Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top 10 Films 2008

Frontiers' best of year issue featured my Top 10 Films of 2008 list (along with fellow critic Gary M. Kramer). Scroll down the article and enjoy!

L

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Madame and Me


My interview with the saucy puppet diva, Madame - yes, Wayland Flowers' creation is back - is on Advocate.com. Here!

L

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soda Stereo



One of my favorite songs... by a band fronted by the awesome Gustavo Cerati.

L

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Little Piano Diva Works Ryuichi



This little 9 year old girl pulls some diva shit on the piano, playing Ryuichi Sakamoto's sublime theme for Shining Boy & Little Randy. The movie isn't that fantastic on its own, but the score brings it a poignant edge that makes me weep. Ryuichi is so talented it hurts.

Work that piano, kid!

L

Keep Tryin 2009



I've posted this video before. When I watch it, I think of the path and turns life could take if I moved to Asia - Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Bangkok - either temporarily or permanently.

2009 will be the year of that decision, methinks. And seeing how things change, or remain, here stateside...

L

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gay Taipei


My feature on gay Taipei - an underrated and reasonably priced vacation destination well worth a visit, especially if you're a fan of Hong Kong and/or Tokyo - is running in Los Angeles' Frontiers Magazine. An even more expanded destination piece on Taipei will appear on Logo Online in early 2009. Link when it's available!

Thanks again to cousin Rick and all the wonderful, lovely, generous friends I made while in Taipei during October...

L

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Petch Shop Boy

Man in Bangkok


This is the video for the insanely Pet Shop Boys-esque "Man in Bangkok" by Thai artist Petch. Love it!

L

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Findo Gask



One of my favorite music finds from my recent UK trip is the Scottish band Findo Gask. Amazing 80s-style pop with totally modern approach... It's like APB meets Cut Copy...

L

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Sundance Proposition

There has been some talk of a Sundance boycott in January since the festival takes place in Utah. However, I don't see this as productive. Let me explain.

First, Park City, where most of us stay and most of the festival takes place, is pretty secular and open-minded. And Salt Lake City, despite being home of the LDS headquarters and its many buildings and attractions, boasts a major LGBT population and alternative scene. As I understand it only a little over 40 percent of SLC's populace is Mormon.

The LDS leaders would no doubt LOVE to have us not come to Utah for the festival - after all, so many gays and liberal heathens attend the festival.

So let's all go to Sundance this January with bells on. It makes far more sense for even more of us, more than ever, to attend Sundance and either on one specific day, or even on rotating shifts, go to Salt Lake City and protest outside the headquarters. Let's support the gay businesses out there, and avoid the ones that were behind Yes on 8.

The world press will be at Sundance. This would get coverage far and wide. And it would DRIVE THE LDS INSANE.

Let's bring the party to their doorstep.

Anyone want to propose a specific date for "Sundance Against 8"?

L

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Heart Wanda!

Wanda Sykes has come out thanks to this Proposition 8 movement. I LOVE her. LOVE!

The Advocate article with the actual event on YouTube linked: http://advocate.com/news_detail_ektid66219.asp

Well, Larry David did say he was a friend of the lesbians...

L

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence



Simply, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever. The version with lyrics, "Forbidden Colours," is pretty amazing too.

L
ps - so is the movie this was written for.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Musical Break - The Mary Onettes



Now that the election is finally over - HELL YES, OBAMA! - and this Proposition 8 thing is going to get ugly, time for a musical break with a band that does that 80s New Wave thing sooooo well. This is "The Void" by The Mary Onettes, and it's totally in the vein of (underrated) Sad Lovers & Giants, Echo & The Bunnymen, and The Cure. Lovin' it!

L

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Prop 8 Letter

Last night I e-mailed a letter to two of my relatives in California regarding Proposition 8. Below is the text, and I hope if you - reading this - also live in California and are undecided about the issue, that you'll take my words into consideration.

L

Well, I flew over California recently, when I was on the way home from
Taipei (where I saw Ricky, who says hi). I hope everything is going
well out there!

Since I returned home I've been very much following the election and
also California's Proposition 8 campaign. Of course, I fall on the "No
on 8" side: in 2 weeks, my partner Matt and I will celebrate 7 years
together. In the future, we both want to have the same legal
protections as any heterosexual married couple. If I get hit by a car,
I want Matt to be able to enter the emergency room without hassle.
Ditto for being covered by his medical insurance should he get a job
that offers spousal health benefits (since I am a fulltime freelancer,
health insurance is something I pay a lot for). In any case, those
1000+ rights that come with legal marriage, we want.

I am writing in hopes both of you and your families and friends will
vote No on Proposition 8 on Tuesday. I'm proud to be part of a society
and family that seems to embrace inclusion and progression. I get very
very frustrated when I hear people approaching this issue of State as
if it was an issue of Church. I believe in and want a separation of
church and state, and people seem to be getting very confused indeed
about these two things.

I might be preaching to the choir, so to speak, but California's
current legal same-sex marriages force no church, temple, or religious
institution to perform or officiate these marriages. Nor would it.
Proposition 8 is not a religious issue, and I am saddened to see it
treated as if it was. Also, the irony of Yes on 8 supporters going on
about how legal same sex marriage will result in it being taught in
schools to their kids... well, kids are asking about Proposition 8
because of the high visibility of Yes on 8 support. So they are
actually the ones forcing the issue to be discussed by their own
children.

I can go on and on about this - and the disturbing parallels between
Yes on 8 and the past efforts and arguments to stop mixed race
marriages, etc., and complete disregard for the marriage timeline
which has included plenty of change since its inception - but
ultimately I hope you'll think of me and my committed partner when you
enter the voting booth, as well as California's constitution
representing freedom, on Tuesday.

My best to your families and friends, and thanks for reading my ramblings here.

Love,
Larry

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama This Tuesday



I can't even articulate how bad I want this man to be our next President. Watch it. And if you're a USA citizen, please vote for Obama!

L

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mylene Fix



Sometimes you need a little Kylie. Sometimes a little Madge. Sometimes a little Faye Wong. And sometimes you need a little Mylene Farmer!

L

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hot!



I first saw this music video on a NIGHT FLIGHT episode - Elvira was mocking it. Still brings a smile to my face. Yeah, that music career business was a bad bad bad idea for both of the 80's Miami Vice stars. But boy is this a howler. How about that choreography? Those seductive sirens? The amazing planetary effects? Wow!

L

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taiwan Pop #1 - Sodagreen



Sodagreen is one of Taiwan's best indie pop/rock outfits - and yes, they have a pretty big indie scene out there at present.

The lead singer - heck, the whole band - is rumored to be gay. I'm thinking that ain't a big pill to swallow.

This song is a little big Sigur Ros/Radiohead-ish.

And that lead singer reminds me a bit of Chet Lam, Hong Kong's openly gay urban-folk star.

You likes? If so, more Taiwan pop to come!

L

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reni Jusis Time!



Time for a little escapism with a music video by Poland's own Kylie Minogue, Reni Jusis.

Love her!

