Friday night is both the new SPANK Party, as well as the next installment of NYC's Best and Craziest Dance Party, JUDY! I have my night PLANNED. I want some coconut water just in ADVANCE.
Speaking of Wonderful Things, if you're not already, you should be following the FAGCITY TUMBLR. And additionally, if you like that, you should follow the tumblr that PLD and I are co-authoring, as a way of sharing some of our references for our new band, B0DY H1GH. Not To Brag / Just To Brag: we've been practicing and we're really really good.
So, you know, there're those to watch.
Also, I am very happy to announce that there is a pretty swanky interview and photo spread with Yours Truly in the first-ever issue of PLASTER MAGAZINE. Check it out!
Erin Markey closes her show Puppy Love: A Stripper's Tail this week at PS122. It was really such a fantastic show. I'm so thrilled that I know her in real life and get to hang out with her sometimes. Her work in the show is very smart, really incisive, but also kind of subtle. I mean, there are huge musical numbers, there's screaming, there's belting out original songs in a baby outfit, upside down on a stripper's pole, while she plays the toy piano, too. But many of the messages in the show are really nuanced, distinct, and beautifully articulated. Erin's show is, to my mind, about wrestling with desire. The show reminded me why it's called having a CRUSH on someone. It's crushing. It's hard. And Erin conveys this with a clear, distinct voice, and a real generosity towards her audience. BUT DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. Our Beloved Big Sister Ben Rimalower posted a gorgeous blog about Erin, and there's a really interesting interview with Erin herself here. Get learned.
Another brilliant wunderkind Gio Black Peter gives a quick interview at East Village Boys to celebrate his biggest solo art show yet, at Galeri Se in Norway. His new paintings are fantastic! I wish I could see the live performance. The EVB interview has some lyrics to a new song of his which is very interesting. Gio is doing something very exciting these days, and his new paintings seem to point to just how in control of his message he is. There is less guess-room now. Or, the guess-work is about different elements in his work. There are still pretty clear points of engagement in Gio's work, the kind of 'sly winking at the viewer' type of thing, but it's much more subtle in the new work. He's working with, as he says, new themes such as government / social control and religion, but filtered through his pretty unique voice. I think this is just great. The paintings are beautiful and I can't wait for his next NYC show. Check that out, too.
Oh press. Oh discourse. Oh making-everything-up. Lynn Hirschberg interviewed MIA for the NY Times, and MIA voiced her displeasure with the article thusly. I don't want to beat a dead horse or anything, but why would you do an interview with LH anyway? Haven't we learned our lesson?
Whn I met him in high school, Antlers was Bi. He was at least a year older than us in school and he was Bi. And he had a nose piercing and blue hair and he may have even been straight when I met him. Tall like me, quiet. Outside of the Gilman. (Nobody called it "The Gilman", I'm calling it that now to make fun of those suburban kids too out of it to know). We'd be sipping pints of Georgi vodka mixed with kool-aid in a parking lot down the street from the punk club, having convincd one of the punk dyke roadies to buy us some booze in exchange for weed or something. I remember Antlers wearing a Marilyn Manson t-shirt but I could be wrong. Conflating details. The point is: he went off to college before the rest of us, though we were already out as queer. I remember Antlers earning this nickname (from me) when he sent me a copy of his zine, The Stag Book. It was and remains maybe the Best Zine I've Ever Seen, Ever, In The Whole World. It was about coming out as queer and coming out as cervidae and ever since then the two have been linked in my imagination. No other description of deer comes close. Deer = community. Deer = plural possibilities. Deer does not mean lonely, infuriated, bad. Deer = the natural beauty of the future as it unfolds for only you to see. Maybe I'll scan Stag Book. You guys would love it.
Found out that the Moon is moving away from the Earth. I don't know how everyone else has known this. Have I known this and forgotten it? Why? This revelation horrified and scared and depressed me. Mom, as it turns out, is always leaving. Mom is perpetually leaving. All of human existence has transpired in the backdrop of this, the primary tragedy of terrestrial life. BUT THEN I THINK: is the fact that Mom / The Moon is always disappearing the tragedy? Or is human consciousness, the way we attached pain to this realization, maybe is that the tragic part? So that was what I thought about on Saturday morning and then I decided to stop thinking about what is or is not tragic. Gimme a break. Right? Right.
