Posts Tagged ‘Interview

19
Nov
09

26 Interviews: (E)nid Crow…

 The majority of New York based artist Enid Crow‘s  photographs contain little more than a tightly cropped  self portraits of the artist wearing different costumes and posing. Despite the seemingly simple and repetative nature of her work, Crow has managed to create a body of images that says quite a bit about American culture and politics.     

 

 

 

 

 

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Jon Miller: What initially drew you to self portrait photography?

Enid Crow: Around 1979, my parents sent me to the Wendy Ward School of Charm. I took classes from when I was eleven until I was about thirteen. In addition to learning things like how to answer the phone and good grooming, part of charm school is learning how to be a fashion model. This involved collecting photographs of good poses from magazines, going to the front of the class, and posing like the model in your photograph. Then we were supposed to get professional black and white photographs taken and start making fashion model portfolios. My mother seemed to think this was either a scam or totally pointless since I had a mouth full of braces and bad skin.

So, I made my own studio in the basement by taping white paper over the wood paneling and photographed myself with my mouth closed, copying poses of the fashion models in Better Homes and Gardens. That was the only magazine my mother subscribed to. When I was a drama student in college and grad school, I started acting as characters in the self-portraits and working with costumes more.

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  JM:  Your early series, “Disasters” features characters on the brink of, well, disaster. Their faces all share a similar look of fear, shock, and disgust. In contrast, your newest series, “Happy Workers”, is nothing but smiles and happy faces. Clearly, these images comment on disaster as well, but on a more subdued and personal level. What are your thoughts on this shift in the way your ideas are presented?

EC: After photographing all the tragedy in Disasters and in the midst of the financial collapse last year, I needed to photograph something to cheer myself up. So I photographed myself as people who still have their jobs. Granted the characters in my photographs don’t have health insurance and their 401(k) plans tanked, but at least they aren’t working in a child factory in China. America really knows how to treat its workers!

Seriously, in my pictures, I try to address social issues like sexism, homophobia, and the exploitation of workers. Often I think a strong way to get a point across about a painful, controversial topic is to use humor. So in that sense, I haven’t shifted too far from Disasters even though my facial expression has changed and I’m now using text beneath the photographs to help tell the story.

JM:  I love your “Faggots” series in which you and your real life partner at the time play the roles of queer men, in both graphically sexual moments as well as quieter and even mundane situations. Though you had been doing drag self portraiture as men for some time, this series seems to have developed later and contains the only overt sexual imagery in your catalog. What inspired these images?

EC: When I first came to New York City in 2000, I worked for an attorney who has an extensive photography collection of men loving, taken from the latter part of the 19th century to today. The International Center of Photography featured some photographs from his collection in a show in 2001. My boss would show me new pictures as they were sent to his office and I’d see them scattered around his desk when I delivered papers for him to sign. The subjects ranged from stiff studio portraits of male couples, men sharing beds in rooming houses, to beefcake pictures from 1970s porn magazines. So in my series, I tried to reflect the scope of the images that I saw in his collection.

JM:  Queer sexuality in art is almost automatically processed as transgressive and political. What were you trying to say in creating this work? 
 

EC: Faggots is my favorite series. Justin Duerr, my ex-boyfriend who plays my lover in all the pictures, helped me shoot some of the pictures in the Disaster series around 2005 and 2006. Justin is bi and he would get aroused and want to kiss me when I was dressed as a male character for Disasters. We decided scenes of us kissing as men would make interesting photographs themselves so we started our own series together and ended it just before we broke up in 2008 when I decided to grow my hair long.

The photos comment on issues that I care about very deeply—the arbitrariness of gender and homophobia. I don’t think there’s any need for me to get into a long soap box sermon about why those issues matter because this is, after all, Gaycondo. But briefly, being in love with someone who loves men, and knowing he could engage in certain social rites with me because I am a woman (like marry me or display my photo at work) but not a man he might fall in love with after me, is in my mind, one of the greatest social tragedies there is.

JM:  Any future projects currently being fleshed out?

EC: I am going to my parents’ condo in Florida in a week for a vacation. I am going to finish the Happy Workers series and start shooting a very short self-portrait series called Beauty Queens in tiaras and heavy makeup on the beach. In December, I am going to start shooting a series of portraits of vegans in New York City. I would also like to do a serious series of pigeon photographs. I love pigeons and I take a lot of snapshots of the cute ones I see on the street and the sick ones who I take care of in my apartment.