I should go to Poland and direct one of her videos.

L

Friday, October 24, 2008

Steven Weber Hates Prop 8

I love actor Steven Weber, and my Advocate.com interview about his new film Choose Connor touches upon his Huffington Post blog posts. Love him!

L

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Me Am As!




Charming, affirming clip. Well... at least she can't vote on Prop. 8.

L

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gay Days in Anaheim




Although one could argue Disneyland is always chock full o’ gays, the weekend of October 3-5th saw red-shirted LGBT guests overtake the parks for the 11th Annual Gay Days Anaheim. And despite the fact Orange County is pretty “Yes on 8” (sadly, 5 minutes off the plane at Long Beach Airport and I spotted a “Yes on 8” bumper sticker on a car – along with a McCain/Palin sticker) as a generalization, gay couples merrily paraded hand-in-hand.

The party Wonderland kicked things off on Friday – Alec Mapa was in the house, along with a bunch of folks dressed like the Alice in Wonderland characters. Come Saturday it was all about going for a ride, and a sassy Cruella DeVille met visitors at the gate. “Ain’t you gonna clap for Tinkerbell? The fairies are dying,” she told a bunch of kids during a photo op. “But we’re feeling just fine!” a queen responded. “Not you, you’re the good fairies,” she winked back, before literally shooing the kids away with a “now get outta here, go.”

The bears were out in full force – notably during the Hungry Bear Lunch in Critter Country, while The Trevor Project hosted a Youth Lunch behind Thunder Mountain. At the California Adventure park, a group of acrobatic queens – lubricated with cocktails from the crowded bar – started an impromptu Cirque du So Gay, doing flips and splits and other America’s Got Talent-ready displays (who didn’t love that baton twirler this season?).

Meanwhile, Chad Allen and Brad Rowe screened their here! productions, Ice Blues and Shelter, respectively, at Gay Days headquarters, Disney’s Grand Californian. An overall grand, fun, and not too messy – barring a drunk, shirtless queen prodded to put his shirt back on by a Downtown Disney security guard after the Wonderland shindig – Gay Days. Oh Mickey, forever shall we hold our banner high, high, high!

Lawrence Ferber

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Religion Meets Synth Pop Meets...

I don't even know where to start. This is INSANE. An electro-dance number from religious/cult zealots The Way International. Credit to Savage Love's blog and Kid Icarus.

Says Icarus/Savage: This is the single most amazingly choreographed video of a Christan synth-pop boogie down bunch on YouTube I’ve ever seen,” says Slog tipper Kid Icarus. “Try not to lose it around the 1:54 mark.”

I made it to 2:00 before all but doing a spit take.

Doesn't the guy look a bit like John Travolta's PULP FICTION character? But, you know, doing this?

L

Monday, September 22, 2008

Revenge on Spammers

I'm beginning to phase out my AOL e-mail because I get like 200 bait SPAMs a day - the "I am Mr. Zombu Mubiwa from Zimbabwe and have $3million to share with you" type - and it's just getting tiring to go through the e-mail and spam filters with scrutiny every time I check them.

Anyway, there is a BRILLIANT website devoted to revenge on the a**holes who are responsible for sending those evil SPAM notes, The 419 Eater. It's sort of like Perverted Justice, except the focus is on wasting these SPAMmers' time and exacting revenge rather than getting them arrested (which is tough due to international laws, etc) in clever, downright absurd ways.

It's sooooo gratifying.

L

Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCain Doesn't Know Where Spain Is

Anyone who doubted McCain is Dubya #2, here's your evidence.

Another piece on this doozy.

Congrats!!!

L

Lies, Mary Pt. 2



Yeah, yeah, I know, if it's not FOX it's the "liberal media," but this CNN report is full of FACTS and shoves McCain/Palin's lies in their faces.

Yep, it catches Barack in a bit of an exaggeration, too. It's not biased.

Watch it.

L

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Burma Chronicles


This past weekend I went to the Brooklyn Book Fair, where I picked up the new Guy Delisle graphic novel/memoir, The Burma Chronicles, from amazing publishers Drawn & Quarterly. It's great so far... Delisle is an artist/animator who has worked and lived in some pretty fascinating/repressive Asian countries and cities, most notably Pyongyang, North Korea. His Pyongyang memoir, of working amongst brainwashed North Koreans, is an absolute must and ranks amongst my top ten graphic novels ever.

They also serve as a contrast as to how much more repressive a government and society can be.... but these days, when people actually think Palin is a super duper candidate to be a likely president, well, you see how shit like that happens. And we're maybe inching closer to those situations. Except we have the internet and cable TV.

L

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lies, Mary



Thanks for the lies, "Maverick!"

What the hell. McCain and his ilk toss out actual lies and nobody in his party seems to do anything about it. Republicans need to start taking McCain and Palin to task as Democrats did Hillary when she talked crazy (the Bosnia thing). How can you respect your party when its leaders do this crap? Kick them to the curb, Republicans! Stop them from hoping Americans are too stupid to question this crap. It's insulting.

If you want me to respect the Republican party again, and consider voting Republican for that matter, then kick these shitheads TO THE CURB and CALL THEM ON THEIR SHIT.

L

Friday, September 12, 2008

Women Against Palin

She looks like Liz Lemon, and Hillary Clinton (or any other progressive, globally-aware/traveled) she isn't, a fact women are now voicing on a blog.

Thank you, women!

Meanwhile, please someone explain to me how having someone smarter, better-traveled, more intuitive, sage, and talented at leadership in public/government office is a BAD thing?

I'm waiting to overhear someone saying "Me as be am like Palin McCain, as they be us! Me was want us am be!"

L

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Return of the Differently Abled 80s Videos pt. 2



OK, I love the 80s band Blue Zoo, seen here performing on Top of the Pops.

Watch the lead singer: Jake Shears meets Limahl. Or is it just me?

L

Return of the Differently Abled 80s Videos



Back in 1988, while shopping a record store in New Haven as I recall, I found a bunch of UK 7" singles. One was by a group called Personal Column, "Strictly Confidential." I like it. Total 80s pop. After doing a google to try and find the song again - since that 7" is missing - I found a fabulous website devoted to the band with a whole bunch of free songs to download, including "Strictly Confidential." To boot, I found a music video for it on YouTube. And boy, is it RIDICULOUS. Shall I count the ways? I might have to.

Meanwhile, go and lap up that fantastic, all-too-obscure UK 80s pop from Personal Column!

L

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain's Speech Fact Checked

Gosh, what a surprise that McCain's speech was riddled with lies, misinformation, misleading statements...

And the Repubs throw tantrums about the "liberal media" when this sort of thing gets brought to light.

My bile is rising.

L

Palin Fact Check

Some fact checks re: Palin's speech from Yahoo.

Please, people, check the facts. So far The Daily Show has been doing a good job catching the Republicans (and everyone else) when they make a hypocritical statement. Watch it!

L

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Prop 8

Palin

I have had some conversations today with women, most of whom really liked Palin's speech last night - how she was on the attack and stood up. So, I asked, what do you think of her record in office and her stances on issues like guns, the environment, a woman's right to choose?

