I Love a Gay Halloween Parade!

posted by Madame Bubby

Yes, it's coming up, the unofficial LGBTQ holiday, Halloween! I was looking online for more information about Halloween events going on next week, and I noticed that the famous Greenwich Village, New York City Halloween parade is now in its 46th year.

Pretty amazing, if one thinks what year it was 46 years ago: 1973. Thus, celebrating Halloween was part and parcel of the then young and militant gay liberation movement.

I remember seeing from a distance many years ago Chicago's own LGBTQ Halloween parade on Halsted Steet, and now the event has become “Haunted Halsted Halloweek and Parade,” running from Saturday, October 26 to the great day itself this year, and the day of the parade, Thursday, October 31.

Why am I essentially advertising the above events? Because I think, in tandem, Bijou Video provides its own parade of Halloween porn movies you can enjoy anywhere and throughout the entire year. In fact, I would even say Bijou is carrying on the legacy of directors and producers and actors who originated the genre of Halloween porn or horror porn.

Here are some of our films of that genre:

The anthology Scared Stiff features scenes from some of the titles described below, plus others like Gayracula and Four in Hand.
 

Scared Stiff box cover

Vintage Gayracula ad

Four in Hand still
Image from Four in Hand

Night of the Occultist, a Jaguar film from 1973 (year of the first Village Hallloween parade!) directed by Kenneth Andrews, is certainly overall quite “trippy,” but the major Halloweeneseque scene in this campy yet also complex film is an ancient Egyptian ritual, a sacrifice to Osiris, the judge of the dead (he serves as the gatekeeper between life, death, and the afterlife), which involves gay sex in an temple.
 

Night of the Occultist still
Image from Night of the Occultist

A Ghost of a Chance, also from 1973, features some ghostly sex with a deceased boyfriend, but the overall story is not just about the crossing of the seemingly insurmountable boundary between death and life, but about how sex with multiple partners itself is a way of liberation from imposed boundaries.
 

A Ghost of a Chance stills
Images from A Ghost of a Chance

Strictly Forbidden, a Hand in Hand film from 1974 directed by Jack Deveau, reimagines the ancient trope of a statues coming to life as the main character enjoys sexual contact with many in a Parisian museum.
 

Strictly Forbidden stills
Images from Strictly Forbidden

Falconhead, a complex, profound film from 1977 directed by Michael Zen, plays with some archetypal images such as mirrors and falcons as several men undergo rituals of initiation that involve mysterious, ambiguously violent interactions.
 

Falconhead stills
Images from Falconhead

And, perhaps the true depths of the genre occurs in Peter de Rome's The Destroying Angel, which combines religion, psychedelic drugs, sex, and violence in one amazing conflagration as a young priest abandons his vocation and plunges into what is really the depths of himself he had previously repressed.
 

The Destroying Angel stills
Images from The Destroying Angel

What's interesting and significant about these films is that, yes, they are related to Halloween, but not in the conventionally “spooky,” explicit way.

By wrestling with the endlessly mysterious and fascinating conjunctions between sex, death, religion, and violence, they really end up targeting the deep, primal roots of the holiday, something LGBTQ persons, themselves cultural boundary-crossers, can connect with intimately.

It's a day when boundaries dissipate, masks and costumes make us aware that persons are not all what they seem, and somehow we end up experiencing on various levels death and life becoming one.

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The Magic and Mystery of Falcons and FALCONHEAD

posted by Madame Bubby

Vintage ad for Michael Zen's Falconhead showing in theaters

"Like something out of a Greek tragedy (or Clash of the Titans), a naked man lies spread-eagled on his stomach on the center of a ceremonial plaza. The Falconhead appears out of nowhere, clad in black robes that look oddly medieval, and presents an ornately framed mirror to the prostrate man, pushing his face into it with his shiny black boots. Text flashes, "He gazed into the mirror and was consumed by it."
 

