Thursday, September 26, 2013

the I don't care girl[s]!

A Queer History of the United States...So, The Social purist/moralist scored a major victory, for the short run, with the Hays Code and on Broadway, but they overlooked vaudeville. On the vaudeville stage the public still saw images of women that were ''economiclly independent, sexually free, not necessarily heterosexual,'' and who refused to conform to social standards of beauty and femininity. Performers like Eva Tanguay[1878-1947], A.K.A ''the I don't care girl'' and ''the girl who made vaudeville famous'' did not wear corsets and shampooed her hair with champagne right on stage!
    Marie Dressler was known for her fat, Irish, working-class persona. She was somewhat open about her real life Lesbian relationships and belonged to a friendship network of Women who loved Women. She was also a suffragette and a co-founder of The American Women's Association, which provided support for professional Women in New York City. Both of these Women were enormously popular on the vaudeville stage and earned more money than most of their male counterparts.
    So, the vaudeville stage was an ''oasis'' for progressive forms of creativity, but it was also dying out by the 1930's. The social purist/moralist knew that motion pictures were the wave of the future and would have a much greater impact on society. Marie Dressler[1868-1934] herself ended up in Hollywood making silent era movies and early talkies. So, the ''risque'' antics she performed on the vaudeville stage were no doubt toned down on the big screen.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

now it's hollywoods's turn part three

A Queer History of the United States... Keep in mind that that list of Hays Code precepts I listed in my last post was only a fraction of the code! It also had specific guidelines like ''pictures shall not imply that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.'' So, adultery or non marital sex could never be shown as being normal, neutral or positive. One might think that that covered Gays and Lesbians, since they could not be married but it did not because Gay and Lesbian love and sex fell under the category of  ''perversion'' which had it's own precept. They had all the bases covered!
    The Hays Code was formally adopted by the movie industry in March of 1930. In July of 1934 all films had to have a certificate confirming that they met code standards before they could be released. So, all Hollywood films made From about the mid 1930's were heavily censored and therefore a false image of reality. The industry did not begin to challenge the code until the mid 1950's. You will find no mention of LGBT's in any film made during that time or any other ''taboo'' subject. However, I suspect that writers, directors and producers did find creative and clever ways to get things in.
    In part two of this posting I said that the Hays Code was a kind of self regulation that was instigated by the clergy, but it did have some government ''precursors'' as well. Thirty-seven states had introduced movie censorship bills in 1921. These states had been encouraged by a 1915 Supreme Court case : Mutual Film Corporation vs. Industrial Commission of Ohio that concluded that free speech did not apply to motion pictures.

Monday, September 23, 2013

now it's hollywood's turn part two

A Queer History of the united states... So, by the 1920's it was clear to everyone that motion pictures were here to stay and would have a huge impact on popular culture and society in general. Like I said in part on of Now it's Hollywood's Turn LGBT's had rarely been seen in Hollywood films and the social purity/ moralist wanted to keep it that way! They basically gave the budding movie industry an ultimatum, either censor yourself or we'll get the government do it! these were the same Catholic and Protestant layman and clergy that strong armed the the New York state and city governments to regulate the Broadway stage.
   They gave William Hayes, the head of the movie industries trade association, with a list of ''subjects and themes to avoid.'' The list was huge, very restrictive and came to be known as the Hays Code. It was enforced from 1930 to 1968, Here are a few of it's precepts :
    1.Miscegenation[relationships between the white and Black races]
    2.White slavery
    3.Any inference of sex perversion[this is were they got LGBT's]
    4.Sex hygiene/venereal diseases
    5. Ridicule of clergy[how convenient!]
    6.Profanity[ which included God, Lord, Jesus Christ!, etc.]
    7.Illegal traffic of drugs
    To quote directly from A Queer History of the United States,''The censorship process would occur during film production, ensuring that there was little chance of questionable material even being filmed.''
I personally don't agree with any form of censorship, but I am a fan of old movies from ''the code'' era. They have a ''wholesome'' quality that I must admit I like and I know it's because of the Hays Code. I often wonder what movies from that era would have been like if the Hays Code had not existed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

now, it's hollywood's turn!

