Tommy Lee Kirk: Film History Series

“Tommy Lee Kirk as Travis Coates”, “Savage Sam”, 1963, Walt Disney Productions, Cinematographer Edward Coleman, Director Norman Tokar

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in December of 1941, Tommy Lee Kirk was an American actor best known for his performances in films produced by Walt Disney Studios. His teen idol status became closely associated with the clean, wholesome product that Disney Studios produced during the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

One of four sons, Tommy Kirk moved at the age of fifteen months with his family to California where they settled in Downey, a city in southeast Los Angeles. In 1954 at the age of thirteen, he  accompanied his older brother Joe to an audition at the Pasadena Playhouse for a role in Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness”. Although Joe was not cast in a role, Tommy Kirk had his stage debut with a role consisting of five lines of dialogue. His small role was seen favorably by a representative from the Gertz Agency of Hollywood who signed him to a contract. 

Kirk made his first television appearance in an episode entitled “The Last of the Old Time Shooting Sheriffs” for the anthology drama series “TV Reader’s Digest”. He appeared in two more Pasadena theater plays and was cast in small roles on other television productions, including  “Gunsmoke” and “The Loretta Young Show”. In August of 1956, Kirk was given a long-term contract by Walt Disney Productions and became a member of the 1955 “The Mickey Mouse Club” television series. He next was cast as Joe Hardy for the Mickey Mouse Club series “The Hardy Boys” and performed in two serials alongside actor Tim Considine who played his older brother Frank Hardy. Broadcasted in that October, the show and Kirk’s performance were well received and led to his long association as a ten idol with the Disney Studio.

Tommy Kirk’s career accelerated with his casting as Travis Coates in the 1957 Disney film “Old Yeller”, an adventure tale of a boy and his heroic dog. Due to the success of his lead role in “Old Yeller”, Kirk became the Disney Studio’s first choice for future American teenager roles. In July of 1958, he was cast in “The Shaggy Dog”, a Disney comedy about a boy inventor who is repeatedly transformed into an Old English Sheepdog. This film, the second highest grossing film of 1959, teamed Kirk with Fred MacMurray, Annette Funicello and Kevin Corcoran, his former co-star from “Old Yeller”. 

With his Disney contract completed, Kirk went to Universal Pictures where he did English dubbing for “The Snow Queen”, a Soviet animated feature. As revenues increased from the screening of “The Shaggy Dog”, Disney Studios resigned Kirk to a long-term studio contract and cast him as the middle son, Ernst Robinson, in its 1960 family adventure film “Swiss Family Robinson”. This family film was followed by a second huge hit, “The Absent-Minded Professor”, a fantasy comedy starring Fred MacMurray as the professor and Kirk as Biff Hawk. Kirk was next cast in several films in which he costarred with actors MacMurray and Jame Wyman in the 1962 “Bon Voyage”, Ed Wynn in the 1961 “Babes in Toyland”, and Annette Funicello in the 1962 “Escapade in Florence”.

In 1963, Tommy Kirk appeared in Disney’s “Son of Flubber”, a sequel to “The Absent-Minded Professor” which became his last film with MacMurray. He next reprised his role as Travis Coates in “Savage Sam”, a sequel to “Old Yeller” which was not as popular as the original film. In 1964, Disney Studios cast Kirk as the student inventor in “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” where he played opposite Funicello. After it became an  unexpected box office sensation, a sequel entitled “The Monkey’s Uncle” was released in July of 1965 which was equally successful.

Kirk knew he was gay from an early age; however, due to the public intolerance at that time towards homosexuality, he felt isolated and believed that the exposure of his sexuality would damage his film career. In 1963 while filming “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones”, Kirk began a relationship with a boy, six years younger, who lived in Burbank. The boy’s mother informed the Disney Studio which fired him from his role in the 1965 John Wayne western “The Sons of Katie Elder”. Out of protection for its interests, the Disney Studios released Kirk from his contract. However due to the financial success of the “Merlin Jones” film, he was allowed to return to make the 1965 sequel “The Monkey’s Uncle”.

The news of Kirk’s termination from Disney Studios was not made public: he joined American International Pictures which needed a leading man to play opposite Annette Funicello in the 1964 “Pajama Party”. From 1964 to 1969, Kirk appeared in several popular teen-oriented films, musical stage productions of “The Music Man” and “West Side Story”, and mediocre sci-fi and beach films. Practically blacklisted by an industry which deemed outed gay actors as box-office poison, Kirk returned to the musical theater in his home state of Kentucky with appearances in such shows as “Hello, Dolly” and “Anything Goes”.

In 1970, Tommy Kirk did two movies that were not Screen Actors Guild productions, “Ride the Hot Wind” and “Blood of Ghastly Horror” which caused him to lose his SAG membership.. While loss of SAG membership does not disqualify someone from acting, most film productions hire only union members, thus limiting the opportunities for an actor to be hired. Depressed and angry, Kirk sought solace in drugs and once nearly died from an overdose. After overcoming his drug addiction, Kirk began a successful carpet-cleaning business in Los Angeles which he ran for twenty years. He continued to act occasionally, appeared in films and documentary interviews for the DVD releases of some of his best known films and TV shows, and occasionally made personal appearances at film festivals and nostalgia convention/memorabilia festivals.

Tommy Kirk came out publicly as gay in a 1973 interview with Marvin Jones that was published in the January 31st edition of Gay Today. He was studying acting at that time with the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute while working in a Los Angeles restaurant. Kirk was inducted as a Disney Legend in October of 2006 alongside his former co-stars Tim Considine and Kevin Corcoran. In 2006, the first of the “Hardy Boys” serials was issued on DVD as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series. Royalties from the sales of the “Hardy Boys” serials provided Kirk an additional income. 

Tommy Lee Kirk died peacefully in his Las Vegas, Nevada, home at the age of seventy-nine on the 28th of September in 2021. His neighbor Beverly Washburn, an “Old Yeller” co-star, notified Kirk’s longtime friend and former Disney actor Paul Peterson, known for his role as the son on “The Donna Reed Show”. Peterson posted notice of Kirk’s death on Facebook mentioning in the message that Kirk’s family had disowned the gay actor.

Top Insert Image: Tommy Kirk, “Old Yeller”, 1957, Film Shot

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk and Tim Considine”, 1956, “The Hardy Boys” Series

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk”, Studio Publicity Photo Shoot

Fourth Insert Image: hotographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk, Pajama Party”, 1964, Film Shoot

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk and Dorothy Lamour, Pajama Party”, 1964, Studio Photo Shoot

Jules-Élie Delaunay

Jules-Élie Delaunay, “Study for David Triumphant”, circa 1874, Black and White Chalk, Graphite on Tan Wove Paper, No Watermark, 37.8 x 25.6 cm, Martin du Louvre Gallery, Paris

Jules-Élie Delaunay, “David Triumphant”, circa 1874, Oil on Canvas, 147 x 114 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, France

Born in 1828 in the city of Nantes, Jules-Élie Delaunay was a French painter of portraits and historical scenes. Educated at an elite local school, he received his initial art education from Joachim Sotta, a local artist. In 1846, Delaunay was introduced to French Neo-classical painter Hippolyte Flandrin, who had been the favorite student of painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Two years later, he enrolled in Flandrin’s workshop at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts. In addition to his studies with Flandrin, Delaunay also studied under French academic artist Louis Lamothe, principally a painter of portraits and historical scenes who had studied under both Ingress and Flandrin. 

Jules-Élie Delaunay regularly entered into competitions for the Prix de Rome without success; his unsuccessful entry for the 1855 Prix de Rome was his historical painting “Caesar and His Fortune, which depicted Caesar attempting to cross the Straits of Brindisi in disguise as a slave. In 1856 Delaunay was awarded the prize jointly with painter Félix Auguste Clément. The next year, his painting “Christ on the Cross in the Midst of Holy Women” was purchased by the French State in 1857. This enabled him to move to the French Academy in Rome in January of 1857.

Living intermittently as a pensioner at the Villa Medici, Delaunay traveled to Sienna, Bologna, Venice, Verona, and Padua, before settling in Rome where he studied Raphael’s works at the Vatican. While in Rome, Delaunay met and befriended Edgar Degas, Léon Bonnat, and the prominent Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. With only two years difference in age, Moreau and Delaunay shared a rapport and became close life-long friends. Delaunay returned to France at the beginning of 1861 and began to make studies for his painting “The Plague of Rome”. 

In 1862, Jules-Élie Delaunay briefly visited London and, upon his return to Paris, began receiving commissions for decorative paintings. These included frescoes for the church of Saint Nicholas in Nantes, the three murals for the foyer of the Paris Opera House, murals for the Chapel of the Virgin at Paris’s Church of the Holy Trinity, and twelve paintings for the grand hall of the State Council at the Palais Royal. 

In 1869, Delaunay finished his oil on wood painting “The Plague of Rome”. which was based on an episode in Italian chronicler Jacques de Voragine’s “The Golden Legend”, collected stories of the lives of medieval church saints. Depicting an angel in flight loosening a plague on Rome, the painting was exhibited at the Salon du Palais de l’Industrie in Paris. It was purchased by Napoleon III for public display and now resides in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Delaunay followed this canvas with two historical paintings: the 1870 “Death of Nessus” and the 1872 “Diana”, a full-length nude portrait of the goddess of the hunt. 

Jules-Élie Delaunay’s 1874 “David Triumphant” tells the Old Testament story of David and Goliath and portrays the young hero David after he had slain the Philistine giant Goliath. David is shown holding his slingshot aloft and carrying the bloody sword used to behead his slain foe. This painting was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1874 and attracted considerable attention. Other notable works that followed were the 1876 “Ixion Plunged into Hades”, an 1882 portraiture of the Shakespearean heroine Ophelia, and two different works portraying the classical Greek poet Sappho, which was also a recurrent theme in his friend Moreau’s paintings.

In 1878, Delaunay was awarded a first-class medal at the Paris Exposition and became an officer of the Legion of Honor. He was made a member of the Institute in the following year. In 1889 Delaunay was awarded the Medal of Honor and became director of one of the three official workshops at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After winning the Grand Prize at the Paris Exposition Universelle, his health started to deteriorate. Delaunay died in September of 1891 in Paris and was buried at the Miséricorde Cemetery in Loire-Atlantique. As one of his closest friends, Gustavave Moreau was appointed the executor of his will. The Musée de Beaux-Arts in Nantes holds the largest collection of Jules-Élie Delaunay’s work

Top Insert Image: Jules-Elie Delaunay, “Self Portrait”, 1850, Etching Second State, Plate Size 11 x 8.1 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Middle Insert Image: Jules-Élie Delaunay, “In the Military Forge”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 114 x 146.8 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Jules-Élie Delaunay, Study of a Horse and Rider”, 1869-79, Charcoal with Gouache on Tan China Paper, 210 x 153 cm, Art Institute of Chicago

Aaron Shurin: “Under the Night Stillness Inclined My Morning Beach”

Photographers Unknown, Under the Night Stillness Inclined My Morning Beach

I heard my name, the day rose and disappear over the beach. the day on each breath tasted my food, that night roll slowly cover in the cool, his face around my breast. the day inhaling grow pale and disappear, water on his way, up the shores hissing. under the night stillness inclined my morning beach, undressing the friend of my liquid, my most same. at evening while whispering from the bed by me, his way was accomplished. his full perfect arm a health of ripe waters. the day received moon laughing, love lay me that night.

