michael j. morris

Inspirations: queer porn, ecosexuality, etc.

I wanted to take the time to leave the trace of another constellation of ideas that are forming frames for me right now. In the midst of everything else I’m doing, I have also been lucky to find some intense inspirations. One of the most notable is work happening in and around queer porn.

I have written around some of these ideas on the blog for the Laboratory for Independent Scholars (the collaborative research project with Karl Cronin, Christopher Kennedy and myself). You can check out those posts here.

On that blog, I listed lots of the individuals involved with and responsible for queer porn that have quickly become heroes in my life. I don’t want to be redundant, but I do want to leave a trace, so briefly (with hyperlinks, which are anything but brief when blogging), they are:

Jiz Lee (genderqueer porn star, blogger, activist, artist, etc.)

jiz lee

Madison Young (porn star/director, gallerist, educator, etc.)

madison young

Shine Louise Houston (porn director/producer, etc.)

shine louise houston

Courtney Trouble (porn star/director/producer/etc.)

courtney trouble

Syd Blakovich (porn star, artist, activist, etc.)

syd blakovich

Drew DeVeaux (porn star, model, etc.)

drew deveaux, photo by rae threat

Dylan Ryan (porn star, academic, etc.)

dylan ryan

Billy Castro (porn star, etc.)

billy castro

Annie Sprinkle (one of the the original queer porn performers/directors/dreamers; artist, activist, sexecologist)

annie sprinkle

Travis Mathews (filmmaker, activist, artist, etc.)

These people are some of my many heroes.

I wish I could write a whole essay right here about why I think queer porn is a radically progressive force in our world, culture, society, etc. (I’ve dabbled with some of these ideas on the LIS blog), but the short version is that queer porn, among much else, demonstrates and performs bodies and sexualities in a way that substantially disrupts and subverts normalized heterosexist configurations of bodies, identities, sex, sexualities, and gender. By giving representation to bodies and acts that live at or beyond the edges of normativity, queer porn offers legitimacy and recognition of those lives to others who are living them . . . that’s not clear . . . what I mean is that one of the things queer porn does is offers a site of identification for those who live and perform their bodies and sexualities outside of the socially sanctioned and normative. But it also functions as a activism towards a public archive of such lives/bodies/sexualitites that authors our culture beyond the edges of the normative. It leaves a trace of some for all, an archive that subverts the notion that all bodies and people are a particular way (this is most notably a heteronormativity, but I would venture to argue that much of gay sexual practices, identities and representations have configured themselves as imitations and emulations–thus representations and reiterations . . . maybe even simulacra–of heterosexuality, thus constituting a homonormativity that continues to abject some lives/bodies/sexualities and sexual expressions/acts as unlivable; I think the efforts of queer porn disrupt these normativities as well). In this way, queer porn accomplishes in representations of sexual encounters, relationships, pleasures, etc., what I tend to strive for in my dancing life–a practice, experience and perhaps even representation of bodies of vast possibilities, bodies that know and become more rather than less, that form and reform within mobile, fluid edges, never stable and always in transition.

I have some ideas of how my work will begin to dialogue with practices in queer porn. Some of this will be explored in the forthcoming reconstruction of “Sketches of Shame” (discussed in my previous post), although I’m not yet certain how.

I also have become interested in how this work and work by these individuals beyond the scope of “porn” might become topics of my research (alongside arts practices by the Love Art Laboratory, Karl Cronin, and various Butoh artists). One such example is a project with which I have recently become completely enamored called Twincest:

Described on their site:
“twincest was a multimedia collaboration between two lovers, Jiz Lee and Syd Blakovich. They spent 4 years together documenting their interpersonal dynamics and intimacies through sound, movement, video, photography, body fluids, pain, aggression, meat, sex, and love. Founded in 2004, their art and performances not only strengthened their budding relationship, but also provided a playground for the more complex elements that manifests in love’s shadows.”

their manifesto:
“My blood brother/sister,
Bonded by bloodpissshitcumspitpussweat-andassjuice, we share a body/canvas/culture for projections of disjunctured identities. With you, I expose and archive the physicalities of the sorid, you are my twin conjoined through the technological extentions of the body, a desire for the same…
wrpt in soild shts
fckd dry
Anx us
and dstrctd”

Traces of their work.

Syd Blakovich says on her website (which is distinct from the twincest project that she conducted in collaboration with jiz lee from 2004-2009): “My interest in movement based performance is similar to my interest in body fluids. It’s a dialog between bodies and the spaces they occupy.”
Which is completely ecosexual, as far as I’ve theorized it.

I want to write about this work. I need to study it more. I need to be in contact with Jiz Lee and Syd Blakovich at some point. I need to draw together supporting theoretical materials needed to discuss this work. I already think Bataille’s Erotism, Death & Sensuality has a lot to offer. I think Catriona Sandilands “Eco Homo” article has a lot to offer.

I’m thinking about flesh and fluids, permeability and that which permeates, transmission and that which is transmitted (this has to do with performance, performativity, writing, choreography, etc., in the metaphorical sense), but also the levels of the body which we (in dance, in society) don’t address. I remember reading Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s writings about Body-Mind Centering, and those writings referring to movement on a level of fluids and tissues and bones. I didn’t find it to be very precise, although I have heard from colleagues who are more familiar with that work that those who understand it intimately, it is incredibly precise.