A Queer History of the united States... So, now that the Broadway stage was legally suppressed it was time to head West to Hollywood. Although Gays and Lesbians were basically unseen, Hollywood films in the 1920's were known for their sexual tolerance. This was largely due to Hollywood's connections to the Broadway stage, vaudeville and burlesque. Many Hollywood actors, designers, producers, etc. came from those arenas. Also, Los Angeles, like San Francisco, had a liberal/leftist energy.
     One famous scene in an early ''talkie'' was Marlene Dietrich's singing scene in Morocco[1930] where she's dressed like a man. Dietrich was also known in Hollywood circles for her affairs with both men and Women. There were also ''open secrets'' and public rumors about the sexuality of other Hollywood Silent stars like Pola Negri, Ramon Novarro and director George Cukor to name a few. One silent star that the press did come for was Rudolph Valentino.  A 1926 Chicago Tribune editorial about a powder machine in a public men's had this to say :
    A powder vending machine! In a men's room! Homo Americanus! Why didn't someone quietly drown Rudolph Guglielmo, alias Valentino, years ago?...
    Do women like the type of  ''man'' who pats pink powder on his face in a public washroom and arranges his coiffure in a public elevator? Do women at heart belong to the Wilsonian era of  ''I Didn't raise my Boy to be a Soldier''? What has become of the old ''caveman'' line?
    This editorial not only slams Valentino but it questions Hollywood[ and American] values and it connects masculinity to politics and sexism! Does the ''pink powder'' reference refer to the Bolshevik and Marxist ''pinkos''? And when I think of the ''caveman line'' the image of a caveman dragging a cave women by the hair comes to mind. From the standpoint of a writer I must say that this editorial is well written and quite clever, though. It's provocative and makes a lot of statements.

Friday, September 20, 2013

maud allan part two

Maud Allan was the straw that broke the camel's back! After the media smear campaign of Allan's trial made her look like a ''pathological type'' the social purist went into high gear. An organization called The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice began heavy lobbying of the New York state legislator to clean-up the Broadway stage and they focused on Homosexual themes and characters. They had close connections with the district attorney who had New York City police raid some theaters and issue warrants for the arrest of actors and producers. Then, they passed a law that banned shows ''depicting or dealing with the subject of sex degeneracy or sex perversion.'' To top that off, they passed the Wales Padlock law which authorised police to close any theater for a year who's owner was convicted of running a ''degenerate'' or ''perverted'' show. The law was not repealed until 1967, although it had been rarely enforced.
    The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice had powerful support from organized religion and in Albany. The governor, district attorney, the mayor of New York City and the chief of police all had close ties to Roman Catholic and Protestant clergyman. A direct quote from A Queer History of the United States reads ''the New York Morning Telegram reported that 'one thousand Protestant clergyman of the great New York Federation of Churches yesterday passed a resolution to back up the District Attorney in his drive against objectionable plays.' ''
    Another direct quote from A Queer History of the United States says ''while relatively few plays were closed or producers prosecuted, The Society for the Suppression of Vice had a chilling effect in preventing Homosexual images or themes from reaching the stage.'' I normally don't use direct quotes from the book but how could I have said it better than that?
    One point I would like to add is that going through New York City and state authorities was clever because all important shows open on Broadway before they tour the country. So, if they could suppress Broadway, the source, they could suppress the whole country!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