My choices for Glamour. A Sneer, Mary Timony, Vintage Sunglasses and CdG's 'Garage'. I dunno, people. I feel both really good and kind of sore from the weekend. I had a blast, I mean, too. But I am constantly surprised by the depth, speed and seeming randomness of my feelings. I guess that's how I want to couch this. There's this old Anaïs Nin quote to the effect of "how to defeat this tragedy... which springs at us from an old dress? Make Literature." Oh I'm butchering it and now I have to look it up but the point is, I think, in thinking about Things That Bum Me Out: a) it's okay to be bummed out sometimes, don't let anybody say it's not, and b) when you're bummed out sometimes it helps to make 'art' about it. Sometimes it helps to find a way to say it. And if you feel like you've already said it (and I feel like I have ALREADY SAID ABOUT the thing bumming me out), then finding a new way to say a feeling can be an invigorating, interesting, if not vital, project. So try that, Billy! OK. Will do.
On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to be one of the guests on Vaginal Davis is Speaking from the Diaphragm at PS122. This was such a fucking honor. Ms. Vaginal Davis of course a living legend. If you're reading this then you are probably already aware of this, but a great deal of what constitutes my reality (as well as yours probably) is owed at least in some part to Vaginal Davis' varied body of work, philosophies, aesthetics, and legacy. Her Legacy is Permission. Her Legacy is Queer Punk. Her Legacy is Real. I could go on and on and on, but the best place to begin your Vaginal Davis studies is probably on her Wonderful Blog. So that was a real highlight. Hung out with the witches. Got groovy. Got some sun times. Ate some delicious morsels. I read Erica Jong's Fanny before bed (determined to finish it before I move onto a new book) and then I slept, heavily, dreaming of Pyrate Escapades.
I think it's important to tell people in your life (even / especially people you may not already be close with, maybe even people online whom you do not know or do not know very well) how much they mean to you. I want to be in the habit, as an ever-widening community, of consantly supporting reaffirming and accounting for each other. To say as many nice things, at least, as the amount of shit that gets talked. SO thank you for reading this. Next time I see you in real life I'll give you a high five.
IMAGINARY BOYFRIEND: VEGA FROM STREET FIGHTER II
Maybe I mean to say "Style Icon". Maybe I mean both. I talk a lot about this tension and I think that Vega is exemplifies it for me.
Obviously I've wanted to fuck Vega from the get-go. From being like... seven? So little. Vega was totally the best character (to my mind). He was the boy character that was like the girl characters, so in a way he was safer. But he is SO femme. Like, ridiculously femme for an early 90s video game. He makes no sense. I mean, he does make sense and is super sexy if you (like me) have a queered palette. He walks this really cool line of butch/femme, boy/girl, aggro/passive. He is a hybrid, a mutant, a tranny, a faggot. Even the hamfisted racial stereotypes that the game uses are applied in some kind of postmodernist mishmash for Vega. Vega being the "Spanish Ninja", natch. I think this is in part because of the way Capcom developed the character. The final version released in the US incorporated elements from previous iterations of the character.
I'm really interested in the ACCESSORIES. He's the only character to carry a weapon, which, of course, can break. Such vulnerability! But he also wears that fucking mask, because he's afraid of injuring his beautiful face. So there's two things that are really turning me on about Vega:
a) Hybrid / Cyborg / Queer Bodies
b) He has some damage. Like all street fighter characters he has some backstory, but his is particularly mysterious. His fighting style is totally alien. He has a rad tattoo of a snake over his chest and even though I don't like braided hair I like his cause I am counting it as a Ponytail.
Normally I hate men with long hair but Vega's not a man, not really. The sash might as well be a skirt. The tension I am talking about earlier is this tension between wanting to be someone and wanting to fuck someone. I often feel like people should, generally, demystify their desires. We owe it to ourselves to interrogate what turns us on, and to think of it as not impossible, foreign, inaccessible and "other" all the time. (Granted-- some people have a kink about desiring something they can never have but I'm not talking about that). I think that we can inhabit our fantasies, we can map them onto our "real lives". SO this is where, for me, Vega comes in. An image of aspiration and desire. A productive fantasy. A really helpful fantastic tool. What I am saying is that, at least nominally, you can become the person you want to fuck. And then, presumably, fuck yourself. Ha! Not really. The nice thing, the thing I'm trying to emphasize here about moving between fantasy and real using fictional video game characters of 90s rock stars, is that it opens the space in marrying your fantasies and yourself, you leave new open spaces in both your desires and your real life to fill with new fantasies and new desires and new real life identities. It is a game in which you are continually winning.
Also: cute shoes, right?
My friend Christian put together this really cool picture of me (and the components making up my Spring Lukes, I guess) a few weekends ago. You can check out more of his brilliant work at: Arsonist Photography. I couldn't get the picture to upload the right way for blogger purposes, but then I fixed it by using Flickr, sorry, but you should look at my Tumblr anyway (the picture is bigger there).
