Featured in his latest book, 63 E 9th Street: NYC Polaroids 1975–1983
I was about 25 when I discovered that a walk down Christopher Street in Manhattan was as cruisy as a walk down the beach in the Pines. In the early 1970s, as my generation was coming out loud and proud, the cityscape provided a fresh venue for our frequently manic celebration.
Most of us came from a sexually repressed, homophobic place — a place America was and, too often, still is. But New York’s streets, bars and clubs provided a safe space for us to connect with like-minded libido-driven souls. Day or night, my Ninth Street apartment existed as a stage designed for play. We created ourselves as one another’s fantasies.
Anxious as we were to get into each other’s pants, we remained ever vigilant for the guy we hoped might return our gaze. And these were paradoxical years. We were militant young men outside, fragile boys inside. But from time to time — for a while, at least — we found love in each other’s arms. That’s why I always kept fresh flowers about.
50 years ago this June, the Stonewall Inn was raided by the New York Police Department, triggering one of the largest confrontations in LGBTQ history. Since that night, many battles, like marriage equality and the HIV/AIDs crisis have been fought. We’ve had big wins and realized some worrying losses. Reflecting on Stonewall allows us, of course, to celebrate our victories, but also inspires us to press on and keep fighting for those in our community that still face intense social and political marginalization. Jonathan Weinberg has published Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989, a book focused on the legacy of Stonewall that highlights more than 200 artworks “spanning the two decades between Stonewall and the AIDS crisis.” Among the many featured artists are Alvin Baltrop, Cathy Cade, Gran Fury, Nan Goldin, Harmony Hammond, Lyle Ashton Harris, Tseng Kwong Chi, Peter Hujar, Greer Lankton, Mcdermott & Mcgough, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Adam Rolston, Shelley Seccombe, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and many more.
The book is pretty badass. Chapter Two (Sexual Outlaws) opens with Catherine Opie’s photograph, Raven (Gun); a woman sits bare-chested on a couch, her nipple piercings connected by a silver chain. Arms stretched out, she aims a gun into the distance. On the adjacent page a quote by Flavia Rando reads, “We knew there were lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, but the mob bouncers could prevent women from entering. You could be judged too black, too brown, too young, too poor, or the police might raid and you could be arrested for wearing the wrong garments.” Later in the chapter, Lynda Benglis’ Artforum Advertisement from 1974 is shown. …
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New paintings celebrate gay sex and reimagine birth.
Louis Fratino has an informal, homoerotic Instagram account @boy.drawings where he posts figure studies. His fans, both critics and pedestrians alike can see his technical drafting and beautifully rendered cocks. It’s the best of both worlds. Writing for the New York Times in 2017, legend Roberta Smith said Fratino’s work is “hot with painterly attention and erudition.” On my stop in to “Come Softly To Me,” his first solo show with Sikkema Jenkins & Co., I overheard a gay man (serving as cultural attaché) telling his friends from out of town, “It’s a gay show. That’s why I like it!”
“Come Softly To Me” offers 25 new paintings that vary in scale and oscillate between modernist figure paintings and progressive celebrations of the male form. Progressive because the men in the paintings are clearly gay. Fratino’s subjects are comfortable in their own skin, unafraid of being seen. When coupled, they entice his viewer into a languid world free of judgement, and he uses intimacy, lovers, family, and friends to “present the human figure as a site of vast emotive expression.” He has said that his paintings are an attempt to make himself vulnerable and able to speak about his own life honestly. Pairing the modernist approach to personalized subject matter directly links Fratino to the show-stopping stylists of today like Dana Schutz and Nicole Eisenman. Respectively, the two painters have helped re-situate American painting by forging new paths that Fratino now grazes on.
Out of the several large scale paintings on exhibit, “I keep treasure in my ass” and “Kissing Couple” are likely to get the most air time. …
A conversation with our latest cover star on the queer influences that shaped him, the joy of rock climbing, and what he wished he'd done when he met the president (not this one, the last one).
Intuition is a big word for Frank Ocean. It’s been a guiding star in his uncharted course to success. His trust in it has led to various awards, beloved albums, even a surprise magazine filled with two years of globetrotting adventures.
Believe it or not, intuition also told us that one day Frank Ocean’s path would cross our own. So when the opportunity arose to collaborate — on the cover story for our 10th issue, no less — we were, on some level, not surprised. We were, nevertheless, nervous, excited and well aware that we needed to create something special. Frank is one of those people who makes you want to be your best.
As Collier snapped her frames at a furious pace, we stood by trying to take it all in. At one point, Frank looked over and, for whatever reason, we responded with enthusiastic thumbs-up. A cheesy move, yes, but once we chatted a few days later for the interview, we quickly realized that Frank is not the kind of person looking for a slick performance from everyone he encounters. He was thoughtful, open and earnest. It was a delight getting answers to the questions we’ve wanted to ask him for years.
Hey, Frank. How is 2019 treating you? Everything’s cool. Everything’s good. Been keeping busy.
What’s been filling up your days lately? Same old: making things, a lot of time in the studio between here [New York] and L.A. I split my time. …