“Ian MacKinnon’s Gay Hist-Orgy” is a brilliant, side splitting and wonderfully sexy piece of storytelling and performance. Ian has meticulously researched our queer world history, mythology, and folklore and spun into a vibrant homo tapestry that is both titillating and inspiring. While I often found myself saddened and angered by the erasure of our homo history Ian’s hilarious performance reminded me how grateful I am to be a grownup queer with access to art that celebrates and investigates our queerly complex stories.
Ian was kind enough to spend some time talking with me about his newest work “Ian MacKinnon’s Gay Hist-Orgy.”
Ofelia: You were exploring the erasure of homo-history back in 2008 when you did the “Gay Bodies! Gay Souls!” piece. Did “Ian MacKinnon’s Gay Hist-Orgy” evolve from that earlier work?
Ofelia: It seems you’ve become quite the queer cultural historian! What was your research process and plan for the performance?
Ian: It was like college all over again but totally gay! I had a real passion for it. I carried a ton of books everywhere I went and was up late writing, reading, and hunting obsessively for period gay music. It was really inspiring. I amassed a ton of research and then the process was really one of cutting away and boiling down until I had a script that was doable. Then I went into video making/editing madness, filming with my pal’s Eric Yu and Danny Hill who play the sexy genie and the leather daddy professor. Then I rehearsed the fuck out of it to get the timing down and make sure it was fun and that I got all the dates and names right and stuff.
Ofelia: How does your performance art fit into the study of queer history?
Ian: Knowing our history is important to me because it is empowering and it puts the present into focus. It’s good to know how homosexuals have been treated throughout history. It sheds light on our current situation. And I feel that learning about how the ancient Chinese emperors were gay, and the Sufi mystic poets found god through gay love, and many who shaped our modern world like Plato and da Vinci and Abe Lincoln were gay, gives me a kind of strength and a deeper understanding of gay purpose. And yes it’s totally important for srt8s to know homo history. It is hidden from them too and there is so much unconscious homophobia that goes on, I think it can be eye opening. I think straights who come to the show usually dig it.
Ian: Yes I often have people tell me they cried or were moved. I love that. Usually people have a nice mixture of feelings to report after a show, they will say they laughed so hard but that it was smart too and touching or that they felt inspired. Often they will share their fave gay history tid-bits which is cool. It gets people excited I think, the piece has a lot of energy, it’s is a real ride.
Sometimes I wake up at night to worry about things that would be useless to scrawl on the pad of paper I keep on the nightstand for the purpose of storing racing thoughts. In these frantic moments I begin to worry about archiving. I worry that our letters, diaries, and hand drawn protest flyers will end up in moldy dumpsters at estate sales and that these beautiful snapshots of our queer histories will be forever lost. I worry about the little gaybies in Iowa who are praying for God to take their gay away. I worry that they won’t get to see Ian MacKinnon’s Gay Hist-Orgy and I worry that Ian’s manuscript will end up in a mildewy pile and that the performance and those stories will die when the art fags of my generation take our last breaths and so I ask Ian very casually if he’s been recording the performances. What will become of “Ian MacKinnon’s Gay Hist-Orgy” when the party’s over? Ian doesn’t know he’s enabling my obsessive thinking but I’m so relieved when he tells me he’s filming the performances and that they will later be edited into a DVD. So I take a deep breath and smile and for a moment I can stop worrying because my favorite fey leatherman professor, Ian MacKinnon, will make sure the gaybies have something to be proud of for a very long time.
San Francisco Dates:
Friday, June 22nd 9 PM @ Faetopia
at Market St & Noe St
2286 Market Street