Going to the Beach with John Waters (Ep. 97 - Peaches Christ)

This Week's Guest: Joshua Grannell

My guest this week is Joshua Grannell, but you may know him as Peaches Christ -- the host of San Francisco's wild midnight mass shows and creator of outlandish drag exploitation films. Even as a kid, Joshua orchestrated elaborate halloween shows that his whole family got in on. And as an adult, he's crafted an entire media empire dedicated to exposing the uneasy frights that hide just below the surface of suburbia.

You can see that media empire at work on the west coast -- Joshua has an upcoming show called Legally Black, starring Bob the Drag Queen, and it's coming soon to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Tickets are at PeachesChrist.com .

Also, check out the podcast Gayme Bar -- that's Gayme with a Y -- I'm on the episode posted Wednesday, January 18th, sharing stories about my queer gamer community and Nintendo's gay cowboys.

This Week's Recommendation: Nightmare on Elm Street II

For this week's recommendation I hope your delicate constitution can withstand a few frights, because I'd like you to take a look at Nightmare on Elm Street II, a film that's half about a murderer invading your dreams and half about the real-life torment of the gay actor who starred in the film.

Mark Preston plays Jesse in Nightmare 2, and he is the most budding homosexual teen who ever budded. I won't itemize every homoerotic symbol in the film, because spotting them is a fun scavenger hunt. But remember, in the mid-1980s, seeing clues that you might be gay was like something out of a horror film. You could be rejected by your family, lose your home, and there was a scary epidemic just getting underway.

When I watch this film, I can't help thinking that Mark the actor must've been as afraid of his sexuality as the character Jesse is about his deadly dreams. It's not a very gory film, but the secrecy is frightening -- especially when it's a secret that could be a danger to everyone around you. 

Behind the scenes, Mark's manager was telling him that he had to lie and stay closeted. He wasn't allowed to go to gay bars, or do interviews with The Advocate. He was told to dress straighter. This was at a time when many of Mark's friends and colleagues were dying of AIDS, and after a while he finally decided that he'd had enough of giving in to fear and simply walked away from acting. He came out, he became an activist, and he learned what a lot of us have discovered: that being gay is only scary if you let it be.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About


Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0