Dirtbag Journalism

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Robert Smith Jr : Bound For Glory Holes

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2009 at 2:00 AM

Robert Smith Jr has recently made a short film that puts a different spin on the mysterious hole in the wall. Glory Holes is a video exploration of several personal pilgrimages throughout a Brooklyn safari dreamscape.  Before we got into the whole thing, Robert thanked me for doing the interview and also for interviewing another Brooklyn queer we all love, Chris Garneau. Robert wanted to let Chris Garneau know that he’s single and available for coffee anytime. Johnny B Mag loves making love connections or at least help form a new gay bromance!!!

1. In your own words, what’s this film all about ?

Robert : It’s like being in a safari, watching wildlife in their natural habitat. The animals are young, queer New Yorker’s.

2. How did you come up with the concept ?

Robert : The script started out as a short story I wrote when I was in college 7 years ago. Back then I was really into Bret Easton Ellis, especially The Informers, so I modeled my characters around these vapid, sexy young kids that I found in all of his books. Fast forward 7-8 years later and I’m in New York, taking a screenplay writing class. I kind of just translated that story into script form and wrote that script with all these crazy scenes in it. I knew some scenes would be impossible to shoot, but I wasn’t really thinking about that at the time. I was just trying to figure out the craft of screenplay writing, so out of both boredom and maybe a sense of pride and curiosity; I sent the script to friends and creative people I love and admire, just to see what they thought and secretly hoping maybe some body would offer to collaborate. I ended up getting a really encouraging email back from a director whose work I admire and he sent it to a few people, including a camera guy, who ended up being the camera guy I used. He did a great job for very very little money. The end product naturally changed into something entirely different and that’s what you got now.

3. What was the hardest part of bringing this concept together ?
Robert :  Just convincing myself that this project was worth the time and effort, so I could convince others. However, presenting it has been the big problem; which is why I think it’s so cool that you’ve asked to put this up on your blog. I think that’s kind of fitting and serendipitous and I hope it happens again. I sent it out to a couple festivals, but never heard any thing back. I even had the director of The Queer Experimental Video Festival here in New York take me out to lunch just to tell me that my movie was the most talked about video submission of the year. Unfortunately, it was too controversial to screen. I’d rather get a couple emails a week from some cute punk kids who saw my movie on dlist anyway. I like the idea of being too controversial.  If I didn’t think it was any good, I would’ve assumed it wasn’t good enough. But I know better and I’m proud of myself , my actors, and Ned and Jorge. I also don’t mind sounding like a woman scorned. I’ll accept that as part of my process, if I ever stop being upset about my voice and vision not being heard. I guess that’s when I’ll stop making art.

4. What would you say to a guy if he said ” I want to die with your dick in my mouth” ?

R : I actually got that bit of  the film dialogue from some graffitti that was written on the top of a slide in my neighborhood playground when I was a kid. This was when I was in 2nd grade and I still remember it. It was one of those slides with a domed roof at the top of it and somebody scratched “i wanna die with ure dick in my mouth”. I just remember sitting inside of that dome staring at that phrase and being really turned on, so I’d probably feel the same way now. My turn-ons haven’t really evolved much over the years.

5. There is this mystique that surrounds glory hole culture. Have you ever been to a place with glory holes ? What are you feelings toward them ? What do you think draws men to them ?

R : To me, they sort of represent an older generation of gay men. It’s obviously a tool for repressed men to engage sexually with other men- in a sort of anonymous zone. Some thing that is done in secret and devoid of intimacy. I also understand that some people are just turned on by them, ‘repressed’ or not. In a very simple way, I can see how sticking your dick through a hole really fetishizes the whole cock. It totally becomes a symbolic kind of icon for worshipping, sucking, or whatever. A big dick coming out of a hole in the wall is kind of cool, but i personally could not get past the idea that there is a pretty big possibility that the person attached to that penis might be a huge creep.

6. The whole idea of these kids being in the wildlife is great. The filming style really illustrates the beauty and grittyness that New York embodies . What are some of the most beautiful things in New York that you feel people forget about ?

R : I think people forget about just that, the really gritty parts. The parts way out in brooklyn, that really have yet to be fully represented in cinema oddly enough. The New York landscape is still always represented somewhere in Manhattan and that’s just not the case any more. I know very few people that actually live in the city; that’s why I wanted to use my neighborhood Bushwick because I love my neighborhood and I wanted to share it.

7. Overall, I thought the film was quite good. However, can you explain the end of it ?

R : I chose Glory Holes as the title because I wanted it to be a voyeuristic experience for the viewer. I wanted the viewer to feel as if they had an intimate, anonymous experience with these characters. When the “fag” character opens the door to the glory hole booth and looks directly at the camera; it’s my hope that the viewer feels like they’ve been exposed or  at least forces the viewer to feel engaged with all of the “observations” they’ve made throughout the 17 minute video exploration.

