Wednesday, 22 March 2023


The censorship of this brilliant film is scandalous, and indicative of the ‘dark ages’ approaching (with increasing speed). What has happened to Louie C.K. is appalling, and the disappearance of such a significant and  major work in the modern fashion -- i.e. due to ‘ad hominem’ accusations against the artist -- is a sign that art, as we know it, is seeing it’s final eclipse. I grew up in what I now see as a Golden Age of American Art. As a young queer American boyette I was exposed to Who’s Afraid of Viriginia Woolf? and the plays of Tennessee Wiliams, from an early age, and I came to define drama as what my friend David calls ‘four people being rude in a. room.’ This is what theatre has been since Greek tragedy and what it should be forever. The implication of my friend’s definition of theatre are these: you might not enjoy the play or movie you are going to see -- or the book you are going to read -- in the sense that it may not give you the endless, thoughtless pleasure that let’s say reading a 'Harry Potter’ book for the 10th time, might. The book, or play or movie might feature characters that you find repulsive, doing things you find disgusting, frightening or even horrific (and I don’t mean scary like some dumb horror movie, I mean horrific like for instance: Medea). But that is the job of art,  to present us with stories that are simply terrifying as well as just terrifyingly pretty. I Love You, Daddy was set to be released in November 2017 and premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival just before that (something we here in Toronto should be very proud of) and was consequently censored — without the benefit of government intervention, and without the possible saving grace of public outcry. No one had to ban it (that’s just the way we destroy art nowadays — it’s quick and easy and unannounced) it was simply never released. All this happened because Louie C.K. was accused  — by three women —  of exposing himself to them, in each case after having asked their permission to do so, and being given that permission (one of the ‘exposures’ happened over the telephone). I am not trying to minimize Louie C.K.’s misconduct —and Louie C. K has not tried to do so either — but that is not the point here. The point here is that artists have the right to be bastards, bastardettes (or for that matter, bastards with unfamiliar pronouns) because they are by nature at least as screwed up as so-called normal people (where do you think all that art comes from?). And what they do in their private lives should not be held against their work, period. If we started to analyze the personal lives and crazy political views of all the artists we loved — and if we decided to ban the work of those artists whose lives and attitudes we now consider repellant (which is something that, unfortunately, is happening as we speak) there would be no more art. This is a dire situation. But no one cares because it’s easier to just continue reading Harry Potter alone in our pink and fancy bedrooms, eating chocolate, and getting fat on the limitations of our dull inadequacy of invention. (Though of course J.K. Rowling is being given a hard time too. Perhaps any sort of fantasy is just toxic — perhaps we should stay away from the human imagination, itself?) I saw I Love You, Daddy last night after 5 years of waiting to see it. I’m technologically incompetent enough (yes, I am old) that I couldn’t figure out how to download it without my computer yelling at me that my QuickTime required Viagra. To say the film is brilliant would be an understatement. I Love You, Daddy had me in its grasp, in full blown intellectual and emotional rapture from beginning to end. Let’s be clear about what Louie C.K. has done here. He has made a sex positive film in which he de-mystifies sex, and most importantly (and I think this is why the film has been banned) he has made a feminist a film that clearly emboldens women who desire, who are sexual, and who initiate their own sexual pleasures. It is a film which also respects women's sexual privacy and independence of thought. (I Love You, Daddy uses the term 'pervert' to describe anyone who openly desires.) I Love You, Daddy is actually a fictional biography of Woody Allen in later life; apparently Louie C.K. has worked with Allen and actually offered Allen the part of himself (i.e. the part of an aging accused pedophile filmmaker) (he has balls, this Louie C.K.! ). Allen refused (obviously) — however John Malkovich is amazing in the role. This film also contains masterful performances by the incomparable Edie Falco (in a gorgeous unremitting rage here) and Pamela Adlon (Adlon is a long-time feminist artist and collaborator of Louie C.K.). It’s a shame that actors Chloe Grace Moritz and Rose Byrne have decided to jump on the trendy bandwagon and condemn this film. One can forgive Moritz I suppose, because as a onetime child star and graduate of Disney films she felt it necessary to protect her franchise (it’s all about money). But, interestingly Adlon and Falco have not condemned the film. I must also mention Charlie Day, who I will not forget faux-masturbating on a couch every time Rose Byrne telephones (in two hilarious scenes). We will be patting ourselves on the back for a long time for the momentous cancelling of our imaginations that the banning of this film represents. But there is nothing that can be done; as in 476 A D we are descending into the dark, and only now and then will a few people be able to write or read anything of value. And god forbid if we yearn to see real human life, as it is lived, uncensored and in all it’s glorious emotional gore; this is no longer allowed. 