maud allen

 Okay, back to A Queer History of the United States. In the first two decades of the twentieth century the public was well aware of the overt gender bending and homosexual themes on the Broadway stage. In 1908  Maud Allen, born Beulah Maude Durrant in Toronto, Canada on August 27, 1873, made international headlines with her nearly naked and erotic performance as the star of Oscar Wilde's play Salome. The American press was especially skeptical of her work. The New York Times had this to say in a 1908 editorial : ''at the present rate[of Allen's popularity in Europe] it is probable that Salome dances will invade the fashionable drawing rooms of New York...unless a halt is called.'' Just like Julian Eltinge's performances, men and Women saw Allen's dancing very differently. Men wanted her dancing censored while Women saw an image of freedom in her performances.
    In 1918 Allen was making international headlines again when she filed a libel suit against Conservative British politician Noel Pemberton-Billing. Pemberton-Billing[I love that name] wrote an article called The Cult of the Clitoris where he asserted that Lesbian spies were hurting England's war effort. He said ''in Lesbian ecstasy the most sacred secrets of the state were betrayed.'' He also charged that Allen's performance in Salome, which was by now banned in England, was connected to '' the systematic seduction of your British soldiers by the German Urnings.'' Allen was accused of practicing many of the sexually charged images depicted in the play including necrophilia. She lost the case when Pemberton-Billing called her a ''pervert'' in court and linked her romantically with the wife of the former prime minister, Margot Asquith, who was known to have had sexual relationships with other Women. The trial was scandalous and juicy as Allen's name was dragged through the mud and back again! The U.S. press, not only ate it up but agreed with the verdict. From the 1920's on Allen lived with her lover and secretary Verna Aldrich and taught dance. She died on October 7, 1956 at age 83 in Los Angeles, California.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

apple pie tandoori style

Today's post has absolutely nothing to do with writing, Gay history or my journey to write, publish and promote my books. It can be said that it has historical importance though and I was so excited and happy that I had to blog about it. Yesterday I found out that our newly crowned Miss American is an Indian-American women named Nina Daviluri. It was the best news I had heard all day and when I saw her picture I was not surprised that she is drop dead gorgeous!
    I watched the Bollywood fusion dance she did for the talent competition on YouTube and it was great! I loved it! She is the first Indian-American Miss America and I am thrilled for her! Congratulations to Miss Duviluri!
    I remember back in 1983 when Vanessa Williams was crowned the first African-American Miss America. That was exciting to me, too. But it was even more exciting to see her rebound in the 1990's from the nude photo scandal that forced her to renounce her crown. Everyone thought that that was the end of her but she, apparently, new better! There have been a few other African-American Miss Americas since Vanessa, including the first runner-up who replaced her, but other races are still untitled. I'm not saying that Miss America is about race but it wasn't until the late 1950's that non-white women could even enter the contest! And America is, and always has been, a melting pot of all kinds of people and cultures and Miss America should reflect that array.
    Of course there are people who don't see it that way. Miss Duviluri has already had a lot of nasty things said about her on twitter and other social media but that is to be expected and I'm sure Miss Daviluri knows that. Those people are to be payed no mind! The boat needs to be rocked every once in awhile.
     From what I understand, this year there was a tattooed contestant, a disabled contestant and the first runner-up was Asian-American! I wouldn't have minded seeing one of them win either. And if they really want to rock the boat crown an open Lesbian or, better yet, a transgendered contestant!
    Anyhow America, your ''apple pie'' will be served tandoori style for the next year! So, like my girl Alyssa Edwards from RuPaul's Drag race said: get a grip, get a life and get over it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

elysium: a reveiw

Yesterday I went to the movies with a friend to see Elysium. It stars Matt Damon and Jodie foster. I loved this movie and intend to see it again! It takes place in the year 2154. The Earth is over populated and ridiculously polluted. So much so that the elite have moved to an artificial habitat that hovers over the Earth in space and is lush, clean and beautiful. Of course the ''illegal'' masses on Earth are always trying to get there but there space crafts are always shot down and, the movie didn't say this but common sense tells me, their leadership is probably infiltrated by the elite.
    So, Matt Damon, an Earth bound illegal who is fresh out of prison and on parole, has an accident at his job where the illegals build the robotic police that keep them controlled and subdued on Earth. He is given five days to live. He hooks into the illegal's resistance movement and reaches the elite's artificial habitat, which is called Elysium, and shakes things up a bit.
    Jodie Foster is a bigwig on Elysium who works to keep the illegals on Earth in their place and off Elysium. Foster looked amazing in her business couture and played the heartless female administrator perfectly. Damon, by the way, looked hot and sexy like an ex-con fresh out of prison who had nothing better to do all day but workout!
    Elysium is about the eternal struggle between the haves and the have nots. It can also be described as the struggle between consciousness and cluelessness, if one reads deeper into it. I personally do not see this movie as pure entertainment or ''science fiction'', but as a very possible scenario if the masses do not wake-up. We all know that there is an elite class. We all know that the Earth is already over populated, dangerously polluted and that technology is advancing at lighting speed. With all we have now, off Earth habitats and robotic police could easily become science fact! My only problem with the movie is that I think it was set too far into the future!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

