Life & Culture

Inside Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce’s X-Rated Archives

The ‘salacious sissy cineaste’ discusses his new, NSFW exhibition, FAGGOTRY

An artist, a filmmaker and a photographer – or, as he puts it in his Instagram bio, a ‘salacious sissy cineaste’, Bruce LaBruce has spent the past three decades blending the mediums of art, film and photography with sexually explicit imagery, challenging the way we think about sex in the process. Instead of brushing the darker and more transgressive expressions of human sexuality under the carpet, LaBruce shoves it in your face and tells you it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

In a new digital exhibition entitled FAGGOTRY, which is hosted at the Tom of Finland Store, the Canadian auteur is selling a limited edition of a selection of his photographic work taken over the past 25 years. He’s actually staged three FAGGOTRY exhibitions in the past – at Lethal Amounts in Los Angeles, at La Fresh Gallery in Madrid, and at Gallery 46 in London (under the title The Haus of Bruce LaBruce) – and made this selection from the photos that were on display at those shows.

Previewed here, these works include stills from some of his films including Hustler White, Skin Flick and Super 8½, as well as photos of his friend and fellow photographer, Ryan McGinley. Here, LaBruce tells us more about this exhibition and his work, and what we can learn from it today.

“I dug into my archives and digitised some previously unseen or unpublished work, and combined it with some of my more well-known images. Some of the portraiture was taken when I worked for gay porno mags like Honcho and Inches for five years starting in 1998. I’ve also included production stills and behind-the-scenes photos that I took during the production of my movies, as well as casual photos of friends and colleagues I’ve taken over the years.

I started out as an artist and filmmaker who used sexually explicit imagery as a political provocation, but I later segued into the professional porn world proper, making porn films for such companies as Cazzo Film, Wurstfilm, Dark Alley, Erika Lust, and CockyBoys. I make narrative art/porn that quite often romanticises sexual outsiders, fetishists, freaks, and revolutionaries. My films and photographs are punk and queer in spirit, challenging sexual conventions and political orthodoxy.

As a queer punk in the 80s, I developed a number of political and artistic strategies. These included expressing provocative imagery with an emphasis on style and aesthetics, embracing my own ambivalence toward certain subjects (such as porn, or the gay movement in general), and using ambiguity and paradox as a way of avoiding co-optation by the mainstream. Stealing from the strategies of the Situationists, I invented spectacles (such as Bruce LaBruce) and imaginary movements (Queercore) to create a mythos that would later become self-fulfilling prophecies. My work is anti-authoritarian, politically incorrect, and subversive in terms of undermining the assumptions and presumptions of the dominant ideology.

In these sexually turbulent times, I would hope that people more than ever will recognise the important of sexually transgressive art. Art that directly addresses the dark and mysterious aspects of human sexuality should be embraced without shame or moral judgment.”

Visit FAGGOTRY here.