Friday night was the Birdsong event. It was a blast. I read my story from the new issue, "Rise High". I thought everyone involved did a really great job. I can't believe it's been two years since Birdsong started. Time flies, I guess, when you're having fun. And also when you're not. How about: Everything flies. After the reading we went to meet up with dear friends from the PDX, Emma and Mister J. We went over to Sugarland to see Tayisha Busay perform. They were so great! They totally killed it. I love them so much. Friday I got a real Luscious Jackson / Deee-Lite / Cibo Matto vibe from them. It all kind of clicked, the sort of approach they're taking. Really great set. We stayed out too late on Friday, though. For sure.
Saturday I rested and generally did whatever I wanted. I went to the gym, grocery shopping, cooked a huge elaborate meal and watered the hosueplants. Eventually met up with PLD and Ptrick the Witch and we headed over to Lady Rimalower's Castle, where we met an all-star cast: Cole, Jeffery and Miss Erin Markey. We definitely had too too much fun and didn't get home until about 5:00am. Breif cameo by Miss Sara Jane, and a quick jaunt to the Metropolitan, where we held court in their lush garden patio. Those new lights they installed are such a great touch. I want to say that they add a touch of class to the experience of going to Metro, but that wouldn't be true. The new lights do, however: a) temporary blind me when I'm trying to walk through the patio, because they're so fucking bright and they're aimed upwards right into my eyes, and they also b) make the place feel like I'm in a rich person's backyard somewhere in Los Angeles. This isn't a bad thing, is just sends the message: 'this jungle is fake / engineered for your pleasure / unnatural'. Anyhow we didn't stay there long.
Sunday I just sort of bummed around the East Village with PLD. Read Italian Vogue and ate Good & Plenties in McCarren park. Hung out on my roof, watched part of an old Pam Grier movie and fell asleep reading. Very nice weekend.
Thinking so much about this song, again, randomly:
I think Joanna Newsom is really productive for me as a measure of how well I'm doing in the optimism / worldview department. On my darker days: I cannot get into it. I can't stand it. I don't even want to be around people whom I suspect are Joanna Newsom fans. On loopier days, I can't listen to her records without laughing uncontrollably at the sound of her voice. Other days it just speaks to me. Y'know? This weekend has been somewhere in the middle of that triangulated map, but I have been thinking specifically about this song a lot this weekend. Kind of ruminating. I had a really intense dream on Friday night about someone from my past. That he and I kept running into each other and kept confessing things to each other, like, dark secrets and stuff. I have a really strong memory of this person and I hanging out in his living room in what felt like summer but could not possibly have been. The ceiling is low and we're stoned and he's singing along to the phrase "I killed my dinner with karate". I don't know why this is popping into my head, I dreamed it maybe. I listened to this song a lot this weekend, thinking about the feeling. (But, I don't want to say the feeling, this time).
So last night after work I went to this loft in Bushwick to do a photo shoot for the new issue of Spank Magazine. Sean, who runs it, is super sweet, I've always known about it and thought it was rad. I was a little bit nervous, though, about the photo shoot cause I saw on the call sheet that there would be all kinds of assistants, which means PROFESSIONALS and despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary I am shy and easily intimidated. I was also curious what we'd be wearing! I knew we had this big shot stylist working on it and I was nervous until I saw Ladyfag's tweet that she was wearing Rodarte. So, y'know: score.
When I arrived I saw immediately two of my absolute favorite people: Nath-Ann Carerra and Nicholas Gorham. Nath-Ann was done up as a kind of coyote/goat/satyr hybrid, and Nicholas was a flamingo. So rad. Really cool stuff.
Here's a video of Nath-Ann performing a cover of Yoko Ono's "What A Bastard The World Is" on Sunday night with Mx Justin Bond:
So beautiful, right? Doesn't that make you feel somehow stronger, better, fortified? It does for me.
And hey here's a new Nicholas Gorham video! Yay! Very cute Mercedes commercial:
Oh Nick. Oh Nath-Ann. When I was sitting in the make-up chair, getting turned into a lizard (a sexy lizard, trust), in walked Pony! Another fave. The shoot was in the loft he lives in. He was on his way to get ready to go see Massive Attack. Sooo jealous. I've been listening to Blue Lines all week for some reason. Really feeling, y'know, deep. Hey speaking of Massive Attack:
God I love that song.