Friday, 27 January 2023

Woke’s Heinous Ideological Somersaults: The Father

    Watching the television coverage of the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols is both fascinating and disheartening. Commentators are now telling us that it is not important whether or not the police who murdered him were black or white. This specifically contradicts the message of  Black Lives Matter, and indicates the ideological bankruptcy that lies at the heart of wokeness. Simply put: does race matter, or does it not? Can you please make up your mind?  I was similarly befuddled and discouraged by the reaction to Florian Zeller’s recent masterpiece The Son, released hot on the tails of The Father — which was both a gripping and terrifying melodrama, starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman — and which dealt with the horrors of dementia. The Son too, deals with mental illness, and this has proved to be its downfall -- as the woke critics that now constitute the editorial staff of Rotten Tomatoes have officially killed Zeller’s film. It was with bewilderment that I read (before watching it) the film’s 27% rating and the incomprehensible reviews. I couldn’t figure out what critics thought was so wrong. It seemed they might be obsessed with the notion that the parents did not properly deal with their mentally ill child; unfortunately, it was difficult to tell. The Son (like The Father) was written by Christopher Hampton, who is six years older than I am. This should be enough to disqualify any film written by him for woke praise, as he is obviously cripplingly decrepit and ‘past it.’ But as ancient as I am, I can remember the brash queerness of Hampton’s first success (in 1966 — at the ripe old age of 20, no less!) When Did You Last See My Mother? — and the sheer brilliance of his forgotten masterpiece --  one of my favourite plays — The Philanthropist -- at London's Royal Court. Well it turns out that The Son — unlike Zeller’s The Father (which received 98% on Rotten Tomatoes) will be unable to steer clear of the rocky shoals of woke that will send it to a watery and ignominius grave. The primary contribution woke politics has made to the arts (besides destroying it) is to demand that every work of art have an easily discernible and translatable message, and on top of that, a message that pleases the new, intolerant left. On this level The Son is shockingly bereft, as it is nearly impossible to figure out  its ‘point of view.' The Son presents the nightmare of mental illness, period. There is no one to blame here; but God (if you still believe in him) and the afflicted parents and their afflicted child must navigate the maelstrom of this psychological nightmare as best they can. Consequentially, the film forces us think a lot about parenting, love and trust, men and women, and the definition of sanity itself. But then there is the whole issue of ‘mental illness.’ And when woke makes something an ‘issue’, there is of course no discussion — only a hard and fast notion of good and evil, right and wrong. Under a relatively recent and particularly punishing woke rubric, ‘mental illness’ has become a sacred cow. I remember a few years ago asking one of my students if Hamlet was ‘mad’ and getting, in response the following reprimand: ‘It’s not right of us to question whether or not a person is mentally ill or not. It’s up to them to self identify.’ My protestation that Hamlet was a fictional character fell on deaf ears; this too is one of the most salient characteristics of wokedom which (like the religious right) cannot tell fact from fiction. At any rate, for wokies, the mentally ill are saints, and as such need to be nothing less than worshipped. They are most likely abused by the medical establishment and the non-woke, as they are always right, and certainly never ‘evil.’ Unfortunately, The Son does not share this rosy picture of mental illness; in fact the family is destroyed by madness's cannibalistic virulence, and ultimately (and this is the film’s unforgivable crime) when the parents take the advice of their mentally ill son this (spoiler alert) leads to their son’s untimely and tragic death. As the son screams at his parents: ‘Don’t listen to them — listen to me!' one is reminded of the tragic persistence of young trans ‘victims’ who demand drugs and surgery, all the while threatening imminent self-immolation. Of course — wokies tell us — parents must listen, always, as children —especially mentally ill ones — are always right, and we — the infirm and uninformed old — must allow the child to rule.  I feel sad for the failure of this film;  it should be Christopher Hampton’s final masterpiece.Or perhaps he will come up with an ever better script for Florian Zeller’s The Mother (which undoubtedly must be in the works)? Although I am frightened that it, too, may offend the woke by presenting a less than flattering portrait of a human female. And, after all, one of the undebatable woke precepts is that women are always right and men are always wrong. It’s hard to be an artist in these paradoxical times. Most are giving up. I, for one, am not.

