SEX… in a fashion

The DMA’s exhibit on the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier exudes sex appeal with a big dose of flamboyance

Fashion-1

DRESSED TO KILL IT | Gay fashion pioneer Jean Paul Gaultier oversees his own exhibit (Below) as an Animatronic mannequin, a fascinating technology that only accentuates the brilliance of the designs. (Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

For a man best known for creating the Valkyrie-like conical breastplate that shot Madonna into the pop culture stratosphere, Jean Paul Gaultier is a surprisingly humble person. While he’s clearly delighted to have his fashions on display — as they are at the Dallas Museum of Art in the traveling exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which runs through February — he makes one thing plain: He does not consider fashion “art.”

“My work is not art,” he says flatly. “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn. My role is not to create in the abstract but to be inspired by the needs and desires of the people. So I am in service to that. Art is art — it is a personal vision of the artist.” He pauses, then adds with a smile, “My collections are my babies, though.”

While the designer himself may not consider his work product “art” in an academic sense, there are probably few who would agree with him. More so than most fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier’s style is instantly recognizable, even without seeing the label.

He almost single-handedly moved the bustier from the boudoir to the arena stage, cladding Madonna in a corset for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, immediately making legends of them both.

It’s not just brassieres, but lace bodysuits, silk leotards, men in skirts — Gaultier takes fashion rules and sets them on their heads, turning out wearable art (there, we said it) that is both old-fashioned, even classical, and futuristic — but always oozing sex.

“My love for fashion belongs to the fact I saw a movie from the 1940s when I was 12,” he says. “In the movie, they did a beautiful description of couture.” (Now, when he works with a film director — as he did recently with Pedro Almodovar on The Skin I Live In, or Luc Besson on several films — “it is like I return to that [moment]”.)

But really, the germ of his style was started by what a pre-teen Jean Paul found in his grandmother’s wardrobe.

“I was fascinated by the whole world of my grandmother’s closet — it was beautiful and different,” he says. “It was underwear that could be worn as outerwear. I stole my ideas from her.”

Though not just her. Gaultier was inspired by television, by old movies, by showgirls — anything that offered a view of beauty he could re-imagine on the runway.

“My definition of beauty — there’s not one type. Beauty is beauty — you can find it in different places,” he says.

It’s a keystone not only of his design style, but of the DMA’s astonishingly exciting exhibit. (Anyone who doesn’t think a Gaultier gown deserves formal museum treatment obviously hasn’t seen the show.) In just a handful of rooms, we move from camp to punk — with many, many visits to edgy haute couture.

In the first gallery, visitors are introduced to Gaultier himself, talking about his fashions via a quasi-Animatronic mannequin that captures his actual face and voice, projected with unnerving authenticity. That happens with a lot of the mannequins, some of whom seem to look back, even judge you. (One Mohawk’d man in tights and a codpiece seemed to be flirting with me; I bet he does that with all the boys.) Lanky sailor boys in striped Apaché T-shirts look as if they leaped from a Tom of Finland drawing; that cone bra is also unmistakable.

Walk further, and the second room oozes the dark romance of a bordello, approximating (with its window-like display cases) the red-light district of Amsterdam. “I think when you exit this room, they should give you a cigarette,” I told another patron. She didn’t disagree.

Another room shows the movement of the pieces, sort of, with a moving catwalk that is like a time machine of Gaultier runway fashions, including representative designs from his famous Men in Skirts that took MOMA by storm some years ago. That’s only the most obvious example of the genderbending that is a Gaultier hallmark — and a central theme of the sexual forthrightness of the DMA’s exhibit.

“Androgyny is part of the thing that interests me,” he says, “that moment when the young can pass to adolescence [and] their beauty is between feminine and masculine at the same time. I use it to show in reality how [both sexes] can assume [the identity of the other sex]. In Scotland, you will see me in kilts and they are very masculine — it’s not feminine to wear a skirt [in that context].”

That, Gaultier says, is the essence of freedom, showing that “men can cry just as well as women can fight.”

And this exhibit shows that a designer can be an artist with a bold sense of sex — even if he doesn’t think so.

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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Visit DallasVoice. com/ category/ Photos to see more of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Chi Chi lately

If you haven’t seen Miss LaRue recently, prepare to be amazed

HALF THE GAL SHE USED TO BE | Her hair’s still as big as Texas, but the porn goddess and DJ has dropped 150 lbs.

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

………………………….

