Friday, 22 April 2011

April 22nd: John Waters. Actor and Filmmaker

b. April 22, 1946

“To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about.”

John Waters is an award-winning screenwriter and director known for his obsession with the seedy side of life. Affectionately dubbed by critics “The Pope of Trash” and “The King of Sleaze,” Waters’s work includes a string of independent cult classics, blockbuster movies and Broadway shows.

Waters grew up in the 1950’s in Lutherville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, he began making films with local actors and a production team called the Dreamlanders. With the Dreamlanders, Waters created the Trash Trilogy: “Pink Flamingos,” “Female Trouble” and “Desperate Living.” Many of his movies are set in the 50’s and 60’s in Baltimore.

Waters introduced “Odorama” in his film “Polyester” (1981), which costarred Divine and Tab Hunter. Scratch and sniff cards with numbered spots were distributed with each ticket. When a number flashed on the screen, viewers were prompted to scratch the appropriate spot and smell the aroma.

While his earlier projects defined his style, it was “Hairspray” (1988) that brought Waters mainstream success. The film was adapted into a Broadway musical (2002), grossing over $200 million and winning eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2003. His film “Cry-Baby” (1990) became a hit Broadway show, receiving four Tony Award nominations in 2008.

A remake of “Hairspray” (2007) was a box office bonanza. The movie, featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah, was the third highest grossing musical film in American cinema history.
Waters is an advocate of GLBT civil rights. In 2004, he received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Stephen F. Kolzak Award for his work combating homophobia. In 2008, he received a New York Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“John Waters.”  Dreamland News. May 29, 2008
“John Waters Stays True to His Roots.” CBS News. July 22, 2007
Lewis, John. “John Waters Inc.” Baltimore Magazine. June 2007
McCauley, Mary Creole. “Jumping for Joy as ‘Cry-Baby’ Gets Four Tony Awards.” May 14, 2008,1,7010402.story
“New York Leadership Awards 2008.”  National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. May 27, 2008

Pink Flamingos (1972)
Female Trouble (1974)
Desperate Living (1977)
Polyester (1981)
Cry Baby (Director's Cut) (1990)
Serial Mom (1994)
A Dirty Shame (2004)
John Waters: This Filthy World (2006)
Hairspray  (2007)

Hairspray  (2002)

Cry-Baby (2008)

Friday, 15 April 2011

George Platt Lynes: Man With Tattoos, 1934

George Platt Lynes, born 15 April 1907, was a successful fashion photographer. For a limited circle of wealthy clients, Lynes created elegant, titillating photographs of nude men, usually posed and lit so as to conceal their genitals. In official photographs of the New York City Ballet, produced under Kirstein's patronage, Lynes captured romantic and sensual interactions among male dancers."

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Out in Politics: Gay Republican Elected to City Ward.

In an intriguing sign of the times, an openly gay Republican has been elected to represent a ward in Springfield, Illinois.
Cory Jobe, an openly gay Republican, was elected alderman of the Ward 6 in Springfield on April 5, according to the State Journal-Register.
It seems that Republicans don't want to see gays represented at CPAC - but they're quite happy to have them elected. Taken together with gay presidential candidate Fred Karger's unexpected and remarkable straw poll win in New Hampshire last week, I'm beginning to sense that the GOP infighting over LGBT in 2012 could be quite some fun to watch.

April 14, Catherine Opie

b. April 14, 1961
"Let’s push the boundaries a little bit here about what you guys think normal is."
For over a decade, photographer Catherine Opie has used the power of her lens to create visibility for queer subcultures existing on society's fringes. Her raw and honest photographs challenge viewers to reevaluate notions of sexuality and societal norms. Her groundbreaking work has adorned gallery walls worldwide, including The Guggenheim in New York and The Photographer's Gallery in London. 

At the age of 9, Opie decided to become a social documentary photographer after studying the work of Lewis Hine. Inspired by Hine's use of photography as a means to effect social change around child labor, Opie pursued her  passion for documenting the world with her camera. At 18, she left her home in Sandusky, Ohio, to study at the San Francisco Art Institute where she received a BFA in 1985. She earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts three years later.

In 1995, Opie's career gained momentum after her provocative portraits of gay fringe groups appeared at the Whitney Biennial, one of the world’s leading art shows. Images of pierced, tattooed and leather-clad members of Opie's inner circle were presented to the public in a bold and unapologetic fashion. "Looking at her pictures can be uncomfortable," observed The New York Times, "not because of their confrontational content but because they reveal as much about the beholder as the beheld."