Friday, 9 December 2022


Announcing The Liar’s Club: a monthly reading series -- and occasional mentoring series -- the brainchild of Sky Gilbert!

The first appearance of The Liars Club will be on Valentines Day, Tuesday, February 14, 2023 at Supermarket Bar and Variety, 268 Augusta Avenue, Toronto from 7:30-8:30 pm. All are invited, and each will have 7 minutes to read their work. Admission is free. Hopefully informal classes will grow out of The Liar’s Club — these classes will be for those who want some advice from Sky on ‘how to lie.’ (Sky is an ancient, inveterate liar.)

Why The Liar’s Club?

Picasso said “We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Picasso’s statement does not reflect the present state of cultural affairs. Today we assume that artists utilize their work to express their personal opinions about the state of the world, or life (or death) — decorated with their chosen ‘style.’ The job of the critic has become to discern the artist’s message and affirm its rightness — or challenge its heresy — to, in effect, agree or disagree with a work of art. But we have forgotten what art is; a message from the unconscious, one that — though it may be crafted — ultimately cannot be controlled, or translated into ordinary, denotative language.The only artists who are not welcome at The Liar’s Club are those who believe that creative writers are obligated to transmit specific, literal, definable, immutable truths; writers who wish to be congratulated — not on the quality of their art — but on the ‘rightness’ of their ideas. We celebrate lies and liars here, and the ability to create strange, well crafted, impossible/horrifying/funny/sexy/beautiful worlds with words.

A quote from Shakespeare Lied (Sky’s upcoming book with Guernica Editions):

“When the playwright Bertolt Brecht was accused of being a Communist  on the witness stand of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, his plays were read aloud in court. But Brecht carefully differentiated his own opinions from the ideas expressed by characters in his plays. A writer employs a rhetorical technique (meaning a style, or a character voice) to persuade readers, and manipulate them into considering many sides of an issue. The artist — even when writing a poem — is assuming a fictional voice and hiding behind the rhetoric of the poem. The artist does not hide in order to be found.The artist hides in order to beguile you.”

Sky’s Lie for the Day:

I don’t know who I am, and feel quite like I am wandering in the miasma of my own self. Strange to be so old, and yet so young. “Who am I, what am I, where am I?” — to quote Lucille Ball in the I LOVE LUCY show where she pretended she was having a nervous breakdown to guilt Ricky into letting her appear in his show at the Tropicana. She faked amnesia, then imagined she was Tallulah Bankhead, and then imitated a regression into childhood. Sometimes I think I AM Lucille Ball; dizzy, scheming, and feminine — after all, I AM happiest when I MAKE people laugh. I have a new friend; he has decided he is Rhoda Morgenstern, and I, of course, therefore, am, by default, Mary Richards. It’s not because I’m prettier (I’m not) but because Mary Tyler Moore had the imposter syndrome, and thought she didn’t deserve to be America’s sweetheart. If I am able to struggle through my present miasma of self-doubt I will send you a letter. It will be addressed to ‘Those Who Will Listen” and in it I will implore you to tell me who I am. Does that mean you and I might become co-dependent? I do hope so. Or maybe, we already are?

