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She died on February 16th, 2015 from lung cancer. Goodbye, Lesley Gore. I'll miss you.
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Taking as a springboard Mary Cheney's comparison between drag and blackface, Miz Cracker posts on Slate's Outward Bound with a discussion of the two subjects. Miz Cracker notes that, at base, Cheney objected to drag because she saw it as a mockery of an oppressed group [women] created by a powerful group [men] for degrading purposes. Miz Cracker wonders if drag is inherently misogynist.

Miz Cracker basically argues that drag is not like blackface because blackface is inherently racist, while drag is not inherently misogynist. The comparison between blackface and drag breaks down because blackface and minstrelsy used to be ubiquitous idioms with great cultural influence, but drag has never achieved such a pervasive high profile. That's because blackface was performed by the oppressors in positions of power, whereas drag has been performed by oppressed people in positions of marginalization. I'm not sure how this is relevant to the presence or absence of misogyny in drag.

In fact, I think Miz Cracker's contrast between blackface and drag breaks down because it does not recognize multiple axes of oppression. When she argues that drag has been performed by oppressed people who are marginalized, she's referring to gay/queer men marginalized by their sexuality. However, though gay men may be marginalized on the axis of sexuality, they do have the privilege of being men in a misogynist society. Therefore, when men do drag, no matter what their sexual orientations, they may also be seen as performers in positions of power [as men] compared to the people that they are portraying [women]. Miz Cracker's insistence that it's just a few individually misogynist queens who mess up the whole art form entirely ignores the complex structure of drag and its location at the intersection of mutiple axes of power and oppression.

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So, as people have no doubt heard, the Quad City Times recently reported that Vivian Boyack and Nonie Dubes married recently after 72 years together. The gay rights mainstream's obsession with marriage equality is problematic, as is the whole concept of romantic love. That being said, I appreciate [hah!] the photo of Boyack and Dubes holding hands in front of the officiant for several reasons.

For one, the photo represents aspects of queer culture that popular media likes to gloss over: a) women who are b) old, c) [visibly] disabled and d) at least somewhat invested in the butch/femme roles. Look! Two women in wheelchairs who are happy! ^_^

For another, the photo shows just how deeply Boyack and Dubes care for each other. Boyack reaches over to Dubes with a sort of protective air, while Dubes keeps Boyack's hand firmly within hers. They look calmly at the officiant; though this is a significant day for them, they also know that this is also a mere legality that does nothing to change their steadfast devotion to each other. That sort of mutual happiness always makes me want to cry. Sniff sniff.

Read more... )
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Wow, Slate actually has an interesting article for once! On Outward ["expanding the LGBTQ conversation," whatever the hell that means], Miz Cracker writes a post on "Getting into Drag: The Many Meanings of Being a Queen." To answer the question of what drag is, the author interviews other drag performers. In bullet form, her findings are as follows:
  • Drag ain't necessarily about looking glamorous and fashionable. Nor is it necessarily about appearing unclockably feminine.
  • Drag may be thought of as an acting job, performance art in which one creates and embodies a character.
  • Drag usually has subversive elements in which the performers comment on and criticize society.
  • Drag has an ambiguous relationship to trans identities. For some people, drag is a means to seriously explore alternative gender presentations. For others, it is not particularly reflective of their own gender identities.
In my estimation, Miz Cracker neglects some important aspects of drag. For one thing, she doesn't really interrogate drag queening's history as an art practiced by men, frequently in comic contexts. Thus it has an ambiguous relationship to the concepts of femininity and womanhood. In its exaggerated style, does drag reflect a loving tribute to women and femininity? Is it rather an over-the-top misogynist mockery? Drag is not inherently fabulous and therefore unproblematic, and I think a truly substantive inquiry into its nature should address its messy history.

For another thing, how does race play into dragging? Toward the end of her article, Miz Cracker refers to Kizha Carr's treatment of racism in one of her routines. She also adds that drag "is the only forum where [she] can speak candidly...about the issues shaping [her] life," one of which includes racism. Right, so drag queens of color may take race as a subject for commentary, but how does race more generally inflect queens' initial decisions to go into drag queening and then the development of their art in general? Drag queens from different racial and ethnic backgrounds probably have different reasons and philosophies, depending on their cultures of origin, that help them interpret their work, and we can't have a full discussion about the meanings and goals of drag without that information.