They didn't know anything about that.

A commentary by CNN's Hilary Rosen sums things up well for those who want to know Palin, the politician and what she will stand for, a little better.

Everyone should read it. Everyone!

L
PS - For the record, it sucks that McCain didn't choose a more progressive female VP. Then we'd have an exciting election and choice to think on. Now we just have another divisive culture war.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sobering

Words from Michael Moore's blog about the whole Palin shebang - which you would think keeps getting "worse," what with the daughter being pregnant, a drinker, etc. - but only seems to make Americans love Palin more:

But before everyone gets all smug and self-righteous about the Palin selection, remember where you live. You live in a nation of gun owners and hunters. You live in a country where one out of three girls get pregnant before they are 20. You live in a nation of C students. Knocking Bush for being a C student only endeared him to the nation of C students. Knock Palin for having kids, for having a kid who's having a baby, for anything that is part of her normalness -- a normalness that looks very familiar to so many millions of Americans -- well, you do this at your own peril. Assuming she's still on the ticket two weeks from now, she will be a much tougher opponent than anyone expects. You live in a country that voted for Dan Quayle.

I'm so depressed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feeling French



Last night, for lack of anything to watch, I put on some music videos by Mylene Farmer, a sort of French Madonna/Kylie I have been into since 1993 or so, when I first heard her music in Paris. Watching this video, by director Luc Besson (and the Michael Jackson killed by a cross bit is so random!), I had a sort of flood of nostalgia. Back in the 1990s I became smitten with France, I was so attracted by its culture, men, food, film, the list goes on. I befriended any French transfer student I could at my college (which I had just graduated but had many friends still attending). Alas, now France is so expensive I haven't been back in about 3-4 years, plus my travel obsessions have taken me to Asia and other parts of the world. I don't go so crazy for France anymore, but in another life, coulda worked out well.

Funny enough, Mylene lived in NYC for a spell, and bathed in anonymity. She used to go to Moby's Teany shop. I spotted her once uptown in a restaurant but thought I was crazy: "what would Mylene be doing here???" Darn.

L

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Religulous

I saw an advance screening of Bill Maher's RELIGULOUS tonight.

He's going to be in a loooottttt of trouble when it comes out.

And everyone should see it. It's almost too snarky in places, in fact it is (it's basically Borat meets Michael Moore), and unfair with the editing, but Bill really does challenge the folks he meets and his thesis - that organized religion leads intelligent people into illogical and dangerous/hateful behavior and decisions - is hard to argue with.

I'll be interviewing Bill next month and can't wait. There's a section of the film that addresses ex-gays....

L

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another Gay Sequel: The Clap!

Another Gay Sequel opens soon, and this music video from Perez Hilton - "The Clap" - is pretty darned funny (and looks great!). Perez has a role in the film, which is uber-outrageous. Meanwhile, check out his video!

L

Thursday, July 24, 2008

BearCity in Philly!


The BearCity staged reading went over very well at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Amazing to think it will be an actual film playing the festival a year from now (updates to that end soon!)...

Here is a link to photos from the reading, shot by Gail Kamenish.

Thanks again to the wonderful cast, stage director Fritz Brekeller, and everyone at PIGLFF and TLA!

L

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sex and the Sh*tty



My friends and I have been obsessed with this absurd commercial for a few years now. Clearly they were going for "Sex and the City," yet the dialogue is completely unfunny, not witty, so low rent. I picture the actors sitting around between shots going, "oh my god, you know, we're all so good we could totally be like another Sex and the City. Someone needs to do another show like that with US!" And then they fought over who gets to be Carrie, etc. This is some seriously funny/tragic low-rent stuff, and you have to watch it 100 times and quote every line. Look at how the "Charlotte" girl is going to America West air! And they are all sharing a single salad! Not even salads for all of them. Oh - and for the record, the car service ain't anything special. I recently was in a cab and we were being held up by a bad Carmel driver in front of us, the driver dangling his cigarette out the window as he smoked.

Amazing!

L

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Postcard from David Sedaris

I received a postcard today from David Sedaris. I interviewed him last month, and as always it was a delightful, funny chat. That I made him laugh hysterically imbued me with a sense of pride. I won't post what he wrote in the postcard, except to say it was pretty funny, too.

The interview I conducted is appearing in various edits across the country, amongst them NYC's HX and Chicago's Windy City Times, the latter of which is essentially uncut from my draft. Enjoy!

L

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Provincetown Story...



Last week/end I attended the Provincetown International Film Festival in Ptown, Mass. Wow is all i can say about this gorgeous resort town. OK, I can say more than just wow and in fact did on the Advocate's blog, Advocate Insider. Here's the story!

L
PS - Yes, that's Tarantino I photographed...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

BearCity - the Movie

OK, the image you see here is the first logo/graphic for BearCity, a feature film in development with TLA Releasing. It's a romantic comedy set in NYC's Bear scene - think "Sex and the City" with fur!

I have co-written, and will be co-directing, the script with Doug Langway (Raising Heroes), and we are staging a public reading at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on July 19th. Do check out the full PIGLFF program at www.phillyfests.com starting Monday, June 23rd.

Our Facebook fan page is up - please do join us!

Incidentally, we are currently holding auditions, so if you're a cub/bear/musclebear, or a boyish twink type who looks around 20 years old, drop a line to bearcity@sharpleft.com.

L

Monday, June 02, 2008

KL-O-Rama (and Borneo)






I'm back from Kuala Lumpur and Borneo... quite a trip. Here's a tiny taste!

L

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sweet Little Ditty



This should give your ears a little treat. It's "Sonar" by Belanova, one of the bands I mentioned in my Kylie International piece for The Advocate. It's so Kylie. It's so catchy! Holy cripes! No real video, though - so suffer the lame graphics and then go to iTunes and buy everything Belanova has.

L

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Proud About Pride


The Advocate's annual Pride issue is on stands, and it's got a whole lotta Lawrence: my photo and a blurb on the contributor's page, my Out on the Street conducted in Stockholm, and my whopping Pride Guide (which includes four mini-destination travel bits for Sri Lanka, Stockholm, Reykjavik, and Mexico City). Grab that issue up!

L

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tokyo's KinKieS

I'm back from Hong Kong, and was very happy to find the first DJ Mix CD from Tokyo's KinKieS waiting for me. A three-person DJ/recording artist collective, they're picking up steam, and I'm really loving their original track "Tokyo Arcade Mode." Since I'm a technotard haven't figured out how to upload an mp3 yet, but here is the link to their MySpace where you can give it a virtual spin.

More to come!

L

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hong Kong Postpunk



I head to Macau/Hong Kong this coming weekend, and I'm pretty psyched. It's one of my favorite cities in the world. If I was a geographic polygamist, New York, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, and Tokyo would be my wives/husbands.

