Oak Recommend: Dirty Looks: On Location

It’s no secret that Oak loves New York City and when our friend Bradford Nordeen said he was organizing a full month of screening and art events all over town we had to be involved. So we are beyond excited to be able to present Charles Atlas’ Its A Jackie Thing a documentary on one of New York’s most historic parties Jackie 60, which will be screening at the W Hotel in Times Square July 9. It is a definite not to be missed event. Find out more about Dirty looks and the series here.

How did Dirty Looks start?

Dirty Looks was born out of a single, touring program that I had screened on the West Coast, a pairing of a drag film by Luther Price (A, 1995) and a kind of mash-up movie of found footage of and about Margot Kidder. A curator here saw those event listings and invited me to do a screening, and – I guess in our preparations, he said, “you should make it something regular. There’s nothing going on quite like this,” which I found strange. There’s plenty of screening spaces for experimental work, but none to focus exclusively on queer content. So, I said, “okay, I’ll do it!” and it really came together when Lia Gangitano at Participant Inc agreed to host us. Now Dirty Looks been running for a year-and-a-half.

What city gives the “Dirtiest” looks?

New York, without a doubt. Or, I guess that depends on your definition of dirty! I got more than a couple dirty looks when we brought a very porn-heavy shorts program to undergrads at Yale! But then we had another screening erupt into a raucous, punk sing-along, showing Rosa von Praunheim’s Jayne County vehicle, City of Lost Souls at Artists Television Access in San Francisco. A lot of those kids were pretty dirty, but, you know… in a good way.

What venue are you most surprised at actually getting to agree to a screening?

Well, the W was a surprise, for sure, where we’re co-presenting Charles Atlas’s It’s a Jackie Thing. I figured that they may not wish to promote the fact that the hotel used to be a big gay club, but they were pretty open about it. Also, The Blue, which we’re using for the video “buddy” booths. I think the curator for that one, Todd Shalom and artist Juan Betancurth had to try a bunch of video sex booths before getting The Blue to agree. I’m still a little bummed that it didn’t work out at this amazing sounding clown-themed one. For me, really, Julius’ was my dream spot – where we’ll be showing William E. Jones’s 1962 surveillance found footage cruising document, Tearoom. It wasn’t a surprise, so much, but as soon as they signed off on that I let out a little yelp.

What New York bar do you wish was still around to get a drink at after the shows?

Well, I have to admit, my mind drifts to the dingier locales that used to flank the west village. The Mineshaft, which is now a Thai restaurant and the Toilet, which is now Gaslight Lounge. It’s a kind of gay life that doesn’t really exist in New York anymore – now the multimillion dollar condos in Chelsea are even vying to have Folsom East shut down! We can’t even make a day of it! But I’m also really curious what the piers might have been like, and the trucks. That kind of palpable, lawless approach to sex and sociality. Which is not to romanticize – I mean, I’ve read Wojnarowicz’s diaries. He didn’t paint all that cute of a portrait of all that…

Who’s sitting at the bar when you get there?

I have a feeling with the bars listed above, we’d be on a strictly no-name basis. But, well, maybe Fred Halsted… or Ondine?

Dirty Looks: On Location is a month-long series of queer interventions in New York City spaces. Over the course of July, artist film and video will appear in these queer social spaces and former sites of queer sociality (like shuttered bars, bathhouses and former meeting zones). A new piece, a different setting on each night of July. The summer in New York is hot, sticky and social. Installing moving image works around the city in bars, centers and “haunted” venues allows for the free flow of viewers to engage and celebrate with work, in evening events that commemorate contemporary moving-image production and its precedents in queer culture.

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