Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I could watch this woman for days!

You know those stars from the golden age of cinema who complained they never had a normal childhood because the studio made them train and train and train? Ann Miller was not one of them! She always remained grateful for a childhood that allowed her to snap, sing, tap and twirl around a sea of Busby Berkley-placed instruments and not kick over one single trombone!

Ann Miller believed in reincarnation, and once, when she saw a priceless necklace touring as part of an ancient Egyptian queen's collection, she claimed to have been that Egyptian queen. Yes, honey, that was her necklace!

I entertain no illusions about reincarnation, but wouldn't it be fun to imagine Ann Miller flashing her cheesy grin today on Toddlers & Tiaras? Childhood? Who needs a normal childhood!? Get that glamor girl into TAP! You'll never believe what she'll one day do on a soup can.

Worthy Project of the Week!

I’ve written recently on the many-headed hydra that is self-loathing. In my opinion, (perhaps an oversimplification), it's the ultimate source material for queer self-destruction and bad behavior. One extreme manifestation of self hate would be sexual cutters - people who actively seek out the HIV virus. “Chasers,” they call themselves.

Max Rhyser, an incredible actor (he features in both A Four Letter Word and Violet Tendencies) and amazing person, has interviewed a number of people on this subject, and also about why younger generations are apathetic when it comes to protecting themselves and others. “It was heart-breaking and yet inspiring to hear all the interviewees repeat one common theme, that of self-love. Everyone living with HIV/AIDS expressed that if they had more self-love in earlier years, they wouldn't be sitting in that interview chair.”

He’s now starring and producing with Sal Bardo a short film “Chaser” that asks the question: why?

Chaser is a fictionalized story based upon those interviews that centers around “Zachary” - and Max told me a bit about why he is telling this particular story:

“When I was 18, I read an article about "Russian Roulette Sex," - the thrill factor... it terrified me. Truly. Back then, HIV/AIDS was still considered a death sentence. As a result, I did my best to stay away from sex, until I found myself in loving relationships. But I was foolish and believed if I was in a loving relationship and we got tested, then it would be okay to trust each other enough to stop having protected sex. I'm lucky. I'm negative. But I'm not sure I've always placed my trust in the right person, even when I did love them. I say none of this in judgment and I’m not preaching. We're on a mission to discover why this is happening, to discuss it openly and to shed light on darkness.”

You can help them tell this important story by contributing to their production campaign on Indiegogo. Click below to spread the love (self and otherwise)! It's the answer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Perving at the Pool

There was a time I went to bed at dawn, but now I'm up before it to hit the Boy Charlton Pool. In the early mornings, it's packed with rush hour squads and swimmers splashing, otherwise noiselessly working out. On weekends, below, the actual pool is empty, but the place is buzzing. The right side I call the catwalk.
It's littered with sickeningly perfect bodies all parading the thin walkway or lounging in the sun. In fact, I often walk around the other side of the pool because I can't stand the prying eyes and the pressure of the catwalk! But it doesn't mean I don't want to check out what's on offer. In fact, the Aussies have a perfect term for this: perving. Or, having a perv. 

As in, "check out my friends Gerald and Drew having a perv below".
And what were they perving this perfect Saturday arvo? Yes, the view is better from the water!

In between the peep show, I was able to chat with writer Jack Arthur Smith, who interviewed me for Gay Star News about the festival circuit, recent projects, and "what life in laid-back Australia is like for an American with a fast attitude and a loud mouth"!!

Life is pretty laid-back! It's rather difficult to have a loud mouth here. Especially when I'm face down underwater doing laps. Sometimes I question (but not often) having grown up exercising. It's forever now a habit that you can't quit, you've just got to keep doing it vigorously. It's kind of like when you start bleaching your hair, and then you dye it pink, and...don't get me started!

But the Boy Charlton Pool closes for the season very soon, so that will be that. Then again, there is a stunning all-year alternative in North Sydney!

Pics courtesy of my pal Brady from his fabulous blog about his adventures around Australia and NZ!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I hit Melbourne for the world class festival MQFF headed by the amazing Lisa Daniels. It's only my second trip to Melbourne, and I love its vibrant, eclectic, electric feel. The city is alive... with layers! Imagine a manic mix of uber-gay film fest and simultaneous whir of Formula 1 Grand Prix racing. That's diversity!