Aaron Shurin, Excerpt from City of Men, A’s Dream, 1989

A room of thought is wedged between the androgyny of hair and new leaves gasping for light. Membrane of membrane, skin of my crown. I thought a forest bound by kinship towers — elusive in the blue glow inside the gray cloudbank — indigo friction — a hurricane cult — where his eyes boring over my shoulders fall like hot breath, gravity failing. He is whirling like a haystack, engineered in twilight, his syllables aquatic, lullaby stutter. Scale of my scale, raveling hive. A skate-boarder rocks the concrete, cutting the muscle of silence. You, too, seeping memories, as we spin in place. An epiphyte: a love nest. Inextricable, shadow for shadow, rhyme for rhyme..

Aaron Shurin, Steeped, Citizen, 2012

Born in Manhattan, New York in 1947, Aaron Shurin is an American essayist, poet and educator. After spending his teenage years in Los Angeles and eastern Texas, he attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1963 during a period of political protest and cultural upheaval. In the late 1960’s, Shurin met and studied under poet Denise Levertov, an advocate of political and social consciousness who fostered Shurin’s interest in poetry. It was during this period that he became attracted to the principles of Projective Verse, a poetic form which re-imagines a poem’s verse lines and line breaks to convey its nuances of breath and motion to the reader through typographical means.

In 1980, Shurin entered the New College of California, an experimental college centered around the Socratic Seminars, where he studied under poet Robert Duncan, a prominent gay poet and member of the Black Mountain school. At New College, Shurin was inspired by the long lines of Walt Whitman’s prose poetry and began to develop his own poetic form, prose poetry which combined the prose form of the Language poets with the life-story format of the New Narrative writers. Bonding with the enthusiastic atmosphere of San Francisco’s counter-culture and its active gay scene, Shurin integrated his gay identity into his poetic process. He graduated from New College with a Master of Arts in Poetics with a thesis entitled “Out of Me: Whitman and the Projective”. 

Aaron Shurin is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, among which are the 1976 “The Night Sun” published by Gay Sunshine Press; “A’s Dream” published in 1989; the 1993 “Into Distances”; “The Paradise of Forms: Selected Poems” published in 1999; the 2005 “Involuntary Lyrics”; and the 2012 “Citizen”. His published essay collections include “The Skin of Meaning: Collected Literary Essays and Talks” published in 2016; the 2008 “King of Shadows”; and “Unbound: A Book of AIDS” published in 1997.  Shurin’s most recent work is “The Blue Absolute”, a collection of lyrical prose poems of love and loss, sex and death in our daily lives.

Shurin has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gerbode Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the California Arts Council. A pioneer in both LGBTQ studies and innovative verse, he cofounded the Boston-based writing collective Good Gay Poets. Shurin has written numerous critical essays about poetic theory and compositional practice, as well as personal narratives on sexual identity, gender fluidity, and the AIDS epidemic. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of San Francisco for its MFA Writing Program.

“We know that verses live in the white space of the page in a dance with erasure and silence; prose poems fill in the space and flirt shamelessly with story. To my joy they can hold a lot of words, a lot of shades, and the tensions of their dual inheritance are generative: wild horses pulling in opposite directions that somehow get bridled and yoked to form a new beast.” – Aaron Shurin, “Always Presently There: Aaron Shurin in Conversation with Micah Ballard”, April 2020

Notes: For those interested, an in-depth conversation between poet and publisher Micah Ballard and Aaron Shurin on the development of Shurin’s poetic form was held in April of 2020, just after the publication of Shurin’s work “The Blue Absolute”. This conversation, entitled “Always Presently There”, can be found at the interdisciplinary publishing platform “Open Space” located at: https://openspace.sfmoma.org/2020/04/always-presently-there-aaron-shurin-in-conversation-with-micah-ballard/

A essay by Chales Olson’s poetic theory, “Projective Verse”, can be found at the Poetry Foundation located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69406/projective-verse

Manuel Scrima and Paolo Rutigliano, “Ariel Ben-Attar”

Manuel Scrima and Paolo Rutigliano, “Ariel Ben-Attar”, 2020 Exclusive Photo Shoot for Homotography Magazine

Manuel Scrima is an Italian-Belgium photographer, artist and director who is based in Milan. His works, inspired by both classical and neoclassical art, draw upon the techniques of light and shadow used by the Dutch master painters to create the warm intimacies typical of their work. 

As a youth, Scrima’s earliest exposure to art was the mysterious paintings of Belgian symbolist painter Fernand Khnopff, whose works would form a major influence on the collective work of Gustav Klimt. Later influences on Scrima’s photography included the work of Keith Haring, the pop art works of Andy Warhol, and the marble figurative sculptures of the Italian Renaissance.

Manuel Scrima spent years living among the tribal peoples of Africa’s Rift Valley in the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. His interaction with these cultures resulted in photographic series that deeply examined their cultural identity, the basic foundations of their lives, and their exposure and interaction with the expanding modern globalization. 

A pivotal point in Scrima’s career was his 2006 photographic exhibition “Africa Awakens”, a well-received and successful show by critics and the public. The exhibition was in support of two international non-government organizations in Kenya, The International Community for the Relief of Starvation and The New World International, which combats child poverty, provides clean water, malaria prevention, and intervention in HIV and AIDS. The show toured museums and galleries in England, Ireland, France, Finland, Italy and Kenya. Due to his work in Africa, Scrima was appointed by UNESCO as the artist to exhibit and celebrate the culture of Kenya.

Paolo Rutigliano is an art director and photographer known for his work in the fashion world. He has done multiple shoots for Homotography, Kaltblut Magazine, and Desnudo Magazine, among others. Rutigliano’s fashion shoot with model Anilton Cabral was featured in the October 2020 issue of Desnudo Magazine.

Born in September of 1995, Ariel Ben-Attar is an Israeli international model who lives and works from Tel Aviv. As a competitive fitness model, he received the name Mr. Israel.

Manuel Scrima’s website can be found at: https://www.manuelscrima.com, Images and contact information for Paolo Rutigliano can be found at his Instagram site: https://www.instagram.com/paolorutigliano/?hl=en

Russell Lee

The Photography of Russell Lee

Born to an affluent mid-western family in Ottawa, Illinois, in July of 1903, Russell Werner Lee was an American photographer and photojournalist, who is best known for his work during the years of the Great Depression. He attended the Culver Military Academy in Indiana and studied at Lehigh University in Bethelem, Pennsylvania, where in 1925 he earned his degree in Chemical Engineering. Lee obtained a position at the chemical company Certainteed Products where he worked as a plant chemist making roofing materials. 

Dissatisfied with his job and secure financially due to inherited property, Lee began experimenting in 1935 with a small Contax 35mm camera and darkroom printing. His earliest photographs were taken in the artist colony at Woodstock, New York, and later in Pennsylvania during visits with friends. It was during these visits that Lee shot a series of images depicting the working and living conditions of coal miners who toiled inside small bootleg mines in Pennsylvania. In the winter of 1935, Lee wandered the streets of New York where he photographed the poverty around him. He also shot a series of images in New York City of the evangelist Father Divine who arrived with a large group of his followers for an event.

Russell Lee’s interest in social issues and his use of photography to document social conditions brought him into contact with several social-realist  artists, among whom were photographer and lithographer Ben Shahn and film maker Pare Lorentz, whose films documented the New Deal. Through his association with Ben Shahn, Lee became involved with the documentation program of the Historical Division of the Resettlement Administration. This program, later renamed the Farm Security Administration, assessed the effects of government programs during the Great Depression era. 

Along with team members Arthur Rothstein, Dorothea Lange, and Walker Evans, Lee documented the plight of tenant farmers, migrant workers and sharecroppers suffering from drought and financial distress. He was assigned by his team leader Roy Stryker, an economist and photographer, to travel throughout the Midwest and West Coastal areas of the United States; some of Lee’s best known early photographs were those taken in rural Iowa in 1936. During his travels for the FSA, he produced iconic studies of the people living in San Augustine, Texas in 1939 and the small rural Pie Town, New Mexico in 1949. During the 1940s, Lee’s images appeared in many popular journals including Life, Fortune, U.S. Camera, and Look magazine.

In the spring and summer of 1942, Russell Lee was one of several government photographers to document the forced relocation of Japanese Americans from the west coast. He produced over six hundred images of families waiting for their travel arrangements and their ensuing daily lives in the detention facilities. With the defunding of the Farm Security Administration in 1943, Lee joined the Army’s Air Transport Command as a captain. He was assigned to take aerial surveillance photographs, including air field approaches used to supply the troops, as well as documentary images of local conditions on the ground.

In 1946 and 1947, Lee worked for the Department of the Interior and helped to compile a survey and document with images the communities involved in mining bituminous coal. He created over four thousand photographs of miners and the working conditions inside the coal mines. In 1946, Lee produced a series of photographs on a Pentecostal Church of God in a coal camp in Kentucky. In 1947, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he continued his photographic work.

In 1965, Russell Lee became the first instructor of photography at Austin’s University of Texas where he taught until 1973. In the latter part of his life, he often traveled as a photographer on assignment for various magazines and corporations, the University of Texas, and the federal government. The state of Texas became a major focus of his work until his death, at the age of eighty-three, in August of 1986. 

Russell Lee’s works are held in the collections of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the Wittliff Collections of Texas State University in San Marcos, and the Dolph Briscoe Center of American History in Austin, among others. Over nineteen thousand images taken by Russell Lee are housed in the Photography Archive of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Note: For those interested, I recommend Professor of History Emeritus F. Jack Hurley’s September 1973 article on Russell Lee, originally published in IMAGE: Journal of Photography and Motion Pictures of the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House. This extensive biography, containing many quotes by Lee, is located at the online art and humanities site “American Suburb X” :  https://americansuburbx.com/2010/02/theory-f-jack-hurley-on-russell-lee.html

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Russell Werner Lee”, Date Unknown

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Russell Lee Taking Photo of Children”, Date Unknown

Third Insert Image: Russell Lee, “Perry Drugs Store”, Date Unknown

Bottom Insert Image: Russell Lee, “Shoeshine Boy, San Antonio, Texas”, 1949, Russell Lee Photograph Collection University of Texas at Austin

Ludvík Vacátko

The Paintings of Ludvík Vacátko

Born on the19th of August in 1873 in Simmering, a district of Vienna, Ludvík Vacátko was an Austrian-Hungarian painter, sculptor and professor of drawing who later relocated to the Czech Republic. As a painter, his work contained genre landscape scenes, figurative works and battle scenes. Horses, however, their anatomy and role in human life and history became the central theme of Vacátko’s life and work. Although the role of the horse began to slowly and inevitably disappear in people’s lives, Vacátko still rode a horse around the city.

