Toronto
3 min

From queer photogs to Idol hopefuls

QUEER PORTRAITS. Photos by JJ Levine.

The future is now and as we all know we’ve been insidiously consumed by the web’s social networking sites and an unrelenting explosion of images. The union of easy internet-uploading and cheap digital photography with unflattering lighting have created a steadily growing, teeming pool of imagery. This of course is another symptom of our ability to hypercommunicate with each other. And just like inflation as it pertains to money, our images lose value as they proliferate on the vast social networks we’ve all subscribed to. In this sea of imagery, you have to be picky. Out of the cajillions of options out there I present my humble recommendations for inspiring and valuable queer imagery.
  
   From Tue, May 12 to Jun 7 JJ Levine, a queer photographer from Montreal, showcases her series, Queer Portraits, in Toronto at the O’Connor Gallery (145 Berkeley St). Levine has created a thoughtful series of well-executed portraits. The deliberate lighting, setting and aesthetic of her pictures show a conscientious approach to documenting the world as she experiences it. Levine gives us a rare opportunity to see contemporary queer subjects in solid and large-scale photographs.
  
   One of Levine’s most striking pieces, “Sarah and Jessika,” fucks with the idea of the lesbian heterosexual male fantasy in pornography. Levine hopes to recontextualize and reclaim this pornographic representation. The subjects, femme-identified queers, gaze defiantly at us in a simulated pornographic setting. Levine, behind the lens, is a queer photographer, inherently circumventing implied power dynamics in mainstream heterosexual pornography.
  
   Overall she has provided a photo series that positions us as queer people, unapologetic for all we are, in the spirit of a community that continues to resist sexphobia, body fascism and gender policing.
  
   Keith Aguiar is a queer photographer from San Francisco where he’s been busy documenting that scene. The kid is making San Francisco look like a lot of fun. His images capture nothing short of an art explosion full of hot sex and killer outfits. Aguiar takes the time to craft and curate the photos he puts out into the ether. All his images pop with strong post-production magic, highlighting the whimsical aesthetic of the kids pictured. His photos feature local SF acts like The Judy Experience and members of Gravy Train.
  
   Aguiar also creates staged photos in collaboration with Karl Beck. One of their series, Catholic Guilt, is a sexy subversive mise-en-scène masterpiece inferring the obvious homo-clergy paradigm. Check out some of Aguiar’s stuff at Flickr under the name untamedvessels.
  
   Zackary Drucker has been busy documenting himself in LA. He’s a gorgeous ladyboy with crazy talent. Zackary has employed the likes of Holly Woodlawn and Jack Doroshow (aka Flawless Sabrina from the 1968 movie The Queen) in his art to trace a lineage between himself and queens of the past. His use of history grounds the subject of his photography while he himself contemporizes it. His use of fashion and genderfuck make his work compelling.
  
   Drucker was also a contestant in the Voom show Artstar, the highly criticized reality show produced by gallerist Jeffery Deitch that sought to find the next art star and featuring big-time guest judges like Jeff Koons.
  
   A quick look into Xtra contributor John Webster’s blog, Sissydude, grants us access to even more queer documentation. Webster presents an array of queer imagery, vintage and new, creating a visual narrative not unlike Drucker’s. Sissydude has led me to amazing and notable photoblogs like Glamcanyon and Eastvillageboys.
  
   Adam Lambert, one of this year’s American Idol top five hopefuls, made quite a stir after pictures of him kissing a boy at Burning Man surfaced. In the snapshots Adam and the mystery boy look like Radical Faeries — something you would see on an emo boy’s kissing blog. It’s awesome that all the chatter around Lambert’s sexuality has not hurt  his chances of winning Idol. Even horrible Bill O’Reilly couldn’t bring him down (he sort of tried to). America is loving the Lambert, gay Burning Man kiss and all. If Lambert wins I truly hope he stays true to his Radical Faeries-style and gets caught kissing more boys. I would buy tickets to that show.