Tuesday, 25 October 2016

ANNIE PROULX: HOW SHE MADE BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN "PACK A STRONGER PUNCH"

Proulx: "Brokeback Mountain coalesced thoughts and feelings that many people secretly held."
At the start of her career, American journalist and author E. Annie Proulx submitted stories to publishers using the name EA Proulx because, she says, it was easier to get published if editors thought she was a man. 

Those days are long gone.
Annie Proulx (Photo by Gus Powell)

I recently interviewed Proulx, the literary titan whose novels include The Shipping News (1993), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. But she may be best known for her short story “Brokeback Mountain,” which was originally published in The New Yorker in 1997 and begat an Oscar-winning film as well as an opera for which Proulx wrote the libretto. 

In a wide-ranging interview, Proulx and I discussed her love for Canada, her new novel Barkskins which explores her deep concern for the future of our planet; how she comes up with her characters’ names, such as Ennis del Mar, Jack Twist, Ribeye Cluke and Beaufield Nutbeem; and, of course, the “Brokeback Mountain” phenomenon.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

ROBERT OUIMET AND FRANCE JOLI: THE GODFATHER AND QUEEN OF MONTREAL DISCO

Robert Ouimet (L) and Pierre Gagnon at their Oct. 5 Red Bull Music Academy lecture in Montreal. Gagnon is one-third of PAJ Disco Mix, the edit team that created exclusive cuts for Ouimet’s DJ sets and revolutionized the disco edit format using reel-to-reel tapes, selling over half a million records at their pinnacle in the late ’70s (photo by Karel Chladek/Red Bull Content Pool).

Montreal’s famed disco scene cranked out many disco stars during its 1970s heyday and the scene’s epicentre was the city’s famed Lime Light disco founded by Yvon Lafrance in September 1973, on Stanley Street above where the Chez Paree strip joint stands today. 

Montreal DJ Robert Ouimet was the house deejay at the Lime Light from 1973 to 1981, and today Yvon Lafrance says Ouimet – known worldwide as the Godfather of Montreal Disco – was hands-down the best deejay in Canada from 1973 to 1982, when Ouimet was declared best North American DJ by Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, and won Billboard magazine’s DJ of the Year Award in 1977.

“I used to go to New York all the time during the week – I remember I was flown over there once for the premiere of (the movie) Thank God It’s Friday (starring Donna Summer),” Ouimet told me in 2013. “Then I used to work in Montreal on the weekends.” 
Disco diva France Joli (Photo by David A Lee)

Meanwhile, Montreal singer France Joli became an “overnight success” at the age of 16 back on July 7, 1979, when she headlined a legendary beach concert performance for 5,000 gay men now famously known as Beach ’79.

Donna Summer had cancelled at the last minute, so Joli stepped in as a replacement and sang her song Come to Me, which would chart at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart  – then at #1 on the disco chart – and to this day the song is widely-known as “the definitive Fire Island dance classic.”

“I was blown away, I was a kid and had never seen gay life like that before, it was beautiful to see two men embracing – and it was 1979!” France Joli told me in 2013. “I loved that freedom and the happiness that disco reflected. It’s impossible not to be happy and dance to disco. The lyrics could be dark, but the music always lifted you up.”

Both Ouimet and Joli will take part in the Québec Électrique: Montréal Discoville event at the Paradoxe Theatre as part of the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy conference being held in Montreal. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

PLAYWRIGHT JORDAN TANNAHILL ON VIDEOFAG, QUEERNESS, COMING OUT AND THE GGs

Jordan Tannahill (photo by Lacey Creighton)
Bugs' original interview with Jordan Tannahill ran in POP TART in the Montreal Gazette on Oct. 21, 2015.


Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill is one of the hottest names in Canadian theatre and author of the 2015 book Theatre of the Unimpressed – a look at how dull plays are killing theatre and what we can do about it – as well as Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, which won the 2014 Governor General’s Award for drama. He also ran a storefront arts space called Videofag out of a defunct barbershop in Toronto’s Kensington Market with William Christopher Ellis, which they closed in April 2016.The Canadian playwright, filmmaker, and theatre director has been described by The Globe and Mail as “the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom “interdisciplinary” is not a buzzword, but a way of life.”
I sat down with Tannahill for toasté hotdogs, burgers and poutine at the Montreal Pool Room, on the eve of his play Total Liquidation, which his National Theatre School students put on at the Monument National in October 2015.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

TRANS ICON PATRICK CALIFIA: "BABY, I'M AN ACTIVIST IN THE SHOWER!"

Patrick Califia: "Male privilege is an unwelcome artifact of transitioning"

Bugs' interview with Patrick Califia originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on Nov. 19, 2009
"Baby, I’m an activist in the shower!" famed Texan author Pat Califia-Rice told me a decade ago, before she transitioned from a lesbian woman into a bisexual trans man.
Pat is now Patrick Califia, and the former Advocate sex columnist, celebrated author, marriage therapist, sex radical and queer icon has as loud a mouth as ever. 
"Nobody should be a man – the world won’t be okay until men stop existing," says the FTM (female-to-male) Califia. "It was actually pretty hard for me to transition on days when I felt like I was going to join the people who spit on the sidewalk and look up women’s skirts every chance they get. But one of the exciting things about being an FTM is the possibility of creating new forms of masculinity and addressing our society’s mistreatment of little boys and its crazy expectations of men."