This past November, the Friday after Election Day, We spoke with Urayoán Noel and Raquel Salas Rivera, each a Puerto Rican poet, scholar, and performer in their own right.
Urayoán called from the Bronx. His seventh book of poetry, Transversal (forthcoming), reconfigures the border between Spanish and English to create new possibilities of their arrangement, fusion, and division. Raquel called from Santurce, Puerto Rico. His eighth book of poems, While They Sleep (Under the Bed is Another Country) (2019), describes in Spanish and differently in English the grief, rage, absurdity, desire, and numbness that are the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
We are grateful to both poets for sharing original poetry with us. Read on, where Raquel and Urayoán discuss the historic shifts in today’s Puerto Rico, the island’s anarchist history, finding places to grow, loving Philadelphia, remembering Sylvia Rivera, and building a lineage from the cracks.
Maybe we could begin with an overview of what’s going on in Puerto Rico today.
Raquel: We still have the Oversight and Management Board, la Junta as we call it here, which goes above the legislature and the governor. This election follows a mass movement of a size we haven’t seen in recent history. People have compared it to Vieques. It seems to have broken through a wall, and that’s undoing a belief that has existed for a long time. I grew up hearing we were just too divided as a people, that there was no way we could come together for something. …
He is a provocateur extraordinaire – most of his oeuvre has been banned, censored, or attacked since he emerged from the queer punk scene in the 1980s.
The Death Book continues his subversive project, with the images in the book functioning as a social mirror or projective test that mine our collective unconscious, probing the depths of what we repress and censor. Just a few days shy of the United States Presidential 2020 election, Bruce and I connected on Skype to discuss his newest book. It was a gloomy day in both Brooklyn and Toronto, a fitting backdrop for our conversation which delved into death, violence, obscenity, and the psychology of taboo.
Could you tell me about the concept for the book? Baron Books, Matthew Holroyd, contacted me. He had this concept to do a series of books on death, and ask various artists to collaborate on the concept. So mine is only the second book in the series. He let me come up with whatever idea I thought would be most interesting. And I guess I took it beyond that — literally. Like, I thought it would be a good opportunity to compile all the most severely violent and crazy imagery that I’ve made over the years. It kind of has a cumulative effect. I’ve been working in gore and splatter for quite a long time. Even before my zombie movies, I was using a lot of it in my photography and at my art openings. So when you see it all together, it’s kind of startling, but I think it’s all very consistent and it really shows how my project has always been to draw attention to how this kind of imagery is so casually promoted as capitalist fodder. …
The GAYLETTER Back Page
Reno Gold has been making money from his immaculately sculpted body since he was an 18-year-old stripper in Reno, Nevada. Names he went through before he got to Reno Gold include Sebastian Valentino and Richie Rose. Now at 24, Reno has moved his talents to OnlyFans. He’s been doing it for two years, but in the last year his income on the platform has exploded. Even with the 20 percent cut the company takes, he often manages to pull in over $100,000 a month. In total he’s earned over $1.2 million. The quarantine has been a golden opportunity for Reno.
“Covid has been really good for business just because people are craving that human interaction.” Reno now resides in Miami, but he was born in Illinois. He is currently single, telling us that his number one focus is his work. “I talk to my subscribers every single day. When I wake up, I immediately check my messages, answer them, and then hit the gym. Then I come home and film. I think it’d be kind of hard to have a relationship.” When asked to give us an official job description Reno responded with “local Internet hooker” or “digital panhandler.”
Reno loves his eyes but he says, “my dick brings me the most pleasure, so he’s gotta be my favorite.” Reno has plenty of fantasies, and he’s been lucky to fulfill some. “I actually lived out one of my fantasies a couple of years ago when I was traveling to Paris.” …
Slapping, bruising, and bleeding love in a new anthology
In an ambitious new anthology, Kink, edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, prominent American authors like Alexander Chee, Chris Kraus, Roxane Gay and Brandon Taylor investigate sexual kinks and fetishes along with several other writers from diverse backgrounds. Each story is its own individual achievement, some better than others, but presented together, the anthology makes a strong claim for marginalized literature’s commercial potential.
Kink leaves little up to the imagination. The characters are slapped, they’re bruised, they bleed. As you read, keep in mind that kink, or BDSM, is built on trust, and “play,” as it is coined by the fetish community, is practiced with specific language and symbols. It’s important to remember that each participant has a “safeword” (used when someone no longer feels safe, physically or emotionally, inside of the scene) available to use at any time. “Are you okay, Jihyun?” a man asks his wife. “Is this what you want?” He, a newcomer to play, speaks for squeamish people everywhere. While reading, at times I too I searched for my own safeword. Things I never found unsettling now made me wince, like spitting into someone’s mouth. For the reader more accustomed to kink, there are exciting moments of degradation, but for those unaccustomed, be prepared for shock and awe. The anthology, through writing that is controlled as much as it is unhinged, is filled with emotional manipulations and physical contortions. Each writer drums up their most serious literary postures, from realism to Gothic, to try and maintain the delicate subject matter. …
New paintings from the figurative talent Anthony Cudahy
When New York City first went into lockdown, Cudahy was unable to access his studio where large-scale works were in progress, but 2020 was still a prolific year for him, creatively speaking. Stuck at home, the painter turned inward, focusing on his late uncle Kenny Gardner’s photography archive (brilliantly curated) as well as his own stockpile of imagery that inspired several new drawings and paintings for his show Burn Across the Breeze at 1969 Gallery, on view through February 21st.