After graduating from Prague’s military school, Ludvík Vacátko taught drawing classes to its cadets. He continued his art studies at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts and later at Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Nejedli. After fulfilling his military service, Vacátko devoted himself to his career as an artist and became an expert in the depiction of animal anatomy. His artistic influences came from the works of painters George Židlického and Franz Liebl.

In early 1898, Vacátko was asked by Czech painter Luděk Marold to collaborate on a gigantic panorama of the Battle of Lipany for an upcoming exhibition in Prague. Three other artists also worked on the battle scene: painter Karel Raška, landscape painter Václav Jansa, and colorist Theodor Hilšer. The panorama measured eleven meters high by ninety-five meters long.The stress of completing this huge work on schedule had a fatal effect on Marold’s already fragile health; he died shortly after it went on display in 1898.

At the turn of century, Ludvík Vacátko founded a private painting and drawing  school in Prague, among his students was the painter Jindřich Prucha who studied under Vacátko in the years 1907 and 1908. Mobilized at the start of World War I, Prucha was later killed at the Galician front in September of 1914 at the age of twenty-seven. 

In 1928, Vacátko published the book “Painting Animals”. He participated in the art competitions at the 1932 Summer Olympics which were held in Los Angeles, California. With the assistance of his friend Auguste Rodin, he became a member of Paris’s Union des Beauz Arts et Lettres. In 1943, Vacátko relocated to the city of Kunvald  in the Czech Republic where he lived until his death on the 26th of November in 1956. His body is buried in the city of Pardubice.

Note: An extensive collection of Ludvík Vacátko’s paintings and sculptures can be found in Petr Kmošek Kona’s 2018 “V ZiVotě a Obrazech Malíře Ludvík Vacátko” which is located at: https://www.nzm.cz/file/b7f5584224aff8bf79b9a0b701cddfc6/15707/kone.pdf

Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Ludvík Vacátko”, Ralph Schlüter Archives

Middle Insert Image: Ludvík Vacátko, “Tillage”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 56 x 79 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Ludvík Vacátko, “Self Portrait”, Date Unknown, Oil on Cardboard, 64 x 50 cm, Private Collection

Yevgeny Kharitonov: “All the Vibrations from the Best Moments of Your Life”

Photographers Unknown, All the Vibrations from the Best Moments of Your Life

I know what happens at the moment of death. Suddenly, after all your illnesses, you feel so improbably, so impossibly much better, that it is more than a man can take. All the vibrations from the best moments of your life, from all your impossible youth, come together in one mind-blowing instant, like the moment of your first love, like the hope of new love, like just before your first trip to Moscow, like all sorts of moments in your life; and it all comes together in a single minute, and it is more than you can bear, and your heart bursts, and you die. And everyone whom you loved and everyone who loved you, they all think of you at that moment, wherever they maybe on earth, or under the earth.

Yevgeny Kharitonov, Under House Arrest, 1997

Born in Novosibirsk in June of 1941, Yevgeny Kharitonov was a Russian poet, writer, playwright and theatrical director. In his literature, he was a chronicler of the LBGTQ culture of the Soviet period in the 1970s. Kharitonov described in his work the feelings that people of non-traditional orientation experienced, a subject that the government saw as taboo. 

Kharitonov graduated from the acting department of Moscow’s Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). After a brief acting career, he earned his graduate degree in filmmaking with the presentation of his thesis on the art of pantomime in the education of an actor. After graduation, Kharitonov wrote and directed the play “The Enchanted Island”, which was performed at Moscow’s Mimics and Gesture Theater with roles performed by deaf-mute actors. 

Yevgeny Kharitonov led the pantomime studio of the Moskovorechye Workers’ Club, a recreation center in Moscow, and did choreography for the rock band “Last Chance”. He also worked at the department of psychology at Moscow State University where he studied the problem of speech defects. In addition to his study and literary work, Kharitonov staged a production of the classical opera “Faust” for the Moscow Conservatory. 

Appearing at the crossroads of several movements in twentieth-century Russian prose, Kharitonov emphasized in his work an aloofness between the author and the literary subject, a characteristic which would appear in the later works by Russian writers Victor Erofeyev, founder of the literary magazine Metropol, and Vladimir Sorokin, author and recipient of the Russian Booker Prize. Kharitonov shared with writers Pavel Ukitin, Marcel Proust and James Joyce an indirect and cryptic approach to the placement of emotion in the descriptions of events. Acquainted with typography, he was well aware of the expressive properties of the typewritten text format and typed all his manuscripts himself. 

Because of the frankness with which he dealt with the theme of homosexuality in his work, Yevgeny Kharitonov had difficulty in getting his work published. The few works that were published in his lifetime were translations of German poetry, those works circulated in dissident Eastern Bloc periodicals such as the Mitin Journal, and a simple monologue entitled “Oven”. In the early 1980s, Kharitonov made an attempt to have his work printed in the “Catalog”, an American publication of unpublished Russian writers; this however  failed due to interference by the KGB.

Kharitonov is today recognized as a founder of modern Russian gay literature; his work can not be separated from his sexuality and the legal and cultural prohibition he worked under. Kharitonov was doubly vulnerable to state repression being both an underground writer and a gay man. In 1979, he was questioned by the KGB as a suspect in the death of his lover. As knowledge of his work spread through the general public, surveillance and harassment by the authorities became increasingly a part of daily life. 

On June 29th of 1981, Yevgeny Kharitonov, who had just finished his manuscript “Under House Arrest”, walked to meet his friend, the poet Tatian Scherbina, to show her his new work. He died on Pushkin Street in Moscow of a heart attack at the age of forty years old; his body is buried in his homeland of Novosibirsk. Following Kharitonov’s  death, his apartment was sealed by the KGB. His friends broke in the apartment to salvage and preserve his writings, however, most of Kharitonov’s written work was later recovered by the KGB during raids on their apartments.

After Russia’s period of perstroika, Kharitonov’s works began to get published in Russia. His play “Tink”, based on an interpretation of Odoevsky’s fairy tale “Town in a Snuffbox”, was published in the late 1980s and later performed in 1989. His “Under House Arrest”, a collection of autobiographical fictions which chronicled the difficult life of a homosexual in the Kafkaesque atmosphere of the Soviet Union, was published in January of 1997.

Note: An interesting article to read is Alex Karsavin and Mara Iskander’s 2017 “Language Under House Arrest”, which discusses queer Russian poets and the adaption of queer literature to the Russian political situation. The article can be found at the literary blog “The New Inquiry” website located at: https://thenewinquiry.com/language-under-house-arrest/

Clifton Webb: Film History Series

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in November of 1889, Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck, known professionally as Clifton Webb, was an American actor, dancer and singer. He is known for his roles in films, his Broadway appearances in successful musicals, and for his stage appearances in the plays of English playwright and actor Sir Noël Coward.

Clifton Webb was the only child of Jacob Hollenbeck, a ticket-clerk for the Indianapolis- St. Louis Railroad, and Mabel Parmelee, the daughter of a railroad conductor. In 1891, the couple separated and Mabel took young Webb with her to New York City in 1892. After the divorce was finalized, Mabel married Green B. Raum, Jr., a copper-foundry worker and the son of a former U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue; the new family settled in New York City on West 77th Street. 

Webb, at the age of five, began dancing lessons; two years later, he made his official debut in Carnegie Hall as a member of the Children’s Theater in a performance of Canadian author Palmer Cox’s children series “The Brownies”. This was followed with a vaudeville tour in which Webb appeared in “The Master of Charlton Hall” and performed as Oliver in “Oliver Twist” and as Tom Sawyer in “Huckleberry Finn”. As a young teenager, he studied painting with Realist artist Robert Henri, a pioneer of the Ashcan School, and music with French operatic baritone Victor Maurel. His studies with Maurel led to Webb’s debut in 1906 with Boston’s Aborn Opera Company’s production of Ambroise Thomas’s “Mignon”.

Returning to New York, Clifton Webb teamed with Mae Murray in a ballroom dance act; they toured a chain of vaudeville theaters known as the Keith Circuit and performed in Manhattan restaurants. Webb had his Broadway debut in April of 1913 with the premiere of “The Purple Road” at the Liberty Theater, in which he played the role of Bosco for one hundred-thirty six performances. Between 1913 and 1917, Webb was continually on the Broadway stage and appeared in such vehicles as Sigmund Romberg’s “Dancing Around”, Ned Waybum’s all-star revue “Town Topics” , and Cole Porter’s comic opera “See America First”. 

In 1917, Webb was the sensuous dancing star of “Love O’Mike”, a musical comedy produced by Lee Shubert and Elisabeth Marbury, a theatrical agent who lived in an open relationship with actress and famous interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe, also known as Lady Mendl. By the middle of the 1920s, Webb was one of Broadway’s highest-paid stars and reached his apex with the 1930 “Three’s a Crowd” and the very successful 1933 “As Thousands Cheered”, which featured the steamy torch song “Moanin’ Low” sung by Webb and actress Libby Holman. 

In 1935, Webb relocated to Hollywood where Metro Goldwyn Mayer, who hoped to make Webb a successful dancing star like RKO’s Fred Astaire, gave him an eighteen-month contract at three-thousand dollars a week. He was to star opposite Joan Crawford in a musical entitled “Elegance”; the picture was abandoned, however, Webb was paid all his money. For the next eighteen months, he was not offered any work but made many high-profile social appearances. He  often appeared wearing white gloves and a top hat, with his mother Mabel on his arm and his poodle Ernest, after Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, trailing behind on a leash.  

In 1938, Clifton Webb returned to New York’s Broadway in “You Never Know”, written by his longtime friend Cole Porter. The stage version of “The Man Who Came to Dinner”, starring the stage and film actor Monty Woolley, premiered in the fall of 1939. Webb was cast as the acidic character Sheridan Whiteside for its touring version, a role in which he remained for eighteen months. In 1941, he played the character Charles Condomine, a successful novelist curious about seances,  in the initial performances of Noël Coward’s comic play “Blithe Spirit”. 

