C'mon Build Me An Ark

I've been lucky enough to be invited to dance in my friend Richert's new project. I know him from college, where I was the sometimes accompanist for the improv dance group he was a part of, which in turn led to me working with members of that troupe as back-up dancers for my band, which Richert now dances for as well. The rehearsals have been really eye-opening. As someone who is really Not A Dancer, it's really amazing to watch how Real Dancers can look at a dance phrase and, without ever having done it before, totally ace it the first time. Proprioception: who knew? What's also been amazing is to watch how Richert and the other dancers actually communicate, and organize ideas. I can't even begin to grapple with the idea of 'making a dance'. But somehow Richert can dance over to Miriam at rehearsal and they'll both nod in agreement. Yes, they understand each other and no, they don't need to talk about it.

As someone who has spends a lot of time resenting and denying his body, any practice that relies on gesture seems like an unnecessarily cruel trick. Like a reduction in meaning, the lowest common denominator of expression. Punitive. And mute. It's particularly cool to be proven wrong. Especially about movements and motion (I won't call the work Richert's doing 'gesture'). In fact, it's an entirely different vocabulary. Obvious, I'm sure, to anyone who knows anything about dance. But pretty new to me. We can open these things up and there does not have to be a lingual 'idea' about it. In fact, these dances are ways of communicating in not just minute, arcane little phrases. These are not things that have to be deciphered within ancient contexts of history and form (say, the way we talk about Sherrie Levine or something). There won't be a picture for me to look at, no one will ask me to share how it makes me feel, I can't describe it by taking notes, it won't result in a drum beat. The revolution will not be televised, we'll dance it.

Anyway, here's my point: I don't really keep up with other people's blogs. Not even my friends. Not really. I mean, sometimes. But I generally forget about them and check them once a month or so. I don't listen to mix CDs and I don't follow links to YouTube videos (sorry Francine). Just last night, my best friend Bobo told me about her blog. I had never seen it.

Richert, however, has a really amazing blog, which I do read (NOT AT WORK!). His website has a bunch of dance films, which are certainly worth checking out too. His blog, which I saw once and sort of forgot about until recently, is a combination or texts, found images of celebrities, porn, and personal investigations into the previous categories. It's kind of amazing. His aesthetic focuses a lot on power, the minute, routine and the erotics of these worlds at play with one another. His own photography and self-presentation, however, speak a vernacular of full-bodied ease. I feel a sort of kinship with his work because we know each other, sort of (we don't really discuss fucking that much), and we're both Leos. I have, however, tremendous fan-boy admiration for his work when I read his blog. I'm not comfortable in my body, so I really like seeing the work of people who are. I can't, in fact, make those shapes. The kinetic is not a familiar conduit of pleasure for me. Richert displays (what seem to me) to be pretty new kinds of pleasure, and talk about them fluently and articulately. And do so within the context of, among other things, fucking. His blog will be musings on Grace Jones, pictures of porn stars, then descriptions of the sex he just had. All things being equal. Wonderful.

He seems to point towards what I'm going to call the New Gay Underground. I doubt he would even want to be described as such. It's really unfair that I'm even doing this. I won't name names (other than, like, Paul Sepuya who you should already know about and I rode the train with him last weekend and was too shy to tell him I love his art and it makes me hopeful for the future of faggots and queers and photographers and people who want to talk to and look at and touch each other). There is a real sense of gay art (music, theater, writing, performance, visual, talking, witchcraft) being made right now that is grappling with similar ideas. Sort of an undercurrent in the mainstream art world. Like, right now the idea of the social network is sort of in vogue. Or whatever. Queers, being more or less disenfranchised from the politically bourgeois luxury of social networking (for power, I mean), have had to use systems of meaning that did not translate entirely into mass culture. A certain amount of mystery, leaps of faith in meaning, and overtones of isolation pervade the work I'm talking about. It's really exciting.

New Gay Underground. I generally feel not talented enough to be part of it. Too boring. Honestly, I feel too chubby. Ever since that Swede told me I was fat "but only in the stomach". I mean, I'm pretty thin guy, I know. But I do have sizable love handles. My fat bits do look really out of place on my body. At the same time, I have absolutely no desire to alter my lifestyle in any significant way, even if it means having a more desirable body. It just doesn't seem worth it to me. So I don't know. Too fat / undesirable to participate? Maybe.

This is the Big Sky Outfit I mentioned earlier. This photo was taken last Friday night by the fabulous artist / writer / singer / yeah, party photographer Brad Walsh (Mordecai was with me but didn't want his picture taken). Brad isn't exactly what I mean by the New Gay Underground. He is a really cool artist, though. I think he might be best known for running Junk Magazine, but he's also a singer. The reason I wouldn't group him in with the New Gays Underneath is because he works with Pop music in way that makes a lot of sense. I mean, he is part of an entire subculture and underground that goes beyond gayness (the type of stuff I have no inkling of). It's kind of hard to describe, sort of like pop music inside out. Like you can take it as being either 100% bubblegum or kind of dark. I like it.


Maybe I am going to start lumping myself in with the New Gay Underground. I can't tell whether or not I should just notice and comment or perceive of myself as a member. I mean, it is basically forcing a name on a scene. Probably other people have named it already. I know, I know, participating and critiquing are not mutually exclusive. If there is one thing I have learned in my life so far: fans matter! The audience matters! It's a totally viable and vital way to interact with something, even something you don't understand. In fact, I think that's a really noble and beautiful way to participate, to make art.

I'm thinking about Maggie Murphy and how she used to perform as Teen Rabbit, and sing a capella. I was always struck by how seriously brave that is. It's hard to describe with words (maybe I should dance how I feel). But like: sing it! That is a good way to participate in feelings you do not understand. It's a way of understanding; commenting, noticing.

Okay, so as part of my inclusion into the New Secret Gay Underground, I'd like to remind the few people reading this that I have printed up more copies of my zine, Scorcher. You can get one by e-mailing me, or you can go to Cinders Gallery in Williamsburg, where they are sold. Hopefully more places soon.



Anonymous said...

i guess you haven't seen this:

billycheer@gmail.com said...

i had not seen it! i like it!

Sam McKinniss said...

I'm a major fan of 'fag city'