Discover more from Eat Your Makeup
Meet the man documenting Houston's queer history
Plus CAMH's 75th anniversary, scary movies, and more
Hi, it’s been a while. Let’s dive right in.
October is LGBT History Month, so I celebrated by interviewing J.D. Doyle, whose massive website (20,000 pages worth) chronicles Houston’s queer history.
Earlier this summer, Doyle released his first book, a memoir about a road trip he took through the South in 1981 as a newly out gay man. The book documents not just the queer spaces in the South, but also the brief, carefree period between Stonewall and the AIDS crisis.
Doyle wrote the book based on a diary he kept during the road trip — the only time he’s ever kept a diary, he told me. I’ve been trying to restart my own journaling practice (I do Morning Pages) and talking with Doyle has also helped reiterate the importance of documenting daily life.
On Friday the 13th of October I went to a performance by John Waters in Houston. Many of his stories were so rich in detail—who he was with, what he was wearing, what they were doing, who said what—even the stories going back to the ‘70s, that I thought to myself, “he must have kept a diary to have remembered all these things.” The other, admittedly likely possibility, is that he makes shit up, but I like my version better. It’s got me in the mood to read some celebrity diaries— not memoirs but actual diaries, like Andy Warhol’s infamous ones. (I am also planning to read Britney Spears’ memoir—LOVE a celebrity memoir—but that is not what we are talking about here.) So if you know of any great celebrity diaries, or even non-celeb diaries that are interesting and instructive, drop me a line.
I also recently wrote about the Contemporary Art Museum Houston’s new 75th-anniversary show, in which the museum asked six artists to “respond” to the museum’s first-ever exhibit, which debuted on Halloween, 1948, in a gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts (as the CAMH did not yet have their own facility). At the time, the MFAH had segregated admission policies, with Black Houstonians only allowed admission on Thursdays. Some of the artists in that first show, such as painter Jacob Lawrence, weren’t even able to attend the opening because of those policies.
In presenting that first show, CAMH’s founders wanted to question traditional hierarchies in art, pairing objects like paintings with everyday items such as a Sunbeam coffee maker. Still, the founders of the museum were all white men, whereas the artists presented in the 75th anniversary show include a Black woman, an Asian woman, and a non-binary artist.
One of the participating artists is Mel Chin, famously known for his project to insert subversive art into the sets of Melrose Place. His piece in the CAMH show is a replica of the Melrose Place pool converted into an upholstered conversation pit, even down to fabric versions of the decorative tile on the lip of the pool.
The most interesting item in the anniversary show, though, is a diamond ring made from the cremains of Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Artist Jill Magid had the ring made (with the blessing of Barragán’s family) as a sort of offering to the woman who owns and tightly controls all of Barragán’s archives. Magid hoped to trade the ring for open access to those archives. As far as I know, the woman who owns them, Federica Zanco, (her husband owns the Swiss furniture company Vitra and the archive was allegedly a wedding gift from him), never responded to the offer. A documentary about the project, called The Proposal, is screening in Houston on Nov. 19 as part of the Cinema Arts Festival. The CAMH exhibition runs through March.
Now that the weather is cooling and the time will be changing soon all I want to do is watch movies and knit. This weekend we watched X, the so-called “porn horror,” which is really a meditation on aging and sexuality and the discomfort audiences have with both. It is very gory but also deeply funny. The plot is very different but vibe-wise it reminded me of It Follows, the ingenious horror in which the monster is an STD. Big recommend for both films if you need something spooky to watch.
That’s all for now, Happy Halloween/Samhain/Día de los Muertos, I love you bye.