Finally, how does socioeconomic class contribute to the discourse on drag? All the queens in Miz Cracker's article, including the author herself, talk about performing in bars, dealing with sexual harassment from audience members, etc. In other words, the queens spend much of their time playing small venues and not earning tons of money. They work hard and depend on an uncertain income. Even though Bob TheDragQueen appears in the article with bling that says RICH clamped between her teeth, she and her sisters probably really aren't. 
What's going on here? Aspirations to upward mobility? A proclamation of self-worth through looking richly caparisoned? I dunno, but I'd sure like to find out.
 

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Now watching Queen's Legendary concert from 1975, I see Freddie Mercury playing air guitar with his mike stand, just like he was 10 years later, during Live Aid. Even rock stars can't resist the power of the air guitar 'cause it's so damn cool! :D

Fabulous costumes!!!!!!!!
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While watching the music video for We Will Rock You, I can't help but notice the difference between Freddie Mercury's moves and those of the rest of the band. Though the guitarist does get his groove on during the solo at the end, most of the band just stand there stiffly, moving no more than necessary. Meanwhile Freddie Mercury is performing in inimitable Freddie Mercury fashion.

I was going to compare him to my usual referents -- you know, Ivan Doroschuk, Mick Jagger, Tim Curry -- but I really can't because he's in a league of his own. Ivan Doroschuk moves, but he does more flailing and bouncing. Mick Jagger and Tim Curry make faces, but I don't think of them as so completely self-possessed as Freddie Mercury. He demonstrates absolute control in every expression and motion of his limbs: a combination of fluid precision and sheer joy of motion.  Kind of like Shirley Bassey or Lesley Gore. And his voice is incredible. The more I think about it, the more apt a comparison is between Freddie Mercury and Shirley Bassey -- both fabulous performers with stunningly powerful voices and charismatic stage presences whose love for what they do so clearly shines through in every word they sing.
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Queer interpretation of Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know. The facial expressions and acting make it all clear here -- person 1 is a whiny, self-entitled creep, and person 2 is liberated upon ridding their life of them.

Solo interpretation of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody...with bonus translation in notes. Performer's facial expressions and body language during guitar solos show how much fun he's having!

Both of these translations illustrate how putting a song into a different language change, transfigure and enhance it.
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Check out this photo series by Sarah Deragon, "The Identity Project." She takes pictures of people and tags them according to how they identify. They all face the camera squarely, some hamming it up, dressing and posturing in ways that they feel reveals who they are. As a bonus, their proud, challenging expressions [for example, the person in portrait 1, who appears to be thinking, "It's too early in the morning for this heteronormative bullshit!"] also serve as a critique of narrow, rigid identity categories at use in broader society. I would like 1:6 scale populations with all of those skin colors, body shapes, hairstyles and expressions, please...
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I've been thinking that Boys Keep Swinging [discussed previously in relation to how much I was salivating over David Bowie] is obviously about butches cruising for femmes. It just makes so much sense! Butch power!!

When you're a butch
You can wear a uniform
When you're a butch
Other butches check you out
You get a girl
These are your favorite things
When you're a butch


I think this music video needs to be redone with a femme lead vocalist and butch backup singers. How awesome would that be?

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That's what I like in this Boys Keep Swinging [David Bowie] music video. Posture, gait, the size and shape of gestures -- all these little details develop different personalities.

I wish I could make my dolls move differently, but they don't move. Guess they'll just have to stand and sit and be still differently, which they do. Examples abound in the latest survey of small populations, where especially those in the "dolls who bug me" and "Zombieville" categories evince their personalities through their posture.

Judging from their body language, an inordinate number of my dolls appear to think that they're fabulous: Anneka, Frank 1:6, Jareth 1:6, Will, Jareth regular, Peekaboo, Lucian, Béatrice, Isabel, AJ regular. Out of all the postures in the "all my dolls" series, I most like Janvier Jett's [because she looks like she's about to speaek], Jareth's [because he looks like he's up to something, which he always is], Sardonix' [because she just looks so completely unimpressed with anyone's bullshit], Dillon [because he's just chillin' casually] and Steampink AJ's [because she just looks so serenely superior].

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I thought it just ended up sounding gay. But no, it's gay. [The bit about coming out of the closet should have tipped me off. :p] It's from the La Cage aux Folles musical, which is about gay dudes, and it happens to have been written by a gay dude. It turned even gayer when Gloria Gaynor did a single of it.

P.S. How awesome [+ hot] is Gloria Gaynor?!
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...I did 1:6 scale paper dolls. In the fall of 1997, I drew several of Jareth [much to my frustration, he never came out right], myself and various fictional characters. I've selected my two favorites for exhibition today.

