November 10, 2013

Really?

Teaser for HBO's upcoming series Looking, a show about San Francisco gay men:


Teaser for the 2011 independent film I Want Your Love, a movie about San Francisco gay men:



Really.

(Note: Looking's co-creator and executive producer was an assistant director on IWYL. Out of ideas already and the show hasn't even premiered? Yikes.)

November 3, 2013

Gay Pride Is For Getting Drunk

I have never been sober—not even once—at a single gay pride festival.

My first gay pride festival was in 1996 in Orange County, California (this was back when Orange County still had a gay pride festival; they stopped doing them around 2000 but then brought a scaled-down version of the festival back in 2009), and because I was only 19, I had to smuggle in a pint of vodka that I later mixed with a Sprite. By 5pm, I was drunk and making out with a Latin guy in the Latin tent or maybe it was a cowboy in the country tent. The point of going to Pride, for me, has always been to get drunk and then have sex with someone.

Look, here I am at Long Beach Pride (my Pride of choice, since Long Beach, California was where I lived for most of my 20′s) in 2009 pouring booze into a water bottle just off the parade route. Yes, I’m blurring out the faces of all my friends because they might not be as “proud” of their behavior as me.

Here I am again at LB Pride 2009, this time with two BFFs, a 32 oz. beer in a brown paper bag, and a cigarette (I’ve since quit smoking, thank you very much).
Here I am at LB Pride 2008 with some of my tranny friends and an alcoholic beverage disguised as a soda from Taco Bell.
Oh, and here I am later that night making out with someone. Even before I blurred his photo, I couldn’t remember his name!
And here is one of my favorite Long Beach Prides, back in 2003 or possibly 2004. I didn’t know it at the time, but my friend snapped this photo of me behind her just as I was vomiting. I’d been drinking all day.
I don’t really drink like this anymore (OK, yes I do, but maybe not to the point of throwing up), and I don’t go to Pride festivals as often (because once you’re in your 30′s, doing Jager shots and trying to jump on the Long Beach Mayor’s float isn’t cute anymore), but I can say that some of the best, most happiest, most insane, and most cherished memories of my life have been made at Pride festivals. None of these memories really have anything to do with being “proud” of being gay and none of them really even have anything to do with anything gay at all (expect for the gay sex I vaguely remember having). And to be honest, I can’t even remember most of these memories, but I know that if I could, they’d be amazing.

The point is, I love Pride festivals for everything they offer and everything I chose to make of them. I’d like to thank all of the Wells Fargos and Banks of America, the Bacardis and Bud Lights and Jose Cuervos, the Swiss Navy and Wet! lube companies, the airlines, the car companies, the grocery stores, the Boeings, the McDonnell Douglas’s, the Targets, the Gaps, the Hertz Rental Cars, and every other corporate sponsor who made it possible for my friends and me to get belligerently drunk in public and have completely anonymous sex behind the teriyaki chicken on a stick booth.

Earlier this year, I read an article in the LA Weekly titled "Is L.A. Gay Pride An Outdated, Adolescent Mess?" by Patrick Range McDonald:
Muscled go-go boys shaking their booties on one parade float after another, cock-ring tosses to win a stuffed animal, Bud Light and Bacardi sponsoring an event for a community with consistently high rates of alcoholism and drug addiction — and the same damn music with the same tweaker beat.

Does this make L.A Gay Pride kind of stale and outdated? Are we celebrating some kind of pre-AIDS, 1970s version of the gay experience? When sexual liberation in gay culture was just as important — and justifiably so — as equality? Are we coming off passe and immature by still celebrating our gay heritage as if we’re a bunch of horny, drunk 19-year-olds who came out of the closet a few weekends ago?

