featured gallery for June 2013
IT FEELS LIKE LOVE BUT IT'S THE DRUGS
José Luis Cortés
At fifteen, I realized what I liked sexually. I met this very good looking Canadian who picked me up and took me to his hotel room. We began to have sex, he slapped me on the face, took me from behind while pulling my hair. When it was all over I—knees shaking—felt exhilarated, fulfilled, happy. From then on I developed a fixation with rough sex, being dominated and one night stands. I hardly ever dated and have been promiscuous ever since. I went on living my life this way. Pain, pleasure, sex, beauty, drugs and love have always being intertwined within my essence.
Experts have tried to find a cause or explanation for sadism and masochism and why some people find these practices pleasurable. Some mention childhood experiences, endorphin-based mechanisms, learned behavior, genetic disposition or simple conscious choice. It makes no difference to me. It is what it is.
While living in Berlin, I met this skinhead who looked like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. We did some ecstasy and went to his apartment where we began kissing passionately. As I was falling for him, he whispered to my ear "it feels like love, but it's the drugs". Ouch! I couldn't believe what I heard, but it was true.
Hedonism, drugs, sex for money, love, outlaws, prisons, BDSM, machismo, humiliation, skanks, unsafe sex and young men—my experiences, my likes and my wants compelled me to put together this web gallery. I couldn't resist the opportunity to express them through the artwork of some of my peers.
Self Portrait (Vile), (1979) by Jimmy de Sana was the first piece of art I selected. I find it dark—scary even—but beautiful. It turns me on. It was the cover of Vile Magazine. It is strong and shocking. De Sana's work has been described as anti-art. William Borough describes it as "strangely explicit to purely symbolic".
Martin Wong’s connection with Puerto Ricans in New York sparked my interest in him. I met him in the mid 90s at David Hirsh’s apartment. I was intrigued by Wong’s love relationship with Miguel (Mickey) Piñero, the Puerto Rican poet "turned" into a heroin addict at Rikers Island jail at 19, who—nevertheless—was a seven time Tony Awards nominee and founder of the ground breaking, Nuyorican Poet's Cafe. Wong and Piñero, two masters in their own right, produced one of the most interesting forms of creating art. The Poet put his jail experiences in verse and gave them to the Painter as presents. Wong would them capture Piñero ‘s words in paintings, offering them to the world in what I can only refer to as a, "labor of love".
A beautiful example of this is,The Annunciation According to Mikey Piñero (Cup Cake and Paco), (1984) in which Wong depicts a jail memory by Piñero. He includes Spanish text of a conversation between two prisoners:
“I said to leave me alone I am no faggot!"
The one on his knees says, “So what? Listen to me negrito. Let me tell you something; You are driving me crazy. I am a desperate man. I am enchulao with you. I want to be yours and I want you to be mine. What you want me to do for you?”
Wong’s connection to Piñero and his stories, is also evident in C76 Junior (1988) where he turns a jail cell into something sublime. The prisoner seems to be sleeping in a bed of clouds. This provokes in me thoughts of bondage, sex, crime and innocence.
John Lesnick’s, Chair II (1989) reminds me of something I read once: “some men need to be tied up to feel free."
I have selected a work by David Wojnarowicz, gay subculture icon, as both the first and last image in this web gallery. Toxic Junky (1983) fascinates me with how it mixes crude realism with comics. Untitled (Map), (1990) takes me thru the darker side of gay life towards a calmer, tender world. Perhaps a place we are all looking for.When I look at the work, I can't but think, IT FEELS LIKE LOVE ...