Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Petite Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public

Anonymous -- Perry Street
Where was your first homosexual encounter? For many gay men of my generation and/or from rural America, the internet’s GayOLs (i.e. gay chatrooms on AOL, et. al.), Gay.coms, and Manhunts, provided some of our first gay encounters.  And for many gay men, especially those of a certain age and geography, it was in public. And for many men, that meant coming to New York City. Before AIDS and before the Giuliani crackdown, cruising created a sort of roughshod community, an underlying queerness of the streets that sowed the seeds of social and political action. In Petite Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public, artists Carlos Motta and Joshua Lubin-Levy curate a love letter-cum-souvenir to the Big Apple's fading eroticism.

Aram Jibilian -- Untitled
Seeking to create an "Atlas of Queer Affection" and question notions of intimacy, assimilation and gay politics, artists Carlos Motta -- of the fascinating We Who Feel Differently documentary project on multi-national queer culture -- and Joshua Lubin-Levy called upon an intergenerational group of over 60 gay men to submit drawings of spaces in the city where a public sexual encounter occurred.

Drawn from memory and depicting sites from Chinatown to The Rambles and the Twin Towers, the submissions were curated into a sexy, sardonic, meditative, and ultimately moving book. As subjective blueprint of the city, it values not simply the space "as is" but how it has been performed and engaged, highlighting the fundamental connection between public space and queer life. This ain’t your mamma’s NYC.
Aram Jibilian -- Untitled
Anonymous -- Perry Street

Who: Me and a Greek-German boy.
What: Public sexual encounter.
When: Summer 2010.
Where: Across from Perry Street, on the park overlooking the West Side piers.
How: After wandering aimlessly through the city, an invisible magnetic force led us there.

Aram Jibilian -- Untitled

In this warm steamy men’s bathroom on the 6th floor of New York University’s Leon Shimkin Hall, I found a place to blow off some serious art school steam. There were always at least a couple of other men waiting.

Jean-Michel Sivry -- West Side

It was Sunday. We marched westward through Bank, Perry, or Charles Street. At the crossing with Greenwich Avenue there were the trucks side-by-side. We reached the final avenue before the river. Guys passed beneath the decrepit structure of the elevated highway. On the other side, the docks, the wonderful wharves. In the vast warehouses in ruins, openings were used, doors had been opened, gaps in the walls. Inside: stairs, scales, holes through the floors, metal debris, spokes of light, glass canopies, panels collapsed... an architecture of desire.

Petite Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public (Forever & Today, 2011) features additional texts by Aiken Forrett, Eileen Myles, Joel Czarlinsky, Johan Andersson, José Esteban Muñoz, Kate Bornstein, and Tim Dean, amongst others. To purchase, visit Printed Matter (195 10th Ave., NYC; 212-925-0325) or e-mail Click here to preview in entirety.


silvereagle said...

To answer the question -- College Dorm Room, then a couple of more encoutners with him in other locations....have lost all contact with him, but he opened very slightly the door that is now more widely open.

tamayn said...

What count's as a homosexual encounter? I felt pretty rebellious the first time I connected to My first time that meant anything was on a computer, and it was incredible. My first real encounter just left me completely unsatisfied, and actually left me pretty hollow afterward.

Anonymous said...

1979, 16 y/o, bathroom at an outdoor flea market. Then two years later a guy two states away through an ad in the Advocate.

After that, I met a string of boyfriends through church, including and ending with my partner of 16 years.


Jay M. said...

I guess my real "first time" was in a motel room with a classmate, hoping not to get caught by the guy in the other bed. We were at the state high school drama festival. I was 17, he was 16.

Peace <3