Still from Falconhead of boot stepping on a man with his face pressed into a mirror

So begins Michael Zen's Falconhead (1977), a richly complex film that “features a fearsome bird-headed man with magical powers, a possibly nefarious shaman/landlord, stunningly photographed solo sequences, deliciously ambiguous sexual violence, and lots of gooey, gooey cum eating.”

The man with the head of a falcon character derives from so many cultures. The ancient Egyptian god Horus was usually depicted as a falcon-headed man, wearing the red and white crown which represented his kingship over both Upper and Lower Egypt. Horus was the son of Osiris and Isis, both associated with the cycles of birth, death, and the afterlife.
 

Horus

In ancient Egypt, falcons (also known as raptors) represented the soul in the afterlife. In fact, the falcons themselves were even mummified, and recently, some scholars have found evidence that the birds were sacrificed to the gods, or even used in falconry, where young birds are trained to hunt prey.

In the medieval period, falconry became a widespread cultural practice among the nobility, but some of its practices were extremely cruel, including temporarily blinding the birds (the gruesome details are elucidated in the hyperlink above), which made them easier to train.
 

Medieval falconry: falconers with horse
Falconers with horse from ‘De arte venandi cum avibus’, 1240-1250, from http://www.medievalists.net/2016/03/falconry-birds-and-lovebirds/

The practice, however, lost popularity in Europe because of the widespread usage of guns and gunpowder. In Britain among some of the gentry the practice survived, and these individuals formed a series of clubs that kept the art alive, leading eventually to the modern development of falconry in Europe, North America and Africa.
 

Man with falcon
Image from http://vafalconry.swva.net/Falconry.html

There are so many elements in the above of terrifying power, sacrifice and cruelty, but also beauty and awe. Birds of course can fly, and this action has always inspired humans to think about power and its limits, the Icarus myth being the most well-known one.

And falcons in all their variety, who soar in the sky, are carnivorous creatures, who hunt for earthbound prey, the creeping things in the creation account in Genesis. Yet, at the same time, humans have attempted to tame, even confine, this energy through the art of falconry.
 

Falcon flying
Image from https://mydreamsymbolism.com/falcon-spirit-animal-totem-symbolism-and-meaning/

It's like this type of bird represents for humans a boundary breaker, someone who can brave the wide gaps between heaven and earth, nature and art, life and death.

Perhaps in the mirror the falcon-headed man presents to the prostrate man, we see ourselves consumed by what seems to be our own physical sexual power, but ultimately, it's a power given to us by a natural, or even supernatural force that encompasses, in fact, thrives on, extremes in order to not just survive, but triumph.

The falcon-headed man is the endless orgasm of life and death; we can imitate it, mirror it, but our life is a disconnected series of gooey cumshots in the sublunary earth. The men are consumed; but he burns like that famous bush, not consumed.
 

Still from Falconhead of masked man

The poet Yeats proclaims in his famous poem, The Second Coming, that in a time of crisis “the falcon can no longer hear the falconer;” in these times, perhaps, we have lost the seismic energy that charges body and spirit together in a dynamic relationship. I see this line as implying that falconer cannot bond with the falcon; he has stopped up his conduit to the falcon's awesome energy he was able to tap into.

Thus, all that's left, as in the famous line at the end of the poem, is the “rude beast slouching toward Bethlehem waiting to be born,” a dead life devoid of creativity, passion, and love.

Quotes from the Falconhead review by DM at BijouWorld.
 

Stills from Falconhead
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What Exactly is Rough Trade? Inquiring "Sissies" Want to Know

 

Hairy Old Reliable model flexing


In the recent funny and campy and touching movie Florence Foster Jenkins, Cosme McMoon, her naive waif-life closeted gay accompanist (played by the absolutely adorable Simon Helberg), is late to Madame Florence's infamous 1944 Carnegie Hall recital. Why? He claims breathlessly, implying perhaps post-coital euphoric exhaustion, he was “jumped” by a bunch of sailors, and that they were “most disrespectful.” (Interestingly enough, the real McMoon later in his life was a judge at ostensibly straight bodybuilding contests; some even claim he also ran a gay escort service or even brothel, but the latter is probably more faux news.) 
 