**********If you are interested in reading at the first Liar’s Club please send an email to Sky Gilbert, at the following address —


The Liars Club Agreement: all those who attend— for the hour they attend The Liars Club — must believe that ALL writing is a lie, but that creative writing is more noble, because it is an INTENTIONAL LIE. 

Dr. Sky Gilbert is Professor Emeritus at University of Guelph

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Rock N Roll

N-Word is the censored title of a famous song/poem by Patti Smith. The song was released on her 1978 album Easter. I love that song. I was thus completely perplexed and then deeply angered when I tried to download Easter on Apple Music and ‘Rock N Roll N-Word’ would not download. No explanation, no nothing. (There may be a solution but I’m not tech-savvy enough to find it.) Why is this happening? And specifically to members of minority groups? Patti Smith was and still is a woman (and working class). And black actor Jamie Foxx recently saw the cancelling of his 2016 film All Star Weekend. And then of course there’s me. I’m a fag, or more specifically a faggot, which is what I prefer to be called, as I want to own the abuse -- and turn it back on my abusers. When my 2016 novel Sad Old Faggot appeared, I was told by several online websites that they couldn’t advertise my book because the title was offensive. Rumour has it that Jamie Foxx’s cardinal sin was casting a white man as a Latino person. This is — and I am not exaggerating — if it continues — the end of art. It’s no use arguing about whether or not its ‘censorship.’ Any artist who wants to get  their work out these days is censoring themselves. That have to. It’s terrifying. Art has become ideology — which it is not. And this is very dangerous indeed. We have nothing in our lives which is not ideology these days, i.e which is not science or 'fact' or philosophy. Religion is hotly contested — decidedly over for some, and a passionate crusade for many others . But people need the irrational, they need the dark, as Hilary Mantel says (and I’m paraphrasing): we artists are kind of 'in charge' of your psyche, that is of helping you to organize it, and get it into shape. When you come to see a play or read a novel it is not a lecture or a political speech — the ideas in it are not meant to be ripped out of it and held against you, or the artist, or anyone else. Artists are in touch with something deep, and unexplainable, and irrational, and scary, and that’s why most of us are nuts and some of us are not very nice people. We are kind of like the 'Christs' of art, that is, we take all the pain on ourselves and put it in front of you so that you have the opportunity to be redeemed. As Artaud says, we are 'signalling through the flames’ desperately attempting to understand what it means to be mortal, while you go your merry way buying iPhones and software and new houses, all the while loudly proclaiming your ‘ideas’ on Instagram. And if we do it right, we are not just wanking — our art is not just an indulgence, it is a deep confession —— about the agony,, ecstasy and  comedy of being human. But when we expect art to be ideology, we destroy  one of our few connections with the irrational — unless of course we all decide to adopt some sort of religion or other (but a lot of baggage comes along with that). The nice thing about art is you can dip in and out of it. As Oscar Wilde said, there is no such thing as evil art, only bad art. I am and have always been in love with Patti Smith. I wrote approximately three plays about her; after all,  I was a boy/girl and she was a girl/boy —  and I was irresistibly attracted to her dedication to being an outlaw, and her strangeness, her quirkiness, her childishness, her innocent -- yet blatantly shocking -- sexuality. In the song ‘Rock N Roll N-Word,’ Smith uses the N-Word as a metaphor for outsider. She aspires to the holiness that comes from owning one’s oppression and insisting on standing outside the norm. You may never get to hear ‘Rock N Roll N-Word’, So  will tell you that in it, Smith proceeds to list all of the people who were ’N-words’ -- though they were not black —  Jackson Pollock and Jesus Christ for instance (because Christ was, as I understand it, brown, not black). What she is saying, and what is clear enough to anyone with half a brain, is that it is good to be the N-Word, because that means you are outside society and society is corrupt and the powers that be are detestable. Of course yes, it's tough being 'outside' and admittedly Smith is romanticizing anti-racism, and appropriating it.  But she is a working class woman who must as an artist have a right to use any metaphor she wishes without fear of being 'cancelled' on Apple Music.This digital decimation of art and the artist is a danger to our children. What are we protecting them from? If I’m not allowed to call myself a ‘faggot’ then I am not allowed to communicate the full extent of my oppression, in all it’s violence, its horror, and its humiliation. Calling my self a 'gay man,' or much worse yet ,a ‘man who has sex with men’ does not in any way communicate the cultural after-effects of being relegated to the outside. But most of all what Patti Smith does for young people — which is something they really need today — is communicate how beautiful and ennobling it is not to fit in. But not fitting in doesn't mean saying ‘I support the Ukraine’ or wearing a COVID mask while driving your car, or listening to a land acknowledgement -- as these are now nearly mandatory social approved rituals. It means doing and saying things that everyone else is not doing or saying—and not because you want to, but because you must. It’s all about bravery really. I have always aspired to be as brave as Patti Smith  — we should all be so lucky -- so gifted, and so divinely crazy.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

