?Where was your first homosexual encounter? For many gay men, especially those of a certain age and geography, it was in lived in public. And for many men, that meant coming to New York City. Before AIDS, before the Giuliani crackdown, before the internet?s Grindrs, Gay.coms and Manhunts, cruising created a sort of roughshod community, an underlying queerness of the streets that sowed the seeds of social and political action.
Seeking to create an "Atlas of Queer Affection" and question notions of intimacy, assimilation and gay politics, artists Carlos Motta -- of the fascinating We Who Feel Differently documentary project on multi-national queer culture -- and Joshua Lubin-Levy called upon an intergenerational group of over 60 gay men to submit drawings of spaces in the city where a public sexual encounter occurred.
Drawn from memory and depicting sites from Chinatown to The Rambles and the Twin Towers, the submissions were curated into a sexy, sardonic, meditative, and ultimately moving book. As subjective blueprint of the city, it values not simply the space "as is" but how it has been performed and engaged, highlighting the fundamental connection between public space and queer life. This ain?t your mamma?s NYC.
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Petite Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public (Forever & Today, 2011) features additional texts by Aiken Forrett, Eileen Myles, Joel Czarlinsky, Johan Andersson, José Esteban Muñoz, Kate Bornstein, and Tim Dean, amongst others. To purchase, visit Printed Matter (195 10th Ave., NYC; 212-925-0325) or e-mail email@example.com. Click here to preview in entirety.
Anonymous -- MoMa and Me+1 = 3!>Screening Room at the MoMA
(This was a very long time ago.)
A ten-second loop from a silent film was playing over and over: The side of a house fell on a man, but he passed through an open window and was unharmed.
The theater was very crowded.
We were stealthy.
Billy Miller -- Untitled
Aram Jibilian -- Untitled1998-2001
In this warm steamy men?s bathroom on the 6th floor of New York University?s Leon Shimkin Hall, I found a place to blow off some serious art school steam. There were always at least a couple of other men waiting.
Jack Fritscher -- 24 Bond Street: When Mapplethorpe and I Were Lovers
G J Climer -- Chinatown RoofEasy to see from higher rooftops, the guys who played here were never shy. One of the neighboring buildings rarely locked the front entrance, so guys would walk roof to roof ?til they reached the party.
Christopher Hollowell -- Players ClubI took him to see the theater I had worked in. I took him to the stage. I took him behind the curtain. And while the people in the bar downstairs roared with laughter as if they were talking with Booth himself he took me. He took me.
Daniel Handal -- Central Park SouthWhen I moved to New York in my mid-twenties, I ventured into Central Park one summer evening to cruise The Rambles. The sky was clear and crisp and someone gave me a blow job near the lake as I looked down towards Central Park South. It was a fun and liberating experience. I felt incredibly lucky to have moved to the city, and thought it was a privilege to get a chance to see it from this perspective.
Anonymous -- Perry Street>Who: Me and a Greek-German boy.
>What: Public sexual encounter.
>When: Summer 2010.
>Where: Across from Perry Street, on the park overlooking the West Side piers.
>How: After wandering aimlessly through the city, an invisible magnetic force led us there.
Michael -- Taxi in Bed StuyA couple years ago I was in a taxi headed home to Bushwick. It was late and the driver asked me if I would give him a blow job. I was pretty down about a guy and life and being twenty-four so I said sure fuck-it-whatever and he pulled over in Bed Stuy near the J train. I moved to the front and gave him head. It didn?t really help.
Anonymous -- Untitled (Financial District)
Pablo Le?n de la Barra -- Eero(s) Saarinen TWA Terminal NY
George Towne -- All Male VideoThis is my watercolor painting of a place that doesn?t exist anymore in New York City?s East Village, on 14th Street near 3rd Avenue -- now it?s a Duane Reade underneath a NYU dorm. Places like this may have been considered a "blight" on the neighborhood because it's porn-related, but when I moved to the city at age 17 in 1986, I used to be so fascinated that a place could exist that pronounced its homosexuality so blatantly. I had come from upstate New York, and it?s hard for youngsters today to understand... But nothing and nobody was "openly gay" back then?even Boy George was in the closet! This may sound ridiculous today, but back then, just walking past this place made me feel good, as it validated my existence.
I?ve now lived in the East Village over 20 years, and I am shy about giving details, but I do remember going to this place on the way home from a night of "bar-hopping," and meeting one of the hottest NYC bartenders here (who had just served me drinks two hours before). We had gone home together from here and had a wild time -- today we are still friends, but only just friends.
I did the painting from memory and from a blurry Polaroid or two I had taken in the ?90s... What had always struck me was how the building looked so much like this 1927 painting by Edward Hopper called Drug Store... Had it actually been the same place?
Jarrod Beck -- Local 86th Street Subway, B/C Line
Jean-Michel Sivry -- West SideIt was Sunday. We marched westward through Bank, Perry, or Charles Street. At the crossing with Greenwich Avenue there were the trucks side-by-side. We reached the final avenue before the river. Guys passed beneath the decrepit structure of the elevated highway. On the other side, the docks, the wonderful wharves. In the vast warehouses in ruins, openings were used, doors had been opened, gaps in the walls. Inside: stairs, scales, holes through the floors, metal debris, spokes of light, glass canopies, panels collapsed... an architecture of desire.
Michael Lehman -- Bathroom (The Hole), 2004
Sebastiano Mauri -- Memory with WitnessAn anonymous corner of Williamsburg. A single cold light illuminates the otherwise dark alley. A stiff figure, lit by a television set, is silhouetted in a window. Desire and fear become one indistinguishable experience.
David Deitcher -- A Night at the Adonis?at the AdonisMy picture recalls a night during the summer of ca. 1978 when I visited the Adonis Theater (since demolished) on 8th avenue and 50th Street in Midtown Manhattan, when the Jack Wrangler vehicle, A Night at the Adonis, was playing as I was cruising -- just like the guys in the film. What a meta-delight.