relationships

Kink Camp

The most notorious episodes of the Risk podcast are probably the ones where host, Kevin Allison, talks about kink camp.  

In number 229 “Kevin Goes to Kink Camp 1” and number 230 “Kevin Goes to Kink Camp 2” Kevin walks the listener through his first experience of kink camp and what it is like to be a gay man at a primarily heterosexual orgy.

In episode number 828 “Make Believe,” Kevin tells a story called “The Whiz Kid” about his return to kink camp where he participated in “water sports” or urine play.  

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Paris Burning and/or Burnt

The documentary Paris is Burning is a particularly important record of LGTQ people of color in New York in the 1980s.  More specifically, the film is about the ballroom subculture, made up primarily of young, disenfranchised LGTQ POC gathering to “walk” and dance (where “voguing” comes from) in costume.  The film has had a lasting impact on current vernacular, such as “shade,” “kiki,” and “realness.”

There was controversy after the documentary around compensation and how the project was represented by Jennie Livingston.  The subjects of the documentary lived difficult lives in poverty and the film ended with the murder of Venus Xtravaganza.  The resulting question is for documentary film makers as it is for ethnographers – When your career is based in the lives of your subjects, what do you owe them?  How might you change their lives by making them famous while they still live in poverty?

The discord around the film reoccured around the 2015 Celebrate Brooklyn screening of Paris is Burning, which was to be accompanied by Jennie Livingston and DJ’ed by JD Samson, both of whom are white queer people.  No people of color or representatives from the continuing ballroom scene were invited.  Attention was quickly drawn to the silencing of people of color around their own stories and parallels to ongoing gentrification in Brooklyn.  A change.org petition declaring “#ParisIsBurnt” was started calling for canceling the event.  Ultimately Samson dropped out and ballroom participants who appeared in the documentary were invited to participate.

This year the documentary Kiki was released and has drawn parallels to Paris is Burning, though the director seems to have taken a more collaborative approach and learned from Livingston’s mistakes.  It looks at the contemporary ballroom subculture, the importance of DIY, and activism.

The Box It Came In

One of my favorite songs, this was recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1965.  It holds many of the common subjects found in country music, with the overall theme of “It’s All Over” as explored by Peter Lewis, plus a bit of gender based comeuppance at the end.

Lyrics (from metrolyrics):

My clothes are all ragged my goodwill coat’s not the best
And I’m a walking on cardboard in my last dollar dress
I looked in the closet for my wedding gown
But the box that it came in was all that I found
He took everything with him that wasn’t nailed down
Bet he’s got a new sweetheart to fill my wedding gown
But somewhere I’ll find him then I’ll have peace of mind
And the box he comes home in will be all satin lined

He took everything with him that wasn’t nailed down
Bet he’s got a new sweetheart to fill my wedding gown
But somewhere I’ll find him then I’ll have peace of mind
And the box he comes home in will be all satin lined

Cowboys are frequently, secretly fond of each other…

Ned Sublette originally wrote “Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other” as a deadpan satire around the stereotypes of gay men in the 1980s.  The song was later covered by Willie Nelson, in a softer, more sentimental tone.  Bonus: Burt Reynolds is in the beginning of this video.

Gay / queercore punk band Pansy Division also covered the song

Lyrics:

Well, there’s many a strange impulse out on the plains of West Texas.
There’s many a young boy who feels things he can’t comprehend.
And a small town don’t like it when somebody falls between sexes.
No, a small town don’t like it when a cowboy has feelings for men.

And I believe to my soul that inside every man there’s the feminine.
And inside every lady there’s a deep manly voice loud and clear.
Well, a cowboy may brag about things that he’s done with his women.
But the ones who brag loudest are the ones that are most likely queer.

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other.
Say, what do you think all them saddles and boots was about?
And there’s many a cowboy who don’t understand the way that he feels for his brother.
And inside every cowboy there’s a lady that’d love to slip out.

And there’s always somebody who says what the others just whisper.
And mostly that someone’s the first one to get shot down dead.
So when you talk to a cowboy don’t treat him like he was a sister.
You can’t fuck with a lady that’s sleepin’ in each cowboy’s head.

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other.
What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?
And there’s many a cowboy who don’t understand the way that he feels for his brother.
And inside every lady there’s a cowboy who wants to come out.
And inside every cowboy there’s a lady that’d love to slip out.

Authenticity at Lucky Seven Punk House

The punk community has its own distinct culture and forms of subcultural capital defining what is ‘authentic.’  According to David Muggleton, such subcultures “privilege… the artistic integrity of the underground compared to the mass commercialism of the mainstream.”  

In Portlandia‘s “Lucky Seven Punk House,” the cultural markers conferring punk membership and authenticity are present, including multiple couches on the porch, use of outdated technology, etc.  Punk houses sharing these qualities exist in cities across the US. (Note: one exception I noticed is living, flowering plants in the front yard.  I have yet to see a collective punk house that successfully maintained a garden)