Anyways we did the photo shoot pretty quickly. It was easy and fun and exciting. I am thinking about how, like, maybe two or three years ago, when I had what I would consider my first big photo shoot experience, it seemed overwhelming. But last night it seemed totally logical and easy and fun. I dunno. Either I'm getting older or I can just appreciate things like living in NYC. You know. Day in the life. I came home and scrubbed off my make-up and ate some soup and put on my night cream and watched Wendy Williams.
And you cannot fuck with any of that.
The world is too big and too vast, encompassing too many possible futures of feeling good. There are too many options in which everyone wins, there are so many possibilities that it boggles, pains the mind to try to grapple with them. In the face of such profound uncertainty, such a staggering array of ways for things to work out, how can you focus on trying to hurt someone else's feelings? This is what I am grappling with. Readers of this blog know that I am definitely woo-woo, that I go in for all that psychoanalysis, horoscope, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and self-administered medication and consciousness-raising stuff. I'm really into the trip of feeling good, of recuperating, of figuring out, of talking about it. So it's not as if I am without a language to use to understand, describe, and communicate my feelings. I just think it's kind of a waste of time, sometimes.
Let me explain. It feels kind of important to me to write this blog, have a facebook page, Twitter or whatever. It's important to be to feel like I exist in a continuum of real people who can communicate to each other. It feels important to me to be, like, something approximating real or present or whatever. So the upside of this, obviously, is that I have met and continue to meet some really wonderful and amazing people by putting myself and my work out there. There is absolutely no better payoff in the whole world. For anything, ever. About a year ago a really rad 18 year-old girl, whom I don't know and is not part of the same 'scene' (you know what I mean) as me or my friends, wrote me a really amazing story in an e-mail cause she read the blog. And then we sort of became pen pals. This has been, to my mind, the crowning achievement of every art thing I have ever done in my whole life, every bit of press and every part of everything. I made a new connection! Anyways, you can read her Tumblr here. This was just an example.
The downside of this is that when I get static from people I make the mistake of thinking it's about me. You know? When someone treats someone else with such unmitigated rancor, it's more about the Teller than the Told. Maybe that sounds new-age-y, but it's important for me to remind myself. I've been feeling pretty low in the last couple months, trying to claw my way out of it by consciously forgetting when people do something really mean to me. I don't know. On one hand I don't want to give this any more airtime, I am less and less interested in the message of "fuck the haters" because who wants to talk to a Hater? The thing about being vicious and mean is that it comes from a place of pain. And at a certain point, when people would be mean to me, or come after me or something, I felt like the right response would be to get into it with them, to take it on as my problem, to try to help them understand their pain or whatever it is in their past that makes them want to see me cry or something. And I don't know if I feel like that, really, today.
My point is: it feels good to focus on feeling free. I don't want to diagram a sentence when the sentence is you saying how much you hate me. That's not interesting and it doesn't make me want to engage with you. Let's find a new feeling, a new way to connect to people.
And, also, this song, too:
So Friday after work I met up with PLD at KS Art for an event celebrating the release of Kim Gordon's book, Performing/Guzzling. As part of the event there was a performance by Bad Adult, the band comprised of Kim and Jutta Koether. It was, of course, amazing.
Kim played guitar and made noises with Jutta and sang the following (the ellipses are where I couldn't write down what she was saying fast enough):
EXHILARATION, MODERN SOUL. . . LEMONGRASS. . . FEMINIST SUBJECTIVITY. . . JOURNEY TO A NON IDENTIFIED SYMBOLShe kept repeating the phrase Journey to a Non-Identified Symbol as she walked into the crowd. The room was silent, and rapt. And I felt like I was at church. She returned to the stage and ended the piece. It was pretty fucking spectacular. I felt like I had been to church. For some reason going to see Sonic Youth always feels like that for me. Kim was giving full-on witch / priestess vibes. (Obviously terms like 'witch' and 'priestess' are interchangeable, I'm just pointing to how our language holds us back, maybe). A bunch of friends and fans accosted her after the performance, but PLD and I stuck around, and once she had put her guitar down and was making her way through the gallery, I stopped her, told her I was a big fan of her work, and gave her a copy of my zine. It was medium-size awkward and geeky, but I feel like that's okay. She is absolutely a hero of mine, a total beacon of inspiration. I hope she reads the zine. Anyways.
I remarked to PLD: "Now that is what I call performance art". I feel like so much of the performance work that I see in NYC (and even that I make) happens in a theater, and is, essentially, theater work. There is no value-judgment implicit in this, but I know that personally I have been interested in exploring other modes of performance. And seeing Kim Gordon on Friday reminded me that, you know, I don't really consider myself a theater artist. I am personally more comfortable in a music / visual art / party / happening mode of working. It was a very good realization. Warm and tingly.
