An exuberant crowd turned out to kick off OUTFEST 2003, a 12-day festival jam-packed with almost 200 films, a smattering of live performances and dozens of parties spread out all over the city. The sold-out opening-night gala at the ORPHEUM THEATER feted the career achievements of writer/director JANE ANDERSON (Normal, If These Walls Could Talk 2, How To Make an American Quilt), followed by a screening of FENTON BAILEY and RANDY BARBATO’s oh-so-arch Party Monster. A late start and some overly long speeches added to the chaotic ambiance, which was magnified in the seats on the outer edges, where sightlines are obscured by pillars. In the center of the restored beaux-arts theater, a number of giddy, glow-stick-waving attendees repeatedly hooted at the projectionist to focus, while up in the boxes a handful of decked-out club-kid manqués tried to make like it was the Tunnel. Among the monsters were the stars of the film, SETH GREEN and MACAULAY CULKIN (pictured), WILMER VALDERRAMA and WILSON CRUZ, along with songstress K.D. LANG, drag divas CONSTANCE and MISS COCO PERU (star of the Outfest feature Girls Will Be Girls), actors JASON STUART and
MEREDITH SCOTT LYNN, event producers BRYAN RABIN and DAVID RODGERS, writer STEPHEN SABAN, designer EUGENE ONG, American Beauty producer DAN JINKS, and writer JAMES ST. JAMES, whose book Disco Bloodbath, about club kid Michael Alig, provides the basis for the movie. Skip the flick, read the book (or check out Bailey and Barbato’s documentary, also called Party Monster), went the chitchat at the after-party, where one acquaintance of Alig’s wondered about the odd mid-Atlantic accent Culkin imposed on his Midwest-bred character. At least he didn’t make any of those Home Alone faces.

Moving from downtown to Hollywood, a hot ’n’ sticky invitation-only horde swarmed the old Samuel Goldwyn estate for a soiree thrown by filmmaker AMY HECKERLING and reclusive writer
JT LEROY (who was a no-show) for two local boys, filmmakers DARREN STEIN and ADAM SHELL. Stein and Shell’s documentary feature Put the Camera on Me, making its L.A. debut at Outfest, incorporates old home movies the two filmed while growing up in Encino, many of which were projected onto the bottom of the Goldwyn swimming pool. Charmed star ROSE McGOWAN chatted with the ebullient Stein, who directed the former Marilyn Manson squeeze in the 1999 bad-girl cult fave Jawbreaker. Other guests included actors PIPER LAURIE, LAURA ELENA HERRING, SHELLY COLE, JEREMY RENNER, JOEL MICHAELY, MISSY CRIDER, KARIN ANNA CHEUNG, director GUY FERLAND, Out editor
ALBERT SANCHEZ and KAT TURNER, designer FREDDIE ROJAS, and writer/filmmaker JOSHUA MILLER. Cheerful but sweaty party-goers noshed on hot dogs, pizza and churros, as camera-toting hunks-in-trunks and a bikini babe videotaped guests recounting childhood secrets, in deference to the film’s theme. Only Stein knows whether the collection of video secrets will yield another film or an extortion racket.

Over in Koreatown, there was a somewhat rollicking trade in human flesh at Outfest’s PLATINUM SNAPMEAT, a scaled-back version of the last two years’ 18-hour Platinum Oasis, at a new, more spacious location in the parking lot of the AMBASSADOR HOTEL. With a not-quite-realized post-apocalyptic theme combining Mad Max with Truck Stop Women, many of the performers wore little more than rags, bandages and Mohawks — not the most attractive look even on a steamy summer night — in front of a mix of bull daggers, muscle boys, overdressed Outfest patrons, underdressed Outfest staff, a smattering of straight couples and art-damaged individuals of all sexual persuasions. “Snapper Gangsters” (including photogs CATHY OPIE, JULIE BURLEIGH, RICK CASTRO and JEN KOLMEL) took pictures of various attendees, which were projected onto a screen, transforming the subjects into “SnapMeat” to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Model JENNY SHIMIZU was sold to a group of drag kings sporting faux facial hair who pooled their G-Notes, the event’s black-market currency, and carried her off the stage — never to be seen again (or at least for the eve). More puzzling was the page of “SnapMeat Rules” governing the digitally enhanced auction and bounty hunt. Director SASCHA RICE and actor JOE MELLIS, director and star, respectively, of the Outfest feature film Mango Kiss, were last seen trying to decipher the rather complicated instructions for the event under the dim glow of a video screen. The overly ambitious event — conceived by artist SHU LEA CHEANG and Outfest’s SHARI FRILOT, who curated — also boasted a performance stage and an array of wired vans, cars and trucks, comprising individual and group multimedia art installations. Many of the pieces were truly inventive, but a few seemed to be little more than tweakers in trailers. Among the more eye-catching installations was
THE VELVET HAMMER’s girlie spin on Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising, with a bikini-clad HOPE URBAN chained up under the supervision of MICHELLE CARR. THE TOXIC TITTIES’ “Glam Dyke Rescue Unit” provided free make-overs for the fashion-challenged, while MARGIE SCHNIBBE’s “2030 Penis Census” featured two trannies, performance artists NEW WAVE HOOKERS, registering phalluses for President Barbara Bush. GINA LOTRIMIN (a.k.a. Mr. Dan from Dragstrip 66) helmed the stage, emceeing performances by KIKI AND THE TRAVELING TROLLOPS (mack daddy VICTOR WILDE and a posse of scantily dressed gals), pussy poet MEDUSA, and supergroup bands STAY AT HOME BOMB (featuring the Bag’s ALICE BAG) and THE CIRCUITSIDE. Food (in the form of a roast pig, naturally) was a welcome addition this year, and there were far fewer hassles at the door than in the past. There were also, unfortunately, far fewer truly edgy performances and much less exhilarating art. However, SnapMeat did continue one tradition: The event ran out of alcohol early in the evening, turning a number of guests into Party Monsters intent on abusing the bar staff. After more alcohol was procured, the party drifted behind closed doors, where actor JASON FELIPE was literally caught with his pants around his ankles when the event promptly shut down at 2 a.m. Much of the unsnapped meat seemed reluctant to leave.

-Sandra Ross

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