similar to create a sexual situation. “He thought you and I were carrying on together—what would we do, bump pussies?”

cash-ass (from cautious) cynically applied to hustler who feigns coyness until assured of material gain. “He’s not shy, he’s cash-ash. Mention money and watch his cheeks light up.”

catalogue queen homosexual who collects physique magazines for masturbation purposes.

cheesy having the foreskin lined with smegma. Stale and musky smelling. “The sailor was so cheesy that I felt like asking him where be hid his crackers.”

chic the latest craze. Cruising the busy streets after the bars close is chic. Getting invited to an orgy is chic. Sucking men off in a public lavatory is not chic. Wearing pearls with grey flannel is not chic either, unless one is serving tea in a closet.

Continue reading “Gay slang from the 1970s”

Pink Narcissus: James Bidgood and Tuxedomoon

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Pink Narcissus (2014) by Tuxedomoon. Design by Flavien Thieurmel.

I’ve never paid much attention to Record Store Day, despite promoting it here on a couple of occasions, and paid even less attention this year now that the event has turned into an opportunity for some of the larger labels to fleece the punters. Consequently, I missed any mention of a new release from Tuxedomoon which Crammed Discs put out as part of this year’s vinyl deluge. I’ve been listening to Tuxedomoon for years so any new release is worthy of attention, especially when their last studio album, Vapour Trails (2007) was a particularly good one, with the added bonus of packaging by Jonathan Barnbrook.

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Hanging Off Bed, a still from Pink Narcissus, mid- to late 1960s.

The new album, Pink Narcissus, is a recording of the group’s live soundtrack performance for the film of the same name by James Bidgood, a luscious micro-budget, homoerotic labour-of-love filmed in the 1960s on 8mm in the cramped confines of Bidgood’s New York apartment. The original soundtrack comprises selections of romantic classical music by Mussorgsky and Prokofiev so the replacing of the score isn’t as much of an imposition as it can be when bands co-opt old films. I already liked Bidgood’s film a great deal so Tuxedomoon’s score is like a marriage made in heaven (and they once recorded their own version of In Heaven). Having watched the film synched to the new album I was impressed by how well the group matched the shifting moods. From their earliest releases Tuxedomoon’s music has tended towards the cinematic so you’d expect them to provide a sympathetic treatment; they’ve also recorded a few scores in the past, including one for their own ambitious film/stage performance, Ghost Sonata. But Pink Narcissus matches the scenes much more effectively than the classical selections, the group even work in a pause then a shift to a new style when Bidgood’s star boy, Bobby Kendall, puts a record on his wind-up gramophone. The only drawback in running the music with the film is that the album is 10 minutes short, possibly because of the limitations of the vinyl format. YouTube user bigniouxx has a few brief clips of the live performance at the L’Etrange Festival in Paris.

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Blue Boy, a still from Pink Narcissus, mid- to late 1960s.

If the BFI ever reissues the film I hope they consider using the full Tuxedomoon score as an alternative soundtrack the way they did on the Peter de Rome porn films, some of which are scored by Stephen Thrower. Bidgood’s film is still available on DVD with a detailed booklet and a great interview with the director; the BFI also has it on their video-on-demand service. Despite its age and its campy glamour Pink Narcissus is still pretty pornographic in places, not as much as Peter de Rome’s films (or today’s porn, for that matter) but there’s enough wanking and erections to keep it off many TV networks. The album, housed in a great sleeve designed by Flavien Thieurmel, may be bought direct from Crammed Discs.

James Bidgood’s photography at ClampArt

Previously on { feuilleton }
William E. Jones on Fred Halsted
Flamboyant excess: the art of Steven Arnold
James Bidgood

Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Hustlers

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Joe Reeves, 37 years old; San Fernando, California; $40 (c. 1990).

Not all the photos in Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Hustlers series are as immediately striking as this example, nor do they offer the same narrative implications. Most are direct portrait shots, all of which were taken in Los Angeles in the early 1990s when DiCorcia says the US government “officially condemned homosexuality”. AIDS was still an untreatable illness at this time which would have made street hustling even more of a hazard than usual. DiCorcia’s work is currently receiving its first UK retrospective at the Hepworth Wakefield, an exhibition which includes the Hustlers series. More of these photos may be seen at TIME. The dollar amount in the title refers to the amount each subject was paid for their work.

Update: Hans alerts me to Hustlers (2013), a book which collects diCorcia’s photo series.

Previously on { feuilleton }
City of Night by John Rechy
William E. Jones on Fred Halsted
A hustle here, a hustle there…
California boys by Mel Roberts