Frameline 2011

The ballad of Peter and Raymond


Once upon a time (1987 to be exact), two young men who were old friends moved to San Francisco from the Midwest to take in all the big city had to offer. Like many 20-somethings, Eddie Lee “Sausage” and Mitchell “Mitch D” Deprey didn’t have a lot of money and wound up living in a somewhat derelict apartment in the Lower Haight with a bright pink exterior they dubbed “the Pepto Bismol Palace.” The paint was peeling and the walls were thin but the rent was cheap.

What Eddie and Mitch didn’t count on was having Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman as their neighbors. “You blind cocksucker. You wanna fuck with me? You try to touch me, and I will kill you in a fucking minute.” “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up, little man!”

The insults, tantrum-throwing, and threats of violence (which sometimes crossed over into actual fisticuffs) coming from next door were constant. When they weren’t drinking like fishes, Peter — acid-tongued, gay — and Ray — the more hotheaded of the two and an unrepentant homophobe — seemingly devoted their every waking hour to mercilessly tearing each other apart.

Weeks went by. Eddie and Mitch started to lose sleep. And after one failed attempt at complaining to Raymond’s face (he threatened death), they started tape-recording Peter and Ray’s endless geyser of vitriol — first, as possible future evidence — but also out of a growing voyeuristic fascination with these two seniors who had to be the world’s oddest and angriest odd couple.

The rest is history. Mitch and Eddie started including snippets of Peter and Ray’s bickering on mixtapes for friends. Somehow, the editor of the now-defunct SF noise music zine Bananafish heard a snippet and approached Mitch and Eddie about distributing compilations of the recordings to a large network of found sound fans. Gradually “Peter and Raymond” became known and much-beloved characters. Their warped repartee — frequently referred to using Raymond’s favorite rejoinder, “Shut up, little man!,” as shorthand — inspired several theatrical adaptations, short animated films, pages of comic book panels by artists such as Daniel Clowes, and even a one-off single from Devo side project the Wipeouters. SF Weekly did a cover story and there were reams of additional press. Hollywood types called wanting to know who owned the rights to Peter and Raymond. Things had gotten big.

“Shut Up Little Man has been an enchanted, messy cultural accident,” reflects Sausage (he’s kept the moniker) over a Skype conference call. “It was a personal obsession and a private joke that in a very curious way became an underground cultural phenomena.” Sausage, a visual artist and musician who supports himself as a rare-book seller, remains, in his words, “the official custodian” of Shut Up Little Man’s (SULM) legacy, which is copiously detailed on its website.

Deprey — who now works as an insurance agent in Wisconsin where he lives with his wife and teenage children — is also on the line. Although Sausage is doing most of the talking, he interjects from time to time to provide clarification. We are discussing Matthew Bate’s documentary Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure — perhaps the squarest peg in Frameline 35’s lineup. As much an attempt to comprehensively recount the above long, strange trip from start to finish, the film is also the newest chapter in the now 20-year saga of Peter, Raymond, Mitch, and Eddie.

Bate is a clever filmmaker who is able to translate a story that has primarily been told through sound into something visually compelling. Goofy animated interludes are woven between interviews with Clowes, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, and the many other SULM fans who have created art inspired by Peter and Raymond. Sausage and Deprey also get plenty of screen time, and Bate goes so far as to have them play their 20-something selves in dramatized reenactments of their early days of interacting with and recording Peter and Raymond, who are played by actors. (Huffman died in 1992 of a heart attack brought on by colon cancer, pancreatitis, and alcoholism; Haskett died four years later of liver problems also due to alcoholism.)

Bate’s film is less successful in presenting a clear account of Sausage and Deprey’s 1994 controversial decision to copyright their recordings — which up to that point had been accompanied only by a note encouraging creative liberties and humbly asking for credit — going so far as to imply that this was an ideological about-face. As Sausage and Deprey tell it, they were simply doing the responsible, professional thing in the face of mounting disputes over who could or couldn’t sell the rights (the current disclaimer on the SULM website notes that “permission and licensing is usually granted, but please ask first”).

