Re: Gregory Markopoulos and queer aesthetics

From: Fred Camper (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Dec 01 2009 - 12:47:25 PST

Marc is correct about Markopoulos's view of Smith, at least in the 1960s.

In late 1964 or early 1965, a facility called the Cambridge Adult
Education Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was hosting a series of
avant-garde films programmed by a Boston University professor named
Robert Steele, an early advocate of avant-garde films, which he tended
to call "cinepoems." They were supposed to show "Flaming Creatures,"
but canceled it, probably due to fears of a police raid -- the
Cambridge police were cracking down on films they thought might have
sexual imagery at the time. Instead Markopoulos let them show "Twice a
Man," and appeared with it. He apologized for the cancellation, and
said he thought of refusing to appear, but then "you wouldn't have any
film to see." He then asked if we would like to hear the cancelled
film described. We would, and he proceeded to describe "Flaming
Creatures" in respectful and even tender terms, not as anything
outrageous but just as a bunch of people who had somehow come together
to do various activities and make a film, something along those lines.

After he moved to Europe in the late 1960s Markopoulos's attitudes
toward the U.S., and toward U.S. filmmakers, changed somewhat.

I also agree with the comments to the effect that talking about
Markopoulos, "camp," and "queer aesthetics" will not be a simple
matter by any means. Possibly excepting a few moments in "The Illiac
Passion," Markopoulos's films seem camp-less to me. "Camp" in
"Sorrows"? I don't think so. Chuck is right, too, about the admiration
for classical Greece among pre-Stonewall gays. Early homoerotic still
photographers often used "classical" imagery, at times to serious
effect and at times as if it looked like they thought such props (a
fake column here or there) might make photos of nude males more
acceptable. Markopoulos's involvement with classical Greece, on the
other hand, was lifelong, deep, and multi-faceted.

Fred Camper

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