Edmund White wrote that Fire Island “is a place of rituals, where dinners, tea-dances and sex parties rhyme in the ‘imagination with the rituals of medieval Japan or Versailles.'” The author is most certainly not alone in attempting to encapsulate the ethos and ennui of Fire Island. It is the setting for several iconic photographs and novels, including the abounding if not most quintessential Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran. This past summer, Brooklyn-based photographer and GAYLETTER contributor Matthew Leifheit spent his days and nights out among the island’s most storied locations. Holding residence at Cherry Grove’s Belvedere Guest House, Matthew traipsed among Fire Island hot stops to construct and document the “composite sensibility, of the past rhyming with the present, of anarchy blended with grandeur” that delineates the island’s lore.
A bit of the island’s magic has been corrupted in recent years with the introduction of dating apps, harsher drug culture, and wicked storms, which have severely damaged the famed beaches along Long Island’s south shore. Yet while the homosexual histrionics of Fire Island culture may have shifted, Matthew’s Fire Island Night, opening October 26th, 2018 at Deli Gallery, suggests the thread of sexuality, intimacy and companionship that has long defined gay male culture may not be lost in the queer (possibly near) future.
Fire Island, for all that it is worth, will continue to benefit from artists creating works focused on the location. Whether they reflect on its past or reimagine it’s present, each year we return to the rituals of Fire Island that continue to magnify homosexual taste in the world. …
A top surgery fundraiser for Miami local, King Femme, with the city's burgeoning queer nightlife brigade.
“My studio is like a stage set of my family’s home.”
Athleticism, sportsmanship, camaraderie, bromance, love. We show affection and indulge in intimacy in many different ways. Mark Beard, the American artist and noted set designer, has been exploring the myriad dynamics which exist in relationships between men. Most popular are his drafts on paper of the male form and canvases varying in scene, but never without his signature, Adonis-like men.
Mark’s work promotes antiquity, employing a saturated palette and details of yesteryear. There are Marines in uniform, wrestlers in singlets, a cohort of guys shirtless and wearing suspenders. Like Thomas Eakins before him, Mark’s realism seems to signify that masculinity is inextricably tied to industry. Muscle, grit, competition all are underlying if not major themes. The artist has worked for Abercrombie, American purveyor of hot blondes and juicy pectorals. Mark was fortunate enough to cherry pick his choice of models to draw and paint. The selection of models he uses (most are friends of friends and run in theatre circles) has continued to grow over the years.
With all of the focus around the male form, it was a worth while question to consider how Mark sets about choosing his models, and what is the studio experience like for the artist. “My studio is like a stage set of my family’s home,” Mark told Elvis Maynard. With photographer Aaron Williams, Elvis attending a private sketching session with model Mic Adilardi to document the artist at work inside of his space. “I used to try and live as a modernist, but it wasn’t really me.” Mark said. …
For GAYLETTER Issue 9, we were inspired by the brave artists who never let censorship compromise their creativity, so we decided to publish two covers. The ascending pop star Kim Petras has advocated for transgender visibility since adolescence, becoming the youngest German to undergo gender confirmation surgery. Vivienne Maricevic spent the early 1980s photographing male burlesque clubs, and her photo of a naked young man with legs bent over his head is a remnant of a time when self-expression was in all it’s glory in the heart of our city. (A limited edition cover). Also featured in this issue is an essay by Gio Black Peter, titled “Your Post Has Been Deleted.” Gio, an expert in censored social media, has lost 10 Instagrams, 15 Facebooks, two YouTubes and four Vimeos, all because he dared post nude photos of himself — God forbid someone might see a naked body on the internet. And of course we must mention Penny Arcade, whose 1990 one-woman show Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! Was a blistering, and hilarious, indictment of our culture’s fear of sex and nakedness. A Warhol girl, Penny expounds upon the fight and fun in trying to understand yourself in a world eager to say no. Also, in this issue featuring original artwork, photography and stories by Mickey Aloisio, Rodrigo Alvarez, Arshy Azizi, Michael Bullock, Daniel Cavanaugh, Lia Clay, Vincent Dilio, Katt Fox, Benjamin Fredrickson, Luke Gilford, Agustin Hernandez, Alexey Kim, Benoit Loiseau, Landon Gray Mitchell, Slava Mogutin, Matthew Morrocco, Leo Racicot, David Benjamin Sherry, Pacifico Silano, Michael Stipe, Cyle Suesz, Patrick Sweeney, Daniel Trese, Stephen Velastegui, Brian Vu and more. As an independent magazine, we’re allowed the luxury of never censoring ourselves. We’re glad we can offer space and ink for the people who, in their work and lives, show us all how to be free. Get it here.
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