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50 posts from April 2006

Apr 30 2006
Boy On Film Comments (0)

Boy_culture_ticket_2_3I'd seen it twice already on DVD, curled up with my partner in bed, wincing with recognition at the elements which have survived unchanged from short story to novella to novel and now to film. But seeing Boy Culture, the movie, for the third time really was a different experience—for the first time, I could truly assess it as an independent, creative project—something filmgoers at The 20th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival had no problem doing; some loved it, at least one dude hated it, and it was chosen among the Top 3 of the fest.

For my third viewing of Boy Culture, there was lots of other amazing stuff happening, stuff that instantly contextualized the final film, and that made me feel like a human being for the first time in a long while. (I've been working myself to death—it's a long story.)

On Wednesday, my partner José Vélez and I hosted a party to celebrate the North American premiere of Boy Culture at the TriBeCa Film Festival. It was my way of offering support to the years-in-the-making movie and to the people who put in those years, namely Philip Pierce, Victor Simpkins, Stephen Israel and Q. Allan Brocka. I was pleased to have been consulted throughout the process (except for Dscn1385_4when they changed archetypical all-American "straight" white Andrew into a less familiar all-African-American "not-exactly-straight" black Andrew...a change I questioned after the fact because I'd positioned my novel as a schizo beach read/white-gay cultural critique, and thought Andrew's race change would leave the movie as only a filmed beach read), but consulting is not the same thing as making the movie—and while I'm a jealous lover, I definitely recognized that these guys really did have control and wanted them to know I felt they'd done good.

José and I have thrown precisely two parties in our life, despite having met at one. Or rather, seen each other at one. We laid eyes on each other at a party thrown by a lesbian couple in Brooklyn (one of the last times I was in Brooklyn), then asked our mutual acquaintances: "Who's that?" That led to group activities and then actual dates. He moved in a year later. But as for hosting parties of our own, we have a spotty track record. We tossed a bash in our two-bedroom Chelsea rental on West 20th Street, an apartment with a stunning view that we were paying nothing for, but which we could not afford to buy when it went condo at the then-astronomical-sounding price of $120,000. Now it must be worth $900,000 or so and last I knew it was owned by one of the founders of Flaunt. That party was well attended, but it was a chips-n-dip affair and I weighed two pounds more than the dude in the movie Heavy, which, remember, was about a fat slob.

Our next party was a seldom-discussed surprise 30th birthday party for me that José lovingly arranged. Surprise! You have no friends willing to come! Very quiet and awkward. I think my sister kept me busy by taking me to see Pitch Black or some other unusual-for-me movie, but I knew it was happening—José hates that about me.

Dscn1392_1Flash ahead seven and a half years and I think we've got it figured out: hire a caterer. We used Laurence Craig (a phenomenal caterer and great guy—he practically held our hands through the process) and could not have been happier. To think that three months ago we had a bathroom in shambles and no kitchen, and now we had three gorgeous servers, a full slate of freebie booze provided by TriBeCa (thank you, Julian, the world's nicest drop-off guy) and a menu that included smoked salmon beggar's purses, goat cheese and roasted vegetable tarts and I-can-die-happy-now tiny fallen chocolate soufflés...it boggles the mind.

By_brian_brooksindiewireboyculture1(<--L-R= Jonathon "Joey" Trent, director Q. Allan Brocka and Derek "X" Magyar.) We'd spent weeks trying to figure out who to invite to the party, and wound up with the perfect mix of people we knew ("we" meaning the filmmakers as well as myself), media types and potential distributors. People seemed to have a blast, got to meet and chat with two-thirds of the primary cast (Darryl "Andrew" Stephens was filming and could not come) and with the director and I believe a few phone numbers were exchanged. It's hard to believe it went so well and so quickly. People complimented our new apartment, and we were in need of the support—it's been a long process and you really don't know it it's come together until you get some outside opinions. So that was a major relief.

Dscn1395_3(<--Here I am with Allan.) I was glad to see Allan and congratulate him in person on the film. I'd only met him once before. His blog mentions he felt underdressed but he looked like a cool indie director and while he may have been jet-lagged, was very charming when asked repeatedly those same questions everyone asks directors. Must say Jonathon Dscn1399_1 "Joey" Trent (-->) was really sweet. I had already e-mailed him that I felt he did a top-notch job and he seemed to be sincerely touched by this and heaped praise on me for the book. Was he the first or second hetero man to have read Boy Culture? I don't know, but he clearly did his homework—how he was able to play the cheerfully slutty, unapologetically flamboyant Joey I'll never know. His manager, Nina Kether Axelrod, was equally kind, telling me she loves writers and had been very interested in meeting me. This is coming from the daughter of the man who wrote The Seven-Year Itch and The Manchurian Candidate, so it was quite surreal.

