Wednesday, November 19, 2008


in a word: incredible.

we planned for 100, hoped for 125, and we were past that number in the first hour. all in all, we had close to 400 people at the bathhouse over the evening.

everybody was there: swarthy men and bright-eyed graduate students, groups of curious girls, swishy boys, pretty boys, grown-up women, transfolk, drag queens in street clothes, dykes -- friends, strangers... i wish we'd had a tape recorder at the front door, just to capture people's first reactions on walking into the dark red maze. some were anxious and wanted direction: "which way should we go? what should we not miss?" others were just excited: "OMG i can't believe i'm here!" yet others came through the door and you could actually see them adjust their facial expression from nervous to cruisy to cool.

we had art pieces in a dozen rooms and along the halls. marshall set up spotlights to augment the dim and highlight the art, and we provided flashlights for people to use if they chose. norman omar's painting of half a dozen men in towels leaning up against one another covered one hallway, for instance; we installed shane golby's rabbit hutch along one wall and put CW carson's terrifying clown images into three rooms on the opposite wall. one of my personal favorites was dolan badger's installation about fucking the indian (again).... really powerful, and beautiful, understated and bold, at once. anthea black silkscreened a gayle rubin room, a patrick califia room and a cynthia plaster room that you could only view through glory holes. the TVs throughout the bathhouse are all wired together. on one, we screened tom kalin and gran fury's AIDS has not left the building, on the second, sandi somers' whimsical the panty portal and on the third, a buck angel porn called buckback mountain (confession: it was hard not to go with v for vagina). seeing these three together, as you could in the movie room, worked surprisingly well.

we printed e.g. crichton's dirty soap prints on waterproof paper and hung them around the shower and on the floor. we had paige gratland's celebrity lesbian fists, silicon, displayed on black slate. josee aubin oullette took over the steam rooom and filled it with simple ink drawings of the everyday objects that get transformed by being in a bathhouse -- towels, lockers, pillows, beds, keys. it was a little treasure hunt of a maze, illuminated with sexy blacklights.

upstairs, four performance artists held court. antonio bavaro was dr glockensprockensphree (?sp), dispensing advice for the sex addicted. put a coin in her slot and kristine nutting opened the door to her confessional. todd janes's tearoom allowed for anything -- anything -- and was really moving, a space for intimacy in the place you generally come to avoid it, while julianna barabas, wearing a full-length white greek dress, washed, massaged and oiled your hands while singing to you. many people commented that hers felt like the dirtiest piece of all.

anyway, it was a marvelous evening, way beyond our wildest dreams. more than any of the art in particular, the night itself was the event: wandering halls, getting lost in the dark, bumping into strangers, imagining yourself in the sling next to the chainlink fence.... the crowd was perhaps the best art installation of all.

for pictures, program and rowan bayne's exquisite blog on the event, go here. for todd janes's take on his own art, go here. jackson's photos are all over, esp at the exposure fb page.

tonight? i sat on the sofa for five hours, catching up on design blogs and without a trace reruns. that's bliss of another sort.

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