CHI CHI LARUE
Drama Room, 3851 Cedar Springs Road, 10 p.m.–midnight,
Tin Room, 2514 Hudnall St.,
midnight-2 a.m., Sept. 16 and 17.

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Pulling over to a McDonald’s to access their free wi-fi in preparation for an interview with legendary adult film director Chi Chi LaRue seemed like a good idea at the time. A quick visit to her website and a review of her bio wouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Except it never got that far. When a large photo of her film CockWatch, featuring stars with names like Drake Jaden, David Chase and Colton Steele, popped up on-screen … well, let’s just say the kiddies in Playland weren’t prepared for those kinds of McNuggets.

So I scooped up my laptop and headed to the car to call LaRue (the drag alter ego of Larry David Paciotti), who had just returned to Los Angeles after a three-movie shoot in Florida and a tropical-storm-soaked weekend at Southern Decadence in New Orleans. I actually ran into the diva at a bar in NOLA but didn’t recognize her since her extraordinary weight loss. Since her gastric bypass surgery three years ago, she’s lost more than 150 pounds (or the equivalent of 1.35 twinks).

“I’m glad I did it; I’d do it again,” she says. “It’s changed everything about me. It’s changed the way I even look at myself as far as the Chi Chi LaRue character goes. It took me a while to get back into character. Having lost the weight, I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to be my character anymore. But the character’s inside me. It’s what I exude and put out there and how I present myself. Fat or thin, you can do that. I had to get it into my head that I could still be big and flamboyant even in a smaller body.”

If anything, slimming down has energized LaRue and kept her busier than ever. In addition to directing gay porn movies in fabulous destinations all over the world, she has a retail store in West Hollywood that sells a variety of Chi Chi (and chi-chi) merchandise, and she books DJ gigs at gay clubs from coast to coast.

Which is exactly what brings her to Dallas for Pride. She’ll be spinning at the Drama Room and Tin Room on Friday and Saturday nights, then heads to the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sunday. When she found out the Drama Room is next door to a certain Cedar Springs restaurant, though, she immediately perked up.

“Oooh, I love the Black-eyed Pea! I will be having some fried pickles. Guaranteed. I love the Black-eyed Pea!” she says.

Other than a few quick ventures out for a little comfort food and her official public appearances, LaRue’s travels have been pretty low-key.

“I like to stay in my hotel and just kind of chill and get ready for the DJ gig. I live my life as a vampire and stay in during the day since I’m working at night. When I’m only somewhere for a couple days, I don’t like to go out and wear myself out,” she says. “I’m an old woman! I’m a 51-year-old twat!”

Once the Dallas gig is over, it’s back to the grind of directing and traveling.

“I’m shooting a movie with Chris Crocker. You know who Chris Crocker is, right? He’s the boy who went on YouTube and did, ‘Leave Brittney Alone!’ He’s now turned himself into a cutie boy and wants to do a porn. I’m shooting his probably first and only porn movie,” LaRue says.

After that, it’s another movie with the Russo twins, a new flick with Greg Everett and DJing in San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair.

“It never stops,” she says. “I just go, go, go. Same time, different year. And I’m happy with that. I’ve kept my name out there for 25 years. It’s great that someone’s stuck with me that long. I feel like Madonna, damn it! Well, sometimes I feel like Madonna, and sometimes I feel like Courtney Love the day after.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Something WICKED this way comes

BiteMarks1rs
BLOOD-SUCKING HUNKS | It could be hard to run from these beefy vampires in ‘Bite Marks,’ a horror comedy starring Dallas native Benjamin Lutz.

Alt-gay gorefest Fears for Queers is back for seconds as vampire director Mark Bessenger presses the flesh

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Mark Bessenger may be the first person to coin the term “horror drag.” The film director, who comes to town Saturday for Dallas’ second annual Fears for Queers Film Festival, ponders over what queer audiences find in horror films. As he sees it, the gays love screams.

“Whether [it’s because] we identify with the monster as an outcast, or because people dress up in all that horror drag, I’m kinda surprised [LGBT-themed horror festivals] are not happening more often,” he says.

Bessenger’s first produced feature, Bite Marks, closes out the one-day fest, following a successful premiere at the San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival last week. And even though Fears for Queers isn’t as big, Bessenger is glad organizers Shawn Ewert and Andrew Rose approached him for it.

“It’s like we were made for each other,” he says. “How often do you run into a gay film festival of horror movies? I can’t wait to see how Texans react. And to have it shown at the theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended?  That’s such a bonus.”

