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I Was a Male Yvonne De Carlo

Jack Smith
USA 1967–1970 (1998) / 28’

Shot mainly during the late ‘60s and edited (or re-edited) a decade or more later, I Was a Male Yvonne De Carlo is one of several films and slide-shows in which Jack Smith presents himself as a mock celebrity. The movie opens with the excerpt from No President originally called Marsh Gas of Flatulandia – several minutes of black and white footage of steam escaping from manholes segues to an interior scene of various creatures emerging from dry ice vapors – then shifts to color to show the filmmaker, clad in a leopard-skin jumpsuit, attended by a nurse as he sits amidst the detritus of the Plaster Foundation (Smith’s duplex loft cum performing space). Smith waits under the visible movie lights, drumming his fingers. A fan presents him with a black-and white glamour shot (Smith in profile, posed with a sinuous dagger) to autograph as Warhol superstar Ondine, dressed entirely in black leather, snaps his picture. Violence erupts as the nurse takes out a whip to discipline the fans. When a female creature pulls out the same dagger depicted in the glamour shot, Smith shakes the weapon from her hand. The action is post-scripted with footage of a steam shovel patrolling the rubble where a 14th Street movie palace once stood.

J. Hoberman / Live Film! Jack Smith!


Jack Smith

the father of the Cinema of Transgression and the initiator of camp and thrash trends, has, since the 1950s, been creating anarchist films and performances inspired by Hollywood B movies. In his productions, transvestites and drag-queens radically manifested their sexuality. Smith made his movies purposefully violate all the principles of zero-style cinema. They inspired later generations of cinematic outcasts and experimenters. Smith was born in Ohio in 1932 and moved to New York in the 1950s. He began using film no longer independently but as a component of performances. His Midnight Performances often started as late as 2 a.m. and lasted several hours. In many of his LIVE FILM performances, Smith completely reedited the film material, integrating excerpts, slides, text, and music. After Smith's death as a result of AIDS in 1989, Jim Hoberman and Penny Arcade founded the "Plaster Foundation", which commissioned Jerry Tartaglia to restore his films.

Filmography

1950–1966 Porządne istoty / Respectable Creatues (short)

1960 Przestymulowany / Overstimulated (short)

1962 Taśma klejąca / Scotch Tape (short)

1963 Płonące istoty / Flaming Creatures

1963 Normalna miłość / Normal Love

1963 Żółta sekwencja / The Yellow Sequence (short)

1967 Ziele z wyspy Technikolor / Reefers of the Technicolor Island / Jungle Island (short)

1967–1970 (1998) Byłam panem Yvonne De Carlo / I Was a Male Yvonne De Carlo (short)

1968 Bez prezydenta / No President

1969 Piosenka do wynajęcia / Song for Rent (short)

1970 Ujęcia bez tytułu / Untitled Film Rushes

1971 Północ w Plaster Foundation / Midnight at the Plaster Foundation (short)

1978 Sinbad z Bagdadu / Sinbad of Baghdad (short)

1979 Oszołomy / Hot Air Specialists (short)

Cast & Crew

director Jack Smith
screenplay Jack Smith
cinematography Jack Smith
editing Jack Smith
music Jerry Tatraglia
cast Jack Smith, Ondine, Mario Montez
producer Jack Smith
sales Gladstone Gallery
source of print Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst
language no dialogues
colouration colour & b&w