In addition to documenting sexual minority communities, Opie photographs landscapes and architecture. In her exhibit "Freeways" (1994-95) she explores the intricacies of Los Angeles's highway system. In "Mini-malls" (1997-98), she reveals the rich ethnic diversity of Southern California's shopping centers. Combining both landscape and portraiture in her series "Domestic," Opie traveled nationwide photographing lesbian couples living together.

Opie is a professor of photography at UCLA. She has received various awards, including the Washington University Freud Fellowship in 1999 and the Larry Aldrich Award in 2004. In 2006, she was awarded the prestigious United States Artist Fellowship.
In an exhibit catalog interview, Opie reflects, "I have represented this country and this culture. And I’m glad that there is a queer, out, dyke artist that’s being called an American photographer."

"Catherine Opie." 6 July 2010.
"Catherine Opie on Artnet." Artnet - The Art World Online. 6 July 2010.
Sheets, Hilarie M. "Home Views, Bound by Ice or Leather.” 19 May 2010
“Catherine Opie, American Photographer.” The New York Times. 19 May 2010.
"UCLA Faculty." UCLA Department of Art. 19 May 2010.
Wilton, Kris. "Catherine Opie.” ARTINFO. 19 May 2010.
Books of Catherine Opie’s Photography
Catherine Opie: 1999/In and Around Home by Jessica Hough et al (2005)
Catherine Opie: Chicago (American Cities) by Elizabeth Smith et al (2006)
Catherine Opie: American Photographer by Dorothy Allison et al (2008)
Catherine Opie’s Social Network
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Saturday, 9 April 2011

9 April: Cynthia Nixon, Actress

"I never felt like there was an unconscious part of me that woke up or came out of the closet. I met this woman and I fell in love with her."

Actor Cynthia Nixon at the Garden State Equali...
b. April 9, 1966

Cynthia Nixon is a television, film and Broadway actress best known for her role as Miranda on "Sex and the City." She is one of only 15 performers to receive a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy Award.

Nixon is a native New Yorker, the only child of Walter Nixon, a radio journalist, and Anne Kroll, an actress and a researcher on the television series "To Tell the Truth." Cynthia’s first television appearance was at age 9 as an imposter on the show.

At age 12, Nixon began her acting career with a role in an ABC Afterschool Special. Her feature film debut came soon after in "Little Darlings" (1980), followed by her first role on Broadway in "The Philadelphia Story."

Nixon graduated from Hunter College High School and attended Barnard College. As a freshman, she made theatrical history acting in two Broadway plays at the same time, "The Real Thing" and "Hurlyburly."

A working actress since the 1980’s, Nixon received a Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award in 2004 for "Sex and the City." In 2006, she was honored with a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in "The Rabbit Hole." In 2008, Nixon received a second Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

In 2008, "Sex and the City" became a movie franchise. Nixon and her television co-stars reprised their roles in the film and a 2010 sequel, "Sex and the City 2." The original film grossed over $415 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful R-rated comedies.

Nixon is engaged to Christine Marinoni. The couple plans to tie the knot in Manhattan when  same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York State. "We want to get married right here in New York City, where we live, where our kids live," Nixon says. She and Marinoni share parenting responsibilities for Nixon’s two children from a previous relationship.

In 2009, Nixon shared a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for reading Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." In 2010, Nixon received the Vito Russo GLAAD Media Award for promoting equal rights for the gay community.

Nixon is a breast cancer survivor and a spokeswoman for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Breen, Matthew. "Cynthia Nixon is More Than Just Sex.” The Advocate. 2 June 2010.
"Cynthia Nixon." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 2 June 2010
"Cynthia Nixon” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2 June 2010.
Nussbaum, Emily. "Educating Cynthia.” New York Magazine. 2 June 2010.

FIGHT BACK: A Message from Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon on Larry King Live on Prop 8
Marie Claire TV: Cynthia Nixon Interview

IMDb: Cynthia Nixon
Sex and the City HBO Official Website
Sex and the City Movie Website
Internet Broadway Database (IBDB): Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon’s Social Network
Cynthia Nixon’s Facebook Fan Page
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

"Wedding" Bells for Irish Couples

"Newly weds" Hugh Walsh and partner Barry
Couple happy to play part in Ireland's 'big step' 
WHEN BARRY Dignam and Hugh Walsh first met almost 20 years ago, homosexuality was still illegal; neither man envisaged then a time where their relationship would be legally recognised by the Irish State.
Yet today, 17 years after they started going out, they will become the public face of civil partnership in Ireland as one of the first couples to be joined under legislation which came into effect on January 1st.
Full report at Irish Times

(Irish Times)