People Beautiful

Had a good, recreational weekend. Lots of fun and killing time. Not a lot of stress. Not a lot of anxiety, it didn't feel like, which was a good change. I was killing time and I wandered into an overpriced vintage store, and this song was playing:

I guess I'm sort of getting into the Andrews Sisters. This morning there was a guy on the train-- he's sometimes on the L during the morning rush hour, often yelling about Christianity and the sins of homosexuality. The sin of not following Gods Plan for your gender. It reminded me of this video Juliana Luecking made starring Johanna Fateman. from her People are a Trip series:

I also wish I had a crazy religion I could sing about. As if to compete? This morning the guy on the train had a new routine. He was harping pretty hard on weed, on pleasure. He kept reiterating how when you get to Hell, you'll retain all five of your senses. And that Hell is a torture of all five senses. Like, implying that Hell would smell really bad, would taste bad, or something. I never think of that when I think of Hell. I wasn't raised Christian, so I haven't really thought much about Hell, or, for that matter, Heaven.

Talking about imagining Hell and Heaven, though, reminds me of this performance and speech. Marilyn Manson makes a good point here, as he so often did back in the day:

This weekend I was at Metropolitan for this party, and a group of really dressed-up (very Fashionable) young boys were shyly but enthusiastically going assez-JAMBON on the makeshift dancefloor when this song came on. Isn't that nuts? I told my friends, I never in a million years thought this would be my life. I wanted to say: dear 13 year-old Max. Someday you'll be at a gay bar in Brooklyn and you'll see porn stars and twinks dancing really hard to "The Beautiful People/" Unbelievable.

Usually, if we're dancing to Beautiful People, it's the Barbara Tucker song:

Or, the Hardrive song that samples it:

Thinking about Manson and how he cuts a bit of a different figure these days.

Over the weekend was some fun understanding. I wanna go into details but I feel like it'd be uncouth.

Maybe I should say that I was both disappointed and thrilled, angry and happy at the same time. Yesterday was pretty perfect. I woke up (hungover), went to the gym, had brunch with Spooky aka Joseph Keckler whom I miss and love very much, and then went to see William Johnson and Nayland Blake read at the Bower Poetry Club. Sister Pico joined me, it was lovely. I went window shopping and met up with PLD when she got off work. I came home and vigorously cleaned my room, ordered take-out, watched anime and hand-washed my designed denim before passing out. I feel okay. I'm really to show you.

That's the funny and fucked up thin about so-called "beautiful people" right? Is that everyone is beautiful if you look long enough. Ugliness is a myth.



Lana Del Rey might not be a Feminist but I do think she is a Buddhist. I mean, I think she's a Feminist, too. I'm actually not that into men saying what is or isn't Feminism. I think Feminism can be understood to be something you do, rather than something you are. And Lana Del Rey doesn't want to do that. We could say that Feminism is about seeing and knowing that women are human beings, and Lana Del Rey says she's not interested in that. Then what, we might wonder, is interested in? People, she says. It's always about meeting the right person, being so fascinated by the people she meets. Strangers, lovers, whoever. She is endlessly interested in, gestures towards disappearing into other people. She's fascinated and obsessed with understanding people. Meeting someone who understands her. Being unguarded, vulnerable around other people. This seems to me a kind of Buddhist way of thinking. She may not believe that women are people but she does seem to believe that Buddhas are people, that all people have the ability to achieve understanding, and through the connection forged by understanding, transcendence.

In that recent interview with the Guardian:
Del Rey likes to describe the more tumultuous periods of her life in romantic terms: she says she'd often spend her nights wandering around New York – "West Side Highway, Lower East Side, parts of Brooklyn" – meeting strangers and seeing where the night took them. "I was inspired by Dylan's stories of meeting people and making music after you met them. I met a lot of singers, painters, bikers passing through. They were friends, or sometimes more. All people I was really interested in on impact." 
It sounds pretty dangerous. 
"Yeah, I was lucky, but I also have strong intuition." 
Does she still do it? 
Does anyone ever say: "Hang on … you're Lana Del Rey!" 
"Sometimes they do. About half the time they do, half the time they don't. If they know who I am I can just leave, or I say it's not a big deal, I'm just a singer." 
Are they not surprised to see you out wandering the streets? 
"If I'm in LA then maybe. If I'm in Omaha, maybe not." 
When she was 18, Del Rey's darker experiences – she has talked about being alcoholic – prompted her to take up outreach work helping those addicted to drugs or alcohol. It's something she describes as her true calling and something she still does when she gets the chance. 
"I live in Koreatown on the edge of Hancock Park [in LA], so I do different things where and when I can. It's not just people with mental illness on the streets, but also people who, throughout the years, have lost identification information, that sort of thing. And I know what to do, I know how I can help, because I was that person."
She sees the good in everyone, she wants to know what everyone is like. If she feels recognized she can "just leave, or say it's not a big deal, she's just a singer." Isn't the image of Lana wandering around, just meeting people, interesting? She feels unbound to any situation, because she has good intuition. She wants to help drug addicted indigents because she was that person.