Webb is probably best known today for his many film appearances. In his mid-fifties, he was chosen by director Otto Preminger, despite objections from 20th Century Fox’s Darryl Zanuck who though Webb too effeminate, to play the evil radio columnist Waldo Lydecker in the 1944 film noir “Laura”. Webb’s performance won him wide acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Fox Studio signed him to a long-term contract, which provided Webb with work for the rest of his career. His first role under contract was as a suave villain in Henry Hathaway’s 1946 film noir “Dark Corner”. This was followed with his role of elitist Elliott Templeton, playing opposite Gene Tieeney, in the 1946 “The Razor’s Edge” for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

Clifton Webb achieved stardom with his role of Mr. Belvedere, a snide know-it-all babysitter with a mysterious past, in the 1948 comedy film “Sitting Pretty”, based on the 1947 novel “Belvedere” by Gwen Davenport. This role became so popular that it was followed with two sequels: the 1949 box office success “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College” and the 1951 “Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell”.  In 1950, Webb and actress Myrna Loy played the roles of efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, the parents of twelve children, in the film “Cheaper by the Dozen” which made Webb one of the biggest stars in the United States. 

In addition to these comedic films, Webb played more serious character roles for 20th Century Fox. He starred in the 1952 Technicolor film biography of bandmaster John Phillip Sousa entitled “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Webb’s most dramatic role was the brave but doomed husband of Barbara Stanwyck’s Julia Sturges in the 1953 “Titanic”, the winner of the 1954 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The following year, he appeared as the novelist John Frederick Shadwell in the romance film “Three Coins in the Fountain”. Webb appeared in the 1956 British war film “The Man Who Never Was”, based on the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II, and as a sarcastic but self-sacrificing Catholic priest in the 1962 “Satan Never Sleeps”, his final film role. 

Clifton Webb was one of the few gay actors to appear in decidedly heterosexual character roles, most notably the devoted husband who fathered twelve children in “Cheaper by the Dozen”. Obsessively proper, correct and well-mannered, he lived his bachelor life as close to being openly gay as any leading actor in Hollywood could be. Although he lived with his mother until her death in 1960, Webb threw lavish parties and enjoyed the company of young men who gathered poolside at his pink stucco house in Beverly Hills. His friends included many member of the gay circles in the film industry: Noël Coward, Cole Porter, actor Monty Woolley, director George Cukor, stage and costume designer Oliver Messel, film director Irving Rapper, actors William Hanes and Jimmie Shields, among others.

Due to health issues, Webb spent the last five years of his life as a recluse at his home in Beverly Hills. He suffered a fatal heart attack, at the age of seventy-six, at his home on the 13th of October in 1966. He is interred in a crypt in the Abbey of the Psalms at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, alongside his mother. For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Webb was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard. An archive of his papers, including typed manuscripts, notes, correspondences, financial records and Webb’s last will and testament, is housed at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.

Note: Clifton Webb’s portrayal of the character Mr. Lynn Belvedere was the model for the “Mr. Peabody” character in the animated cartoon series “Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends”, which ran from November of 1959 to June of 1964.

Hervé Lassïnce

The Photography of Hervé Lassïnce

Hervé Lassïnce is a French theatrical actor, screen writer, and self-taught photographer who grew up in Créteil, a culturally diverse suburb of Paris. Before he pursued his passion for photography, he had begun a career as a theatrical actor, a talent which he still continues. Lassïnce has performed with actors Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeîff and, in 2016, appeared in a Jean-Michel Ribes play at Paris’s Théâtre du Rond-Point.

Lassïnce began his career in photography with images of those closest to him, his family, friends and lovers. The strong emotional connection he had with these subjects, displayed in his initial work, is still evident in his most recent photographs. Generally, Lassïnce prefers to photograph subjects he knows as the sense of familiarity is stronger; however, he often photographs people he meets who catch his attention. As he considers his photography a story of friendship, Lassïnce still makes an effort to know his subject better before attempting the composition of the shoot.

Hervé Lassïnce photographs natural landscapes, an example of which is his large format photograph of water rushing over the cliffs of Niagara Falls. For many of his photographs, however, natural scenes serve as settings for his nude male subjects. In these shoots, Lassïnce presents natural and joyful images that show men as ordinary people comfortable in their skin. There exists in most of his nude compositions an unexpected, often curious, element that catches the eye and draws the viewer’s interest, such as tinted lighting, vased flowers, lit cell phones, or a cat sitting quietly nearby. 

Lassïnce first began showing his work through Facebook and Instagram. After seeing images of his work printed on fine art paper, he began to exhibit in galleries and sell editions to collectors. In 2015, Lassïnce’s first photography collection was published by Florian Gaité, entitled “Mes Fréres (My Friends)”. At this time, he also expanded his work as a freelance photographer by shooting personality portraits and illustrating articles for magazines. 

Among the influences on his work, Hervé Lassïnce has listed the work of American photographer Nam Goldin who became known for her exploration of the lives and intimacies within the LGBT subcultures. He was also influenced by the compositions and homo-eroticism in works by such painters as José de Ribera, Caravaggio, and Théodore Géricault, one of the pioneers of France’s Romantic movement.

Lassïnce’s photography has been the subject of several exhibitions including those at Paris’s Galerie P38 and Galerie Agathe Gaillard; the November 2020 exhibition at Villa Noailles in Hyères, France; the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Los Angeles; the Offarch Gallery in Milan; the Philharmonie de Paris; and the 2021 “Gallery of Instant Love” exhibition at the Design Museum of London. 

Hervé Lassïnce’s website, which includes contact information and purchasable prints, can be found at https://h-photography.format.com

McDermott & McGough: Film History Series

McDermott & McGough, “If You Had Been the Moon”, April 2009, 10:16, Directed by Peter Mc  Gough, Starring Michael  Kavalus, Bryan Deckhart, Claybourne Elder, Christopher Le Rude, Alex Michael Stoll, and Andrew Lord

The art collective McDermott & McGough consists of the contemporary artists David McDermott and Peter McGough who are known for their work in sculpture, painting, film and photography. Their work examines such issues as religion, popular culture and art, medicine, advertising, fashion, and sexual behavior. McDermott and McGough are best known for their gay-themed paintings and the use of historical processing techniques in their photographic work, which includes film development with palladium, gum bichromate, salt, platinum, and carbon black.

Born in Hollywood, California in 1952, David McDermott studied at Syracuse University in New York from 1970 to 1974. He moved to New York City where he became famous in the downtown area for his odd manners and outdated formalwear, such as detachable collars, cummerbunds, and top hats. Born in Syracuse in 1958, Peter McGough studied at Syracuse University in 1976. He relocated to New York City where he briefly studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After dropping out from the Institute, McGough was employed to sell tickets at Danceteria, a famous, albeit illegal, nightclub with several locations in the city.

Peter McGough met David McDermott in a Manhattan theater at the end of the 1970s. As David kept Peter company during the early club hours before sunrise, a strong relationship developed between them  that also included an artistic alliance which would last forty years. In the 1980s, the gay couple became known in New York’s East Village art scene for their immersion in the Victorian era. McDermott and McGough questioned the ideas of nostalgia; they pursued an art form and lifestyle narrative of reorienting the past for the future. Dressed and living as early 1900s dandies with an air of erudition and impertinence, their lives and art became an exploration of time and history, as well as, a challenge to the boundaries of art history and cultural identity.

McDermott and McGough’s collaborative output was expressed through a proliferation of drawings, paintings, film and photographs, and architectural interiors. Their photographs and films, which appropriated images and objects from the late 19th century to the style of the 1930s, explored contemporary cultural issues but produced them through vintage materials and techniques. McDermott and McGough’s obsession with the past is reflected in the styles and subjects they resurrect; many of their works are titled with fictional dates that reference the latter years of the 1800s. 

The later work of McDermott and McGough was inspired by advertising motifs, Hollywood cinema, and the comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. They reinvented major works of twentieth-century photography, Pop Art icon images, and produced photo-realistic paintings of vintage film stars. During the 1980s when their work was selling well, McDermott and McGough were a major part of the downtown New York scene, where the attended clubs and mingled with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. They bought three properties including a 1860s French Second Empire style bank, owned horses and vintage automobiles, hosted lavish baroque parties, and bestowed expensive gifts to friends.

 In 1992, the art market began to feel the effects of the stock market crash of October 1987. Out of all the paintings McDermott and McGough had on  exhibit at the Armory Show, only one small painting sold. Their debts, which included framing costs for their exhibitions, came due; many of these debts were paid through the transfer of their existing artwork to galleries and other debtors, among whom was the Internal Revenue Service. Eventually everything the couple had was auctioned off except for a few pieces they managed to save and later shipped to the docks of Dublin, Ireland. David McDermott relocated to a small  rental house near Ballsbridge, Ireland, and in 1995 McGough reunited with him. 

McDermott and McGough started painting and soon were able to rent a small art studio in Temple Bar in downtown Dublin. Through Swiss art dealer and gallery owner Bruno Bischofberger, they received many silhouette commissions. With the assistance of the gallery’s director Andrea Caratsch, McDermott and McGough had an exhibition in 1998 entitled “The Lust That Comes from Nothing” at Paris’s Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont.

McDermott and McGough’s previous exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995, and a mid-career retrospective at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium. In 2017, their work was the subject of the exhibition “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going’ held at the Dallas Contemporary Museum in Texas. Other solo and group exhibitions include such institutions as the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Centre Pompidou in Paris, New York City’s Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, and the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany. 

McDermott and McGough’s work is represented in numerous collections including the International Center of Photography in New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence; Tampa Museum of Art in Florida; Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center; and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others.

Notes: In 2017, David McDermott and Peter McGough opened the Oscar Wilde Temple, a non-secular sacred space for LGBTQ people in a chapel at the Church of the Village located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It is both an art exhibition space and a place for marriages; donations go to homeless LBGTQ youth. A second location at the gallery Studio Voltaire in London was opened in October of 2018.

In 2019, Peter McGough published his memoir “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going There” through Penquin Random House. Set in New York’s Lower East Side, the memoir chronicles his life withDavid McDermott during the 1980s and mid-1990s.

Top Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Portrait of the Artists, 1928, 1990”, Palladium Print on Paper, 35 x 26.5 cm, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Love is Gone- So What Can Matter? 1966, 2008”, Oil on Linen, 152.4 x 122.2 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Joel at Lower Baldonell House, Dublin, 1910, 2003”, Palladium Print on Paper, 50.8 x 40.6 cm, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “The Annointed”, 1991, Photographers and Friends Against AIDS Exhibition, Palladium Print on Paper, 16.5 x 11.8 cm, Private Collection

Fifth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, Title Unknown (Reading Comics), Image from the “Detroit, 1958” Series,  2007, Carbro Print, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Portrait of the Artist (With Top Hats) 1865”, 1991, Palladium Print on Paper, Collection of the Artists

Winthrop Smith: “The Coldness of the Floor. . .”

