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Issue Categories Archives: Art Memo

Ethel Smyth: Composer, Feminist, Suffragette

  IN LATE SPRING OF 2015, I received a flyer from Bard College advertising their SummerScape opera production of The Wreckers (1904), by the British composer Ethel Smyth, with a libretto by Harry Brewster. It took a moment for me to notice that the opera had been composed by a woman. Two thoughts occurred to […]

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Bound by Our Forefathers’ Ink

  AS the crisp white pages of the newest Bloodbound draft cascade from the printer into a scattered pile on my desk, I engage in the familiar refrain of questions that propel a writer to follow the path to his script’s elusive finish line. A sensible self-critique is always upset by a gnawing neurosis that […]

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Babylon on the Thames

Sins of the Cities presents the first history of a male prostitute as told from his own viewpoint—and without apology. Its main character is Jack Saul, whose life is written up from “his rough notes” commissioned by a certain “Mr Cambon.” The two men first meet in November 1880, when Cambon cruises Saul in Leicester Square, being attracted by the “extraordinary” size of the “lump in his trousers.” He is equally struck by Saul’s expertise at oral sex and asks for an account of how he arrived at such proficiency. Saul agrees to provide a narration of his life, with the understanding that he will be paid for his efforts. Saul is thus frequently cited as the “author” of the resulting book. If so, he must share the title with Cambon. The latter’s introduction takes up seven-and-a-half pages in the Valancourt edition. His voice returns for eight pages at the end of the book in three essays apparently designed as filler to reach the requisite length.

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Who Wrote A Scarlet Pansy? The Plot Thickens

FORDHAM UNIVERSITY PRESS deserves our gratitude for making available the original 1932 version of A Scarlet Pansy, a minor classic of Modernism attributed to “Robert Scully.”

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Bernard Perlin, an Artist of Many Milieux

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Bernard Perlin was born in 1918 in Richmond, Virginia. He was sent to art school in New York at age fifteen and had early success as a muralist for Depression-era public works projects.

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In Search of Schubert’s ‘Secret Love Life’

If Schubert was the musical center of this mostly male cultural group, the literary center was his best friend Franz Schooner, …

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Carl Wittman’s Place in Liberation History

Carl’s models for the Manifesto were Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the SDS Port Huron Statement. Consequently, it was written in the style of a left-wing screed.

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The Beatniks Smoldered in 1960

    A CHEAPLY MADE black-and-white film, The Beatniks (1960) was voice actor Paul Frees’ only directing venture. It succeeded with neither critics nor the public, and it boasts a pitiful 2.1 rating on IMDB. However, I would contend that this B-minus movie is significant for its homosexual subtext. The Beatniks was badly mistitled. Beatnik […]

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The Accidental Activist: Pasolini’s Italy

  PIER PAOLO PASOLINI (1922–1975) did not actively do much for gay rights in Italy, and yet he contributed to progress inadvertently by appearing in headlines over and over again as the country’s most controversial gay person. One reason that he didn’t do much for gay rights is that he was personally homophobic. He saw […]

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Biblical Epics As High Camp

A STORY often repeated in film history places Groucho Marx at the premiere of the 1949 Cecil B. DeMille epic Samson and Delilah. Posters of the massive, bare-chested Victor Mature served as the visual backdrop for anyone entering the theater that evening. After the movie’s debut, DeMille asked Groucho what he thought of the film. Groucho replied: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s tits are bigger than the leading lady’s.”

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