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Bruce La Bruce on "Blacky"



I have no idea where the idea for Blacky came from, or, indeed, how it will ultimately play out. I’ve never done theatre before, so I am definitely working without a net. The notion of dipping my toe into the theatrical sea arrived as an excuse to collaborate again with Susanne Sachsse, who starred in my movie The Raspberry Reich (2004), and her merry band of theatrical pranksters known as Cheap. This gang of exiles and misfits includes Vaginal Davis, the expatriate American drag star who has appeared in several of my movies, and who introduced me to Ms. Sachsse. Add the amazing artist and filmmaker Christophe Chemin to the mix, and you have what is now referred to as The Blackies.

All I can tell you subsequently is that after taking Fassbinder’s classic, overlooked movie Whity (1971) as a starting point, somehow three other texts emerged: John Huston’s Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), based on the novella of the same name by Carson McCullers; Joseph Losey’s Boom (1968), based on Tennessee Williams’ play The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore; and Passolini’s Teorema (1968). All of these films emerged in a period of great political, social, and sexual upheaval, an era of disillusionment with the status quo witnessing the final death throes of any lingering innocence left over from the repressed and complacent fifties and early sixties. I’ve always been drawn to this cinematic historical moment, in which old forms and narrative habits were dismantled, in which exhausted myths were deflated and demystified.

After studying and work shopping the texts, certain patterns began to emerge. In each narrative, the “cult of family life”, as the mother in Teorema terms it, is challenged, broken down, or decimated by an interloper, a stranger, a hustler. Each story involves the nuclear family in crisis, resulting in some sort of sexual and/or spiritual transformation or transfiguration of its members. And each text is interlaced with the dynamics of domination and submission that are built into class and race relations. The modus operandi of Blacky is to mash-up these texts in order to distill them to their essences, and to act them out symbolically in the guise of various forms that I’m attracted to: cinematic conventions, slapstick, burlesque, vaudeville, modern dance, the movie soundtrack, avant-garde performance, and good old-fashioned exhibitionism. I hope you enjoy it.

Bruce LaBruce
Toronto, 2007