Monday, July 21, 2014

Cock Tease part two art exhibit at Cock Gallery, Portland

more info at

“Cock Tease II”

Nicholas Boxwell, Gregory Carrigan, Walt Cessna, Paul Dahlquist,
Paul Fukui, Trey Holland, Scott LaForce, Scooter LaForge' Joseph Lanker,
Alex Lilly, Marne Lucas, Kayla L Martin, Paul Morris, Alex M Petersen,
Nicholas Rispoli, Richard Schemerer, Theodore Soriano, Tony Whitfield

Art can address issues in a unique way. It can illuminate social injustice, political discrimination, sexual and gender discrimination to name just a few. In this show art tackles many sexual hot button issues from drugs, bare backing, self hatred to death and rebirth.
Gallerist , artist and curator Paul Soriano brought together a cadre of national and international artists to let us have a glimpse into their psyche and to help us gain greater understanding of the diversity that is generally in existence even if society keeps pretending that we are all just vanilla at our core. The truth is that each individual has a spectrum of turn ons and turn offs which don't stay stagnant over a life time but change not according to God but our bodily needs. Transgressive behavior is part of this equation and helps to question ones own standards and that of society at any given time in history. What was once considered deviant has entered the main stream as we lose our fears and understand that sex in its many manifestation is natural.

Death by Sex

Wall sculpture by Richard Schemmerer

Cher was singing in a barely there lacy nothing.
Half naked sailors danced to Bronski Beat. Everybody seemed invincible like gay super heroes.
It sounds to be to good to be true. Superfluous cultural behavior enticed a generation to vent their social frustrations sexually in anonymous encounters.
It seemed everyone was faced with a choice to play Russian roulette to have sex and risk death or to become a hermit. If this sounds to much like a bad script for a soap on TV it sadly wasn't. It was my life put on hold as I was just coming out sun bathing naked on a beach in Mykonos in Greece. The News papers had just declared the arrival of a gay plague a wrath of God. The notion was if you don't fuck Americans you are save. I made do with a Canadian living in Grenoble France.

A quick death by sex was looming on the horizon and days later I got notice that the first batch of my friends showed symptoms and died in quick sesession. It hit me hard as I saw sex as a path to liberation and gay sex an act of rebellion against established suppression not just against gays but also in regard to gender politics.
I needed spiritual concepts to help me through this period. Not religious ones as the supposedly Christian credo love thy neighbor didn't seem to apply to gays. Instead I found solace in Hindu and Buddhist traditions with their believe in reincarnation rather than hell.

This piece of art describes an arc from having sex to infection through blood and drugs to decease to supposed cures that also killed to death and finally rebirth of the soul.

The exhibition runs till July 26, 2014.

Cock Gallery is located in the Historic Old Town District at the Everett Station

For more information, please visit our web site at:

625 NW Everett St. #106
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 552-8686

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cock Tease interview with Paul Soriano

"Sex by Death" assemblage by Richard Schemmerer
on view at Cock Gallery

more info at

Cock Gallery is pleased to announce a group show featuring Artist’s whose work
is the very definition of “transgressive”. A select group of works from Artists’ in
Portland, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Butte curated by Cock Gallery
Director Paul Soriano giving a voice to the perverse, provocative and sublime.

“Cock Tease II”

Nicholas Boxwell, Gregory Carrigan, Walt Cessna, Paul Dahlquist,
Paul Fukui, Trey Holland, Scott LaForce, Scooter LaForge' Joseph Lanker,
Alex Lilly, Marne Lucas, Kayla L Martin, Paul Morris, Alex M Petersen,
Nicholas Rispoli, Richard Schemerer, Theodore Soriano, Tony Whitfield

The exhibition runs till July 26, 2014.

Cock Gallery is located in the Historic Old Town District at the Everett Station

For more information, please visit our web site at:

625 NW Everett St. #106
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 552-8686

Interview with Paul Soriano

How has your experience been since you opened your gallery and how has Cock gallery evolved since its inception?

In all the important ways I’m still processing this experience. Of course, the experience of running a gallery has greatly informed my work as an artist; in that respect it’s been priceless. Much like a church, my religion is the artists that come together around the gallery. The gallery isn’t anything more than an empty room. It’s the community that gives it purpose, gives it life and thus is always evolving.

What does Art mean to you and what is it supposed to mean to the world?

Art has as many meanings as there are people. It’s a way to discover your world and to journey within. Apart from our personal relationship to all things creative, art is artifact, documentation, history & dust.

What do you consider commercial artwork and what is its merit?

Since making art requires consumption of materiel and consumption to support the artist, it can be said all art derives from commerce in some way. The question is one each artist will answer for themselves.

What do you conceive as perverse in art and life?

