Off the streets & behind the shutter
Contemporary photojournalism & classic art photography
by Roberto Friedman
Okay, column-reading possums, it's time to catch up with just a few of the many volumes that cross our desk as part of the ever-burgeoning flood of LGBT literature which doth issue from queer presses and mainstream publishing houses alike.
Photographer Lucky S. Michaels works with homeless LGBT youth as a counselor at the NYC homeless shelter Sylvia's Place, and a new book, Shelter (Trolley), features his photographs of the young people he has come to know, along with interviews with some of them. National statistics about homeless LGBT youth are rather grim. Of nearly 1.3 million youth living on the American streets, almost 40% are LGBT. Over half of all gay youth were rejected by their parents, and a quarter forced to leave home. Michaels' photojournalism helps put names and faces on the facts and figures.
The homoerotic photographs of Herbert List were among the 20th century's greatest hits of pictorial art. Impossible to look at a Bruce Weber portrait of an underwear model posed like a Greek God in a Mediterranean setting, and not see List's classic portraits of sunbathers and swimmers posed exactly so. The Essential Herbert List: Photographs 1930-1972, which releases in May from Schirmer/Mosel, is a project by former List assistant Max Scheler and Helmut Newton Foundation curator Matthias Harder.
Included essayist Edmund White writes, "When Weber sought a precedent for his art of the male nude as something more serious than beefcake, he found it in the work of Herbert List. But List does not fetishize body parts nor invite our eye to do so, nor does he present the tormented gay voyeur with straight men in all their self-confident, unconscious grandeur. No, List is showing us a tribe of teens, his friends, who are never models and are often his lovers." In an impressive body of work, these are among the choicest pictures.
Author Richard Price says he didn't bother to read the lyric of Billy Strayhorn 's song "Lush Life" (Entertainment Weekly, March 7) when he chose it as the name of his new novel, saying, "I didn't know it was about a bunch of old ladies â€” guess I blew it." Well, he'd better read the lyric again. Straight people have been willingly misled by the song for years, but most everybody realizes it's a gay song, written by a gay man, and describes the gay bar scene of the period. Go on, Richard, read it. Be an informed writer. A double blow?
Legacies of Love â€“ A Heritage of Queer Bonding by Winston Wilde (Haworth Press) presents the stories of famous gay and lesbian couples through the ages: intergenerational (i.e., Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud), interclass (i.e., Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton), and peer-to-peer (i.e., Greta Garbo and Mercedes de Acosta). The book is filled to the brim with many amusing anecdotes, such as the following, found in the passage about actor Will Geer , probably best known for his role of Grandpa on The Waltons. "Geer had many lovers of both genders, notably gay American civil rights pioneer Harry Hay. At Geer's funeral, Hay blurted out to Herta Ware , 'I had him first.' She replied, 'I had him longest.'"
In the passage describing the intercultural love between Lawrence of Arabia and Ahmed Dahoum , Wilde quotes Lawrence's love lyric from Seven Pillars of Wisdom: "I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands/ and wrote my will across the sky in stars/ To gain you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,/ that your eyes might be shining for me/ When we came." How romantic!
Kings and Queens
Those Tudors are back for another season on Showtime on Sundays. The New York Times review remembers how the series dramatized the plague last season, "the camera passing over the night-blue faces of beautiful women taken too young â€” the Black Death as a fashion shoot you would find in Italian Vogue. Henry, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, lived in consuming terror of the disease, working himself into an expedient perspiration every time he felt the slightest bit woozy or unwell.
"One scene had him waking in the middle of the night to do push-ups and jog ferociously in shorts in his chambers, his perfectly demarcated abdominals and deltoids exposed so that he looked like someone you would hire to be your live-in personal trainer." Oh, Tudor, do!
Last Thursday, Out There was out and about, more out than in, over and under the tables of the vibrant arts district in deepest SoMa. The big, generous Lee Friedlander exhibit at SFMOMA was packed with photography-lovers. Catharine Clark Gallery across Minna alley was presenting artist Chester Arnold's The Road to Paradise, and playing in the Video Project Room was Winchester Redux (2004), an abridged version of the Winchester Trilogy by the late great digital artist Jeremy Blake (both exhibits through April 19). We spent some minutes enrapt in Blake's vision.
Later we attended the grand opening of Swiss chocolate confiserie Schoggi on Yerba Buena Lane. Yes, OT will go to the opening of a chocolate store, and relish every morsel. Finally, we ended up at Jack Falstaff in South Beach for the unveiling of the multimedia series Season Change by San Francisco artist Rob Racine. But movers and shakers of the PlumpJack Group, please take note: If you're going to invite media to an art opening, the bar, like the press, should be open and free.
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy producer Lisa Geduldig has announced the line-up for her 10th anniversary edition of Funny Girlz: A Smorgasbord of Women Comedians, coming up on Sat., May 10 to the Herbst Theatre. Those funny galz include, along with Geduldig: All-American Jewish lesbian folksinger Phranc , Pine Sol Lady Diane Amos , British-Nigerian comic Gina Yashere , SF comedian Samantha Chanse , and Matthew "Peggy Lee" Martin .
For tickets ($25-$40) to the gal-amorous affair, a benefit for the Bay Area Women's and Children's Center, call City Box Office at (415) 392-4400 or go to www.cityboxoffice.com.
In our continuing coverage of the Dueling Divas series at the Castro Theatre in last week's issue, we somehow switched out a photo from ImageMakers of Rita Hayworth with one of Susan Hayward. We greatly regret the error, mostly because our street cred is completely destroyed, and we will never live it down with certain Vintage Hollywood queens.
This week's Lavender Tube column from lesbian stalwart writer and editor Victoria A. Brownworth can be found online, at www.ebar.com. Just another value-added bonus from your buddies here at the B.A.R.!