Dscn1400_1Derek Magyar, X himself (-->), arrived fashionably late (and fashionably—he appears headed for men's fashion magazines as his star rises) with his "boy" Dustin. Straight guys are able to say, "This is my boy," and make it sound tough and non-sexual. Dustin's an actor and friend of Derek's, and will star in a play Derek's directing soon in L.A. I think it's a foregone conclusion that Derek will become a major movie star. He has great charisma and intensity and wonderful people around him—but in talking with Dustin, whose last name I must get, I have to say he is equally magnetic. I told him I felt I'd met a future star and I meet a lot of actors and don't say that just for kicks. I'll have to write something for him. I guess if I can invent a way not to sleep?

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Apr 27 2006
That Material Girl Sure Plays A Mean Disco Ball Comments (4)

Tommycoad02_1As a bricoleur, Madonna makes a good bricklayer. She has taken homage and lowered it to a pop-art form. To be a fan of Madonna is to be excited by the fun pastime: Can you guess who I'm referring to...now? There are countless examples of Madonna aping, quoting or subtly suggesting other artists' work and other pop-culture phenomena. This is true of almost every pop artist—pop will eat itself. But she has a special knack for choosing things that are just mainstream enough that her smart fans can see what she's up to, and just obscure enough that the bulk of her fans and casual consumers have no clue. It's when Madonna veers into the very obscure that she gets in trouble, because if only a handful of people understand that she's referencing an artist's work, then couldn't it be argued that she is benefiting from that work as if it were wholly new, wholly her own?

Picture_2_29Yes, it could and it even has. Successfully. When Madonna's ineffective but glam "Hollywood" video copied pose after pose from Guy Bourdin, a photographer about 1% of Madonna fans may have known, his estate sued her ass and she ponied up.

Madonna has gotten away with (probably, in almost all cases, with good reason) far more than she's been nailed on. Her greatest video, "Vogue," is basically a Horst portfolio. The legendary photographer called her out on it at the time, but cheerfully joked that she should trade a nude sitting in return. Madonna vibed off Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" on her "Physical Attraction," posed like Garbo on Island, posed like Marilyn Monroe (or more to the point, posed like Marilyn Monroe in the same style Monroe had been photographed by shooters like Bert Stern or filmed by directors like Howard Hawks), pulled an audio-visual Cyndi Lauper on her Who's That Girl Tour and has even copied herself, via lyrical flashbacks like "let your body move to the music/let your body go with the flow" popping up on "Deeper and Deeper" and with numerous references to her own catalog on Confessions On A Dance Floor.

Is Madonna a thief? She's said all great art involves ripping off. I tend to agree. I think art and commerical art are reactions. While some artists are truly unique and their mindscapes are so impenetrable that it becomes part of their appeal (Bjork, Picasso), others use language we can all understand when expressing what they'd like to say.

Which brings me to the following anonymous analysis of similarities between Madonna's Confessions On A Dance Floor and The Who's Tommy.

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Apr 26 2006
Chi Chi Swallows All Worlds Comments (0)

Gay-porn giants Channel 1 and All Worlds have tricked—and are now moving in together. They’re now “the largest gay owned and operated gay adult entertainment company in the world.” Size matters.

Rick Ford, ruler of All Worlds, is happy to hand over his baby to Chi Chi LaRue, queen of Channel 1:

“Eight years ago when Chi Chi started with Channel 1, I saw how people thought it would be just a flash in the pan, but the company has grown into one of the major players in the industry today. I am excited by the ideas they have, their skills in the ever changing technology of media delivery, and their enthusiasm in continuing the work of so many creative people that have passed through our doors. The energy and the excitement that they bring to All Worlds will ensure the legacy of the company.”

In other words, even more gay skinflicks on the way, boys.

The scariest line in the press release? “Between the two of them, Rick Ford and Chi Chi LaRue have over 40 years of experience in gay adult entertainment.” Wow. That’s 40 years, 400 positions, 4,000 scenes and a whole lot of seamen (All Worlds’ Dirk Yates movies are full of slutty sailors). This is the biggest gay merger since Liza married David. Except not as sleazy.

 
 
Apr 25 2006
Dead Sexy Comments (17)

A friend of mine once pointed out to me that one weakness in many gay blogs is the preponderance of hot guys and the fawning text about them, leading readers to think, "Well, I know whose balls this guy would like to lick." At the risk of adding to that trend, I thought I'd post this remembrance of Jon-Erik Hexum that I wrote for a popular gay sex blog but that has yet to be published...