JM:  Pigeon photographs? That seems like a pretty grand departure from your regular aesthetic! What type of images are you planning on creating? 

EC: I am as fanatical about pigeons as Nikola Tesla, and these pictures will be like poems in their honor. I will take photographs of ordinary street pigeons loafing and flying and manipulate the images so that they are monochromatic and simple. Then I will take the individual, simplified versions of pigeons and use them as individual design elements, like the way the artist Tae Won Yu manipulates letters of the alphabet to make fancy designs. I have been doing this a little with pictures of pigeons I’ve found on the Internet, but I think the pictures will be better if I start from scratch with my own pictures. 

 But I am not moving away from self-portraits. Sometimes I just need a break to come up with a new idea. As I age, my face is getting saggier and more comic, so I think that the photos will probably get funnier and sadder.

For More: www.enidcrow.com

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26 Interviews  by Jon Miller

365 days.

26 interesting people.

1 alphabet.

10
Nov
09

26 Interviews: (D)ixie Longate…

26d

Dixie Longate is an off-broadway solo-act performer and Tupperware sales lady. Her show, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” has earned her the title of “America’s #1 Tupperware Sales person”.

Currently, the Alabama born Dixie has taken her show on the road, creating Tupperware converts across the country. Her routine, a mixture of humorous, brass, endearing and informational performance, makes anyone in Dixie’s path fall in love with her  and (even more importantly)  her product. 

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Jon Miller: There are so many products that are sold at “door to door” style parties similar to your own. Some, such as sex toys and make-up, seem like a more obvious choice for a salesperson as brassy and fabulous as yourself. What made you gravitate towards Tupperware?

Dixie Longate: Well, my parole officer was the one who got me started in Tupperware.  I guess I was always pretty good at sales looking back.  I mean the amount of times I would leave the trailer in the morning to go to school with empty pockets and by lunch time, end up with enough Lincoln’s to buy half of the cafeteria a pint of 2% milk, well, lets just say, it made this 4th grader pretty proud.  My parole officer told me when I got released that I needed a job in order to get my kids back.  Seeing how the restraining order prevented me even going into certain parts of town after 6pm, I told her that it was just a ridiculous idea.  Well, she worked her magic as only a lesbian in the police force can do, and Shazaam, I started selling these fantastic bowls. 
When I did my first party, I was terrible.  I would pick up a bowl and call it a spoon! I was knocking everything over. I have to admit, I was just plain nervous.  Not the nerves you get on a first date when you have seen his dirty pictures on the internet and you are just biding time till you get to hop in the back seat and verify that it was a real picture in his profile. Not that kind of nervous.  I mean truly nervous. 

 I hadn’t sold anything for ages.

But when the host of the party brought me out a cocktail and didn’t charge me for it  and then people started buying things and giving me money, I felt a little shiver come crawling up my spine.  I couldn’t imagine actually getting paid to drink for free.  Right then and there, I knew I had found the job for me.

JM: You must be the most radical thing to happen to the Tupperware brand since it’s inception. How did you successfully pitch the idea for your show to the Tupperware corporation?

DL: You have to keep in mind that although the creation of the products was all from the mind of Earl Tupper, it took a woman named Brownie Wise to actual take the products off of the  shelves and create the Tupperware Party.  She was a revolutionary business woman back in the day.  She was the one who figured out that in order to sell brand new, space age, non-breakable bowls, with an air-tight seal to women in the kitchen, she had to actually bring them into the kitchen.  Back then, that was a very radical idea.  I mean, selling products door to door was nothing new, but to bring women together and get them in a buying frenzy in the middle of their own living room, well, that was truly breaking every sales tradition that was out there.  Tupperware has always been a pretty progressive company I think.  You really have to be progressive and ever-changing and filled with incredible vision to be able to get a company whose mainstay is plastic bowls to be able to remain success and survive for 65 years.  It’s no easy feat.  And who hasn’t heard of a Tupperware Party?  Everyone knows about it whether you have been to one or not.  That is what is so remarkable about the brand. 

