75min / 1996 / USA / English
Directed by Rosa Von Praunheim
presented by Dirty Looks and MOTHA (Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art)
Transexual Menace takes its title from the name of “the most exciting political action group in the USA”—transgendered people who are defining themselves, demanding their legal rights, and fighting for medical care and against job discrimination. Considered by von Praunheim to be the “most fascinating [project] in my long life as a filmmaker,” Transexual Menace is a sensitive and carefully crafted portrait that deals with issues closedly and honestly. “I was able to earn the trust of many who are often reluctant to be interviewed. Courageous people talked to me, who transitioned in such problematic professions as law enforcement and firefighting.” Transexual Menace gives viewers remarkable insight into the home and work lives of transsexuals from many cultures and countries, including female-tomale transsexuals and those with families and children.
Filmmaker and gay-rights activist Rosa von Praunheim is one of the leading figures in gay and lesbian cinema and New German Cinema, although his deliberately controversial techniques, designed to challenge audiences, have sometimes caused him to be criticized by both gay and anti-gay supporters. Praunheim originally studied painting in Berlin and from there was an assistant for such gay filmmakers as Werner Schroeter and Gregory J. Markopoulous. As a director, he made many underground short films on Super-8 or 16 mm stock before going to work in television where he became known for such genre parodies as Die Bettwurst/The Bedroll (1970).
Von Praunheim made his first gay-themed film, Sisters of the Revolution, in 1969. The film was a three-part look at homosexual participation in the early women’s liberation movement taking place in New York. One of his most influential films was 1970?s made-for-TV outing. It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Situation in Which He Lives, another example of his usage of negative gay stereotypes to politicize their plight and plea for more rights. Not all of von Praunheim’s films focus on homosexuality; some deal with those living on the fringes of society.
About the presenters:
Mx Justin Vivian Bond is a writer, singer, painter, and performance artist. Mx Bond is the author of the Lambda Literary Award winning memoir TANGO: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels, published by The Feminist Press and Susie Says… a collaboration with Gina Garan (Powerhouse Books, 2012). V’s debut CD DENDRPOPHILE was self-released on WhimsyMusic in 2011 and was followed by SILVER WELLS in 2012. Mx Bond was nominated for a Tony Award for Kiki and Herb Alive On Broadway in 2007. Other notable theatrical endeavors include starring as Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis in Scott Wittman’s production of Jukebox Jackie: Snatches of Jackie Curtis as part of La Mama E.T.C.’s 50 Anniversary Season, originating the role of Herculine Barbin in Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking play Hidden: A Gender, touring with the performance troupe The Big Art Group and appearing in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus. Mx Bond is a recipient of The Ethyl Eichelberger Award, The Peter Reed Foundation Grant, and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award for Performance Art/Theater, an Obie and a Bessie.
Chris E. Vargas is a film and video maker based in Oakland, CA, whose thematic interests include queer radicalism, transgender hirstory, and imperfect role models. He earned his MFA in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. Since 2008, he has been making, in collaboration with Greg Youmans, the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love…with Chris and Greg. Episodes of the series have screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2012), which have been screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum among other venues.
About the organizers:
DIRTY LOOKS NYC is a New York-based roaming screening series, an closed platform for inquiry, discussion and debate. Designed to trace contemporary queer aesthetics through historical works, Dirty Looks NYC presents quintessential GLBT film and video, alongside up-and-coming artists and filmmakers. Dirty Looks exhibits a lineage of queer tactics and visual styles for younger artists, casual viewers and seasoned avant-garde filmgoers, alike.
Over the course of three years, Dirty Looks NYC has staged local screening initiatives at The Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, Participant Inc, White Columns, Artists Space and Judson Memorial Church, with a Roadshow touring the West Coast yearly. Dirty Looks: On Location, a month of queer interventions in New York City spaces, was founded in 2012, installing moving image work in significant queer spaces – both contemporary and shuttered – throughout the city. A biennial initiative, On Location will return in 2015.
MOTHA is dedicated to moving the hirstory and art of transgender people to the center of public life. The preeminent institution of its kind, the museum insists on an expansive and unstable definition of transgender, one that is able to encompass all trans and gender non-conformed art and artists. MOTHA is committed to developing a robust exhibition and programming schedule that will enrich the transgender mythos both by exhibiting works by living artists and by honoring the hiroes and transcestors who have come before.