Photographers Unknown, The Coldness of the Floor

The coldness of the floor
In the boys’ lav., the cold-
Ness of the boys themselves
Stripping off their gym shorts

And t shirts: the wetness
Of the spot which showed on
The shorts of each boy who
Climbed alone on ropes, the

Wetness of sweat which
Soaked the boys who wrestled
In the matroom, glistened
On the bodies of the

Boys who stood for weighing-
In with jockey shorts or
Nude: the odor of the
Floor in the boy’s lav., the

Odor of the boys them-
Selves from the soap they passed
Among themselves in the
Showers, the odor of

The soap they passed among
Themselves when older, stop-
Ping from their showers, dress-
Ing for their classes in

Laundered cotton shirts and
Boxer shorts: the coldness
Of rain soaked running trails
In Late October, the

Cold, red hands of the run-
Ners after practice: the
Wetness of their hairy
Bodies drying off near

Steamfilled showers, the wet-
Ness of the gym itself
With aingle shower’s drip
Dripping late at night: the

Motion of the young men
Washing, young men dressing,
Young men acting out their
Conflicts and frustrations. . .

Winthrop Smith, Excerpt from Retrospective at 33, The Weigh-In: Collected Poems,1996

Raised in Rye, New York, Winthrop Smith is a gay minimalist poet whose work explores the the undercurrent of gay experience in America. Having lived in New York City from 1987 to 2003, his early poetry covers a period of gay life before the gentrification of the city. In his work, Smith captures the gay male experience of pre-DisneyTimes Square, the St. Mark bathhouses, the city’s docks and cruising areas, and the scene on the West Village’s Christopher Street known for being the “Main Street” of gay New York.

Winthrop Smith’s first collection of poems, “Ghetto: From the First Five: Sixty-Four Poems”, was published in January of 1990. His second collection was the 1996 “The Weigh-In: Collected Poems”. Influenced by contemporary minimalist music and the work of modernist poet Gertrude Stein whose writing style broke the conventions of the linear narrative, Winthrop Smith formats his poetry into short pictorial lines each of which contain a complete mental image or thought. These narrative lines are stacked, sometimes  ending in split hyphenated words,  to form sentences that often trail into the following stanza. 

Smith’s third collection, the 2006 “Skin Check: New York Poems”, is a minimalist book-length poem of encounters experienced during a walk taken by Smith, his partner, and their two dogs from their Chelsea apartment to the West Village and back. His next collection was”Wrestling Starting Position” which was published in December of 2016. It is an autobiographical book-length poem which spans from his childhood in Rye, New York, to the second decade of the new century. The poem, told through the basic positions of wrestling, expounds on the issues of the artwork of Patrick Angus, the 1960s and city life at that time, the death of peers, personal ads, and capital punishment, among other topics. 

Winthrop Smith’s latest work is the 2021 “Take Down Portraits: Drawings and Portraits by Larry Stanton”, which include poems by Smith that envision conversations and scenes that may have taken place in Larry Stanton’s studio during his lifetime. Although he never actually met Stanton, Smith was inspired by his artwork, having had dozens of Stanton’s works in his care. The poems, duets in essence, are composed in fragmented phrasing with small details to evoke the emotion of the conversations. 

Smith was infected with the HIV virus during his first sexual experience at a Times Square bathhouse in 1984. After moving to New York City in 1987, he worked as a home attendant for the first program which was dedicated to terminal AIDS patients. Since then, Smith worked on the National AIDS hotline and was on the board for the People with Aids Coalition.

Winthrop Smith is a trustee and a program manager of the EGR Writers House in Augusta, Maine, which subsidizes housing for writers. He currently resides and writes in Wappingers Falls, New York. Smith is the author of four blog sites which can be found through: https://www.blogger.com/profile/11816360238911707217

Joseph Meehan

Illustrations by Joseph Meehan

Joseph Meehan is an American freelance illustrator and concept artist who currently lives and works in New York. He studied at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Toy Design. 

Meehan worked initially as an intern at Hasbro where he designed toys fo the GI Joe series, and also did preliminary work for “GI Joe: The Movie”. Beginning in September of 2011, he worked for three years at Mattel where he designed action figures, vehicles, and created new features and play patterns for its Batman action-figure line. 

In September of 2014, Joseph Meehan began working freelance at Volta Studio in New York, a design studio dedicated to creating high-end 2D and 3D visuals for video games, films and toys.  As a Senior Artist, he created illustrations and concept art for a wide range of products, such as mobil games, trading cards, and triple-A games. In October of 2020, Meehan became a full-time Senior Illustrator at Rockstar Games in New York City. 

Meehan is skilled in a multitude of software graphic systems including Keyshot, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, ZBrush, and Solidworks. Meehan has produced artwork for numerous leading names including Random House, Wizards of the Coast, Bioware, Bethesda, Ubisoft, NetherRealms, Hasbro, and Mattel. among others.

Joseph Meehan’s work and contact information can be found at his website:   https://www.josephmeehanart.com 

Note: Joseph Meehan designed many illustrations over the years for “Magic the Gathering”. He is currently creating a set of ten laser marked, ink washed anodized aluminum tokens to be used within “Magic the Gathering”. Examples of these can be seen on his Kickstarter site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/josephmeehanart/joseph-meehans-hand-made-metal-tokens?fbclid=IwAR3BwmS8ZDadXgWnvjj30ZKq-G_Rg9pC-Y4GZLInHStC8CdmHeGR_LkhlH8 

Bottom Insert Image: Joseph Meehan, “Barbarian Warchief”

James Broughton: ‘Luncheon Had Made Us Hungry”

Photographers Unknown, Luncheon Had Made Us Hungry

Luncheon had made us hungry
for one another
After the curry and fried bananas
we added our own heat to
the hot afternoon
simmering in sweat and coconut oil
as our two humidities rose
high   higher                     Bang!
outside the window        Bang!Bang!
and the houseboy’s laughing shout

He had been tossing firecrackers
at the roof
to dislodge itinerant pigeons
But at his feet had fallen
a passing oriole
shocked into gape      beak ajar

Hurrying from the bedroom
half-saronged
we saw him kneel to the yellow bird
fondle      cajole      kiss it      offer it
back to the day
Still it sat rigid in his hand

Chuckling then      you said
Is this a golden trophy of
our shooting match?
At which the oriole blinked
stretched and puffed
spurted into the air
vanished beyond the pawpaw tree

James Broughton, Afternoons in Ceylon I, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, 2000

Born to affluent parents in Modesto, California in November of 1913, James Broughton was a poet and filmmaker. He was a member of the San Francisco Renaissance movement, a 1950s collective of American avant-garde poets which included such poets as Kenneth Rexroth, Madeline Gleason, Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, among others. Known best for his cinematography, Broughton made poetic experimental films, both in color and black and white, throughout his career.

After the death of his father in the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic, James Broughton spent his early years in San Francisco. He started his formal education at a military school; however, at the age of sixteen after having an affair with a classmate, he was expelled. Broughton pursued a career in writing at Stanford University until 1935, at which time he relocated to New York City and became a theater critic. Through his written work, Broughton met artist Sidney Peterson, who would later establish San Francisco Art Institute’s Workshop 20, the first college program to teach filmmaking as art.

After he moved back to San Francisco, Broughton wrote and produced the play “Summer Fury”, for which the Stanford Dramatists’ Alliance gave him the 1945 Alden Award for Original Screenplay. In 1946, a collaboration between Broughton and Sidney Peterson produced the 16mm film “The Potted Palm”, a depiction of Freudian desires that combined the erotic with the decaying. Broughton later credited his working with Peterson on this film as the influence that led him to experimental filmmaking.

James Broughton’s early 16mm short films, which ran from nine to thirty-eight minutes, covered a wide range of genres, including personal journals, comedy, music, theater, and queer stories. Broughton’s first solo film was the 1948 avant-garde classic “Mother’s Day” which dealt with human pain and lack of emotion. He followed this film’s success with five more films between 1950 and 1953, among which was the 1953 “The Pleasure Garden”, a collaboration with partner Kermit Sheets. Made in England, the film was successful only in Europe where it received several awards including one at the Cannes Film Festival presented byJean Cocteau.

In 1953, Broughton stopped his filmmaking to concentrate more fully on his writing which, through his career, totaled more than twenty published works. His poetry collection “True & False Unicorn”, poems of Broughton’s complex search for his true self, was published in 1955 and later choreographed on stage by Jergen Verbruggen. Broughton’s autobiographical prose poem collection “The Androgyne Journal”. published in 1977, was a strongly personal book about breaking creative boundaries.

James Broughton published two retrospective collections of his poetry: “A Long Undressing: Collected Poems 1949-1969”, published in 1971 by Jargon Society Press, and “Packing Up for Paradise: Selected Poems 1946-1996” published in November of 1997 by Black Sparrow Press. In 1993, Broughton published his memoir, an autobiography entitled “Coming Unbuttoned”, which documented his eighty-year artistic journey in life through the famous and infamous circles of 1930s New York to the avant-garde culture of San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s.

Starting in the late 1960s, James Broughton returned to filmmaking and produced both short and full length films. His first film was the 1968 “The Bed”, which won prizes at many film festivals. Containing a highly energetic musical score by Warner Jepson, it featured ground-breaking full-frontal, yet innocent, nudity of male and female figures gathered around the same bed. Broughton’s later poetic films include such works as the 1972 “Dreamwood”, a story of one man’s journey to a mysterious island: “The Water Circle”, a 1975 poetic homage to sage Lao-tsu on the world’s bodies of water; the 1979 “Hermes Bird”, a celebration of the transformative power of the phallus; and the 1988 “Scattered Remains”, one of six films created with his partner Joel Singer, in which Broughton acts out his verses in unlikely situations.

Broughton’s honors include a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an American Film Institute Award for Independent Film and Video Artists. He was an early poet member of the Radical Faeries, a counterculture movement that redefined queer consciousness through secular spirituality, and a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a protest and street performance group that used drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance. Broughton also taught at both San Francisco State University and San Francisco’s Art Institute.

James Broughton had relationships with both men and women. He lived briefly with film critic Pauline Kael, with whom he had a daughter in 1948. At the age of forty-nine, Broughton married Suzanne Hart, with whom he had two children. In 1973, he met Joel Singer, a twenty-five year old student at one of his San Fransisco Art Institute classes, and began both a strong personal relationship and a lengthy film collaboration. In 1989, Broughton and Singer moved to Port Townsend, Washington, where they lived until Broughton’s death, at the age of eighty-five, in May of 1999.

“The quietest poetry can be an explosion of joy. True delicacy is not a fragile thing. The most delicate and yielding of our necessities, water, can be the most powerful destroyer, swallowing everything.

True delicacy is indestructible. Take Shelley, Dickinson, Firbank, Basho. I like things which appear fragile but are tough inside. In the long run the deadly can outmaneuver the brute, the bird is more resourceful than the rhino.” – James Broughton

Note: A remembrance on the life of James Broughton by Martin Goodman as well as an except from Goodman’s interview with Broughton can be found at: http://www.archipelago.org/vol4-1/broughton.htm

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “james Broughton and Joel Singer”, Photo Shoot from “Devotions”, 1983, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: Imogen Cunningham, “The Poet and His Alter Ego (James Broughton)”, 1962, Gelatin Silver Print, New Orleans Museum of Art

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “james Broughton and Joel Singer in “Devotions”, 1983, Gelatin Silver Print

Martin Wong

Paintings by Martin Wong

Born in Portland, Oregon in July of 1946, Martin Wong was an American painter of Chinese-Mexican ancestry whose work was a studious blend of visionary and social realism art styles. His work explored different ethnic and racial identities, and acknowledged his own queer sexuality.