Oh dear, long list here… Fifty years of failed public policy on drugs, education and health care. We treat corporations like they are people. A group of twenty-five major US corporations made more than 183 Billion in profits yet paid no income tax and were subsidized in the hundreds of millions. A world where the resources are enough to feed and shelter everyone and yet people starve. The suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. The extra judicial assassinations of US citizens abroad without trial. Jails are the new growth business. We are strip-mining Afghanistan for precious metals needed for military applications while we protect drug lords that grow heroin for the world. We consume too much and are out of balance with our environment.

We have Men who can’t hold their peace,

Women who can’t hold their tongues,

The poor are seduced by the rich,

The old are seduced by the young.

Bob Dylan

How important is parental support for an artist?

Primary socialization used to be the main focus of the family with the help of schools, churches and military institutions. In a modern life where both parents are out of the home to earn enough to survive and a movement away from religion, socialization has been left to an underfunded education system that was never designed to function in this way. TV is now the way most kids are socialized. If we accept that modern life has changed us then let’s fund a mechanism to socialize our children around art and life.

Who are your current inspirations?

Robert Richards, an artist and curator whose recent exhibition Stroke at the Leslie Lohman Museum was inspired big “I” (and what a natty dresser, tres bon), Anthony Viti, an artist from NYC who remains unrepentant despite what it may cost him, my oracle. (thank you for that)

What role do you see yourself inhabiting in the physical world?

Provocateur. Artist. Sexy motherfucker.

What is your spiritual life grounded in and how did it come into being?

I once decided I’d write the manifesto of my life experience feeling like life made sense. At the same time I began reading the works of the Dalai Lama and realized my manifesto had already been written. Since then I’ve come to understand the ideas I’ve held for so long are part of the awakening of the greater Buddha mind I see everywhere.

Homosexuality is what to you?

Just a word.

What is transgressive and what is its importance slash relevance? trans·gres·sive (trns-grsv, trnz-) adj.

1. Exceeding a limit or boundary, especially of social acceptability.

2. Of or relating to a genre of fiction, filmmaking, or art characterized by graphic depictions of behavior that violates socially acceptable norms, often involving violence, drug use, and sexual deviancy.

What do you consider sublime?

My list of the sublime is as long as the perversities, a well crafted Rhone style red, sweet breads, Diesel Jeans, Picasso, Vancouver BC, the green chairs on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Death in the Afternoon (the cocktail), Marne Lucas…

Death and sex how do they relate?

It’s no accident that orgasms are referred to as “La Petite Mort”

Sexuality is one of the main subjects in your exhibits can you elaborate?

The mission of the gallery is to showcase the provocative and transgressive, thus sexuality is prominent in the work I chose for this show. Given the importance sexuality plays in our cultural heritage, it’s surprising to me more sexually explicit work isn’t shown.

Has masculinity changed in the gay community?

Masculinity has changed in the broader culture in more dramatic ways than we see in the gay community. More and more, who you fuck has little to do with how you present.

What is the new media stereotype for queers?

I’m not very up to date with much in the mainstream media, are we still calling each other queers?

What would you like to accomplish and have others to take away from this new show?

This new exhibition was an opportunity to curate works from the artist’s that have come together around Cock Gallery in a way that shows their talent. They are seminal works that represent the mature style of amazing artists that risk so much to tell an important story. In a time of universal deceit, the truth is revolutionary.

What curatorial perspective unites the artists and can you give me a couple of examples of the artists and their work and how they inform your choice?

For this show, I am the center of the wheel. I’ve asked the artist for works that express the transgressive as they see it. What is very interesting to me is how the artist interpreted this.

Has Art become pornography and vice versa?

They’ve always been one in the same and still are. This is not a pipe!

Do you have a relationship to nature and what does the term inspire in you?

On a quantum level we are all the same thing. I don’t view man and nature as separate. It’s an awareness of this connectivity that makes it all easy.

The Title of the show is Cock Tease II. What is a cock teaser in your book and how does the show relate to the title?

In December of last year I had a few weeks without a show up. Since I live in this space I wanted to put work up. I went into the flat-files to find works that artist had left with me but had not been shown. Works I considered with a critical eye. Cock Tease 1 was very well received so I’m at it again.

What projects are you planning after this one?

This question has had me thinking for a few days now. The Summer/fall lineup of shows is worked out. Pony Bronn a talented young photographer and Director from San Francisco is coming in August and in September I’ll have New York artist Tony Whitfield show work that began as a discussion around race and how race relations are expressed in our community. New York is represented again in October with 90’s bad boys turned superstars, Walt Cessna and Scooter LaForge. (when Walt asked if he could bomb my place I had to think it through in a post nine eleven way. lol) Walt has a new book out “Fukt2” which I’m reading right now. October brings us the mercurial Paul Morris of Treasure Island Media notoriety whose photographs taken in studio truly define the word sublime…..and it just keeps getting better.

The 2015 calendar is already filled and will be the end of Cock Gallery for better or worse (I think, lol). I have a nascent project that I’ve been envisioning around politics and social change. The commonality around all of this, the art and community is change and I am an agent of change

Friday, April 25, 2014

Interview with artist Chuck Bloom by Richard Schemmerer

Interview with artist Chuck Bloom

What did disappoint and surprise you about life so far?