Is Lana Del Rey the Great American Buddhist Pop Star?

The thing of the Prince, the trust-fund kid who comes into contact with death, with aging, with disease and poverty, then becomes an ascetic in search of enlightenment. This could roughly be Lana's story too. I mean no disrespect to anyone's belief system or religion in asking this. I'm serious though-- if we can see that the possibility for cultivating Buddha-nature exists in everyone, I'd imagine it exists for Lana Del Rey, and that her exploration of it, conscious or not, regardless of what she calls it, can be recognized as such.

And the cool thing is, becoming famous isn't the same as enlightenment. She's totally ambivalent about her position in the world. She says in that interview that she wishes she was dead already. That she hasn't enjoyed being a pop star or being famous at all.  I think that's good. I don't think it's good when pop stars are pretending to be miserable, or celebrating misery. She's not doing that. She's just saying that being famous isn't an end in an of itself, it's not the same thing as being at peace, or happy, or content. Being famous, being "known" is not the same thing as knowledge. It's not a big deal, she's just a singer. She's making music about, you know, people "on impact".

She's trying to understand mortality. She reminds us, as you must know, that we are Born to Die.

A quote from Siddhartha Gautama in the Dhammapada:
Pare ca na vijananti
mayamettha yamamase
ye ca tattha vijananti
tato sammanti medhaga.
"People, other than the wise, do not realize, "We in this world must all die," (and, not realizing it, continue their quarrels). The wise realize it and thereby their quarrels cease."

Thus far, not much of Lana Del Rey's work seems to be about settling quarrels so much as realizing that we must die. This is an important part of the message but it's not the only part. I hope she sticks around to tell us about settling quarrels.


Three Nine

I'm wearing a tight t-shirt. This shirt from that awful boutique with the sexist ads and the 70s nostalgia. I used to wear this shirt at least twice a week. That's the thing; I hold onto shit forever. It's tight. Is it that I've gained weight? Has the shirt shrunk? Maybe I just used to wear tighter clothing as matter of course.

I was reading my Astrobarry horoscope yesterday and it said that good news was on the way and to sit tight until next week. What a nice thought. Who doesn't like good luck.

And yesterday I felt like things were oddly going well. I was surprised to hear from you. To hear back. A pleasant surprise. This weekend was a killer, a good one.

Thursday night I performed at T.B.A. at Bizarre. It was a very cute show, hosted by Merrie Cherry. I sang a slow, "Reggae" version of Kylie's "Breathe", introducing it as a song about sex advice. I mean.

At the end of my song, I said "Give it up for Merrie Cherry you guys!" Because she had introduced me and was the host. No. In fact the NEXT announcer was someone else, who began with "Give it up for Max Steele! I'm not Merrie Cherry, but give it up for..." And introduced the next performer. But the ANNOUNCER hadn't been introduced. I fucked up the introductions. Is this a drag show thing? How did I not get this? It felt like the one thing I could possibly have fucked up. That, and the song. I think people felt ok about my performance. I always think that, so I made MAPPLETHORPE to be this thing of, like, expanding the space for doubt. So in a way, if you're not into the song, that's kind of okay and kind of the correct response and you're kind of rewarded for that. I don't know if any or everyone gets it, what I'm doing. But you never know, so. I hung out at Bizarre a while then came home to have a nightcap with Miss Jessica Paps.

Friday I went to the gym and lazily tidied up around my room, taking naps and feeling good. I met up with PLD and Lola and we went to Xara's art opening near the house. We caught the fever to see the fireworks so Lola and I went to her old apartments roof to try to see. We sort of saw them, and definitely saw everyone else's fireworks. It was like EVERYONE had fireworks. All these rooftop explosions. After the roof Lola and I and her lil sister's new room mate met up with The Other Max at Ryan and Matthew's amazing house. They had fantastic punch and I had a lot. Plus champagne. Ok. Them we went to Lester's birthday party at a bar called The Bar. It was a dance party. There were lasers. There were these fancy margaritas with watermelon ice cubes, it was weird. I didn't wait for the ice cube to melt into an edible piece of watermelon but I probably could have. I also saw a boy with this adorable backpack there:

SO cute, right? OK so then R from SF, Other Max, and Lola and I took a car to 11:11 in the City. We talked about how the basement dance floor, through the secret door, is so cool and weird. And kind of scary! It's a tiny very dark room in an unlit basement with no windows. Other Max said it felt like a death trap sometimes. But there's AC and great music and more lazers, so it's fun so we went. We got there and paid the shameful cover charge and hung out upstairs because the basement wasn't ready yet. Saw Neon at her Bottle Table. Said hello to all the kids. They had a live drummer. It was a cute fun time.

Eventually they let us into the basement. That part was fun and crowded/sexy, until someone lit off a 4th of July Sparkler IN THE BASEMENT. I actually blocked this out and had to be reminded about it the next day. Why was it a big deal? Oh yeah-- because it was a tiny basement secret room full of drunk people with no windows or anything and there were sparklers going off. Crazy and wild, indeed. We all had our fill right around then, and some poor soul, doubtlessly raised by wolves (and very impolite wolves) happened to cut Miss Lola in line for the ladies room.

Well. Folks should know better than that. She lit into him and rightly so and chased him out of the club and into a cab. Fearsome and righteous and my hero! We all walked to the train home.

Saturday I woke up, I went to the gym, I went to Vanessa's Dumplings, I watered the houseplants, I visited the cats I'm catsitting, and I went to go look at the sale at Dover Street Market. Nothing I could afford to afford. I want all of the GANRYU everything. I wish they had the denim. I want the GANRYU denim, and the sharkskin printed t-shirts. Who cares. Went to a BBQ at Opinion Gallery and saw tons of cute fun kids, Neon and Juliana on the grill, well into the night. I ate some kebabs and had some drinks. Epic Bed-Stuy roof, tons of music and laughs. Good times, you know? Other Max and I went to this party nearby, BE CUTE. Indeed it was, full of cute queer weirdos from other parts of Brooklyn besides Williamsburg. Stayed there for longer than I would have wanted to, went to GAG! at Metropolitan and stayed there as well long than I initially would have thought. Got (surprise surprise) a Hana sandwich and passed out.

Sunday I did cat duty then spent the day hanging out with Miss Jiddy No No. We had Apferol spritzes and Negronis and wandered around Bushwick, getting outdoor drinks and processing our feelings. Perfect and lazy and lovely. I came home and watched Galaxy Express 999.

Last night I went to Hot Fruit to see deer heart Joey Hansom of the band GODMOTHER who's visiting from Berlin. He performed three songs and definitely knocked my socks off. Really really fantastic music. I went to bed much later than I normally do (on a Monday!) but feel kind of ok for it. Going to go to cat duty for the last night, then go out to dinner, and try to get up at 5am tomorrow to go to the gym again before work.

I'm in a weird, unlucky mood. But also feel kind of excited, about some other things, too, so.



I'm doing a fun show tonight at Bizarre in Bushwick. It's called TBA and it's hosted by Merrie Cherry. The other performers tonight are Charlene, Sparklez, Aja Nicole Marie, Rify Royalty, Boy Georgia, DJ OTTER. I'm really excited to perform at this, with such cool people. I'm going to be doing a short sex workshop and then singing a classic gay anthem which is also a reggae song about bottoming. It's a new number I've never done before. I think the cover is like $5 and it's suggested donation and you should come! It'll be cute.

