Dirty Looks: A Month of Queer Interventions

by Alex Fialho on July 9, 2012 · 0 comments Preview

Still from Charles Atlas, It’s a Jackie Thing, 1999. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.

July is shaping up to be an exciting month for queer art in the city, with a series of daily interventions titled “On Location” curated by Dirty Looks, the self-described “Monthly Roaming Platform for Queer Experimental Film and Video.” Dirty Looks has coordinated a screening or celebration in an art venue or a queer social site each and every day of the month, so if you have already missed out on the first few screenings (it is July 9th after all!), we are here to fill you in on some upcoming events that should not be overlooked. Dirty Looks has put together an incredible schedule and roster of landmark queer cinema and performers, while simultaneously activating many of the city’s most historic sites for both art viewing and gay cruising – demonstrating just how inextricable social and sexual histories are from New York City’s cultural landscape. Plus, if you ever needed an excuse to peruse The Blue or Eastern Bloc, you can use “On Location” to say that you did it for the art, after all…

Charles Atlas

It’s a Jackie Thing, July 9, W New York, Times Square, 1567 Broadway, 9 PM

Hail The New Puritan, July 29, Le Petit Versailles, 346 East Houston Street, 7:30 PM

In case Charles Atlas’ inclusion in this year’s iteration of the Whitney Biennial (or his solo show at Luhring Augustine) has you looking for more, the filmmaker has not one but two screenings in “On Location.” Enjoy Atlas’ It’s a Jackie Thing (1999), a chronicle of the Tuesday night Meatpacking district queer party Jackie 60, which ran with booming success throughout the 1990s. Atlas is perhaps best-known as Merce Cunningham’s longtime “filmmaker-in-residence” (1974-83), and Dirty Looks’ second Atlas screening features the filmmaker turning his camera upon another dancer, Michael Clark (also included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial) for an important picture of the London queer underground, Hail The New Puritan (1986).

A One Man Show, Jean-Paul Goude

July 10, The Outhouse Rooftop Club, 510 West 42nd Street, 9 PM, RSVP required

Jean-Paul Goude is the illustrator, photographer, graphic designer, and advertisement film director behind many of Grace Jones’ most iconic images (think: her one-legged microphone acrobatics). As Goude’s recent tour de force retrospective Goudemalion at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris attested, the man has an eye for style and fashion. A One Man Show (1982) is Goude’s “singular concert video” of Grace Jones, which combines music videos, still images, and concert footage, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video in 1984. Note: RSVP is required for this event, which is located on the private, rooftop club of the newly opened THE OUT NYC.

Cobra Woman, Robert Siodmak / Jungle Island, Jack Smith

July 13, Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, 8:30 PM

Mario Montez, one of Warhol’s most infamous and alluring Superstars whose drag persona was inspired by “the ravishing queen of Technicolor” Maria Montez, has been having quite a resurgence of late. Last November, Mario introduced the opening screening of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1963) for the filmmaker’s MoMA retrospective, and later that evening hosted “An Evening with Mario Montez” at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, a double feature including her well-known Warhol Screen Test. In their own double feature, Dirty Looks pairs another of Mario’s starring roles in a Jack Smith film, Jungle Island (1967), with Robert Siodmak’s Cobra Woman (1944), starring none other than Mario’s muse Maria Montez herself. The camp spotlight continues to shine on this drag diva.

Still from Marlon Riggs' Anthem, 1991.

Anthem, Marlon Riggs

July 20, Peter Rabbit’s (former site), 396 West 10th Street, 2PM-6PM, continuous loop

She Don’t Fade, Cheryl Dunye

July 28, Flamingo Club (former site), 219 2nd Avenue, 2PM – 6PM, continuous loop

One of the most exciting aspects of “On Location” is the multiple screenings at former queer sites throughout New York City. In the absence of these actual sites of queer exchange, which have since closed for one reason or another, “On Location” has multiple events in which Dirty Looks will screen films on trucks positioned in front of these previous haunts. In overlaying our contemporary landscape with visions from their former glory days, Dirty Looks provides an important perspective of commemoration on the not-so-distant queer past of these spaces.  Two events at former queer sites, both curated by Jamillah James, are of particular interest: First, Marlon Riggs’ experimental music video Anthem (1991), an incisive take on civic and religious questioning in the time of AIDS, will be shown at the former location of Peter Rabbit’s, a primarily gay, black bar near the Christopher Street Pier, itself an infamous cruising site. Second, pioneering filmmaker Cheryl Dunye further explores the intersections of race and sexuality with She Don’t Fade (1991), one of the films responsible for ushering in a wave of queer cinema in the early 1990s. This screening will take place at the former home of the Flamingo Club, the last site of the celebrated lesbian party “The Clit Club.”

This Is Not A Dream, Gavin Butt & Ben Walters

July 21, The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 7PM

One of the marquee events of Dirty Looks’ “On Location” is the New York City premiere of Gavin Butt and Ben Walters’ This Is Not A Dream (2012), a film about queer and alternative artists and their use of the moving image to “talk back to the mainstream, reach out to fellow freaks and explore stranger regions of fantasy.” Featuring interviews with Dara Birnbaum, Vaginal Davis, Cole Escola, Glenn O’Brien and the Divine David, among others, This is Not A Dream is a veritable Who’s Who of the influences, references, and the underground culture of alternative moving-image production.  The film’s engagement with the idea of “how to change the world with your video camera… or create your own” is particularly appropriate in the context of Dirty Looks’ month of relevant screenings throughout the city.

Blue, Derek Jarman

July 25, Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, 8PM

Shot just months before Derek Jarman’s death from AIDS-related complications, Blue (1993) consists of a sole image of saturated blue. By the time of its filming, Jarman’s vision had slowly deteriorated to only the spectrum of the color blue, and his film provides an elegiac view on the process of passing from one realm into another. The Judson Memorial Church, one of the most accommodating sites for funeral services to those dying of AIDS-related causes in the early 1980s, is a particularly fitting venue for the screening of Jarman’s final film, and promises to provide a meditative site for the screening of the filmmaker’s closing vision.

Portrait of Jason,  Shirley Clarke

July 26, Maysles Cinema, 343 Malcolm X Blvd/ Lenox Ave, 7:30 PM

The lone film screening uptown is Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1967) at The Maysles Cinema, New York City’s only independent cinema north of Lincoln Center. Clarke’s documentary portrait is composed from her interview with Jason Halliday, a performer who also worked as a hustler. Interviewed at The Chelsea Hotel around the time of Warhol’s Chelsea Girls (1966), Clarke’s film is both a portrait of the gay, black Halliday as well as a reflection on charged questions of race, spectatorship, and audience.

Additional information on all of Dirty Looks “On Location” events is available on their website.

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