Nature prevails through a young man’s dreams in Pink Narcissus and its way-making precursor, Fireworks, to be screened together at No Name Cinema’s November program officially announced today.
No Name Cinema, conceived as a roaming series, recently acquired a commercial warehouse space at 2013 Piñon Street in Santa Fe for a thirty-seat microcinema.
“I had originally planned to show Pink Narcissus while No Name was streaming online [amid pandemic lockdowns], but after more consideration, I decided that it was a film best experienced in a dark room with strangers,” says No Name Cinema’s Justin Clifford Rhody.
The first program officially announced today features three trance films “exploring the subconscious and eroticism, all of which were shot on small gauge, ‘amateur’ film formats,” according to Rhody. Pink Narcissus by James Bidgood (1971) finds a predecessor in Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks (1947), with a world premiere of Santa Fe filmmaker JC Gonzo’s The Virgin Viewed From Multiple Sides, a 16mm short made this year.
“I’m always curious to see new films despite whether or not they can be worked into a program,” Rhody says.
Gonzo’s richly textured, formalist short film helps illuminate the transcendent, sensual visual textures of the two foundational works of gay cinema featured in the November program. As an artist and set designer at Club 82, James Bidgood had done everything through the 1950s and 1960s to liberate gay aesthetics except make a film—or so viewers thought for three decades after Pink Narcissus was released unsigned in 1971. Made somehow in Bidgood’s small Hell’s Kitchen tenement, Pink Narcissus takes place inside the expansive imagination of a male sex worker played by Bobby Kendall.
The trance rhythms in Pink Narcissus call much more to elemental sensuality than the calculated performance of camp. Bidgood famously deserted Pink Narcissus, his only film, when backers rushed to finish it and thus betrayed his vision. Many thought Andy Warhol made it. If they didn’t, the suspect was the elusive Kenneth Anger. The star of Pink Narcissus finds a precursor in the central character of Anger’s Fireworks (1947), acted by Anger himself at seventeen years old while his parents were away from their Beverly Hills home for the weekend. The hard-edged fantasies of Anger’s character are the story of the film just as Pink Narcissus is made of the sex worker’s fever dream. Viewers are made double-voyeurs, twice-removed from explicit experience, and yet it all hits the vein.
Rhody says No Name Cinema takes the baton from underground series and venues he encountered while in Oakland.
“Black Hole Cinematheque, Shapeshifters Cinema, Craig Baldwin’s Other Cinema, Canyon Cinema salon screenings, No Nothing, and the serious programming at the Pacific Film Archive were all really informative for me,” Rhody says.
“In general, I’m more interested in new conversation, different perspectives, and personal visions than I am in a linear narrative, a three-act structure, or even the work being something that ‘makes sense,’” he continues. “I’m hesitant to refer to myself as a curator, because some people spend the majority of their youth in institutions and spend a small fortune in order to claim the name. But in the selections I make for No Name Cinema, I’m simply interested in sharing strong work that may (or may not) be overlooked.”
No Name Cinema is scheduled to screen Pink Narcissus, Fireworks, and The Virgin Viewed from Multiple Sides on Saturday, November 20, 2021, at No Name Microcinema, 2013 Piñon Street, Santa Fe.