GAYLETTER

GAYLETTER

Monday 01.04.21

Kingsley Gbadegesin is designing tops for the girls

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Thursday 12.31.20

SNEAKERMAN

The 32-year old Serbian artist never shows his face but is very open about his emotional attachment to sneakers

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Wednesday 12.30.20

ANTHONY BOWENS

A pro wrestler from Nutley, New Jersey who fell in love with the sport in high school. He believes that working hard and being yourself is the best way to stand up to the bullies.

How did you become a wrestler? Before pro wrestling, I played baseball from little league through college. I was an NCAA Division I athlete at Seton Hall University. I wanted to play baseball professionally. Eventually it didn’t really work out there and I transferred over to Montclair State University where I continued to play baseball. And also I got a degree in TV and radio production. I’ve always been a pro wrestling fan. As a child, I was pretty shy. I was timid. I was very skinny. So, becoming one wasn’t really an option. I would have loved to, but I just didn’t know how. So, I played baseball. I fell in love with that, played that through college and then once I got to my final year, I started having pain in my elbow and I just kind of lost my love of the game and I stopped.

 

There was this time period for five to six hours [a day] that I was used to being on a baseball field, for the last 11 years, which I was having trouble filling. So I wanted to find something fulfilling that I could fill that time with — a lot of filling. [Laughs] Pro wrestling has always been my second love. It was my first love and then baseball kind of took over, but it kind of popped back up. I forgot which hurricane it was, but it delayed my friends from moving into their dorms and we were bored. …

Monday 12.28.20

Anthony Peyton Young

By making portraits of trans and non-binary people in memoriam, the Boston-based artist faces the challenges of representation.

How do you represent a person who is no longer here? How do you humanize someone who has already been dehumanized? George Floyd’s murder, along with so many others before and since, has become a lightning rod for this discussion. Should images of police brutality and its victims be circulated to demand systemic change by spreading awareness or do these images desensitize us to horrific violence, making a spectacle of Black death? Since the beginning of 2020, at least 40 transgender and gender-nonconforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means, the majority Black and Latinx transgender women. Representing these individuals has its own politics of optics; often the media uses the last photograph taken or whatever pictures their family allows for publication. But the memory of someone does not exist in a snapshot, or to be more clear, a photo is maybe best used more for rejogging the recollections of those who actually knew the person rather than providing real, substantial context for a life. Perhaps portraiture offers an opportunity to better render the complexity and the humanity of those whose lives ended tragically, but who were so much more than just victims.

 

Artist Anthony Peyton Young’s ongoing project Say Their Names memorializes Black lives through prismatic fragmented collaged portraits. His series started representing individuals taken by police brutality, but it’s since expanded to include all different Black lives, including transgender and gender-nonconforming people of color who have been the victims of hate crimes. While Anthony believes positive queer role models and images of transgender women as powerful, prosperous, and glamorous are important, he also demands we do not ignore the dark reality of the continuous violence against Black bodies. …

Tuesday 12.01.20

David Dreams in Poetry

Remembering David Wojnarowicz, his search for some sort of grace, and why Everything He Made, He Made For Peter Hujar.

David Wojnarowicz had already lost so much to AIDS. But there was no bigger loss than Peter Hujar. So the day he lost Peter — November 26, 1987 — David asked their friends to leave the hospital room, to guard the door and not let the nurses in.

 

David got out his camera and took 23 photos, one for each pair of chromosomes in a human cell. He took a picture of Peter’s lifeless face, lips parted, eyes still wet; a picture of Peter’s open hand; a picture of Peter’s feet and toes. Like almost all of David’s photos, these 23 are black and white. We aren’t privy to Peter’s discolorations and wan skin, nor his pain and humiliation.

 

He wanted to offer some words in memory of his friend and mentor, his closest companion, but David — a poet prone to fiery, righteous rants — was speechless. “Nothing came from my mouth,” David wrote in his journal. “[A]ll I can do is raise my hands from my sides in helplessness and say, ‘All I want is some sort of grace.’ ”

 

After his own HIV diagnosis, in 1988, David would collage these photos into a painting, Untitled (Hujar Dead). Over the collage he printed a passionate paragraph condemning deathly homophobia and describing life with HIV: “I’m waking up more and more from daydreams of tipping amazonian blowdarts in ‘infected blood’ and spitting them at the exposed necklines of certain politicians or government healthcare officials.” It wouldn’t be the last time David threatened public officials. …

Friday 10.09.20

Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown, a poet originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, won 2020’s Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his 2019 collection, The Tradition. This is only the latest feather in Jericho’s hat — he’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts, and The American Book Award to name a few more. Written from a perspective both black and queer, his poems are imbued with the images, codes, and vernaculars that criss-cross his experience. In a conversation bridging Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, and Walt Whitman; burning down Walgreens and elite institutions; and the burgundy mystery that closes The Tradition, we wove a cat’s cradle from some of the threads his work lays so bare. Read on, then get lost in The Tradition for more of the story.

 

 

In past interviews, you’ve quoted Whitney Houston with the same seriousness as John Milton. There’s something radical about giving that much authority and intentionality to the female pop lyric. It’s usually completely disregarded. Diana Ross has always been my diva. Having her as my diva has helped me understand a lot about my life as a poet, about longevity, stamina, and how to make use of my particular talents. I mean, I feel like not having a diva is like living life without a zodiac sign. [Jericho is an Aries.] If I find out someone’s diva, I find out more about them than I do if I know their sign. It’s like having one’s own muse, or one’s own Greek god over your shoulder. …

Thursday 10.08.20

A Social Distance Park Toast and Celebration of Issue 12

With blankets created in collaboration with PAOM and refreshing cocktails provided by Supergay spirits

Wednesday 09.30.20

Alled-Martinez

Archie Alled-Martinez is at the helm of a blossoming Spanish label that eschews trends and embraces sex. For this story the dancer Jean Lemersre modeled some of his most recent looks.

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Thursday 09.24.20

LOUIS FRATINO SCULPTURES

In the frosty chill of early 2020, we visited Louis Fratino at the Bushwick studio he shares with his partner, designer Thomas Barger. The open plan was split by the couple’s starkly different styles, the colorful romance of Fratino’s paintings both in conversation and at odds with the puffy and softly spiny architecture of Barger’s furniture. As their dog, Margaret, glowered sharply at us from her roost, the couple welcomed us graciously. With candor and charm, Fratino entertained my inquiry of his recent foray into sculpture and the current landscape of queer figurative painters. Our conversation often returned to the non-linearity of space and time — to the spurious notion of progress and the recognition that art history is not a monolith. After taking notes during our tête-à-tête, 
I sent him a series of questions.

 

How does the act of drawing compare to painting or sculpting? Drawing is subconscious and capricious. If art making is about revealing an interior self, then it is drawing that brings me there. Painting or sculpting becomes heavy because it asks to live in our world, which is burdened by rules of perception. Drawing can be anything from a written letter to a hair — it is more free to wander.

 

When you draw, do you make work from your own perspective, or from a state of astral projection, floating outside of yourself? It depends on the source of the drawing, which ranges from total invention, appropriating other artworks, or photography. When I draw from invention or memory, I am often several feet behind myself — seeing myself and others. …

Wednesday 09.09.20

DANIEL MARCELLUS GIVENS

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. …

Tuesday 09.08.20

River Wilson

Introducing The GAYLETTER 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. …

Friday 08.21.20

Greer Lankton

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