Last time I visited HK in late 2006, I discovered The Yours, pretty much the only postpunk/shoegaze/alt-rock band in the whole country (which is dominated by sappy Cantopop). Think My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain as major influences, with plenty of fuzzy guitar. Dreamy stuff! Here's the video for their song, "Tasteless."

L

Saturday, April 19, 2008

If You Like Kylie, Try These Artists

My article on international artists Kylie fans should check out is up at The Advocate's website. Check it out, check out the artists, and do let me know what you think of them! Any fave from the bunch I recommend?

L

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Scenario Rock



That awesome French band Scenario Rock has a new CD out. Of course, no sign of it on iTunes USA. So I guess Amazon.fr here I come.

This band seriously needs to get on VICE Records, stat!

Here's the video for one of their first album's songs. I'm so hot over it. Still! Thanks to Kodai in Tokyo, by the way, for turning me onto them.

L

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

South Park ASAP


I really hope the South Park guys are working on an episode addressing Neanderthal-esque Sally Kern and her fanatical behavior. She's almost like one of the protagonists of Quest For Fire, but not as rational. Do you think dinner is her dipping her finger into a raw egg and sucking it, dipping it back, repeat, etc.?

L

Mariah N' Me

Now that Mariah Carey has a new album coming out, it seemed like a good time to yank out this feature I did on her last one. I've heard so many wacky stories about Mariah over the years, it was fun to finally chat with her. She seemed pretty forthcoming... Anyways, enjoy!

L


Free At Last

By Lawrence Ferber

What makes a superb crossover pop/dance/r&b/hip-hop album? An artist with one-of-a-kind personality, phenomenal vocals, excellent production, talented guest contributors, and that sparkly quality the hip-hop kids (and now the Oxford English Dictionary!) call “bling-bling.”
“I would say there definitely is ‘bling’ in the album,” admits Mariah Carey, amused. She’s discussing her latest and possibly greatest album, The Emancipation of Mimi (Island Def Jam). With production/vocal contributions from Jermaine Dupri, The Neptunes, Kanye West, Twista, Snoop Dogg and Nelly, and Carey’s unmistakable voice arranged and textured in fresh new ways, the album represents a superb 21st century reinvention of the seven-octave performer. And yeah, it’s just bursting with jewelry-like bling-bling. “I like bling,” Carey laughs. “It’s got a certain quality that when you put it on it lights up the moment.”
Carey has plenty of work to do today, yet the earthy and forthcoming diva happily made time for a “gay” interview. “There was a time when all I was allowed to do was go to gay clubs,” she recalls, “because my quote-unquote husband was so afraid of me being around straight people.” But back to The Emancipation of Mimi. A year and a half in the making, the album’s catchy, Jermaine Dupri-produced first single, “It’s Like That,” is already burning up the charts and dance floors. David Morales has performed his club magic on the track and an upcoming nine-minute remix of “Say Somethin’.” Other upbeat album standouts include “Shake It Off,” the playfully 80’s-ish pickup ditty “Get Your Number,” and smooth super-blingy “To The Floor.”
“This is very much like a party record,” Carey says. “Since the time I was in junior high the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out… those are the moments you want to put on a record and get excited [about] whatever it is you’re gonna do. I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that.”
Yet The Emancipation of Mimi is balanced out by a generous handful of ballads and downtempo numbers, many of which deal with heartbreak, bad relationships, and cheating lovers. “In some ways I feel the songs flow together really well,” Carey insists. “Like you’re going out, you’re coming down from going out and then another song picks you back up.”
As on all of her previous albums, Carey co-wrote every song on Emancipation. So where did all those breakup songs come from? “Past experiences darling,” she laughs. “You try to take those moments and channel them into something because if not you just become bitter!”
“Shake It Off” takes a playful approach to bitterness – and, more specifically, a cheatin’ bad apple - with lyrics like “I gotta shake you off/ just like a Calgon commercial.” “That’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album,” she admits. “Shake it off can apply to anything. Whatever personal dramas we go through, put that song on and you lose the anxiety or intensity of the moment. I’ll listen to that song when I’ve just come out of an annoying meeting. I gotta shake this off.”
The Emancipation of Mimi isn’t a concept album per se, but it definitely sees Carey, whose closest friends and family call her Mimi, shaking off what audiences have come to expect. “It’s more the record I always wanted to make type of a thing,” she notes. “Everyone expects [an album title] like Rainbow or Butterfly, from me. So I thought The Emancipation of Mimi was cool – that Mimi side of me coming out as opposed to the ‘Mariah Carey’ celebrity or stigma or whatever preconceived notions people have of me as that person. This time I really experimented and played with how [my vocals] sounded as a whole.”
That said, longtime fans will find plenty of her vocal/lyrical signatures and “drama” on tracks like “Mine Again,” “Joy Ride” and “I Wish You Knew.”
A Long Island, New York native, Carey’s life in music started the moment she was born: her mother named her after a song, “They Call The Wind Mariah.” Mom also helped instill a sense of open-mindedness and acceptance in Carey, which surely helped lead to her garnering legions of gay fans and friends. “I’ve always tried not to judge people,” she explains. “My mom being an opera diva, artsy love everybody kind of rebellious girl from the Midwest who married a black man and who had predominantly gay friends. Nothing ever seemed like it was wrong or strange to me. It was a loving type of vibe I got. I basically was raised by two gay men, Ernie and Mort, who were best friends. When we didn’t have a place to stay we stayed with them. So I feel like God recognizes us all has human beings and loves us as we are.”
Carey began singing by age four, wrote songs by middle school, and moved to NYC after high school to pursue a musical career. She admits that love – and sex - took a backseat during much of her youth. “I’m kind of a prude, especially with straight guys because they can be dogs,” she admits. “My sister had a baby when she was 15 - I’m thankful she did because her son is an amazing person, but I looked at what was going on with that and I made a conscious effort to focus on my career. And people would make fun of me because I was this virginal girl who walked around in tight dresses. They were like what is this dichotomy going on here? So [in terms of sexual experimentation] I haven’t really been the most exploratory gal in the land. I know that’s boring for the readers!”
Her self-titled 1990 debut launched Carey into the pop (and drag queen lip synch repertory) stratosphere with four #1 singles, including “Someday,” and two Grammy wins for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. More hits, awards and platinum discs followed over the years for Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), Daydream (1995), Butterfly (1997) and Rainbow (1999). Yet in summer of 2001, Carey hit a spot of rough road with the critically mauled film “Glitter” and a series of personal/public breakdowns (not to mention the death of her father and breakup with boyfriend Luis Miguel).
Carey looks back at that quintessentially “Behind The Music”-worthy period “as something that had to happen in my life,” she says. “The drama would not have been high enough without that. I really do feel a lot was made out of that time period, it was so blown out of proportion. That movie and that soundtrack – which I think had some really good songs that hopefully one day I’ll get to redo – the fact it came out on September 11th people need to remember. How can we expect anything from that? I was a scapegoat in a lot of ways for a lot of talk show hosts who wanted to get away from the real stuff going on in the world. We all have to go through our tests to see how strong we are and come out on the other side.”
She’s definitely on that other side now, and Carey says she owes this fact to God and spirituality. The final song on Emancipation, “Fly Like a Bird,” boasts dashes of gospel, soul, and plenty of calls/thanks to a higher power. Her pastor even makes an appearance on the track. “To me the most important thing is the message he says in the beginning of the song,” she notes. “‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’ I felt like a lot of people may not hear that message and a lot of people need to. It wasn’t to be preachy. A lot of times people will hear songs that I write that are not the typical songs people look at as ‘Mariah Carey songs.’ Like ‘Close my Eyes,’ which only real fans would know but a lot of [them] relate to. It’s about having a difficult childhood and going through a lot of deep stuff. There’s a song called ‘Outside’ that’s about being biracial. A lot of people relate to it because they felt like outsiders their lives. There are a lot of songs I’ve put on albums as a [personal] release but I know it helps other people. To show that someone else has gone through what they’ve gone through.”
Marriage is one thing Carey doesn’t plan to go through again just yet. When asked about her feelings regarding the hot topic of gay marriage, Carey first responds by stating “I think it’s a huge political thing and I’m notoriously not political. If you asked me about any candidate I’m pretty much clueless. But I feel like everything in life is a personal choice.” Then, after a few minutes, she adds that “when you mention [gay] marriage, marriage in general, after going through the experience I went through I think my whole view on marriage is tainted no matter what kind of marriage we’re talking about. I feel like I went into my situation being married for the wrong reasons. I’ve been traumatized.”
Happily, gays – such as Heatherette designers Richie Rich and Traver Rains - have been and continue to be a positive presence in her life and professional career. “I don’t want to out anybody!” she laughs when asked for additional names of gays who have worked alongside her. “But I would venture to say yes! Definitely!” And Mariah does have quite an exciting series of projects ahead. She’s considering another foray into film acting (her performance in the underrated “Wisegirls,” opposite Mira Sorvino, garnered attention from many movie producers), a possible remix EP, producing a track for 12-year-old vocalist Paul Robbins (they recently appeared on “Oprah”), and “there’s possibly a Broadway Christmas show happening, based around my Christmas songs.” Bling-bling it on, Mariah

