A subversive film series continues with more controversial films.
by Donalevan Maines
James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus, a 1971 art-house film that visualizes the erotic fantasies of a gay male prostitute, kicks off a monthly film series called The Subversive Underground.
“The content of these films is controversial in nature and is meant to provoke the viewer,” says curator Tim Gonzalez, who discovered the movie and its filmmaker when researching LGBT films for the 2010 exhibition “Because We Are” at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, which closed its doors on Alabama Street in September. The Brandon hopes to fill that void with its art space at 1709 Westheimer. The venue hosts the film series in which movies are projected on the outside patio shared by Cafe Brasil. “The Brandon embraces all kinds of art, striving to make it an open forum in and around the Montrose area that includes everyone,” says Gonzalez.
Film fans got a taste of the new venture in October when director PJ Raval introduced his 2013 documentary Before You Know It for a screening at The Brandon to benefit a Kickstarter campaign for the movie about LGBT seniors and their struggle with discrimination, neglect, and exclusion from their own community. “October’s event opened to a packed house with attendees from the LGBT and arts community as well as budding young independent filmmakers wanting to meet the acclaimed director,” says Gonzalez.
Pink Narcissus, says Gonzalez, “continues to influence and redefine my perspective of queer culture.
“I’ve always been a visual person,” he explains. “As a photographer, I reinvent my own life stories through images, or capture the reality as it is. I love the reinvention because it’s the steppingstone to fantasy. With my experience as a curator for the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, I use this experience to carefully reflect the darker lines that we in our fantasies wish to cross—that society innately represses.”
While curating “Because We Are,” Gonzalez tapped into the resources of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston director Bill Arning. “During our conversations, the name James Bidgood kept resurfacing,” says Gonzalez. “During that time, I was heavily influenced by Pierre et Gilles’s work which was very similar to Bidgood’s fantastical cinematic vignettes. These environments were highly stylized, unique, and overtly sexual.”
The Subversive Underground plans to follow Pink Narcissus with Live and Pissed (whose subject, GG Allin, might be called a “punk narcissus”); Lucifer Rising by Kenneth Anger, whose experimental underground films combined homoeroticism and the occult; and Otto by Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, who’s known for shaking up cinema by exploring shocking social taboos.
The Subversive Underground is a free event, but donations for The Brandon’s future programming are greatly appreciated, says Gonzalez.
What: James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus
When: 8 p.m., Saturday, December 14
Where: The Brandon, 1709 Westheimer, on the outside patio shared by Cafe Brasil.
Donalevan Maines also writes about FrenetiCore’s Rebecca French in this issue of OutSmart magazine.