This program pairs two of the most accomplished uses of superimposition in underground film, transporting drag glamour into a psychedelic, cubist-like dimension. The screenings will be followed by a lively debate about the legacy of the queer aesthetic in which the spectacle of fashion plays a dominant role, from the shimmering dresses in Kenneth Anger’s Puce Moment to Jack Smith’s reimagining of 1940s Hollywood Orientalism to the stunning, surreal imagery of Steven Arnold. Ronald Gregg is senior lecturer in American Studies and Film Studies at Yale University. Stuart Comer is curator of film at Tate Modern, London. Agosto Machado is a legendary figure in New York experimental theater.
Dir. Jose Rodriguez-Soltero. 1966. 50 mins. 16mm. With Mario Montez, Charles Ludlam. A visually stunning celebration of the life and death of Mexican Hollywood star Lupe Velez, Rodriguez-Soltero’s film is an ecstatic explosion of color, costume, music, camp performance, and multiple superimpositions. Unconstrained by any given style, Rodriguez-Soltero drew inspiration from experimental film; Latin American, pop, and classical music; trash culture; experimental theater; and Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon. Lupe is also a love poem to underground star Mario Montez, who designed his own sensational costumes.
Dir. Ron Rice. 1964. 45 mins. 16mm print. With Jack Smith, Beverly Grant, Mario Montez. Before his untimely death in Mexico in 1964, Ron Rice was among the most charismatic figures of the New York underground. Chumlum is filled with intricate superimpositions that mix indoor and outdoor milieus and a colorful gaggle including Jack Smith and Mario Montez as they loll about in a riot of costume and color.
Free with Museum admission.