The short film seeks to tenderize Marsha P. Johnson's biography
Marsha decides to plan a birthday party for herself, which fails. Instead, she goes to The Stonewall Inn to perform a poem onstage in front of all her friends she’s invited. Marsha, on stage, says she is far from the Saint of Christopher Street, she says it hurts to be awake. Punctuated by dream-like sequences and interrupted by all-too-familiar scuffles with police, Happy Birthday, Marsha!, directed by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, paints a tender portrait of the legendary activist Marsha P. Johnson.
Throughout the short film, Marsha, played by Mya Taylor (from the critically acclaimed Tangerine) meanderings through daily life are laced with small interview clips of the actual Marsha P. Johnson. In one of these excerpts, she says she’s always seen as acting “together” in public because it’s “expected.” As an audience, we watch to admire her strength and empathize with the reality of Marsha in late 1960’s New York City.
Although the infamous Stonewall Riots did not in fact happen on the night of Marsha P. Johnson’s birthday, Gosset and Wrotzel chose to fictionalize the timeline, having her birthday and the riot happen in tandem, deepens the emotionality surrounding Marsha’s biography. While the LGBTQ+ community holds Marsha’s “history” as a fearless activist to high esteem, her actual story is, like countless other queer figures in history, unexplored.
Eventually, Marsha’s poem invokes the police raid on Stonewall, led by an officer that has accosted her on the street earlier in the film. …
"Clowns have made a comeback!"
When we were casting “The Clowns” to be photographed for GAYLETTER Issue 8, we looked for queens who’s makeup operated within the vein of what is visually understood as clown. Happy, sad, goofy, kitschy, macabre. Even if queens weren’t explicit in their clowning, their beats are paintings, and we read for gestures that pointed toward the ubiquitous performance style. Some of them knew they were clowning, and some didn’t think to much about it, but if we saw a clown, we called the queen.
Some of the clowns flew in for the shoot, some of them rolled over the bridge from Brooklyn. And some came straight from the gig. Before they touched up their hair and sharpened their frowns, we asked them to step into frame for testing. It’s not like we’d never seen a drag queen half-out of drag before, but the particular mixture of sweatpants and sneakers, or overalls, or knitwear represented what Tyler Akers, writing for Issue 8 calls the “complex, colorful relationship between queerness and clown culture.” He posits there has never been a better time to debate the conjoined politics surrounding the art forms considering the omnipresent the national conversations around LGBTQ+ issues, and the rise in popularity of queer phenomena like RuPaul’s Drag Race.
We wanted to hear from the queens who became clowns. What was their inspiration? Is clowning kind of important? “Since court jesters,” HinkyPunk said, “clowns have been a voice of truth veiled in humor or farce. …
More photos of drag queens? Yes!
This past weekend, RuPaul‘s DragCon arrived back in New York City and it was exactly the right dosage of drag queens needed to push us through the absence of RuPaul’s Drag Race on TV. Since GAYLETTER had a table and several photographers on the ground, we spent the three day convention (see photo libraries — Day 1 – Day 2 – Day 3) out of drag and uncertain of how all of these queens and kids were beat for the gods from sun up til sun down. Three days is a lot of makeup, hairspray and tucking tape. Not to mention fashion, there was a lot of that there. Oh, and screaming! And, if you were there to see the industry big-wigs (no pun intended) like Katya, Alyssa Edwards or KimChi, there was a lot of waiting too. Now that the weekend is over, we do kind of wish there was another DragCon to look forward too.
We all really enjoyed ourselves. We are big drag fans, and not just drag race fans. Dragula, Drag Race Thailand, good drag, bad drag, kiddie drag, mommy drag. You name it we yassss it. So we ran around behind queens all weekend to see what they were wearing and to clock their makeup in person. It was, as they say, gaggy.
You probably are wondering, more photos of drag queens? Lord. Well, we know, but simply take these 12 portraits by photographer Jason Leavy as a bonus and beautiful closure to our coverage for DragCon NYC 2018. …
The British artist has long explored the politic and discourse around gender, identity and sexuality.