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Over It

OK, I'm totally over David Archuleta now that he went singing about Jesus and whatnot tonight (yeah, I know Dolly Parton wrote the song). Sally Kern is probably all like, "Am is Archuleta, am'n am is am!" and dialing his number 500 times after the show.

Kinda over this season now, period. America has booted every contestant that was colorful in any way. This bodes badly for the election in November.

Ryan, tell David all the girls want him or whatever.

L

Stop-Loss

My article on Stop-Loss, directed by the out Kimberly Peirce, is running in regional LGBT publications including Between The Lines... here it is.

L

Monday, March 31, 2008

Am Is Am Sally Kern Am?

I try to stop myself from googling "Sally Kern," but I google her anyway. And I read yet more ignorant, hateful, double-standard (when it comes to the bible, picking and choosing which principles should apply today) comments that, were this 40 years earlier, would probably be about segregation and how whites and other races getting married is race-mixing and threatening our country. Really, when I picture her having conversations with her husband, I imagine them to the tune of "Am is am? Amn'nt am. Is am amn't as am be!" Like redneck caveman babble.

Ugh.

Thanks Sally for giving more progressive countries another reason to laugh at us.

L

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Spleen United!



Denmark's Spleen United is back. I posted one of their earlier songs/videos way back in the blog, so here's a new one!

L

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tori and Finland

I interviewed Tori Spelling today. She was totally sweet and fun. She co-stars in a new queer film, Kiss The Bride. I'll link to the story when it starts appearing...

Meanwhile, my destination feature on Helsinki, Finland, is running in Los Angeles' Frontiers Magazine. Here's the online version. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Finland. LOVE IT! Can't wait to go back and see more of it.

It'd be nice if the Euro didn't hit $2 before then, but my hopes are sinking.

L

My New Moby Feature

My new Moby interview is appearing in gay regionals including In Magazine Los Angeles. Take a peek here. Longer versions should be popping up in the coming weeks across the country. Also, I did a small Moby item for NY Magazine's Intelligencer blog (FYI that "You're bisexual" line should read "You have described yourself as sexually ambiguous"). Enjoy!

Oh - and I'd like to also plug a pretty great Moby interview running in the new issue of The Advocate, written by my HX/Advocate colleague, Brandon Voss. Good stuff! And yay Moby!

L

Emo Bashing?



So emo-bashing is becoming a big problem in Mexico City. Literally - people are bashing emos! Not cool. And ironically, Mexicans are pretty much the only ones who actually look good/hot working the emo look. White North Americans? Ahhh.... not so much. Seriously. Go to Mexico City like I did. They can WORK THAT LOOK!

Maybe the bashers are being led by Zac Efron fans or something. But so not cool regardless.

Incidentally, it's important to note that a LOT, if not most, possibly all, of these emo kids are gay. And the area they gather in, featured in this news clip, is plaza Insurgentes in Zona Rosa, the de facto young gay neighborhood where all the gay kids hang out, cruise, etc. So this seems just as much a fag bashing issue as emo-bashing. Super duper not cool.

L

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quit it Seacrest!


Every week on American Idol, Ryan Seacrest keeps embarrassing David Archuleta by going on about how the girls love him. The girls love you! Listen to the girls! Don't you love those girls? Tonight he even started ribbing David about who he would bring to the prom, and insinuating it was this girl sitting next to Daddy Archuleta. David just kept politely/bashfully giggling as he typically does.

Does Ryan not realize what he's doing with all this nonsense? Does he seriously have no clue? Or is he just being a prick? I don't think I have to spell out why this behavior makes Ryan a prick. Do I? I will if I have to.

I can't figure out the motives behind his behavior. But if you have a gaydar that even remotely picks up signals, and I'm certain Ryan does, you know Ryan is being a complete, malevolent bastard throwing the "girls" stuff up in David's face. Or at best, he's acting upon a benign ulterior agenda that we don't understand yet and plain old sucks anyway. Perhaps the show's producers are horrified that someone might suspect David is gay and, like Danny Noriega and the go-go boy, get him booted off because he's a nancy. Or maybe Daddy Archuleta, who has seen the video of his kid singing "And I Am Telling You" a few too many times and smells something flowery in the air, asks Ryan, "hey, can you let my boy know how many girls want him? Let him know about all those girls! He can pick any one of 'em! Hallelujah, all the girls! Hallelujah!"

Quit it, Ryan. Seriously. You're being a bastard. Quit with the "girls" stuff with David.

L

Asian Pop Music 101: "HELLO" by RAM RIDER



Tokyo, 2005, I'm shopping at Tower Records in Shibuya and find this little gem. It's Japan's Daft Punk! It's a crime you can't find the albums on iTunes America.

L

Monday, March 24, 2008

Polish Pop Music 101: "Who Told You" by Smolik



I love Smolik, a totally elecronica chill out artist from Poland. First heard about him at a gay bar in Kracow, now take little jaunts into Greenpoint, Brooklyn to pick up his latest releases. Enjoy!