So far in this life I have been surprised and disappointed numerous times by different things. I am disappointed by how one sided and selfish many humanitarian acts seem to be. I am disappointed and frustrated at the disparity between social classes. I am both surprised and disappointed that with all of our medical advances and modern technology that we do not have a cure for AIDS or cancer.

I am overwhelmingly disappointed in our lack of commitment to climate change as a global population. I am surprised at how society can manage simultaneously to be so forward thinking and modernist on some issues, but backwards and ignorant on others. However, I am surprised and proud that people who seemingly have the least ability to give help are often the ones that contribute the most. This gives me hope.

Are you comfortable with the word artist and what does that word mean?

I use the word artist to describe myself, but here so many different types of artists and so many things being described as artistic that it seems to be a generic heading which is little more than a label and I don’t like labels. I suppose they serve a purpose though.

How would you describe your painting style and how did you develop it?

My current painting style is inspired by the classic Surrealists of the 1920s and 30s with a modernist view of climate change, social breakdown and neglect. I consider myself a Surrealist because the process of how and why I paint is very connected to the Surrealist notions of a "spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivity of the associations and interpretations of delirious phenomena." (Dali/Breton)

You have been on a sturdy path climbing the art ladder. What are your expectations for the future?

I have been climbing the art ladder for many years. I try not to have too many expectations and to be pleasantly surprised along the way, but I do expect to be more recognized as time moves forward. I have an immense body of work and I will be publishing a book this summer that collects some of paintings together. I also expect to show in some larger cities more regularly and travel as well.

You are Portland based. How do you fit into the art landscape there and wouldn’t New York or LA be a better place?

I think I am fairly well known in the art landscape of Portland, but as far as fitting in, I’m not so sure that I do. Most of the Surrealist painting that you see is very Pop Surrealism, which I have no desire to do. In am really tired of big-eyed, scary, baby dolls with lollipops and pink bunnies, but this is a very popular and lucrative was to be an artist, so what do I know.
I’m almost certain that being in larger city, like New York or L.A. would be exceedingly beneficial, but I don’t have an “in” at the moment or even the ability to physically go there and see for myself. Change is coming though.

Which type of erotic imagery inspires you to draw?

As far as what type of erotic imagery influences me most I would have to see erotic art this primarily don white and black, charcoal line drawings, and a lot of early vintage erotic photography.

Who are other artists that have influenced you?

Numerous artists have influenced my work. I mentioned Yves Tanguy, Remedios Varo, and Kay Sage earlier as far as Surrealism goes. My favorite Abstract Expressionists are Mark Rothko and Franz Kline. As far as erotic art goes there is one pair of artists that were very active Surrealists, but also highly erotic and some would deem their work pornographic in nature; there are Jindřich Štyrsk’y and Toyen. There is also something about the line drawings of Hans Bellmer that I find fiercely disturbing and uncomfortably erotic.

What can the male figure teach us?

The male body in all its forms is a beautiful subject matter for art. I think that it is under appreciated and seen more often as obscene, than a female nude. I think the male figure can teach us about masculinity, strength, humiliation and weakness, as well as fragility and beauty.

How has the role of men in contemporary times changed?

I think the major aspect of how the role of men in contemporary times has changed is in regard to “manliness.” It seems to be more acceptable now for man to be expressive, to show emotions and embrace more of what has been labeled the “feminine side.” Men are more universally fashion conscious, thanks to those metrosexuals and modern concepts like bromances which have flooded our media. Ideas of male bonding have been changed.

How important is physical appearance in the gay community?

I would like to believe that physical appearance in the gay community doesn’t matter as much as it does, but I would be kidding myself. I that for the majority of the younger gay male population it ranks right up there with where to be seen, who to be seen with, and what to be seen wearing. I think that importance seems to breakdown the older you get and even more so if you are in a committed relationship because other thinks become priorities, but I can only speak from my own experiences thus far and of course there are always the exceptions.

Your erotic art depicts very hot guys in sexually explicit poses. Are we as a gay community too obsessed with the body?

Most of my early erotic art was very sexually explicit with hot guys. I have seen a lot of erotic art shows over the years and I have always been disappointed by them. I rarely encounter work that really had an erotic charge to it. Most of it did and still feels very safe and overly intellectualized. There is a blatant obsession with the body in the gay culture, but I don’t think any more so than with straight men or women for that matter.

Are you a romantic?

Yes, I think so, but a tragic and hopeless romantic. We will see if my husband agrees.

How important is the support of the gay community to you and what are your hopes in that regard for the future?

The support of the gay community is important to me and I try to be involved as my time permits. I’ve always been amazed by how few gay artists I know. I am certain there must be more in Portland, but I have only met a handful of them. All of whom are amazing. I suppose my hope would be to meet more gay artists and develop friendships and do exhibitions together.