Jon-Erik Hexum is remembered today as a tragic beefcake actor who died young and stayed pretty and very probably was gay—even if he very probably wasn’t. That is, when he’s remembered at all.

Hexumlang_1At 6’1” and 190 pounds, the blue-eyed, shaggy-chested brunet was like the ideal male companion beamed up in a brief scene in Logan’s Run—so naturally perfect he almost seemed like a hologram. He had the Nautilus build of a college football player gone hard, the kind of sculpted shell that was less a requirement in Aaron Spelling-era Hollywood than it was a throwback to Muscle Beach in the early ’60s. He looked like he should be carrying Jayne Mansfield one-handed over his head everywhere he went. Perfect body, perfect hair, perfect veneers, he was a male model and he played one on TV. But though he had one role cherished by kids and kids at heart (Voyagers! in 1982), one role cherished by gay men (The Making of a Male Model in 1983) and one role that made him a man’s man (Cover Up in 1984), his greatest—and only great—role is a role he didn’t audition for and that no actor would want: He’s a sort of male Marilyn Monroe for gay fans. Except they dream of saving him in order to fuck him.

He’s gay in death, but was Hexum gay in life? There’s ample evidence he wasn’t, even if he seemed to be so surrounded by innuendo he couldn’t help setting off the average guy’s gaydar before the term Hexum_2was invented. For one thing, he was discovered by Bob Le Mond, who had already made John Travolta a household name. No proof of the sexualities of any of these three men, but the comparison to Henry Wilson’s handling of Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter a generation earlier was inevitable. Add to this Hexum’s bodybuilder physique (you know what they say about bodybuilders) and the press anointed him a “confirmed bachelor” despite a long-term relationship with Debbie Davis, a short-term one with Emma Samms and gossip that he dated Joan Collins (has anyone ever just dated Joan Collins?). He was involved with E.G. Daily at the time of his death, but what fag wouldn’t date her?

All it took was a display of his famously offbeat humor in response to a question about pervasive rumors that he was gay to call his sexuality permanently into question. That the exchange appeared in Playgirl seemed fitting:

"On the usually sensitive subject of sexual preferences, Hexum simply laughs off the rumors. His only long-term relationship (4 1/2 years) broke up a year ago, and his ex is now married. Apart from a flurry of rumors about a liaison with Joan Collins, there has been no rampaging romance for him. So some reporters resort to speculating that he’s gay. Rather than react angrily, Hexum plays along.

He’ll leave phone messages giving the name of a gay bar and say, 'Have him call me at the table, the regular one.'

Ask him about growing up handsome and he answers: 'I certainly wasn’t real confident with girls.' Long pause. 'I guess that’s what got me started with guys.' Another pause. 'And small animals.'
Getting serious for a second, he explains. 'I really don’t care if people think I date a lot or a little, if they think I’m gay or if they think I’m aborigine. Who gives a shit?'”

Even before Madonna made it seem chic and calculated, Hexum was a proponent of letting people think whatever they wanted to of his sexual preferences—in that way, he let himself be a blank canvas for both female and male fantasies. He was happy to be gay if you wanted him to be. As long as you left him out of it. He took his image less seriously than actors who were far less high-profile than he was.

Jenkins09_1Hexum’s acting credits are so sparse (he only played five filmed characters ever) and his image so sexualized that his most memorable achievements were poses captured during indelibly hot photo shoots. Fans recall and collect the most famous shots—lounging in a pool in a black wifebeater; wearing a cowboy hat and not wearing a shirt in a field; naked except for a Speedo alongside ’80s siren Heather Thomas; leaning against a tree, arms over his head, hairy armpits offered up to the camera. There are no nude photographs of Jon-Erik Hexum, but fans can be grateful that the early ’80s allowed for him to pose in the briefest of running shorts, the tightest of jeans, working out with his tree-trunk hairy legs spread. Unfortunately for the ambitious young actor, you don’t win Emmys or Oscars for connecting with the camera sexually. But you do win adulation.

Despite the vivacity of his surviving portraits—you can almost smell the guy in some of his oiled-chest flex photos—Hexum is long gone. On October 12, 1984, on the set of his show Cover Up, Hexum playfully placed a prop gun to his temple and said something like, “Let’s see if I get myself with this one” or “Let’s see if I’ve got one for me.” He then pulled the trigger, unaware of the danger of blanks. The blast sent a piece of his skull into his brain, a mortal wound.

