I’ve never been to Fire Island, but I’ve heard about it. Stories about a gay paradise: parties, sex, drugs, the Meatrack… A place for fun and friends where you can be yourself and not worry about what anyone else has to say about it. Ryan McNamara has curated the work of 17 queer artists into an exhibition simply entitled Fire. It captures the experience of Fire Island. Littered on the floor are fliers for DWORLD Underwear Parties that read “The pool is open at 2:00AM for a skinny dip!” and “NYC’s hottest Go-Go.” In the center of the space is a sculpture of a squatting boy called “Boy’s Tears” by Cajsa von Zeipel. It’s surrounded by sand, towels, flip-flops, and deflated beach balls. An empty bag hangs on the wall. Scribbled on the front of it in marker is the description, “K8’s Jockstrap Collection Bag. Do it for fashion!” Next to the bag, K8 Hardy fitted several jockstraps onto a fiberglass mannequin. A wood and plaster creation (“Chemical Compound”) by Ryan McNamara depicts countless faceless figures kissing, sucking, and fucking in the biggest orgy I’ve ever seen.
Walking through the exhibition is exciting, it’s like walking through the remnants of a wild beach party that just ended an hour ago. I felt like dropping everything and going to Fire Island to experience the inside-jokes, and the community that seemed to be all about acceptance and having a good time. In organizing Fire, Ryan McNamara makes a statement about the importance of queer spaces. …
Love was the message.
The Us Premiere at BAM
Imagine: the young Jamaican community in England circa 1980, making music, smoking weed, and coming to terms with being black, in a white-dominated country. Babylon, originally released in the UK in 1980, follows the story of performer, Ital Lion, as he competes in a local singing competition. The film is being released in the United States for the first time this Friday, March 8th at BAM Rose Cinemas.
There are suave outfits: black overcoats, afros, turtlenecks, there are laughs, like when Ital tries to buy beats from a producer with a pound of weed. The film lured me in with reggae club scenes and jokes that made me wish I was part of the community, only to gradually turn towards scenes of intense racism and violence. Ital is profiled and beat up by police and his studio is trashed by racist neighbors. Despite having a successful debut at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, Babylon was considered “too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” by the New York Film Festival. Bullsh*t, obviously.
I didn’t walk away from the film filled with a desire to cause racial tension or division, but with an understanding of how racism breeds frustration and violence in its victims. Babylon is a must-see, if not for its badass music, then for its honest portrayal of race.
The Miami queer annual festival that celebrates LGBTQ+ artists returns with a “Deep Sea Creatures” theme
Kabaret Boom at The Top of the Standard, NYC.