GAYLETTER

GAYLETTER

Monday 11.21.22

Grindr Goes Public

A trip to the New York Stock Exchange for the launch of $GRND with performances by Lady Bunny, Jorgeous, Crystal Waters, Jaida E. Hall, Cece Peniston and Saucy Santana

Monday 11.14.22

LUKE O’HALLORAN

Games are often used as metaphors for life. Whether recreation or competition, they condition players to enjoy the buzz and endure the struggle, to brave the painful upset of loss and savor the short-lived exhilaration of winning. Captivated by this rise and fall, Brooklyn-based artist Luke O’Halloran is interested in the sport and symbols of risk, chance, and possibility. From infinitely spinning slot machines to flurries of playing cards thrown into the air, his work often freezes fleeting moments in a blur of movement. But there are quieter examples too. Featured here, O’Halloran’s pencil-drawn portraits show scenes of friends building houses of cards, each filled with a sense of mounting tension that signifies the fragility of life.

 

“It is impossible to pose them, and I don’t interrupt or ask for a pause,” O’Halloran explains. He doesn’t stage the scenes either. Instead, he spreads a deck of cards out on a table and lets the sitter begin building while he snaps reference photos. In these tableaux, the subjects seem suspended in trance-like superposition, imagining a range of possibilities as they delicately select placements. Focus and finesse are key, and commitment to each moment must be unwavering, or the cards will fall. Once translated into drawings, the resulting portraits are gracefully understated. Each balances an economy of careful lines with tight details scrupulously inscribed through spare hatch marks, exacting the defining features and gestures of each participant with a pared-down complexity.

 

 

“Liz & Kenny building a house of cards” (2022). …

Monday 10.31.22

Violet + Gottmik’s Halloween

When you’re seeing two of the most iconic performers in contemporary drag, what’s more exciting than being in the front row? For me, it’s getting to be backstage with my camera. That’s where the show behind the show takes place.

 

After many years of taking portraits of queer performers, icons, nightlife personalities and artist colleagues, I had never photographed Violet Chachki or Gottmik until their Halloween show in West Hollywood. The vibe backstage was ideal for capturing a different side of these fierce fashion queens — away from the public I was able to capture a tender, more nuanced side of the queens — without sacrificing the impressive level of drag and performance. And with these two, there’s always plenty of wit, tea, banter and reading.

 

For many queers, Halloween is our favorite holiday, it’s when we get to dress up and live out some fantasy that doesn’t fit into the everyday. For Violet and Gottmik, it’s Halloween all year long, something I take pleasure in watching on stage, backstage, on screen, and through the camera lens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up next, catch Violet Chachki and Gottmik in a limited run of their show “Christmas Misfits: A Drag Holiday Extravaganza” in a few cities in the USA.

 

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Friday 10.28.22

Caitlin Cherry

While their spectral iridescence is reminiscent of gasoline splashed on pavement or the psychedelic images made by infrared cameras, Caitlin Cherry’s recent paintings are actually inspired by a phenomenon of glitching LCD screens. A few years ago, Cherry noticed that when looking from the side, at a slant, the colors on her laptop screen would begin to invert, a process better known to photographers as solarization. Depending on the adjusted level of color distortion, a figure with brown skin appearing a shade of deep orangey bronze might flip, changing to the hue most its opposite on the color wheel, an alienoid blue. Translating pixels into paint, Cherry experimented with imitating this inversion, developing the signature kaleidoscopic style that characterizes her portraits of Black women, many of them luminaries like Cardi B. and Dominique Jackson. The effect is a visual dissonance, the chaotic layering of multiple disagreeing lenses, offering an expressionistic line up of pop culture provocateurs who have helped redefine femininity and the limits of self-transformation. “Black women have never sat comfortably in an idea of what female-ness is,” the Richmond-based artist asserts, “Even if they don’t realize, they are playing by a set of queer politics.”

 

Cherry often pulls her source material from the latest movies, TV, music videos, award shows, and social media. “I’m frantically archiving because the pace of culture has sped up,” she laughs, “the overturn is quicker than it used to be.” She is interested in the noise of niche celebrity culture — fleeting, marginal fame, people becoming commodities, perpetual social performance — how tech trends seem to be establishing a broad landscape of new role models, resulting in a less streamlined sense of normal or natural. …

Tuesday 10.25.22

GIVE HER HER FLOWERS

Legends of Drag tells the tale of 79 “queens of a certain age” across the U.S. Brooklyn icon, Charlene, shares her thoughts along with some legendary portraits.

