I am Militantly Vulnerable (Ep. 127 - Sailor Moon)

This Week's Guest: Gilda Wabbit

What's the future you want to see? My guest this week is drag queen Gilda Wabbit, who experienced a strange moment of internet fame thanks to a photo of her riding the subway in full drag next to a Muslim woman. What that photo didn't capture was Gilda's background searching for her voice -- literally, as for years she struggled as an opera singer to find roles that felt right. Turns out putting on a wig and a dress helped point her in the right direction.

This Week's Recommendation: Giant Woman

Thanks again to Gilda for joining me. You can find her on Twitter @gildawabbit, and you YouTube where you can see her singing Do it for Her from Steven Universe.

For my recommendation this week, check out another Steven Universe song: Giant Woman. You don't need to be familiar with the show to follow along -- thought it helps to know that it's a song song by a character who wants his friends to get along, rather than fight, because when they do they can combine to become a giant woman. 

I recommend this not just because Steven Universe is the most beautiful and pure television show ever made. But during a recent livestream, viewer FreeKillZero pointed out to me that becoming a giant woman is essentially what performer do when they get into drag. And although it might not have been the meaning intended by the show, there's a lovely parallel between the magic fusing of Steven's friends and the magic transformation of drag. 

Drag is something you wear on your outside but it's something you feel on your inside. It's a fullness, an achievement of inner potential that nobody could see until the wig and the makeup came along.

It's why, no matter how popular it become, drag will never become "mainstream," because it's an intensely personal, individual, political and rebellious act to declare that person everyone sees is wrong and persona that you feel is right.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Swept Away by Dracula (Ep. 126 - horror films)

This Week's Guest: Jeffrey Schwarz

We're noted from time to time on this show that many gay men hold a special place for horror in their hearts. But that's only a fraction of the story with this week's guest. Jeffrey Schwarz has made a lifelong study of film, starting with an early job editing the documentary The Celluloid Closet, right up to today with a new documentary about flamboyant producer Allan Carr. As a weird young gay man, he found kindred spirits in people who, like him, reveled in intensity and excess. And now as a filmmaker, he's reaching out a hand to invite others to join him.
 

This Week's Recommendation: The Lost Boys

Thanks again to Jeffrey for joining me, and no thanks to all the creepy horror stuff I looked through after recording this week's episode. I had some particularly unpleasant nightmares thanks to that title sequence from the show Chiller. But that obviously means that something's working -- something's speaking to me, even if I don't want to hear it.

I've always been squeamish about horror, because I'm easily spooked in general and also because it sometimes makes me confront anxieties I don't know how to handle. That's why it is with some nervousness that this week my recommendation is The Lost Boys, a 1987 vampire movie based on the lost boys of Peter Pan.

The film is set in a California coastal town and focused on a teen boy and his preteen brother. The older boy falls in with a sinister crowd of vampires, but they're not JUST vampires -- they're also extremely gay. In fact the whole film oozes with queer desire, probably because it was directed by Joel Schumacher. 

One young boy has a sexy pinup photo inside his closet; another signals that he's joined the vampires by wearing a single earring. There's a oily muscular saxophone player in purple tights who seems to have wriggled off of the pages of International Male, and the camera devotes a deeply uncomfortable amount of attention to a boy in a bathtub who sings about not having a man in his life. And that's all before we get to the extremely thin veil on the metaphor of a fraternal plague spread by the sharing bodily fluids in the 1980s.

For all its gleeful sexuality, The Lost Boys makes me a bit sad since it ultimately feels self-loathing. The band of brothers are evil monsters, killing without remorse. And they're ultimately defeated by child-heroes wearing uniforms of 80s action-star heteronormativity. Worst of all, the film attempts to shock with a predatory bisexual twist.

I want to root for the Lost Boys, both the movie and the characters. I want to be a part of the sexy, carefree young men living hedonistically on the beach. But no, the movie insists, you can't. Those guys are bad. The straight world is good. It really bums me out that the movie sees vampires this way, especially a movie made by a gay man.

But then again, in 1987, that is how the world saw gays. It was a story told about us so widely, so emphatically, and so convincingly that many came to believe it about themselves.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Everything but the Snakes (Ep. 125 - Worship songs)

This Week's Guest: Josef Krebs

What's the project of your life? My guest this week is Josef Krebs, who's done a lot of thinking about the impact he can have on the world, whether through the evangelical church in which he grew up, or the world of theater where he eventually found a more satisfying home. Josef's work has always been about chasing the feeling of ecstasy, not just for himself but for the people around him.

This Week's Recommendation: Katamari Damacy

I'm going to get very "big idea" for a moment here and assert that one of the primary functions of myth is to connect us to the cosmos -- that is, to make sense of the insensible vastness of the universe. But sometimes, the stories we tell make the universe make even less sense, and that's the case with this week's recommendation: the game Katamari Damacy.

The premise of the game is simple enough, and it's kind of Pac Man plus a snowball rolling downhill. You play the Prince of the Cosmos, whose father the king accidentally destroyed all the heavenly bodies. He wants you to go to Earth to collect material to remake the moon and stars. And the way you do this is by rolling a sticky ball around various places -- everything you touch sticks to the ball, and while you start very tiny you eventually roll up enough to gather paperclips, then small toys, then cats and dogs, then people and cars and buildings and trees. 

A line often repeated in the game is, "I feel it. I feel the cosmos." An indeed, it's hard not to feel as though everything is connected as you roll it all up, from the tiny bugs at the start to the giant cargo ships at the end. It is deeply satisfying to squish every object in the world together to make new stars. As Carl Sagan said, we're all made of star stuff, and there's a pleasurable democracy in seeing that everything, big and small, can get rolled up into a big sticky ball of celestial light. 

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/