''staged'' sexology

A Queer History of the United states, continued. So, sexology was having an impact on public discourse about sex and sexuality and it's ideas had reached popular culture largely by way of the stage. Mae West had a play in 1927 called The Drag in which two characters are openly discussing the ideas of Karl Ulrichs, who coined the word ''Urning'' or ''Uranian'' to describe same-sex desire, in the opening scene! Then, later in the play, it relates or connects Ulrichs' ideas to medical science. It sounds to me like West had a pro Gay agenda and/or knew that a hot topic would sell tickets.
    Drama critics were freely and regularly referencing sexologist by name in their reviews. In a 1928 review of Mae west's play Pleasure man critic Robert Benchley wrote: ''The cast includes cases 1 through 28 in  Volume two of Havelock Ellis.'' Havelock Ellis was a famous sexologist who wrote the first objective book on Homosexuality, called Sexual Inversion[1897], that did not characterize homosexuality as a disease, immoral or a crime. One interesting fact about ellis's life is that he was married to an out Lesbian named Edith lees.
    Broadway musicals were also filled with hidden references to sexology. The 1939 musical Stars in Your Eyes had a song called A Lady needs a Change. Ethel Merman sang it and here is one of it's verses:
       When Mr. Havelock Ellis tries to tell us
       Why were so complex
       I say "Mr. Ellis, what the hell is
       Scientific sex?''
    Keep in mind that by 1939 the Hays code, which heavily censored Hollywood movies, was well in force. Screen writers were able to find creative ways to get around it, though. Merman's song is but one example.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

where were the bull dykes?

Continuing from yesterday... So, the male pansy/effeminate male was a regular feature in turn of the century entertainment but where was the butch lesbian with her short hair and masculine clothes? Well, except for a few cameo appearances here and there, she was pretty much absent from popular culture, but why? Well, in A Queer History... Bronski suggest that that was because she was associated with progressive causes like suffrage and was therefore associated with subversion. The pansy, on the other hand, was rarely connected to any progressive political movement or figures. Also, the ''butch'' was less familiar while the pansy had been around since the middle ages. I feel that the pansy, with his limp wrist, feminine gate and fluttering eyelashes is simply ''funnier'' and easier to parody.
    Another theory, that is not suggested in the book but that I would like to suggest, is that parodying masculinity is not perceived as ''funny'' but parodying femininity is because womanhood is seen as less respectable and desirable and therefore something to belittle. So, the pop culture pansy was not just about lampooning the effeminate male but femininity itself!  Now, this not to say that men in drag are making fun of Women because it's actually more of a homage to them, and that's why most heterosexual men don't understand and or are uncomfortable with men in drag. Julian Eltinge, who I discuss in my September 5th and 6th post, had an overwhelmingly female fan base/audience while most men hated him.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

eddie cantor, friend or foe?

