Archive for gay

Fame Monsters: Going Gaga for Talent Shows, Reviews, and Bad Hotels

Posted in anthropology, art & music, celebrities, feminism, humor, politics, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

who dat??!

“The last thing a young woman needs is another picture of a sexy pop star writhing in sand, covered in grease, touching herself. My image was an issue at my record label. I fought for months and cried at meetings. I got criticized for being arrogant because if you’re sure of yourself as a woman, they say you’re a bitch, whereas if you’re a man and you’re strong-willed, it’s normal.” -the LADY

People. I’ve put off writing this post about Lady GaGa for a while, since there seems to always be something new accumulating in our era of viral video and always a new juicy tidbit to incorporate. Two occasions finally pushed me over the edge and I can’t hold back any longer…

Southern Hemisphere (but something is missing...)

First, by the time I finish writing this post Black Maps will have already hit a quarter of a million views since launching in January, 2009!!! This is an incredible triumph for me and commemorating it with a Radio GaGa post seems fitting. I’ll be my own fame monster yet, dammit! Some combination of dedicated viewers, rabid googlers, and geeks for buffy, science, and maps has kept my daily hits floating (around 600-800 these days) even throughout my dry spells of blogging… like when I’m writing papers or traveling to the Southern Hemisphere (which I do de vez en quando). This is my 114th post, BTW…

Second, next week’s episode of Glee is gonna be entirely themed around Our Lady of Gaga– and I can’t let Glee beat me to the punch. (also, glee? gaga? already??! can we say too soon?! didn’t they JUST do an amazing Madonna episode? please don’t go and ruin it by jumping the gun you guyz 😛 )

and thus I present to you…
Fame Monsters: Talent Shows, Music Reviews, and Bad Hotels

So my place of work has been completely overcome with gagamania for going on a year now…, and given that we’re a crunchy non-hierarchical collective (average age of our staff… early 30s?), I can understand the disbelief when our recycling person showed up today and was like “Jeez! Even YOU guys?!” as “telephone” was bumping in the back of the store. He launched into a cranky tirade about how his gym blasts nothing but Our Lady of Gaga, and he just doesn’t understand how everyone is brainwashed into listening to the pop-cacophony and what the deal with all this?

I’d break it down like this. Nobody gives a frack about Lady Gaga. Her songs are mediocre when it comes down to it (they grow on you like all pop songs, I enjoy them now) and her voice is on par with your average American Idol tryout. But but BUT, if you just stop there then you’re missing the anthropological phenomenon that has become the House of Gaga. Its not about her, per se, its about the project of Lady Gaga…

Here we have a female bodied drag queen, which is short circuiting a few mainstream culture braincells right there, and her ability to be a high-femme chameleon is like a flux capacitor for whatever subversive dreams or subcultures teenagers, queers, capitalists, curators, feminists or glitteratti are trying to ignite. And it works, cuz she’s all about all of it.

Apparently her live shows (in addition to having dazzling choreography and special effects), is like a motivational speech for kids who feel like they don’t fit in. She tells people they should never feel too fat, or too weird, or too feminine or too masculine, and that they are beautiful (and then breaks out into song).

So the thing is… we don’t need Lady Gaga as much as we use “Lady Gaga,” and we use her to inspire us to do incredible things that we always had the power to do (think ruby slippers).

we instrumentalize Lady Gaga to believe in our own fabulocity.

Exhibit A. This kid is thirteen years old, performing at his middle school talent show, and he will take over the world in fabulous kate bushian ways!!!

Exibit B, LGBT and Queer activists in San Francisco parody Bad Romance in a piece of brilliant guerrilla theater aimed at Boycotting the Hyatt and other “Bad Hotels”:

They are calling on folks to support Hyatt and other hotel workers across the country in their quest for jobs with respect and dignity, decent wages, affordable health care, and safe working conditions.

Exhibit C, Glee:

who knows what Will Scheuster will prod them with this week? I hope the writers let Kurt shine!

Exhibit D, Newsies bring the ruckus through a retro-new york Bad Romance danceparty!

Obviously examples abound. The viral videos are endless. We’ve all seen the army battalion lip-sync implicit protests to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (meh, armies…), the bedroom best friend sing alongs and all the rest of it. There are also plenty of blog deconstructions, and I don’t need to get in on that (I do it in the student lounge at grad school, which is more than sufficient thank you very much).

lady gaga or a drag queen? obvies, its both!

Oh, except that can we just say that (prison industrial complex notwithstanding), making Beyoncé a homicidal boyfriend killer in favor of lesbian affections was a triumph I didn’t think we’d see from the hip-hop R&B charts for a while (I mean, OMG, Queen Latifah is still closeted!!!)

Anyways, I think the lesson is clear: at a certain level, we’re all drag queens!