In Bite Marks, Brewster, a truck driver (played by Dallas native Benjamin Lutz), is dealing with his sexuality. While on the road, he picks up a hitchhiking gay couple working out some issues of their own. If you think the premise sounds suspiciously like the plot of a gay porn film, you are not alone.

“Even during casting, we were asked if this was a porno,” he laughs. “Without giving too much away, Brewster is hauling a shipment of coffins to a funeral home, but when the GPS misleads them, they find themselves in an abandoned junkyard — and the coffins may not be empty.”

Written to be dark and brutal, Bessenger made changes during talks with his executive producer. Initially, the hitchhikers were straight, but changed to same-sex to broaden the demographic. (How often has that decision been made?) He also changed the tone to more of a horror comedy.

The decisions have paid off. Bessenger’s reaction from the San Fran crowd was enthusiastic.

“The feedback I’ve gotten has mostly been about the comedy,” he says. “I think they responded because of its gay edge and snappy lines. One funny thing was the more conventional horror scares I use, the audience wasn’t familiar with.”

Bessenger was thrilled hearing gasps in the audience and seeing people jump in their seats. Although he says his next film will be straightforward horror, the gay element isn’t lost on him. His approach has been to create the film and then figure in an LGBT aspect. He has no problem being the “gay filmmaker,” as that sensibility will creep into his movies regardless.

“Of course it depends on who I’m making the movie for, but because I am gay, there will likely be that aesthetic,” Bessenger says. “If I had done Avatar or Super 8, there would be something gay in there. Artistically, something of yourself has to seep in even if it’s just a line of dialogue or a reference.”

But making Bite Marks so gay was easier because all the lead actors were out, including Lutz, an SMU grad making his feature film debut. Lutz performed in Dallas with the likes of Kitchen Dog Theater and the Dallas Theater Center, but left for L.A. six years ago. But he’s downplaying his homecoming.

“I am really excited to see it on my home turf,” he says. “I can’t be nervous about reactions. I’ve done my work, it’s up there and there’s nothing I can do.”

But he had some nerves going into the part. Unlike the blue-collar Midwesterner Brewster, Lutz is a Texas boy; he worried if that would hinder his performance.

“I’ve never driven a truck or done certain things Brewster has,“ he says. “I was nervous I wouldn’t have a believable accent, but everything really fell in place. I felt like I was in really good hands with Mark.”

Both Bessenger and Lutz are at work on their next films, and Bessenger for one is excited about the continued growth of LGBT voices in film into something broader. He just wants them to scream as well.

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Fears for Queers’ lineup

DOA Blood Bath Entertainment teamed with out filmmaker Shawn Ewert and his company Right Left Turn Productions to bring back the second annual Fears For Queers LGBT Film Festival, consisting of feature films and short scarefests — all by queer filmmakers. The films — which all screen Saturday at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff — run the gamut from camp to terrifying.

In J.T. Seaton’s feature George’s Intervention, friends of George meet to help him with his addiction to  eating people. Considering George is a zombie, they may have trouble sticking around through the night.

Ann-rose-hang-up-bras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cupcake, above, is likely the first zombie lesbian musical. The short fits in a chorus line of zombies amid a love story in the suburbs. A lesbian couple moves into Hobart, but the crabby pair of old ladies next door aren’t having it, but beware of that pale-looking mailman.

The Finnish film Metsästysmaata, below, takes two strangers led by a mysterious girl into the deep woods where no one can hear them scream.

Metsa1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lola Rocknrolla is back with cinematic screwballery in the short, I Was a Tranny Werewolf.

Bite Marks, below, closes the fest along with a Q&A with director Mark Bessenger, actor Benjamin Lutz in attendance.

Bite-Marks-movie-[IMG_6063]

Proceeds from the festival benefit Youth First Texas.

Texas Theatre,
231 W. Jefferson Blvd. June 25, 2–7 p.m. $10. DOABloodbath.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.


—  Kevin Thomas

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Shawn of the deadly

Homo and horror collide as out filmmaker Shawn Ewert slices his way into the movies

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

SCARED (NOT) STRAIGHT | Shawn Ewert has wrapped up his second short film with his first feature in sight. (Arnold Wayne Jones | Dallas Voice)
SCARED (NOT) STRAIGHT | Shawn Ewert has wrapped up his second short film with his first feature in sight. (Arnold Wayne Jones | Dallas Voice)

For some people, every day is Halloween.

The monsters and nightmares stick around all year long and they are just fine with that.

Definitely Shawn Ewert is. Actually, if it wasn’t for those nightmares, he might be out of his profession as a horror film director.