What does intimacy mean to you?

I think being intimate with someone is one of profound importance to the human soul. Intimacy to me is being close to someone so significant in your life that you both feel complete, understood and safe.

What makes a painting erotic versus pornographic or does it matter?

I have always been at odds with most people on this issue. This definition of erotic is “of, relating to, or tending to arouse desire or excitement.” I have always contended that erotic art can be pornographic in nature and pornographic depictions can be high art with exceptional artistic quality and integrity. I really get tired of these back and forth arguments and I don’t think it matters. I have seen purely abstract paintings at erotic shows that don’t give off any erotic sentiment what-so-ever.
It’s simply a matter of artists over-intellectualizing the definition of eroticism. The presence of an aroused nude male or blatant intercourse is depicted does not automatically make a work of art pornographic. There are early gay porno films and blue movies in film museums and even our own Portland Art Museum has two drawings by Tom of Finland, though these are more suggestive than explicit, which can be highly erotic. Robert Mapplethorpe’s work was over the top erotic and sexually explicit, but I’ve never considered it pornographic.

What is the underlying sentiment in your drawings?

When I do an erotic drawing I am looking first and foremost for good design elements. Light and shadow, line weight, space relationships, as well as positive and negative space. I look at how forms interact with each other. I simply chose erotic imagery that is visually interesting from an artistic stand point and sexually charged from a personal view point. On another level I like to explore what is deemed acceptable vis-à-vis the whole erotic versus pornographic melodrama.

What is the masculine ideal in the 21st Century?

I think the masculine ideal of the twenty-first century is redefining itself. The entire concepts of masculinity and femininity are becoming less distinct and more neutral. The age old models of a masculine, gun toting, tobacco spitting cowboy are . Now the cowboys can grow a flower garden, cook dinner with fresh herbs and collect Depression glass. It is all relative. I think it is good. Old archetypes of masculinity need to be reevaluated.

What would you change about your life if you could?

I would travel a lot more. I would go everywhere; different cities, different states, different countries, and even different periods in history and planets if that were possible.

Everybody talks about a paradigm shift. Do you see any time in history that resembles our times of change?

I do see a paradigm shift currently in regards to LGBT rights in the recent court decisions at the state, federal and Supreme Court level regarding gay marriage and other issues. This is hugely significant and comparable to Loving vs. the State of Virginia and similar civil rights cases. It is a very special thing to be part of and this is a major paradigm shift.

What is next for you on the Art Horizon?

Taking that very intimidating leap of faith and leaving my day job to focus 100% on my art again. It will be a challenge financially, leaving the comfort of a guaranteed paycheck, but I think the timing is right.

more info at

Friday, March 14, 2014

Interview with author Perry Brass

Interview with Perry Brass

What is your heritage personal and artistic?

I consider myself a gay Southern Jewish storyteller and poet who grew up in extreme poverty in Savannah, GA. My father died when I was 11, throwing us—my mother, younger sister, and me—into bankruptcy. We moved into a public housing project, where we were the only Jewish family, and I was constantly attacked and beaten up. My mother, strangely enough, had a fairly large extended family in Savannah of mostly mercantile Southern Jews who considered us to be an embarrassment. I wrote about some of that in my novel King of Angels, set in Savannah in 1963, although the book is not actually autobiographical. Although I come from this very hybridized background (Southern Jew; poverty), I consider the gay part of me the most operative: I have based most of my life decisions on it, beginning with me hitchhiking from Savannah, in the summer of 1965, to San Francisco because I had heard the city was “crawling with queers.” My own aspects of being gay are different from most people’s, but not all people’s. I believe that this queer part of me reaches into the deepest core of myself, where it shares a spiritual worldview with my brothers who include Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk, and many other such fine human beings, including many who read my books.

What are the powers of literature?

Human life is organized around narratives, which are brought into form by consciousness. We see this great hungering for narrative right now, but also a fear of it because narrative has great depth and dimension and we are living in a shallow consumerist period where political correctness and capitalism have made some very interesting bed partners. The greatest power of literature I feel is not only to reveal human consciousness and its desire for narratives, but to connect it as well. Uncle Tom’s Cabin connected through its narrative millions of people who were revolted by slavery. Gore Vidal’s book The City and Pillar became a secret point of consciousness for millions of men—it actually sold 2,000,000 copies after its publication in 1948. Men who were terrified of mentioning the word “gay” or “homosexual,” for fear the stigma of those words would stick to them, went out and bought the book, and could discuss it. They even used the title of the novel as a way of “coming out,” as in “Have you read The City and the Pillar? What did you think of it?”

What is the purpose of your writing practice?

I love the artform of writing, of the power and mystery of words—their huge dimensionality. I find that if I don’t keep working, I become depressed, anxious, sad, and start to feel hopeless. Because I do keep working, I don’t feel any of those things.

Who is the “King of Angels”?