Let’s talk about gender. I mean, what else is anyone talking about these days, right? Penises, vaginas, intercourse. The New York Times reports that Bill Cosby’s legal team feel he’s a victim of “sex wars.” Sure, and I’m a victim of straight people’s rights. The point is, some people have got it (“it” being gender) totally right, and some have got it all sorts of wrong. Sarah Lucas’ now ongoing career has long explored the tumultuous politic and discourse around gender, identity and sexuality, and I feel like she’s not far off from what most of the liberal-leaning art-focused society’s idea of “right” is.
Naturally, the New Museum‘s curatorial text denotes her discussion of power as well. It’s true, there is something very powerful about a self-portrait blown to mural size and then plastered on the 4th floor gallery’s gigantic walls. And not for nothing, but this final gallery in her three floor “Au Naturel” (featuring some of the artist’s most important works, and her largest showing in the U.S. to date) is rather anthemic. In the aforementioned mural, Lucas sits with her legs apart, her genital delineated by bunching denim, and two large-scale penis sculptures are positioned in the direction of the artist. It’s not a question of suggestion, it’s obvious Lucas’ phalluses are after her, but the question of power runs amok. In the same gallery is a cigarette Jesus on a cigarette crucifix and a severed Jaguar sedan, which the artist severed herself, that is also accented with her signature cigarettes. …
Featuring Rupaul, Alyssa Edwards, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Miss Fame, Peppermint, Aquaria, Bob the Drag Queen, The Vixen, Asia O'Hara, Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams, Abhora, Vivacious, Nicole Paige Brooks, Carmen Carrera, Tammie Brown, Disasterina, Miz Cracker, Kameron Michaels, Kim Chi and many more
San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair happens annually the last weekend of September
Kim Petras haunts in Halloween month with a ghostly mixtape.
What exactly are we learning from Kim Petras? Well, for one: There is no specific market formula to success. With eight stand-alone records out over the past 12 months, Kim has been releasing the year’s best pop music and hitting the charts without a major record label behind her. Two: Clearly we all need to be taking Halloween way more seriously.
The singer’s latest is a Halloween-themed mixtape released (unannounced) today, Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1. Featuring eight brand new thematically titled tracks, including “o m e n,” “Tell Me It’s A Nightmare” and “In The Next Life,” which stars Kim finally singing in German, Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1 haunted straight in on the first day of the year’s spookiest month, and I’m sure a lot of fans are shook.
Not for nothing, but the mixtape shines yet another light on Kim’s diabolical taste for pop music. If her previous singles like “I Don’t Want It All” or “Heart to Break” instructed us on her taste for the sparkle and sheen of pop delight, Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1 (And I haven’t even mentioned that “Vol. 1” implies a “Vol. 2″…) let’s us know arena-anthems are not far from her reach. Elongated fingers or not, Kim has proven again that she has a firm grip on her not just her own musical needs, but the general audiences’ wants as well.
The mixtape has a more fully rounded electronic, synth driven sound. …
The designer's latest collection champions queer stories and characters
Just last year, Nathan Korn graduated from Central Saint Martins with degrees in fashion design and print. His first collection, “An Archer’s Body” pulls from Mark Merlis’ book An Arrows Flight. Featuring Classics inspired sportswear and Greco-Roman draping, Nathan told us in an email that he always has to design around a story. “But it’s usually one I make up myself,” he said. “After reading Merlis’ book, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I needed to make it into something visual and physical. That sense of physical beauty that runs throughout all ancient Greek and Roman life, in the mythology and the art – I’m so drawn to that.”
At this point in time, it’s safe to say that clothes with homoerotic undertones and sensuality are in fact driven by homosexual histories and references. “I’m dressing queer guys and queer people who want to be a part of the stories I tell,” Nathan said. “When I was making this collection, I was thinking a lot about the sculptors who would spend ages carving these really tender masterpieces of beautiful men, preserving beauty in stone forever.” That’s a good thing, we no longer need to hide. It means that we are at a point in fashion where designers are comfortable enough to unleash their unabashed desire for how they’d like to see (and dress) the world. Plus, the market is ever growing. Fashion need not remain stagnant.
Nathan Korn, with “An Archer’s Body” propels his medium forward into the fluid and the neo-familiar. …