By John F. Karr
Well, as the society pages would say it, tout la monde was at Magnet for last Friday's opening night of Mike Kuchar's nasty comix show. There was I, of course, and an enigmatic fellow named Marshall who would not reveal what hidden recesses of my past he was from. And there were John Waters, Peter Berlin and Susan Stryker; there were Jack Davis, Marc Huestis (handing out flyers for his impending production of Marat/Sade ), and cutie Kyle with goddess knows how many other Feyboys; and there were Kevin Killian and Arthur Tress (one curator of the show pushed me up against an unfazed gent and said, "Let me take your picture," and when he was done I asked the gent who he was, only to be embarrassed at not having recognized Arthur, but I do think our last meeting was shortly after the invention of the daguerreotype); and there was, of course, Mike Kuchar himself, quite rosy-cheeked and not at all his usual reticent self, but an ebullient bubbler. The only person missing was Leah Garchik. So you see, it was such an event that all those names should have been in boldface.
Everyone enjoyed the art – it was so big! so raunchy! – and I glommed onto a DVD of several of Mike's short gay films that was just up my, well, you know what it was up. It's called Mike's Men, and you can have it for $40 by contacting one of the exhibit's curators, Eric Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org. It delivers 10 minutes of low-down porno come-on, and 40 minutes of poetic nudity within lovely flights of the lyric and sometimes sensual.
The first short is Animal, in which Marc Arthur – slender, frizzy-haired and soulful-eyed – brings out the feline within, both docile and animalistic, while reciting his poetry as rather beautiful psychedelic imagery wafts around our minds. Though there are many visions of Marc's penis, the movie definitely isn't porn, and barely gets close to erotica; its nudity doesn't confer sexuality on the film.
But oh, boy, Statue in the Park sure is porn – the olden-day porn of the sticky-floored grindhouse showing grainy loops while some toothless fart masturbated in the back row and shifty-lookin' dudes with their jeans slung low loitered around the stinky urinal. There isn't full nudity in the movie, yet it reeks of trashy sex for about 10 of its 18 minutes. This is when we watch Mike Diana play janitor in a funky restroom, perhaps the very one where this loop is showing. He's real Times Square candy, of the sort you found in Times Square before it was Disneyfied, a sinuous blond street-kid whose freshness is likely to tarnish mighty quick. Especially if he keeps wearing the white pants that are just barely held up by his pubis, with lacings fore and aft so loosened that the back is all butt-crack and the front shows more than a hint of creamy white, tender phallus shaft. The view is heart-stopping no matter which way he turns. Then we see him at home, doing arm curls while the camera devours his shirtless torso. Then, pulling himself upward on a chinning bar, the camera cruelly cuts just as his crotch would come into view. I would've thrown something at the screen if my eyes hadn't been bulging right up against it. But, wait! Now we see he's wearing would could be called a posing strap, if it wasn't so ripped to tiny shreds that our inner voyeur shouts Hallelujah! as we're given crumbs of cock sightings. Mike cups his barely covered junk in his hand, and adjusts the almost visible goods. It's a classic bit of porn. Too bad it's weirdly bracketed in an unnecessary frame featuring a pair of young girls. If this had been a vision of Mike alone, it would challenge some of Warhol's male contemplations. It's real art, base and low the way we like it.
Finally, there are a pair of lyric sequences. Tickled Pink features a willowy blond poet who recites his poem in a bower of flowers that seems an ode to Pink Narcissus, and Peek-a-Boo spies in sylvan contemplation on an attractive, wistful, and naked lad. They're arty and nice, I guess. But Mike the janitor is the art that transforms: instant dirty old men.