"Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

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hkmartin
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"Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by hkmartin » 05 Sep 2020 01:17

This article came out a few weeks ago, but I didn't see anyone post it.
https://www.indiewire.com/2020/08/todd- ... 234580249/

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iaredatsun
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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by iaredatsun » 05 Sep 2020 11:12

It's weird, but despite the Factory connection, I never get any real sense of queerness from the VU or their music. So I wonder what is in store from this documentary.
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pineappleaftermath
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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by pineappleaftermath » 06 Sep 2020 00:08

iaredatsun wrote:
05 Sep 2020 11:12
It's weird, but despite the Factory connection, I never get any real sense of queerness from the VU or their music. So I wonder what is in store from this documentary.
Really? There's Candy Says about the gender dysphoria of Candy Darling, Lady Godiva's Operation about a transvestite/transexual lobotomy, the campiness of Lonesome Cowboy Bill, the genderbending of "Jack is in his corset, Jane is in her vest," and the bisexuality of "it's my fancy to make it with Frank and Nancy". And for me, if you take Candy Says as a thematic introduction to the rest of the third album, the rest of the songs can have a queer reading - exploring your desires (What Goes on, Some Kinda Love) and struggling with your place in an unwelcoming world (Jesus), self acceptance (I'm Set Free) and fears/hopes of isolation and loneliness (After Hours).

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iaredatsun
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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by iaredatsun » 06 Sep 2020 14:32

pineappleaftermath wrote:
06 Sep 2020 00:08
iaredatsun wrote:
05 Sep 2020 11:12
It's weird, but despite the Factory connection, I never get any real sense of queerness from the VU or their music. So I wonder what is in store from this documentary.
Really? There's Candy Says about the gender dysphoria of Candy Darling, Lady Godiva's Operation about a transvestite/transexual lobotomy, the campiness of Lonesome Cowboy Bill, the genderbending of "Jack is in his corset, Jane is in her vest," and the bisexuality of "it's my fancy to make it with Frank and Nancy". And for me, if you take Candy Says as a thematic introduction to the rest of the third album, the rest of the songs can have a queer reading - exploring your desires (What Goes on, Some Kinda Love) and struggling with your place in an unwelcoming world (Jesus), self acceptance (I'm Set Free) and fears/hopes of isolation and loneliness (After Hours).
Good response! I stand corrected.

Ok. Where does the transvestite/transexual reading of Lady Godiva's Operation actually come from? It's not really in the lyrics. The idea for the song's title probably came from Ronnie Tavel's play The Life of Lady Godiva and in that play Lady Godiva is a woman and played by a woman (Dorothy Opalach). The transvestite/transexual feels like a modern mis-interpretation.

But with regards WLWH, you didn't mention Sister Ray, which does seem to populated with characters we might find in Last Exit To Brooklyn.

Candy Says is a good (and the prime) example. Once you know that it is inspired by Candy Darling (or something she said), then the lyrics specifically change meaning. But the whole album being framed by that reading is possibly stretching things. I find the labum very non-specific gender-wise, and a specific queer reading of the whole album would never have occured to me.

Is a camp-reading of Lonesome Cowboy Bill reading based on our prior knowledge of the movie? I don't find it explciit in the lyrics.

Sweet Jane and New Age. Yes, those lines - very tongue in cheek...

I find no obvious queer references in the first album or (more importantly) queerness in the band itself. Aside from your excellent example of Candy Says – a lyric which tries to imagine transexuality subjectively (and, if you are correct, possibly the whole album), the sense of queerness generally seems to arise from Lou Reed's eagerness to document all aspects of that New York subcultural life, but which also contains a broader scope in terms of subject matter. I mean 'document' in the way that Herbert Selby Jnr. documented a New York that included gays and transexuals - and doing so from the point of view of an author than a participant.

I will be interested in how the documentary plays it out. And of course, in the knowledge that a queer reading of Warhol's art is made more explicit in the latest Tate Modern show than ever before.
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pineappleaftermath
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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by pineappleaftermath » 07 Sep 2020 01:19

Right, Sister Ray. In the same way as that song it’s not spelled out but I take Lady Godiva as a pretty obvious drag persona just based on the name. And there is a history of subjecting queer or otherwise different people to harsh psychiatric punishments.
Lonesome Cowboy feels campy based on the vocal performance. I heard an interview where Lou said
the yodel-eh-he-oh was meant to be pretty fey.
Also I think the fact that these references are just under the surface but are there if you are looking is very queer in itself! Gay subtext!!
In any case I’m glad there will be a focus in this documentary. It’s seldom discussed in any interesting or in depth way. I always wondered if their vague gayness, whether from the Warhol association or otherwise, was a reason for their lack of popularity.

hkmartin
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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by hkmartin » 07 Sep 2020 23:34

Wasn't Lonesome Cowboy Bill supposed to be William Burroughs?

Todd Haynes is the same director who had Kate Blanchard play Bob Dylan, so I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised at an unconventional take.

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Sheila Klein
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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by Sheila Klein » 08 Sep 2020 04:49

And there is a history of subjecting queer or otherwise different people to harsh psychiatric punishments.
Perhaps "Lady Godiva's Operation" was inspired by Lou's own experiences with "harsh psychiatric punishments."

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Re: "Todd Haynes Quarantined with His Editor to Finish His Queer Velvet Underground Doc"

Post by peppergomez » 08 Sep 2020 16:54

Looking forward to seeing this. That is certainly a valid lens with which to asses the band's music. Cale is on record as describing Reed as being "faggy" back in those days. So, he swung both ways. Reed and Billy Name were lovers, and Reed made passes at Cale and Gerard Malanga. And then there are the songs, which are already being discussed here. I think I also once read Cale describing how he waited around for Reed finish having sex with a dealer he was buying drugs from. If that's the case, then that lends itself to a queer reading of "Waiting for the Man" though if that happened it was probably a case of simple economics - not having money to buy drugs and trading sex instead.

I'm interested to see what Haynes comes up with.

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