“Wilde’s affected aestheticism was for him merely an ingenious cloak to hide, while half revealing, what he could not let be seen openly … Here, as almost always, and often even without the artist’s knowing it, it is the secret of the depths of his flesh that prompts, inspires, and decides…
Wilde’s plays reveal, beside the surface witticisms, sparkling like false jewels, many oddly revelatory sentences of great psychological interest. And it is for them that Wilde wrote the whole play––let there be no doubt about it…
Try to let some understand what one has an interest in hiding from all. As for me, I have always preferred frankness. But Wilde made up his mind to make of falsehood a work of art. Nothing is more precious, more tempting, more flattering than to see in the work of art a falsehood and, reciprocally, to look upon falsehood as a work of art… This artistic hypocrisy was imposed on him… by the need of self-protection.
— André Gide, on Oscar Wilde, from The Journals of André Gide
“On ne découvre pas de terre nouvelle sans consentir à perdre de vue, d’abord et longtemps, tout rivage.”
“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.“
― André Gide
This film follows former Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV leader, our beloved Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his partner Lady Jaye through their “Pandrogyne” project, where they sought to become two parts of the same person through body modification surgery. It is crazy, and amazing, and a genuinely touching portrait of real love
Based on John Geiger’s book Chapel of Extreme Experience, Nik Sheehan’s FLicKeR is a fascinating voyage into the life of artist and mystic Brion Gysin and his legendary invention the dream machine, a device that projects stroboscopic light, provoking a “drugless high” and cinematic hallucinations. In this Hot Docs world premiere Sheehan captures the dynamic, supernatural world of Gysin, the queer cultural terrorist who fused science, magic and art to expand human consciousness and transcend material reality.
Gysin’s biography is difficult to condense, but he grew up in Edmonton before reinventing himself as a bohemian globetrotter who went on to become the unacknowledged genius behind some of the most interesting developments in the 20th-century avant-garde. He died in 1986. Sheehan casts him as a radical artist intent on harnessing “the visionary potential of light” (as Geiger puts it) to revolutionary ends. Gysin was not a man but, like the machine, a way of perceiving the world — pure energy. He even tried to make himself invisible.
“It’s incredible that nobody’s made this film before,” says Sheehan, whose previous credits include God’s Fool about writer Scott Symons and the groundbreaking AIDS documentary No Sad Songs.
“I was surprised how anxious people were to open up and talk about Gysin because people have so many different views of him.” What is so compelling about FLicKeR is that Gysin remains mysterious and ephemeral throughout, no amount of talking could ever explain him.
Sheehan’s film is populated with a who’s who of pundits, countercultural figures and Gysin confidantes, reminding you that rock ‘n’ roll has always gone hand in hand with the most out-there shit: Marianne Faithfull, Iggy Pop, Kenneth Anger and Genesis P-Orridge all wax poetic on Gysin, magic and their most memorable trips, as do younger devotees like Lee Ranaldo and DJ Spooky. How did Sheehan land all these stellar interviewees? “That’s the magical question,” quips Sheehan. “It’s a very interesting group; they go back a long time. And because they’re cult figures they’ve obviously built up all these defences. So it was a very complicated and long and dedicated effort to bring everybody online.”
The film is also chock full of brilliant archival footage, particularly of Gysin, his art and his intensely fruitful and influential collaborations with William S Burroughs. We visit the “Beat Hotel” in Paris where these seditious kooks built a poor-man’s lab to transform the world through all manner of strange experiments in perception. “That’s one of the things about Gysin and Burroughs and these guys, it’s this combination of the silly and the sublime,” Sheehan says. “We have to remember how incredibly brave they were. They did not accept what society was offering — it was all lies. And they were very moral, good people in their way. With Nazi Germany they saw what could happen to a government [if] we get a little too trusting.
“That element of rebellion has something really serious.”
Sheehan feels Gysin’s gayness was fundamental. “A shaman to me is always a pansexual being,” says the gay Canadian filmmaker. “These guys all came out of that period where queer was really hardcore, it was part of their radical art — and of course it was illegal.”
