Cindy Sherman's Office Killer came to London

Thanks to Little Joe Magazine we relished a rare treat last night: a late-night screening of Office Killer - the only feature-length film project to be made by American artist Cindy Sherman.

Office Killer is a gory comedy that follows Dorine, a troubled staff member at Constant Consumer magazine who kills her colleagues, and arranges them around her basement as a rash reaction to rumours of a pending downsize, ineffectually making her own office of the dead.

The film received terrible reviews upon its 1997 release, but as the editors of Little Joe Magazine explained, it is ready for a second-examination and is "a gem waiting to be retrieved from cinema's spam-folder". Office Killer works as a sort-of midlife retrospective of Sherman's work, taking influence from Untitled Film Stills, Centerfolds and her Fashion series, and is essential viewing for any Cindy Sherman fan, even if the artist has disowned the film from her official body of work.

Although low-budget and scarred by rushed editing, the film boasts striking composition and lighting. Every scene offers either an eye-catching tableau or a thought-provoking detail. The final gore scenes are fantastic, totally Sherman and reminded me of the filmed plays of Tadeusz Kantor.

The decision to screen Office Killer at 11.30pm on a Saturday in Dalston was a fun idea and the tipsy laughter of East London artisans and media-socrateses helped Sherman's gormless cast to bask in the comedic side of her tale. Still, Office Killer is well worth watching alone too, perhaps in a high-backed chair amongst candlelit photographs of Dennis Nilsen and Anthony Perkins.

Some of the film's themes are startlingly apparent to a 2012 audience. There are interesting surface motifs such as the arrival of technology, the introduction of email ("some people find it stops them from actually talking to their co-workers!" jokes the editor innocently) but also a deeper narrative runs through the course of Office Killer, a nauseous commentary on power and the invention of it. The relationship between visual and inner power, and the assertion of power within a corporate environment.

The nearly all-female cast of Office Killer is a bitchy sorority with the occasional punctuation of an attractive male post boy giving the film a Lorcan claustrophobia, it made me fantasise about a French and Saunders parody.

The challenging lighting, disobedient plot and awkwardly sparse script of Office Killer gives the film a reactionary and revolutionary air that seems to deliberately resist the magnetic conventions of Hollywood, and in doing-so gives a very Shermanian final production - a piece-de-resistance that borders on the irritable.

The ending is superb too, when we see Dorine driving to a new town with a blonde wig and sunglasses - she has effectively become Cindy Sherman heading to New York to start a career in art. Not to suggest that Cindy Sherman is a killer, although I'm sure in a another life she'd love to be.

There are tonnes of articles, reviews and discussions online about Office Killer so I won't keep you.

Thank You to Little Joe Magazine for their hard work and efforts in securing Office Killer for a UK screening, and for organising last night's event. It was a real calendar highlight for Cindy Sherman's fans across the pond.

Paul Foot: Kenny Larch Is Dead!

Comedian Paul Foot's 2012 Edinburgh Fringe show is to be called Kenny Larch Is Dead.

The sublime comic is currently wrapping up his Melbourne Comedy Festival where he has been performing last year's Edinburgh show Still Life, earning himself a Barry Award nomination, his second in a row in fact.

In true Footian style the description for Kenny Larch Is Dead on the Edinburgh Fringe program online is surreal and nonsensical:

"Deep within the sinking sands of the Perspex jungle of youth, in the forgotten nebula of nothingness, just off the warm waste waters of New Norfolk, comes an objet du désir - a trombone fruit. Needless to say, it's another warm year. ‘The most meaningless comedy ever seen. An entirely pointless evening, or your money back’ (Paul's disastrous guarantee)."

The press shot shows Paul sporting a silver space-like jacket and trademark bizarre tie, this time a metallic floral print by Duchamp.

As with the last three years, Foot is sticking with the Underbelly as his Edinburgh Fringe venue for the new show.

Keep an eye on his website, which features a racially inverted doll version of me, for more details:

Does this Milky Bar look a bit gay?