Raised by a supportive family in the Chinatown district of San Francisco, Martin Wong began to express his artistic inclination at an early age. He entered California’s Humboldt State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Ceramics in 1968. Wong won a competitive ceramics exhibition held in 1970 at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.

Wong resided in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district from 1964 to 1978. While at home, he studied art history and became interested in subjects such as modern painting and Asian decorative objects. During this period, Wong was active in the art scene of the Bay Area, often painting portraits under the pseudonym of Human Instamatic. He also served as the set designer for the art performance group The Angels of Light, a social trope that was part of the emerging gay consciousness of the period.

Encouraged by his friends’ response to his art, Wong made the decision in 1978 to settle in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for a career as an artist. Largely self-taught, his work was inspired by his immediate surroundings and ranged from uncompromising renderings of the Lower East Side’s decay to colorful paintings of the Chinatowns of New York and San Francisco. Wong also painted a series of work entitled “Traffic Signs for the Hearing Impaired”, artworks identical in color and shape to standard city traffic signs that utilized sign-language of the deaf to express their message.

In 1982 at the group exhibition “Crime Show” held at the collective gallery ABC No Rio in the Lower East Side, Martin Wong met poet Miguel Piñero, a leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning play “Short Eyes”. Shortly after their meeting, Piñero moved into Wong’s apartment which began a relationship that would last until Piñero’s death in 1988. Through Piñero association, Wong became more integrated into the local Latino community; he began a series of collaborative work with Piñero that became entitled “Urban Landscapes”. This series of paintings combined Wong’s meticulous cityscapes and stylized sign-language with Piñero’s prose and poetry. Wong presented these paintings at a solo exhibition in 1984 at curator and recording artist Barry Blinderman’s Semaphore Gallery East.

In 1985 and 1986, Wong began a series of work entitled “The Last Picture Show”, a series of life-size images of shuttered storefronts. He amassed a large graffiti collection while living in New York and, in 1989, co-founded with friend Peter Broda the Museum of American Graffiti on the East Village’s Bond Street. By the 1990s, Wong’s work became quieter and more grim as gentrification took over the neighborhood and his peers were dying for drug addiction and AIDS.

In 1993, Matin Wong had a solo exhibition, “Chinatown Paintings”, at the San Francisco Art Institute. In these works based on his own memories and experiences, he presented an outsider’s view of Chinatown that lent itself more to myth than reality. Following complications in his health in 1994, Wong donated his graffiti collection to the Museum of the City of New York. In 1994, he was diagnosed with AIDS and, with declining health, moved back to San Francisco. He died under his parents’ care at the age of fifty-three from AIDS-related illness in August of 1999.

A retrospective of Martin Wong’s work was held at the Bronx Museum of Arts in 2015. His work can be found in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Syracuse University Collection, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

Note: Martin Wong’s 1984 painting, “My Secret World”, included in the above images, is an image of his first residence in Manhattan, a cheap hotel bedroom on the Lower East Side with a view to the South Street Seaport. The bedroom pictured is tidy with three of his earlier works on the walls. One depicts a series of hands sprouting from white cuff=links, The hands spell out in American Sign Language the words “Physiatrist Testify: Demon dogs drive man to murder”, which references the serial killer Son of Sam who stalked New York in 1983. Included in the books presented on the dresser are fictional works by Raymond Chandler and John Cheever.

Second Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Starry Night”, 1982, Oil on Canvas, 55.9 x 76.2 cm, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York

Third Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Crossing Sign”, Traffic Signs for the Hearing Impaired Series, 1990, DOT Aluminum Steel Signs

Fourth Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Angelito”, 1992, Acrylic on Canvas, 61 x 56.2 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Tell My Troubles to the Eight Ball”, 1978-1981, Acrylic on Canvas, 122 x 122 cm, Private Collection

Christopher Soto: “Last Time I Saw Myself Die..”

Photographers Unknown, Last Time I Saw Myself Die

Last time I saw myself die is when police killed Jessie Hernandez

                                      A 17 year old brown queer // who was sleeping in their car

Yesterday I saw myself die again // Fifty times I died in Orlando // &

                        I remember reading // Dr. José Esteban Muñoz before he passed

I was studying at NYU // where he was teaching // where he wrote shit

                        That made me feel like a queer brown survival was possible // But he didn’t

Survive & now // on the dancefloor // in the restroom // on the news // in my chest

                        There are another fifty bodies that look like mine // & are

Dead // & I’ve been marching for Black Lives & talking about police brutality

                        Against Native communities too // for years now // but this morning

I feel it // I really feel it again // How can we imagine ourselves // We being black native

                        Today // Brown people // How can we imagine ourselves

When All the Dead Boys Look Like Us? // Once I asked my nephew where he wanted

                        To go to College // What career he would like // as if

The whole world was his for the choosing // Once he answered me without fearing

                        Tombstones or cages or the hands from a father // The hands of my lover

Yesterday praised my whole body // Made angels from my lips // Ave Maria

                        Full of Grace // He propped me up like the roof of a cathedral // in NYC

Before we opened the news & read // & read about people who think two brown queers

                        Can’t build cathedrals // only cemeteries // & each time we kiss

A funeral plot opens // In the bedroom I accept his kiss // & I lose my reflection

                        I’m tired of writing this poem // but I want to say one last word about

Yesterday // my father called // I heard him cry for only the second time in my life

                        He sounded like he loved me // it’s something I’m rarely able to hear

& I hope // if anything // his sound is what my body remembers first.;

Christopher Soto, All the Dead Boys Look Like Me, Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, 2017

Born in 1991 to El Salvadoran parents who immigrated to the United States, Christopher Soto is a poet and prison abolitionist who spent the formative years of life in Los Angeles. Soto studied at New York University as a Goldwater Hospital Writing Fellow and, in 2015, earned a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry .Soto has worked with the Lambda Literary Foundation since 2014 as editor of the online literary journal “Nepantia”.

Christopher Soto’s first chapbook collection of poems was the 2012 “How to Eat Glass”. Soto’s second collection, the chapbook “Sad Girl Poems” was published in January of 2016. This collection of narrative poems dealt with the social issues affecting young queer people of color, among which are homelessness, gender identity, abuse in the family, and death of a lover. In 2016, Soto co-founded, along with Macelo Castillo and Javier Zamora, the Undocupoets Campaign which successfully removed the citizenship requirement from first-book competitions, thus allowing undocumented poets and writers to participate. For this, the organization and Soto received the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award.

After receiving an invitation from The Center for Justice at New York’s Columbia University, Soto taught a community-based writing workshop in 2017 at the university as part of the June Jordan Teaching Corp, named in honor of the queer black poet and essayist. In 2018, Soto edited and published through Nightboat Books the anthology “Nepantia: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color”. This publication was the first major literary anthology of queer poets of color in the United States.

Relocating back to Los Angeles in 2019, Christopher Soto began working with the University of California’s Ethnic Studies Research Center. Soto became a member of the Boardof Directors for Lambda Literary and joined the CantoMundo Fellowship which supports Latino poets and poetry. Working alongside Javier Zamora, Jan Henry Gray and Anni Liu, Soto co-organized the “Writers for Migrant Justice” campaign, a national movement in over forty cities to raise the necessary funds to aid migrant families in detention.

As a lecturer in 2020 with the University of California’s Honors College, Soto began teaching inter disciplinary creative writing courses, such as “Poetry and Protest Movements”. Awarded in 2021 a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, Soto became a visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Los Angeles’s Occidental College, where he still teaches.

In May of 2022, Copper Canyon Press will be releasing Soto’s new collection of poetry, “Diaries of a Terrorist”. This collection of political surrealist poems, which discusses the issues of power and police violence, is expressed through alternating humor, deep vulnerability, and frank queer punk bawdiness.

Christopher Soto’s poetry, reviews, interviews and articles can be found in many literary publications, including Poetry magazine, Tin House, American Poetry Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Guardian, among others. Soto’s workis available in many translations including Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai.

Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi

Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi, “Subway Exit, 1946, Oil on Canvas, 76.2 x 66 cm, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University

Born in April of 1906 in Cairo, Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi was an American painter. He was the only son of Talmiro Guglielmi, a violinist and viola player with Arturo Toscanini’s orchestra, and Dometilla Secchi Guglielmi, who returned to her native Milan shortly after her son’s birth. Talmiro Guglielmi toured with Toscanini’s orchestra throughout Australia, Europe and the Americas. After a tour through Canada, Brazil and North America with Russian ballerina Anna Pavolova, he brought his family to New York City where the settled in the largely Italian immigrant community of East Harlem.

At a young age, Louis Guglielmi pursued an interest in sculpture and worked in a local bronze casting facility in the city. During his high school years,.he began in 1920 evening art classes at the National Academy of Design and studied sculpture at Manhattan’s Beaux Arts Institute. In 1923, Guglielmi  left high school to concentrate full-time on courses at the National Academy. At his life drawing class, Guglielmi met fellow student Gregorio Prestopino, who is known for his  social realist scenes of the urban working-class executed  in the style of the Ashcan School . Through their college years, the two men shared a studio space in the city. 

After his graduation in 1926, Guglielmi struggled financially for six years and took various inadequately-paid jobs to support his painting. In 1927 at the age of twenty-one, he was granted citizenship in the United States. Guglielmi relocated in 1932 to the New England area and, once again, began a serious period of intense painting. With the aid of a fellowship, he was able to spend eleven summers at the prestigious MacDowell Art Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The solitude of the scenery surrounding the colony and Guglielmi’s interactions with his fellow artists inspired him and focused a new  direction to his work: the plight of humanity caught in the midst of the Great Depression.

During the early 1930s as the Depression settled on the country, Louis Guglielmi applied for relief from the government. In 1934, he managed to secure meager wages as a painter for the Works Project Administration, the federal New Deal program the employed jobseekers, mostly men and not formally educated, for public works projects. This program subsidized many artists and craftsmen in the 1930s. Guglielmi worked with the WPA for five years during which time he traveled and painted both easel work and murals.

Having seen Guglielmi’s work for the WPA, prominent art dealer Edith Gregor Halpert invited him in 1936 to join the group of artists at her Downtown Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village. In 1938, Guglielmi showcased his paintings in his first solo exhibition which was held at Halpert’s gallery to major critical acclaim. On May 22nd in 1939, he married Anne Di Maggio, who seven years later gave birth to a son.