8. Tell us about your photo blog ?

R : I’ve always had a digital camera handy and loved taking pictures of things I’d see just by hanging out around the city. When dash snow died, I pulled a bunch of pics from Iphoto and put them together. I’m not even sure why, but people have responded to them.

9. Do you have a favorite blog for nudie pics ?

R : Not really. I’ve been going back to www.lovethecock.com for some reason I keep finding hot little clips there. They all last an average of 5 minutes or so, which is about all it takes for me to jerk off.

10. What other projects do you have in the works ?
R : I have a couple ideas for shorts, but I’d really like to feel like I did my best to get people to watch Glory Holes. I know there’s not much of a market, but I kind of like the idea of kids having it embedded on their fag blogs and maybe facebooks. At least I want to know that I covered my bases and given the right people the chance to watch it. I mean, the cast is pretty hot, so pass it around. Also, I host and read at my queer reading series, Brother, My Lover. It  happens once a month at Home Sweet Home in conjunction with Envoy Enterprises here in New York




Chris Garneau – Fireflies

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 at 1:30 AM

I now know why every gay man wants to know if he’s single. This is a very cute video

Chris Garneau : In Loving Memory Of Elenor, The Cat and The Kids

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2009 at 8:51 PM


Chris Garneau has definitely had an interesting career thus far. From playing small venues to meeting Jamie Stewart and eventually being signed to Absolutely Kosher; Chris has kept his dreams close and approached all opportunities positively. His debut album, Music For Tourist, garnered the young musician some mainstream success on Grey’s Anatomy. The record got some very mixed reviews, but also drew a lot of different people to his music. Chris dropped the follow-up to Music For Tourist, El Radio in the summer and has been touring all over Europe since even before the release. Chris chatted with us back in September about the new album and lampshades (my favorite new obsession).

1. For anyone who’s not familiar, who is Chris Garneau?

Chris: A man of the universe.

2. When did you start playing piano? What other instruments do you play?

C: I started studying piano when I was about five years old.  I haven’t gotten past playing keyboard based instruments live, for the most part, harmonium, melodicas, wurlitzer, rhodes, accordion.  I have learned some of my songs on guitar but have been too self-conscious to try them at shows so far, but hoping to break this barrier this fall while in Europe.

3. Being that you started at a very young age, do you think anything you learned along the way has changed your ideas or beliefs of what makes a good pianist?

C: When listening or watching other pianists I don’t really consider their technique or skill.  When I was about fifteen I stopped studying piano classically and I found myself quickly looking to learn and practice simplicity.  I am generally more interested in artists or bands who find intelligent ways to use the piano, or who simply write a very perfect piano song. I am much less interested in what realm of piano chops they live in.

4. Would you say you’re a perfectionist?

C: No, not necessarily.  The two records I have made have been generally straightforward, formulaic, and organic in their nature.  This doesn’t leave much room for messing around.  But at the same time a lot of the recordings, particularly on Music for Tourists, exist as one-take performances; at least when it came to the piano and vocals.  There were of course certain moments here and there that weren’t my favorites, but I had to look at the tracks on a whole and accept what they were and move forward.  I look at a recording as something which captures a song only in the moment in time when you recorded it.  Something that is perfect, or at least acceptable enough to move on from there, may not retain that status six months or one year later.  But that’s the trouble with recording and ultimately that’s where perfectionism might trouble you.

5. How did you meet Jamie Stewart? Can you remember the first gig you ever played with Xiu Xiu?

C: At a vegan food conference in Tacoma, Washington.  The first show we played with Xiu Xiu was a festival in Ottawa.  People were surprisingly nice about me playing and people came up to me and said they would usually hate the kind of music I was playing but that they really liked it.  It was a good thing because I was really nervous to play.

6. How long you were writing songs for “Music for Tourist” before you started recording?

C: I moved to New York when I was nineteen; we started recording Music for Tourists when I was twenty one.  I had about half of the songs written once we started.  They all came out pretty quickly over a period of about a year.  The rest of the songs I wrote while we were in the process of recording, which ended up being about a two year process.

7. Did you enjoy the recording process of this record?

C: Not really.  There was a lot of down time; it was really difficult to accomplish anything efficiently.  And most of the time I felt like I was trying to make something by myself.  I ended up having to take on most of the responsibility of making my first record; I often felt I was doing it alone.  Actually, a lot of the time I was alone….in the studio, for the last three weeks, completely alone I was trying to record and edit my own arrangements, etc.  This resulted in making decisions based on levels of mediocre satisfaction at best, and I ended up with what I felt to be a messy record that I wasn’t very confident about. 