Well, I suppose "gay" is the wrong word, because straight women and bisexual men also enjoy playing with willies in their mouths, and straight men are the authority when it comes to inserting penis jokes into real life non-penis-related scenarios.

But yeah, I was a bit surprised to unwrap a Milky Bar this morning and find what looks like a squirting cock and two balls? Do I just have sex on the brain, or does that Milky Bar look more virile and good-for-you than its modest calcium promise?

You'd think Milky Bar have enough of an image complex, what with being called Milky Bar, opting for a cutesie and non-macho exterior and having a long-running world-famous ad campaign that looks like some kind of homegrown Michael Jackson Dating Agency in which small smooth blond boys turn up in back-water towns dressed like rodeos offering children chocolate, without having to go and actually craft male genitalia out of their product?

Upon closer inspection (turn the Milky Bar around) it becomes apparent that this is not a penis, but is in fact a donkey's head, being lassoed by the Milky Bar kid. Read what you will.

On a seperate pop music note, why hasn't Ke$ha or any of that lot ripped off the Milky Bar kid's song yet? Surely they're running low on nursery rhymes now, The Saturdays have released One, Two, Buckle My Shoe about six times. The Milky Bar kid's anthem is embedded deeply into our sub-conscious, it's light and upbeat, associated with fun times and receiving treats, and it would be easy enough for Cher Lloyd to sing with the aid of a few machines.

You could even throw a Nicki Minaj rap in for good kudos ("You want me to act milky? You like me cuz ahm silky. Well come give me your room key, and let's do something kaBOOM filthy?" etc)

Or perhaps a Lil' Kim rap, she's not done much lately ("You wanna milk me? Be my kiddy? You think you're strong and tough? Well I like it rough. Slide your bar into my chocolate bazaar. You old enough to ride my car? Be my semi-skinned Milky boy, I'll be your full fat moose" etc etc etc)

Or what about a Subway wrap? Kelis is too obvious.

Potential chart toppers:

"The Milky Bars Are On Me (Literally)" by Alexandra Burke (Freemasons remix)

"Strong And Tough" by Leona Lewis feat. Pitbull

"Milk E Bars R On Me" by Ke$ha

"Only The Creamiest Milk (Is Good Enough)" by The Saturdays

"Look It's The Milky Bar Kid!" by Cher Lloyd

"Fuck Me In Both Ends Please" by Kaya Jones

Alexander Boot is just another sad pathetic Daily Mail pest. But the gay community needs to forget the insipid mouth, and cut off the varnished hand that continually feeds it.

Here he is, look - Alexander Boot, a sad dreary old man with a powdery comb-over and a clumsy watch, one of the few photos of him on the internet because he isn't very reputable or venerated, appearing to look out, but actually he is looking very deeply in, because this is a lonely and disillusioned writer, riled by his own middling success, riddled with regret, grateful for any Daily Mail invoice that he can get, even if it means dancing fat and naked to their media agenda's drum, drowning in his own ink well and attacking several million people who he doesn't know but who he might envy perhaps due to a repressed homosexual streak that trickles down his conscience like a bead of ball sweat against a doughy unloved thigh.

Yesterday Alexander wrote a lovely piece in the Daily Mail stating that Homosexuality is a departure from the norm. And what is the norm Alexander? Heterosexuality? Divorce? Single Parenthood? Loneliness? Bigamy? Slavery? Coffee? He is deliberately confusing two words: Normal, and Common. It is perhaps more common, more frequent, more expected, that somebody will be heterosexual. But it isn't normal. It is normal that 1 in 15,000 people who take a Paracetemol might faint. It is normal that a Swedish pop star will top the British charts once every 200 weeks. Is is normal, as a combined average from several colossal studies, that 6-10 people out of every 100 will identify as gay, but in fact that many, many more will have a homosexual episode at some stage in their lives. It is normal for healthy heterosexual people to not bother themselves about the multitudinous normal existence of gay people.