Sheehan says his film “wasn’t so much a biography of Gysin or a story of the dream machine as a story of the dream machine as a biography of Gysin — the way the two fuse together. I think [the producers] were expecting it was just going to be this cute story about this spinning little machine, not these crazy queer mystics.
“The dream machine is [Gysin’s] ultimate work, this end-of-art thing that went beyond something you made to something you created individually in your own head.”
One challenge that Sheehan encountered was how to represent this internal, neurological phenomenon on screen, so there are many shots of people pressed up close to the device, eyes closed, narrating their experiences in ecstatic tones. It calls to mind Eric Emerson in Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls who just “groove[s] on myself” as coloured lights play over his body, a transcendence through narcissism. The dream machine isn’t much to look at — sort of like a twirling lampshade — so you have to take people’s word for it. But whether you can imagine what they are seeing or not, the ideas behind the machine are what matter.
“One of the things I really wanted to do is put things in the present tense, to give it some relevance,” says Sheehan. “The idea of trying to build a machine to change your world, we’re doing that all the time, aren’t we?
“The Beats came to fruition in the late ‘50s in the Eisenhower years where the world was petrified by the bomb and conformity was everything. Well, where are we now? We live in this time when we recently had this rightwing American government, which turned into a torture state. There are weird parallels. It was the old message: Don’t trust the man, he doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. And the dream machine is the perfect metaphor for this: Get rid of television, get rid of cinema, make your own inner movie, be your own person.”
In its enthusiasm for this long-gone cultural moment and its most beguiling catalyst, FLicKeR has great poignancy. At one point P-Orridge suggests that the control that Gysin and his comrades were fighting against is now diffuse and all-pervasive, and that rather than deserving to be liberated by the ultimate mind trip, the inert public now “deserve to have their bottoms smacked.”
‘What better inspiration could an artist ask for than a bunch of amazing drag queens? They’re stylish, sexy, and sickening! My work captures the fierce personalities and performances of those fabulous fake ladies in a clean, classic style.’
With their larger-than-life presences and glittery costumes, the gender-bending stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race are the perfect subjects for portraiture. Illustrator and comics artist Chad Sell, best known for his his collaboration with Logo on RPDR webcomics, and his work on the upcoming iOS game Dragopolis, pays awesome, witty tribute to the ladies in an extensive series that captures his favorite contestants’ finest moments.
I Want Your Love, is the first feature film directed by Travis Matthews. It follows the first sexual relationship two male best friends embark upon one night in San Francisco, before one of them leaves for the American Midwest.
I Want Your Love was meant to be screened at gay film festivals in Australia, at the end of a global festival tour, but the board has banned it from being shown anywhere in the country.
James Franco recently collaborated with this film’s director, on a film that explores sex as a story-telling tool in addition to censorship and personal, sexual and creative boundaries, Interior. Leather bar. A short film which premiered at Sundance festival. It is based on the 1980 gay film Cruising, which had 40 minutes of graphic sex scenes cut, and aims to explore the representation of gay sex and censorship.
Franco criticised the Board in a YouTube video, saying adults should be allowed to choose what they watch. He said: “I don’t know why in this day and age something like this, a film that’s using sex not for titillation but to talk about being human, is being banned.”
Matthews issued a statement on the ban, saying that he wasn’t “shying away from sex” in the film. He added that he used sex “as a tool to show character development, interpersonal issues, intimacy, playfulness and something overall closer to the reality I’m familiar with.”
Six months ago the Board allowed Donkey Love, a documentary about a Colombian folk tradition where men have sex with donkeys to prepare them for relationships with women, to screen at film festivals in Sydney and Melbourne.
A petition to remove the ban already has over 2,500 signatures. Aimed at Lesley O’Brien, director of the Australian Classification Board, it says that while the film contains “actual sex, it is shown within a non-violent, intelligent and artistic narrative.”
In January 1985 Leigh Bowery started the now infamous poly-sexual Thursday disco club night “Taboo”. Originally an underground venture, it quickly became London’s Studio 54, only much wilder, extremely more fashionable, and without the masses of celebrities – although these came flocking in later. For everyone stepping through the doors it was a truly unforgettable experience.
Mark Davies wrote a book which later became a stage musical with lyrics by Boy George, and music by George and Kevan Frost.
Set in an abandoned London warehouse, the partly imagined story takes place in the location of what was the city’s most fashionable nightclub, the now-legendary Taboo (1985–87) of the title. Boy George is featured as one of the club’s regulars. The show also focuses on George’s life prior to and after achieving fame.
The show premiered in London’s West End at the Venue Theatre on January 29, 2002. Now in September 2012, Director Christopher Renshaw revived the show in a “site specific” form in Brixton Clubhouse in South London. The production was based on the original show with book by Mark Davies, but included several changes to the original soryline.
In this revival, Sam Buttery plays iconic 80s performance artist Leigh Bowery in Taboo, the story of bill-topping performers who defined a generation, including Steve Strange from Visage, the indefinable phenomenon that was Leigh Bowery, the one-man entrepreneur extraordinaire Philip Sallon. And then of course, there’s Boy George, travelling from squat to super-stardom from rock to rock bottom. The show interweaves some fantastical facts of the 80s with a classic love story of ambition, passion and betrayal.
Watch below a documentary about the FABULOUS Leigh Bowery and the original Taboo for your enjoyment. Shown during the spring of 1986 while Leigh Bowery was running his infamous nightclub Taboo, this documentary put Leigh on the map. A witty, provocative and inspiring film that includes a Bodymap fashion show, rare footage of Taboo, and interviews with Michael Clark and Lana Pillay, this documentary also reminds us what Leigh was like before he met Lucian Freud.
In high school, Michael Lucid was an artsy, friendly kid who floated around from one campus clique to the next. “I was more approachable and kids felt comfortable talking to me,” he says of his time at Santa Monica’s Crossroads School, where he graduated in 1996.
Because Lucid was likeable and trustworthy, his teenage peers granted him the kind of insider access into their lives that most filmmakers only dream about capturing on film. Filmmakers like Larry Clark (Kids, Wassup Rockers), Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) and Penelope Spheeris (Decline of Western Civilization, Suburbia) all launched their careers by making films that depicted the harsh realities of American teenagers’ lives, but Lucid had an advantage over all of these filmmakers: he was himself a high schooler when he shot his gritty, painfully intimate documentary Dirty Girls, which has now become an instant cult sensation ever since it was uploaded to Youtube this month.
It was initially shot by a 17-year-old during the course of just two school days. Maybe you’ve seen the still frame of two messy-haired young girls being interviewed in a high school auditorium — an image that’s become ubiquitous after having been reblogged thousands of times by fans on Tumblr.
Lucid’s short documentary starts out with the following text: “In Spring of 1996, my senior year of high school, I documented a group of 8th grade girls who were notorious for their crass behavior and allegedly bad hygiene.…” The eighth grade girls he’s referring to are the film’s eponymous dirty girls, a clique of feminist riot grrrls led by sisters Amber and Harper, who became campus legends when they put on a punk rock show at the school’s beginning-of-year “alley party” and smeared lipstick all over their faces. Lucid remembers the performance being provocative and angry, so much so that it sparked an ongoing flurry of gossip — and the coining of the term “dirty girls” — that continued throughout the school year of ’96.
That Dirty Girls is Lucid’s biggest Internet success is ironic, considering his day job writing, performing and uploading web videos for World of Wonder, the production company behind shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and features like The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Party Monster. And, in an oddly fitting twist of fate, he’s returned to interviewing and reporting — but through his drag persona, Damiana Garcia, whom he refers to as “an intrepid lady reporter,” appearing in World of Wonder videos online.
The first question that the mention of a documentary about Kathleen Hanna prompts is usually, Why hasn’t one already been made? Credited as a founder of the third wave of feminism and Riot Grrrl – Hanna has been a seminal radical activist, musician, lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill and dance-punk trio Le Tigre, and cultural icon for over twenty years. She’s also been a lightening rod for controversy, and a famously private person. Five years ago, she disappeared from the public eye, and is only now re-emerging.
The Punk Singer combines twenty years of archival footage and an intimate look at four consecutive seasons of Hanna’s present life, to tell the story of what happened, and who she is now. Through archival footage and intimate interviews with Hanna, “The Punk Singer” takes viewers on a fascinating tour of contemporary music and offers a never-before-seen view into the life of this fearless leader.