“Because this stuff was so viral and so innocuous, it wasn’t clear who owned any of this, ” explains Deprey, “We just didn’t want people wrongfully charging other people to use it. And the truth is, we’ve never gotten a penny from any of the artists [featured in the film].”

Still, Deprey and Sausage have now become the semiofficial executors of Peter and Raymond’s estate, even if it’s a legacy composed of hours and hours of blue streaks captured on tape. No surviving relatives of either Huffman or Haskett have come forward in the time that their infamy has grown, underscoring the fact that these two men — despite the venom they constantly spewed at back and forth — really only had each other.

“In a very real way, I think it’s a nontraditional love story,” says Sausage. “There’s a lot of passion and a lot of intimacy there. I mean, arguing is one of the most intimate things we can do as human beings.”

Indeed, Peter and Raymond’s highly dysfunctional Boston marriage might be the queerest onscreen relationship in the whole festival.


June 22, 9:30 p.m., $11

Victoria Theatre

2961 16th St., SF

P.S. Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure was recently picked up by a distributor and will be released theatrically Aug. 26.


Sing out


FRAMELINE It may be summer break for America’s favorite Slushee-barraged show choir, but judging by the array of song-and-dance numbers in this year’s San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, Glee fever continues to spike. Half of the fest’s showcase films celebrate the power of the performing arts, including Mangus!, about a young man’s against-all-odds dream of playing the lead in his high school’s production of Jesus Christ Spectacular. Leading Ladies features a mother-daughter-daughter trio immersed in the world of competitive ballroom dancing. And the shorts roster offers no less than three musicals — the Australian films Slut: The Musical and Cupcake: A Zombie Lesbian Musical hail, naturally, from the program “Zombies, Aussies, Musicals, Oh My!,” while Who’s the Top? explores a relationship’s diminished sexual undercurrents through musical comedy. Directed by Jennie Livingston, Who’s the Top? is paired with Paris Is Burning (1990), Livingston’s acclaimed full-length documentary on the late-1980s ball scene in New York City.

The on-and-off-stage drama continues with Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, a tale of thespians, best friends, and housemate tension rooted more in unvoiced amour than in chore wheels and whose turn it is to buy toilet paper. As the title’s Chicago-dwelling characters negotiate Jamie’s imminent departure for the Big Apple and (she hopes) Broadway, a few wistful tunes are crooned, accompanied by the occasional step-ball-change, but the songs feel somewhat opportunistically tacked on, and the film’s strength lies more in its exploration of that foggy, foggy gray area between the romance of intimate friendship and the romance of ripping the clothes off of someone you really care about.

The tweens of Spork show slightly more promise, at least when it comes to working the dance floor at a nightclub unaverse to letting in 13-year-olds. Spork — so nicknamed by her burnout but well-meaning brother due to her intersex status — is shy, awkward, and isolated at school — when not being tortured by a clique of tiny, racist mean girls led by a Britney Spears wannabe named Betsy Byotch. The answer, clearly, is to best the Byotch in a high-stakes middle-school dance-off — for if we’ve learned one thing from Glee and every high school musical and dance-ical pumped out by Hollywood in the past few decades, it’s that community can be found through soaring vocal harmonies, choreographed ass-shaking, and following one’s dreams.

This lesson is perhaps best exemplified by Leave It on the Floor, which updates (and fictionalizes) the drag and tranny ball scene of Paris Is Burning, transports it to the warehouses of South Central L.A., and adds some infectious music and lyrics (the song “Justin’s Gonna Call” is particularly likely to stay trapped in your brain for days). Leave It‘s kicked-to-the-curb protagonist, Brad, is equally in need of community and a place to crash, and he finds both (after a fashion) in the House of Eminence, the reigning underdog of the ball scene, proudly populated by outcasts and freaks — as well as a hot dueting partner, queer family, and a closing-number set of runway moves that nearly set a warehouse ballroom on fire and probably won’t be coming to a show choir competition near you anytime soon.