We are powerless.

That's the problem That’s why people are sucker punching stewards on planes, and every is angry and crazy all the time. What is power? Well if you have it you think the decisions you make will have some effect on your actual life, you think that your judgement and choices matter, and that you can do things. There are lots of forces that, traditionally, have limited power: poverty, kingship, and dictatorships for instance. Well we thought that we had gotten rid of kingship but people seem to miss Queen Elizabeth a lot, and yes -- we are still trying to get rid of poverty, and dictatorships are unfortunately on the rise. But what makes us powerless these days is digital technology -- something that is often presented as simply convenient or even worse as our salvation -- but, we are assured, certainly -- essentially harmless. (Don’t get mad at me, I don’t hate technology, I just think we need to realize what it has done to us). For me nothing could be a more potent illustration of our virtual castration -- in Ontario, Canada -- than GO Metrolinx. I do a five hour commute to my job (I don’t have to go every day, but still — ) so before I get on the bus I’m in an awfully bad mood. But there is no one working at GO anymore, they stopped hiring staff at GO after COVID-19 — it may be true that they can’t find any -- but the fact is that they don’t have ticket sellers anymore. So just imagine if you come here from Kenya (people do you know) and you land at a GO station, and you had to deal with the dark, scary cement basements hallways with no signage, and announcements on loudspeakers chiding your for your own good -- like in a concentration camp, and  ticket machines that are complicated and don’t always work. And in the  Hamilton bus terminal, for instance, there are no actual stops for the busses -- the drivers just decide where they want to pick you up, and everyone kind of runs over at the last minute and tries to flag them down. And there’s no one to help you except some wandering folk dressed as crossing guards who usually say 'It's not my fault.' It's nightmare. But, generally, everywhere, there's just  no one to talk to anymore. You can say it, really you can. Especially if you are old like me, and you grew up counting on the fact that when you went out the door there were stores to visit, and clerks, and when people walked down the street they were not wearing masks, and they occasionally looked at you (not always of course but sometimes) and you might be able to meet a stranger or exchange a few words, or at least catch someone's eye? Yes, there was that thing, now and then -- you could look into people’s eyes -- it wasn’t a sexual thing or even a loneliness thing — or it didn’t seem that way at the time. Making daily contact with others was just part of life. So yes there is less contact, and when people do finally manage to meet people somewhere I think part of the anger comes from the desperate relief -- which they don’t want to reveal -- at how wonderful it is to actually talk to someone. Now you might think I’m crazy. You might not  like people at all, i.e. you might prefer to be alone, and/or at your computer -- which doesn't feel alone (but it is), and I know it takes all kinds to make a world — and I respect that. But though I have an ‘alone’ part of me (he’s writing this) I also have a part of me that needs urgently to connect all the time and have my amazing personality affirmed (at least I think it's amazing!) — and a lot of people have that need too. But most of all they want to feel that they have free agency, that what they do matters. But with things like globalism and the worldwide web and the deepening chasm between rich and poor we just  (to quote a famous poem) can’t get no satisfaction. All we can do is send an email that probably won’t be answered, or leave a message on a complaint phone line. The modern corporate world runs everything including government, and it does not need us or care about us, and we can’t affect it. I mean we’re lucky if we can get someone in Malaysia to answer the phone and say “I don’t understand what you are talking about sir, and will you please calm down?”  I have this paradoxical issue:  I can’t stand people, but I need to be around them, even though people are generally stupid and insensitive and selfish and narcissistic — like me, but then on the other hand touching them (especially their ‘private parts’ if they are male) is a lot of fun. And even more fun is entertaining people — I love that, making them laugh, and just diverting them from the dull apoplexy which is their daily regimen of avoiding work and confrontation and getting hold of someone at Amazon, or Bell or wherever --- to complain. Then there is love (what is that?) Well it's fleeting of course, meaning that it doesn’t last long, or does it? But love is actually kind of everywhere, if you are kind, and at peace with yourself, and open to it, which I know you’ve heard a thousand times and you think it’s a cliche, but cliches can be true. And if you just look around and see that person next to you, sometimes you can see through all the bullshit and just make a connection. Of course if they have a nice dick or ass it helps -- but there are a few people, who I actually consider myself close to, who I’ve never actually seen naked. And then there’s my partner -- who I won’t speak of -- except to say that it seems like I haven’t seen him for ages, because we’ve both been terribly busy, but that’s the way it goes. Right? Where are you, honey? If you are reading this blog and you know my boyfriend-- please tell him I love him, and miss him. I know he misses me. We’ve just been so (sigh) busy lately….