8. A lot of the reception for “Music for Tourist” was very mixed.  Some critics had gone as far as calling the lyrics atrocious.  Does it ever hurt your feelings when someone talks negatively of your work? 

C: Sometimes it’s shitty and weird.  I didn’t feel terribly proud of this record when it was complete and I should have maybe held off and done it differently despite my eagerness to release something.  In the end, I just felt I wanted to start something going and Absolutely Kosher wanted to release it right away. So when we did it; many of the critics who have complained of the atrocities of this record, which are usually men; seem to have a generally homophobic and alpha male mentality about the way they comprehend anything.  Other critiques I have found helpful in the past, even while remaining negative in their nature, have been ones I’ve been able to appreciate and take to heart.  Pitchfork has seemed to have a personal agenda to fuck me over without writing much of a review of music, but a review or judgement of character.  And they have both often misquoted or listed highly incorrect “facts” and information.

9. How did it feel to know your song was on Greys Anatomy?

C: I didn’t really care, I mean, frankly the only thing that was exciting about the job was getting paid.

10. Was the second album originally called Eleanor, The Cats and The Kids? What made you change it to “El Radio”?

C: Originally I was going to name it just Eleanor. Eleanor was my grandmother who passed away while we were waiting to release Music for Tourists.  Her life and subsequently her death became the energy that propelled the songs that make up El Radio.  I eventually used her nickname El and added Radio for the purpose of wanting this record to be, in a broader sense, a broadcast to the world, a record for the universe. 

 11. Tell me about the recording process for “El Radio” Why did you decide to go to New Hampshire to record?

C: Yes, so just a while after my grandmother passed away I started writing quite a bit, and we weren’t really touring yet.  It was summertime and really hot in New York so we packed all our instruments and gear in a van and went to New Hampshire for a few months to begin making this record. 

The process ended up being sort of perfect.  As opposed to Music for Tourists, this was recorded close enough to the Holland Tunnel that you can actually hear the traffic in New Hampshire. We were surrounded by lake and mountains, trees and animals, without cell phones or internet.  There were few distractions. 

12. Were you confident with the finished product?

C: Yes.  As with anything, time passes and I wish to have done little things differently here and there.  I was eager to put out a new record after we had a bit of a rough time with Music for Tourists.  I feel more proud to release something that I really challenged myself to make. 

13. Do you have any favorites on the record or any that you really enjoyed writing?

C: I was writing a lot of the songs with the intent of eventually incorporating percussion.  It’s hard to really enjoy writing though.  Any writing that I end up keeping, recording and sharing is something that I appreciate, but not that I necessarily enjoyed at the time.  I will say though that No More Pirates was actually fun to write.

14. You’re currently heading to France and you’ll be touring a bit of Europe for this record. Any North American dates planned?

C: We’ll be playing a few shows on the West Coast this month, and then we’ll be playing little legs here and there in the US and Canada over the next six months. 

15. I’ve heard you keep a pretty lamp on your piano during shows. What’s the story behind that?  You showed a lamp you got for your birthday from Sandy Duncan on You Tube. What makes a really awesome lampshade in your opinion?

C: The thing about Sandy Duncan is that it was a lie.  But anyway I just have a thing about liking lampshades and hoarding them.  The best lampshade would have genderless Victorian characters in weird places or scenes, usually next to an important animal, like a lion.

Letter From A Dirtbag Editor # 3

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2009 at 5:31 PM

For those who’ve been visiting Johnny B in the last few days; I apologize if you’ve been bored with what’s up right now. I have a few new things that will be going up this week. I had a chance to talk to Anni yesterday. Anni is one of the lovely young ladies that runs Ladyfest and she’s said she would love to do an interview. Expect to see that on Johnny B soon.  This week has been a pretty good week aside from Johnny B. I’m kind of getting an idea for what my record is going to sound like and I’m slowly getting a few songs in the bag. If all goes according to schedule, I’ll be able to start working with a few good friends on some other ideas I have for the record. My new obsession over the last few weeks has been old soap operas. I spent three hours watching old episodes of Sunset Beach and Generations. It was fucking stupid because I was up until 4a.m and I got nothing done. But sometimes you gotta do it right ? Anyways, I’m off for now.

P.S Johnny B loves random submissions. If your gay, kind of gay, friends with a gay….I don’t care. As long as you dig what’s going and want to contribute; I’m cool with seeing what you got. I’ll leave you with a classic catfight from Generations. It’s pretty funny