These days, a small cadre of Hexnuts (as they self-identify) keep his memory alive. In all their fan Jon_1literature, no mention is made about speculation that he may have been gay or bisexual. In fact, Hexum’s near-pornographic sex appeal is the elephant in the locker room. His fans wax rhapsodic about his star quality. They struggle to unearth new information, new artifacts pertaining to his short life and even shorter career, a task that’s becoming as difficult as finding new tombs in Egypt—it does happen every once in a while but it’s a bigger fucking deal each and every time.

Hexum’s flashy, fleshy time in the public eye and his sudden departure makes him very like so many favorite hardcore gay porn stars from the exact same time—they would briefly emerge as erotic messiahs before drugs or heterosexuality or, more often, AIDS would erase their futures, leaving them preserved on film, forever arousing. Jon-Erik Hexum, Bill Henson...which of them has more of a mystique around him?

Some Hexum fans, invariably middle-aged men, have made journeys to his hometown of Tenafly, New Jersey, to chat with a friend of his or a favorite aunt, who don’t seem to find it at all odd that a group of people still clings to the memory of a man whose primary function while alive was as a sex symbol, and who is now undeniably a “he’s hot, he’s sexy, he’s dead” sex symbol.

If a number of clues enabled gay fans to believe that Hexum was a member of the team, it’s also true that Hexum’s precise level of fame ensured his image and memory would necessarily be bisexual—he wasn’t famous enough at the time of his death for the culture to push memories toward the heterosexual side of things, leaving him wide open to interpretation, a sexual persona rather than a heterosexual or homosexual one.

Picture_1_24In November of 2005, the Jon-Erik Hexum Fan Club hosted The Hexum Event, a birthday tribute at which a personal friend of the fallen star (who photographed him in life and now sells fine-arts print, including her incomparable ass shots) held court among 15 devotees, who were treated to a talk by one of Hexum’s former roommates. Many of his gay fans would probably want to ask "boxers or briefs?" "what did he look like naked?" and "did you ever think he was interested in cock?" But the talk was reportedly a good deal less salacious. Is a meeting of this kind creepy? Or is it devoted? Or both? Maybe it’s inevitable that a man who made such a limited but intense impression while he was alive would inspire so elite and so deeply-felt—and so queer—a following in death.

 
 
Arriving In Style Comments (0)

Ct_rehearsal_cross_newsJean-Paul Gaultier, who's doing all of the costumes for Madonna's Confessions Tour, dropped by the rehearsals and posed for a pic with two of the dancers...who I'm sure look a lot sexier with fewer clothes and from a greater distance. (From Madonnalicious.)

 
 
Apr 24 2006
Swamp Rat Comments (0)

Nagin
I don't care if he is a Democrat. Nagin's glibness is revolting. You've got to respect people who long for a purple party when this is the best choice the red and the blue can cook up.

 
 
Loyal, Too. A Fault? Comments (0)

Loyalty_5I have thought for a long time that life is shaped by the incompetence of others. Or, if you're a cock-eyed optimist, by the competence of others. When you do an analog Google search (ie, think back in your mind) for stories about medical mishaps, freak accidents, crimes of passion, corporate potholes, stock-market shimmies, wayward government checks, FedEx follies and children with matches, you have to admit that there are a lot of truly terrible, irreversible things that can happen due to sheer negligence or to the inability to do what one (or everyone) should very well know how to do. But I'm beginning to think that loyalty also shapes life. Think of all the things that can happen when loyalty is absent—your mate can fly the coop, confidences can be broken, a friend-till-the-end can, well, end. I don't think loyalty is valued as much as it used to be, and when it is, it's often a creepy blind loyalty that's a perversion of the real thing. Still, loyalty is at the heart of perhaps all the most personal human interactions. Hearts can be broken from incompetence, and the aftermath from the offender is a usually semi-sincere, "Oh, dear." But when hearts are broken from disloyalty, the aftermath from the offender is a far colder, 100% sincere, "Oh, well." Maybe loyalty is a fault in the modern world. I think plenty of people think so, or at least behave as if they do without admitting it. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around that because when someone says to me "nothing personal," all I can think is that everything is. (Subjects in images are larger than they appear. I've taken from here.)Team_3

 
 
Apr 23 2006
I'm A Sell-Out Comments (0)

Well, I'm not. But Boy Culture is. The movie's North American premiere at Tribeca Wednesday, April 26, is now reduced to door sales only. So that's kinda sold out, right? Am I right? Robert Rodi could write a novel about it called Sell Out. Or to make it gay like his famous series of novels, maybe Thell Out. Coincidentally, he provided a nice blurb for Boy Culture when it first came out (of my Apple Performa, not of the closet). Nice guy.