Thursday, 22 September 2022

It’s not the

first time I’ve been to the Shaw Festival since he died. But suddenly it hit me. He’s not there. It’s not that I had seen Christopher Newton so very much in the recent past — the last time was about 2015  (and before that it was approximately in the year 2000). But he was always 'with me.' I don’t know how much I was 'with him'; but whenever we talked he was excessively warm with me, acting as if it was a blessing to have me around -- but he was always like that, beyond charming. I met him in 1981, in the dressing room of The Theatre Centre, at 666 King Street West, after a performance of my play Cavafy or the Veils of Desire. I can’t remember what he said —but he was effusive — something like 'you must call me, we must talk!' I was so excited, not daring to wonder what the artistic director of a giant theatre festival  might want with me. And lo and behold, in a couple of weeks I was invited to the Shaw to be his assistant director on The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs. I was enchanted; it was like a dream. When I arrived there that summer I had a house to myself, and there were all those amazing productions — especially Robert David MacDonald's Camille and my favourite — The Desert Song. Christopher confided that it was his very gay version of the old Sigmund Romberg operetta. 'Notice when she sings a kind of hymn to his sword — I wonder what that's about?' His favourite line was when some turbaned elderly actor -- before an exit --  announced ‘I’m off to the baths!’ Christopher was my friend, I thought. I would go over to his house every night after rehearsal, and get very drunk, and he would play me his favourite music, and we would talk about art, and I was on cloud nine. I know it sounds like a kind of fairy story; it definitely was. I didn’t know he was attracted to me -- as I was only 30 and I had just come out of the closet and my 17 year old first love had just dumped me; I had found a sort of lackadaisical love in Toronto, but suddenly down at the Shaw Festival Christopher made me feel like a young prince. And then one night, he casually said something like — ‘shall we go to bed?’ — and of course I said yes. He was 18 years older than me, but very handsome. Apparently the very short shorts I had been wearing (the colour of my shorts and my head bandanna always matched, I must have been quite the sight!) reminded him of the various Aboriginal outlaws that were usually his lovers. He told me their stories. One was in jail. He used to meet them at his favourite sleazy bar in Vancouver (The Shaggy Horse). He said that though I had the young hairless body of one of his Aboriginal bad boys, I was his ‘lawyer’ —and I didn’t know what that meant — and he said, you know ‘the one you really settle down with.' I was overwhelmed and charmed. I won’t tell you any more about our love affair. (Except for when we first saw a picture of Canadian actor/writer Paul Gross in the entertainment section of the newspaper, and Christopher blithely opined 'I think I'm dropping you for him' and when Tennessee