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« Dept. of Overgeneralizations -- More Women and Food | Main | Free Reads -- Gay Oscar »

February 13, 2003

Free Reads -- Bruce LaBruce

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Do you have much of a taste for campy gay carrying-on? As a spectator, I mean. I do, although the pruned-and-tweezed guppy variety that seems to have become de rigeuer (ie., the heroine's best friend) these days usually leaves me cold. No, what can really get me giggling is what some of my gay friends refer to as Extreme Faggotry -- silliness, perversity, and theatrics unredeemed by respectability or self-conscious art, let alone politics. The irreplaceable Charles Ludlam. Charles Busch, showing the lady stars how it's really done. The early Almodovar, and the early John Waters. Did you ever read Waters' Shock Value? (It's buyable here.) A memoir of growing up as John Waters, and hilarious. Where do these guys come from? They can make me laugh till the tears run.

But Ludlam is dead, I've missed the last few Charles Busch productions, Almodovar should go back on whatever it was he's since kicked, and while I'm sure Waters is a hundred times wittier than I'll ever be, in recent years he's begun seeming a little snug, happy and tame. Where's a fan of Extreme Faggotry to turn?

Maybe to the gifted Canadian Bruce LaBruce, about whom not nearly enough Americans know.

Who he? Well, in his own words:

He started out as a child, then quickly moved on to the production of homo punk fanzines (J.D.s [with G.B. Jones], Dumb Bitch Deserves To Die [with Candy Parker]) and super 8 movies (Boy/Girl, I Know What It's Like To Be Dead, Bruce and Pepper Wayne Gacy's Home Movies [with Candy Parker], Slam!). These products helped to launch the so-called Homocore or Queercore movement which corrupted a whole new generation of homosexuals.

LaBruce has gone on to make feature-length movies such as No Skin Off My Ass and Super 8 1/2. He describes the latter as "a harrowing cautionary bio-pic about LaBruce's rocky rise to cult stardom. LaBruce may or may not be playing himself in this disturbing film, an aging porn star/director whose career is on the skids owing to his inability to cope with his emerging identification as a cineaste." As I recall, the Bruce character is going through an avant-garde period; he's determined to break down the fourth wall, which in his case means looking at the camera during the sex scenes. His degradation is complete when he's put to use as a "stunt ass" during a generic buttfucking scene.

LaBruce is wonderfully disreputable -- everything the proper contempo guppy probably wishes homos were over and through with. His autobiography The Reluctant Pornographer (buyable here) is a hoot, he's written smart and insightful pieces about movies, and he was a memorable contributor to a too-much-overlooked collection of essays called Anti-Gay (buyable here), where he and other wits and dissidents did their best to trash the gay-clone and the gay-respectability things. Silliness and perversity should rule!

These days, LaBruce still seems to be writing, and he has wangled some gigs for himself photographing hung dudes for gay porn magazines. ("Models who are selected for actual photo shoots by Bruce LaBruce are not necessarily required to sleep with him, necessarily.") I seem to recall he still has a thing for skatepunks.

He can be pretty hit or miss, and his films, to be fair, are maybe funnier to hear about and talk about than to watch. But how to resist someone who makes a point of proudly including on his website the claim that he's hated by Todd ("Far From Heaven") Haynes?

Here are some excerpts from one of his columns, where he talks about feeling sympathy for Dr. Laura:

Like Anita Bryant before her, Dr. Laura has become a conservative, gay-camp icon, someone with whom, in our own twisted way, we can identify for her ballsy, contradictory identity. We like our Leni Riefenstahls, our Martha Stewarts and our Imelda Marcoses. We can't help it....

Gays today want it both ways. They want to be accepted as normal and the same as heterosexuals, able to be monogamous and (if you'll pardon the expression) to rear children -- but they also want to maintain their gay identity and all the freedom and revolutionary spirit that goes with it.

Well I, for one, ain't buying it. If you want to get married and have kids, go find a good woman and settle down.

A healthy and well-reasoned political position? Well, I should hope not!

Bruce's (very fun) website is here.
An archive of columns that he's written for Toronto's Eye Magazine is here.



posted by Michael at February 13, 2003


Alright then: high camp. What these guys seem to have completely sussed is, how to shamelessly pick up other people for sex. I think this is admirable. They are stylish, glamorous, impressive, sexy and cool, and they don't care who doesn't like them. This is what I am trying to aspire to next. (Apart from the shameless picking people up for sex. Obviously).

We don't seem to know most of these names in the UK though; we have Graham Norton.
He's Irish, and pretty good. He does things like phoning up people with strange websites and saying "Farrah Fawcett is here in the studio and she wants to say hello."

Posted by: Alice Bachini on February 16, 2003 12:30 PM

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