Fascinating biography of gay (closeted in the 1980s) Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner

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I am excited to finally have a chance to sit down and read this newish bio of Jann Wenner by Joe Hagan. Rolling Stone played a major role in shaping”rock” discourse since the late 1960s. When you were on the cover of Rolling Stone, it meant you had “made it.” Well, who knew the main guy behind it was struggling with his sexuality the whole time! After Wenner came out as gay in the 1990s, people starting looking at some of the magazine’s homoerotic covers a little differently. But Rolling Stone always had a strong hetero vibe. It’s style and content seemed to reflect a sense of denial of homosexuality, one Wenner and I both shared in similar ways for many years. I am just a little bit into the book; can’t wait to read more! I am very curious how his internal sexual struggle is reflected in this profoundly influential magazine, especially in the 1980s.

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Quote of the Day

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“One might as well contemplate mapping the vastness of the cosmos as attempt to collect, let alone read, everything that has been written about Madonna.”

–Michael Tetzlaff, in Schwichtenberg, ed., The Madonna Connection (1993)

Go See BPM (if you can)!!

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I was lucky to be able to go to the one theater (one showing per day!) in all of Southern California to see the wonderful new French film BPM (the French title is 120 BPM) about life, love, and AIDS activism in early 1990s Paris. Much of the action centers around the meetings and actions of ACT UP Paris, giving a dramatically compelling, nuanced, and detailed examination of AIDS activism during the plague’s worst years. Amidst the bickering over tactics, goals, strategies, and priorities, love flourishes under the shadow of death. This is definitely one of the best movies on the AIDS crisis, blending eros and thanatos, sex, love, and disease all into a fascinating package. It’s very moving, and captures the mood of the era very well. I highly recommend it! Click here to watch the trailer!

Quote of the Day

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“The only way we have real pride is when we demand recognition of a culture that isn’t just sexual. It’s all there—all through history we’ve been there; but we have to claim it, and identify who was in it, and articulate what’s in our minds and hearts and all our creative contributions to this earth.”

–Ned Sparks in The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer, 1985

Quote of the Day

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“We’re not a macho fantasy. We’re not a heterosexual beach fantasy. Our music isn’t macho. It’s barely masculine, our music. I think to an American there’s something rather creepy about us. We just can’t be a part of it. We just can’t be a part of the notion ‘life’s just a party’.”

–Neil Tennant, lead singer of Pet Shop Boys, circa 1988,

quoted in Chris Heath, The Pet Shop Boys Literally (1990), 194.

Quote of the Day

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“Walking straight towards me dressed all in black with black sunglasses, supported by a woman who was also dressed in all black and flanked by two bodyguards, was David Bowie. I had an LSD flashback in which he appeared to me as wizened, unshaven and old, as if he had spent the last fifteen years constantly harassed by the world. I had a fleeting vision that this man might have once sold his soul to the devil. It was an illusion and he was probably just suffering from a late night. He swept passed me looking straight ahead. I was dumbstruck.”

–Holly Johnson, lead singer of

Frankie Goes to Hollywood,

describing an encounter from 1987

(A Bone in My Flute, 263)

Quotes of the Day

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“The London gay scene, trendy and influenced by the New York and LA scenes, was a new experience for me. Heaven was a mecca for handsome muscle-bound creatures, snorting poppers and ethyl (chloride), dancing under the laser lights to pumping rhythms and disco divas. It was this dangerous, perhaps even threatening style–the fetishes and the eroticism–that was to form the ‘Frankie’ style, introducing something new into mainstream pop culture.”

–Holly Johnson, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, A Bone in My Flute, 148