He is the large, embracing figure that we desire—hugely desire. Whether it is in the form of Christ, or a real father, or another father, or a lover—the lover who recognizes and knows, who saves us from our own self-doubts and aloneness—he is either all of those things, or them one at a time.

How successful is “the New York Rainbow Book Fair” and what is your involvement?

I am one of the two original coordinators of the RBF; the other coordinator, who actually came up with the idea for it, is my friend Daniel Kitchen. It has become very successful and is now the largest lgbt book event in the U.S. Frankly though, I wish there were a whole lot of other lgbt book events just as big. There was a huge need for this fair, and we were fortunate enough to fill some of the need, but only some. With the deaths of too many queer bookstores, there is a complete vacuum of professionally run book events for our books. We—the other coordinators of the event—pride ourselves on running the
RBF as professionally as possible.

Are gays more interested in literature or less today and how has social media helped you as an author?

Much less today, but not 100% less. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, gay and lesbian writers were considered celebrities; this is no longer the case. I’m saddened by this, but I realize that TV shows like Modern Family and Glee will reach more people in one episode than all the queer writers could do in a lifetime. However, when these shows are back in the can, and forgotten about, some of our writers will still be read and still be influential. I am hoping I am one of them.
I guess social media has helped me in that it has reached people who never would have gone to a bookstore or noticed me on Amazon. But, despite all the hopes and hoopla, it really does not sell books very well. That’s a sad fact. It can though keep the ball going after it has been started by something else—like other media attention.

What do you see when you look at the social landscape today?

I see a lot of very disjointed, cut-off, self-involved people. I love the fact that many of my friends are a pretty disparate group, some of whom could not be in the same room with each other. Our social or digital landscape is not working hard to bring them together; in fact, people now group with others who feel 100% as they do. As a writer, I find this really upsetting, since I can’t write for everybody. I can only write for me, the best and biggest me I can be, and then invite others in.

Do you consider yourself political?

Very much. I love politics and actually really like politicians as a group, since they are so much unlike the person I am. I am much more introspective and private, and have a big need for intimacy, something a lot of creative people need to recharge themselves. I can though understand the mindset of politicians—especially those who get caught with their pants down, like Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, and Eliot Spitzer. They have let out the “bad boy” inner parts of themselves, and if I were in the public light constantly, having to be the “best little boy in the world” all the time, I’m sure at some point I’d find some way to let out that inner “bad boy”—dangerous as it is.

What is the New York Public Library's show "Why We Fight: Remembering AIDS Activism” main concern?

To put the AIDS Crisis, and that was what it was, a crisis, into historical perspective. There is a great need for this, because AIDS really demonstrated what happens when medicine meets politics, meets sociology, meets sexual repression and human oppression. New York was at the epicenter of the epidemic, and no matter what your feelings are about the city, so much of the history of AIDS is also the history of the city. What I feel is that we are not anywhere near the last chapter on studying AIDS, either as a disease or a piece of history.

What is your stance on love like monogamy versus polyamory?

I think monogamy is wonderful as long as it’s not imposed by either one person on another, or society (whether a straight, or gay one). Part of the queer embrace of monogamy now comes from the mainstreaming and corporatization of queer life: we have to show that we can be as “good” as the Big Boys, the role model corporate bosses. The other part of course is fear of STDs, which is very real; but that has put a huge value judgment on any form of sexual freedom. It is interesting to me that as the price of real estate has gone up, as well as the price of living in most major cities in the world, so have the walls around your personal life. We now want our gay guys to come in perfectly presentable pairs, who can afford a Donald Trump lifestyle. I can’t, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in the kind of perfectly presentable pairing I see around me.

What do you understand under the term “cradle of civilization?”

That was when guys like myself decided that beauty was worth fighting for.

What do you write about for Huffington Post?

They have given me a lot of freedom. I write mostly from my own point of view which is fairly radical—I was a member of New York’s Gay Liberation Front—that is, the radical point of view looks at the structure of things, and the roots of that structure. I write mostly “gay” stuff, but it’s different from most gay stuff, like you’d see on Queerty, or even on the lead stories in Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section, which is still obsessed with the 4 C’s: Consumerism, Celebrity, and Cold Cash.

What impressed you most about “Nude in Public: Sascha Schneider, Homoeroticism and the Male Form Circa 1900” that will continue at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art?”

The depth of it; the huge narratives involved with it. Like I said in my piece on the Huffington Post about it (, it is a very “literary” show, filled with literary art, that is, art that opens up in us our own stories. It does not just illustrate stories, but pulls the stories out of us Our own primal narratives, such the hope for a return to innocence, the power of Life/God versus Death, and the simple beauty of men. The last is one of the great queer insights and gifts, and this show is filled with that.

How can we rectify our cultural misunderstandings?

By learning how to listen, to be open to others (and yet still not abdicate our own sense of justice), and willing to learn.

What attracts you to poetry?

