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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Of Trees and Bushes and Fun Beneath Them

The Christmas tree, O Christmas tree is a relatively recent addition to the Christmas aka Holiday aka Saturnalia festivities in America. Prince Albert the Good brought it over from Germany during his time as the husband of the great Victoria, and pretty soon the tree decorated with candles and then electric lights has become a staple of what has now become America’s end-of-the-year orgy of consumption.

Such trees, real or artificial, have become status symbols, and they even reflect changing tastes. I head somewhere that the retro Atomic Age white and pink trees (to us in our pseudo-organic age, so unnatural) are returning to popularity. In fact, smaller ceramic Christmas trees with bulbous light and garish ornaments painted on from this period are suddenly the rage on Ebay. Camp and retro and kitsch reign, and o so gay!
 

Ceramic Christmas tree

The proximity of the minor Jewish festival of Hanukkah to the season has created a cousin of the Christmas tree, the Hanukkah bush. Yes, bush. And not the burning one which was not consumed, which would be more appropriate to Passover. It seems that some more secular Jews tried some cross-holiday pollination here, even celebrating Chrismukkah (gifts and trees and menorahs, let’s do it all), much to the consternation of many more orthodox rabbis.

Now the more sensible Reform and Conservative rabbis have claimed that the holiday is mostly secular, so why not put up a tree or a bush if doing so is void of religious significance (its heathen roots in the worship of Odin in the primeval German forests notwithstanding). One woman recently tied in her bush specifically to Hanukkah, decorating with menorahs and little figures of the Maccabees, an interesting solution, but perhaps not one that will gain a foothold in popular culture.
 

Hanukkah bush

Now what’s really fascinating about all this tree and bush worship is the obvious sexual connotations. A tree is phallic, obviously (though as Freud says, a cigar can just be a cigar, and likewise the same could apply to a tree), and in Norse mythology, the great tree Yggdrasil held up the physical world. Its destruction meant its end.

J.R.R. Tolkien transformed this mythology into his own in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. The survival of the world and the fertility of a line of tall kings are dependent on first two trees, one silver and one gold, and after their destruction, then a white tree descended from their seed.
 

Tolkien's gold and silver trees

And the rabbis and the priests and the ministers of course have interpreted and reinterpreted those mysterious trees in the Garden of Eden, in many cases connecting them with sexual awakening and a fall from innocence into experience.

Thus, rockin’ around that Christmas tree could really in many cases mean sex, and not just the sex that makes babies. The prolific gay porn director, Robert Prion, seems to enjoy setting sexual escapades around and under Christmas trees. Of course these trees aren’t even really growing, because they are either artificial or real ones cut down, so one wonders if somehow the whole life/fertility mythological connection gets lost here. Whatever the case, it certainly adds a somewhat campy/kitschy o so gay aura to the scenes that feature them in our recent release Teasin' 'n' Pleasin' and our upcoming release Access All Areas.
 

Sebastian Jaymz abd Jay Richards in Teasin' 'n Pleasin'
Sebastian Jaymz & Jay Richards in Teasin' 'n' Pleasin'

Scott Spears in Access All Areas
Scott Spears in Access All Areas

A week ago I bought an used tabletop artificial blue tree with a stand covered in glitter that I was told, by the place that sold it to me, once served as a Hanukkah bush. I put some white lights on it, and It really glitters and sparkles. I just might keep it up through February or even March, despite that being a social faux-pas. I mean, who says that lights and sparkles and sex are only a holiday affair?

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