Right afterward, PLD and I headed to CPR to see the brilliant Jose Munoz give a talk as part of Earl Dax' QueerConscience week.
OK HERE'S THE THING: Dr. Munoz' work, especially his new book Cruising Utopia: The Politics and Performance of Queer Futurity was kind of a perfect counterpoint to Kim Gordon's performance. I feel really connected to what Dr. Munoz describes as being the sort of 'job' of queer performance practice (I am paraphrasing to such an insane extent that I shouldn't even mention his name, but still). Namely, that as marginal members of mass culture, we have the opportunity and responsibility to envision, explore, interrogate and then redefine possible utopian spaces and futures for ourselves and our freaky queer communities. I don't know. I felt very turned-on and very excited about the world this weekend.
Saturday I gave a talk at Queer Conscience with filmmaker Andy Bydalek, which was so great. I am interested in doing more "live interviews". So, keep your eyes peeled. After the talk, Ptrick, Cole, PLD and I went to our lovely friend Ben Rimalower's wonderful birthday party, where we saw many near and dear friends, including Jeffery Self (from 30 rock) and the inimitable Erin Markey. Who is, essentially, the best ever. Scurrying back to Brooklyn, PLD realized he didn't have subway fare so he came in the turnstyle with me. I have never done that in the subway before, but the time I did do it a pair of cops seemed to be waiting for us, and they gave us the maximum ticket you can give someone for this offense. ALL I'M SAYING IS: The MTA has notoriously cooked it's books for years and now NYC citizens have to pay for it, and also FUCK THE POLICE. Anyways. When we finally got onto the train we sat down from this beautiful creature whose ankle posture really summed up how I was feeling.
Glamorous, but broken. Went to the Spank / Homochic party above Public Assembly, then to the Metropolitan, where we ran into Chris from Baby Alpaca. We all went over back to Ben's house where we stayed until fucking 6:30am. What a night.
Here's a photo of me and Chris taken by Earl Dax. We're at Khim's in Wburg, cruising snacks. It's probably four in the morning.
For one thing: I started a Tumblr. Like five years late. That's gonna not have as much text and will be mostly a repository for images. Like a scrapbook. I'll still post relevant images here, too. This will be the print version and that will be the web version and my actual zine is an art object, a period piece. When I referred to the shitty b&w xerox quality of the new Scorcher as a "period piece" recently, Ptrck said, sagely, that it is: "A getting my period piece" which is kind of true.
Anyway, subscribe to that if you like.
Working on some text for new shows. Maybe new shows. Maybe I'm really just becoming a stand-up comic. But what if it's not supposed to be funny and what if it's just true life? What does that make me? A reality star? No. I guess my job is to find a new thing to be. That's not sch a bad lot in life. In fact, that's everybody's job. Whew. I feel less pressure.
Hey here is this amazing video by Sadie Shaw, called "Acting on a Threat". It features Kathi Wilcox whi is a certifiable Style Icon, as well as Carlos from the PeeChees who was one of the first boys I ever consciously hada crush on, in high school. So dreamy. JUST TO NAME DROP: once he came to QxBxRx and I couldn't stop staring at him and I was talking loudly to my friends about how cute I think he is, and a girl standing next to us (who I guess is friends with him) turned around and said how sweet that was and that I should tell him and I was MORTIFIED. But then later as I was go-go dancing onstage he gave me a dollar! I died.
But yeah I woke up and I worked myself immediately into a really shitty mood and I don't know why. I have some clues but I don't want to bother writing about them on this, my personal weblog. My point is, cranky-town party of me. Like this:
But then I feel instantly better cause I am thinking about, now, Kim Gordon. Well, I feel a bit better. I wanted to re-post this poem that Brontez sent me about her:
Help me understand
What it means to be the hot chocolate boy in a band
"All comparisons are insulting" she might say
Don't be like that Kim!
(Im chocolate and im melting)
My reality's turned to a hot fucking mess
I once got stuck in the Dakotas where
The teen girl said she'd prefer me dancing in my underwear
It's not your fault
It's my fault
I sold it too cheap and it all got bought
a pill that reads "famous and poor"
(i think im important cause if i don't- who will?)
Revive my reality with smelling salts, your RIGHTOUS guitar assault
If your records are all the right price- they'll always get bought
I play it with a worn down record needle
Your band has always sounded like the future
I want to sound like the Beatles
I know ITS tired-but im not
You really ought to see my voodoo pot
Im a limitless bag of tricks
I got ways of making you not over it
Now all the white kids in your videos are too fucking skinny
And they're always kissing
(I miss the one with McCaully in it)
Yet still- i sacrifice to the alter of your Goddess
Bless me with all the online hits im missing
Im dumb enough to say whatever i want
Cause i don't think that anyone is listening
Great, huh? I also wanted to post this old article by Kim, because it contains one of my favorite quotes in the world: People pay to see others believe in themselves. Some solace, I guess. Anyways the article is definitely worth revisiting. Thinking about performing, being an audience member / someone seeking entertainment. And also? So fucking excited and glad that Laurie Anderson is releasing a new album, right?
I'M REALLY SCARED WHEN I KILL IN MY DREAMS
by Kim Gordon, Artforum, January 1983
In the spring of 1981 the rock group Public Image Ltd. (PiL) played at the Ritz in New York. That club's movie-scale video screen, which functioned as a barrier and was used to create or motivate the crowd's reaction, was the center of the performance. PiL's three members were projected on the screen, both as shadows (they were lit from behind for the video cameras) and as a video picture. A giant image of John Lydon's face, laughing, appeared, larger than the Wizard of Oz. He began singing, and then the live image was changed to a pre-recorded tape of a demented commercial rock video. Furious at the ghostlike, ritualistic silhouettes of the group behind the screen—instead of, as usual, directly in front of them—the crowd constantly interrupted the music. They barraged the screen with bottles, finally tearing it down. The group hadn't intended to cause a riot; in their words, they were trying something new. They did not want to mechanistically continue the learned role of rock entertainers. As PiL's Keith Levene remarked in an interview in ZigZag magazine in August 1981, "You're more honest putting on a video or sending a video round to do 30 dates, rather than sending a band around to do it ... You're standing up there and saying 'after you've bought my album for so many pounds and heard how great we are now you can stand in front of us and see how great we are....'" PiL has since returned to conventional rock performance.
It is almost necessary for a working rock band on the club circuit to have a booking agent and/or manager. If a club owner deals directly with the band involved, and not with a business peer, then less money is likely to be offered. The large rock clubs in Manhattan all have basically the same policy of dealing with bands. Some of these are real showcases and some are just facades. Mailings are sent out for special evenings; these nights are not actually special, but they do give the appearance of being playgrounds for the art world, thus luring the non-art world to a supposedly chic event for which they will pay. (As in past movements of the avant-garde, these clubs appropriate the "law of assemblage" in the sense that the "real world" and the "art world" become layered.) In order to maintain an elite aura the clubs also offer their space for "art night" parties or video and film parties which are invitational only. By constantly renovating, opening up new floors and redecorating, each club vies for the position of "favored art club," as a yet newer alternative to the art world's alternative spaces. It seems to be what the art world wants. And on the flip side, the video/music nights at the official "alternative spaces" are designed to replicate the lounge atmosphere of the clubs, with monitors and cushions dispersed informally throughout the rooms. Thus symbiotic relationship has almost become a formula for a certain kind of success in both the art and the club worlds.
The club atmosphere does as little for the art that's "crossing over" as it does for the bands, and tends to subordinate the art to the place itself. Even a vision as personal as Jim Fouratt's when he did the booking at another New York club, Danceteria, can quickly turn into exploitive packaging. The support he gave American bands (with a concentration on local, New York City bands), instead of following the safer policy of booking touring English bands, actually did create an alternative club situation for a short while. His notion of art in clubs—as exemplified by this attitude toward the music—did not merely treat art as interior decoration, but allowed art to maintain a certain integrity. The main attraction in the lounge-style clubs is a sort of skyscraper-style sexual voyeurism set up by projections, on different floor, of different eras and stylized "lifestyles."
Whereas in the club scene of the past there have been what were called "Fuck Rooms," now the atmosphere in clubs is often designed to be more one of sublimation, to the point of a sterility that has become a new sort of non-sexual eroticism. The notion of resistance—the withholding of contact between people—is a common state in current clubs. Their atmosphere designs distance—from the art, the music, the other people, and oneself. The use of mirrors elaborates the already present narcissism, and individuals become spectators of themselves. Video monitors are standard design apparatus; the images are there to sustain the customers, as business dealings become mingles with fantasies—sexual, career, or otherwise. The lounge atmosphere makes the clientele feel at home or at the home of someone wealthy, creating a comfortable extravagance typical of small, exclusive private clubs. The images shown on the videos are more or less unseen, and function much like televisions left on. In his discourse on the disappearance of the tragic as caused by the disappearance of the subject in art, and its subsequent reappearance, Manfredo Tafuri states, "The experience of the 'tragic' [in this century] is the experience of the metropolis ..." "The 'intensification of nervous stimulation' induced by the rapid crowding of changing images, the sharp discontinuity in the grasp of a single glance, and the unexpectedness of onrushing impressions,' were interpreted by [Georg] Simmel as the new conditions that generate the blase attitude of the individual of the metropolis...." (from Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development, 1976.) Unlike a decadent "Great Gatsby" lifestyle, these people all pay $5.00 to $15.00 for their pleasure and sexual entertainment. The majority of the bands booked play accessible Dance Oriented Rock.