Anthony Cudahy is a great storyteller. Despite their otherworldly subject matter, his paintings occlude simplification. They’re rarely about one thing. Even a traditional portrait accrues context under Cudahy’s guidance. His scenes — which make use of saturated oranges, greens and purples — are often usurped from found imagery, or borrow directly from art history.
One of the show’s more quiet works was painted right after the toughest lockdown restrictions were lifted, when Cudahy could return to the studio, where he was no longer confined to small format. “Us (with Jacob’s Ladder, Apocalypse Tree, Lion)” shows two figures, Cudahy and his husband, Ian Lewandowski, embracing in an indiscernible setting that blends the natural world with something more sinister. Portrayed in breathy strokes of reds and orange, Cudahy and Lewandowksi embrace in the foreground on top of lush green grass that turns murky under the apocalypse tree. In the background, a path in harsh light leads the eye off the canvas, away from the safety of their embrace. I focused on the two figures at first glance, drawn to the delicate brushstrokes that didn’t carry too much paint. …
In their “American Flag Bikini” music video, Michael Love Michael sings holy as Jesus.
The designer Ashish Gupta treats every season like his last.
A free flowing conversation with writer and comedian Jordan Firstman about authenticity, unfinished business and being a sassy, hairy jewish sex icon.
Where are you right now? I am on Fire Island.
How did you get to FIP during the global pandemic? OMG! We’re already outing me as a Corona traveler. I get tested every week in Los Angeles, got tested Wednesday. I just had to leave L.A., it was just getting to be too much. L.A. in August is really sad.
Why is L.A. in August sad? August is a sad month for everyone because we feel the summer ending and we don’t want it to happen. And then L.A. on top of that it’s just a sad city. So, you bring August vibes to L.A. vibes. It just feels like stale and sad, and no one can be free, so I had to bounce.
What makes L.A. sad? I think L.A. is all unfinished business. I think there’s a lot of ghosts there. L.A. has only unfinished business. It is literally the land of dreams that were crushed and dreams that never got made.
Do you feel like you have a lot of unfinished business? No, I feel like I am doing my business. I can’t believe that I am going to say this, but if I do believe in reincarnation, I feel like we might be close to my last time. If it’s not this one then the next one. I feel like I am close to something.
That’s a good place to be in, spiritually, in a city like L.A. Yeah. I feel like you have to be really spiritually strong to be able to navigate such a morally complicated place. …
Roddy Bottum and Joey Holman are the musical duo MAN ON MAN. The two started dating 14 months ago and during quarantine this past spring, they began working on an album together, due out early 2021, they have already released two singles, “Daddy” and “Baby You’re My Everything.” Both songs are gorgeous odes to man-on-man love and lust.
“Daddy” is a thumping, melodic rock song made for moving your body, while “Baby You’re My Everything” is slower in tempo and golden-toned — it’s made for smoking weed and cuddling with a lover. The music video for “Baby You’re My Everything” features Roddy and Joey in khakis and casual button-down shirts, meditatively wandering hand-in-hand in the desert. They eventually make it to a river where Roddy baptizes Joey by spitting in his mouth and then dipping him under the water.
Roddy has been creating music for decades. During the ’90s he was the keyboardist for the massively popular rock group Faith No More. Joey has been playing music for some time, but is newer to the industry. MAN ON MAN was born out of necessity. Both men had recently lost a parent, and their answer to the grief that was all around them was to get busy. The restrictions OF quarantine only fueled their creativity: “As queer people, we work well with parameters. The history of our culture is judgement and homophobia that we’ve had to work around for our whole lives.”
How did you two meet? …
Before the shutdown, Junior Mintt was one of the most booked and busy queens in the New York and Brooklyn drag scene. Junior likens her shows to “queer church” full of “confetti, balloon pops, laughter, costume reveals, comedy mixes, motivational speaking, political statements, great music, and above all respect!” We connected with Junior to discuss her love of candy, the beauty of Black trans power, and who she looks up to the most.
What’s the story behind Junior Mintt and her rise? I wouldn’t necessarily say there was a “rise” to Junior Mintt, I prefer to think she was with me from birth. Junior Mintt is the piece of me that kept me going and kept me seeing my own worth when I didn’t think I was worthy of love. Being trans you’re born into a world that reminds you everyday it isn’t meant for you, so growing up I internalized every hurtful thing that everyone would say. From being very overweight to my femme personality to being too nice, Junior Mintt was the voice in my head reminding me that just because I don’t fit in here doesn’t mean I don’t fit in anywhere. Junior Mintt was always there and always knew who I was, it’s just a matter of me getting to know her now.
Where does your name come from? My name outside of drag is Junior as well, and when I started drag, I knew I wanted to use my real name. I started off as Junior High, and then when I was rewatching the Seinfeld episode that’s all about Junior Mints, I remembered that growing up my mom would call me her little Junior Mint, and that was the moment when it clicked! …