It's CBD is filled with laneways and passages, some with graffiti, others with European style cafes and restaurants. The people are friendly, stylish and nightlife was all hidden down some alley or up stairs.
My friend Gabriel, a recent transplant
We were hosted by the incredible Cullen Hotel in Prahran. It's one of three Art Series hotels, featuring the work of prominent Australian artists. Adam Cullen's work is colorful and provocative and ghastly all at the same time. I didn't mind living in that world at all, as you might imagine!
I got to spend time with my friend Gabriel, and new friend - Ka-Hoi who showed us the best of this city's surprises. We hit up a swanky bar called Madame Brussels, named after a legendary Madame, but this bar, at the top of a dodgy, non-descript elevator, was all tennis themed - with parquet, lattice, raquets, fake grass and all the staff in crisp white tennis attire. Random and unexpected to behold!
MQFF audiences were amazingly receptive, and not only did I intro screenings of Half-Share and Going Down in La La Land at the ACMI, I got to celebrate their opening night gala with Magda Szubanski and catch the Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker film, Cloudburst!

Thanks to Asha at Limlight PR for my appearance on the Andy & Adrian radio program early on Joy FM (fabulous to finally meet these funny fellas in person, and sorry for saying the word COCK live on air!Shocker!) and also for arranging the MX mag photo shoot, a pink hair affair passed out to commuters on Friday!
I was able to see a bit of hipster-haven Fitzroy, with its warehouse-like microbreweries and shopping.

Thanks, Melbourne... I'll be BACK!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Minnie Swim does Sydney Harbour

I've been swimming with friends Drew and Gerald a couple mornings a week...  unofficial swim club, even though we've been known to chat at the end of the lane while squads do the hardcore swimming. On Sunday, we decided to take the plunge and race the 2km Syndey Harbour Swim!
Jesse, Drew and Bam
My hair is still pink, residual festive mardi gras.... and when they asked what was going to happen to my hair in the harbour, I think they were more worried about what my hair was going to make happen to the harbour! Thankfully, the race gave out caps. I had a light blue Marge Simpson cap.

Bam doesn't go to swim club, ever, but he's a Shire boy so he's not afraid of the water...or is he? 
Bam scans the course with nervous anticipation
My friend Gerald was so concerned about his first open swim that he didn't register for the 2km, he registered for the 1km swim. "You can't do that," we told him, "the 1km is called a MINI-swim!" to which Gerald replied we were being classicist. We responded by establishing his aqua drag name, Miss Minnie Swim.

Not sure he'd even survive the 1km, Minnie even signed up under a pseudonym! "I won't have some future date google-stalk my name and found out I came in dead last in a mini-swim!" Who's classicist now?

I messed with my entry, too, having seen in the results of my Tamarama to Clovelly that they put your name and neighborhood along with it. "Jesse Archer" and uppity "Elizabeth Bay" just didn't look right together so this time I represented "Gutters of Kings Cross" - and it says so in the results! Of course, I should have put in my aqua drag name, Marina Tack.

The 2k course was full of buoys and turns and made me really wish I had sonar. Or at least figure out how to breathe and see where I am going at the same time. The 2k was really crowded with swimmers. I have never been climbed upon or climbed upon others underwater before. So that was... new!

And they're off! Can you see all the swimmers? The mini-swim begins. 
Drew says the water spraying is to scare off the sharks ;)
As it turned out, Gerald did excellent and really wished he joined the 2km. Next time!  
Minnie Swim surfaces
I survived


Made it to Melbourne where I'm checking out the city and representing my films Half-Share and Going Down in La La Land at the amazing MQFF!

Back in New York City, Going Down in La La Land is gearing up for a big theatrical premiere and you can help make it happen by pledging to its Kickstarter campaign. Get perks like a pre-ordered DVD, red carpet tickets and even a producer credit. Watch Casper Andreas talk about his biggest film yet!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why the Dance Floor is My Church

I love the dance floor.

Each time at a big gay dance party, I think how lucky I am to have landed part of such a fun-loving, creative, sensitive, beautiful subculture. Look at them all. To think, I could have been born regular!
The dance floor is unifying - its only purpose is JOY. There's never any violence, though violence and hate is often heaped upon us. It's funny that the bullying meme, so prevalent now, was once considered a rite of youthful passage. On the dance floor, there is nothing but love. Off the dance floor, it's hard to imagine this same crowd too often uses its many gifts to tear each other down. Anti-social behavior that can be explained, not excused, by acute persecution complex. As let's face it, the bullying never ended.

It wasn't enough for your elected leaders, priests, even your own family condemn and disparage you. Today your principal says you're going to hell;Utah teachers now can't even talk about gay, even if you ask them; gay (and perceived) youth are hunted down by militias and murdered with cement bricks in Iraq; Ban-Ki Moon addresses the UN to suggest you have a right to be free from violence, and several African and Muslim nation leaders walk out; 80's sitcom star Kirk Cameron is now somehow relevant because he believes that you're detrimental and destructive to civilization. And all this just last week!

On the dance floor, you can forget all of this.

You can forget people righteously slander you, hide behind "beliefs" and when called out as bigots, play the victim and are defended by society as "having the courage to stand by their convictions". Would such convictions be courageous if directed at ANY other group -- redheads, handicaps, fat people, women... hailed as the destructive end of humanity? It would be indefensible.

So when I mistreat others; when I'm mistreated by queers and when I see them mistreating one another, others and themselves, I try to remember these episodes for what they are: re-constituted self-loathing. It's something we've grown up with, been steeped in and continue to absorb.

The antidote, so it seems, is the refuge of approval and validation sought in a perfect physique, spotless home, sexual prowess, living in the closet, a line-free face, monetary success, a crack pipe - it's all the same. Like anyone else, we want affirmation but we want it more intensely because we learned we don't deserve it, that we're inherently unworthy and that, on some level, we deserved to contract AIDS.

This isn't to suggest there aren't a ton of people who are, or who work hard at being and becoming well-adjusted joyful individuals. Or that there aren't messages of love - clearly there are. But if we could go back to the core, at its incipience, before it became damaged, perhaps we could re-train to absorb and believe another message.

I wish everyone could know (I'd tell them telepathically, as it sounds patronizing to vocalize) that they are all, every last one, innocent.

And on the dance floor, we are. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mardi Gras Photos 2012

One thing about Mardi Gras - if it didn't exist, what would be anyone's excuse to get fit? Another thing about Mardi Gras - everyone is really awesome about it. On the day of the parade, I was in a pharmacy getting antibacterial eye drops for my spooneedled eyeball - and this really old lady sees my hot pink hair and says, "Have fun tonight...I hope it doesn't rain" I thanked her and said, "Me too, or my hair is going to streak."

She says, "I'd hate to see your pillowcase in the morning!"

We hit a party at my friend Rowena's and watched the parade swing up Oxford street undeterred despite the rain. Then headed out to the Mardi Gras after-party.
Jesse, Brady, Finola, Bam
men randomly undressing.
My pal Heather Numberone was not playing around!! Whole body camo paint and that headdress!
She was particularly proud of her matching red merkin, though...
I was feeling right at home in this inflated pink flower on the dance floor of the Forum.
With Stan
Galactic tights by Black Milk, sunglasses by Dizm, hair by WHY NOT?!
It was a heaving, sweaty wet BOY SOUP on the dance floor at the Royal Hall of Industries. At capacity crowd waiting for Kylie Minogue. She came on at 2am, and stayed for half an hour singing a medley of her hits with a legion of hot dancers and the costumes? It was very Aboriginal over the rainbow.

What a stage! To the crowd, she dedicated one of my favorites, Better the Devil You Know. And she came back to encore with a massive finale of All the Lovers! Bam got the whole thing on youtube.
We couldn't take our eyes off what this hottie was(n't) wearing. He definitely pulled off this marvel of sartorial engineering!!
Bam, with his potent powers of observation, declared "It's like he's dancing naked!"
The party raged on, a sold out 15,000 people strong, in five venues around Fox Studios. Had to work that pink hair (which has outworn its welcome, BTW!) and found I had landed on a bunch of Sydney (anti-)society pages last week! Lost my friends one by one throughout the night, including Bam who, cleverly, said to me at the Hordern, "Go dance --- I'll watch you." And then disappeared to go... sleep (whatever that is!) I was the last man standing (stumbling?) at 8 am.

Real girl alert!
 I love it when you say "show us your ass!" and they do.
Mickey Mouse
Katie and Janna
After two hours sleep, we went to Bam's mother's birthday luncheon in Coogee. This happens every year! I know she's been celebrating longer than Mardi Gras, but I pleaded (in pink hair, sunglasses, hands trembling on the teacup) if she couldn't re-arrange the date next time?

We left her luncheon for the "recovery party" at Toybox. Of course these recovery parties only actual recovery will be postponed until Thursday but... so be it!

Stan, Bam and Brady!
Aaron with Matt Maggiacomo from NYC
Stefan and Bruno. These boys really need to work on their Mardi Gras diet, right!?
ToyBox party at Luna Park. Another few spins on the tilt-a-whirl.
 Aerialist and confetti, confetti, confetti (it just keeps coming!), streamers and "It's Raining Men!"

Lasers in your face!
Bam are you lost??
Back on Oxford Street, we hit up Polly's Follies at Stonewall. Polly is a venerable old queen who does a couple numbers and then lets amateur drag queens come on stage to perform. Polly sits back in her corner sipping champagne and makes fun of them. It's hilarious. We often catch her show on Sundays.
Here is Polly looking oh so supercilious. But what do you really think of this act, Polly?!
I felt the same way about the world the next couple of days! Happy Mardi Gras 2012!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

14th Arrondissement

Several years ago, I saw the collection of short films Paris Je T'aime. Some of them featured famous actors or filmmakers - but the one that hit me was the touching final short, 14th Arrondissment. After all these years, I still remember the name of the protagonist, Carol, a simple American tourist, who recounts her experiences on a solo trip to Paris via an essay she wrote for her French class.

The wordcraft is magnificent, I'm not surprised to learn it's written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Payne. Love, beauty, life, it's all ephemeral. And much like Carol, you're not quite sure whether to feel joy or sadness. This poignant little piece may be the best short film you've ever seen.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Angelina's Right Leg for Best Picture!

The Artist won Best Picture. Was that a hiccup or Hollywood giving itself an indulgent hand job? If the latter, as I suspect, then the casting couch has been replaced by the awards season multi-mirrored orgy tent.
The Artist is France's biggest gift to the USA since this statue. Angelina's leg has no comment.
It's surprising, given that the nation most vehemently protective of its culture's language would be the one to bend over backwards for the beast to give Hollywood that hot hand job in return for a golden statuette! France rejoices in its first Best Picture, but what a pyrrhic win, and what will become now of their lucrative, complex industry that expertly voices-over all English spoken films and television into French? Did you know there is a French actor who does my voice? Perhaps strict French-only media mandates will weaken. Perhaps there will be parallels drawn with the fate of silent film as portrayed in The Artist.

Here we have a French production with a French lead actor about Hollywood where words mouthed are in English; words written are in English. Aren't foreign films supposed to offer something of a reflection of that particular culture? For example, the British film Iron Lady. Just look at those feral teeth on Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher - they are a reflection on the British. So when I watch a "French" film that so flagrantly fucks Hollywood on an altar of imitation (that is no longer just flattery, but now a ticket to a golden statuette) I find it pretty sad. I believe the likes of Truffaut, Fellini, Bergman and all others who showed us something different would find such selling out sad. 

Then again, maybe, like any good hooker, they needed the money? 
Warner Bros should be inspired to make a French speaking romance starring Bradley Cooper set at a cheateau in the Loire Valley featuring a cameo of Cate Deneuve and win the Canne's Palme D'or for reciprocally humping the hostess with the proof: Hollywood adores the French for their outstanding way around a delightful drop - and Americans down burgers no longer with a side of Freedom Fries.

I suppose this is why The Artist was not labeled a "foreign film". Not that I'm a fan of "foreign" in the first place. Uranus is foreign. Films, much as nations, are made up of a diverse collection of humans. We are all foreign. We are all domestic. I'm a citizen of the planet so show me yourself, your authentic self. Why pander?

I suppose, besides the vanity, it's the pandering that bothers me most about The Artist as Best Picture. It feels representative of a new paradigm for success: sweet, predictable and absolutely inoffensive. If you seek to please everyone, you are inherently less interesting because you sink to a lowest common denominator that has now spread out to 7 billion people. Perhaps that's just it.

The Artist's Jean Dujardin sure has charisma in Clark Gable spades. And it was a charming movie, with shades of many other movies as it paid homage to the movies. Cue Madonna sneering "reductive", cut to a shrill Kim Novak screeching "rape", pan to Beverly Hills where, absentmindedly combing her hair, a distraught Debbie Reynolds wonders why the girl playing her part in the un-singing, un-talking, un-dancing French-ish re-make of Singin' in the Rain has such big teeth?)

While we're on about toothy overbites, let's return to Iron Lady. Meryl Streep, an American actress, portrays a British Prime Minister - and did anyone give her producers the wrath they gave David O. Selznick for casting Vivien Leigh, a Brit, to play spunky American Scarlett O'Hara? You see? Nobody cares about what's foreign anymore! Perhaps the times are further along than I imagined.

You ask: Is the post Mardi Gras crash really that bad, Jesse? Yes! What in the world am I going on and on about? It's this: The only thing that's daring in Hollywood these days is Angelina Jolie's right leg.
Yes, that provocative pin is an internet sensation and yes, I am following @angiesrightleg on Twitter!
The glamorous gam has popped up on everyone from Betty White to At-At from Star Wars, prompting someone to note: "Photoshop is the best invention since the cotton gin!" 

This one had me giggling for about a day.


Monday, March 05, 2012

The Lavender Scare

I'm looking forward to this documentary, and honoring those who went before. Looks like The Lavender Scare was made just in time as Frank Kameny died late last year. How many other horror stories have gone undocumented; how many secrets left untold from a society banished underground for centuries?

I'm under no illusion that without the uncommon bravery of those who took the hits and paved the way, I could not be me today. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras 2012

The biggest party weekend of the year just flew by in a flash! Stories and photos to follow, but I went hot pink for the occasion. Thanks to my friend Keira and her handy-dandy supply of Manic Panic hair dye. My inspiration this year was cotton candy, or as they call it here "fairy floss" (!!)
Here I am giving Sydney the moon from a party atop of the Centrepoint Tower. Well somebody had to!