L

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Asian Pop Music 101: "Love Me Afer 12AM" by M-Flo



That is Japan's M-Flo live in concert with Clazziquai Project vocalist Alex as guest. It really kicks in about 2:35 in. You might be able to find this track on iTunes...

L

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Asian Pop Music 101: "Honeymoon" by Flure



Ain't that pretty? From Thailand's Flure.

L

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Scott Heim Reappears

My feature on novelist Scott Heim and his latest book is in the current issue of In Magazine Los Angeles, as well as a piece on Colton Ford and his new CD (released on Richard Morel's Outsider Music label!).

Enjoy!

L

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Gobsmacked

I am completely gobsmacked by this.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Brother Beyond




One UK boyband that never really made it overseas was Brother Beyond. Yay import CDs is all I can say.

Here they "perform" one of their sweet little ditties. They seem to be on uppers or some new speed designer drug, though. Truly spastic. They dance like some cowboy varmint is shooting at their feet. And how many times does the lead singer twirl? And the guitar/bass players are working that whole Fine Young Cannibals thing. Note the chubby keyboard player! Not a lot of chubby guys in boy bands, are there?

Where oh where have they gone?

L

Monday, March 03, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama's Open Letter

Wow, I was moved by Obama's open letter to the gay community. Pretty brave, given all the pandering to the right and a fear of saying openly that gays deserve the same rights afforded to hetero individuals and couples. He admits he's gonna have to talk soft on the matter to the right wingers and religious wackadoodles, but... wow, am I feeling some hope?

L

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Something Besides Madonna - Jamiroquai

My beloved Macbook was repaired today - it had been away for a week at NYC's Tekserve having its topboard replaced - and while transferring some tracks and CDs to iTunes I listened to a few tracks from Jamiroquai. For a while I was totally obsessed with the dance versions of tracks like "Space Cowboy" and "Alright," and I had the chance to interview him when 2005's Dynamite came out. Not the artist one thinks of as super-gay, but I think he's pretty fantastic and definitely pro-gay. Even with the hats.

So here's that interview, since I'm gonna post more about Madonna if I don't put other stuff up!

L

Tip of the Hat

By Lawrence Ferber

Handclaps, meaty bass, plucky guitar notes, spacey synth, and a smooth disco beat. Listening to this song, “Dynamite,” you’d swear you were in the hottest gay disco in town circa 1975. But you’re actually just listening to the irresistible retro-disco title track of the latest album by Jamiroquai. Fronted by the boyish, giant hat adorned Jason Kay, the super-groovy UK outfit has whipped up flawless funk and dance hits – including “Space Cowboy,” “Alright,” and “Canned Heat” - for over 12 years now. Dynamite (Epic), their sixth studio album, gives the likes of Sylvester and Stevie Wonder a boogie for their money with groovy confections like “Starchild,” “Don’t Give Hate a Chance,” and “Seven Days in Sunny June.” One track, “World That He Wants,” infuses politics and a scathing indictment of Dubya’s warmongering into a ballad (“He’s a menace,” Kay scoffs). And the album’s first single, “Feels Just Like It Should,” entails a dirty little Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque ditty - its video, included on the DualDisc version of Dynamite, features Kay gussied up in surprisingly sultry drag.
Co-produced by Kay and Mike Spencer, Dynamite was recorded in a variety of locations including the UK, Italy, Los Angeles and New York. To discuss Dynamite, politics, and the importance of proper fitting pumps, I spoke with the pro-gay, politically aware Kay by phone.

Have you been a fan of 70’s disco your whole life?

“For the bit I can remember, yes. Because it’s a Studio 54, get down everybody have a better time than you did before vibe. But bear in mind I was only 7 years old when the disco thing was in!”

What clubs did you used to go to as a teen?

“I used to go to [London’s gay club] Heaven quite a bit. When I was about 18, 19, because the music was good. It was banging. And we were all pilled-up. Or tripping. Or pilled-up and tripping. Those were the good days.”

Was that your first exposure to gay people?

“No, not at all. My mom’s a [cabaret] singer and every hairdresser and guy in the biz was gay. Leonard, a hairdresser, was super camp. Which was really great. He used to fluff around [my mom] all day. Funny. But in terms of the gay scene, yeah I suppose it was.”

What about these days? And what are your thoughts on gay unions, which are about to become legal out there in the UK?

“Well, my stylist is gay. My publicity guy is gay. Where does the list end? People should be allowed to do what they want to do, know what I mean? As long as we get along, that’s the thing. But the bottom line is this – you should be very worried over there in the states. That sort of right wing Christian thing and your president doesn’t bode well. That’s something you need to watch out for. [Bush] is ruthless. A big thing’s going on, a lot of hypocrisy in regard to the church and homosexuality.”

What’s the gayest song on Dynamite?

“The gayest sounding song is ‘Love Blind.’ ‘All black leather like a disco bitch/ five feet nine with your ruby lips.’ I mean, you know.”

What did you want to bring to this album that you didn’t on 2001’s A Funk Odyssey?

“I wanted it to be a snappier, dirtier sound. The last album felt like a mish-mash in places. I wanted it to be tighter and better constructed. The grooves work a bit better than they did on the last one. It might be more cohesive.”

You’ve been outspoken on the topic of legalizing cannabis. Where are things legally in the UK?

“It’s been downgraded to a Class C drug, so you can pretty much walk down the street and have a spliff if you want to. It’s not much of a big deal. But it is still technically illegal. I’d like to see legalization but with a reasonable limit on supply and without the government taxing it. The reason it’s a difficult problem is you have the whole issue of people working and driving on marijuana and using machinery, etc. This whole thing where you can give someone a breathalyzer but to give them a ‘have you had a spliff in the last couple of days’ test? It’s a bit difficult isn’t it? It stays in the body so much longer, it’s a difficult thing to monitor. And if they can’t monitor and tax something they won’t let it be legal. That’s why they want to do 24-hour drinking here. A crazy idea. You’ve got half the nation drunk as skunks, including me, and they’re wobbling about listening to Tony Blair on the radio. They want to make it 24-hour a day drinking. Instead of 24-hour puffing. Or of both.”

Have your politics ever gotten you in trouble? The video for “Space Cowboy” was banned in the states because it had images of spinning marijuana leaves.

“Yeah. I don’t really know what all that was about. It’s not like it’s in the face like it is most times these days. It wasn’t particularly controversial.”

Now tell me about how the hat thing began.

“I always wore hats. When I was a kid I was skating and I always had a hat on. They gave me a bit of security, I can hide behind a hat a little bit.”

How many hats have you had made?

“Quite a few. I’d put it at about 100. A lot of them are made by Rod Keenan.”

Have your hats ever caused property damage? Any hat disasters?

“(laughs) No, I haven’t had any hat disasters. The spiky ones tend to poke people’s eyes out if they get too close. But apart from that no, not really.”

Are you married?

“No.”

Do the gay boys have a chance?