Although Alexander Boot incorrectly says that "1% of us are inclined to be homosexual". I can't even be bothered to argue this one, like where did he get that from? Does he mean 1% of the boys in his history seminars at Warwick University that he makes stay behind for "feedback"? The Daily Mail have simply gone ahead and published an obvious lie. It's no different to them publishing "10% of pumpkins can chatter quietly amongst themselves before being plucked". It's JUST BOLLOCKS.

So why does the Daily Mail publish this bollocks? I write for magazines and know that sometimes a pitch works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes an editor will say "Yes! Do it!" and sometimes they will say "No, this one really doesn't fit with the issue this time, sorry."

So what is the Daily Mail's agenda? Let's forget about the sad whored-out "columnists" and focus on the editors. Which individuals at Northcliffe House are personally responsible for upsetting and trying to ruin the Saturday mornings of thousands? And how can the gay community put an end to the belligerent work of these life-wrecking media beasts who commission nasty, incorrect articles packed with lies with the touch of their Blackberry and then sit back in their garden and watch their kids playing, probably not stopping to think that one of their children might actually be gay when they grow up, and that they've just personally played a key part in securing an uphill climb in a nasty seething world of middle-class pith for their darling, darling child.

The answer is: Money.

The Daily Mail want gay people to get angry, read their stories, click, RT, huddle around Facebook statuses, frowning at emails, etc. etc.. It's page impressions, adverts, money. We know all of this, we keep saying it, "Ooh look at the Mail link-baiting", liberal writers and journalists like Hadley Freeman repeatedly flag up the Daily Mail, documenting how anti-feminist and fucked in the head the journalists at the Mail are, comparing the paper to an "abusive husband", but we still keep coming back, we keep arguing, spinning the money wheel, falling into the trap. But what's worse - we have to, because this is our lives that they are repeatedly messing with. This is our community that they are trying to make a horrible place for us.

Like a local funeral parlour that puts poison in the village well, but on a mass scale, it is almost too upsetting to dwell on the fact that the Daily Mail's editors continually publish venom that they know will worsen the lives of our country's most vunerable, whilst earning traumatised page hits out of its most sensible.

Because whilst I can sit here in Hampstead with my granola and yoghurt, typing away on my blog until hangover clearance o'clock, others can't. What about those gay individuals who are still dependent on their oppressors, who aren't blessed with the most tolerant of families? Imagine it. The homophobic step-dad reading aloud phrases from the Daily Mail at breakfast - "You should read this" - before cutting out a photo of a cute squirrel to send to his daughter from a previous marriage. The angst teenagers who slowly twist and cripple their own hearts whilst reading their parents' newspapers that they take as verbatim.

We use the word bigotry a lot here in media-savvy London, but I think more fitting words are misery, pain, upset, nastiness, sorrow - These are the feelings that the Daily Mail wants openly gay people to experience. What was once a newspaper, notice the word "news", is now nothing but a sharpened knife hiding behind J-Lo's arse.

And what can we do? How can we help? Perhaps Hadley could write a Guardian column advising us on how to respond as a community?

Do we leave futile comments on their website, wedged between the higgledy hip-replacement gibberish, saliva-splattered side comments and the beyond-help coos of horse-breeders's wives? Do we track down the editors, turn up at their pastel-coloured villas and ask them why they keep doing this to us? Do we ask gay people who work at the Daily Mail to get a reality check? Do we write to the Mail's advertisers?

It's so depressing, and as much as you want to see those latest photos of Kate Middleton playing hockey, the only answer is... to ignore the Daily Mail.

It won't make it go away, but it will make your life better.

Take comfort in the fact that there are millions of gay people living in the world, everywhere. Apple CEOs, Google executives, prime ministers, military leaders, astronauts, all the way down to us humble fodder, the bloggers, the bakers, the Fendi bag makers. Too many gay people to list. Always have been. Always will be. So let us just remember that.