Okay, today I'm getting back to my Study of A Queer History of the United States. I left off talking about Julian Eltinge and his career as a female impersonator. But if someone could build a career impersonating the opposite sex what about another race? Eddie Cantor was famous during the same time period for his blackface impersonations of African-Americans. He had a ''pansy-like Negro'' character he was well known for that was ''slight and effeminate and wore white rimmed glasses with a mincing step.'' Most African-Americans would take instant offence at such a character but I ask myself the question ''Whats the difference between impersonating a women and impersonating anybody else?'' And why did Cantor choose to make this character a pansy-like Negro who was slight and effeminate? I think any kind of impersonation amounts to caricature in the end, no matter how ''real'' the impersonator tries to be. And the truth is that there are some African-American Gay men who are pansy-like and slight and effeminate. Cantor may be judged as a racist today, and for all I know maybe he was, but one can also look at his character as having given visibility to an otherwise invisible minority within a minority, whether he intended to or not!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

hidden in plain site

I talked to a friend today and she brought up an interesting subject : hidden in plain site. This is the whole story. A few months ago this same friend told me about an interview she heard on some radio show where a writer was talking about how he had written a book but it wasn't selling. Then, he decided to post the entire book on the Internet and it started to sell! I listened to what she was saying but I didn't except it or reject it at that time. I just ''filed'' it, so to speak, in my memory and didn't think anymore of it.
    Today I talked to her again and we started talking about how the FDA post/list on their web site all the poisons, toxins and junk that go into our food and medications. The CDC also post/list on their web site all the toxins and poisons that go into vaccines and what the effects are. It's all there, as plain as day, for anybody to read and print! The idea is called hidden in plain site and it's a kind of natural law. If you hide something in plain site it actually increases the energy of what your hiding! And the proof is in the pudding since people are eating as much, if not more, toxic junk food, taking more pharmaceuticals and getting more vaccinations than ever. They even list the potential ''side-effect'' of these pharmaceuticals on their TV commercials, some of which are worse than the condition one would take the drug for in the first place, and the masses still flock to their doctor to get them!
    The conversation took me through my memory files and I mentioned that writer she told me about a few months ago who posted his entire book on the web and increased the sales. That was hidden in plain site, too. Hidden in plain site can be used for benevolence, malevolence or neutrality. I've decided that I'm going to post my entire novel Rainbow Plantation Blues on the web.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

personal interest and books I like

Today I'm suspending my A Queer History of the United States studies. I'll get back to it on Monday. I'm going to post some things I need for my Facebook fan page and then forward them to my friend/IT consultant. I need to compile a list of personal interest and books that I like. So, here I go!
 Personal interest                        
 1. metaphysics                                  
 2. spirituality                                          
 3. history                                            
 4. spoken word performance art              
 5. poetry slams                                  
 6. adult movies                                      
 7. old Hollywood movies                    
 8. drawing and sketching                    
 9. roller coasters                                      
 10. 80's music                                        
 11. club dance music/club dancing
 12. homeopathy
 13. medieval music
 1. Barnabas and Company : The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shad
 2. Rainbow Plantation Blues[of course]
 3. Before Stonewall : Activist for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context
 4. The Complete Poems of Langston Hughes
 5. The Holly Bible
 6. Creative Visualization : Use the Power of your Imagination to Create what you want in your Life
 7. Grayson Hall : A Hard Act to Follow
     The personal interest are pretty much complete.  Biking, reading and writing and drag shows are already on Facebook. The books will definitely be added to later.

Friday, September 6, 2013

william julian dalton A.K.A julian eltinge part two

My post yesterday on Julian Eltinge fascinated me so much that I had to find out more about him, so I did more research and this is what I found out. Eltinge had spent a decade working the vaudeville stages before making it big in the legitimate theater in 1911 with his hugely successful play The Fascinating Widow. He played both the male and female lead roles. His audiences loved his transformations from male to female and back again. From then on, all of his roles in the theater and in his Hollywood films were written to show case his talent to transform himself. His shows broke box office records everywhere he played. They were considered family friendly and people brought their children to see him perform!
    He became so famous and popular that he launched his own Cosmopolitan style magazine called Julian Eltinge Magazine in which he personally wrote articles giving women make-up, diet, exercise and fashion tips. He also had his own Julian Eltinge cosmetics company.
    Of course everybody was not a fan. Most men ridiculed him and made him the butt of some very nasty jokes. He received death threats and, at times, had body guards. The social purity movement was working hard to change public opinion on cross dressing from one of fascination to one of perversion and they intended to use the law to legislate their views, which they did by the 1930's.
 Julian created an ultra masculine image off stage to combat some of his negative attention. He staged bar fights, gambled in public, had public affairs with women and started his own line of Julian Eltinge cigars.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