Williams died, and the newspaper reported that the great writer choked on a bottle cap, Christopher said 'It was definitely poppers!') But like so many love affairs, it didn’t work out. We fought so many times, basically because he was trying to persuade me to be his associate artistic director (the job later went to Duncan Macintosh). I didn’t want any of that, and ultimately I didn’t want to be his lover, because that meant to some degree being his personal assistant, and forever his admirer (the amount of admiration Christopher demanded was kind of astounding, but I supplied it for as long as I could).  I needed to do my own work, and I was obsessed with younger men in Toronto. So that was that. Being back at Shaw today, in 2022 when he is dead, is so strange and sad, because even if I didn’t usually visit him -- I always knew his house was there, the house he loved so much. And he was always in it, tending the flowers, drinking some wine, writing in his journal (someone has to find that journal and publish it, he would have wanted that, and there’s good stuff in there, I just know it!). But I feel compelled to make it clear to you -- to anyone who will listen anyway -- what Christopher did for me. He did something for me as a young gay artist that no one had ever done before and will never do again. But it was absolutely necessary. I realize now that I won at least one award (The Pauline McGibbon Award) due to him — he kind of arranged it, he was on the committee and suggested my name. But most importantly — no one in the Toronto theatre scene would produce my work, and even when I founded Buddies no one knew what to do with me, especially the gay community, and everyone was frankly so mean and jealous, and he took me away and supported me and made me feel like I was important, and talented, and that my work mattered. He thus set himself up for ridicule — because I was a drag queen and a slut and (all that other stuff) and my work was always sexual, and his public association with me (even though he never revealed our private association, and wouldn’t hold hands with me in Niagara-on-The-Lake -- ‘the twitch of a curtain means a ruined reputation in this town!’ -- he used to say.) He gave me the courage to be, because I needed an older gay man brave enough to believe in me, when the rest of the world wouldn’t. And now when I go to the Shaw Festival, I prefer to imagine  Christopher is still there, tending his garden, getting stoned, being disappointed because I won’t smoke weed with him (it makes me paranoid), telling me that someone ‘wore’ the actor Leonard Chow to a party as an ‘ornament,’ sniffing poppers with me in bed, playing a new album by Philip Glass, teaching me proper table manners (“You’re going to need them some day at those fancy gay dinner parties!' — parties that of course, never materialized), popping antibiotics ('Well you can’t be too careful!') admiring a young actor from afar ‘That Dan Lett, he’s so slim, so easy on the eyes, isn’t it heaven?’). 

I could go on.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Sex is over.

