Bijou Classics for the Fourth of July 2018

I'm feeling kind of blogged out as the dog days of summer approach, so this Fourth of July weekend I am showcasing a couple of our titles that are relevant to the violent tensions between boundaries and bridges, ideals and ideology, illusion and reality that our country is currently wrestling with.

In our title Blue Angel (1986), directed by Jurgen Bauer and produced by and starring Mackenzie Poe, a cabaret gay sex show in the style of 1930's Weimar Berlin draws disturbing parallels between the rise of fascism in Hitler's Germany and the continued oppression of LGBTQ Americans. One could even claim this show is an act of resistance as the performers break sexual taboos but also dress in leather gear that both embodies and transcend the culture's oppressive power structures.
 

Images from Blue Angel
Images from Blue Angel

In our title American Cream (1972), director Rob Simple (aka playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie) has created a masterful three-part pictorial comment on America, masculinity and desire. In the final vignette, “Roles,” juxtaposition of the well-heeled Tom and the rough and studly Doug and their ultimate interchangeability as they play roles speaks to a culture that easily blurs any distinction between illusion and reality.
 

Images from American Cream
Images from American Cream

These movies are both available on DVD and Video on Demand. Don't forget take advantage of our 35 percent off DVDs sale on the website.

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Vladimir Putin in a Negligee? You Think That's Scary? Read On!

 

If you've been following the LGBT media in particular, you've undoubtedly heard for some time about the Fascist-style scapegoating of LGBT persons in Russia by forbidding “gay propaganda” that supports “non-traditional sexual relations,” pretty much an excuse for police state tactics ranging from censorship to house searching to arbitrary arrests of protestors beaten up by homophobic thugs. 

Anti-Gay Thugs, Russia


In the early stages of their power, the Nazis burned books and shut down museums that showed “decadent art” (like Picasso and the Bauhaus school). They left one modern art museum open on the third floor of ramshackle building, according to James Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, to show how offensive it was in comparison to the official state art; the lines were so long to get in that the Minister of Culture had to, much to his embarrassment, shut it down! 
 

Nazi Book Burning


The decadent art of Putin's Nazi-style Russia is exemplified by the now infamous “Putin in Women's Underwear” painting by artist Konstantin Altunin.


Altunin's painting was seized by the Russian police from the “Museum of Power” gallery in St Petersburg for breaking unspecified laws. 
 

Putin in Underwear

 

 

The police also removed from the gallery, housed in two rooms of a flat in the city, a picture depicting the head of the Russian Orthodox Church with his torso covered in tattoos, and two artworks mocking anti-gay lawmakers Vitaly Milonov and Yelena Mizulina. 

St. Petersburg deputy mayor Vitaly Mironov, who features in a further painting where his face is merged with the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement, said that the pictures were inappropriate and “of a distinctly pornographic character." How is a rainbow pornographic? 

Gallery owner Alexander Donskoy said as well as seizing paintings, the police also shut down his gallery and offered no explanation for their acts. 

The parallels here to the Nazi regime are obvious, but what's even more disturbing is Altunin's fate. Like most exiled artists of the past, he found refuge in Paris.

 

But he's not lounging around in cafes sipping cafe au lait or hobnobbing with gallery owners by the Seine; according to his wife Elena (who still lives in Russia with their young daughter), he is living rough on the streets. 

There are so many issues of serious concern here, but I do wonder if boycotting vodka and the Winter Olympics or a presidential reprimand of the dictator's policies is going to ease up on the oppression. There's a strong contingent of Westerners (mostly those holy haters) who support Putin's policies.

 

And despite outcries from popular celebrities like Lady Gaga and others, the average fan may pay lip service to the endorsements, but he or she is more concerned with the latest song. Social media both aids and harms the cause (the antigay thugs in Russian are using the Internet to lure unsuspecting gay victims to beat and kill). 

Many people these days don't know about the St. Louis, a ship that carried 900 Jewish people ostensibly to asylum in Cuba in the 1930s as part of a Nazi propaganda campaign to show that the government was willing to take care of the “Jewish problem” in a humane way. The Nazis knew full well, however, that neither Cuba nor, if Cuba refused them, the United States would accept them. The ship had to turn back, but luckily France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Britain took the exiles in. This incident has been called by many “The Voyage of the Damned.” 
 

The St. Louis


Would the United States (or any Western country) be willing to do the same if Putin wanted to dispose of his current scapegoat en masse in the same way? That's the question all citizens of the West need to wrestle with.

 

The answer might not be a resounding yes, even in a time where all forms of pluralism, including sexual, are becoming the norm.

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