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Tuesday 10.18.22

Michael R. Jackson

Michael R. Jackson used to work as a Broadway usher mere blocks away from where his new musical, A Strange Loop, is running at the Lyceum Theater. His show, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, was in development for 18 years, and what began as a one-person monologue gradually evolved into a full musical production. After garnering rave reviews during its Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons in 2019, winning a Pulitzer for drama in 2020, and attracting a star-studded roster of producers, like Jennifer Hudson, Alan Cumming, and RuPaul (to name a few), A Strange Loop opened on Broadway in April 2022.

 

Jackson is from Detroit, Michigan, and came to New York City as an undergrad to study playwriting at NYU. To walk down 7th Avenue with him now is surreal, in part because of the ubiquity of banner ads for A Strange Loop. Look down every single street near Times Square and you’ll see them fluttering overhead, purple and orange, like a fabulous series of sunsets right above the traffic. As we weave around tourists and taxis, I ask if he’s used to the feeling yet of seeing his work celebrated like this, he replies, “used to?” and chuckles to himself.

 

A Strange Loop is about Usher, a big Black queer Broadway usher who’s about to turn 26. Usher is writing a musical about a Black queer Broadway usher named Usher who’s writing a musical, and finds himself caught in a series of loops born of his own self-perceptions. …

Friday 10.14.22

Tom of Finland Art & Culture Festival 2022 in Los Angeles

Tuesday 10.11.22

ELLSWORTH KELLY POSTCARDS

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Friday 10.07.22

Folsom Street Fair SF 2022

The annual event returned to San Francisco for their 39th year celebrating sex positivity

Tuesday 10.04.22

VALENTIN AMOUR

The GAYLETTER Back Page

Valentin Amour doesn’t want to be pinned down — figuratively, at least. Born in a small town near the west coast of France, the 29-year-old was trained as a ballet dancer until shirking the art form in their early twenties. Any who have recently encountered the performer through social media, Onlyfans, or scenes for Lucas Entertainment will understand that Amour’s appeal requires little explanation. With a penchant for jockstraps and an ever-arched back, they’ve captured the attention of hundreds of thousands.

 

The theatrical moniker “Valentin Amour” is a marriage between the performer’s given name, Valentin, and their pseudonym “Amour” — chosen with help from their mentor, Austin Wolf. Beyond its ring, Amour was drawn to the the name for its campy allusions to sex and romance and representation of Amour’s heritage.

 

Despite the relatively conservative climate in which they were raised, as a child Amour was free to express their sexuality. Like many, they found joy in playing dress-up with their mother’s frocks, fashioning makeshift nails, and dancing ballet. After taking weekly classes in their hometown, they attended a boarding school and later a conservatory for dance in their early teens. At 20, after completing a masters in contemporary dance, they joined a professional ballet company with a focus on modern techniques like Martha Graham. However, Amour’s ballet career was short-lived. After one year dancing professionally, they felt bored by the discipline’s petty politics and quickly left ballet.

 

In the years that followed, they found their footing as a porn star. …

Sunday 10.02.22

Hurricane Relief Fundraiser for Puerto Rico

Organized by Vena Cava and hosted at the Rosemont, all proceeds went to Brigada Solidaria del Oeste

Tuesday 09.27.22

Ocean Vuong

It is impossible to ignore Ocean Vuong’s accolades: He’s won a MacArthur Genius Grant, a Whiting Award, the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and in 2019 his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous was long-listed for the National Book Award while spending several weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. His lyrical name is recognized outside of the literary circuit. Only so many authors are; many of them dead. That is to say, Ocean is not in the company of many contemporaries. While the ‘public intellectual’ has been called an endangered species, Ocean is one of the few we have writing today. This is more surprising given his lack of a Twitter presence, where writers often gain popularity for pontificating on anything and everything. Still Ocean, earning continued praise for his deft craftsmanship, is rarely far from the literary conversation. He is a writer’s writer — most comfortable at his desk, mulling over the pliability and banality of language.

 

Ocean broke out in 2016 with his debut collection of poetry Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press).. He enjoyed critical success and more. Fashion magazines, fashion brands, and even Netflix came knocking. Ocean, his star-ascendant, has made, and is making, poetry cool again.

 

Time Is A Mother, Ocean’s second collection of poems, arrives at a very different moment. While she lived long enough to see her son’s phenomenal success, in November 2019, Ocean’s mother passed away. She figures prominently in his first books as the central pillar of his matriarchal, immigrant family. …