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Letter to Councilman LaBonge
Real People as Fictional Characters
Female Actors, Part Two
One Culture Hero Award
Adelante Gay Pride Gala
Best Work of Fiction?
Tom of Finland: Sexual Liberator or Enslaver
Lying Writers
Review of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson
Promiscuous Thoughts
A Crime of the Heart
A Letter to Michael Silverblatt
"Have you no decency, sir?"
Political Incorrectness: Female Actors and Trojans
He Hugged Moms and Dads
What is a Girly Man?
Review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive
The Gay Mammies
A Writer Protests
Review of Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro
A Spirit Preserved in 'Amber'
The Supreme Court Case
Review of Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal
Review of Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951 by Christopher Isherwood
Review of Out For Good
Review of Hoyt Street: an Autobiography
Review of Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict.
Review of Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
Review of Whores for Gloria
Muscles and Mascara
Review of "Blonde"
Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God and the Folks
Advice to the Next Generation
Sins of the Fathers
Beatin' Around the Bush

Cruise Not Gay! The Judge Has Spoken

The Horror, The Horror
LA--a Cliché?
Dominick, Mark & Orenthal
Holy Drag!
Ms. Hill & Mr. Tom
Mrs. guy Ritchie 
Supreme Court 
Tom Cruise 
New Times Article 

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"If only because of the preponderance of self-love in this proudly narcissistic capital of the world, Los Angeles might well be viewed as the City of Love, a city to which the constant influx of immigrants bring new variations of romance, of courtship."
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive

Note from the Webmaster: In March of 2003, The University of Southern California hosted a three-day film festival called “From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive: Los Angeles and the Cinematic Imagination”. Panelists and speakers explored the many ways in which Los Angeles has been imagined, reimagined, and refracted through the camera lens. The keynote speach was delivered by John Rechy on March 27, 2003.

A video presentation of this talk can be viewed at The Research Channel online. Click here.

Is it possible to define a "real" Los Angeles, or has the city been so forcefully imagined in literature, art, and especially in films that only a mythological city now exists? The mere mention of Los Angeles in the title of a film arouses presuppositions. "To Live and Die in L.A.," the title of a William Friedkin film, resonates, just as does the phrase "Only in L.A.," with implications of edginess. To Live and Die in Fort Worth? To Live and Die in Rhode Island? To Live and Die in New York?--not even that creates a strong as definitive an impression.

     No other modern city draws more fascinated attention than Los Angeles as depicted primarily by film. In Rome, London, Paris, mention the city, and intrigued questions pour out, along with repeated expressions of longing to come here, where there is still the offer, at least the offer, of dreams fulfilled; that is, of getting into the movies.

     Los Angeles is a city of daily apocalypse--fate swirls on the freeways. The city constantly prepares for natural disasters (and, now, very unnatural disasters), disasters that include Sant'Ana winds, fires, earthquakes, floods, sliding cliffs--no tiny catastrophes; they're immense, dramatic, extreme, even melodramatic. Los Angeles is not only metaphorically edgy but literally on the edge. Nightly, the sun falls off the Malibu cliffs and sinks into the ocean bringing night.

     Against such a dramatic backdrop, this last frontier that at any moment may tremble toward apocalypse, this last-chance frontier, against all that, almost-biblical concepts of good and evil, morality, ethics, explorations of complex identity--these themes play well. After all, this is the City of Angels, a city of promiscuous spirituality--every religion and cult group settles here--and of physicality, a city of bodies and souls. It might be the place of exile for rebellious angels who refused to sing the praises of the celestial dictator.

     As a result of so much inherited mythology and associations, Los Angeles has become a readied set for films. A set is prepared for performance; and Los Angeles inspires grand performances, as exemplified by the films to be shown during this conference. Furthering that sense of performance is a strain of self-reflectiveness running through these films; of film looking at film looking at a Los Angeles recorded by Hollywood.

     There are ample locations for unique performance: Forest Lawn, with its glamorous statues shrugging off death in Tony Richardson's film version of Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One" extends its commentary on silly death. When Ma is about to "get it" in the back in "White Heat," the dark Sant'Ana wind, rustling leaves ominously, adds heat to the treachery. The racist betrayal by a rich white man of his mulatto lover in "Devil in a Blue Dress" is rendered profound by its being played out in the distance, silently, against the backdrop of a deserted Griffith Park Observatory at night. The same setting elevates the rebellion in "Rebel Without A Cause," just as it augments the universal implications of Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

     Like other great cities, Rome, Pompeii, and as a city of daily apocalypse, Los Angeles has been destroyed in movies over and over, but unlike those ancient cities demolished by the same disaster depicted over and over, Los Angeles has been destroyed by a spectrum of grim calamities. It has been wiped out by a volcano erupting on Wilshire Boulevard. It has been stung to death by giant spiders, ants, and killer bees. It has been set aflame by asteroids, and gnawed at by moll people. It has been ravaged even by a giant baby seeking gallons of milk and intent on finding his mother--even in the sewers of Los Angeles--in order to eat her up; the latter occurs in that underrated masterpiece "It's Alive! Part One."



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