When I asked them if they would let me keep selling their products and bring them to a whole new group of people that probably forgot that Tupperware even existed, well, I have to give them tons of credit.   They approached the idea with lots of integrity and lots of smiles.  That is why I still love working for Tupperware all these years later.

JM: In your show, you can sometimes come across as a bit….confrontational. Do people in the audience ever not get the joke?

DL: Sadly, sometimes people sit there and end up all grim-faced and frowny.  I don’t understand that.  I mean if everyone around is laughing and having a good time, why are you working so hard to be moody?  What does that get you in life?  I am a woman with 3 kids from the not too good area of Mobile, Alabama.  Where I grew up, you had to get good at fighting for what you believe in. I never had much money and it didn’t look like I was going to have all that good of a future.  I really struggled for a good long time and I have to tell you, I earned my right to be where I am.  So many people who are looking down their nose at me probably didn’t have to lift a finger to get where they are.  When they are having a miserable time in life, it gets my back up.  I am just here trying to spread some love and uplift some people.  I want people to understand that they are in control of their own lives and there is so much more out there for most people than they can ever even dream of.  Sometimes, when I come up against someone who is grim-faced, I get a bit stern I guess.  It comes from raising three kids on my own.  I never want to be mean, but I will tell you, I’m not a push over either. If people are being slugs at the Tupperware Party, and taking away from other people’s enjoyment, well, don’t start crying when I get up in your face and tell you to shape up.  It is what we call “tough love” back at home.  You might not like it, but it is how you grow.

JM: You are billed as “the #1 Tupperware seller in the US and Canada”. How competitive is the  business? Do you have any Tupperware enemies as a result of your success?

DL: Currently, I have slid in sales a bit.  I don’t know if it is the economy or that people don’t really get that they can buy Tupperware at the shows, but I am still working everyday to stay on top.  After all, that is what a good Christian does.  I go to the Jubilee Convention every year and watch as new people get on stage for recognition.  It is so amazing to watch people stand onstage and be cheered for and respected like they have never been before in their lives.  And they did all of this on their own.  This is by virtue of their own work and ingenuity.  That, I have to say, earns them respect from me every time.  You know the funny thing; the people that I am standing onstage at the top with, they are never jealous or ungracious about success.  Last year, when I earned the Top spot, I remember standing onstage with another gal who had worked her tail off all year.  Right before they announced me as #1, she turned to me and grabbed my hand and said,”I just have to tell you this.  I am so proud of you.  Congratulations.”  Now THAT is a classy lady.  I have a picture of her on my desk where I put in my Tupperware orders.  The people who work the hardest are never the ones who give you grief.  It is the people who aren’t successful who are always jealous and saying that others are bad because of this, that and the other thing.   “I can’t get anyone to host a party cause Dixie takes them all from me.  I can’t sell lots cause I have four kids and I work full-time.   It’s not fair that I’m not onstage getting recognized because I worked just as hard.”   Shut up you damn whore.  Stop making excuses for the lack of your success.  Ain’t nobody going to hand it to you.  You gotta earn it.  Hell, I did.  Do you think someone just came up and gave me almost a quarter of a million dollars in sales last year when I was #1?  Hell, no.  I had to earn every single one of those sales.  I did party after party, and sold bowl after bowl.  I didn’t make excuses, and I was rewarded for it.  That is my advice to people I guess.  Stop looking at others as the problem.  Take that time that you are bellyaching about something and get off your duff and do something about it.  Because you know what is more fun that bitching about what you don’t have?  It’s earning the things that you do have.  Amen!  I’m proud of what I have achieved and you know what, I am proud of every single guy and gal that I stand on stage with at the Jubilee every year, cause I know they have worked every bit as hard as I have.  I respect those people.  That is who I look to the for advice.  You want to do better in life?  Get a better group of people to hang out with. 

The cream always rises.

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If you live someplace kind of boring (sorry Minneapolis!), then soon you just might get the chance to see Dixie live!