I am very much a frustrated singer, and poetry has to sing. It has to be filled with the music and power of words. Also, I like big poems, even when they’re short poems. That is, poems that pull you in, shake you up a bit, and make you see and feel things.

What is the damage done to the human psyche through discrimination?

You have the obvious results, such as genuine depression and its twin, uncontrollable anger—things we see in kids who are bullied, for example; but there are the less obvious ones: the constant sense that you have to narrow your choices, feelings, and responses. This has been such a constant gay kind of behavior—enabled by the feeling that what happens to us is either natural or inevitable. That even asking for anything more would be either “ungrateful” or unnatural. As a kid I learned to loath “liberals” who “tolerated” me, and asked for my constant quiescence in return. As my GLF brother Jerry Hoose has said many times, “I never wanted to be ‘tolerated.’ I wanted to be celebrated.” That sense of total freedom, release, and celebration was something most gay men of my generation could not even imagine. We are now more than imagining it.

What was the main theme in “How to Survive Your Own Gay Life and what progress have we made since then?

The theme was understanding yourself and the complete range of your feelings, of not being a victim anymore, for any reason, and to become the larger heroic person that so many of us are or can be. In Andrew Holleran’s famous book Dancer from the Dance, Southerland, one of the bitchier characters, says, “Don’t you know homosexuals are the ingrown toenails of the human race?” My entire work is counter to that: we are what keeps the human race going. We are very much a part of the balance of nature, and have definite work to do in it. I call this the “gay work,” and it is at the center of How to Survive Your Own Gay Life. The book came out in 1999, and we have made a lot progress since then—the recognition of gay marriage and the depth of our feelings is part of it. The feeling that we don’t have to be squashed, compacted, stereotyped, and hidden anymore is now very much a part of our lives and communities. I love this.

What did the gay liberation movement accomplish, who founded it and what role did you play in it?

The gay liberation movement of which I was a part, accomplished everything. It said that what we wanted and could imagine could be accomplished: that gay men and lesbians were a part of the natural order of life, that our lives were important and had to be recognized, instead of being thrust back into the closet; that the oppression we saw and felt on a daily constant basis was real and operative; that only together could we change things, even if the “only” number of us might be 10 people, but these 10 could do wonders. And, most important, that consciousness itself directs and changes life: this was the contribution of the Gay Liberation Front and the early liberation period of the lgbt movement. First you had to be conscious of what’s going on, and then use that consciousness to action. Because of what we did, the AIDS Crisis and the emergence of the Christian Right in the US did not destroy the community. Instead, it galvanized us. My role was to keep the first gay liberation newspaper in the US (Come Out!) coming out—it was published in the early 1970s out of my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen; and to become involved with the idea of “gay health” when you could not even use the term in public. It has since then been to plumb and realize the emotional and spiritual depth behind our feelings and sexuality. That has been my own work, and the work of many others now who join me.

What have you personally learned form your engagement with the gay community?

How much people are willing to change, and that these changes are an innate part of themselves. I have been asked, often, why the gay movement (or what we now call the “LGTB movement”) is the last of the great social movements to come out of the 1960s to survive and thrive, after the women’s movement, the student movement, the peace movement, and the civil rights movement are almost dead. It is because our movement deals with the most basic human feelings coming out of the heart, and the core part of identity.

What do remember most fondly from your times as co editor of Come Out! and how has the community changed since then?

The feeling that although we were a small group of people involved with the gay and lesbian movement, we were in it together; that we were serving a real community, not just a commercial entity—in other words, we had no “sponsors,” other than ourselves. We were indeed brothers and sisters and part of a large family, or a tribe—it was very exhausting work, but worth it. The community has changed in that it is now huge and internationalized. The tribal part of it is really gone, and terribly missed by a lot of people. A lot of people are now in what they call the “post-gay era.” They want to be like everyone else, with just this little smidgen that’s left of difference, the queer part, let’s say. That is understandable. For them being gay is simply another consumer choice: they consume a few gay things now and then, like maybe going out to a gay bar or club. The bad part of that is that it does not leave them a lot of support for their inner life, but, on the other hand, they may not even be close to having one. Too many of them have swallowed the complete, alienating message of the commercial gay world. It’s sad. They don’t see the history behind us, or how big our world really is.

What are you taking away from this experience called life?

Learn to value people—you never can tell who will be there to save your life when it’s necessary. Learn to love people, but wisely. Love can be as destructive as hate, if it is used manipulatively. Learn to enjoy yourself today; that date in the future for joy and happiness may not come. Don’t envy anyone. Learn to fit beautifully into the role you’ve been given. I’ve been given an amazing role as Perry Brass, this kid who left home in Savannah, GA, in 1965 with $70 in his pocket and nothing that could be called a “future plan.” I’ve been very fortunate, but I’ve also known how to identify what is important in my life, and that has been good for me, and others.

What are your hopes and aspirations?

I hope to keep working, creating, producing, and influencing people for the good.

What are your secrets for happiness?