June 16–26, most films $9–$15

Various venues


Camp rocks


FRAMELINE The eponymous character in Ash Christian’s Mangus! has a simple ambition: to be Jesus. That is, to play Jesus in the local production of Jesus Christ Spectacular. Mangus does get the part, but his dreams are crushed when a freak limo accident lands him in a wheelchair and his neighbors decide he’s no longer cut out to play their Lord and Savior.

“When you’re in a small town and you want to be an actor and you don’t get the lead, it’s the most devastating thing in the whole world,” says Christian (2006’s Fat Girls), who was inspired by his own history in community theater.

Mangus! is an interesting but wise choice for Frameline: while it features queer characters (including Mangus’ sister Jessica Simpson, played by Heather Matarazzo), the film as a whole is subtler than other festival picks. It has what Christian calls a “queer sensibility,” but much of that is subtextual.

“I don’t look at it as a queer film,” offers Matarazzo. “I just look at it as a really great dark comedy.”

Christian’s cast is full of actors who might be considered queer icons — among them Matarazzo, Jennifer Coolidge, and Leslie Jordan. But Matarazzo, who is openly gay, doesn’t want to restrict herself.

“When I’m playing to a specific audience because I want this to be a gay and lesbian film, that’s fine for any filmmaker who desires to do that,” she reflects. “But for me, film is really about unifying on all fronts.”

And Christian has his own ambitions. Mangus! is a dark comedy in the tradition of Christian’s cinematic idols John Waters and Todd Solondz. (It’s worth noting that Waters has a cameo in the film, and Matarazzo made her breakthrough in Solondz’s 1995 Welcome to the Dollhouse.) With this work, Christian tackles the topic of discrimination apart from sexuality.

“I’d never really seen a movie with a young disabled kid who had a dream,” he says. “It deals with discrimination in a small town, which I’ve definitely been a part of — not with a disability, but because of the gay thing.”

Mangus! is both hilarious and poignant because its filmmaker is unafraid to hold anything back. It somehow manages to walk the line between over-the-top and honest, presenting a portrayal of disability and sexuality that will only shock those not in on the joke.

“Ash is the perfect master of getting to bring absolute balance in terms of letting an audience pity a character, but then also cheer for him and go along with the ride,” Matarazzo notes. “There was never any kind of mentality of trying to manipulate the audience.”

For a while, Christian did worry about audiences taking his films the wrong way, but he admits that it’s no longer a concern. Indeed, he takes pleasure in making movies edgy enough to unnerve people.

“It’s just something that’s going to keep happening because I don’t want to tell boring stories for Lifetime,” he says. “It’s not really what I want to do. So it kind of turns me on now to have people actually have a problem with what I’m trying to say.”

Those who take Christian’s film in the intended tone will appreciate that it’s not meant to be mean-spirited. In the tradition of the great queer films that came before it, Mangus! lives outside the box: it’s unconventional, subversive, and yes, not even a little bit PC.

“In my heart, I’m not trying to say anything offensive at all,” Christian explains. “They’re just taking it that way.”


Wed/15, 8:30 p.m., $11


429 Castro, SF


Heroes and hoedowns


FRAMELINE This year’s Bay Area-centric Frameline features run a thematic and identification gamut appropriate to the festival’s ever-inclusive programming. Several are celebrations of local LGBT heroines and heroines, some recently deceased and some still-with-us.

Scott Gracheff’s With You commemorates the life and legacy of late local resident Mark Bingham, who famously died on United Airlines Flight 93 and is strongly suspected of being among the passengers who stormed the cockpit and prevented that hijacked Newark-to-SFO flight from reaching its presumed governmental target in Washington, D.C., on 9/11.

As his activist mother Alice Hoagland and everyone else here says, it’s the sort of thing he would do — Bingham was, among other things, an avid rugby player, metalhead, daredevil, UC Berkeley frat president, world-class partier, several-time arrestee (for reckless hijinks rather than criminal menace), bear chaser, global traveler, dot-com-wave surfer, and “human labrador retriever” (as a long-term boyfriend calls him). He lived a very full life and doubtlessly would have continued living it to the limit if this encounter with terrorism hadn’t cut his time short at 31.

