Liner Note #5

Hey ho, Cecilia here. Daron’s feeling anti-social today, so I’ll make the notes. I figure now’s my chance to post some things that will make him cringe! *evil laugh*

First, some moments in history I bear in mind:

May 1983: The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, is screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Deneuve’s lesbian love scene with Susan Sarandon makes her a lesbian icon (even though she says she is not a lesbian in real life). The opening music to the film is “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus.

November 1984: Republican president Ronald Reagan re-elected in a landslide in which he won every state except Minnesota (where his democrat rival was from), and Washington, DC.

October 1985: Rock Hudson dies of AIDS. The entire nation is largely in denial about his homosexuality, despite ample evidence.

1986: Nancy Reagan launches the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign at the same time her husband signs a $1.7 billion federal bill into law mandating minimum penalties for drug-related crimes, swelling prison populations with largely non-white inmates and doing little to actually reduce the availability of drugs on the streets or the rate of addiction in the US.

March 1987: ACT UP! (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is founded in New York City to give a political voice to folks living with HIV and to fight the homophobia that was stifling efforts to prevent and treat the disease.

Fall 1987: Love and Rockets (the former members of Bauhaus, minus singer Peter Murphy, now in their “post-goth” phase) tours the USA for two months. The band that opens for them? Jane’s Addiction.

Fall 1987: A new edition of Vito Russo’s book “The Celluloid Closet,” detailing homophobic stereotypes and depictions of gay and lesbian characters in the history of Hollywood films, is published.

Spring 1988: WBRU FM, the commercial radio station run by Brown University students and alumni in Providence, switches to a “modern rock” format. At the time, other than college radio stations, there are only a small handful of “alternative” commercial rock radio stations, including WFNX in Boston, WLIR in New York, KROQ in LA, and 99X in San Diego. The rest of rock radio is divided into two categories, AOR (album oriented rock) and heavy metal. AOR had recently spawned “classic rock” but the trend was far from its peak, so regular AOR was saddled with playing the Beatles, Who, and Led Zeppelin as well as new music.

Fall 1988: Jane’s Addiction releases the album Nothing’s Shocking in August. Most of the major music retailers refuse to stock the album unless it is wrapped in brown paper because they find the cover image too offensive. (It’s basically two nude female mannikins/sculptures in rocking chairs with their heads on fire.) The album makes it to #103 in the Billboard top 200 album charts. “Jane Says” eventually reaches #6 on the Billboard “modern rock” chart, which is Billboard’s list of “alternative” music acts and which is newly created on September 10, 1988. The first song to hit #1 on the modern rock chart is “Peek A Boo” by Siouxsie and the Banshees–which gets to #53 on the “normal” Billboard Top 100.

March 1990: Queer Nation, an unapologetic, in-your-face GLBT advocacy group forms in New York City. I was living in Boston by then, and joined the Boston branch group, attending a few Beacon Hill rallies and handing out neon-colored stickers that said things like “Cock Sucking Faggot” on them. I think the one I had on my leather jacket said “FUCK YOUR GENDER.” QN was very big on outing celebrities as a way to increase visibility (and by extension, acceptance) for GLBT people. The word “queer” used to have a purely pejorative connotation, but we needed something to replace “gay” as a catch-all term. Linguistically speaking, “gay” used to refer to both gay men and lesbians, but the lesbians in particular got fussy about being lumped together and the word came to commonly refer only to men within the GLBT communities. “Queer” was embraced as wide-ranging enough to include bisexuals, transfolk, and other people who were neither strictly speaking gay men nor lesbians, but who were subjected to homophobia just the same.

May 1990: Deneuve Magazine debuts as a glossy national magazine for lesbian readers. Like “Cosmo” for lesbians.

Summer 1991: First Lollapalooza Tour, which also serves as Jane’s Addictions’ farewell tour. Headliners include Siouxise and the Banshees and Nine Inch Nails.

September 24, 1991: Release of Nirvana’s Nevermind, the album that introduced the nation to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the music industry to the fact that there were other genres of guitar-based rock besides metal and punk, as well as the fact that “modern rock” could sell as many records as AOR.

1993: George Michael, formerly of Wham!, begins performing a song in concert called “Jesus to a Child” which he dedicates to Anselmo Feleppa, his boyfriend/partner who had died earlier in the year of an AIDS-related brain hemorrhage. Yet somehow Michael’s public image remains heterosexual. Also in 1993, Melissa Etheridge comes out as a lesbian at the Triangle Ball celebrating Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

1994: Nirvana is slated to headline that summer’s Lollapalooza tour. They officially pull out of the tour on April 7th; singer Kurt Cobain’s body is discovered the next day. (Suicide.)

1995: Deneuve Magazine changes its name to Curve, after a trademark battle with Catherine Deneuve.

April 30, 1997: Ellen DeGeneres comes out at the same time as her eponymous TV character, and appears on the cover of TIME Magazine with the headline “Yep, I’m Gay.”

April 7, 1998: George Michael arrested in Los Angeles by a police sting operation while cruising for anonymous sex. He goes public with his relationship to Kenny Goss, is interviewed on MTV about the restroom incident, and later makes a music video showing policemen kissing. The officer who arrested him tries to sue him for slander. The case is thrown out of court, then reinstated, but the court rules that the officer, as a public official, cannot actually recover any monetary damages for emotional distress.

1998: Lollapalooza cancelled.

June 2002: Pilot episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is filmed in Boston.

2003: Lollapalooza reborn and Jane’s Addiction re-united. Melissa Etheridge marries actress Tammy Lynn Michaels and the wedding is featured on ABC television’s InStyle Celebrity Weddings.

July 2006: Former N’Sync boy band singer Lance Bass comes out in a cover story interview with People Magazine.

Okay, that’s enough history for now, and hopefully I didn’t make any typos in the dates. Please don’t try to infer any plot elements from the above… I’m just telling it like it was.

Thanks to the folks who have been donating. Your contributions mean a lot, not just to me, but to the other creators out there who are also trying to eke out a living. I passed on some of the money that came this past week to Scott Wallick, for example, the guy who designed the blog theme DGC uses. The site is as readable and easily navigable as it is because of his skills and I was glad to be able to share with him.

I also put a tip in the jar recently of MCA Hogarth, an artist and writer whose serial novel Spots The Space Marine is very enjoyable (sort of Starship Troopers with a nicely complex female lead character), though the tip wasn’t for Spots, but for another project she did that I recommend ANY creative person to read. It’s a three-part article on going pro and how to compartmentalize the creative, business, and self-promotion aspects of your life and artistic efforts. Check it out here:

1. Many Roles
2. Products
3. Know Thyself (And Have a Plan

Oh, since we’ve brought up the subject of AIDS, this animated public service announcement from France caused many sporfles here:

Finally, a video of 6-year old Lucciano Pizzichini playing the blues on guitar.

(Daron says thank god there are no home movies of him as a child.)

1 Comment

  • Jude McLaughlin says:

    Thanks for the walk through history! Also, the PSA link — it made my wife and I sporfle too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *