Drag fabulosa Linda Simpson is too young to remember when her alter ego, Les Simpson, took these wonderful photos that are a part of NYC, c. 1985, a show going up at ClampArt Gallery (521-531 W. 25th St., between 10th/11th Aves.), so she's probably just as amazed as we are by the early AIDS activism and '80s fashions he captured.
(The final three images in the above gallery are from the after-party of 1982's Night of 100 Stars, and include shots of Elizabeth Taylor, Linda Evans and Liza Minnelli.)
The show also features: Amy Arbus, Catherine McGann, Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, and other familiar names.
I'll be stopping by the show this Saturday to eyeball this work in the flesh. I expect it will be like stepping into a time machine. Thirty years really does fly by when you're having fun.
Phillip of West Hollywood Nights got (contrary to what he thinks) good shots of Darren Criss at Madonna's pop-up fashion retrospective at Macy's in L.A. this past week. Check out some of his shots of the duds in the above gallery, and visit his site (Work Unfriendly) for Madonna, men and more.
***PLEASE CLUE ME IN ON NAMES OF ANY UNIDENTIFIED DANCERS***
Last night was the twenty-first annual edition of Broadway Bares and the fourth one in a row I've attended. Broadway Bares XXI: Masterpiece! snuck up on me; as I was watching it, I was thinking it wasn't my favorite. However, looking back at pictures and videos, it's obvious that there were some stunning numbers in spite of some pretty cringe-worthy humor interludes. In fact, the full-length musicals in which the night's dancers are currently performing should take notes.
The David? How about The Brandon! (Rubendall)
We arrived at Roseland to get in line around 9:30PM, so would have our pick of spots once the show let us in two hours later. Jason and I ran into a bunch of his friends, including Clark Kent, "Hey, Jude," and someone who once dated with Truth Wins Out good-fighter Wayne Besen (I guess his ex-, just not an ex-gay). There was a Bares virgin among us (sounds like a Treasure Media title), but the rest of us knew what to expect inside—skin, bawdy humor and opportunities to slip green into pink and/or brown. (Sidebar: Not just saying that—this year's Bares felt remarkably more racially diverse than past installments.)
Let's just look at Rotation here instead of at the end
Just past 11:30PM and after the 9:30PM show's patrons had spilled into the streets looking keyed up and, well, drunk, we filed in and beelined to the far side of the middle runway. I was pleased to be right at the stage, yet I'd later realize my "less good" position in previous years had actually been more desirable—I was so close it was tougher to take pictures and, at times, see thanks to the very sweet but confoundingly non-transparent guy in front of me. Making conversation as a go-go boy doled out ones in exchange for twenties, he asked me if I liked that the dancer was wearing a cock ring.
The sea of horny homos looked like Grindr come to life; I didn't check it inside, but I imagine the first 50 guys on my screen would have been 0 feet away.
Keegan Albrecht paints "Come back to Broadway Bares, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"
The place was teeming with celebrities along with testosterone, including Wilson Cruz (in my group yet too far for me to chat with), John Benjamin Hickey, Nick Adams, BearCity's Joe Conti, entertainer nonpareil Scott Nevins, Jack Plotnick, Jonathan D. Lovitz and probably more.
While waiting for things to begin, we were treated to watching a cute artiste (Keegan Albrecht) painting an image of James Dean, but it was just as fun watching the pre-show T-shirt vendors attempting to steal the dancers' thunder by baring their buns for a determinedly devoted crew at the end of the middle runway.
It was 24 hours of Desperately Seeking Susan for me this week, meeting Madonna on Wednesday for the celebration of her and Lola's Material Girl line and then meeting a surprisingly large contingent of the cast and crew of that '80s classic the following night when the Film Society of Lincoln Center hosted a 25th-anniversary screening.
Me with Seidelman, Blum, Arquette & Quinn
Tickets to the event and after-party had been hard to come by, and it's no wonder—on top of some members of the press, the 268-seat theater must have had at least 25 people who'd worked on the movie, plus all their guests.
Left to right, top to bottom: Susan Seidelman's intro; Rosanna Arquette's bond with—and Mark Blum's raunchy screen-test with—Madonna; rushing the film out in case Madonna was a "flash-in-the-pan"; and funny casting stories...