william julian dalton A.K.A julian eltinge

 Before Tyler Perry's Madea, before Rupaul, before Boy George, before Divine, before Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie and before Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon's Josephine and Daphne in Some Like It Hot there was Julian Eltinge. You've never heard of Julian Eltinge? Well, neither had I until my study of A Queer History of the United States. Let me share what I've found out!
    He was born William Julian Dalton in 1881 outside of Boston and began performing as a female impersonator at the age of fifteen. By the age of twenty-three he was performing on Broadway in musical comedies. Most other female impersonators of his day did it for comic relief, but Eltinge wore beautiful, fashionable clothes and personified an elegant feminine ideal. He performed all over the U.S. and across the pond in Europe to packed houses. He became so famous that in 1912 a playhouse was build in New York City and named the Eltinge 42nd st theater. Eltinge's genius was his ability to show, or rather prove, that social ideas about gender are not cut in stone but are culturally created, which I'm sure disgusted the social purist!
    Eltinge's personal life is little known but it is generally agreed on that he was Homosexual, even though off-stage he was[at least publicly] a rather macho man. He got into bar-fights, smoked cigars and had public affairs with women, although he never married. Despite all that speculation about his sexuality persisted. Whether he was Gay or not in his personal life he did complicate societies black and white notions about gender and sexuality. The social purity movement pressured the government to crackdown on public cross dressing, especially on stage and in films, and Eltinge's career and popularity began to decline by the 1930's. He died on march 7, 1941 at age 59.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

the ''low other''

It's time for me to get back to my study of A Queer History of the United States. So, we're still at the turn of the century and we're going to talk some more about turn of the century entertainments. Burlesque, vaudeville, theater and moving pictures, given their various levels of development, were all very popular around the turn of the century. Burlesque was known for it's parody of social  and gender norms but they all had a reputation for disrupting or ''confusing'' mainstream ideas about gender, morality, sexuality and sexual behavior and, I'm sure, race and ethnicity, too.
    The term ''low other '' has been coined by cultural theorists as those who have been quote ''reviled by and excluded from the dominate social order as debased, dirty, and unworthy, but... is simultaneously the object of desire and/or fascination.'' I completely agree with this quote and I would add that it proves that it is possible to '' ...have it both ways.''
    I've come to realize that mass ''entertainment '' is really much more than just entertainment. It is a powerful tool to mold, shape and control society and the masses into thinking, doing and feeling whatever one wants them to. The question then becomes who or what force[s] decide what society will think, do and feel next? Could it be that social and societal phenomenon start from the top down and not the bottom up?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

come hell or high water!

Yesterday I had my third meeting with my friend/IT consultant. It went well but our time was cut short because the place we were at closed early because it was labor day. So, we cut and pasted the bio[s] that I just drafted on this blog to my facebook fan page bio. I guess they weren't drafts though because we didn't change a word. We also started to do the favorite books and personal interest sections, but I needed to think more about what to put on them so their not finished yet.
    We also did something I didn't expect. We set-up an advertising account with facebook. This is something they offer to advertise your page. As of this post my fan page has 23 likes, but with advertising I could draw hundreds or even thousands of people to my fan page! That could mean more book sales and/or awareness of my work. I'm determined to spread awareness of Rainbow Plantation Blues if it's the last thing I do! I'm also determined to be a famous author/blogger come hell or high water! Turning back is not an option! Now I only  have to come up with the money to pay for my ad. I have an idea of where I might get it though.
    I finally started work on the sequel again after a two month hiadus on September first. Why did I take a hiadus you ask? well, Because some times I'm a lazy cow! Anyhow, I picked up right where I left off like I never stopped, and I have five more pages written! Writing this sequel is kicking me in the rear-end but I've got to finish it! I want to finish it! I need to finish it!