The short answer to those questions is an unqualified yes…
As a former horny and drunk 19-year-old who experienced his first gay pride back in 1996, I’d like to say that I would be offended, but I’d probably be too drunk and horny to care. Let’s push the stick firmly planted in McDonald’s ass even deeper:
But each year, L.A. Pride more and more resembles one of those middle-aged gay men who was hot in his 20s, drank and drugged too much into his 30s, still acts and dresses as if he’s 21 although he’s 42 (and got a new arm-sleeve tattoo to prove he’s still with it), and is still looking for action at the Abbey.
A number of gay men and those in the larger LGBT community have begun to see L.A. Pride as a sad spectacle, particularly since being gay is much more than wearing trendy clothes, sporting tattoos and muscles, and sleeping with whomever comes your way.
[...]
[O]nce again L.A. Pride will bring out the go-go boys and cock rings, will be partly underwritten by liquor companies, and will celebrate stereotypes and outdated notions of what it means to be gay. And then we’ll wonder why certain straight folks don’t take us seriously or think we’re stuck in some kind of “Peter Pan syndrome” — and we’ll cry bloody murder when we’re treated poorly.
Well, as the old saying goes, if you don’t want to be treated like a slut, don’t act and look like one.
That kind of slut-shaming is classic “blame the victim” rhetoric. You know, when the pretty girl in the short skirt gets raped because, after all, she is a pretty girl in a short skirt. But McDonald also assumes that somewhere out there is a drunk gay slut tossing cock rings who actually wants to be taken seriously by “certain straight folks.” Maybe that drunk gay slut is proud of being a drunk gay slut, and it’s McDonald who doesn’t take him seriously—not straight people. Maybe it’s McDonald who wants straight people to take him “seriously” (whatever that even means), which is about as outdated, passe, and sad as it gets. What could be more immature than looking to others for acceptance and approval?

The fact that all of the advances in gay rights have occurred over the past decade in spite of the continuing spectacle of drunk gay sluts tossing cock rings at Pride tells me that a) straight people simply aren’t paying attention to drunk gay slut cock ring tossing or b) straight people are paying attention to drunk gay slut cock ring tossing and they think it’s great.
But over the past decade, we have clearly moved into a more enlightened era in which we’re not just fighting for our right to dance with each other or have sex with someone of the same gender — we’re fighting for our right to serve our country, to legally marry the person we love, to be out and not be fired for it and to play in professional sports without some kind of retribution.
To simply maintain our right to party and hook up with whomever we wish seems so 1970s, doesn’t it? So, ah, adolescent.
Isn’t that what everyone of every age, straight and gay, is fighting for? The right to party and get laid? From Mardi Gras to the Superbowl to St. Patrick’s Day to Cinco de Mayo to New Year’s Eve to Nascar races to 4th of July to every single sporting, holiday, ethnic or cultural celebration, everyone wants to party. And just like Pride, all of those events have been 100% co-opted and commodified by corporate interests, so why not make the most of it? After all, where else but at Pride can you open a Citibank checking account while drinking a frozen margarita mere seconds after getting your dick sucked in a port-o-potty?
Maybe we should bring L.A. Pride back to its roots and make it once again a political statement. To highlight our contributions to society, and to reach out in meaningful ways to our straight allies, our parents, and extended families.
Maybe we should highlight a particular battle we’re fighting on the front lines of gay rights and make that the centerpiece of the gay pride parade, rather than make a straight celebrity a grand marshal, which then diverts publicity toward him or her and away from the important issues we’re facing.
Maybe we should ban sponsors entirely, raise money from within the community, forget the $20-per-person festival that’s more a place for corporate sponsors to sell their wares than anything else, and just throw one helluva soul-touching, all-inspiring march.
Maybe McDonald should stay away from Pride, and leave it for the drunk gay sluts.

One of the fundamental tenets of “gayness” as I have always understood it is that we are the ones who are accepting of pretty much everyone. We celebrate the outrageous and the controversial and the slutty, and we get to decide for ourselves what we’re proud of, how much we want to drink, how many cock rings we want to toss, and who we want to hook up with. No one person gets to tell everyone else “how it should be” or what Pride means. Besides, we already have Wells Fargo, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bacardi, Boeing, Virgin America, Clear Channel, Comcast, Whole Foods, Smirnoff, AT&T, and Kaiser Permanente to do that.

October 28, 2013

Low-Wage And Dead-End Jobs For Artists

Dead-end, low-wage jobs are some of the only jobs left in the American economy, and even those will be gone as soon as they figure out how to get a robot to perfectly deep fry a pig anus, squirt high-fructose corn syrup on it, and slide it in between two mounds of genetically modified wheat flour. But while these dead-end, low-wage jobs are still out there, employers need to make them sound sexy and important enough to attract people who are desperate enough to do anything for a job (which, incidentally, includes me). Businesses also want to attract consumers by sounding fancy, which is why employees in dead-end, low-wage jobs aren't called "employees," they're called artists.
Smoothie Artist Needed (Long Beach)
Smoothie Bar located inside LA Fitness gym is hiring full and part time smoothie artists. Looking for motivated people who enjoy nutrition, health and fitness. Daily responsibilities include preparing smoothies and fresh juices, cashiering, sales of nutritional supplements and providing friendly customer service to gym members.
Who knew pushing the button on a blender was an art? You're the head of household raising three children on $7.25 an hour, but at least you're an artist.

The trend may have started with the awful fake health food chain Subway, which has been calling the people who assemble their "food" Sandwich Artists since Jared was a fat little baby. Smoothie Artists, Sandwich Artists, and Mixologists (i.e., the person who just made you a watered down vodka tonic) are all euphemisms for jobs that are as artful and scientific as knowing how to wipe your own butt. And I mean no offense to the people who hold these jobs (again, I wouldn't mind having one of them), but let's not elevate them to something they're not.

The same goes for Barista, which is the name Starbucks gives to the people who push the buttons on the coffee machines. Just call them cashiers, clerks, or, perhaps most accurately, button pushers. Call the menial jobs what they actually are so that employees will strive to one day work their way out of and away from those jobs and on to bigger and better things (not that there really are any bigger or better things out there, ha ha). I fear that people may become complacent because their job title as a phony artist affords them a level of status that doesn't really exist. Sadly, no one really takes these employees seriously as artists, just like people don't really mean it when they call Target "Tarjay."

Burrito Artists, Pancake Artists, Salad Artists, Tableside Guacamole Artists, Human Directionals (those people twirling signs on the side of the road), Hot Dog On A Stick Artists, Popcorn Artists, Fresh Ground Pepper Artists, and Water Artists (the busboy who refills your water) all need to stop insulting themselves and embrace their low-wage, dead-end jobs for what they really are: low-wage, dead-end jobs

That goes for you too, Pieologists. (Sorry, but a Pieologist is someone who tosses pizzas in an oven, not a doctor with a degree in pizza.)

October 15, 2013

Conversation About What You Did And Didn't Experience

"I don't know, it's crazy. I had it really easy for so long and could just churn out the same shit for the same audience and never really have to do anything differently, day after day after day. But now, it's like, there's this huge block. Like, my mind is just frozen. I can't think of anything to say."

"What?! I would think that after writing about the same stuff for so long and now not having to do it, you'd have tons of stuff to say and unload! Like, it would just come pouring out."

"No. It's the complete opposite."

"Well, you should still try and strike while the iron is hot."

"I know."

"What about the trip you went on, with all that driving? All that time to think?"

"Ugh, it was so much driving. And it was so gross once I got to Oklahoma."

"What? I would think you would have a lot to sort of reflect on after seeing so much of the country and being gone for so long?"

"No, well, that's the thing. Part of the reason why I did the trip was so I could maybe, like, 'discover' something about myself or something, but after the fifth day of driving I was so fucking over it. It was so stupid."

"Well, talk about that!"

"Talk about how nothing happened? Talk about the nothingness?"

"Give people an inside peek into your daily life, or something."

"The only thing that made me feel anything at all was when I got a speeding ticket on the last day of the trip, right after I got back into California."

"How fast were you going?"

"93 in a 75. I Googled speeding ticket costs in Barstow county and I think it's gonna be at least $300. As if I have $300 to give to Barstow."

"Nothing else happened?"

"I started to write about this experience I had in a bathroom at a McDonald's, but I can't finish it because, like I said, nothing really happened."