A life that remained eventful for nearly three times that length was that of Del Martin, who along with surviving partner Phyllis Lyon founded SF’s Daughters of Bilitis — the nation’s first lesbian political and social organization — in the highly conservative climate of 1955. They remained highly active in feminist, gay, senior, and other progressive causes over the decades. Martin’s death in 2008 at age 87 occasioned a tribute in the City Hall rotunda that is captured by veteran local filmmaker Debra Chasnoff’s Celebrating the Life of Del Martin. This hour-long document demonstrates the breadth of Martin’s influence as prominent politicians, musicians, authors, progressive and religious leaders, et al. pay homage.

How exactly to honor our dead is the question at the heart of Andy Abrahams Wilson’s very polished The Grove, which charts the creation of the National AIDS Memorial Grove — an idea brought to fruition by the surviving partner of local landscape gardener Stephen Marcus — as well as some struggles over its visibility (even most visitors to Golden Gate Park don’t seem to know it’s there) and purpose.

When a recent contest was held for an installation to be added to the site, two women designers won with a striking sculptural concept intended to make a potent statement à la D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial about the disease’s devastation. But the grove’s current board shot it down, preferring to maintain the space’s leafy, meditative feel — even if that might also maintain its relative public invisibility. Should the memorial comfort those who directly suffered loss, or metaphorically convey that loss in vivid terms for future generations?

Very much living with HIV — emphasis on the living part — is the subject of Dain Percifield’s Running in Heels: The Glendon “Anna Conda” Hyde Story. Glendon Hyde a.k.a. Anna Conda fled a horrific Bible Belt background to become one of SF’s premier drag personalities, running the Cinch’s popular Friday night Charlie Horse revue for five years until a new condo’s complaining tenants shut that down. Enraged by the city’s “war on fun,” hostility toward the homeless, and other issues to boot, he joined 13 other candidates running for District 6 (Tenderloin) supervisor last year. He didn’t win, but this doc will make you hope he tries again.

Last but far from least is this year’s sole Bay Area narrative feature, shot largely in Fruitvale even if it is set in Texas. A big leap from writer director David Lewis’ prior features, Longhorns is a delightful romantic comedy about several 1982 Lone Star state frat boys dealing with sexual impulses and related emotions that might — oh lawd no — mean they’s quar, not just “messing around.” With some soundtracked songs by H.P. Mendoza (2006’s Colma: The Musical), this total charmer is (as one character puts it) “hotter’n a billy goat in a pepper patch.”


June 16–26, most films $9–$15

Various venues

Quickies: Short Frameline reviews


Below are some reviews of films that intrigued us from the upcoming Frameline Film Festival. Check out more of our coverage here.

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Madeleine Olnek, U.S., 2011) Who can’t identify with that title? Metaphorically speaking, that is. Although Madeleine Olnek’s B&W feature insists on etaking it quite literally, to pretty hilarious results. Lonely stationery-store clerk Jane (Lisa Haas) tells her shrink she dreamed a close encounter in which a space ship dropped a note her way that read “What are you doing later?” Shortly thereafter, she finds herself the object of amorous pursuit by Zoinx (Susan Ziegler), one of several bald-pated, high Peter Pan-collared exiles from planet Zotz who’ve been dumped in Manhattan to seek “hot Earthling action” and get their hearts broken — because it is believed back home that “big feelings” of love are destroying the ozone. Ergo, guilty citizens must be rendered “numb and apathetic” by off-shore interspecies romance before safely returning. Meanwhile two badly mismatched government operatives (Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky) are spying upon the intergalactic love intrigue. Go Fish (1994) meets Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), at last! June 25, 3:30 p.m., Castro. (Dennis Harvey)