“I’d love to say yes but I have to say no. (laughs) The boys have never had their chance. I’m keeping [the women] busy. Think of me as someone separating all the extra luggage for you.”

You do seem to have many gay fans, though.

“Fantastic! I should wear tighter trousers in the future. I shall wear a slightly tighter fit next time I don those hot pants.”

How about a skirt? You’re in drag in the “Dynamite” video. You look great!

“Yeah! Have you seen the ‘making of’? I step out onto Hollywood Boulevard like that and that’s where the trouble really begins! I don’t think my legs look too bad, actually. But I couldn’t believe we had a shoe problem in West Hollywood. We couldn’t find women’s shoes in my size! How the fuck - I’m only 8 1/2! My feet are hurting. Can’t get the fucking things. Nobody could get me the shoes! We’re in West Hollywood – go get them!”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Congrats Tilda, and a Blowoff


Big congrats to longtime queer muse/ally Tilda Swinton for winning the Oscar last night. The classy lady made an appearance at the Teddy Awards in Berlin, and mixed and mingled and had endless photos taken with her peers and fans alike (the two are usually the same). The above is a snap I shot of Tilda with the Panorama section's perpetually snazzy-dresser, Weiland Speck.

Also big kudos to Scott Rudin for coming out in a pretty big way at the Oscars. And to David Teague, who worked on Short Doc winner Freeheld (which I guarantee will make you cry when you see it).

Meanwhile, went to Blowoff here in NYC on Saturday night where Morel and Bob Mould spun astounding electro-house sets to a mostly bear-y crowd. Morel's got a new CD in the works - I believe we heard a track off it, which was amazing - and is touring with Mould. See 'em, and check out Morel's website for all sorts of updates, tracks, link to his Pink Noise remix page, and his really superb podcasts. I think every single artist should have a "Pink Noise" remix. When I interviewed Zac Hanson last year, I pointed him in Morel's direction since the band was considering some dance remixes... not sure if anything came of that, though. Will have to ask...

L

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Madonna


Here is the part of my Madonna interview that didn't get used in the NY Magazine piece (or my The Advocate Berlin Film Fest wrap-up). It's pretty NY-centric....



Me: If you had shot the movie in New York, would this be a Williamsburg story or an East Village story?

Madge: “East Village. Peckham equals East Village, definitely.”

What would you have thrown in there from the East Village?

“Well, Eugene comes from the East Village.”

Would you throw Kiki and Herb in there?

“Yeah, I think so. Yeah. And what’s that very famous deli? The Kiev! That would be where Eugene would hang out all the time.”

And Veselka?

“Yeah, of course.”


Madonna will be in NYC this Spring when the Tribeca Film Festival screens "I Am Because We Are," the documentary about Malawi she produced.

L

Monday, February 18, 2008

Madonna n' Me




I spoke with Madonna for New York Magazine at the Berlin Film Festival. Yes, that's me she's chatting with in the photo. Thanks to Kelly Burkhardt for that shot!

I was one of only two print media to be given access to Madge at her film's premiere.

I've interviewed her before at a roundtable, but this one-on-one on the red carpet was insane.

Even the CNN woman seemed in a Madonnafrenzy, threatening to hurt (or kill) us print guys if she didn't get her soundbite. She was serious!

More on Madonna and the film in my The Advocate coverage of Berlin this week...

L

Thursday, January 31, 2008

German Pop I Love Pt. 2

Ich heart Klee! They're like New Order with a female lead singer.

L

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

German Pop I Love Pt. 1

In preparation for my trip to Germany, a little taste of German pop I'm into, and have been into.

First up, Samba. You can get some of their albums on iTunes US. Do it!

L

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Sundance Blog


My Sundance wrapup will be published over the next week or two in select LGBT papers and magazines. I also did some blogging from the festival for AfterElton.com - so check it out.

L

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Minor Tom

Oh, this is so embarrassing. What a truly stupid performance.

E.T. with flashing eyes? The dramatic looking up thing. Just staring into the camera like that Fancy guy?

His English-language version of the song, "Major Tom (Coming Home)" is better to boot. Nothing against German, mind you.

But this performance? Stupid stupid stupid.

L

Keep Tryin'



There are times when I watch videos like these and think, well, why don't I move to Tokyo? Or Hong Kong?

Incidentally, this song and video - by Utada Hikaru - are mentioned in a piece I just wrote for The Advocate about international artists that Kylie fans, hungry for more when X is released stateside, should check out. I'll link it when published....

Meanwhile, enjoy "Keep Tryin'".

L

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Interview With Heath

I was up in Park City, Utah, attending the Sundance Film Festival, when word of Heath Ledger's death spread and the shock over it.

I met Heath during a Brokeback Mountain roundtable interview in NYC. I sat close to him, studying whether his lips were anywhere near as tight as Ennis'. They weren't. Ennis was pretty tightly wound!

I was interviewed by a TIME writer about the impact of Heath's death within the gay community. She asked whether I felt he risked his career by taking the role. I said no. I had forgotten he said as much himself during the interview.

So here's the story...

L

Mountaineers

By Lawrence Ferber

Climbing a mountain can be a daunting, tiring, even dangerous task – but reaching the top can entail a monumental achievement. Such is the case with Brokeback Mountain, a supremely moving, validating, yet heart-wrenching tale of same-sex love in the not-exactly-accepting heart of 20th Century cowboy country. Ranchers Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) meet while working as sheepherders. They end up rassling each other’s hearts in the process, and for almost 20 years – while each is married and living a “straight” life – carry on a clandestine affair. Jack eventually feels they should live together. Ennis, who can’t escape the childhood memory of a brutal homophobic murder, doesn’t. In a society that forbids their love, is this the best they can hope for?
Gay audiences have had high hopes for a film version of Brokeback Mountain, which debuted as a 1997 short story by Annie Proulx in The New Yorker magazine, since Gus Van Sant was attached to the project circa 1998. It’s been an uphill, rocky climb, but director Ang Lee has come through with a triumph indeed. “I think for great romance, you need great obstacles,” says Lee (The Hulk, The Wedding Banquet).