Scene from Florence Foster Jenkins

Madame Florence of course has her mind on other matters, and Cosme's chum, Florence's common-law husband St. Clair Bayfield played by a suave Hugh Grant, also ignores the remark. But one gets the sense he knows what really happened. 


So, apparently, that “little McMoon” was into rough trade. I've thrown the term around a bit in blogs and tweets and other communiques, but I've always wondered what it actually meant, and, as it turns out, it isn't just the cliched doin' it with sex-starved sailors on the wharf (apparently, by the time McMoon experienced the joy of rough trade brothels for women weren't located seaside, another cliché, or were they?) 
 

Sailor with knife in Querelle

Trade (also known as Chow) is a gay slang term originating from Polari (a gay slang encoded language) and refers to the (usually) casual partner of a gay man or to the genre of such partners. Often, the terms trade and rough trade are treated as synonymous. Often the attraction for the gay male partner is finding a dangerous, even thuggish, straight, or bisexual partner who may turn violent. That is not to say that people necessarily desire to be physically hurt, but the danger of seeking a partner in a public park, restroom, or alleyway may be exciting. For example, in the Chicagoland area, the suburban forest preserves (especially on Sundays) supply a convenient local for such trade. How do I know this? I've seen it (that's all I am going to say). 


Another variation is in comparison to regular trade, rough trade is more likely to be working-class laborers with less education and more physical demands of their work, therefore with a body developed naturally rather than in a gym. They may also exhibit a less polished or clean-cut style than an office worker or professional businessman. 

For example, remember that book Maurice by E.M. Forster and the movie made of it starring Hugh Grant as well? Aristocratic Maurice Hall, after being rejected by the bisexual Clive Durham (Grant's role) falls in love with Alec Scudder, the lower-class gamekeeper, played by Rupert Graves. Maurice and Alec's future as a couple is thus doubly doomed, not just because of their gayness, but because of the social division. It would be more acceptable if Alec was just a rough trade fling rather than a partner in a loving relationship. 
 

Maurice and Alec in Maurice

In the world of Bijou gay porn, the Old Reliable series (available on DVD,streaming instantly, and on audio CD) made by David Hurles reveals one of the more authentic “rough trade” or “trade” scenarios captured for posterity before the days of down-low and overt (and thus lacking the real danger of actual trade) Sean Cody gay-for-pay DVDs. Hurles hired admittedly rough-looking, blue-collar, conventionally “thuggish” guys to talk dirty for the camera and also beat their usually awe-inspiring meat for the audience. 

 

Director David Hurles

According to a couple of sources, "David likes psychos. Nude ones. Money-hungry drug addicts with big dicks. Rage-filled robbers without rubbers. And of course, convicts." Apparently these guys were really dangerous, like they could kill him. Yet somehow David could manage them and get them to perform. Wow! However, Hurles also said: "There have been several thousand models. When they are not in prison, or very married, it has been my practice to stay in touch with many of them, often over decades. They are my friends." On another occasion he said that one of the hardest parts of his job was not getting caught up "in the miserable lives of my models." The gay viewer could vicariously experience rough trade without subjecting himself to the very real, terrifying dangers. 

 

Two muscular Old Reliable models
Three Old Reliable models, two smoking cigars and one flipping off the camera
Three Old Reliable models, one tattooed, one with boxing gloves, one smoking a cigar
Hairy Old Reliable model flipping off the camera

 

In fact, rough trade sexual encounters resulted in the deaths the gay silent film icon Ramon Navarro and the famous Italian cinematographer Pier Paolo Pasolini. 


Now, based on the above tragedies, I might think twice about the phrase “dick of death,” but I also remember how sex and violence and even death can erupt as one terrifying conflagration. Orgasm is after all le petit mort, both beautiful and terrible. 

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