To be able to do what you want to do, and also to identify what that is. I was very lucky I that as a youngster I realized I was a talented and creative person, and that I deserved to live. Living in an environment of violent homophobia, the deep South in the early 1960s, this was important. So many of my gay brothers weren’t so lucky; I feel very bad for them.

What issues do you address in The Manly Art of Seduction?

Great question! Learning how to be positive, active, unashamed, not scared, and willing to take chances—but good chances, too. Learning to establish enough connection with your own deeper self to become confident, and not afraid of rejection. We live in what I call the “culture of rejection,” so that is important. I meet a huge number of gay men who are fearful, isolated, and depressed. The Manly Art of Seduction has changed a lot of people’s lives, and it is necessary to change what is going on now.

Tell us about Belhue Press and its mission?

I want to publish books that are unafraid, unashamed, and that go to the authentic core of our feelings. And also that are fun to read, and soul nourishing. I have been lucky to do that. I’ve had a lot of support along the way, in the last 22 years; I am very happy for that. I think the big challenge now is passivity and isolation. I meet young men who are so turned off, bitter, and conservative in their thinking that I wonder where their youth is gone. I want to help them become bigger, more satisfied, and alive people.

Any new subjects you feel urged to address in the future?

I think that most writers (and artists) look for the bigger meaning or pattern in their lives and the lives of others—that is what art is really all about: expanding consciousness to see the bigger picture. I want to see this more in my work, and the work of other queer writers. My next book is going to be about the power of desire. It will be a companion book to The Manly Art of Seduction. It should, I hope, ruffle a lot of feathers—but that is important if a book is going to have a real effect.

Perry Brass
Ferro-Grumley Award finalist novel

"Fucked in the head" by Richard Schermmerer

"Fucked in the head" by Richard Schermmerer

Fucked in the head

God didn't promise me anything
everybody else made me promises
live big was the slogan of the moment
die young the anthem of choice
be in the Now to see the light
don't worry be happy go lucky
let yesterdays be bygone snippets
let tomorrow make your dream come true
nothing can bather you if you don't
love is the answer to everything
when age came by me like a race car
ran me over like the deer in the wrong lane
I had my hopes set on the wrong horse
Youth was the one to win the race for me
but youth faltered right out of the gate
The Now has become an endless nightmare
a pipe dream on a looping repeat
my body is like a war torn toxic zone
nobody healthy wants to enter anymore
a body that was not just fucked over
but the one the me that is left behind
like in a mini series that has been canceled
because of to few viewers by the right demographic

Monday, January 13, 2014

Interview with photographer Robert Siegelman

Interview with Robert Siegelman

You’re a fine art photographer. How did you get there and what is in the title?

This is a big question. I have taken pictures since I was very young, and remember having a toy camera as a child. When I went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (where I currently teach), I always took photo courses, but continually dropped out of them. I worked primarily in drawing and printmaking, but took slides regularly. I dropped out of the photo courses, because they were more about working in a dark room than about image making. I was never a dark room person, and even now shooting digitally I’m not much interested in photo printing. It is the shooting that interests me.

Over the years I have made a transition from having a printmaking studio and making woodcuts and monotypes, to large format Polaroid work (20x24), to shooting digitally. This is the center of my work.
Fine art photography is what I do, more than say commercial.

Youth and age what do they mean to you?

Once I was young, and I no longer am. It is odd even writing that. I photograph men of all ages. I am interested in the passage of time, and now how that has affected me physically and otherwise, such as in my desires. I’m exploring how I look to myself, and in some pictures how I look with others, mostly younger men. I’m looking at this process through my work. It is an exploration; I’m not sure what “youth and age” means to me exactly. I’m asking that question in my work, both to me and to the viewers.

What do you think about America as a nation and does it deserve credit because it is a young country?

America is a country that is full of contradictions. It is not a country that I am proud of. It is a country that provides the privilege of security and a certain amount of freedom. However that comes at a big price, largely in other people’s lives. I’m not pleased with the direction that the country is taking. Yet there is always room for optimism. I think America deserves credit on many levels, but I don’t believe the nation is a leader in the world. It may be a superpower, but power is not always what is needed.

What has changed for young gay people if you look back at the 80ties and 90ties?

Another hard question, and my view goes back farther than that referred to in the question.
Since I am not a young gay person, I’m not sure I am even qualified to answer this, but since I used to be, I will give it a shot.

This is another area that is filled with contradictions. When I was young we talked about Gay Liberation.
Now that is not even a consideration. Gay Rights are the focus now. I definitely believe in the importance of gay rights, and the laws that are slowly being passed in this country, but unfortunately the larger questions are not often asked anymore. Many young gay men have no sense of fighting for their rights, or that these rights have been even fought for. In some ways our history is invisible still.

On the other hand, for many many young people, sexuality is much more fluid than it ever has been, one’s gender can be questioned, and sexuality need not have a concrete definition. Perhaps this is the Gay Liberation, of the past, taking a more expansive form. I certainly hope so.

