Photo by Vin Casey
Despite an early-morning visit from the fire marshal, the party never stopped at PLATINUM OASIS, the second annual 18-hour performance-art spectacular sponsored by OUTFEST. A cozy sense of camaraderie developed between artists and audience after officials thinned the herd of party animals. Among the throng were drag kings, nellie queens, effete art snobs, butch groupies, art-damaged activists, gender illusionists, performance junkies, the curious and the bi-curious, all of whom turned out for debauched fun at LA TERRA VISTA DALLA LUNA, an homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini.
But while last year's patrons doffed their duds early on, the Jacuzzi didn't see much action until late in the evening. (Nudie cutie ALEXIS ARQUETTE was the one exception.) Even co-curator (and Weeklyite) VAGINAL DAVIS kept her clothes on most of the time. How does a diva blactress top last year's outfit, which consisted of a few pieces of strategically placed duct tape? By opening the show in blackface while channeling supermodel Alex Wek, of course. With over 40 artists ensconced inside individual rooms at the CORAL SANDS MOTEL, guests wandered the hallways, taking in performances, installations and interactive art. Designer RICK OWENS' haute couture sweatshop churned out scarlet toga-type garb at such an alarming rate that at one point the majority of guests resembled cult members. Co-curator (and Weekly staffer) RON ATHEY somehow managed to make his drape look stylish. Actor JASON FELIPE was spotted wearing not much besides Toronto-based artist WILL MUNRO's hand-painted, bejeweled undies.
Pasolini's well-known predilection for poo dominated many of the rooms. Rum, sodomy and the lash (actually Absolut, hand jobs and face lickings) were the order of the day. However, KEITH BACON's installation "Disco Teorema" had a merry vibe, as did the shrine to "The Cult of Femininity" by artist (and Weeklyite) PANDORA YOUNG. Described by the artist as "a cross between a haunted house and a lap dance," NICOLE BLACKMAN's "The Courtesan's Tales" room had patrons panting for more.
Sound-installation artist BOB BELERUE warmly welcomed guests into his room to listen to distortions of favorite tunes, while Lexicon Devil writer (and Weekly contributor) BRENDAN MULLEN and co-author ADAM PARFREY filled in the inquisitive on the secret gay life of punk rock icon Darby Crash. Poker-faced artist JONATHON BERGER awaited the appearance of marsupial werewolves in his wilderness-themed room. Dressed in black and white, DAME DARCY and VICTOR CRETELLA (pictured) virtually disappeared into their room, punningly called "Gem in Eye." It likewise proved difficult to catch a glimpse of photog CATHERINE OPIE or singer-writer LYDIA LUNCH, both of whom put in brief appearances at their respective installations. At MING-YUEN S. MA's "This Is Not a Foreign Film," guests peeked through a window to observe the endless, melancholy dance of two Asian men, underscoring the alienation among many gays and lesbians of color. Surrounded by "lavender menace" pulp novels and magazines from the '40s, '50s and '60s and reclining in comfy silk pajamas, eminently engaging scholar STUART TIMMONS of the ONE Institute & Archive chatted about the historical oppression of gays and lesbians. On the other side of the courtyard, a room called "Curios Shoppe/Museo d'Or" presented an amusing mock museum that included a fake Ellen DeGeneres prom dress and condom used by George Michael.
Seen room hopping were party planners BRYAN RABIN and DAVID RODGERS, costume designer SUSAN MATHESON, superstylists ARIANNE PHILLIPS and STEVEN PRICE, scribe LISA TEASLEY, photog SCOTT BECKER, scenic artist PIGPEN, actress LISA EDELSTEIN, writer BELISSA COHEN, artist ANNIE SPRINKLE, designer SWEET PEA, Wigstock director BARRY SHILS, actor MICKEY COTTRELL, music man BRIAN GRILLO, film producer BRUCE COHEN, writer-director GUIN TURNER, and actor-director LAURA BETTI.
After so much dark, excremental excess, MY BARBARIAN's upbeat poolside performance, described alternately as "Broadcore" and "Broadrave" by vivacious lead singer JADE GORDON, got the party hopping. Singer ABBY TRAVIS, guitarist KID CONGO POWERS not strumming but singing, and transsexual hip-hop duo THE END OF THE WORLD also drew cheers, but the biggest hit of the evening was THE VELVET HAMMER. In addition to hosting a fabulous, bacchanalian-themed room complete with munchies, the gals wowed with a spectacular performance that included belly-dancer PLEASANT GEHMAN (a Weekly contributor), a scimitar balanced on her head, making a hip-swinging descent into the pool.
Outfest organizers' last-minute attempt to bowdlerize "La Republica de Salo," a room designed by the naughty AESTHETIC NIHILISTS, backfired. Black-clad, goateed artist STANTON LaVEY quickly accommodated Outfest organizers' request to remove a swastika flag from the door -- but the mere whiff of censorship made the politically incorrect room all the more alluring. Near midnight, the Nazi flag had become a bedspread and the room looked like a scene out of Cabaret as choreographed by Pasolini.
Perhaps next year's Outfest organizers will spend less time monitoring their artists and more time working the door. Complaints were rampant about long waits to get in and an inept Outfest volunteer force monopolizing installations such as BRUCE LaBRUCE's re-creation of Pasolini's Porcile, where Russian poet SLAVA reportedly put on quite an intimate performance. After the fire marshal ushered many guests off premises, chitchat in various rooms turned serious -- political freedom for artists isn't typical late-night conversation, especially by half-clad hepcats. Pasolini would have been pleased.
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READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UPS
"The first time I went to Outfest, back in '87 or '88," says OUTFEST board member SAMANTHA SPRECHER, "somebody from the local press showed up with a video camera. When the lights and camera were turned on, you saw hundreds of people covering their heads and ducking." But times have changed, notes fellow Outfest board member STEPHEN MACIAS: "Now, the people here are jumping in front of the cameras. You can't stop them." Among the photo-ready faces whizzing by on the Ferris wheel or guffawing at Michael Ovitz jokes at Outfest's opening-night after-party behind the ORPHEUM THEATER were LESLEY ANN WARREN, Six Feet Under's LAUREN AMBROSE, actresses JUDITH LIGHT and JENNY SHIMIZU (best Mohawk or faux-hawk of the evening), Queer as Folk's RANDY HARRISON, Kissing Jessica Stein's HEATHER JUERGENSEN, High Art's RADHA MITCHELL, CAA's BRYAN LOURD, American Beauty producers BRUCE COHEN and DAN JINKS, directors LISA CHOLODENKO and CHERYL DUNYE, and even KYLIE "I Can't Get That Bloody Tune Out of My Head" MINOGUE. In fact, MARGARET CHO and Notorious C.H.O. director-producer LORENE MACHADO brought their own video camera, no doubt getting material for Cho's next concert movie. "It's the only time in Los Angeles," concluded Cho about the 20th anniversary of Southern California's largest film festival, "when being old and large is a good thing."