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Since the mid-90s Roy Mitchell has been furtively examining his own wash ‘n’ wear existential crisis: What does it mean to be a single, working-class, 40ish queer who lives to dance? Roy is an artist with a mission, and in I Know a Place (1998), the quest begins at a basement party in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. Produced by Jane Farrow, I Know a Place documents the life of “Mother” Bob Goddere, a steelworker/housewife whose legendary parties provided a safe haven for queer residents of the Soo. In Delta Don (1997) Roy takes his broken heart on the I-75 to Florida, asking the good folks along the way if they’ve seen his missing man of low degree. In his recent video Christian Porn (2000) Roy rubs elbows with a group of Christian fundamentalists that picketed Regina’s Queer City Cinema Festival. As usual, our boy Roy is armed with Cupid’s arrow in a canny critique of those who claim to love the sinner but not the sin. The Best of Everything will also feature the premiere of three new works (Mothercraft, Kissing at Airports, My Life in Dance) and a live performance by Toronto’s big daddy of queer pathos.
Roy Mitchell: A Local Independent Voice in Toronto Film and Video
Pleasure Dome, a Toronto member-operated film/video collective,is currently screening the final programmes in its Fall 2000 screening calendar. They grabbed media attention late last month with their presentation at Lee’s Palace of film and performance engineered by Genesis P-Orridge, a pioneering figure in Techno, Rave and Acid House. According to the Pleasure Dome web presence (www.pdome.org): “Pleasure Dome is a spring summer fall winter film and video exhibition group dedicated to the presentation of artists’ time-based work.” The group exhibits most frequently at Cinecycle (129 Spadina), which is affiliated with the 401 Richmond artists’ lofts. Billed as “Toronto’s big daddy of queer pathos,” Roy Mitchell – a local Queen West video artist – will have an evening dedicated to his work at Cinecycle on December 15th, as the final programme of Pleasure Dome’s Fall calendar. Entitled “The Best of Everything…”, the evening will consist of screenings of several of Roy’s earlier works, along with the premieres of three new works, and – there’s more! – a live performance by Mr. queer pathos himself!.
I was fortunate enough a few days ago to have had the opportunity to preview several of the scheduled works on Roy’s Pleasure Dome programme at Vtape. ( Vtape, for those new to the know, is a local centre for the screening and distribution of media works, also at 401 Richmond.) In one lol afternoon (for those new to the even newer know, ‘lol’ is the internet chatroom cyberslang-shorthand for ‘laugh out loud’, which, on the order of the ubiquitous ‘:-)’, or the less sophisticated yet more streamlined ‘:)’, is a relatively recent vocabulary addition to the substream of context in any email-like correspondence which is meant to be descriptive of the emotional state of the author. [whew…!]) I was able to take in four of the video works on this Pleasure Dome program. ‘lol’ was exactly what it was all about, too: a very nice woman introduced herself to me at an event the following evening, saying that she had noticed me having a ‘lol’ good ‘ol time at Vtape the day before with Roy’s work. I especially liked elements of “Proud Drivers of Canada” – read pink-triangle proud! Not knowing Roy’s work, I had thought it might be an interesting meditation on Canada highway truck stops! But no, it’s a dramatic (re)creational (auto)biographical visualization of Roy taking driving lessons in Toronto as a young 20-something emerging gay identity, being instructed by a local Church Street gay owned and operated – meaning, “it’s only little queer me! …” – driving teacher, who is just ssssoooooo early 80’s gay! The dialogue is priceless, even on the page of the videoplay, I’m sure. A cultural historian wouldn’t have any trouble mining this for a plethora of research-possibility gems! This is a queer presence which is ssssstrrrroooonnnnng! If deviant had an aroma which one could essentialize, – as in with oils – when considering giving/taking a noseful of this one, you would know it would be in your best interest to give some respectful compromise of distance; in the way you would for one of any number of essences of this most exotically intoxicating type. All in a nice kind of way, of course! I will leave it to my hopefully enticing teaser descriptives to engender further interest in those appropriate. And for those of you straight people in the ‘hood here (I guess I really mean straight men….! Just read on. You’ll know who I’m talking about…), who think you are (and in many ways you truly are, my sweethearts) so well integrated into the fluidity of an omni-itsallcool sexuality (“…but, you know how it is… it’s like… well… I just really like women… well not that I haven’t had a homoerotic experience or two of my own… but what do I care if you like to get f****d… you know… I mean, no problem…! SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE GAY…! [I was wondering if it was going to come to that!]), your homework assignment is to check out the screening of this video work. Look, it’s relatively painless in the logistics: just bop down to the place near Spadina/Adelaide for 8pm, get an interesting beer at the counter for under $5, seek out one of your compatriots, sit down in your quite acceptably comfortable seats in the sheepskin-moccasin-cozy screening garage (be great for a Tigercats game…!), sit back, and by 10:45 it’ll all be history and you you’ll both be able to feel proud for having enlightened yourselves a bit into the traditions and strong sense of continuity that gay men (like many of all those gay friends you have!) are now beginning to develop into an aware, self-aware, and directed culture! I mean multi-culturalism 101! Then this could become a constituent of one of those favored essences with which you would scent yourselves only on just the right, rare and special occasions – sparingly, judiciously, respectfully and compassionately! (?)