Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Shoe-tapping through the tulips

Out There

"Portrait of a Young Man" by Amrita Sher-Gil, 1930. Photo: Courtesy Schirmer/Mosel
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Unless you have an emotional or financial investment in the television industry, it's hard to imagine why you would have watched the Emmy Awards broadcast last Sunday night on Fox. The highlight was comic Bill Maher's reference to Sen. Larry Craig's airport men's-room party. As each of his show's nominated writers' names was read, the Times reported, "the camera panned a pair of shoes sticking out beneath a bathroom stall, including one with three pairs of feet nuzzled against each other." New frontiers in televised tearoom action!

Oh, and Emmys host Ryan Seacrest ? Still "not gay."

Indian ink

Amrita Sher-Gil: An Indian Artist Family of the Twentieth Century (Schirmer/Mosel), the catalogue for an exhibition presented at the Tate Modern this past spring, explores the lives and works of a family of artists that was once nicknamed "the Kahlos of India." Patriarch Umrao Singh was a Sanskrit scholar who pioneered Indian photography. His daughter, Amrita Sher-Gil, became one of India's most famous painters. Her nephew, the Indian conceptual artist Vivan Sundaran, makes work that combines old family photos with their artwork; these collages are included here. But the book's primary focus is on the artist Sher-Gil, who was a charismatic member of the bohemian world of 1930s Paris, and was known for her portraits of — and sexual affairs with — both men and women.

"Sher-Gil was born to a Hungarian mother and a Sikh father," writes Tate Modern director Nicholas Tate . "She grew up in a cosmopolitan, aristocratic family who supported her early interest in art. Her artistic training took place in Europe, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, which ushered in a period of experimentation, of exploring her own hybrid identity and trying out different personae.

"But Sher-Gil soon decided that her task was 'to interpret the life of Indians, particularly the poor Indians pictorially; to paint those images of infinite submission and patience.'" In the case of this artist, the artwork's intent — philosophical, contemplative, spiritual — is the message. Her art speaks of cultural inquiry, but even more of human empathy.

On a related note, the noted art historian Partha Mitter will give a public lecture at Mills College in Oakland next month based on his new book, The Triumph of Modernism: Indian Artists and the Avant-Garde 1922-1947. His subject includes "the emergence of a feminine voice in Indian art, the decline of 'Oriental art,' and the rise of naturalism and modernism in the 1920s." The lecture will take place on Wed., Oct. 10, 7 p.m. at Lisser Hall, Mills College. Info at

Film marathon

Coming up this Saturday, Sept. 22, Frameline will present Best of the Fest 2007, a one-day film event featuring audience favorites and award-winning films from the 31st SF International LGBT Film Festival. The films will screen for over 12 hours at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th St., SF.

Best of the Fest 2007 highlights include the sensuous Glue, this year's Best First Feature; and Spider Lilies, a fest fave and winner of the Berlin Film Festival Teddy Award for Best Queer Feature. Also on tap, two award-winning documentaries: the Audience Award for Best Documentary, Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey, about a gay Marine stationed in Iraq; and Red Without Blue, the Michael J. Berg Documentary Award-winner, the story of identical twins Alex and Mark as they struggle to reconcile their painful adolescenc

A scene from Glue, part of Best of the Fest 2007. Photo: Courtesy Frameline
e and Alex's decision to transition to a woman.

Short films will include Audience Award-winner Pariah; Casting Pearls, starring Calpernia Adams ; the comedy Members Only; Australia's Prada Handbag; and Cowboy Forever. Tickets are $12 for Frameline members, $15 for the public; and passes to the entire day are $50 for Frameliners, $65 for public. Info, go to

Inside briefs

In the September issue of GQ, former advertising copywriter Glenn O'Brien recounts working on the Calvin Klein underwear account in 1982, during the famous ad campaign featuring Mark Wahlberg (then Marky Mark ) in nuthin' but his Calvins.

"Only a year earlier, he had prefaced his book Marky Mark thusly: 'I wanna dedicate this book to my dick.' And there was plenty of dick, both in the Calvins and in our model's personality," O'Brien notes. "Congratulations, Calvin. I'm proud to say I had a hand in your underwear."

From our perspective, it's refreshing to be reminded, now that Wahlberg is regarded as a Serious Actor with a Serious Film Career, blah blah blah, how completely and publicly in love with his own dick he once was (and still is?). Did Brando ever dedicate paeans to his own package?

Teeing up: As long as we're waxing on about underwear, here are Out There's five favorite T-shirt slogans from among those pictured in Wearing History – T-Shirts from the Gay Rights Movement by Steve Gdula (Alyson; $18.95 trade paperback). Count-em down.

#5: "No Apologies – May 21, 1979, San Francisco" [White Night Riots following Dan White 's manslaughter verdict; with a picture of a burning police car.]

#4: "Ignorance = Fear, Silence = Death" [ACT UP mottos on Keith Haring-designed T; with a picture of the "see-no-evil" monkeys.]

#3: "AIDSGATE [with a monstrous drawing of Ronald Reagan's visage, referencing his administration's scandalous refusal to address the early years of the AIDS crisis.]

#2: "Nobody Knows I'm a Lesbian" [worn on an ostensibly male chest.]

#1: "Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass, Be not afraid of my body." [a line from the great gay poet Walt Whitman.]

Clark bar

"Testifying before Congress last week, Gen. David H. Petraeus appeared commanding, smart and alive to the challenges that his soldiers face in Iraq. But he also embodied what the Iraq conflict has come to represent: an embattled, able, courageous military at war, struggling to maintain its authority and credibility after 4 1/2 years of a 'cakewalk' gone wrong."

We liked what Gen. Wesley K. Clark had to say about the Petraeus hearings in the OpEd pages of The Washington Post last Sunday, above. Full disclosure: we saw a photo of Clark's son as part of an offspring-of-the-famous photo feature in The New York Times Magazine in 2004, and we can't get it out of our head. We mean: stocking-footed, grad-student hottie, as in h-a-w-t. So we can't claim to be impartial.

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