That is clear. The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of paranoia that — remarkably —  rivals the terror over AIDS. The fear of touching, and the naive notion that ‘good’ people (the virtue signallers who continue to avoid contact with strangers) will live longer than the ‘bad’ people (who touch everyone, willy-nilly) will not disappear fast. It’s been labeled the ‘new puritanism.’ Now if you wonder how we can possibly be puritans when ‘the children’ are probably watching porn on YouTube as we speak, welp --  that’s the way hatred of sex and hatred of the body works. When we deny ourselves, our urges and pleasures crop up in the oddest of ways; hence the panopoly of twerking prebuscent female singers along with an alarming number of misogynist TikTok videos. Consider also — the Oakville transgender shop teacher who appears in class sporting gigantic fake breasts, protruding nipples and all. Well you just try criticizing her! Under the new puritanism rules — where sex no longer exists — she is a paragon, her performance consistent with the gender illogic of ‘drag queen story hour. ‘ You see, long ago The Wokies separated gender from sex. It seemed like a good idea at the time (ie. when Judith Butler suggested it in the 90s). But the fact is that gender is sexy, and this is one of the main reasons we cling to it. Men dress as women for three reasons only (sure there are exceptions) — a) because they are transexual and wish to have a sex change, or b) they are drag queens i.e. gay men who dress as a woman to flirt and perform, or c) because female clothing is their sexual fetish. Obsessive male crossdressing nearly always has a sexual component. And that’s good. Because sex is a good thing, right? (Do I need to remind you?) Now when women wish to dress as men— it’s a different matter altogether,  because women are different than men -- due to both hormones, and social programming. Women are often raped and abused by men; and they are generally treated with less respect than men (need I remind you, of this, also?) and so they hold a ‘lower’ place in our culture. So if women dress as men they are likely to be taken more seriously, whereas men who dress as women are likely to be viewed in a more sexualized way. The Oakville stop teacher is obviously a fetishist, and proud of it (more power to her!). But she should not bring her fetish into the classroom, just as drag queens should not bring their big kissy lips and sheer nylons into kindergarten. I thought of all this while viewing the absorbing new Canadian film Backlash: Misogyny in the Digital Age. Yes its a great documentary, but — it's not so much that there is a ‘rise’ in misogyny, (it’s always been there in western culture) but that the blithe acceptance of the digital world and its toxic algorithms is destroying us. Honestly -- why are we we taking seriously anything some anonymous idiot says online, anyway? The ‘digital world’ is all about money, period. Yes I know. You are now reading my internet bog. But in my defence,  I will remind you that this blog is wildly unpopular, only faithfully read by a handful of nutty people -- and my friends -- as I am no longer taken seriously as artist or thinker by anyone. Thank God I am merely a sad old faggot - whose plays will lie dead, forever unproduced; a pathetic drag queen who insists on nattering on about how great sex is, when, as everyone knows, sex is over. I do not frequent social media for the very reason that I would  be demonized there --  for all this. Social media is — as some are beginning to realize —  a kind of blood sport. Your cellphone is the modern coliseum; we gather daily to gleefully celebrate the suffering of others, as nothing can compare to the joy of a good dressing down or cancelling (‘You're fat and ugly and stupid and nobody likes you! So there!’)  Now it is true that the women in the documentary Backlash — including the president of the Italian parliament Laura Boldini — have experienced not only the imagined slings and arrows of outrageous social media demonization, but the terror of real life home invasions and threats of physical violence. But this imagined ‘increase’ in misogyny is a digital magnification of what has always been there, admittedly exacerbated very much by the well meaning but ill-fated attempts to de-sexualize relationships between men and women that characterized #Me too. Duh! — you can’t remove sex from heterosexuality, try as you might. Attempts to de-eroticize male/female relations just serve to make straight men more misogynistic.  Rape is a crime, but sex, like unwanted touching, is a lot like hate speech; it’s very human, and sometimes very attractive, we all need it now and again just to keep the ball rolling. And if we attempt to erase it, this thing we have so demonized will just appear somewhere else in an even more disruptive way The whole concept of ‘verbal violence’ is a romantic invention of the digital world — we never thought of words as actual physical violence before social media. What ever happened to -- 'sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me?’ Now that was good advice. If ‘hate speech’ is banned, then I will be, too  because mostly I just want to write about politically incorrect sex (and all sex is politically incorrect anyway). Ergo, therefore, in conclusion, let’s stop pretending that sex does not exist. Instead, let's start having more sex, and starting admitting that we are doing so, and admitting that sex is all about power, and power is sexy (see: Foucault). Sorry, but if we decry rape and misogyny without speaking of the intimate and complex relationship between sex and power, we do women — and well, everyone — a great disservice — to say the very, very, very least.