“If I’m working around the house, I’ll throw in any scary movie for the background,” he says. “It’s just another day.”

When a “cool aunt” showed him A Nightmare on Elm Street, it scared him like it should any 5-year-old. Now 32, he admits he can’t get enough of it. So he decided to turn his photography work into filmmaking.

“I love film in general but because of that, horror has special place for me,” he says. “I watched a lot of Hitchcock growing up. He wasn’t going for gore — he was all about story. That’s what it is for me. If I don’t care about story, I don’t care about the film.”

In junior high, his writing began to manifest as his outlet for his “freakiness:” No one read his stuff for fear they would freak out. In the back of his mind, though, he wondered what his stories would actually look like.

“I knew those stories would be so much cooler if I could watch,” he says. “All I thought was how could I make this on the screen. I’d love to show to somebody someday the way I see all this in my head.”

Ewert rolls his eyes at the thought of reminiscing over high school. Like many gay youth, they weren’t the best of times for him. He came out to a select few, but was publicly outed by the girl he dated. Still, Ewert came out relatively unscathed — even in a Mesquite high school.

But his second family was in the horror film fan community, and it’s there he found solace and even acceptance. Unlike comedy or musicals, there isn’t an actual community of fans, but those who like scary movies — who really like them — come together and Ewert found a home. When he began his coming out process on his own terms, he found acceptance among his brethren.

“For me, the horror community is pretty accepting,” he says. “Horror fans can connect to so many other people that it’s almost a family atmosphere. In that group, you’re less of a freak and that made it easier to come out to those people.”

Fast-forward to June 2010. Ewert’s production company, Right Left Turn Productions, screened his short Jack’s Bad Day at the first Fears for Queers film festival in Addison. The one-day event featured all gay filmmakers in the horror genre.  His 20-minute film is about a serial killer who comes up short in his murderous proclivity. Ewert calls it a horror-comedy.

“The stuff we’ve made so far has been tongue-in-cheek,” he says. “There’s a certain comedy to Jack’s Bad Day. All his victims die right before he kills them. What it would it mean for a serial killer to have that kind of day?”

He’s wrapping up his second short The Sleepover, a 10-minute-long film that leaves the comedy out in favor of sheer fear. “Oh gosh, it’s a horrifying story about a serial killer of little girls,” he says.

So where’s the gay stuff? Ewert doesn’t see things that way. Although he’s gay and a filmmaker, his films aren’t going to “be gay” just because he is. Got it?

“The problem I have with most LGBT films is the filmmakers make them as gay as possible without much of a story,” he says. “They make films that are so narrow just to fit one community. I want to see the gay community in my films. I also want to have appeal to everyone. And I don’t write gay-centric necessarily, but I do have a script I couldn’t stop writing.”

That would be his latest short, Out Come the Wolves, and it’s both scary and topical. Ewert’s first gay horror piece is about one kid’s revenge on bullies. But Wolves is also personal to him because his own run-ins were far scarier than any movie.

“I used a lot of language in the film that if someone were to say to me and I would be pretty upset,” he says. “When a truckload of guys once chased and threatened me, it was my first dose of reality that they could literally take someone’s life. That made its way into this film. This is revenge for me.”

He’s taking baby steps with his short films, but his first full-length feature is in sight. Ewert has scripts and ideas ready to put on camera. If he runs out of ideas, well,  all he has to do is go to sleep.

“Almost everything I’ve done has come out of a dream, or as close to a dream as I can remember,” Ewert says.
Or maybe he means nightmare.

For more on Ewert’s films, visit RightLeftTurnProductions.com.

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Scary gay

Horror filmmaker Shawn Ewert knows his scary movies. He also knows what’s so gay about many of them. He breaks down some of his favorites for us here.

The Hunger - “David Bowie is in the film. Oh, and the really hot romance between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve.”

The Lost Boys – “They only wanted Michael as part of the crew. The girl — secondary.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 – “I keep this in a special place with the coming out story and so much homoeroticism.”

Fright Night – “Evil Ed’s ostracism from the rest of the kids, finds a “home”/acceptance with a sexy older man/vampire.”

Interview With the Vampire – “OK, really? Do I have to spell this one out?”

Psycho – “Overbearing mother, issues with women, liked to stuff things. Gay.”

Dracula - “ Oh, Vlad totally had it bad for Jonathan Harker”.

Night of the Creeps – “Yeah, at the end he gets the girl, but only after his “roommate” is killed by one of the phallic aliens that gets you by going through your mouth.”

— R.L

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas