Drag Glamour

This programme pairs Flaming Creatures with Ron Rice's landmark psychedelic masterpiece Chumlum, transporting drag glamour into a psychedelic dimension, and joining the dots between Maria Montez, star of Arabian Nights, and legendary underground filmmaker Jack Smith.

Flaming Creatures
Jack Smith
USA, 1962-1963, 43 minutes

Smith's most famous film, Flaming Creatures, shown here on a brand new 16mm print, starred him and his friends, and was shot on the roof of the Windsor Theatre in Manhattan for a production cost of $100 dollars. The film's characters revel in a stylised orgy of exotic costumes and set-ups, reminiscent of an earlier period of commercial B-movie; the film, shot on dated stock, evokes an eruption of repressed (cinematic) desires. Smith had begun work in New York in the 1950s, making still photographs which often took the form of elaborated film stills evoking the films of Maria Montez (Smith's favourite movie actor, and star of Arabian Nights (1942) also screening this weekend). The film became a cause célèbre for the anit-censorship movement, after, a 1964 screening in New York was raided by detectives and the film co-op organisers - Jonas Mekas and Ken Jacobs - were arrested on obscenity charges.



USA 1964. Dir Ron Rice. With Jack Smith, Beverly Grant, Mario Montez.

Before his untimely death in Mexico in 1964, Ron Rice was among the most charismatic figures of the New York underground. Chumlum is beautifully disconcerting. Intricate superimpositions mix in- and outdoor milieus and the capers of a colourful gaggle which includes Jack Smith and Mario Montez as they loll about, pursue, and listlessly fondle each other in a riot of costume and colour. Experimental musician (and Velvet Underground drop-out) Angus MacLise composed the spacey soundtrack.

Arnolfini Sunday 11 Mar 2012, 5:00 pm