Read more... )
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I have developed a HUGE crush on Lesley Gore. I could watch her sing all day, even if it's heteronormative bullshit. She sings with such power and force, propelling the words out from inside her with irresistible potency. That voice could knock down walls. She's amazing!
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Here's Lesley Gore doing You Don't Own Me in 1989 with the same expressive passion that she imbued the performance I recently mentioned. I love the way she bounces on her toes, as if the force of her voice is going to sweep her off her feet. She looks so grounded and so powerful.
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This video of Lesley Gore, most likely around 17 or 18, singing You Don't Own Me live, fascinates me. She sings with such joy and passion and expressiveness; she clearly loves to sing! Plus she's hot; I love her baggy eyes and her long straight nose and her rectangular face and those amazing flickery eyebrows. It also doesn't hurt that she's one of us. :D
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I have a really early version of Lesbian Couples by Merilee Clunis and Dorsey Green, which I picked up in a used bookstore because I find [relatively] old advice books fascinating, especially when they have to do with queer people. 

I expected very little from this book, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that even the first edition was surprisingly down-to-earth and practical. It spends a lot of time discussing how feminine enculturation, socioeconomic differences, race/ethnicity differences, disabilities and illness, age, fatness, outness, feelings about one's body, familial opinions, etc., etc., may play out when women are involved in relationships with women. It offers standard techniques for respectful communication and listening with an acknowledgment of how the aforementioned factors may complicate them for women. It's very matter-of-fact, unsensationalized and sensible. The clear, calm writing style, combined with its mostly successful efforts to include people with a wide range of identities, makes it a refreshing change from trendy, narrowly targeted bullshit ['s'up, Rules series?].

Anyway, I see they updated the book after about 20 years. ^_^
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This is awesome! How often do you see fat, kinky, androgynous, pierced people with disabilities in stocky photos? WOOOOOO HOOOOO! What a cute pair. ^_^

EDIT: I fixed the link!
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Once upon a time, at some point in the previous millennium, Jill and I came across an amusing personals ad in Seven Days. The poster sought other gay men who knitted in the Northeast Kingdom. We thought that his chances of finding someone else who shared all those identities was vanishingly small, and "gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom" became a standard reference for a ridiculously specific set of conditions.

Years later, I wonder how many gay men there are who knit in the Northeast Kingdom. Let's do the math, shall we?

The Northeast Kingdom is a region in, obviously, the northeastern corner of Vermont, containing Essex, Orleans and Caledonia counties.

Essex County = 6,306 people as of 2010
Orleans County = 27,231 people as of 2010
Caledonia County = 31,227 people as of 2010

That's a total of 64,764 people. We'll say that 50% of them are men.

That leaves 32,382 men. Let's say 10% of them are gay.

That leaves 3,238 gay men.

But how many of them knit? A 2003 survey showed that 1,300,000 people in the US know how to knit. Dividing that into the total population of the US in 2000, which was 281,421,906, we get a ratio of approximately 0.00462, or, rounding up, 4.6:1000.

Assuming that the ratio of knitters to the general US population remains stable from 2003 to 2010, that's about 15 gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom.

Yup, that's a vanishingly small amount. And that's not even getting into the probability that the 14 others will even see the ad that the 1 put in the paper!
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1. The Cowardly Lion is so gay in this interpretation. All his mannerisms are stereotypically swishy.

2. Despite Dorothy's fervent proclamation that "There's no place like home," her home pales in comparison to Oz. Let's see -- at home, Miss Gulch tries to kill Toto; her guardians, Em and Henry, dismiss her constantly and talk over her; even the hired hands pay no real attention to her. To top it all off, the place is in boring sepia and infested with tornadoes. No fun at all. By contrast, Oz contains Technicolor glory, magic and Dorothy's acclamation as a hero just for being the rather nice, forthright, polite, unassuming girl that she is. No one in Kansas accepts Dorothy for who she is, but, in Oz, everyone valorizes her character. Why does she wish to return to a place that's so actively hostile toward her?

3. Wow, that movie version is looooong. Takes about 50 minutes to collect all 4 companions together. I'm sure it could have been done in half the time, but many of the songs, if not all, would have to be cut.
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This comment from Nathan Lane on his life as a gay man reminds me so much of Mark:

"I was born in 1956. I'm one of those old-fashioned homosexuals, not one of those new-fangled ones who are born joining parades."

Of course, I think Lane was being more facetious than Mark would be if Mark said such a thing.

