Quentin Crisp, Dandys, Patrick Angus

John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York

Outfest 2009 continues. We saw the new fictional biopic about Quentin Crisp’s later years in New York, A Englishmen in New York. Very enjoyable. John Hurt reprises his portrayal of Crisp originally seen in The Naked Civil Servant in 1975.

Penny Arcade, one of Crisp’s artistic collaborators was in attendance and spoke briefly before the film. She criticized the film somewhat citing particularly that the film does not include Quentin’s critique of the gay community, which was included
gay mens’ obsession with sex and the limiting clichés and behaviorial stereotypes that left little room for gay people to flourish, explore and be themselves.

“When you know who you are, you can do it, you can be it, you can be seen to be yourself. That’s the point. You first have to find who you are. Then, you have to be it like mad.”—Quentin Crisp

The real Quentin Crisp

“In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis.” —Quentin Crisp

The most famous dandy, Oscar Wilde

Lord Whimsy of the new dandy movement

It seems there has been a revival of dandyism too…. meet Lord Whimsy and some of his kind.

Naturally this brings up all kinds of discussions… ranging from excesses of fashion all the way to gender ambiguity, or inversion as it used to be called.

This all reminds me of an interesting book that came out a few years back called Sissyphobia. Sissyphobia is Tim Bergling’s exploration and research of gay men and effeminate behavior.
(review by the International gay and lesbian Review).

Sadly sissyphobia is still very much in play. Some effeminately inclined gay men, in an attempt to appear “straght-acting” over compensate, hiding the true personality, or worse become a hyper-masculine caricature.
Those bold enough to be themselves (especially in small towns) still must face discrimination,
though it is transgendered people that bear the wrath of the intolerant, ignorant, fearful and insecure.

But it has often been the fearless sissys, dandys and trannys that have blazed the trail for the rest of us. Quentin Crisp was keenly aware of this and wanted more gay men to embrace themselves, however they were, rather than wear any kind of mask, and boldly go forward.

Another aspect to the film I enjoyed was learning about the artist Patrick Angus, of whom I was unaware. Angus and Crisp were friends. Angus’s paintings depicted erotic loneliness and some of the ways gay sought to share intimacy.

Crisp tried to help Angus get his work shown. Angus was a very talented painter and was an early victim of the AIDS Pandemic. Sadly, it is hard to find much information about him. His was a touching subplot to the film. Angus was portrayed by Jonathan Tucker in the film.

A painting by Patrick Angus

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