Hartford, CT The Bushnell 11/13/09 – 11/15/09
Green Bay, WI Weidner Center 11/17/09 – 11/22/09
New London, CT Oasis Room 11/30/09 – 12/06/09
MESA, AZ Mesa Arts Center 12/08/09 – 12/13/09
DES MOINES, IA Temple Theater 01/13/10 – 01/24/10
Mississauga, ON RBC Theatre 01/27/10 – 01/31/10
STUART, FL The Lyric Theatre 02/02/10 – 02/03/10
Minneapolis, MN Hennepin Stages 02/09/10 – 02/21/10
Yakima, WA The Capitol Theatre 03/09/10 – 03/14/10
Greenboro, NC Odeon Theatre 03/18/10 – 03/21/10
Newberry, SC Newberry Opera House 03/22/10 – 03/24/10
CLEARWATER, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall 03/30/10 – 04/03/10
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL Broward Center 04/07/10 – 04/18/10
HUNTSVILLE, AL Merrimack Hall 04/20/10 – 04/25/10

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26 Interviews  by Jon Miller

365 days.

26 interesting people.

1 alphabet.

14
Oct
09

26 Interviews: (C)asey Parks…

26c

Casey Parks is a writer, videographer, and photographer for the Oregonian newspaper. Her work there is largely focused on covering both city government and schools. A major emphasis of the stories she chooses to tell involve writing and filming about the experience of Oregon teenagers.

In addition to her work for the Oregonian, Casey also creates short video interview series about the people in her life, usually based around a singular topic or idea.

 

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Oregonian Videos:

 

When I was 14:

 

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Jon Miller: What style of story do you find the most interesting to cover?

Casey Parks: Some of the other videographers at the Oregonian prefer to create a video by first securing solid visuals. I was a writer long before I was a photographer though, and I like videos that have a good story. To get that, you need someone who is a good interview. It’s hard enough getting people to open up to you for a written story. But in an article, you can work around that by just hanging around long enough, or pulling things out slowly, or inferring, or talking to other people. With a video camera, you’re not only more intimidating, you also can’t work around any holes. What the person says is what you have. That said, I’m most interested in reporting about teenagers. Sometimes they don’t make the best video subjects (such insecurity! so many “likes” and “ums”) but I have found a few who were really candid and comfortable being themselves. Or maybe they were uncomfortable, but they let you see that in a compelling way. Those are my favorites.

JM: The adolescent experience does seem to be a recurring theme, not only in your work for the Oregonian,  but also your personal creative projects. More so though, it seems that you are fascinated with the idea overcoming expected mediocrity. What are your feelings on contemporary youth culture? Does there seem to be much of a shift in the way young people identify as individuals now vs. the experiences recounted in your When I Was 14 project?

 CP: Portland is such a different town than the ones I grew up in (mostly in Louisiana). So, yeah, the teens I meet through work are much different than I was. But I don’t know how much of that is growing up now as opposed to growing up in Portland. But they do all seem to be more savvy. They’re more clued-in about the world, more clued-in about themselves. I could just be choosing savvy people to interview, though. I’m not sure. Either way, I wouldn’t say I’m a modern teenager expert. I just like interviewing them because no one else at my paper really does, and the teens themselves are usually pretty excited to be in the paper.

JM: How do you imagine hypothetical When I was 14 interviews with modern teens would differ from those with the adults you are currently filming?

CP: Oh, I think they’ll be embarrassed by themselves just as all my friends are embarrassed of our 14-years-old selves. They’ll also, I think, like us, feel amused and probably some kind of weird love for their own self. For instance, one of my 25-year-old friends talked about how her parents were divorced and how sad she felt, how she watched her brother play video games and felt lonely. It’s hard to really express all that while you’re in it, to put all the pieces together. I do feel like kids start that nostalgizing fairly early, though. When I did a story about Miss Junior Gay Pride, who is 18, she talked about being 14 in ways not so different than I might. She regretted her hair and clothing decisions. She longed the crazy sleepovers or lunch-time antics she had then. At 18, she feels like she already knows the world so much better than she did then. I imagine that feeling will just grow. The same was true of an 18-year-old I interviewed who was training to become a sheriff’s deputy. His parents were deported for selling methamphetamine, and he spent age 14 in Mexico. But when I asked him about it, what he remembered was how ugly his hair was, how into skateboarding he had been, and how the music he had liked was cheesy.

 JM:   It’s strange how similar the coming of age experience can be despite the seemingly substantial changes in the physical setting and circumstances. What are your memories of being 14? Were you an over achiever like the kids you interview?

