There's a moment near the end of Tricia's Wedding, after a bowl of punch is spiked with LSD, that the film quits being about a politically incorrect re-imagining of President Nixon's daughter's wedding, and becomes, instead, the incomprehensible document of a queer, orgiastic party. Atlanta's queer arts festival MondoHomo might not look exactly like that classic San Francisco film, but it's certainly flying the same anarchic, fun-loving flag. A sprawling, five-day celebration, MondoHomo will feature performances, dance parties, workshops, and film screenings throughout Memorial Day weekend. Film Love's Andy Ditzler curates this year's film series, Queer San Francisco 1970-1980.
The first program, titled "Bodies," focuses on the notion of sexual revolution in a number of rarely seen shorts. Barbara Hammer's films are prime California pyschedelia, full of sun-washed double exposures and choppy jump cuts of colorful landscapes. "Dyketatics," her four-minute film from 1974, is ground-breaking experimental cinema, often recognized as the first lesbian film by a lesbian. Curt McDowell's "Ronnie" and "Loads" evoke a different image of San Francisco. Using black-and-white film, McDowell creates a stark, if occasionally humorous, vision of street hustlers and anonymous sex. Ditzler has cleverly curated the program, balancing hardcore films with more emotional, tender works such as Michael Wallin's meditative "The Place Between Our Bodies."
San Francisco's legendary drag performance group the Cockettes is celebrated in the second program. The large troupe formed in the late ’60s and put on wild, acid-fueled shows that have inspired generations of queer artists. Two of the group's better known films, Tricia's Wedding and Elevator Girls in Bondage, will be paired with two rarely seen movies from the archive of troupe member Rumi. Elevator Girls in Bondage, a satire of San Francisco's Marxist revolutionaries, includes a hilarious drag performance of the protest song "Dump the Bosses Off Your Back."
This look back at the heyday of queer performance art might be too nostalgic if it wasn't balanced by all of the other programming. Justin Bond, who starred in Shortbus, Athens Boy Choir, and Diamond Lil & the Naked Hearts are among the acts scheduled to perform Saturday and Sunday.
It should be noted that almost all the films, short and long, are so sexually explicit, it's unlikely they'd be screened at any major theater in town. Neither pornography nor safe enough for your average cineplex, the films of Queer San Francisco refused to compromise and remain shocking, touching, and funny today.
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