And just as nature dictates that there will always be gay people, it also dictates that Alexander Boot and his po-faced editors are just mere mortals like the rest of us, just less interesting and more sour than most of us.

And in a few years Alexander Boot will be dead, lost, forgotten, his books unread, his Wikipedia page covered in weeds and unvisited.

And one day, as both probability and nature dictate, one of Alexander Boot's great grandchildren will be gay, and they might decide to research their family tree, and they will stumble across his journalistic legacy. And what could have been a happy day, "Look! Josh! Did you know my great-grand grandather was a national journalist!?", instead Boot's horrid stodgy scrawlings will be revealed, and his grandchild will swallow a small gulp of flem, turn to his boyfriend, and whisper "Fuck Josh, look! My great-grandfather was a homophobe..."


Ooh, here's another sexy snap of our friend Alexander Boot:

Now if you spot him in the street you'll be able to go up to him and freak him out. If you're gay then you're not normal remember, so he probably won't be surprised if you start doing some abnormal things, like making yourself sick down his back.

And here are some other Alexanders. Gay ones. Much better ones:

Alexander The Great - I think we all accept that he did more than most.

Alexander McQueen (born Leigh) - one of the greatest British fashion designers to have ever lived, and the official choice of the Royal Family for the wedding dress of our future queen Katherine Middleton.

Nick Alexander - an award-winning novelists. That's right Mr. Boot, this guy's books are actually read by people and win awards. 

And finally - Alexander Pettyfer. OK so he's not actually gay, but we can dream can't we, and who knows what goes on on those casting couches...

"The City of Devi" by Manil Suri - Are Bloomsbury Heading for another Gay Fiction Smash in 2013?

Manil Suri's latest novel "The City of Devi" which features a gay muslim character at its centre could be the award-winning author's most successful title yet when it comes out next year. The novel tells the story of Sarita, a thirty-three year old statician who sets out to find her lost husband after he vanishes in Mumbai. Set against an intense and terrifying backdrop of nuclear annihilation in the face of India's global emergence, Sarita's journey collides with that of Jaz, a secretly gay muslim who is also trying to find a former lover. Sarita and Jaz decide to help each other's quests before realising that they are both looking for the same man...

Indian-American mathematician and author Manil Suri found success with his 2001 novel "The Death of Vishnu" which was long-listed for the Booker Prize and led to American publishing house W.W.Norton giving him a generous advance to write more.

Suri, who keeps in touch with fans over Facebook, posted on his page last December to announce W.W.Norton were all set to go with "The City of Devi" but that a UK publisher was yet to be secured. It is now rumoured that Bloomsbury will publish the book over here. Suri also let his fans voice their opinion over the book's title, with "The City of Devi" beating "Superdevi" narrowly in a poll.

Bloomsbury are emerging as one of the LGBT community's favoured publishing houses with an impressive track-record for investing in good quality gay fiction, not only boasting literary giants like Edmund White amongst their stable of authors (who published his first novel in seven years "Jack Holmes and his Friend" with Bloomsbury last year) but also running with less-mainstream exciting gay titles like Madeleine Miller's "The Song of Achilles" last summer - a fantastic read which really did deserve more mainstream attention, and presumably will in good time.

It seems the literary circuit is happy to venerate a gay title once every year, with Booker Prize recognition arriving perhaps once in every five, and we're used to seeing the same host of gay authors contest for that rotary throne - Alan Hollinghurst, Alan Bennett, Damon Galgut, Sarah Waters, Ali Smith.

Manil Suri's "The City of Devi" has picked, perhaps accidentally, a good time to come out - now that the noise following Hollinghurst's "The Stranger's Child" and White's "Jack Holmes and his Friend" has quietened down.

From the few tit-bit previews that can currently be found online "The City of Devi" sounds as if it will combine the social energy of a Hanif Kureishi novel with the cultural feast of Monica Ali, and the sexual adornment of a Pierre et Gilles portrait. Here's to hoping. Roll on 2013!