 CP: When I was 14, I was an overachiever in school but not in other ways. I didn’t really join clubs or do things outside of myself or school. I read a lot (I even wrote reports from encyclopedias just for fun!) and went to church a lot. I had an awful hairstyle. I used this product Sun-in to “highlight” my hair. Instead, it turned it bronze. I spent two years growing it out, so my hair was bronze on the bottom, brown at the roots. I was really awkward and bossy. My parents were separated, and I lived with my dad, which meant I got away with a lot more than I should. My curfew was something like 4 a.m. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have friends, so I didn’t take advantage of it all that often.

JM: Have you ever done any film work about your family and your experiences with them? 

 CP: Yes.  The first was with my little brother. Last year, he got out of the military and got really involved in anti-war demonstrating. While I was visiting him in Texas, I interviewed him on video. There were so many things I could never ask just as his sister, but with the camera wedged safely between us, I asked everything I ever wanted to know. We ended the shoot with both of us sobbing. He has a funny way of talking, but he’s so open with his feelings. He talks about seeing a friend killed, about how he can’t get over the war. I learned a lot. And then I cried a lot.

The second is my grandma talking about the little community where she grew up. It’s full of one-liners (“I didn’t see a box of Corn Flakes till I was 7 years old. Now does that tell you something?”), and she also talks about how she truly, truly believes she saw a UFO once. It cracks me up every time I watch it; I still can’t believe I got her to do it.

 JM: What future projects are you developing at the moment?

 CP: Over Christmas, I’m going to go home to Louisiana and try to do some work on an audio story I’ve wanted to do for a long time. On her deathbed, Audrey Ellis confessed to my great-grandmother: “Rita Mae, Roy is as much as woman as you or I am.”

Ellis was Roy’s mother. Or at least that’s what everyone in Delhi, Louisiana thought. She had raised him, anyway.

Back then, Delhi had a population of 1,800. Everybody knew everybody, and though people liked to gossip, nobody asked any questions when Audrey Ellis and her husband (whose first name no one seems to know) showed up with a 26-year-old son. It was 1953, the day Hank Williams died. My grandma remembers her brother listening to Hank Williams records on repeat. “Then they just showed up across the street.”

As an adult, Roy wore Dickies, work boots, birth control glasses and a crew cut. He mowed everybody’s lawn by pulling a manual mower behind his bicycle. He never married, and if people had suspicions, they didn’t voice them. His obituary — run in the Delhi Dispatch in 2006 — ran as Delois “Roy” Hudgens. Secondary references called him “Ms. Hudgens.”

Small towns — even those in the conservative South — accept people without question. Town drunk? Well, that’s just Jim. Town cross-dresser? Well, that’s just Roy. No one knew exactly why Roy — clearly a woman — dressed as a man. And no one asked.

My own grandmother often told me stories about Roy. I usually had to beg her — She never wanted to seem like she was talking bad about him. Until college, I didn’t know why I was so fascinated by the story. It was strange, but my family had plenty of strange stories. This one was different. I, too, grew up in the South, but the cities I lived in were bigger. They lacked the small-town, accept-everybody-because-they’re-just-like-family feel. And when I confessed — at 18, in church on Easter Sunday — that I’m gay, most people didn’t take it well.

I never felt like a man, but I did long for some town where I could be me, Casey, no questions asked.

 

 

For more from Casey Parks, check out her 78 (!) videos on vimeo.

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26 Interviews  by Jon Miller

365 days.

26 interesting people.

1 alphabet.

23
Sep
09

26 Interviews: (B)ecky Daly….

26b

Becky Daly is a New York based fashion stylist and writer who has worked for such magazines as W, Elle, Jane, Instyle, Page Six, Lucky, Harper’s Bazaar, and Interview. Her job largely involves working as a market editor, doing cross media magazine promotion for television. You know those fashion interest pieces on shows like E News, The Today Show, and Good Morning America? Daly is frequently the one who puts the whole thing together. In addition to her magazine and TV work, she also writes occasional style pieces for The New York Post and bettyconfidential.com.

 

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Jon Miller: When did you get the calling to work in the magazine industry?

Becky Daly: I remember going to the salon with my mom and picking up Seventeen while she was having her hair done. I think I was about nine years old – it had never occurred to me to read a magazine before, but I opened it out of boredom, and it was like, “Whoa. Here is every fun thing in the world right here on these pages.” I think from that moment on I knew that magazines were in my future, and as I got older, it was the fashion aspect specifically that seemed to come into focus.