"Read it to me anyway."

"OK."
The bathroom stall door in the men's restroom in the McDonald's off route I-35 in Blackwell, Oklahoma is no taller than five feet. Anyone who isn't a dwarf or a small child can look right over it and see you, if they want. Outside the stall, there's a single standing urinal, an electric hand dryer (a lot of fast food joint, rest area, and gas station bathrooms now have electric hand dryers instead of paper towel dispensers), and a sink, above which hangs an old, water-stained mirror that makes you look blurry. There may or may not be a soap dispenser. There are no toilet seat covers in the bathroom stall because there isn't a toilet seat cover dispenser in the bathroom stall. You could try and use strategically torn pieces of toilet paper instead.
"That's all I have. I told you...nothing."

"What happened that led you there? Did you have to go to the bathroom? Were you just getting food at the McDonald's?"

"No, well, yes. Both. I had to poop. At that point I think I'd driven 2000 miles and done five days of driving without ever having to stop to poop in a public restroom. I always waited for whichever hotel I had reserved for the night because I don't do that. I can't do that."

"Do what?"

"Poop in a public restroom!"

"But did you, in the McDonald's?"

"Yes, but it was insane. All of what I wrote was true—there were no toilet seat covers, so I had to poop standing up."

"Like, did you brace yourself with your hands against the walls? Had you ever done it before?"

"No, I never knew I could do it."

"Wow."

"I went on a roadtrip to discover something about myself, and I learned that I can poop standing up."



October 10, 2013

The Rapes Of Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story

American Horror Story is a show about women (and men!) being violently raped. While each season introduces elaborate themes involving ghosts, witchcraft, religion, mental illness, extraterrestrials, and gay conversion therapy, each episode ultimately comes down to someone being raped. Showrunner Ryan Murphy loves rape, and can you blame him? His show's a hit!

The best American Horror Story rapes, by season:

Season 1: "Murder House"

—A ghost character dresses up in a rubber suit and rapes a human female, who is consequently impregnated with her ghost rapist's baby.

—A dentist rapes his female patient while she's under anesthesia. (The patient dies due to too much anesthesia, because how else would the dentist have been able to pull off the rape?)

Season 2: "Asylum"

—A serial killer rapes a lesbian reporter who reminds him of his mother. As with the heroine of "Murder House," the lesbian becomes pregnant with her rapist's baby (only this time her rapist was not a ghost).

—A nun rapes a priest. To be fair, the nun was possessed by the Devil at the time, so it wasn't really her fault. (Also: Would this make the Devil gay?)

—A female character is kidnapped by aliens and returns to Earth a short time later pregnant. At the risk of being presumptuous, I'm assuming that she was raped by the aliens. 

—The same female character who had been kidnapped, raped, and impregnated by aliens reveals that she murdered her father because he had repeatedly raped her when she was a child.

Season 3: "Coven"

—A group of fraternity brothers gang rapes a young girl.

(Stay tuned for inevitably more rape, because that was just the first episode.)

Fictional rape on TV (e.g., Dr. Melfi's rape in The Sopranos) can be an effective and even necessary plot device to develop character or advance story, but Ryan Murphy is repeatedly having his characters raped simply because he can.

The rapes, murders, extreme torture, and perverse sex in American Horror Story isn't interesting or shocking (and believe me, I wish it were), and in fact there have been so many rapes, I'm sure I've forgotten some. The rapes in American Horror Story aren't presented as a commentary on rape (not that they necessarily have to be), nor do they allow the victims to have any catharsis (or even seek revenge, in most instances). After being raped, the rape victim characters are either written off or killed off, or they just go about their business as if nothing really happened, with the rape having no apparent psychological or even physical(!) impact on them, save for their alien/ghost rape babies.

With so much to explore (witches, demons, aliens) and such a great cast, American Horror Story has a lot of material and talent at its disposal, but instead, let's just have somebody get raped again, because what else can we have these witches and demons and aliens do? Murphy is fixated on using a dehumanizing crime to pass his product off as edgy and bold, and it couldn't be more boring.