Here's a flyer for the show:

Someone (hopefully jokingly) referred to me online as a sex symbol. I thought "Oh God." I thought "That's fucked up." There's no response to this. I'm flattered and flabbergasted. It's that picture, a photo taken by Sebastian Kim of yrs truly, for Interview. As any regular reader of this blog probably knows. This photo, above, is a classic Throwback Thursday. I feel like I kind of look the same, right? Maybe not. This photo is five years old. It's actually older; it didn't come out until 2009 but it was taken in 2008, right before my 24th birthday. That's an important detail, because in order to be in the magazine's "Discoveries" section, in order to be a "Discovery" you had to be under 24 years old. And I was just barely under 24 years old when the photo was taken. By two days. I'm obviously hesitant to put too much stock in anything, but suffice it to say that this photo was a cool picture of me to have out in the world, and also kind of fictionalized and magickally unreal. That outfit, for example, I didn't choose. They had pulled a really cute Jil Sander look from the Fall 2008 collection for me but it didn't fit. So we went with this look, about which the photographer said "Depeche Mode". It was cute. I loved it. It's kind of fake, and if I am a sex symbol it's because of this photo, maybe. Or maybe this photo was because I was a sex symbol, I was go-go dancing at the time. And writing Scorcher. If I am a sex symbol it's because I believe in the aesthetic value of disappointment. Of disappointing men. I advertise myself a certain way. No, I don't advertise so much as refuse to correct people. Guys. At least initially. You think you can have sex with me, but you can't. And the anger you feel about it-- that anger feels righteous, but it's not. Or, maybe it used to be, but it's not anymore. I'm here to tell you.

Punk is about destroying symbols, codes, conventions. Replacing them with new ones too, of course, eventually, but the breaking down is the genesis. Chaos is the creation myth.

If I'm a sex symbol it's because I'm really angry. I'm seething. If I'm a sex symbol then it's for the wrong reasons. If I'm a sex symbol, then it's hollow. If I'm a sex symbol then anyone could be one, it's purely circumstantial, meaningless. If I'm a sex symbol then it's up for grabs, because I like to share (at least with my friends). If I'm a sex symbol then there's no hope for any of us. If I'm a sex symbol then there's no such thing. If I'm a sex symbol then Pinocchio. If I'm a sex symbol then


Where'd you put it?

Oh Gepetto

Poor boy


Chick-a-Cherry Cola Lime

Kinda obsessed with Lana Del Rey's new record. I wasn't so interested in her before but now I am. I'm really into how much of a weirdo she is, as a cultural figure. Like, she kind of disappeared, from America at least, over the last two years, and now she's back with a new record, and it's great, and she's in a bad fucking mood. In a recent interview with the Guardian, she says: "I wish I was dead already." I saw some people online say that this is irresponsible of a pop star to say, that she's encouraging people to kill themselves. I'm not so sure of that, but I'm not in her (or anyone's) demo. I think it's pretty interesting that she is portraying a fundamental ambivalence. She's ambivalent about being a pop star, a singer, an artist. She's ambivalent about being alive at all. That's kind of freaky, right? Like even someone like Lana Del Rey, who is young and talented and successful and beautiful, even someone who has it all, the way she does, she still feels like she wants to die. Okay, so maybe being a pop star isn't a salve for wishing you were dead. I suppose I already knew that? I feel like this is an important reminder, she's giving us. She also talks about wandering the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Omaha, just meeting strangers and seeing where they take her.

My favorite song on Ultraviolence is "Florida Kilos." But you know, it's like one of those things where your favorite song changes all the time/over time. Here's the B0DYH1GH remix:

Reading on the toilet in New York Magazine the article on the life and mostly death of Steve Crohn. I fucking hate this shit: the article seems to imply that for an aging gay man in New York City who does not have money, who doesn't have a fancy job or some hot-shit sexy career, maybe, for those people, suicide is an option. This article is irresponsible and disgusting. It reminded me of the piece on the suicide of the self-help therapist Bob Bergeron in the Times a couple years ago.

This thing of not being up to the task of living. Of romanticizing suicide and death. This thing of romanticizing loneliness. It seems like suicide, at least in these two articles, is the logical conclusion for the loneliness and isolation of being queer, being an old queer. This thing of, well, you're not cute or young or rich so what use is there in being alive? I think maybe I'm projecting a little bit because I'm none of those things and am furious at the idea that I'd be better off killing myself. It's as painfully obscene an idea as I can think of and all the more painful and threatening for the air of inexorability with which we talk about queer suicide. Of course, we say. Finding out another queer person has killed themselves, people say "of course". This is the wrong way to talk about death, the wrong way to understand suicide. We're on the wrong side of it, so I guess we can't understand it.

I am trying to articulate why I like it when Lana Del Rey talks about wanting to be dead, and why I dislike it when actual people die. I guess it's about the role of art, the role of curiosity, the fake social aspect. The actual community tragedy aspect.

I was thinking to myself recently that there really is a time, was a time, when things used to be different. I was at the gym yesterday thinking about some memory that seemed so long ago but was probably just a few years ago. "Oh," I thought "that was back when I used to have feelings like a normal person."

Is it possible to ruin something by association? Is it possible to save something by association. TIME: I think, THE SONG SAVER. or MEMORY: THE SONG RUINER. I'm always struck by how my experience of music is so radically transformed by where and when I heard something, who it reminds me of, etc. For example, I hadn't heard this remix until recently:

You know, that can't be true. I must have heard it at some point. Somewhere. I've certainly heard the original. But now I like this song. Now this song means something to me, I guess.

Sunday was pride and I played a cute show ta the Bureau. I sand Taja Sevelle's "Love is Contagious" after claiming it as a 1980s AIDS-related Queer Anthem. I got to tell Jim Fouratt thank you for rioting at Stonewall all those years ago. I had a nice time. I ran into Caroline and Jessie at a bar afterward. I didn't go out Sunday night. Pride is always kind of a let-down for me. I pretty much always have a bad time. I don't do good with enforced fun. I always feel excluded, every day pretty much, so on that day I feel even more excluded. I didn't have the cash to party like a madman anyway. Nor the energy.

Saturday I did a reading at Popsickle during the day, and hung out with Teebs and Kayla and we drank rose at her friend's uncles apartment in Dumbo. The reading went ok I guess. Mostly a straight crowd. No one came up to me to tell me anything afterward. People don't have to like me, it's okay. I was really really hungover. After my reading I went to the Bureau to see a bill where Teebs was reading. Lots of cute people there. Hung out with some cool art girls and kind of flirted with this boy, but like I found out he already knew a bunch of people I know. Later on in the night, I buried one hatched. I feel good. I felt good about feeling good with someone. Twice on Saturday I introduced myself to people and they were like "Max....?" waiting for my last name.

I feel like a crazy person. I feel like maybe people think of me in a certain way, in certain ways. They think of me as Max Steele. I don't know what these associations are. Even if they tell me. I feel like I never get to be a person. Sometimes it's positive associations, sometimes now. Almost always it feels like it has nothing to do with me. So it makes it hard, in a way, to meet people. To try to get to know someone.

Because they say they know me already. They already know about me.
Twice in the last month I tried to ask people out, who declined. It was a weird thing where they seemed to allude to something about me as the reason but wouldn't say what it was. That I'm a performer. That I'm Max Steele. Can't you just say that you think I'm stupid, that you think I'm unattractive, that you don't like my art or my sense of humor. Why does it have to be this vague thing of me just being inherently unworthy. Why does it have to be a thing that I should somehow already know about, right?

This is all to say that on Friday night I got really drunk and really dark. I was in a bad motherfucking mood. I wanted to play that show so bad, and I wasn't asked to. And I could have bullied my way onto the bill, and kind of almost did, but it was more trouble than it was worth. I really wanted to be invited, by someone, somewhere. And I was, but it didn't feel like enough. Do you ever see the darkness coming? I saw it. I said: "Ok here comes a bad mood" and it sure did. I ended the night with friends though, drinking to excess, kissing and saying nice things to each other. Everything seemed fine. People were trying to be nice to me.

But I felt dark and bad and ugly. I felt heartbroken in my heart.
It's been a rough springtime. And the springtime has lasted many years now.

And I keep hearing new songs and falling in love with them and then ruining them. And then rediscovering old songs.

Thursday I went to Mattachine and I danced a lot and I felt good, then. I didn't feel so bad. And so now it's been almost a week and I'm almost all better. I'm afraid to admit what hurts or what I want because I'm worried it could manifest itself or be used against me. All I want, though, is to be included, to have someone like me or want to spend time with me. I think I maybe give off a different impression: that I'm aloof, that I don't care, that I'm mean. Do you know me? Those aren't true things.

Tonight I'm going to go hang out with some cats and then I'm going to a poetry reading and I'm going to hug my friends and I'm not going to be scared of being alone tonight.

I went to the gym this morning and I was late because I was looking for an mp3 of that Bjork remix and I couldn't find one.