JM: Once you entered the field, did you have the fashion instinct right away?

BD: I’m not sure I’d call it a “fashion” instinct so much as an aesthetic one, but yes, I think that is something that comes naturally to people who have it. It can be honed and perfected and in that sense developed, but I think it has to be there intrinsically to begin with.

 JM: Working in what is arguably the most important fashion center in America, you must find yourself surrounded my fashion mavericks and forward thinkers daily. Who do you find personally inspiring?

BD: My favorite sources of inspiration are designer Alexander Wang, Elle’s style director Kate Lanphear, and blogger Scott Schuman (aka the Sartorialist). Actually, it’s almost embarrassing how much that list belies my personal style. I really respect how these three people, through their various mediums and in their own very different ways, keep fashion progressive while never forgetting how real women want and need to dress themselves for everyday life.

07_erinwasson_lglJM: It seems to me that Alexander Wang is one of the few designers to take on the American Apparel behemoth’s strong arm on youthful/sexy jersey basics and actually win. Most of the fashion focused women in my life are losing it over his tanks and tees. In fact, based on their newest designs it seems AA is copying Wang’s aesthetic. What do you think is his formula for success?

BD: I think Alexander Wang’s formula for success is a little thing called [model] Erin Wasson. Most truly inspiring designers have a truly inspiring muse, and he’s no different. Erin Wasson’s personal style is so downtown sexy and chic, but with that “I just picked this up off the floor” not-trying-at-all vibe. Alexander Wang managers to emulate that so perfectly in his designs. The clothes he makes are the clothes women want to wear because they give everyone that aura of being so chic you make even a t-shirt look good.

 JM: The way clothes are being designed and marketed seems to have ideologically shifted very quickly in the past few years. What are the big changes you have noticed?

BD: Right now, the two biggest shifts I’m seeing in fashion appear to be completely divergent, but in truth, stem from the same source. The current economy is forcing the industry to rethink design, and that seems to mean either taking it down a notch to provide designs that everyone can feel comfortable in, or stepping it up in terms of investigating new materials, functions, and production techniques.

JM: Many of the changes you are talking about seem to have recently been focussed largely on the development of “green” and “sustainable” diffusion collections. Do you think this is more of a marketing fad, or an actual moral shift in the production standards of these companies?

BD: While there are some “green” lines that began with the idea of sustainability – Loomstate and Rogan come to mind – I think in most cases with diffusion lines and in-store collections it’s a little bit of a mix. Even if many companies are only invested in sustainability for their own profit though, don’t we all reap the benefit anyway? The ends are good, even if the means may not be truly pure.

JM: The fall collections have all hit the stores by now, and I know I have already started stockpiling for when the cool weather hits. What big trends for this fall have you most excited?

BD: Fall is my absolute favorite season and always has been. I love the sense of change, the crispness in the air, the colors, and the fact that I can wear something other than those 10 damn sundresses I’m so sick of at this point. This season in particular, I’m so happy to see designers embracing the jeweled colors of autumn – the runways were all basically done in a palette of burnt oranges and reds, deep blues, peacock greens, and gold. I’ve also already bought about three pairs of flat, over-the-knee boots. They’re super sexy, but the fact that they’re flat keeps them from going Pretty Woman.

 JM: What designer’s Fall 2009 runway shows did you find particularly fantastic?

BD: Have I already mentioned my love for Alexander Wang? Can I count him again? If so, then Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg (my god – the sweaters!), and Balmain.

JM: Both Balmain and Alexander Wang have put a lot of focus on shoulders in there garments this season either by exposing them, ornamenting them, or padding them. Even just a few years ago some of these concepts would have seemed unthinkable. Any predictions on the next big “unthinkable” we should be expecting?

BD: It’s true – structured shoulders are SO in right now. I’m hesitant to make any predictions on what the next crazy trend will be – I’ll leave that to the designers. A word of advice though: do hang on to any designer or even just well-made garments you may own. Trends may come and go, but as we’re seeing currently with the resurrection of the ’80s shoulder pads, fashion history has a way of repeating itself. Next fall you may just be kicking yourself for selling your Go-go boots to Beacon’s.

rdlookbook

 

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26 Interviews  by Jon Miller

365 days

26 interesting people.

