We’ve all got queer film on the brain! We’re approaching the season for queer films at the 14th Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (PIGLFF), July 10-22. But it shouldn’t be surprising that there are some individual titles that are currently being released in theaters nationwide for LGBT audiences. Thus Chris & Don, a documentary about the lifelong relationship between the queer artist Don Bachary and the queer writer Christopher Isherwood, has already begun winning accolades from major critics like David Edelstein, in last week’s New York magazine. What could be better than a film about two queer icons and a long-lasting end endearing relationship?
Director Tina Mascara tells the story, according to Edelstein, of “a gay English blue blood who in the fifties picked up a working-class stud muffin 30 years his junior on a Santa Monica beach and became obsessed with him. Primed as we are by a culture rich in both homophobia and dirty old men, we can be forgiven for anticipating a sordid cautionary tale.”
“It’s a shock–a happy shock–when ‘Chris & Don’ recounts a love that approaches the transcendental.” writes Edelstein.
The film is our queer history on the big screen. It preserves, in its retelling, on the one hand, the love story of two men, and, on the other hand, the private world made public of queer celebrities, each in their own right (Isherwood, author of the Berlin Stories, the basis of Cabaret, being the more Internationally-renowned than Bachary), leaving the mark in their time and for all eternity.
Viewers of the film experience the reaffirmation that same-sex relationships are a s valid, complex, varying and challenging as any hetreosexual pairing, marriage or otherwise.
Edelstein concludes, “‘Chris & Don’ is the rarest of documentaries: a realistic portrait of the human spirit.”
Well, queer Philadelphia made the cut, according to the editors of Genre (June, 2008), who, in their Best Bars in America (of course, they’re always talking Queer America), they award the queen’s crowns in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection to Pure, where they declare, “Nightlife done right. Free-spirited staff remind us it is the city of brotherly love. Bi-level dance floors and a third floor for chillin’ with your hottie. Easy on the moisturizer because you will break a sweat”; Bump, where they advise, “Get your groove on and bump (pun intended) all night at this sophisticated lounge. Friday and Saturday host the city’s biggest and brightest DJs”; and The Bike Stop, where they observe, “Four levels offering multitudes of pleasures for Philly’s leather community. Cruise on the first level, watch the game on the second, dance on the third, and the basement?
Well, let’s just say what goes on in the basement, stays in the basement. Woof!
So, congrats to owners Michael and Billy Weiss and Jim Madden, respectively!
Congrats also to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) and the Gay Philadelphia Travel Caucus (GPTC) of which I’m a founding board member and their award-winning campaign, “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay.” The impact of this campaign has reached far and wide, capturing the attention of national media outlets like Genre.
I Wish I Had Said That.
Queer fashion designer Marc Jacobs on his wish to have his own reality TV show: “[It would be about] everything, all aspects of my life. All the drama, the intrigue, the sex, the romance, the work. I’m a shameless human being.” (New York, November 19, 2007).
Queer-friendly actress Loretta Devine of “Dreamgirls” and “Dirty Laundry” on the issue of African-American men coming out as gay: “In the black community, we have this thing about being on the down low. There ate so many black men who are gay, but have trouble coming out. A lot of times these guys don’t want to because of the effect it would have on their whole family.” (Instinct, February 2008) Queer fashion designer Michael Kors (also of Bravo’s Project Runway) on advice on the place of jeans in today’s men’s wardrobe: “You should have a wardrobe of jeans in different washes and fits–from then pair that’s so comfortable you could work out in them to the pair that you can wear with a tie and a sports jacket to diner.” (Details, September 2007)