Queercore: How To Punk A Revolution: An Oral History

PM Press (2021)

Summary

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution: An Oral History is the very first comprehensive overview of the movement that defied both the music underground and the LGBT mainstream community—queercore.

Through exclusive interviews with protagonists like Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Jayne County, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, film director and author John Waters, Lynn Breedlove of Tribe 8, Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division, and many more, alongside a treasure trove of never-before-seen photographs and reprinted zines from the time, Queercore traces the history of a scene originally “fabricated” in the bedrooms and coffee shops of Toronto and San Francisco by a few young, queer punks to its emergence as a relevant and real revolution. Queercore gets a down-to-details firsthand account of the movement explored through the people that lived it—from punk’s early queer elements, to the moments Toronto kids decided they needed to create a scene that didn’t exist, to the infiltration of the mainstream by Pansy Division, and the emergence of riot grrrl as a sister movement—as well as the clothes, zines, art, film, and music that made this movement an exciting in-your-face middle finger to complacent gay and straight society. Queercore will stand as both a testament to radically gay politics and culture and an important reference for those who wish to better understand this explosive movement.

W(A)RM HOLES

Theater Production

Summary

Five queers Berliners of different generations and backgrounds take the audience on a performative journey through Berlin’s queer history between Pankow and Schöneberg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, Mahlsdorf and Charlottenburg.
In search for the intersections of queer identities in a collective consciousness, they liquefy time, space, body and gender and connect with ancestors and future generations. The performers have been living in Berlin for generations or have recently moved here. They will channel their icons, ex-lovers and former selves to draw a political-personal portrait of queer Berlin between East and West.

Staged at Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin in 2019.

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution

Documentary, 82 minutes (2017)

Summary

What happens when the community you need is not the community you have? Tell yourself it exists over and over, make fan zines that fabricate hordes of queer punk revolutionaries, create subversive movies, and distribute those movies widely—and slowly, the community you’ve fabricated might become a real and radical heartbeat that spreads internationally. This is the story that Queercore tells, from the start of a pseudo-movement in the mid-1980s, intended to punk the punk scene, to the widespread rise of artists who used radical queer identity to push back equally against gay assimilation and homophobic punk culture.

Interviewees discuss homophobia, gender, feminism, AIDS, assimilation, sex, and, of course, art. The extensive participant list includes Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, John Waters, Justin Vivian Bond, Lynn Breedlove, Silas Howard, Pansy Division, Penny Arcade, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Deke Elash, Tom Jennings, Team Dresch, and many more. Encompassing a breadth of history and influence, Queercore ends with a glimpse towards Riot Grrl and artists like Peaches and The Gossip, who, inspired by queercore legacy, were next to take the stage.

Underscoring the interviews are clips from movies, zines, concerts, and actions iconic to the movement. As steeped in the radical queer, anti-capitalist, DIY, and give-no-fucks approach as queercore itself, the movie reveals the perspectives and experiences of bands, moviemakers, writers, and other outsiders, taking audiences inside the creation of the community—and art—so desperately needed by the same queers it encompassed.

— SOPHIA LANZA-WEIL

Selected Festivals

IDFA
Hot Docs
Sheffield Doc/Fest
Viennale, Frameline, Outfest
Doc NYC
IN-EDIT Music Documentary Film Festival
!f Istanbul International Independent Film Festival
DOXA Documentary Film Festival,
One World Romania

Prizes

Felix Award for Best Documentary – Rio International Film Festival
Best Queer Documentary – Melinka Festival in Serbia
Audience Award for Best Documentary – Homochrom Film Festival Germany
Audience Award – Soundwatch

Desire Will Set You Free

Fiction, 92 minutes (2015)

Summary

Based on a true story, Desire Will Set You Free is a feature-length narrative film that portrays artistic and marginalized life in contemporary Berlin.

Ezra, an American writer of Palestinian and Israeli parentage living in Berlin, spends his days clubbing, taking drugs, having pseudo-philosophical conversations and wanting to be more punk, whilst wishing he wrote more. Most of his time is spent with his privileged dark, but witty friend Catharine, who has an unsettling fetish for Nazi paraphernalia. As the two of them look for their next excitement fix, they end up in one of Berlin’s famous gay hustler bars.

Almost on a dare Ezra meets Sasha, a Russian immigrant working as an escort. Ezra pulls Sasha on a journey through Berlin’s underground and queer scenes. He discovers the stomping ground for hedonism and exploration. He discovers remnants of WWII, The Weimar Republic, Bowie and the present day party kids. Much like taking a drug itself, the line between reality and desire is blurred in the land of excess. What starts out as a seemingly conventional gay relationship reveals itself as more complex and dynamic as their true inner desires are revealed.

Filmed entirely in Berlin, the film uses real locations where many Berlin based personali- ties give performances some playing themselves. These include ‘Godmother of Punk’ Nina Hagen as Oracle, cult musician and performance artist Peaches, along with Rosa Von Praunheim, Rummelsnuff, Blood Orange, and Einstuerzende Neubauten and Blixa Bargeld (formerly of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds).

Awards & Selected Screenings

Best Soundtrack, Chicago International Movie and Music Festival

East End Film Festival, London, UK
Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, Calgary, Canada
Chicago International Movie and Music Festival
Boston LGBT Film Festival (Wicked Queer)
Puerto Vallarta as part of the FICG film festival
Guadalajara International Film Festival (Competition)
Schwule-Filmtage Mannheim, Germany (Opening Night Film)
!f Istanbul Independent Film Festival
Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis January 2016 (Competition Wettbewerb) German Premiere
Florence Queer Festival Nov. 11 2015 (Opening Night film)
Montreal World Film Festival August 2015 (World Premiere)

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Documentary, 87 minutes (2010)

Summary

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within features never before seen footage as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues. Born the heir of the Burroughs’ adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems, and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned their decision in 1966, ruling that the book had an important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century. William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering, did William ever find happiness? This extremely personal documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time. “William S. Burroughs: A Man Within” is the first and only posthumous documentary about this legendary figure.

Awards & Accolades

Van Gogh Award for Best Biography, Amsterdam International Film Festival, the Netherlands.

Gold Kahuna Award, Honolulu International Film Festival, Hawaii.

New York Times Critic’s Pick

Sight and Sound Magazine top ten film of the year 2010

Selected Festivals

Official Selection at the 2010 Chicago International Movies and Music Festival

Sao Paul International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival

Sarasota Film Festival, the Maryland Film Festival

Vienna International Film Festival

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Slamdance

BFI London Film Festival

Sheffield Doc/Fest