Published Sep 01, 2002"Why mix drinking with pleasure?" asked Darren Stevens recently on a Bewitched rerun (Dick York, the original, straight good Darren, not Dick Sargeant, the ersatz, stupid gay one), and I couldn't agree with him more, particularly since my life has taken more tragic turns lately than the combined lives of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, the mother/daughter show biz legends who at last count married a combined total of at least five fags. But before I get to the maudlin parts, let me enlighten you about what's going on these days in Los Angeles, and just what exactly happened upon my triumphant return there to the infamous Platinum Oasis.
This, of course, is the second incarnation of Platinum Oasis, the wildly decadent, pagan performance extravaganza with Christian undertones that was devised to spruce up the L.A. fag film festival, but which, like all Frankenstein's monsters, has in many ways surpassed its master, and will thus probably soon have to be destroyed. L.A. legends Ron Athey and Vaginal Davis are still the hot ones behind the heaviest happening since the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, but this year they've booked in a whole new freak show, except for a few special return guests like me. The venue is still the Coral Sands, the sleaziest hotel west of the Pecos, and the event once again runs from four o'clock on a Friday afternoon until ten the following morning during which time 40 artists transform 40 rooms into somebody's idea of a wet dream. The devil's, probably. This year the event is partly intended as an homage of sorts to the great Italian filmmaker and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini, and is thus subtitled "La Terra Vista Della Luna" (which, in case you don't speak Italian, means "The Earth Viewed from the Moon"), the title of a short Pasolini film that was part of an omnibus movie made in 1966 also featuring director Vittorio De Sica. As the tradition of brilliant homosexuals like Pasolini and Fassbinder making highly political and socially conscious yet aesthetically rigorous films has been largely lost on the new generation of queers, it's the perfect choice for the Oasis of Platinum.
I arrive on the Sunday before the event, picked up at the airport as usual by my friend Billy, who I don't even have to mention is a transsexual anymore because the transition is so complete that he's just a hot surfer dude to me now. (A hot surfer dude, that is, who worked as an assistant editor on Black Hawk Down, a movie over whose merits we frequently argue.) After a drink at the spider-from-mars-like airport bar, he drives me to his Silverlake digs where I will stay while he shacks up with his lovely girlfriend, Lisa, their three cats, and two turtles, only a few blocks away. I've been visiting L.A. now for over a decade, and it's kind of sad to see even a bohemian neighbourhood like Silverlake, which almost everyone west of Hollywood never even heard or cared about when I first came here, slowly become gentrified. Like everywhere else in North America, the yuppies continue their middling march into the urban centres, establishing their outposts of Starbucks and Gaps and effectively driving up the rents. Eight years ago my friend Vaginal moved into Koreatown, where we shot the gang-bang scene from Hustler White, and you had to dodge the bullets of the gang-bangers hanging outside her building. Now the area has become trendy, everyone in her block has been forced out by greedy landlords, and the poor dear is hard-pressed to find anyplace affordable to live. It's a sorry state of affairs. On Monday I hook up with my old friend St'Eve, filmmaker, prop master and San Diego beach bunny extraordinaire. He and I collaborated on our Platinum Oasis project last year the bloody crime scene/gay snuff film room and we're determined to top ourselves this year, although it won't be easy. He picks me up in his huge half-ton orange formerly purple truck with the mag wheels and takes me along with his beau Glen to the Breeders concert at the El Ray Theatre for which he has free tickets owing to the fact that he just made a music video for the opening act, Imperial Teen. We hang out backstage with the Teens, one of whom used to be the guitarist for Faith No More, and drink their beers. Kim and Kelly of the Breeders are in fine form, playing as they do with cigarettes jammed in their mouths and sneering and sniping at each other between songs only as sisters can do. Their great new songs are seamlessly interwoven with classic older ones to make for a powerhouse set.
Afterwards we end up at Akbar in Silverlake (or Crackbar, as it is known to the locals) where who should I run into but the infamous, illustrious Mrs. Glass, one of my dearest old friends from L.A. who had more recently gone missing in a murky swirl of innuendo. He seems to be back in form, so we proceed to drink each other under the table as an homage to our black pasts. We end up back at my place reminiscing about the bad old days until we wake up in the morning with the kind of hangover that makes me happy I no longer drink like I used to. We call up another old friend, Jeffrey Hilbert, the former club impresario who now owns his own company designing posters and video covers for major motion picture releases. Miss Hilbert is as cynical as ever, if not more so, having long since left his freckle-faced Idaho innocence in the dusty potato fields.
Later that day St'Eve picks me up in his conspicuous truck and drives us to Burbank to check out a taxidermy warehouse. The theme of our room this year is based loosely on Pasolini's Porcile ("Pig-Pen"), a movie in which the son of a wealthy industrialist, played by Nouvelle Vague star Jean-Pierre Leaud, is caught fucking the pigs of the local farmers and is eventually devoured by them. (What, you think Thomas Harris thinks his own stuff up?) We're kicking around the idea of finding some stuffed porkers and retro-fitting them with the various orifices that you can find at your local sex shop so that our porn model can be photographed as a literal pig-fucker. Although the wild beasts they have stuffed into this huge warehouse like a theme park version of the Bates motel back room are quite spectacular, their selection of domestic beasts is lacklustre, just a few broken down goats and a half of an old cow. We consider having them whip up a real-looking pig facsimile for us, but we decide it's prohibitively expensive. We're going to have to alter our concept.
Wednesday evening we decide to gather together some of the unusual suspects involved in Platinum O. for dinner at Sit Bull Jeep, a Korean restaurant that features little barbecue pits right at your table so that you can cook up your own pork and beef and shrimp and eel and intestines and whatnot. Vaginal and Ron are there, as are St'eve and the wife, and of course Slava, my Siberian porn star/poet friend who has just arrived from New York. Slava is fresh from being arraigned for extortion charges, but I can't really go into details just yet. But I have to say his new felony his given the fellow that special glow that only majorly breaking the law can provide. Next month the Oasis.