The Evening Dress (Myriam Aziza, France, 2009) Everybody’s crushed on a teacher at some point, and indeed everybody in Helene Solenska’s (Lio) sixth grade French grammar class seems to have a crush on her. Why not: she’s attractive, wears sexy clothing (by classroom standards at least), and addresses the occasional sass with challenging provocation rather than simple discipline. But shy, studious Juliette (Alba Gaia Bellugi) has a crush bordering on obsession, particularly once she misinterprets teach’s attentions toward outgoing male student Antoine (Léo Legrand). You’re never too young to have a nervous breakdown, and our heroine’s increasingly reckless actions threaten to make her a pariah. Myriam Aziza’s feature is in that My Life as a Dog (1985) realm of movies about unpleasant childhoods that aren’t exploitative but at times grow truly discomfiting — it’s a worst case-scenario of pubescent imagination run amuck amid the usual teasing and bullying of peers. It’s a very good film if not an especially pleasant one. June 22, 4 p.m., Castro. (Harvey)

A Few Days of Respite (Amor Hakkar, Algeria and France, 2010) Quiet, bespectacled Moshen and his younger lover Hassan have fled Iran in the hopes of starting a new life together in Paris. They have only each other, and yet, because they lack visas, they must keep their distance while traveling to avoid arousing suspicion. While on a train in southern France, Moshen befriends Yolande, an older widow hungry for companionship who offers him a quick job painting her flat in a nearby small town. He agrees, forcing Hassan to continue hiding out, first in plain sight, and later, unknown to Yolande, in her attic, until tragedy drags everything out into the open. Algerian writer-director Amor Hakkar, who also plays Moshen, has crafted a sparse, intimate drama — emotionally enriched by its muted performances and minimal dialogue — about the lengths we are willing to go for love and the price we must pay in the process. Mon/20, 9:30 p.m., Elmwood; June 22, 9:30 p.m., Castro. (Matt Sussman)

How Are You? (Jannik Splidboel, Denmark, 2011) In the past few years Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, a Berlin-based artistic duo and romantic couple, have become international art world darlings known for their ambitious, playful, and critical large-scale installations, such as turning an exhibition space into a life-size replica of a New York City subway station or building a Prada pop-up shop in the Southwestern art mecca Marfa, Texas. At only 70 minutes, How Are You? can’t help but be a whirlwind tour, air kissing the bigger issues (commodity fetishism, identity politics, commercialism, and the vexed relationship the art world has to all three) Elmgreen and Dragset’s projects touch on while tracing the duo’s career trajectory all the way to their victory lap at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Brief but solid. Sun/19, 6:30 p.m., Roxie. (Sussman)

L.A. Zombie (Bruce LaBruce, Germany/U.S./France, 2010) If you’re going to see one Bruce LaBruce gay zombie erotic film, don’t make it L.A. Zombie. Alas, the latest from the queer Canadian auteur doesn’t hold up alongside its thematic predecessor, 2008’s Otto; or Up With Dead People. Lacking any of Otto‘s subtlety, L.A. Zombie is all sex, no substance. Sometimes that works: LaBruce’s The Raspberry Reich (2004) doesn’t go light on the porn, and that’s surely one of his best. But L.A. Zombie is lacking on all fronts. It stars noted gay porn actor Francois Sagat as a possible zombie (as in Otto, this is never made clear) who makes it his mission to fuck dead men back to life. Insert endless scenes of the zombie sticking his weird alien cock into gaping wounds and ejaculating blood onto corpses. If you can stomach that sentence, you can handle the film, but what’s the point? LaBruce’s past efforts have all the full-frontal male nudity without sacrificing the humor or cultural commentary. June 23, 9:30 p.m., Victoria. (Louis Peitzman)

Miwa: A Japanese Icon (Pascal-Alex Vincent, France, 2011) Chanteuse, star of stage and screen, outspoken champion of gay rights, drag queen: Akihiro Miwa has worn these many titles on her taxi-yellow, hair-like tiaras since she first rose to prominence as an androgynous torch singer at Tokyo jazz clubs in the 1950s. But it wasn’t until her dazzling star turn as the titular jewel thief in the camp classic Black Lizard (1968) that Miwa became a household name throughout Japan. Despite its clear admiration of its subject, Pascal Alex-Vincent’s documentary gives Miwa the Wikipedia treatment, resulting in a film that shares the unfortunate distinction of being both heartfelt and dull. Even his interviews with the lady herself come off as lusterless. Do yourself a favor, and track down a copy of Black Lizard instead. Mon/20, 1:30 p.m., Castro. (Sussman)

