music and film

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Unearthing the Sea Witch—Hazlitt

"Although the sea witch is singular among Disney villains, there is a person behind this character. She is a real-life Ursula with a crimson mouth, eyebrows sharp as switchblades and a homicidal gleam in her eye. She is Divine."

Better Sex, Better World—Hazlitt

"Before The L Word gave us six seasons of TV about a group of lesbian friends and lovers, before Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon robbed and killed a sadistic mobster and escaped in a cherry red pickup truck, before every awkward 'lesbian kiss' on primetime TV, there was this affirming, optimistic romance. Desert Hearts was one of the first movies to center on a female love story that allowed the women to be together, and it was a revelation when it was released in 1985."

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Wanted: Macho Men With Mustaches—The Believer

"Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo had been spending a lot of time in Greenwich Village that spring. It reminded the two music producers of Paris, and besides, the gay clubs had the best DJs. Though Henri, unlike his business partner, was straight, both men were infatuated with fashion, America, and, above all, disco."

“Militantly Naughty”: Grace Jones and the Compass Point All-Stars—RBMA Daily

"People were afraid of Jones. 'I can just sit there, though, and people get really scared just to come up and say ‘Hi.’ They think I’m some kind of witch or something,' she once told Andy Warhol and Andre Leon Talley. 

It wasn’t just the whips, handcuffs or temper tantrums that made her intimidating, however. It was the way Jones embodied freakishness without being consumed by it."

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Audio: The Voice Teacher—The Organist

"A shared love of dirty jokes and wild performances made voice teacher Barbara Maier Gustern an unlikely matriarch to a talented and raunchy family of artists. The avant-garde composer and musician Diamanda Galas called Barbara, 'the baddest bitch in New York City.'"

Songs in the Key of Death—The Morning News

"From a wardrobe of puffy shirts to the gimmick of playing two recorders at once, David Young seems about as cheesy as new-age music gets—think Tim Robbins’s character in High Fidelity, but with less home-wrecking libido and more harpsichord. But, non-threatening as the image may be, this self-described 'pied piper of romantic music for the 21st century' has independently released more than 16 albums, including Celestial Winds, Renaissance, and Songs of Hope, and claims to have sold more than one million copies (500,000 in 2002 alone!)."