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Jennifer Boylan writes in the New York Times [in the Style section, of course, because that's where all the sex- and gender-related concerns of women get relegated >:{ ] about her transition when her kids were very young and her decision to continue her marriage to her wife. She alludes to Frank as a memorable figure [singing Sweet Transvestite, no less!] in her historical search for self, and, as she worries how her boys will adjust to having a "maddy" [mommy + daddy], she sees them try to carve out their own identities in ways that echo her own. Wait for her son Zach's big confessions.

Hooray for happy families, flexible marriages, accepting kids and RHPS as a catalyst for developing one's own, non-heteronormative gender identity.

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Support 2 great causes: AIDS advocacy/research AND foiling homophobic bigots!

Westboro Baptist Cult protesters are scheduled to protest for 50 minutes on March 20, from 11 AM - around noon, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. Pledge a set amount for every minute that the WBC dingdongs hang around, and, after they leave, your pledge will be multiplied for the total number of minutes that they stayed, and the total will be donated to Cambridge Cares About AIDS, a local organization for AIDS education and advocacy for PWAs. Go to the CCA Web site to pledge. Then go here and enter your donation information so that the amount that you pledge will be added to the total tally of money that the dingdongs are raising.
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I liked Mylene Farmer's music before I saw her music videos, but now, having seen a few vids, I like her more. In this music vid, Live a Bercy, she sings Sans Contrefacon to hordes of rythmically waving, singing-along groupies. Well, I think she's singing. Given her sinuous dancing, she could be lip-synching. She radiates a great amount of energy, charisma and simple joy to be performing. At the end, when she is singing out to the audience, who answers her, I think she's laughing; she appears to be elated.

Also I like the back-up dancers.

Click below for lyrics to a defiant genderfucking song!

Fuck gender here. )

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Thanks to humorist Dave Barry, we are all aware that the Hillman Minx is one of the silliest cars in existence. The hilarity ratchets up a notch when you look back on this ad from a time not so long ago [1955] when the first meaning of "gay" was NOT "homosexual."
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This site tracks depictions of "minorities" in pop culture. I found it from Radical Masculinity.

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Gauge, proprietor of the Radical Masculinity blog, muses on the struggles of those who have identities both as butch persons and persons with disabilities. Gauge observes that visible disability simultaneously highlights and erases those who have it. Visible disability highlights its possessors because the obvious physical symptoms and/or implements of physical disability catch viewers' eyes rather than the people themselves. Relatedly, Gauge explains, visible disability erases the people who have it because viewers tend to concentrate on the manifestations of disability, the superficial signs, rather than the character of the people who have the disabilities. I think this is a great explanation for how stereotypes work; they HIGHLIGHT or emphasize certain traits of people in a stereotyped group, then ERASE the individuality of particular persons within the group because the perps of the stereotypes are too busy seeing the stereotype, not the people upon which they are projecting the stereotype.

Butch-wise, Gauge observes that butch identity has its roots in a working-class conception of strong, independent persons engaged in physical labor, those who protected, repressed their feelings and evinced strength both mental and physical. The brute fact of having a disability and experiencing physical weakness, dysfunction and/or need for assistance often conflicts with the conception of butch identity as physically strong. In lieu of such a limiting definition, Gauge argues for a definition of butch identity that focuses on the characters of those who evince it:

Being butch is about honor, pride, being a nurturer and protector of the community, about helping others, and many other qualities of character and identity both able-bodied and disabled butches share. 

It is possible to do that through the force of character, not necessarily through the force of muscles. Gauge boils down masculinity to its positive, helpful traits and demonstrates that one can be constructively masculine, something I don't think many people, no matter what their gender identity, know how to do!

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Megan Gedris takes on pulpy conventions of the 1950s in I Was Kidnapped..., a high-spirited, brightly illustrated space chase, featuring charming naive Earthling Susie and a band of lesbian pirates with fabulous hair. Thrill to their visits to unknown planets! Laugh as they outwit the incredibly doltish Male Man! Cheer as the sexual tension mounts! It's like the Rocky Horror Picture Show...only in comic form...and without any music...and I mean that in the best way possible.

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With Technicolor sunshine and birdies on your shoulders and perfectly marcelled hair and rocket cone boobies and MORE GAIETY THAN YOU CAN STAND! How? Drink Ovaltine. I think I feel a SONG coming on... Well, something's coming, anyway....

Caution: Ovaltine causes "sparkling morning freshness." Use at your own risk. The manufacturers are not responsible for any Busby Berkeley-inspired set pieces that may spontaneously break out after using this product.

Did you know that "thousands" are drinking Ovaltine every night? So that's how the queer agenda recruits....