Another huge change has been the onset of being able to meet people virtually and actually through the Internet. That is too large a topic for me to tackle, though I do think that it is incredible that gays can reach out to one another, nearly globally, to find each other in this lonely world.

How has being gay improved over the years?

Hmmm… well important laws have been passed in this country and in many others, yet there are still so many people who cannot come out, for a variety of reasons. The main improvement is the visibility of gay people, both in one’s day-to-day life, and in the media. We also have greater access to our specific needs in health care. I do think that being gay is easier, but there is so much work to be done.
Coming out is an everyday process. I am very privileged to have come out at 19.

Do you have hope for the future and which fears plague you?

I hope to keep making my work. I’m not sure that I have fears that plague me. Not that I don’t have fears, but I may have less than I used to. My fears are probably age related. I’m seeing myself as being in a transition in my life, and that is fearful to me. Politically I am both optimistic and cynical. I hope we don’t blow each other up.

What is you relationship to your models and how do you pick them?

First and foremost my relationships with my models are professional. That said, some of my models are friends, or become friends. Shoots are often very intimate experiences, but that differs with each model, and the chemistry of each particular shoot.

I don’t have a particular way of choosing my models. I am probably more open in my selection than many of my peers. I have known many photographers that have age limits; they only want to shoot young men.
I am interested in shooting a wide variety of men, and men with wide variety of body types. The oldest man I have photographed was eighty at the time. Law limits me as to my minimum age. I am very lucky that I don’t have to look for models; most contact me, or are recommended to me.

What attracts you the figurative photography?

This question is huge. I wonder if I can answer it concisely. At one time the pictures I took had no figures in them at all. They were often about the human presence, but with out an actual human being.

As my work as grown the need to include figures became an obvious challenge to me. It has been one that has only expanded over time, in both the challenge and the connection.

My pictures aren’t always about the people in them; sometimes (always?) they are about my own personal concerns. The figure for me is a perfect form to tell stories and make metaphors.
I love the interaction with models and the process involved with making images.

What is the psychology behind pornography?

I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask about this. I assume it is to excite the viewer and get them to buy more.

Pornography is a commercial venture, an industry. A huge amount of money is made.

Artists, by contrast, generally only hope to make money.

The nude body represents what in your book of art?

The nude is a arena to make metaphors, and a place to connect with or challenge viewers.

Why is society so afraid of the nude male body?

This is a hard question to pin down; it may be more appropriate for a book, than an interview. In some ways my work is all about this question. The male seems to represent so much that is challenging. Men being the dominant gender seem to want to control the kinds of images that are out there. If pictures of men are hidden so is, by extension, their vulnerability.

Do you self-censor?

I assume that I do. Doesn’t everyone? Yet I am always aiming to take risks in my work. I can’t identify any specific areas that I am avoiding though.

Which other artists inspire you?

The list is long and always evolving:
Catherine Opie
George Platt Lynes
Berlinde De Bruyckere
Lucien Frued
Nancy Spero
Leon Golub
Alice Neel
Egon Schiele
Jenny Saville
Erik Van Lieshout
Charlotte Schleiffert
Attila Richard Lukacs
Sati Sech
AA Bronson
Marlene Dumas

Shall I go on….?

How do you perceive beauty and what is beautiful in your eyes?

In terms of art, that which has meaning. Pretty is nice, but beauty is about meaning.

What do you try to evoke with your Art?

Yikes!!! I like it when my work brings an affirmation to its viewers, when they see something of them selves in the work, and I like to push boundaries. I also want to make the image of the nude male accessible, and still be provocative.

I want viewers to see new possibilities and to bring about a new kind of awareness to sexuality and the body. The penis, for example, is pretty commonplace. Many of us have them, and have interacted with them in some form or another. Why not picture them. Ha!

When we look at the media, we see so many images of violence. We see far more pictures of guns than penises. I’d like to believe that there are more people walking around with penises than guns.

I want to portray men in a new way.

Tell as about recent or past exhibits and what inspired them?

I’m working on a piece now for an exhibit where I teach. This is more of an installation work based on what I made and experienced in visiting Vermont (close to home) and Berlin (far from home) in the last few years.

Where can one buy your art?

My work can be purchased through me directly or though Gallery NAGA in Boston.

What’s next for you?

Short term: Dinner
Mid term: A trip to Berlin for two months this spring.
Long term: MORE

I’m always working and I intend to continue. I’m also always experimenting, checking out new possibilities.

I would love more recognition and to make more of an income from my work. Does that sound selfish?

If you could leave a message for the world what would it be?

Well, in a way my work is my message. I see my work as political.
In it I ask for openness and sensitivity, and a wish for connection.
I guess that sounds corny, which is why I take pictures and make things, rather than write.

My work is ultimately about connection and intimacy, which we all desire, but which is so hard to attain and maintain. It is also about that which is feared, and should be seen openly.

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