1 alphabet

01
Sep
09

26 Interviews: (A)ndrew Klaus

26aPortland based artist Andrew Klaus has been continuously working in a wide range of creative fields  including photography, music (as A is for Accident), and film, his most prominent effort.  As a follow up to several award winning films, his  newest short feature “Inheritance” will be out later this year.

Through out his career Andrew has worked with such notable collaborators as Andy Goldsworthy, Holly Andres, James Bolton, Grace Carter, and Silas Howard. Recently he has begun filming videos for  Oregon’s Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS-C) which serve as instructional films for pediatric trauma situations. This has not only afforded him a living as a film maker, but has also given him the opportunity to film in many new and exciting situations. Did anyone say medical helicopter party?

 

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Jon:  When not writing, directing and producing your own films you frequently work as a documentarian for hire.  Do you find that having a 9 to 5 job adjacent to your creative endeavors has been helpful?

Andrew:  I feel having a day job in your creative field is absolutely advantageous.  You make contacts with others who share your passion for film making, which is by its very nature a collaborative field.  You pool your resources, call in favors, collect knowledge and offer support to one another- or compete cut throat and blood thirsty.  Thankfully for me though, that has been the exception not the rule.

 J:  It sounds like you find a lot of inspiration in your day job. How have you filtered your experiences working on films for EMS-C into your technical process when working on your own films?  There has to be a big difference in the process behind these to seemingly disparate projects.

 A:  Often my experimental or narrative films have taught me the techniques necessary to produce a product for a client.  I’ve learned my best lessons from trying and failing and trying again.  Also, I’m a big fan of dumb luck.  In experimental film making mistakes often lead to new discoveries, frequently enhancing a performance or an effect.

With the documentary work we shoot largely in real time: one take, with multiple cameras.  This means far less room for error.  I can never just yell “cut”, reset, and start over. It’s always “think on your feet”.  I am just trying to shoot everything as fast and steady as possible.  When I cut it all together I rely on my more creative film experience to find the narrative and piece together a story from start to finish.  The final product, while not exactly a traditional film, ends up as one that has filmic qualities.

I’ve certainly learned important new lessons from this job. From budgeting in my personal life to bettering my interpersonal relations and conflict resolutions, an invaluable tool for any film maker.  Also, I’ve been really inspired by the varied rural locations I’ve been to on my job with OHSU.  These are locations which I probably would have never experienced otherwise and I hope to revisit a few of them to shoot creative personal work in the coming year.

 J: So when approaching your creative efforts you never find yourself burnt out on filming and editing as a result of your day job?

 A: I’m absolutely grateful and keenly aware how lucky I am to get to work in my chosen field.  That being said though, like anyone on any job, there are sometimes days, situations, and other people that simply get on my absolute last nerve.  I’m trying really hard to remember everyday why I do this unstable and truly insane job, and to be thankful for it.  But yeah, some days are just plain awful. 

I got really burned out on my upcoming film Inheritance.  It was plagued with problems in post production from special effects not working, to being 3k over budget, to plain ol’ challenges in storytelling.  It’s a really odd film that was a tough nut to crack when editing.

 J: Speaking of “Inheritance”, your most recent film, I’ve noticed that it deviates from your previous work in that its strength relies heavily on the absurd and comedic.  I imagine that your day job with EMS-C must also require a sense of humor seeing as you are dealing with such serious subjects.  Any funny stories?

 A: No, none… Just kidding.

 Yeah of course.  Let’s see:  Recently we pulled up to a Hospital’s Emergency Department and were unloading gear, including the Hi-fidelity medical mannequin we use.  When we unzipped the case and hauled out the “dummy”, we were unaware that a few people were watching thinking these big city strangers had come to their small town with a dead body in a suitcase.  On an even more recent project no one informed me I would be shooting on some of the largest sand dunes in North America. In the rain.  In my Kenneth Cole loafers.

INHERITANCE%20POSTER[1]J:When writing “Inheritance, what inspired you to insert a comedic element into such “a serious subject?