The Mouth of the Wolf (Pietro Marcello, Italy, 2009) This experimental narrative is a mix of archival footage and dramatic vignettes depicting the great love between two unlikely entwined souls who met in prison: ex-hood/longtime jailbird Enzo, a.k.a. Vincenzo Motta), and sometimes drug-addicted transsexual Mary Monaco (who died last year after filming). It’s also a lyrical appreciation of Genoa, the fabled northern Italian seaport that’s experienced tumultuous changes for over two millennia. Pietro Marcello’s unpinnable “docu-fiction” — Motta and Monaco apparently play themselves, a highlight being a 12-minute, nearly unbroken-shot dual interview — is frequently gorgeous cinematic poetry. If you seek the more conventional rewards of prose, you’ll probably be bored. However: anybody looking for Daddy should be informed that Enzo is pretty much the last word in unreconstructed macho-manliness. June 22, 9:30 p.m., Elmwood; June 24, 11 a.m., Castro. (Harvey)

Smut Capital of America (Michael Stabile, U.S., 2010) San Francisco. It’s smutty! You already know that, but do you know how deep-down and dirty it really is, in a historical sense? Basically we invented hardcore pornography in the 1960s (OMG, pubic hair!) and this lively local short, soon to expand to full-length, tells that story through fascinating archival footage, no-punch-pulled interviews with folks like John Waters and pornologist John Karr, and titillating naughty bits. Throughout there’s a feeling that a vital part of the story of sexual liberation, gay and straight, is being unearthed. And the raunchy tales of Polk Street hustlers, sticky-floored cinemas, and buck-wild hippie girls throwing open their golden gates will flood you with San Francisco pride. The short plays as part of the “Only in San Francisco” program with Running in Heels: The Glendon ‘Anna Conda’ Hyde Story and Making Christmas: The View From the Tom and Jerry Christmas Tree. Sun/19, 11 a.m., Victoria. (Marke B.)

Weekend (Andrew Haigh, U.K., 2011) The mumblecore-y movie many of us who lived through the 1990s wish was made back then: all that’s missing is the purposefully retro Cure soundtrack. Two scruffy, hipsterish, actually attractive Brit boys enjoy an ideal weekend fling. There is a fixie involved. Commitment-phobes each — one because he isn’t quite into the gay scene, one because he’s too full-on liberated for relationship gibberish — they gradually and adorably deal with their emotional attraction. By no means is this My Beautiful Launderette, and the melancholy self-regard might come a bit thick (Weekend was a big hit at the SXSW film fest, so … ), but it’s a well-acted, lovely film that examines the state of cute white skinny young bearded gay blokes today. Fri/17, 4:15, Castro. (Marke B.)

Without (Mark Jackson, U.S., 2011) This first feature by Seattle’s Mark Jackson (not to be confused with the Bay Area theater talent) is a stark reading of the psyche of 19-year-old Joslyn (Joslyn Jensen), newly arrived as temporarily caretaker to nearly-vegetative, wheelchair-bound Frank (Ron Carrier) while his kids and grandkids are on vacation. Left with this almost completely helpless charge — requiring butt-wiping, wheelchair-to-bed lifting, and regular transfusions of the Fishing Channel as stimulant — Joslyn seems to wallow in rather than escape her problems. Which appear to consist largely of a lesbian relationship whose gasping breaths we witness in occasional flashback. Isolated by no Internet or cellphone reception, not to mention her own powers of repression, Joslyn gradually looses grip as Jackson’s narrative grows more disturbing and ambiguous. Sat/18, 6:30 p.m., Victoria. (Harvey)

Frameline 35: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival

June 16–26, most films $9–$15

Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF

Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College, Berk.

Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., SF

Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., SF