Anita Bryant, God Bless Her (Ep. 120: Gore Vidal)

This Week's Guest: Albert Williams

What's the difference between an end and a beginning, and are they sometimes the same thing? My guest this week is Albert Williams, a longtime queer artist and activist who's seen the queer world transform over the course of his life. Throughout that time, there were periods when change just wasn't coming fast enough, and that's when he and his friends found ways to force one era to end and a new one to begin.

Also -- throughout the month of July, The Sewers of Paris needs your nominations to win a Podcast Award. Just go to PodcastAwards.com and nominate The Sewers of Paris in the LGBT category. It's open July 1 through July 31, so if you're enjoying the show I'd be very grateful if you could help it win this award.

This Week's Recommendation: The Fox and the Hound

Thanks again to Albert for joining me. As he pointed out, stories about young queer people and young straight people discovering their differences have been a part of our community for decades. And for my recommendation this week, take a look at a film that have an unexpected perspective on that experience: Disney's the Fox and the Hound. And make sure you have a lot of tissues around because it's one of those "you will cry" Disney films.

The story follows a young orphaned fox, and his best friend, a puppy being trained to be a hunting dog. As kids, they're inseparable -- until the expectations of their separate worlds intrude on their relationship. The fox wants to remain close forever, but the hound is being pressured to not just turn his back, but to attack his former friend. And the older dog who trained the hound is particularly determined that they should maintain their traditional roles as adversaries.

Who knows if anyone who worked on this movie intended for it to have queer subtext, but the core of the conflict -- two boys from different worlds -- is painfully familiar, particularly when coupled with the hostility of the older generation. And although the ending is pretty melancholy, there's a glimmer of optimism as well: in a climactic moment, a bridge is built between the world of the fox and the world of the hound. They're not quite able to cross it, but at least it's there -- and maybe future generations can go further than they did.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

He Found Out my Secret - (Ep. 119: Matchgame & Press Your Luck)

This Week's Guest: Mandel Ilagen

This week's guest is Mandel Ilagen, but it's not the first time his name's come up on the show. He's a ringleader of a group of gays who are obsessed with game shows -- you might remember past guests Louis Virtel and Randy West describing Mandel's house parties that are like TV show tapings mixed with cocktails and queens. Game shows might seem like frivolous entertainment, but for Mandel and many of his friends, they provided a way to prove themselves amongst their peers -- and, for the first time in their lives, have fun doing it.

This Week's Recommendation: Ferdinand the Bull

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the children's book The Story of Ferdinand. This was a pivotal text for me as a child, and after reviewing it for this week's episode, I found that it still is. It's the story of a gentle bull who prefers smelling flowers over fighting, and what happens he must confront the world's expectations about who he's supposed to be.

Looking back on this book, I wonder just how much it shaped my sense of right and wrong to this day. I know that I read it a lot as a child. It is a truly beautiful work that has filled me with joy since before I could read -- in part because the telling of the tale is as gentle as the main character. There's no judgement, no mockery, and no tragic end for the bull who just wants to live life on his own terms.

Ultimately, the story leaves Ferdinand in a place of incredible bliss: not having proven himself, and yet still completely satisfied -- because his failure to measure of up other people's expectations is their problem, not his.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Roll Yourself in Glitter - (Ep. 118: Justin Sayre)

This Week's Guest: Justin Sayre

My guest this week is Justin Sayre, whom you may know from the excellent Sparkle and Circulate podcast, or his delightful live show The Meeting of the International Order of the Sodomites. He always knew there was a big queer community out there, but he never quite felt a connection with it, so he decided to do something about that: by appointing himself its chairman.

This Week's Recommendation: Mae West in Myra Breckinridge

For my recommendation this week, I want you to take a look at a film that does everything it can to defy description -- Myra Breckinridge. And specifically, look up the YouTube video that's just excerpts of scenes with Mae West.

The movie was made in 1968, and it's a weird sloppy mess of a story that's pulled in all different directions by all different ideas. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's torturous, every now and then it's a little bit sexy. And never is it any better than when Mae West is on the screen.

By this point in her career, Mae is an undisputed master of feminine sexual glamour. The fact that she was 75 years old at the time doesn't matter at all, and it is with unbridled gusto that she delivers lines like "ah, the end of another busy day. I can't wait to get back to bed. And if that don't work I'll try sleep."

The rest of the film is a mixed bag at best -- it's a fumbling adaptation of a Gore Vidal novel by a creative team that lacks the sophistication to understand the queer source material. The result is a mess of ideas about masculinity, which on their own would simply be forgettable. But Mae West's campy vamping snatches defeat from the jaws of defeat, not quite redeeming the film or rescuing it from its downward spiral, but at least transforming it into a joy to watch on its day down.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/