When you're actually on the stage after dealing with the "rock 'n' roll bullshit" and noticing how the disco sound system is so much louder than the one you're playing through, you pray your instruments don't fall apart and you begin to play. You forget about everything else in the world. You forget how much the pay is and that you're not really playing for enthusiastic young kids but for bored young adults—and it becomes a challenge to try to move them, blow their brains out, put some edge into the atmosphere by using what is now a technologically primitive social tool, the electric guitar.
The club is the mediator or frame through which the music is communicated. The band literally plugs into the technology of the club in order to magnify the sound, turning a possibility into actually, making what is heard by the musicians themselves accessible to an audience. People pay to see others believe in themselves. Maybe people don't know whether they can experience the erotic or whether it exists only in commercials; but on stage, in the midst of rock 'n' roll, many thing happen and anything can happen, whether people come as voyeurs or come to submit to the moment. As a performer you sacrifice yourself, you go through the motions and emotions of sexuality for all the people who pay to see it, to believe that it exists. The better and more convincing the performance, the more an audience can identify with the exterior involved in such an expenditure of energy. Performers appear to be submitting to the audience, but in the process they gain control of the audience's emotions. They begin to dominate the situation through the awe inspired by their total submission to it. Someone who works hard at his or her job is not going to become a "hero," but may make just enough money to be able to afford to be liberated temporarily through entertainment. A performer, however, as the hero, will be paid for being sexually uncontrolled, but will still be at the mercy of the clubs and the way the media shapes identity. How long can someone continue to exert intensity before it becomes mannered and dishonest?
The notion of merging avant-garde and popular culture (multimedia technology) by an artist is found in its most successful form in Laurie Anderson's recent performances. The position that Anderson represents, as one who has transcended the isolation of the art world, involves a different kind of heroics from that of the rock 'n' roll persona, who represents, even if mythically, a sense of real sexuality, real life or death. Anderson's androgynous appearance and mechanical voice create an impression of organized perfection, expressing the ideal as nonsexual. She has created her own atmosphere of mastering and mimicking a technology that is usually mystifying. Wherever she performs, she accomplishes what clubs cannot; she manipulates the audience by the unseen, creating moments that change and move along effortlessly. As in the multimedia presentations of religious organizations and corporate business, Anderson's seduction suggests, "Sit back and relax, don't think, let us do it for, let us show you how." She is identifying with a higher order of technology-power. The technology that creates the conveniences for a certain kind of "survival" (and with that the appearances of life—eroticism, pleasure) within the commodity system is available to scientists, corporate advertising, and other commercial media, but not to artists. In an effort to attain the same degree of authority as that achieved through a technological seduction, the original intent of the art/artist is exchanged for the "other's" ends, that is, for the appropriation of people.
Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious, Darby Crash, and Ian Curtis all died for our sense of "heroics" as opposed to Anderson's conceptual representations of neo-heroics. Using their egos to shape the music—in some cases believing in their media-created image and in others shaping the image themselves, whether or not they believed it—they used that image to destroy, within their own framework, the standard of what had gone before, giving rise to new forms. The audience paid to see them do this, as well as to witness the destruction of the artists' own lives—the illusory freedom becoming an actual freedom....
Anyways, I had a really good breakfast this morning and then this fact occured to me so I figured I'd play a round of my favorite game, Y'KNOW WHAT I LOVE?. Okay so for today (MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU, AND ALSO WITH YOU):
Y'KNOW WHAT I LOVE?: THAT KELLEY DEAL IS ADDICTED TO MOUNTAIN DEW
Also, check out what I got in the mail yesterday from my buddy Darin Klein!