I’ll leave you with the best review I’ve read anywhere of the Fame Monster (just a snippet, the full awesomeness is something you’ll just have to surf to yourself).

If we can define good pop albums the way Howard Hawks famously defined good movies- that’s three great scenes and no bad scenes- then Lady GaGa’s The Fame Monster is certainly a good pop album. At least three songs are great, the rest aren’t bad, and at only 34 minutes long it never threatens to wear out its welcome. It’s shamelessly sleek, glossy and digital, but with enough heart, humor and horror that it is far from soulless. The only significant problem I can hear is that its tracks are in slightly the wrong order.

It starts with the current mega-hit “Bad Romance,” a move that might have made more sense if not for the last track, “Teeth.” One of the album’s fun n’ catchy fillers, “Teeth” throbs with four-on-the-floor stomp and neo-burlesque brass as Lady GaGa entices the men in the house to show their proverbial fangs. It sounds like a slow-burning fuse that’s supposed to psyche us up for a big-ass pop explosion, and for some reason it’s anti-climactically placed at the very end of the record.

So after my tenth spin through The Fame Monster, I shuffled “Teeth” to the top of the order and it worked much better. Besides, a song as show-stopping as “Bad Romance” deserves at least one opening act. The profusion of succulent hooks, the Amazonian-cyborg lust and the near-operatic drama would have been enough to cement this song’s status as an instant classic, yet Lady GaGa goes the extra inches when she delivers one of the most deliciously reprehensible lyrics that will ever infect the Billboard Top 40 (”Want you in my room/ while your baby is sick.”) [editorial correction, its actually this whole Hitchcock thing: “I want your Psycho, your Vertigo schtick. Want you in my Rear Window, baby, you’re sick.” -SS]

If “Bad Romance” has any warts, they’re the moments when she insists on reminding us in plain English that she’s “a freak bitch, baby.” Well duh- she made that crystal clear with that sick baby lyric. I’m nit-picking, though. Criticizing Lady GaGa for her lack of subtlety is kind of like complaining that Andy Warhol didn’t use enough earth tones.

Be Fierce+Embrace Yr Inner Drag Queen
(let her crawl out),
Sunshine Superlady



Posted in art & music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

I’m tripping a little bit, cuz some old housemates of mine just passed on this link to a movie called Art House which was filmed at our old cooperative home called Black Elk, which is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Some of the shit from our shennanigans back in the day has made its way into the background of the movie, which, seems not entirely unrelated to what the co-op actually was in the grander scheme of things. Its even got Iggy Pop starring in it. hmm…

Speaking of art, you may recall from my first blackmaps post that the midwife of this blog was an exciting artistic conspiracy called Fun-A-Day, where people make a pact to get through the doldrums of January by creating their own projects and producing one piece of artwork or one repetitive activity each day for the entire month culminating in the Fun-A-Day artshow in February. Does that make sense? Do you need someone to explain it more, ahem, musically???

Fantastic! And my friend Karen T. Trouble actually did bake a pie per day, ps. I even tasted two or three of them. Delicious!

So, Fun-​A-​Day is happe​ning in Phila​delph​ia,​ Pitts​burgh​ and San Franc​isco this year!​ And the art shows are upon us…

Phila​delph​ia:​ This year’​s Fun-​A-​Day show will be held on Febru​ary 14 from 7 to 11 p.m. at Studi​o 34 Yoga locat​ed at 4522 Balti​more Avenu​e in West Phill​y.​-​it’​s FREE.​ Last year’​s show featu​red more than fifty​ artis​ts and was atten​ded by more than 300 peopl​e.​

I of course have been blogging, submitting to other blogs, or educating people about the magic of blogs for the month of January, so you can always see what I’ve been up to all month.

If you can’t make it to the art show, there is plenty of fun-a-day blog stuff to check out including some of my favorites like Morgan’s amateur dream analysis blog, Timothy’s fake polaroid a day blog, a lost/missed connections themed blog,or how about a series of word clouds constituted from craigs list casual encounters posts?

and then there’s this blog which you’ll probably enjoy if you’re a fan of black maps (more science, art, and geekery than maps, but yay!)

There is so much fun fun-a-day related stuff out there I don’t really know where to begin, but if you can appreciate something like this video, then you should check out chris vargas’s blog:

you can find out more about the show by clicking here, but hopefully I’ll just see you there tomorrow!

some local entri​es include:​

02/7 outfi​ts and sandw​iches​:​ a 31 day zine
poste​d by carol​yn,​ cedar​ park!​

02/4 Apple​-​A-​Day
poste​d by Wendi​,​ San Franc​isco

02/2 Craig​’​s List:​ Casua​l Encou​nter a Day
poste​d by gAlex​,​ west phill​y

02/1 31 Hiber​natio​n Drawi​ngs
poste​d by Wolfi​e E.
Rawk,​ West Phill​y

01/​28 poo du jour:​ inves​tigat​ive repai​nting​
poste​d by shari​ tobia​s,​ west philt​hy

01/​27 haiku​s (​non-​exact​)​
poste​d by Artyc​,​ SF/​NY/​Flori​da

01/​23 filmi​ng 31 secon​ds of movem​ent every​day
poste​d by Malic​ Amaly​a,​ Seatt​le,​ WA

as for artclash itself:

The Artcl​ash Colle​ctive​ is a Phila​delph​ia-​based​ group​ of artis​ts who organ​ize art proje​cts and shows​ that aim to be fun, inclu​sive and parti​cipat​ory.​ With each proje​ct/​show,​ we seek to creat​e a welco​ming forum​ for peopl​e to share​ their​ art and form a commu​nity of artis​ts.​ Our shows​ are alway​s inclu​sive of anyon​e who wants​ to parti​cipat​e,​ free,​ all ages and we hope they serve​ as an inspi​ratio​n for those​ who atten​d.​ We belie​ve the desir​e to creat​e is a funda​menta​l human​ trait​ that we are often​ alien​ated from in moder​n socie​ty.​ We belie​ve the act of creat​ion can be a trans​forma​tive exper​ience​ that reest​ablis​hes the bond betwe​en artis​ts and their​ human​ity.​ We belie​ve every​one is an artis​t and every​thing​ you make is art.


The World is Yrs,
Sunshine Superboy

Gender in the Vacuum of Space

Posted in politics, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy


Warning: there is a serious BSG spoiler toward the end of this post. If you care, don’t scroll down till you watch the new episode that aired Fri, Jan 16th, 2009.

The continuation continues tonight. Just cuz I’m feeling a little vapid for my Battlestar Galactica post, I’m revisiting the issue, but like for real this time. Part of what fans like myself find compelling about BSG is that it actually IS that deep sometimes, and also offers, through the magic of television, a visualization (as sci-fi is wont to do) of a radically different world. With BSG, for example, we get to see on screen, in the flesh, women in real positions of power (not sidekicks or tokens), which, at a more fundamental level, can be a glimpse into our own world, where that power already exists all around us- after all, what is science fiction but the projection of our own cosmology just a few steps beyond the present moment? Here we are in 2009 and almost everything that Philip K. Dick, (or even Kurt Vonnegut for that matter) wrote about (aka “foretold”) has come to pass.

.not my homeboy.

.not my homeboy.

So about a year ago, I was in New Orleans visiting a friend and had all this gender stuff punch through in an interesting way. I was playing catch-up somewhere around the end of Season 2 or the beginning of Season 3 on her roommate’s BSG dvds, when out of nowhere my befuddled friend, who was in the kitchen, heard me shouting from the living room “Holyfuck this is SO intense!”

I was so overwhelmed that I had to pause the dvd and physically get up and walk to the kitchen just to release some nerves. It was right at a moment where Admiral Cain (a woman, and awesome butch lesbian at that!) had shown up outta the blue, immediately out-ranking Bill Adama who had worked more than a season to gain the trust of President Laura Roslin. Gender and power. It got crazier. Adama had just deployed Kara Thrace aka “Starbuck”, as his best fighter and most trusted maverick, to assassinate the cutthroat Admiral Cain (for the good of the fleet and all surviving humanity).

The tension on screen between the two heavy hitting women (Cain and Starbuck) was palpable, complex, and extremely fraught. But for the audience, seeing two women dominate the screen time, and the power plays of the plot was a whole other mind trip. It was good fun.

the black lady never botched the oath the way Justice Roberts did.

the black lady never botched the oath the way Justice Roberts did.

And this was wholly apart from the chief executive power of the fucking awesome female president, Laura Roslin (seen here being sworn in).

I guess you have to see the show to appreciate the depth of how gender is playing out in the post-apocalyptic vacuum of space. But it really does keep unfolding in brave and complex ways. Can I reveal one more spoiler? Caprica Pegasus Six? Gay (well, queer or at least bi or something). Admiral Cain? Hella Gay. n49517262446_1887And now Lieutenant Felix Gaeta? He’s the gay too! (Not that we didn’t see that coming since fracking season 1). So much gender and sexuality to muse about… let alone, questions of how to gender a cylon….

Here’s an excerpt from a 45-minute long Brown University interview with Mary McDonnell (who plays Laura Roslin). Its an opening reflection on gender in the fleet on the show.

Stephanie Nicora noted that Battlestar Galactica is superficially feminist, with women in charge — but this seems to be true more of the Cylons than of humanity. In fact, Rousseau’s notion of separate spheres seems to be entrenched in the show: Roslin is President, but she can’t do anything much without the support of Galactica — headed by Commander Bill Adama, a man. When Admiral Helena Cain arrives, a female military leader, both Roslin and Adama agree that she’s a dire threat. Roslin doesn’t even have control over her own body — no one asks her whether or not she wants the cure from Hera’s blood — and by extension she is forced to adopt a pro-life stance and ban abortion. Her question: as a feminist, what’s your interpretation of these narratives?

Post comments or just go head and vote on my first Black Maps poll.

So Say We All?
~Sunshine Superboy

ooooooh, and just for kicks and cylon invasion preparedness, check this fracking thing out:

Barely Legal Heroes: Homeboys, Ninjas, Pirates, and… well, Buffy

Posted in anthropology, comics, feminism, maps & mapping, politics, race with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Admittedly, most of my favorite heroes do wear tights, but I’m leading off today’s post with a few everyday, real-world warriors who embody one key virtue: persistence

The 5th Grader
My favorite thing in the world right now is this kid, who has launched a pretty robust national media campaign to interview some guy named Barack Obama. His credentials (though one might wonder what anyone needs credentials for to ask a question or two)? He had already interviewed VPOTUS-elect, then Delaware Senator Joe the Biden (back before the election), and the last American Princes/ would-be Junior Senate appointee Caroline Kennedy (of… New York? Really?!), not to mention a phalanx of NBA players, and presumably his congressional rep who hooked him up with tickets to the inaugs in DC.

If you’re not already famills, I’m happy to introduce you to 10 year old badass, Damon Weaver:

I mean, he straight up calls Joe Biden his homeboy! Godspeed-you-Damon-Weaver and your audacious mission to get Barry O’B to keep it real!

The Senior Citizen Ninja Nigress
Lets see. Second only to my new favorite 5th grader is this 86-year-old black women who according to the New York Times

fought off an intruder armed with a knife who broke into her home in South Jamaica, Queens, on Sunday morning, crept into her bedroom and apparently was going to smother her

Vivian Squires, “described by neighbors and family members as a feisty, independent woman” was clearly not feelin the whole up-in-my-grill-with-a-knife routine. Last I heard, she was being hospitalized, but her family and neighbors did not see her going down so easily…

You know who else aint going down all quiet-like?
Actual Rearing Pirates!
Well, black pirates. Somalian pirates! Johann Hari thinks that you are being lied to about pirates:

Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as “one of the great menace of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell — and some justice on their side.

Am I surprised the British Royal Navy would deploy anything larger than an inner tube with a rudder to feel more ‘in control’ of the Red Sea, or even the Black, White, or Yellow ones, or the Green fucking Bay for that matter? Hell no- what surprises me, is that in this cuckoo-bananas world so antsy to label pretty much anybody a terrorist, the media have totally bypassed the potent term for a somewhat innocuous one. I mean, pirates?? Even if I wasn’t informed about the pillaged and embattled Somalian peasants, there are very few things in a post-Pirates of the Caribbean world that win over public sympathies quicker than pirates.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the “golden age of piracy” – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda-heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why?

You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, If you slacked-off you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what [Marcus] Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century.” They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

I actually just wrote a historiographical research paper about gossip, mutiny and rebellions in the downfall of Atlantic empires called “Loose Lips Sink Ships”- I won’t mention the subtitle here :/

And just because I’m being brainwashed to stamp everything in life with ethnography:

The words of one pirate from that lost age – a young British man called William Scott – should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live.” In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste.

You’ll have to read the rest for yourself here, but I think their persistence here is noteworthy.

HIV, the Playa, and the Slayer
Finally, I was already planning on linking to this fierce and heartfelt post that my friend and co-conspirator (and Minneapolis former Green Party Mayoral and City Council candidate) Farheen Hakeem sent to me, but what put me over the top was yesterday when I was reading the latest Buffy trade paperback (Wolves at the Gate) which had more than one gay moment, including some sexual tension between Xander and… wait was I in the middle of making a point before I started geeking out?

Ahem… so Brandon is a friend of Farheen who wrote about Living with HIV Buffy the Vampire Slayer Style on (yes, white people, there is such a thing). Brandon begins:

There are days when I feel like Buffy the Vampire Slayer except less blonde, with better legs, and no breasts. Nevertheless, there are days when I wake up and feel as if I spend my entire existence fighting demons, attempting to drive stakes through my internal craziness, and doing everything I can to keep the Seal of Darkness from opening and letting all hell break loose.

I am a black, Latino, Native American, white, HIV positive, queer man coming off eight years of Bush and living in the worst recession since the Great Depression. I grew up with a single mother. I watched her be physically abused. I survived mental and physical abuse and somehow I have made it into my early 30s. Did I mention that I am also a recovering meth addict, and my boyfriend lives in New York while I live in Oakland? When I say there are days I feel like Buffy. I am not exaggerating.

I will direct you to the full story to get the full linkage between Brandon’s life and the Scoobies, but not before sending you off with this piece of eye candy. Bon apetíte: