Part of Fall 1999
Toronto’s own Bruce LaBruce returns to the city’s oldest porn theatre for the Canadian premiere of Skin Flick. Originally commissioned as a full-fledged porno, with a cast of porn stars including Tom International, and shot in gloriously seedy super 8 (then straight-to-video), the film defies its genre entirely. Lashing out with ironic jabs at the gay mainstream and its fetishism of uniform, race, and class, LaBruce’s latest is intentionally inflammatory, occasionally hilarious and totally hardcore. Skin Flick features the bootboys scrapping it out, cruising washrooms, reading poetry, screwing, and jerking off to fascist texts. Is it satire? Is it dangerous? In keeping with Pleasure Dome’s ten-year history of exhibiting the cutting-edge we are pleased to present such a troubling, arousing, and ultimately controversial piece of work.
Appropriately the show will open with The White to Be Angry (1999) by LA’s terrorist drag queen Vaginal Davis as she impressively flexes her directorial and writerly muscle in this collection of sharp vignettes.
Bruce LaBruce is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer stuck in the gulag otherwise known as Toronto, Canada. He started out as a child, then quickly moved on to the production of homo punk fanzines (J.D.s [with G.B. Jones], Dumb Bitch Deserves To Die [with Candy Parker]) and super 8 movies (Boy/Girl, I Know What It’s Like To Be Dead, Bruce and Pepper Wayne Gacy’s Home Movies [with Candy Parker], Slam!). These products helped to launch the so-called Homocore or Queercore movement which corrupted a whole new generation of homosexuals. In 1991 LaBruce released his first feature-length film. Shot on super 8 and blown up to 16mm, No Skin Off My Ass – which explores the sordid relationship between a faggoty hairdresser (played with little effort byLaBruce himself) and a mute, handsome young skinhead (played quasi-convincingly by his then-boyfriend Klaus Von Brucker) – went on to become a worldwide cult hit. His follow-up feature Super 8 1/2 (1994) – shot in both super 8 and (mostly) 16mm – is a harrowing cautionary biopic about LaBruce’s rocky rise to cult stardom. LaBruce may or may not be playing himself in this disturbing film, an aging porn star/director whose career is on the skids owing to his inability to cope with his emerging identification as a cineaste. After meeting an underground dyke filmmaker named Googie (Liza LaMonica), he consents to appear in a documentary about his sordid life, only to realize that she is ultimately exploiting him to further her own career. Super 8 1/2 went on to become a film festival circuit favourite, earning slots in such high-profile fests as Sundance, London, Berlin, Dublin, Thessaloniki, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Tokyo, etc. LaBruce’s Hustler White, made in collaboration with L.A.-based photog Rick Castro, was released in 1996. Co-starring supermodel Tony Ward (ex-consort of the likes of Madonna and Christina Applegate) and LaBruce himself, this 16mm feature premiered at Sundance and similarly went on to become a film festival and cult favourite. In this controversial movie, LaBruce plays Jurgen Anger, a foreign faggot who visits Los Angeles to check out the infamous Santa Monica Boulevard hustler scene, strictly for anthropological reasons. It’s love at first sight when Jurgen spots Montgomery Ward (Tony Ward) plying his wares at Plummer Park. Hustler White went on to play at numerous film festivals including Cannes, and won the grand prize at the International Trash Film Festival. The movie also stars such underground luminaries as performance artist Ron Athey, drag artist Vaginal Davis, born-again Christian country and western singer Glen Meadmore, and author Graham David Smith, not to mention porn stars Kevin Kramer and Alex Austin. After spending almost a year in Los Angeles making Hustler White under impossible circumstances, and then traveling practically non-stop with the film for two years, LaBruce returned to Toronto to retire. Unfortunately, a few minor details, such as food and shelter, recently forced LaBruce out of retirement. In late August 1998 he flew to London, England to shoot his first legitimate porn movie Skin Flick. In 1998, LaBruce expanded his so-called career in several new directions, as a photographer and columnist for such magazines as Honcho and Inches, and as a photographer, writer, and interviewer for Index, to which he was recently named a contributing editor. LaBruce writes regular columns for Toronto’s Eye Weekly and Exclaim, an alternative music monthly, and now has a monthly column in Inches magazine entitled “Bruce LaBruce Must Be Killed”. He has also produced two books, The Reluctant Pornographer, his premature memoirs, from Gutter Press, and Ride, Queer, Ride, a survey of his work from Plug-In Books. www.brucelabruce.com
Vaginal Davis named herself after her idol, the revolutionary icon Angela Davis. The middle name of “Creme” was given to her by the late musician and writer Craig Lee (Bags) when he noticed that fans would bring her Vaginal Creams, ointments and suppositories to her early 80s shows with The Afro Sisters. Ms. Davis’s three concept bands, Cholita, the female Menudo, black fag with Beck’s mom Bibbe Hansen and Pedro, Muriel & Esther (PME) with Glen Meadmore go in and out of hiatus. PME’s most current CD is “The White to Be Angry” which was produced in Chicago by Steve Albini (Nirvana). The band has enough material for another CD tentatively titled “Trust Fund” and they are currently label-shopping. Ms. Davis has been a subcultural figure in the seminal music and art scenes since she was a teenager from the ghettos of Watts who grifted her way into a scholarship at the exclusive Swiss boarding school Le Rosey at age 14, getting kicked out by 15 for a scandal involving Billy Idol when he was with the band Generation X. She wound up in Wallingford, Connecticut on another scholarship for underprivileged children at the prep school Choate/Rosemary. She was booted again due to some incident involving a boy committing suicide over her. She entered college early getting kicked out of Dartmouth, Harvard and Columbia and has worked full-time as a career counselor at UCLA’s Placement and Career Planning Center. She was fired for beating up a colleague, and now is a full-time visual and performing artist whose writing can be found in the pages of The LA Weekly, Glue Magazine, Index, Wallpaper and The New Music Express.
Despite herself, Vaginal Davis received a Ph.D in psychology from Columbia University in New York, holds postdoctoral certification and licensing in marriage and family therapy (Lord Help Us) and has actually taught at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine Universities (It didn’t last long). Vaginal Davis’s performance pieces include Intimacy and Tomorrow and Yes, Ms. Davis. She has performed extensively to great critical acclaim both in North America and on the European continent. No one-trick pony, Ms. Davis creates a range of characters and performance scenaria, and has been the subject of academic elucidation in Jose MuÃ±oz’s book Disidentications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. For the past five years, Vaginal Davis has been the host of Club Sucker at the Garage, one of Los Angeles’ premier venues for seeing both indie rock bands and slumming, inebriated celebrities. www.vaginaldavis.com