21st Century Queer Artists Identify Themselves, a ‘zine by and about queer artists living and working in the 21st Century. A resource for sharing information and educating ourselves and our peers. A guide to identifying, contacting and inspiring each other. Artists from from around the world were invited, and 59 participants answered the call, each producing 100 standard size copies of images and/or texts documenting or representing their work. Contributors were instructed to include biographical info, web and email addresses and artist statements on the backside. The pages were collated alphabetically and stapled together. The result: 100 ‘zines including all the submissions, released to the public tonight at the Queer Pile-up!I can't tell you how fucking excited, honored, jazzed, whatever, to be including in this zine. It's kind of unreal. So many really rad artists included, familiar and new faces. I am going to contact each and every one. Yowza. Also so fucking excited that thanks to an alphabetical coincidence, my page is right behind the legendary Jen Smith's. I was just blogging about Jen last week, she sort of invented riot grrrl, is kind of my hero, yadda yadda. Is it a sign? Maybe. Possibly.
‘Zine contributors: Adam J. Ansell, Brent Armendinger, Eden Batki, Christopher Baughman, Jennifer Blowdryer, bodega vendetta, Erich Bollmann, George Bolster, Kathrin Burmester, Enrique Castrejon, osvaldo cibils, Kelly Cline, Tracy Dishman, Drew Dunlap, Kelly Eginton, Deanna Erdmann, Edie Fake, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Brian Gainey, Paul Gellman, Abel Baker Gutierrez, Michael Hayden, Kate Hoffman, Onya Hogan-Finlay, Larissa Brantner James, Dave Jones, Dawn Kasper, Hedi El Kholti, Darin Klein, David LeBarron, Anthony Lepore, Matt Lipps, Marget Long, Ian Mackinnon, Lucas Michael, Joanne Mitchell, Sharon Molloy, Ali Naschke-Messing, Amir Nikravan, Maria E. Piñeres, Joshua Ploeg, Andrew Printer, prvtdncr, Steven Reigns, Christopher Russell, Jimena Sarno, Daniela Sea, Zachary Sharrin, Cedar Sigo & John Huston, Jen Smith, Max Steele, Margaret Tedesco, Elysa Voshell, Jim Winters, Suzanne Wright, The Yes Men, Joe Yorty, Austin Young.
I don't know how many of these zines are left, but you can check out the fabulous Darin Klein and see what he is up to, maybe he will send you one. I have one which I am keeping in my bedroom, so if you want to come over and check it out you can, but you checking it out has to happen (the way so much of my art practice does) in my bedroom. Just a warning. Just a caveat.
Speaking of caveats, when I was little I always conflated the words "caveat" and "caviar". Did anyone else? So in my mind, only very rich, very beautiful and very mean ladies with their hair pulled in extra tight buns, wearing black, eat caviar. And similarly, only those same iconic 80s mean females employ logic which hinges on a caveat. Obviously, idolization. Also obviously, I've grown up into something of a vegan, so I don't eat caviar but I do seem to susbsist on caveats. Does that make any sense? Maybe not.
Anyways tonight I have practice for my new band B0DY H1GH, with PLD, who as you should know, has moved his blog to Tumblr. (Should I move my blog there? Can someone help me make a website that links Tumblr and this blog? Someone? Probably not until Mercury turns direct, I guess). Regardless, here are some songs I've been super duper digging extra deep grooves into, dancing in the kitchen last night while I was cooking, thinking about B0DY H1GH and sounds and vibes we employ. But like, the boyscout versions of these songs, maybe. And a little bit meaner, tougher.
I want to paint my fingernails either orange or brown.
I really felt it this weekend. Specifically this thing of thinking you know what you want, and the thing of dealing with disappointment, of rolling with punches.
Did what I think is going to be a really great photo shoot with my friend Christian. Sort of a Jean-Paul Goude effect (in my mind-- I haven't seen the pictures yet and my imagination works, as we now know, overtime). Saturday night was the return of the JUDY! party. What is there for me to say about this legendary dance party? I feel like so much of NYC 'nightlife' for lack of a better world (tho I am implicitly referring to the culture of artists in NYC: musicians, performers, writers, visual artists, promoters, downtown, queer, drag, radical, etc.) is often stuck in this trope of the constantly disappearing NYC nightlife. This is incidentally also the way in which certain queer identities are often discussed. Anyways, it has been such a wonderful privilege to be able to be here in NYC for the beginning of the Judy! party. The kids who throw it (Ben, Brian, Gabriel and Mikki) are really invested in making something that is inclusive, productive, and generative. As opposed to, say, something exclusive, limited, precious, destructive. It's been a year since the last Judy! party and this weekend it really lived up to my expectations. Lots of dancing and all other forms of socializing. Here's a picture of it:
Can you spot Billy?
Sunday morning basically revolved around my hangover. That, the wonderful sunshine, and me dancing in my room. I downloaded this really amazing DJ set by Lady Kier, Lickerish Radio's Feb 2010 DJ Set which you can download here. It's a couple of months old, but really right-on. Lady Kier is such a genius.