For the last seven years, Dirty Looks has been presenting new and classic queer film, video, and performance work in both New York and Los Angeles. Their signature series, On Location, has been taking place in New York City for three years and will launch in Los Angeles on July 1st and will host events every night until the end of July. On Location is an annual month of nightly site-specific presentations that engage the rich histories of the city's queer spaces with curated screenings honoring the social nature of art making.
Dirty Looks founder and lead curator Bradford Nordeen says there were new challenges associated with relocating the series to Los Angeles for the first time, even though Dirty Looks has been programming here since 2015. "When we started, we were conscious of getting to know LA and getting to understand how LA functions, and the way an LA viewer goes to a film. We wanted to be mindful and respectful of the way the city ticks." One way Dirty Looks began to engage LA audiences was with Sesion Continua, a popular recurring installation that takes over a space and turns it into a 24-hour queer porn theater.
Nordeen moved back to Los Angeles after launching Dirty Looks to huge success in New York City in 2011. "I lived here before from 2003 through 2008, and upon returning, I found that most of the venues I went to were gone. It gets into this weird situation where I'm still youngish but I can trace history that is vanished just in the span of a decade. I know how important it is to remember the immediate path that got us to the present moment in queer history, not just the long path like Cooper's Donuts," he says, referring to the Los Angeles donut shop remembered for being the site of an early, pre-Stonewall LGBT direct action.
The opening night of Dirty Looks On Location will launch at The Hayworth with a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Los Angeles' first gay film festival, an event Nordeen recently discovered in his research into the venue The Park: "They had been screening hetero porn and it was sort of not working, so they reached out to their distributor and asked for gay stuff. They sent them a film called The Hole, which was [Jean Genet's gay short film] Un Chant D'Amour, as well as a very banal documentary about homosexuality. They submitted an ad to the LA Times that had the word "homosexual" in it...and the screening sold out for weeks, so they decided to do a film festival, which they called A Most Unusual Film Festival, and promoted it as 'the very first assemblage of films of interest to the adult homosexual.'"
Fittingly, on the first evening of screenings, Dirty Looks will present Andy Warhol's early gay movie My Hustler and Jose Rodriguez-Soltero's Jerovi, both on 16mm, and both influential films from the gay underground of the 1960s. " The events aren't literal in any way. We're not trying to recreate the space but instead go into these shuttered spaces that make up about a third of our programming and evoke or suggest what the programming would have been. It's a spiritual takeover."
Nordeen brought in a team of curators and collaborators to help select content and locations: Marvin Astorga, Young Joon Kwak, Bret Berg, Coaxial Arts Foundation, Raquel Gutierrez, Suzy Halajian, Darin Klein, Ryan Linkof, Massive, Nacho Nava, Joe Rubin and, The Women's Center for Creative Work.
Other highlights from the festival include a retrospective of Zackary Drucker's film and video work at REDCAT on July 8th, a screening of Hustler White at West Hollywood's famous Studs Theater, as well as site-specific presentations at three now-closed Los Angeles lesbian bars: Boyle Heights' Redz, El Sereno's Plush Pony, and North Hollywood's Moonshadow. Classic movie lovers can also look forward to screenings of The Night Is Young (starring queer Latinx icon Ramon Novarro), Vincente Minnelli's The Pirate, and a special screening of Myra Breckenridge at The Black Cat.