 A:  After completing my previous loosely themed trilogy I was sort of at a loss for what story I wanted to tell next.  The three films were all quite serious.  First off there was The Human Remains (2006), a film about a young women in a suicide survivor support group.  It was the film that started my career.  I followed it up with back to back downers – Lazarus (2007) an experimental film about madness and survivor’s guilt and then THIS HOUSE IS NOT A HOME (2007) a black and white silent horror film.

 While preparing for my next film I started making experimental films and erotica.  Creatively this was really, really satisfying but it was not something that was readily accessible.  Eventually I missed narrative filmmaking.  I had this treatment I had written as a fable.  It was a horror-comedy about a couple whose lives are turned upside down when they inherit a minor demon.  And I decided to be quite literal and instead of lesser, “minor” would actually mean adolescent.

When I started thinking about the look of the film I decided I wanted to attempt to make the kind of schlocky B (or C) movie that I loved as a kid.  I wanted to pay homage to the early days of cable TV and direct to VHS creature features, a knock-off of a knock-off of Gremlins.

 Sort of Sam Rami meets Woody Allan.

 I hadn’t really done comedy before and that seemed really challenging to me.  I mean it’s definitely a black comedy.  It’s gruesome and kinda adorable in equal measure but I’ve cut my teeth on disturbing, scary and/or emotionally moving- so doing comedy was definitely out of my comfort zone.  It’s good to be able to tell a variety of stories and work in several genres as a director.

 We’ll see how audiences react to Inheritancethis fall; the test screenings have gone really well.  I really like changing directions with each project.  My next film I plan on shooting is a surrealist sci-fi film, part David Lynch part Sophia Coppola part Derek Jarman, about a group of people in a sleep study.  It may even have a musical number.  The plan is to mix stop-motion, erections, singing, and really beautifully composed cinematography.

 And even a happy ending for a change… well, maybe.

 

(for more on Andrew, visit his website, Diggin’ to China)

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26 Interviews  by Jon Miller

365 days.

26 interesting people.

1 alphabet.

27
Aug
09

Jon: Speaking of “Julie and Julia”…

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As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I found the movie to be really inspiring, especially in the context of blogging. My posts have slowly devolved into the “here is something I like, click a link!”variety. I have always wanted Gaycondo to be a creative and social outlet that is driven by a combination of both original content and media commentary.

In Julie and Julia, the modern day protagonist Julie Powell begins the regimented project of cooking her way through over 500 recipes in one year as a means to create a stable creative outlet. She has trouble completing long term projects so she sets a deadline and paces herself accordingly. I myself am a big fan of rule based creativity. Maybe it is a result of having a mathematician and theater manager as parents, but I feel like a don’t approach my own artistic creation  successfully unless it is via an extremely structured (dare I even say tunnel vision based) process.

After watching the movie, I immediately started thinking about what type of project would work for my life and blog. It would need to be something that I loved but which I could also portion out and have a defined finishing point. I had several ideas, but they were all either already done (i.e. daily picture of every outfit I wear. yawn.) or were someone else’s idea (i.e. Learning to Love You More). While both were totally doable, neither seemed like something I would feel particularly invested in completing. I wanted not only to inspire myself, but to create something that could inspire others.

And, of course get Gaycondo more readers.

Then what I needed to do became completely clear.

My favorite achievements on this blog have been the two artist interviews I completed. They felt immediately tangible and important. But if I was going to make a project out of interviewing people, I would need a goal. Also, if I was going to be doing regular interviews, I knew it would be important that they were not all with the same types of people (artists), but instead a wide variety of interesting people. So, I came up with this as my project:

Interview 26 different people in alphabetical order within one year.  The starting point for the year long project will be the date of the first posted interview.

My mother (the mathematician) taught me that whenever you make a list, make sure the first item on it is something that is either a.) already done OR b.) something you can finish easily and swiftly. Lucky the first letter of the alphabet is A, which for me is an easy interview to get….

28
Mar
09

Jon: Target Women- “Snapped”…

SIDE NOTE:

Gaycondo super friend and occasional guest blogger Nickey Robare is going to be meeting (!!!) Target Women creator Sarah Haskins (!!!!!!!) this week at a conference in NYC. She is going to (attempt) to be Gaycondo’s first news correspondent by scoring an interview with Haskin’s for the blog.

If you could all cross your fingers right……..about………………………….NOW!…………………. it would be fantastic.




Got any good leads?

gaycondo [at] yahoo [dot] com

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