A quarter century has passed since the death of an artistic legend. We dive deep into his archive to unearth his sublime photographs and remember his story.
Art has the capacity to balance seemingly incompatible qualities — self-expression and communal tribute, tangible materiality and metaphysical essence, fading ephemerality and boundless eternity. American artist Steven Arnold (1943-1994) embodied these dualities, proving that the dark shadow of death cannot exist without the shining light of life. His enduring legacy is memorialized in an upcoming exhibit at New York’s International Center of Photography and a new documentary Steven Arnold: Heavenly Bodies.
When Arnold died in 1994 amid the AIDS crisis, he left behind a vast body of work. During his life, he fluttered between different modes of art-making — painting, drawing, sculpture, film, photography, fashion, and set design. A pioneer of cultural revolution, Arnold was at the forefront of counter-culture in the ’60s, but meandering through different eras with an indulgent grace, he defied limiting himself to one genre or style. In the ’70s, he was a dashing surrealist; in the ’80s, a mystical revisionist historian. Today, he’s often remembered for his role in launching the gender-bending performance troupe the Cockettes and for studying under Salvador Dalí as his protégé.
Premiering at Outfest at the MOCA Grand in Los Angeles this past July, director Vishnu Dass’s biographical documentary brings together interviews with friends like Simon Doonan, Rumi Missabu, and Holly Woodlawn along with photos and other artworks from the Steven Arnold Archive to illustrate the rich tapestry of the artist’s singular life. Together these elements work to narrate Arnold’s artistic passage from an imaginative student through his experiments with film and psychedelics, and on toward founding a studio in Los Angeles in the ’80s, where he began his distinctive black-and-white tableau vivant photography. …
Featuring Juku, West Dakota, Magenta, Baby Love and DJ Dreamboi at The Vault
With hosts Harrison Curley, Airik Henderson, Justin Moran, Rebecca Brosnan, Laurel Charleston, Nick Laughlin, The Coyle Twins, Eliel Cruz, CT Hedden, Matt McMahon, Arturo Kozlov, Remy Duran, Terence Edgerson, Ruby Fox and Paul Tomasiello
The house of Bushwig took over The Sultan Room at The Turks Inn in Brooklyn for an interplanetary NYE
Our favorite photographs that went to print in 2019
To keep an independent print publication alive in 2019 comes with lots of challenges, especially when it has a queer focus. With the current state of print, the negativity that often comes from our own community — you certainly can’t make everyone happy (perhaps in 2020, let’s start practicing being more supportive and spreading more LOVE) and of course the cost that’s required to produce stories at a high-quality, it’s a tough time for print. Thankfully we continue to hustle and are still able to push through and keep GAYLETTER Magazine going strong. We never take for granted the support we get from everyone who values and appreciates the work we put out.
This year we printed 2 issues, with 3 covers, photographed by Collier Schorr, Steven Arnold and Daniel Rampulla. It still leaves us with such satisfaction to be able to print and share with you so many powerful images featuring LGBTQ people from different types of background and places around the world, captured by many artists and creators who each are part of the GAYLETTER legacy.
We decided to share some of our favorite images from the past 12 months. It was difficult narrowing it down to just 20. We love every image we print, but you can’t have a ‘best of’ without narrowing it down to a handful of the best.
So, here are our top photographs (in no particular oder) from GAYLETTER Magazine in 2019. See you in 2020!
TJ FEATURED IN THE ‘NECKS’ STORY IN GAYLETTER ISSUE 10. …
A closing ceremony event for Naoyasu Mera and Sho Konishi at Superchief Gallery NY with Sammy Kims, West Dakota, Papi Juice and many more
A star-studded celebration featuring the Dominican Doll Kandy Muse, Mocha Lite & West Dakota — With DJs DJ Hood, Hannah Lou & Ickarus. Plus, appearances by Baby Love, Magenta, Harajuku & many more...
