Glory Hole blog

Bruce LaBruce on Faggotry

Bruce LaBruce is at it again! Following the release of The Misandrists, set at a school for wayward girls that’s actually the front for an organization of radical lesbian terrorists, the filmmaker is focusing on an anthology film and a full length, both of which deal with subject matter that doesn’t disappoint in provocation. There’s incest, twins, perversions and transgressive sex, all of which further LaBruce’s project of disrupting the status quo of modern sexuality. To add to the list of ventures, the filmmaker has recently made over 100 editions of his deliciously raunchy photographs available through the Tom of Finland Store. In anticipation of their release, we caught up with the master of transgression to talk about his connection to Tom, projects on the works and the state of queerness today.

Bruce LaBruce, "Skin Flick Production Still #4," 1998

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Can you tell me about the 100+ editions of yours now available through the ToF store?

The ToF store is offering a special edition of 100 of my photographs that I've been showing recently in various cities, a retrospective of 25 years of my photographic work, including some new work. I had the first exhibition, called Faggotry, at Lethal Amounts in LA last year, followed by an exhibition of the same name at the gallery I am represented by in Madrid, La Fresh. Most recently, I had a variation of the show, called The Haus of Bruce LaBruce, at Gallery 46 in London. The photos we're offering include production stills and behind-the-scenes photos from my movies, work I did for porn magazines like Honcho, Playguy, and Inches in the late nineties and early aughties, and various candid and portrait work I've done over the years.

Wow! That sounds like a very special selection. Can you tell me about your reason to make these available through the ToF store? What relationship do you have to Tom's life and work?

I've appreciated Tom of Finland's work since I discovered it in the eighties. When I did my queercore fanzine J.D.s in the eighties with my collaborator G.B. Jones, she did a series of drawings for the zine that were a detournement of Tom of Finland drawings featuring women instead of men, called Tom Girls. Last year I finally had the pleasure to visit the ToF house for dinner, and also to have a screening of several of my films there. It was a memorable event!

Bruce LaBruce, "Skin Flick Production Still #5," 1998

Yes, the ToF house is absolutely legendary! What are you working on these days?

I've been showing my new movie, The Misandrists, around the world (I recently presented it at Kuir Bogata, the queer film festival, in Colombia, and next week I will be presenting it at the Belgrade Queer Film Festival). I recently completed an omnibus film for Cockyboys comprised of four short films with interrelated themes. It's called "It Is Not The Pornographer That Is Perverse...", which will be released soon. (The longer, pornier version is called "Bruce LaBruce's Fleapit.") And then I have several other scripts in various stages of development. The working title of the one I want to make next is "Twincest."

Can you tell me more about "It’s not the Pornographer that is Perverse..." and "Twincest"?

"It Is Not the Pornographer that Is Perverse..." is an anthology film composed of four short scenarios with interrelated themes that I've shot for Cockyboys, a US porn company. Each one represents a different aspect of modern sexuality that runs contrary to the new sexual puritanism currently on the rise. I shot the first two films in Madrid and the second two films in Berlin this past summer, including locations in the former such as the the Cementerio de la Almudena and the Segovia Viaduct, and in the latter such as the East Side Gallery, the former Berlin Wall. "Twincest" (working title) is a feature length script about two identical male twins separated at birth who meet again in their early twenties and have a sexual attraction to one another. It's a modern retelling of the Narcissus myth, set in the early seventies.

Bruce LaBruce, "Nipple Eyepatch," 2003

That sounds like a truly subversive gay story! Which brings me to my next question. Your work has always been about undermining mainstream values. How are you rethinking this project in an age where political incorrectness has been co-opted by conservatives?

In the current climate, I am not only appalled by the neo-fascism of the left, but I am also disturbed by the neo-Stalinism of the left, which now tends to attempt to police desire and language with a kind of political correctness run amok. The right has co-opted the strategy of political incorrectness to be sure, but my films have always challenged and critiqued both the left and the right in a politically incorrect, playful, and dialectical way. They've always been anti-authoritarian, counter-cultural, polemical, and subversive. The political landscape shifts, but my methods and targets always remain the same.

Do you feel artists working today have any responsibility in the midst of our political crisis?

I can only speak to my responsibilities as an artist, which include questioning authority, challenging and subverting conventions, cinematic and otherwise, raising questions, being polemical, exploring taboo and forbidden territory, and using cinema, photography, pornography, and homosexuality for revolutionary purposes!

How are you applying these strategies to tackle increasing homonormativity? How has your strategy when it comes to using homosexuality for "revolutionary purposes" changed since you first started making work?

To be honest, I just keep doing what I've always been doing. It's the political spectrum that keeps shifting, although its goal posts always seem to shift more and more to the right side of the spectrum in terms of capitalism, corporatism, and neo-liberalism. My work has never been particularly accepted by the gay orthodoxy, and as assimilation advances, it's even less popular! My latest movie, The Misandrists, was not programmed by the major LGBTQI2 festivals, even though it expressly addresses feminist and transgender issues that are highly relevant today. But the film has been shown at major international film festivals like Berlin, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Kolkata, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Wroclaw, Motovun, etc. But it is also playing at most of the adventurous queer festivals internationally. So it's business as usual for me.

Bruce LaBruce, "Hustler Hiding (Madrid)," 2009

Bruce LaBruce, "Skateboard Dress," 2005

With increasing assimilation it seems like your queercore project is more important than ever. Who today embodies what you consider to be the true essence of queercore?

Gio Black Peter, No Bra (Susanne Oberbeck), Lasse Langstrom, and all the queer kids I meet at queer film fests from Glasgow to Bogota to Prague and on and on.

Love Gio Black Peter! Do you have a favorite movie of the last few years?

I really liked Andrey Zvyagintsev's last two films, Leviathan and Loveless. It's great when a filmmaker in an oppressive country makes films that fearlessly depict the real corruption of their homeland, and the ironies and paradoxes that arise from such insane regimes. There should be more films from the USA like that!

What advice do you have for young gay artists working today?

Take Fountain!

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