This week I return to one of my favorite movie genres, the documentary, to tell you about three weirdass artists who through their creative spirits and unquestionably wild works made some big marks upon this mad mad thing we call ART!
This week on I, Queue Genius, Klaus Nomi sings like a girl, then, Philip Glass makes music(?) and finally, Jackie Curtis was Warhol’s favorite man-in-a-dress.
The Nomi Song (Germany/USA, 2004) So everybody knows that Freddie Mercury was not only the frontman of one of the world’s most famous bands but also a master of opera. But did you know there was this other guy named Klaus Nomi who was headed in the same direction? If it wasn’t for the countertenor’s (a dude who sings like a girl) premature demise from AIDS, we might been going to those weirdass Nomi concerts now. German-born Klaus Nomi, a strange, gifted, talented young singer left his homeland and planted himself right in the middle of the party known as the New Wave Movement of 1970’s New York. When he discovered that he would not cut it as an actor, he reinvented himself as the enigmatic, ostentatious, performance artist who would not only make a colorful mark on New York’s downtown art scene but also in the pop and opera worlds. Mostly comprised of original performance footage and recent interviews by Nomi’s friends and colleagues, the Nomi Song is a pretty awesome insight into the androgynist performer’s rise and fall, including his stage appearance with Bowie, who was a fan of Nomi’s work. But what is also special about this documentary is that it reveals a lot more about the New Wave art movement than we might get from reading a book or masturbating to a Warhol documentary.
IQG, get me some more weird music acts! Try, Stop Making Sense (USA, 1984), Queen: Live at Wembley ’86 (UK, 1986), Bjork at the Royal Opera House (UK, 2002).
Philip Glass: Looking Glass (USA, ) I could go into this whole diatribe about how and why Glass is a seminal and important figure in American classical music, the classical genre as a whole and in the avant-garde music world. Instead, I’ll just tell you that Philip Glass is a seminal and important figure in American classical music, the classical music genre as a whole and the avant-garde music world. And though you may have never heard of Philip Glass, I am willing to bet my red violin that you have at least heard the master musician’s work. This insightful documentary might assume that the viewer is already familiar with Glass’s work and artistic trajectory. But even if you’re not, you’ll get to learn about the composer’s rise to stardom. First rejected by his peers and contemporaries, Glass continued to unapologetically pursue a new music form that was stunning, divisive and not easy to comprehend. Glass’s work was so explosive at the time and so different that he was labeled with a new term, thus creating an entirely new genre in modern classical music. Einstein on the Beach is the composers’ masterwork, but you will have heard his beautiful, if not repetitively thematic compositions in the scores for films such as The Hours, Notes on a Scandal and The Fog of War. I highly recommend this inspiring documentary. BUT FIRST, friends, for those of you who may not have heard of Philip Glass, just wikipedia the guy so that when you sit down in front of the screen you won’t feel like the uneducated novice you are.
IQG, how can I hear or see more of Philip Glass’s work? Try, Koyaanisqatsi (USA, 1982), The Illusionist (USA, 2006) and Absolute Wilson (USA, 2006).
Superstar in a Housedress (USA, 2004) Not very long ago, after my first trip to Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum, I went into this whole je ne sais quais whereupon I wanted to learn about all of the self-made, self-important icons that made up Andy Warhol’s Factory, his Superstars. There was something about that family of artistic misfits that I found very intriguing. So then I came across so much damn material about Warhol and Candy Darling and Joe Dallessandro and Nico and Lou Reed and that mad chick who was crazed and shot Andy Warhol. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I was queueing the fuck out of my Netflix that I came across this little thing called Superstar in a Housedress about this little thing called Jackie Curtis. In short, I learned that Jackie Curtis was a freak, a freak with talent, a freak with talent who was not taken seriously until he caught the attention of Warhol and the founder of Manhattan’s famed La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company, a freak who also had a sad lonely death and who left behind a body of work that is regarded to be some of the most classic examples of the New Wave movement. Jackie Curtis was a dude in a dress who did drugs and danced and died a really bizarre death. I think that’s all I’m gonna say.
IQG, I’m a straight dude who gets off on singing and dancing drag queens. Try, Paris is Burning (USA, 1990), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (USA, 2001), and The Cockettes (USA, 2002).
Next week on,I, Queue Genius, boring, uninspiring documentaries about boring, uninspiring people.