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John Cameron Mitchell Takes Old-School Party Realness On The Road With Mattachine

John Cameron Mitchell and co-host Amber Martin at Mattachine in NYC

You probably already love John Cameron Mitchell’s convention-challenging and gender-bending films, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus. And chances are, if you met him, you’d be just as fond of the multi-talented writer/director/performer himself. His down-to-Earth charm—sprinkled with a dash of punk rock and a pinch of glitter—can be felt on the packed dance floor at Mattachine, Mitchell’s monthly dance party at historic New York gay watering hole Julius.

Now West Coasters can hop on the Mattachine train as the crew prepares for events in San Francisco (July 31), Portland (August 6) and, gods willing, Los Angeles.

Three years ago, Mitchell and fellow DJs PJ DeBoy and Paul Dawson (both stars of Shortbus) and multifaceted cabaret performer Amber Martin started the party, which is named for the Mattachine Society, a pre-Stonewall gay-rights group that famously challenged New York’s “no service for homos” rule at Julius in 1966. A hit with gay celebs like Justin Bond and Alan Cumming, and New York hipsters of all persuasions, the Mattachine party stands in opposition to “the metronomic, inorganic kind of thump, thump, thump traditional gay folk music. The fascist body culture. The age phobia. The conformist, sheep-like quality of mainstream gay culture today,” says Mitchell.

The ridiculously youthful 49-year-old goes on to reminisce that, “when I grew up, ‘gay’ meant ‘nonconformist’—each person was unique in their own gay way, rather than subscribing to a checklist of gay criteria. Which is part of the Radical Faerie thing too—find your own queerness. Harry Hay, the founder of the Mattachine Society, actually coined the term ‘Radical Faerie’ in the 1970s.”

It was while Mitchell and DeBoy (left) were off finding their own queerness this spring at a Radical Faerie gathering in Tennessee that they hatched the idea to spread some Mattachine love across the country.  With a successful mixed-crowd debut in Denver –“full of cute fags, straight punk boys, baby dykes and hardcore Hedheads”—already under their belts, the Mattachine posse is now back on the road. They’ve teamed up with Hard French, another old-school party crew, for their San Francisco engagement, a daytime bash at El Rio in the Mission District. “When you’re dancing in sunshine, there’s nothing to hide. That’s the great thing about an afternoon tea dance,” Mitchell says, “it’s a well-lit good time.”

If you can make it to El Rio or one of the other Mattachine road parties (and we strongly suggest you do), expect a rip-roarin’ good time sweating it out to the beats of yesteryear—Sylvester, The Bee Gees, Soft Cell, hell, even James  Brown. “The music philosophy is more like a high-school dance feeling,” John explains. “Isn’t all music dance music after all?  We bring an eclectic kind of AM radio mix of styles. So you’ll get classic rock, country, punk, soul. My specialty is slow dancing.” As varied as the tunes may be, the DJs take time to let the crowd savor each song and each other.

“We play the whole song instead of going from climax to climax,” says Mitchell. “Climax to climax doesn’t make for good sex.”

 

Catch Mitchell and the Mattachine crew Sunday, July 31st, at San Francisco’s El Rio, and Saturday, August 6th, in Portland, OR, club Mississippi Studios. Mattachine DJ Amber Martin performs her one-woman comedy cabaret, Amber Alert, on Monday, August 1st, at San Francisco’s the Hypnodrome and Friday, August 5th, at Portland’s Wild Abandon. Mitchell will perform at both shows.

Photos by Mark Tusk

By:           Dan Tracer
On:           Jul 26, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

  • 13 Comments
    • Why
      Why

      Trying to think of anyone more overrated than JCM. Gonna hafta get back to ya….

      Jul 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      I’m sorry, but ShortBus was one of the worst things I have even seen in my life. I LOVE shocking things and unconventional things, I watch everything from horror to John Waters…but watching a guy pee in a bathtub, suck himself off and have a sex therapist that cant orgasm was just as about unoriginal as you can get.

      Jul 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • UMB
      UMB

      @John:

      It wasn’t supposed to be shocking. John Waters wanted to shock you. JCM wanted to show you that sex and bodily functions are NOT shocking.

      Jul 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alex
      Alex

      Harsh! I think both films are great–and if you’ve seen his latest, Rabbit Hole, it’s pretty clear the guy has serious chops behind the camera. Didn’t know he threw parties too…

      Jul 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      Having a sex therapist that cant cum, an acid tongued drag queen, and a guy that falls in love with his stalker were probably all thought up while he was on his toilet. Seriously, the acting was offensive and the storyline was weak.

      Jul 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mulletkitty
      Mulletkitty

      I’d go to a dance party thrown by Radical Faeries any day over the zillions of gay clubs pumping out monotonous house for steroid-laden clones. Sign me up for that shortbus!

      Jul 27, 2011 at 9:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Riker
      Riker

      LOVE JCM! He’s authentic, down to earth, and a marvelous talent.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 11:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WillBFair
      WillBFair

      I’m not sure. Seems like they’re deliberately excluding 70s disco, which is what most clubs do these days. It looks like the usual gay ageism, and I wonder if that’s what’s going on here.

      Jul 28, 2011 at 12:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      I thought Far From Heaven was amazing.

      Jul 28, 2011 at 2:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      I love Mitchell, but note how he makes fun of the “sheep like” gay culture… you know damn well all the kids at El Rio are going to be white and wearing the standard hipster uniform.

      Jul 28, 2011 at 3:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SweetCheeks
      SweetCheeks

      Can’t wait to see Jon and Amber back in Portland!

      Jul 28, 2011 at 5:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FilmFan
      FilmFan

      @Anonymous
      FAR FROM HEAVEN was directed by Todd Haynes. Great flick.

      Jul 28, 2011 at 11:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MidntRadio
      MidntRadio

      I’m a straight woman. But I am in love with John Cameron Mitchell. I’m serious. What I wouldn’t to get coffee with him.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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