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Well, not really, but look we now at some gay ads, fa la la la la, la la la la. Radar's feature, Gay for Pay, provides proof positive that gay-targeted ads rely heavily on stereotypes of effeminacy/drag, phallic symbols and the assumption that lesbians don't exist. Part of me is offended by the clumsy use of trite gay characterizations, while part of me is offended that there's only one ad explicitly targeted at women [the beer ad], although I suppose you could make a case for the Subaru ad [suits/sparkly dress] being for a woman as well. 

Subaru ad and analysis below )


 

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I've been cracking up over this round-up of gay humor from the Daily Show, especially the clip where Jon Stewart is talking to Stephen Colbert about Prince Charles' alleged gay experience, and there's a banana involved. I'm surprised Stephen Colbert didn't choke on it, since he was laughing so hard. The best part is the trouble he has with the "Whoever kills the fewest grouse..." line. It's still hilarious the 45th time.
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...I Learned from A Film Freak Commentary...

In any event, this is not supposed to be a speech about a dragon. This is, indeed, a song about a dragon...

No, seriously...In Film Freak Central, Alex Jackson provides some personal and perceptive commentary on Rocky Horror [and Shock Treatment, but I'm ignoring that part].
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She's the one!
She went and joined the army, passed the medical...don't ask me how it's done!
She's got medals...
--David Bowie, She's Got Medals

That's one of my most favorite songs ever, especially the bouncy tone in which it's sung. It's from his early years, when many of his songs sounded like nursery rhymes or children's play songs, even as they addressed child rape and murder (Please Mr. Gravedigger), sexual masochism (Little Toy Soldier), depressed veterans (Little Bombardier) and stupid people using drugs (Join the Gang). He was just around 20 when composing and singing most of these songs, and he just sounds so gleeful about the whole business.

Oh right...I was going to write about a blog I found. First off, let me recommend Helen Boyd's book, My Husband Betty. It's about her relationship with her cross-dressing husband. I think this is one of the strongest books on sexuality that I have ever read because the author describes her ambivalence very well, as well as her confusion about the sex and gender significance of cross-dressing. Also, she writes strongly, with psychological and critical insight, not to mention emotional balance, even as she describes emotional tumult. Anyway, she has a blog, (en)Gender, about trans news and debates and media and topics, and I'm poking in it now.

So there are your three recommendations for today: She's Got Medals by David Bowie, My Husband Betty by Helen Boyd and (en)Gender, also by Helen Boyd.
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So saith Perversion for Profit (1965), an anti-smut rant. "Newsprint filth" apparently weakens children's moral fiber, leaving them less capable to resist the Communist threat. With a few changes in stats and terminology [I doubt the Communist menace would fly really well today], I think this content would transpose very well into anti-porn propaganda put out by, say, Focus on the Family.

I'm not going to even argue with the mindset portrayed in the film, but I do seriously question its tactics. Announcer George Putnam wants you to believe that exposure to porn corrupts innocent minds and damns people irrevocably. So why does most of the film contain examples of porm?! Following the logic of Putnam's argument, wouldn't these examples [even if eyes, butts and tits are barred out] corrupt at least a few innocent minds? It would be far more effective for this film to attempt to tie porn to violent crime by studying the porn habits of child molesters, serial killers, rapists, domester abusers, etc., to establish a [supposed] causal connection between newsprint filth and criminal perversion. In other words, don't show us the perversion; show us the result!

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In the last entry, I just called Jareth queer. Yes, folks, he’s the Goblin Queen, and it’s screamingly obvious.

Jareth is certainly queer in his self-presentation. David Bowie plays him as a tongue-in-cheek drag queen. Like a drag queen, the Goblin King favors highly choreographed and dramatic entrances. Like a drag queen, he simpers and struts with a sly wink to the audience. Like a drag queen, he sings, dances and flaunts his assets. Like a drag queen, he never looks the same way for long; he’s always wearing yet another sparkly, elaborate outfit. Like a drag queen, he uses heavy eye make-up to stylize his striking eyes and pale complexion so that he has a mask-like, obviously artificial look. Like a drag queen, he has unnatural hair that defies gravity and changes color when necessary. Like a drag queen, he turns himself into a very sexy work of art. Like a drag queen, he reminds you that all the world’s a stage, and he’s the star of the show. His very physical presentation, full of beauty and artifice, embodies the phrase “things aren’t always what they seem.”
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I’ve been chatting with Vermont author Alex Potter, a writer of sci fi and fantasy short stories, for my upcoming article in Out in the Mountains. He really likes villainous characters, especially queer villainous characters, so naturally we had to go off on a tangent involving Jareth, Frank and other gay characters we love to hate. Conversation went something like this: Read more... )

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