There is an accessibility to the work of Daniel Marcellus Givens that is rarely matched. His marker drawings of bodies radiating auras, colliding and fusing together, kissing, wrestling, dancing, or flying through the air, in their abstraction, are at once both mysterious and instantly identifiable. They are unpretentious in their simplicity, being as much about the unfussy materiality of marker on paper as the metaphysics of meditation and love — difficult to describe, but easy to know once experienced.
Growing up as an ‘80s child in Chicago, Givens was raised by MTV. He digested music videos as multidimensional art, exhilarated by their combination of catchy melodies, poetic lyrics, and hypnotic visuals that satisfy the senses and saturate mass culture. He often sat in the DJ booth as his brother spun tracks for parties, and later with a drum machine and keyboard sampler, he became a DJ too and also made his own music. “As a little kid, one of my best friends and I were really into Prince,” he remembers. “We watched Purple Rain every day for a whole summer. We were way too young, but I had a friend who could get us into the movie theater.” Later Givens and that friend decided to start a band. “We didn’t have any instruments, so we decided to make them with some markers and construction paper. We copied the [artist formerly known as Prince] symbol-shaped guitar, using rulers as the guitar necks. We’d hang out in the backyard lip-syncing to Prince songs. …
Introducing The GAYLETTER's Back Page
River Wilson is an erotic film performer and artist. He spends his time between Montreal (where he grew up), New York City, and Berlin.
A few years back he self-published a book of nude photographs of himself shot by friends he’d made during his travels. For River, the book was a way to gain control over his fear of death. “I’m afraid of disappearing. So, this book felt like something I would hold until my old age. I could say, ‘Look at me when I was experimenting.’”
River has always been a sexual being. “When I was younger it would be like midnight and I would stay up jerking off to this show called La Nuit. It was like a movie but with sex; it was not even like full frontal. Sometimes I’d watch the story even after I’d finished jerking off, and I’d be like, ‘woah what’s she saying, where is she going?’ And when another scene would be hot, I’d jerk again.”
The reality of the porn business is vastly different than the expectations River had when he started performing. “I thought I was going to cum and get paid to just have sex. But oh my god — it’s such a thing! Behind the scenes, there’s a script and long hours. Sometimes you have to take Viagra if you can’t get hard. Sometimes you work with people that you may not find attractive, but you still have to perform because it’s work.” Ultimately, he’s more creatively fulfilled shooting with alternative porn directors. …
A photographer exposes his desires and his pains of coming out.
Before ‘gay visibility’ if a person discovered same-sex attraction within their heart but was not wealthy and privileged enough to construct underground networks to live comfortably in an alternate lifestyle, for some, the only answer was to seek meaning in life through esoteric study. In global cultures, comparative anthropology, non-western religions, and erotic mysticisms, one could inhabit an identity nobler than ‘local cocksucker.’ Who wouldn’t rather be a Uranian, a sexual invert, or follower of Ganymede than a mere homosexual stuck in a hetero-normative culture?
Forrest Bess lived in a shack on the gulf of Mexico, not far from Houston, Texas. He woke before dawn each morning to sell bait to local fishermen. He led an isolated life, painting his ‘visions’ in oil on small canvases and maintaining a distant but steady correspondence with sympathetic fellow travelers in New York and elsewhere. In time, Bess would meet prominent gallerist Betty Parsons, gain popularity as a pure abstract painter, and become an art world legend, his paintings revered as objects of desire.
Texas is quite unlike the rest of the United States. Physically bigger than most countries in Europe, many residents understand their state to be another country. Texas’ libertarian ideology allows for a greater personal eccentricity to be socially and institutionally supported in ways that are rare in the highly controlled worlds of Boston, Washington DC, and New York. Houston only became a major city after 1900, when a hurricane wiped out the bigger city of Galveston. The city then grew quickly after the lucrative commodity of oil and natural gas were found in abundance. …
We captured Susanne's looks during a 5 week period while she was hosting her 'On Top' party via Zoom...
There is only one Susanne Bartsch. The queen of New York nightlife has been throwing parties for decades and nothing can stop her, not the first plague to affect our community, during which she threw balls to raise money for those most impacted, and not this current pandemic. Susanne is continuing to bring together the best of nightlife, but now online. The digital events she’s been organizing are a joyful escape for those stuck at home, and a lifeline for many performers who have no other way to earn a living right now.
Do you want to start with history or do you want to start with now? Oh, you know the history.
Well tell me a little bit about how you came from Switzerland and how you first got into doing parties? I came to New York for a love affair. It was February 14, 1981 and I came for love but I fell in love with New York instead. I loved everything, the energy, and the possibilities.
At the beginning, I was in the fashion business. I had a store on West Thompson Street where I was importing young English designers like Body Map, Galliano, people who were still in college then, Stephen Jones, Leigh Bowery, Rachel Auburn, and to grow I decided to put on a show called “New London in New York.” I did that at the Roxy in May of 1983. There was a line around the Roxy of people waiting to get in. …
stick your head in a song, not the sand.
This is a season of enduring hunger, and keeping alive the promise of being fed. Our vaccine is held up by a pharmaceutical trade race, weapons and violent tongues keep rising, and we’re losing lights every week. For some of us, this is the first time the world’s burned too hot, and for others, this feels like only the latest fever.
By our lights, culture can only do what it has always done. Music keeps our pain and our hope company; it clothes and shelters us when the world will not. In music is strength.
So set your SpaceX brainchip to sickening~ and stream yourself a rhythmic river to freedom… Here’s our Summer 2020 Playlist (in no particular order):
Flo Milli – Ho, why is you here?
“Beef FloMix” made fancam happen and introduced the world to Flo Milli. Flo Milli is Flo Milli. This July, Milli released her first mixtape, Ho, why is you here? and you could fit its flaws in the space between its title’s “here” and “?” Flo Milli delivers insistent jabs gloved in goofy punchlines, and insists on the immediacy of every syllable. Her wordplay checks each box like sevens on a slot machine. Her rhetoric is truer than Benjamin Franklin’s; her flow goes farther, faster, than Paul Revere. Flo Milli could have written the Declaration of Independence, but no Founding Father could have written “Weak.” Give Flo Milli her flowers, and wrap a twenty around each bloom. …
A capsule collection celebrating Tom of Finland’s 100th birthday
Magenta low-key hates the color magenta. So how did this rising New York drag star end up with her name? Well, turns out an old lady in a coffee shop was the inspiration. In high school Magenta was sitting with a friend with “long ass pink braids” when an “old, old, old bitch” walked up to them and said “I love your hair. I had magenta hair once too.” And so “Magenta” was born. “All my friends hated the name,” she explains, “but I was like ‘It’s cunt! It’s gonna stick,’ and now it’s stuck.”
Magenta, who turned 21 this year, grew up “way deep in the Bronx.” She has been performing in New York for six years. It all started on Halloween at age 15. She woke up at 6 a.m. that morning so his mom could paint his and a friend’s faces before school. Afterwards they took the train from the Bronx to 56th and 3rd in full drag. Magenta acknowledges that it was reckless, but if they acted confident then nobody would fuck with them: “And that’s kind of what happened.”
Magenta is most inspired by Rihanna “because you can’t compete with the energy of a bitch who says ‘I can do whatever I want, say whatever I want, and wear whatever I want, and you’re just gonna eat it up.’” She’s also inspired by Adore Delano: “I love that bitch. She also looks like you can’t fuck with her.”
Magenta wears bathing suit by Just Cavalli, pants by Veronique Leroy, jacket by Vintage Saga Furs, necklace and belt by Chanel, vintage earrings. …