As I talk about fluid bodies, how can I not talk about body fluids? The morphability/malleability/instability of bodies is at the skin, in the seeping and sloshing and squirting, the sweating, the threat of leakage, the “necessity of management” (or of an aesthetics of flesh, re: Sandilands) in an age of latex. As I write about sexual epistemologies (see the paper posted in previous post), how do I not discuss latex and liquids, the edge between safety and danger that is inseparable from how we must know/understand sex in this era, and how does that affect how we live/understand the world, bodies, identities, dancing, etc.?

And what does a dissertation begin to look like if these are (potential) figures to be considered: the Love Art Laboratory (Annie M. Sprinkle and Elizabeth M. Stephens), Karl Cronin and the Somatic Natural History Archive, twincest (Jiz Lee and Syd Blakovich), and Butoh artists such as Kazuo Ohno, Tatsumi Hijikata, and Yoko Ashikawa?

I’m not sure where any of these ideas/inspirations are going, but I knew I wanted to begin to leave their traces here.
I’ll keep you informed as to how they develop.

Queer Explorer’s Club

On of the many projects that I currently have in the works is a collaborative endeavor with two amazing individuals, Karl Cronin and Christopher Kennedy (who does amazing work like this). We will be working together on a project sponsored by Culture Push (NYC, NY) called The Laboratory for Independent Scholars. As our work together unfolds in the months to come, I am sure that I will be sharing perspectives of it here. However, a great project in which I have already been invited to be a part is the Queer Explorer’s Club. Christopher Kennedy introduced me to this project with the following description:

“Queer Explorers Club is a group of people.
People who are queer identifying.
We are only 4-5 most of the time.
We like to make stuff together. Sometimes we have dinner and read to each other.
Sometimes we knit. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we play outside and ride bikes.

For our first project we’ve been sharing stories.
About vulnerability and harassment.
In response I developed this screenprint and we’ve been wheatpasting them around Brooklyn and NYC as a gesture to reclaim places of vulnerability – or perhaps where boundaries have been crossed or formed.

So I’d love to send you one. Then you can wheatpaste it where you’d like. Or just have it for another space.”

This week I received my copy of the screenprint. I’ve been reflecting on places I’ve felt vulnerable that might function as an appropriate space to receive such a marker.

From the Queer Explorer’s Club website:
“You’re Just a Fucking Faggot
Where have you felt the most vulnerable with your gender
in public spaces
in private places.
In the exchange of a walk.
In the look of an eye, that turns into a shove.
Language; maybe more.
Please demarcate where and when your vulnerability has been.
And where it may be with geography and technology.

Download Template (PDF)
Please download the template, and mark where in real time
and in real space.
and in virtual space where your vulnerabilities may lie.
a history, or the present; always the future.”

The current list of places that might be appropriate:

14th Ave, Columbus, OH: this is the street from which I just moved. I walked to and from school/work everyday on this street. In the two years that I have lived here in Columbus, I have had things thrown at me (glass bottle, rock) and been shouted at (mainly “faggot”) more times than I care to count. I was mostly harassed by large groups of people in the front yards of apartment buildings, on game days more than any other time (I have a strong conviction that this is one of the many, many examples of how competitive athletic events cultivate the potential for degenerative, destructive, and aggressive social cultures . . . but maybe that’s another blog post). I never directly confronted those who had harassed me because I was always outnumbered, and while I was sober, mostly those harassing were not. I felt vulnerable and endangered.

Wells Hall, Belhaven College (now University), Jackson, Mississippi: This was the dormitory in which I lived during the first two years of my undergraduate experience. My harassment in Jackson was pervasive; I could not possibly mark all of the places and spaces in which I was harassed, felt vulnerable, or compromised. But this was the most persistent. It was an ongoing experience to come home to where I lived and be met by a group of athletes (again, I am not sure this is coincidental; not that all athletes are aggressors or oppressors, but that there does seem to be a common denominator in my experience). I was constantly called “faggot” and pushed on more than one occasion. I was always outnumbered. This was the main reason I eventually moved off campus, because I was no longer content or satisfied with feeling endangered in the place that I lived/my home. If I could journey back to Mississippi to mark that building, I would.

Belhaven was a place of vulnerability for other reasons as well. Because of the college’s [discriminatory] policies, there is generally an intense amount of secrecy surrounding homosexuality on campus. Queer identities are not only unwelcome, but are oppressed. During my sophomore year, there was a “documentary” on “former-homosexuals” (those who had been “cured” of their homosexuality through various religious-based “therapies”) that played on the college’s television station for a month. I was made to watch this documentary in two different settings. It was not unusual for me to be approached by faculty intent on “saving” me from my sexuality. There is a sense in which Belhaven as a whole functioned as a vulnerable/violating space.

More subtle though no less profound spaces might also include:
churches that I formerly attended
my bedroom
the house in which I grew up
various performance spaces
studio 2 in sullivant hall (where Autumn Quartet was made and practiced)
this blog (blogging for me is almost always a vulnerable experience)

Putting the print here is one virtual space that I am marking. It will also allow me to mark facebook. Once I have selected a “real” space, I plan on documenting that installation/inscription/marking.

Where are the places you might mark, and why?