Louis Guglielmi’s work just before the Second World War were often bleak images of suffering. He spent 1943 through 1945 in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, a time in which he did not produce any paintings. Guglielmi’s existing work, though, was in included in the 1943 “American Realists and Magic Realists” exhibition held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. After his experiences in the war, Guglielmi’s work changed in style and content; he became more concerned with the formal issues of society: poverty, the living and working conditions of the poor, and the political issues of the time.

Guglielmi became influenced at this time by the work of Fauvist painters Joan Miró and Henri Matisse, and the bold, colorful paintings of his friend Stuart Davis. His paintings lightened in spirit and communicated to the viewer a sense of energy and optimism. Guglielmi’s body of work contains aspects of all the various movements of his time: surrealism, cubism, geometric abstraction, regionalism and social realism. His experiments with form, a major component of his work, set him apart from the prevailing American style of Abstract Expressionism, which in effect marginalized his status as a contemporary painter.

Louis Guglielmi was an instructor of art at Manhattan’s New School of Social Research from 1950 to 1951. Beginning in June of 1950, he taught at Louisiana State University, first as a visiting artist and later in the position of an associate professor which he held until 1953. In 1952, Guglielmi was presented a Temple Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Academy in recognition of his work.

With the intention of remaining in Europe for the summer, Guglielmi  traveled to Italy in the spring of 1956. However, after four days in Italy, he returned back to the United States. That summer, Guglielmi took his wife and ten-year old son to their new home in Amagansett, a small town located on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. On September 3rd of 1956, Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi died of a sudden heart attack. A retrospective of his work, entitled “O. Louis Guglielmi” The Complete Precisionist”, was held in February of 1961 at New York’s distinguished Nordness Gallery. 

Note: In January of 2014, Guglielmi’s works, including his 1946 “Subway Exit”, were presented as part of the Georgia Museum of Art’s exhibition “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy”. This show was a historical reproduction of the 1946 traveling exhibition “Advancing American Art” that was sponsored by LeRoy Davidson of the U.S. State Department. The  2014 “Art Interrupted” show reunited all the paintings of the original exhibition and scrutinized the U.S. State Department’s use of fine art as a tool in the Cold War. Works in the exhibition included paintings by such artists as Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley, Ben Shahn, and Stuart Davis.

LeRoy Davidson’s intent for the 1946 traveling collection was to exhibit the diversity of American art, demonstrate the power of democracy, and promote good will among the United States, Europe and Latin America. The exhibition, however, received intense criticism from the press. Provoked by the press, members of the U.S. Congress and President Harry Truman deemed the art in the show un-American. By 1948, all seventy-nine works in the show were auctioned off. Davidson was forced to resign, his position in the State Department was abolished, and the entire project ridiculed in the press.

Second Insert Image: O. Louis Guglielmi, “The Amrican Dream”, 1935, Oil on Masonite, 54.6 x 76.2 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: o. Louis Guglielmi, “One Third of a Nation”, 1939, Oil and Tempera on Wood, 76.2 x 61 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fifth Insert Image: Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi, “View in Chambers Street”, 1936, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: O. Louis Guglielmi, “Relief Blues”, circa 1938, Tempera on Fibreboard, 61.1 x 76.2 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC

 

Nils Asther: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther”, July of 1932, Publicity Shot for Cine-Mundial, A New York-based Spanish Magazine

Born in Copenhagen in January of 1897, Nils Anton Althild Asther was a Swedish gay actor who was active in Hollywood from 1926 until the mid-1950s. He was the son of Anton Andersson Asther and Hildegard Augusta Åkerlund, who had accepted his father’s proposal but was unwed at the time of Nils’s birth. Asther spent his first year as a foster child and rejoined his parents after their marriage on May 29th of 1898 in the city of Malmö. He grew up in a deeply religious Lutheran home, where homosexuality was considered a sin by the church and viewed as a disease by Swedish society.

Nils Asther, still a young man, moved to Stockholm where he studied acting under the tutelage of Swedish silent-film and stage actress Augusta Lindberg. Through the endorsement of his teacher, he received his first theatrical engagement at Lorensbergsteatern, the art performance theater in the city of Gothenburg. Asther performed in several productions in Stockholm which included two plays in 1923, “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “ The Admirable Crichton”, and the 1924 production of “Othello” at the Royal Dramatic Theater. 

In 1916 at the age of nineteen, Asther was cast by the pioneer Swedish film director Mauritz Stiller for his silent film “Vingarne (The Wings)”. This production was based the novel “Mikaël” by the internationally recognized Danish author Herman Bang. It starred silent-film actors Egil Eide, Lars Hanson, and Lill Bech, with Nils Asther in a supporting role. Besides being an early gay-themed film, it is recognized for it innovative use of a framing story, a main narrative which is divided into a set of shorter stories, and for its use of flashbacks as the primary plot source. Although only thirty minutes of its seventy-minute length survived, a 1987 restoration used still photos and title cards to bridge the missing sections. 

Now residing in Copenhagen, Nils Asther received support from actor Aage Hertel, a member of the Royal Danish Theater and a leading actor at Nordisk Film. Between 1918 and 1926, Asther appeared in a number of film roles in Denmark, Sweden and Germany. After being approached by a representative from United Artists, he traveled to Hollywood  where he was given the role of  George Shelby in director Delmer Lord’s “Topsy and Eva”, a 1927 silent drama produced by Feature Productions. By 1928 Asther’s suave appearance placed him in leading roles; he soon played opposite such stars as Marion Davies and Joan Crawford.  

Asther appeared in director Harry Beaumont’s 1928 “Our Dancing Daughters”, a silent drama depicting the dangers of loose morals among the young. The film cast included John Mack Brown and Joan Crawford; it was this film role of Charleston-dancing, Prohibition-era drinking Diana Medford that launched Joan Crawford’s career. Asther was next given the leading role of handsome Prince de Gace, who played opposite Greta Garbo’s role of Lillie Sterling, in director Sidney Franklin’s 1929 drama “Wild Orchids”. Though often listed as a silent film, it was released as a non-talking film with orchestral score, sound effects, and title cards for dialogue. Asther had previously known Garbo in Sweden and would continue to be close friends; they appeared together in a second film of the same year, the MGM romantic drama “The Single Standard”. 

With the arrival of sound in film, Nils Asther began voice and diction lessons to minimize his Nordic accent. Due to his accent, many of his early roles in sound films were characters of foreign origins. Asther appeared with Robert Montgomery and, once again, with Joan Crawford in Clarence Brown’s 1932 drama “Letty Lynton”, which recounts the historical murder allegedly committed by nineteenth-century Glasgow socialite madeleine Smith, played by Crawford. In 1933, he was given the role of General Yen in Frank Capra’s drama war film “The Bitter Tea of General Yen”, where he  played opposite Barbara Stanwyck and, after its premiere, received good reviews for his portrayal.

After an alleged breach of contract led to a studio-based blacklist, Asther was forced to work in England between the years 1935 and 1940. He made six films in England before his return to Hollywood. Upon his return, Asther made nineteen more films before 1949; however, he was mostly given small supporting roles from which his career never returned to its former height. During the early 1950s, Asther attempted to revive his career with appearances on television which was becoming a rapidly growing phenomenon in the United States. Managing only to secure roles in a small number of minor television series, he decided in 1958 to return to Sweden. Asther had four film roles and an engagement with a local theater before 1963, at which time he retired from acting and devoted himself to painting. 

Nils Asther passed away on the 13th of October in 1981, at the age of eighty-four, at the Farsta Hospital in Stockholm. He is buried in the village of Hotagen, located in Jämtland, Sweden. Asther was inducted in 1960 into the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry; his star is located at 6705 Hollywood Boulevard. 

Asther was a gay man in a time when it was both a personal and professional social stigma. Although the film industry in the 1920s accepted gay actors with little reservation, the actors had to remain discreet about their sexual orientation. In August of 1930, Asther entered into a lavender marriage with Vivian Duncan, one of the his costars from the 1927 “Topsy and Eva”. This turbulent marriage produced one daughter and resulted, after much media discussion, in a divorce in 1932. 

Nils Asther’s memoir, “The Road of the Jester: Not a God’s Tale: A Memoir”, was published posthumously in 1988 in Stockholm. In this volume, he mentions relationships he had in the 1930s with director Mauritz Stiller and Swedish author Hjalmar Bergman. Asther also had a long-term relationship with actor and  stuntman Ken DuMain, whom he met on Hollywood Boulevard in the early 1940s. 

Top Insert Image: George Hurrell, “Nils Asther”, circa 1930s, MGM Publicity Still, 25.4 x 33 cm, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther and Greta Garbo”, 1929, MGM Publicity Shot

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther”, French Postcard by Europe, No. 909, MGM Studio Publicity Shot, Date Unknown

Fourth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther”, Date Unknown, Publicity Shot, John Kobal Foundation, Getty Images

Bottom Insert Image: George Hurrell, “Nils Asther and Joan Crawford”, 1932, MGM Publicity Shot

Dennis Cooper: “Their Jeans Sparkled, Cut Off Way Above the Knee”

Photographers Unknown, Their Jeans Sparkled

Their jeans sparkled, cut off
way above the knee, and my
friends and I would watch them
from my porch, books of poems
lost in our laps, eyes wide as
tropical fish behind our glasses.

Their football flashed from hand
to hand, tennis shoes gripped
the asphalt, sweat’s spotlight on
their strong backs. We would
dream of hugging them, and crouch
later in weird rooms, and come.

Once their ball fell our way
so two of them came over, hands
on their hips, asking us to
throw it to them, which Arthur did,
badly, and they chased it back.
One turned to yell, “Thanks”

and we dreamed of his long
teeth in our necks. We
wanted them to wander over,
place deep wet underarms to
our lips, and then their white
asses, then those loud mouths.

One day one guy was very tired,
didn’t move fast enough,
so a car hit him and he sprawled
fifty feet away, sexy, but he was
dead, blood like lipstick, then
those great boys stood together

on the sidewalk and we joined them,
mixing in like one big friendship
to the cops, who asked if we were,
and those boys were too sad to counter.
We’d known his name, Tim, and how
he’d turned to thank us nicely

but now he was under a sheet
anonymous as God, the big boys crying,
spitting words, and we stunned
like intellectuals get, our high
voices soft as the tinkling of a
chandelier on a ceiling too high to see.

Dennis Cooper, “After School, Street Football, Eighth Grade”, The World is Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, 2000

Born in Pasadena, California in January of 1953, Dennis Cooper is a novelist, poet, critic and short story writer. He is best known for his autobiographical novels that feature intense analyses of human obsessions and relationships. 

The son of conservative parents, Dennis Cooper was educated at Pasadena City College and Pitzer College, a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California. He was influenced in his early years by French novelists and directors such as Jean Cocteau, Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet. An astute student, Cooper began writing surreal stories at the age of twelve. He was already focused toward a career in writing at the age of fifteen having written stories  in the styles of Arthur Rimbaud and the Marquis de Sade. 