So Madonna looks flawless (in the good way) on and inInterview (May 2010) thanks to inspired shots by Mert & Marcus that in turn seem inspired by Gary Heery's fantastic first-album cover shoot and Steven Meisel's 1991 Vanity Fairshoot (inset) and perhaps accidentally similar to Tom Munro's recent work with her. But despite parallels, the shots are not knock-offs, and a couple of them threaten to become instant classics.
How much do we love that she wore jewelry so reminiscent of her early '80s accessories? In fact, some of them actually are her early '80s accessories, I bet, since they're credited as the artist's own.
The interview, a long chat with Gus Van Sant, shows off Madonna's excellent taste in movies and seems to be a sort of reminder of who Madonna was and who she still is—if she weren't talking about the movie she's co-written and plans to direct (W.E., which she clarifies is not all about Wallis Simpson), it's the kind of interview she could have given 20 years ago.
Of particular interest to gay fans:
"But you know, what [Milk] triggered for me was all my early days in New York and the scene that I came up in-you know, with Andy Warhol and Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. It was just so alive with art and politics and this wonderful spirit. So many of those people are dead now. I think that's one of the reasons I cried. In fact, the character that Richard E. Grant plays in the film I directed, Filth and Wisdom , is this blind professor who was based on my ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn. Growing up in Michigan, I didn't really know what a gay man was. He was the first man-the first human being-who made me feel good about myself and special. He was the first person who told me that I was beautiful or that I had something to offer the world, and he encouraged me to believe in my dreams, to go to New York. He was such an important person in my life. He died of AIDS, but he went blind toward the end of his life. He was such a lover of art, classical music, literature, opera. You know, I grew up in the Midwest, and it was really because of him that I was exposed to so many of those things. He brought me to my first gay club-it was this club in Detroit. I always felt like I was a freak when I was growing up and that there was something wrong with me because I couldn't fit in anywhere. But when he took me to that club, he brought me to a place where I finally felt at home. So that character in Filth and Wisdom was dedicated to him and inspired by him. I don't know why I'm bringing all this up, but I guess it's just coming from that world in Michigan and the trajectory of my life: after going to New York and being a dancer when the whole AIDS epidemic started and nobody knew what it was. And then suddenly, all these beautiful men around me, people who I loved so dearly, were dying-just one after the next. It was just such a crazy time. And watching the world freak out-the gay community was so ostracized. But it was also when I was beginning my career. . . . I don't know. Your movie really struck a chord for me and made me remember all that. It's a time I don't think many people have captured on film. It's a time that people don't talk about much. And even though there was so much death, for me, New York was so alive."
Seeing a thriving, last-century gay culture depicted on film seems to have jogged her memories of the period directly following.
This is the umpteenth time Madonna has spoken of the impact gay men have had on her life, but I feel like no matter how many times she says it, there are always those who think she's using gays for money. (Which she is, but she's using everyone for money so she's a capitalartist, not a gay-casher.)
Major missed opportunity—Van Sant speaks with her about Malawi, but doesn't bring up the persecuted couple so in danger there as we speak.
I admired Keith Haring's work the moment I saw it, relating to his desire to create art that could be accessed and uniquely, immediately understood by everyone. His radiant baby was so adorable—but so disturbing—the perfect emblem of the body of his work, which pulsed with the joy of life and the joy of sounding off on social injustice.
I'm sure part of my own high-school art, which was marked by heavily outlined, sexually charged scenes, was mostly inspired by Haring, who really knew how to work a phallus into just about any piece.
From the time I knew of him, I knew he was an out gay man, which was spectacularly exciting. Not so exciting was learning he had AIDS. Completely depressing was when he died less than a year after Robert Mapplethorpe, another gay PWA whose work had excited me (if not nearly as much). It seemed to go against the vibrations of his work that he would die so young, at the peak of his powers.
Now, 20 years after his passing, the Tony Shafrazi Gallery has just finished a retrospective that edited his work to a handful of rooms and that did an excellent job of reminding us Haring had more than radiant babies up his sleeve. His simplistic colors and lines really aren't; his subject matter is defiantly diverse. And overall, it's pleasantly surprising to see that as passé as his work seemed a few years ago, it all feels urgent and fresh and now.
If only Haring were around in 2010—it's so obvious he had so much more to say.