THE START

The story Brokeback Mountain won a Pulitzer Prize - and the attention of veteran Western novelist/screenwriter (and Pulitzer Prize-winner himself for 1986’s Lonesome Dove) Larry McMurty and collaborator Diana Ossana. McMurty admits the story’s gay angle was a shock, mainly because he had never thought to do it himself. “Why didn’t I write this?” he recalls feeling. After all, the Texas-born author had long known gays existed in cowboy country. “I had a cousin who was gay and lived with a schoolteacher in a small town,” he recalls. “Cousin X we’ll call him. Cousin X was a roper, and made his life around rodeos. I remember plainly that when we were about to go to family reunions in the late 1940s, early 50s, my parents would say ‘Be nice to Cousin X’s gentleman friend.’ His friend was a schoolteacher. We thought he was a very nice guy, so we were nice as pie to his gentleman friend.”
McMurty and Ossana optioned the story and by 1998 completed a screenplay. With it, they managed to attach a handful of directors and producers, including Gus Van Sant, Joel Schumacher, and Scott Rudin. But a lack of name actors willing to take on the roles (barring Joaquin Phoenix, who was interested) caused each successive effort to fall through.
The film ended up being greenlit by Focus Features, whose co-founder, James Schamus, had previously been attached to the project years earlier (while he was with indie house Good Machine). “I really do thank god every day I failed so badly to make this movie for years as an independent,” he laughs. Schamus felt the project was perfect for his longtime collaborator, director Ang Lee. “Clearly what made Brokeback right for Ang is it’s all about repression,” Schamus quips. “He could set up a franchise of repression. Like the chair massage places - you just come in and get repressed.”
The Taiwan-born, straight-identified Lee agrees that repression is a theme that runs throughout his work including 1997’s The Ice Storm, 1995’s Sense and Sensibility, and his gay breakout film, 1993’s The Wedding Banquet. “I do what’s truthful to my feelings,” says Lee. “[After The Wedding Banquet] I was confused [whether I was a ‘gay’ filmmaker]. To this day. At the time when I make these movies I think they’re gay movies. They’ve got to feel gay and real to you, especially this one. But I brought some universal feelings, whether gay or straight, about love, romance. I think I brought a lot of universality.”


THE MEN

While “blending the macho western drama and a gay love story,” was a tricky exercise in tone, Lee says that his greatest challenge in making Brokeback Mountain wasn’t subject matter. It was finding actors who could realistically age 20 years over the course of the film. “Each time you see them you have to fill in the [time] gaps by small things,” he says. “The way they carried themselves, their voices and body.”
Both in their 20s, Ledger and Gyllenhaal fit the bill. Lee credits Ledger as truly personifying the wound-up, tight-lipped, rarely talkative Ennis. “I had to go in and discover what was causing this inability to express and love,” Ledger says. “I felt it was some kind of a battle. He was battling himself and his genetic structure. His father and his father’s father’s traditions and fears that had been embedded into him. Once I had that and a few other things I wanted to physicalize it. Any expression had to be painful. I wanted him to have pins in his boots. To be a clenched fist. My mouth became clenched, too.”
Ledger, whose uncle is gay (and “the most masculine person I know!”), claims that there were no detractors when it came to taking the role. “I understand people found it risky,” he acknowledges. “But I hate when they call it daring and brave. Fuck. Firefighters are daring and brave. I’m acting. I’m safe. I’m not wounded by this experience.” That said, the first gay sex scene – a spontaneous, intense burst of animal lust and connection in a tent – was a challenge to prepare for. “The way we looked at it, they’re not actually love scenes for the sake of doing love scenes,” Ledger affirms. “They’re actually stories within those moments. The first moment for Ennis was very poignant because he had to be rough and fighting it, almost ready to punch [Jack]. Once that all settled it had to be this passionate adrenaline that took over him. And then another moment it was important to show a glimpse of Ennis in a vulnerable state. It is true intimate love they have for each other, because it has to set up the tragedy of the story and [their attachment to] Brokeback Mountain.”

THE WOMEN

There’s another half to the story of Brokeback Mountain: its women. “You couldn’t show the tragedy of Jack and Ennis without showing the disappointment and discouragement this was for [their wives],” remarks McMurty. Adds Ossana, “The story and film have so many themes, one of them being what happens when people feel forced to deny who they are and the ripple effect of that. It affects everyone in their lives.”
Michelle Williams plays Alma, Ennis’ long-suffering wife and mother of their two daughters. Early on, Alma learns of her husband’s affair – she catches Ennis and Jack kissing - but she chooses to keep quiet and carry on with their loveless marriage. “For so many reasons she stays with him,” Williams explains. “She’s attached to this idea of a husband and family and something that lasts. Everything that came before her was lasting. Whether or not it was good you stuck it out. People weren’t getting divorced willy-nilly back then. Where would she go, what would she do, what if people found out, how would her girls’ lives be affected? My mind begins to pinball when I think of all the reasons Alma stayed with Ennis as long as she could.”
Jack, meanwhile, marries the spunky Lureen, played by Anne Hathaway. Lureen is a pretty sassy, sharp character, and one wonders whether she had an inkling from the get-go that Jack is gay. “That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?” grins Hathaway. “Everybody wants to know the answer to that and I’ve made a choice not to say.” Perhaps drawing a little from real life, Hathaway reveals that she was once involved with someone she suspects was gay (“I don’t think he knows so I hope he figures it out.”).
The wives’ sham marriages cause profound changes in them. Alma manifests hers as an internalized knot of sorrow and loneliness. Lureen externalizes her situation through bigger and more garish hair and makeup, like a distracting disguise for her hollowness. Asked whether she blames Jack and Ennis or society for the women’s suffering, Hathaway says she feels “a lot more resentment about the society because I understand the situation Jack and Ennis were in. But of course, after playing the cuckolded wife, you would hope there’d be some honesty in the relationship. But that wasn’t the relationship Jack and Lureen had. And so we wanted to make her almost unrecognizable from the person you meet at the beginning, to say that when you have your soul drained from you year after year what does that do.”


TODAY AND TOMORROW

While Brokeback Mountain is set in the past, the filmmakers admit the story and its characters situations are very much relevant today. Ossana brings up a gay 45-year-old friend who lives an extremely closeted existence in Omaha, Nebraska. And Hathaway relays a recent conversation with someone who “spoke with a friend from Wyoming who said ‘I never met a gay cowboy.’ My reaction was ‘I bet you have!’”
Hopefully Brokeback Mountain will change the world and make things easier for those real-life Jacks and Ennises out there. But at the least, Brokeback Mountain could radically change future AMC Romance Classic Marathon line-ups by being the first gay title included. “Not that we were out to change the world, but for our movie we at least wanted that measure of respect,” admits Schamus. “We wanted to be judged a la Doctor Zhivago, The Bridges of Madison County, Casablanca. We want this to be one of the great screen romances.”

Friday, January 11, 2008

A - I Mean, Three - Dramatic Turn!

I love 80s pop band Fiat Lux. I own their vinyl.

I also have this video, which I used to bring out at parties for a laugh.

Watch the first few minutes and decide: whose dramatic turn is most retarded?

Who will win!

Vote, please!

Oh - and the video, which is split into concert bits and staged dramatic videos, gets even more silly. Check out the modern dance segment! Which ain't modern no more! Or, truthfully, ever was!

L

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fancy Free


It's time to get a little Fancy on ya... as in German Europop singer Fancy and his hit "Flames of Love."

Wow. Don't you wish you could go to East Berlin (or former East Berlin) and pogo to this?

You have to watch the video to near the end where he really gets his, er, groove on or whatever that is he's gettin' on. That's an order!

Next up: Schlager!

Be so afraid!

L
PS - How Gary Numan meets Klaus Nomi minus edge is that cover?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!


Hey there little 2008! Let's ring in the new year with "White Noise" (mp3), a pretty little ditty from Finland's Sister Flo, the country's Belle & Sebastien. Enjoy!

A happy n' healthy one to everybody!

L