Cooper was attracted to the Punk culture in his teenage years. In 1976 at the age of twenty-four, he founded the punk “Little Caesar Magazine”, which ran for four years and featured contributions from Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol, and artist / AIDs activist David Wojnarowicz. In 1978, Cooper founded the Little Caesar Press which published works by such artists as poet Amy Gerstler and critic and poet Peter Schjeldahl. Through his publishing company, he published his first book of poetry “Idols” in 1979. Two years later Cooper published his “Tenderness of the Wolves”, a collection of short stories and poetry which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. 

After working for four years as the Director of Programming at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Dennis Cooper moved to New York City in 1983. He soon published his first novella, “Safe” and began a series of five books, the “George Miles Cycle”, a collection of work he aspired to write at the age of fifteen. After relocating to Amsterdam with his boyfriend, Cooper in 1985 published “Closer”, the first volume of the “Cycle” series. This book later won the first Ferro-Grumley Award for Gay Literature. During this period, Cooper also contributed articles for magazines such as The Advocate, Art in America, and Artforum. 

Returning to America in 1987, Cooper published his 1991 novel “Frisk”. He also worked on several art projects including collagist and sculptor Richard Hawkins’s 1988 “Against Nature: A Group Show of Work by Homosexual Men” held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition space. From 1990 to 2005, Cooper lived in Los Angeles collaborating with other artists including painter Lari Pittman, composer John Zorn, and sculptor Jason Meadows. He also founded the ‘Little House on the Bowery’ imprint, which issued works of new creative writers through the publishing company Akashic Books. 

In 1996, Dennis Cooper published s retrospective of his work from 1969 to 1993 entitled “The Dream Police”. This collection includes the best poems from his last five books, both darkly erotic early works and the more refined post-punk works of the later years. In 2000, Cooper published “Period”, the last volume in his “George Miles Cycle”. This series of work, an examination of Cooper’s fascination with sex and violence as well as his love affair with friend George Miles, has been translated into eighteen foreign languages and has been the subject of academic studies. The cycle, in addition to the five volumes, includes two essay collections by Cooper devoted to the cycle: the 2004 “Enter at Your Own Risk” and the 2008 “Writing at the Edge”.

In 2005, Cooper relocated to Paris where he currently resides. He has collaborated with composers Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley, as well as theater director Gisèle Bienne, on several works for the theater including the 2005 “Un Belle Enfant Blonde” and a stage adaption of his 2003 novella “Jerk”. Cooper has since published several novels, short fiction works, and collections of poetry, including the 2004 “Thee Tight Lung Split Roar Hums”, the 2008 limited edition “The Weaklings”, and the 2013 “The Weaklings (XL)”. 

Notes: In the middle of 2016, Cooper engaged in a two-month confrontation with Google after it deleted his blog for “unspecified violations of their terms of use policy”. This blog contained ten years of writing plus a novel in progress. After mass media attention on Google’s actions and long negotiations through attorneys, Google returned his data. 

Victor Brauner

Victor Brauner, “Le Surréaliste”, January 1947, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 45 cm, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Victor Brauner was a Romania painter and sculptor. He aided in the growth of Surrealist art by developing its vocabulary and drawing inspiration from new sources, including mythology, alchemy, Hinduism, Judaism, and both Aztec and Native American  belief systems. Brauner developed a private and very personal iconography and his pictorial presentations of the etheric body had a direct impact on other Surrealist painters.

Brauner was born in June of 1903 in the city of Piatra Neamț nestled in the Eastern Carpathian mountains, His family lived in Vienna for eleven years until they returned to Romania in 1914. Brauner’s father was involved in spiritualism and, in 1916, sent his son to an evangelical school in the city of Brăila, where Victor developed a strong interest in zoology. In 1921, Brauner briefly attended Bucharest’s National School of Fine Arts. He also studied at the private school of Romania director Horia Igiroşanu. 

After his studies, Victor Brauner visited the Moldavian city of Fălticeni and the coastal Bulgarian resort town of Balchik, where he painted landscapes in the manner of Cézanne. In September of 1924, he had his first solo exhibition of expressionist paintings at the Mozart Galleries in Bucharest. Brauner also participated in a November 1924 exhibition sponsored by the avant-garde art and literary magazine, Contimporanul. 

In 1925 Brauner travelled to Paris for the first time, where he stayed in the same building as Swiss sculptor and printmaker Alberto Giacometti and the French Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy, who introduced him to many of the Surrealists in Paris. Brauner also befriended Romanian sculptor and painter Constantin Brancusi, who taught him the methods of art photography. His circle of friends at that time included poet Benjamin Fondane and artists such as Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Robert and Sonia Duchamp. 

As Fascism began to take hold in 1930, Victor Brauner settled in Paris more permanently and married Margit Kosch, whom he would divorce nine years later. In 1931 he painted one his most famous images, “Self-Portrait with Plucked Eye”, a work that was eerily prophetic, as on August 28th in 1938 Brauner lost his left eye when he was hit by a glass during a violent argument between Spanish Surrealist painters Oscar Domínguez and Esteban Francés. 

Brauner had his first solo exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Pierre in 1934; the enthusiastic catalogue introduction was written by author and poet André Breton. However, the show was not well received and Brauner, disheartened and low on funds, returned  to Bucharest in the following year. During this period in Bucharest, he stopped painting and instead produced illustrations and caricatures, including his 1935 “Anatomy of Desire”. Financially more secure, Brauner moved back to Paris in 1938.

The German army’s advance into France in the middle of 1940 forced Victor Brauner, a Romanian Jew and former Communist, to flee to southern France. He continually moved throughout France, living for a short time with writer Robert Ruis, before finally settling in Saint Feliu d’Amont, a commune in the very southern tip of France. While living there, Brauner unsuccessfully tried to obtain a visa to travel to the United States, however, he managed to get official permission in 1941 to settle in Marseilles, a haven for many Surrealists. In Marseilles, the surrealists continued their work and created a number of collective projects, that included a deck of Tarot cards to which Brauner contributed two images. 

Near the end of the war, Victor Brauner moved to Switzerland to escape the increasing Nazi persecution of foreign Romanian nationals. There he discovered pioneer psychotherapist Marguerite Sèchehaye’s writings on schizophrenia, treatises which influenced his later paintings. In 1945, Brauner returned to Paris and placed his work at the Galerie Maeght for the 1947 International Exhibition of Surrealism. Not long after his return to Paris, Brauner was expelled in 1947 from the Surrealist group by André Breton for refusing to support the ouster of prominent member Roberto Matta. Brauner began to experiment in other genres and completely left Surrealism in 1948. 

Brauner returned to more personal and primitive themes in his work, in a more stylized and abstracted form, done in the mediums of paper, encaustic painting, and thin oils on board. He established a studio in 1959 at 72 Rue Lepic in the Montmartre district of Paris. After a trip to Italy in 1961, Brauner settled in Varengeville, a commune on the sea in Normandy. In the same year, his work was presented in a solo exhibition at New York City’s Bodley Gallery, a prominent art gallery that became the venue of choice for the Pop Art movement. In 1966, Brauner was selected to represent France and given an entire hall at the Venice Biennale for his work. 

After a period of prolonged illness, Victor Brauner died in Paris on March 12th of 1966. He is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery; the epitaph on his tomb reads: “Painting is Life, the Real Life, My Life”.

Note: In ” The Surréaliste”, Victor Brauner borrows motifs from the tarot to create a portrait of himself as a young man. The tarot was a subject of widespread interest to Brauner and other Surrealists. One tarot card, the Juggler (the first card in the Marseille tarot deck), provided Brauner with a key prototype for his self-portrait. The Surrealist’s large hat, medieval costume, and the position of his arms all derive from this figure who, like Brauner’s subject, stands behind a table displaying a knife, a goblet, and coins. In the Waite tarot deck, the first card is the Magician. A sign of infinity (the symbol of life) that appears above the Magician’s head is also depicted on the hat of Brauner’s Surrealist.

Second Insert Image: Victor Brauner, “Le Codex du Poète, Mythologie du Poète, Première Naissance”, 1947, Oil on Canvas, 91.7 x 72.9 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Victor brauner, “Prelude to a Civilization”, 1956, encaustic and Ink on Masonite, 129.5 x 202.6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fourth Insert Image: Victor Brauner, “La Couronnée”, May 1945, Oil and Wax with Black Ink on Board, 27 x 22 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Victor Brauner, Title Unknown, circa 1945, Encaustic on Board, Private Collection

Tim Tadder

The Photography of Tim Tadder

Born in Baltimore in 1972, Tim Tadder is an internationally acclaimed photographic artist known for his highly inventive, conceptual advertising photography. The son of a commercial photographer, his interest in photography developed at an early age through watching his father develop images in his Baltimore studio.

Tadder earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was a high school educator in Costa Rica for five years and, on summer breaks, would take photographs during his mountaineering adventures. Deciding to concentrate on a career in photography, Tadder returned to Baltimore where he had connections in the photography world and worked from his father’s studio as a photojournalist for the local newspaper.

After working for two years in Baltimore, Tim Tadder studied  at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and graduated with his Masters of Fine Art in Photojournalism. He did freelance work as a photojournalist in Baltimore, Colorado and San Diego. In 2005, Tadder began his career in commercial and editorial photography. The prestigious Luezer Archive Magazine has for eight consecutive years ranked Tadder in the top two-hundred photographers worldwide. Epson, the world leader in photographic printing technology, recognized him in 2015 as one of the top influential photographers.

Skilled in both video and still photography, Tadder’s preference is to make communicative images through still photography. He consumes images from multiple medias, including movies and art, in an effort to seek those concepts which have not yet been visualized. Tadder enters his photo shoots with an already conceived mental image of the finished product; he then works with his team through multiple techniques and experiments to bring the concept to fruition.  

Tim Tadder’s finished work is mainly untouched images captured by his camera; a smaller section of his work is later enhanced by computer graphic imagery. Tadder’s larger shoots , such as the calendar project for the Tecate brand of Mexico’s Cuauhtémoc brewery , required weeks of production work, both before and after the shoot. Inspiration for a shoot comes from many sources. His Bella Umbrella project was a theatrical photogaphic production inspired by images seen on Instagram. The shoot involved models carrying umbrellas to which active smoke bombs had been attached. Multiple approaches to the concept were required before the final product was acceptable.

Intrigued by the Day of the Dead celebrations that occurred in southern California, Tadder created a set of images that paid homage to this cultural event celebrated in many countries. He shot the images both on location and in the studio. Tadder used four female models to represent each of the seasons and set them in the appropriate seasonal backgrounds. The images set in landscapes represent the dead’s return for the day; while the indoor studio shots allow the viewers to examine the skeletal face masks, costumes, and backgrounds.

Tim Tadder currently lives with his family in South California and is the CEO of Tim Tadder Stills + Motion, based in Solana Beach, California. His website is located at: https://www.timtadder.com