Berlin-based filmmaker and photographer Matt Lambert has become known for his art house approach to erotic film. In his fast-paced style, he merges filth, fun, and sexual fantasy with a dynamism rarely seen in the porn production industry.
Pleasure Park is his fifth publishing project, produced as both a film and zine, inspired by the legacy of Tom of Finland. Debuting on Men.com in early 2020, the film is a stylized documentary of a group of adult performers, friends on a hot summer day, shot at the Tom of Finland Foundation, at Tom’s former residence. The cast includes Sean Ford, Joey Mills, Angel Rivera, River Wilson and Tannor Reed, with a live music performance by Taco Guillen of SCUM and several of its East LA Latinx members. The accompanying zine was released in early December 2019, illustration and graphic design crafted by Stefan Fähler, and it is available at the Tom of Finland Store.
Having worked with Christeene and Rick Owens on their infamous music video, Butt Muscle, and the picture book Vitium, a collaboration with his husband Jannis Birsner, Lambert is no stranger to voyeuristic sensibility and sensual oddity. Recounting the experience of making Pleasure Park, he describes, “there’s definitely a big throwback to queercore punk zine culture which we started to play with in Vitium. With Tom’s work being such a conscious and sub-conscious influence on my work, it was so inspiring to create this in the context of the foundation and at the house which holds such a magical and hedonistic spirit.” …
Celebrating the opening of the latest LOEWE store in NYC
The clever artist explains his drawing process and remembers the passion in teenage daydreams.
Pol Anglada grew up near the Pyrenees Mountains, in the Catalan region of Spain, less than two hours from Barcelona. On his dad’s side, they were electricians; on his mom’s, farmers. His grandma was a talented seamstress who taught him how to sew. In awe, he would watch her work with clientele, friends and neighbors, repairing ripped seams and hemming skirts and pants. As a hobby, his dad and granddad would draw, and sometimes his dad would play a drawing game with him. “My dad might ask me to envision Spider-Man as a princess, or a princess as Spider-Man, or he might tell me to imagine Godzilla and King Kong. He would say, ‘What if they fought: Who would win?’ And once we had finished laughing at the idea, he would say, ‘All right, now draw it.’ ”
When his dad was young, his family traveled across Europe, and he developed a passion for magazines, comic books and graphic novels. Censorship was pervasive in this last phase of Spanish dictatorship; the open display of nudity and sexual content was illegal. But because he was able to travel internationally into his late teen years, Anglada’s dad amassed a broad, immodest collection of printed media, which he later shared with his son.
“A big chunk of my dad’s books were erotic magazines and comics. I became obsessed with them,” Anglada remembers. “They were all intended for straight audiences, but I remember seeing [Bob] Mizer’s Physique Pictorial and trying to spot where you might see a dick or bum.” …
The current show at P·P·O·W gallery in New York boasts a variety of garments, art objects, ephemera, film, and photography — all working together to reconstruct a semblance of Hunter Reynolds’ life as drag performance artist, Patina du Prey. While the artist does not perform in the space, each room in the exhibition represents a different grouping of artifacts, mapping his life and series of performances during the AIDS crisis. As Patina, Reynolds wore makeup and elaborate dresses to elicit a surreal mash-up of gender, a Baroque grandiosity, and a process-driven immediacy. Her existence generated healing, both for the performer and her witnesses. Today, the exhibition allows us to remember a delicate history, which has tossed and turned into the present — of pain and terror, joy and passion, taking what might have become deep repression and exposing it to the light in a howling testimony.
A historical essay by Jane Ursula Harris accompanying the exhibition brilliantly configures Reynolds’ timeline. Life has not been easy for the daring artist, and his childhood was no exception. In a scenario that many queer boys have experienced, he was caught dancing in his sister’s crinoline underskirt as a child. His parents shamed him, and forbid him to wear it again. After coming out at the young age of 14, he was thrown out of his house at 17 for starting a LGB club at his Florida high school, that same year moving to Los Angeles and working nights in a mailroom. Eventually, he got his GED and then an art degree from Otis. …