Tea With Chris: History, Glamour, Magic

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: If you live in Toronto and can spare the time between now and…March, I urge you to go see History, Glamour, Magic, a show at York University’s gallery devoted to the art and activism and life of the late Will Munro. We’ve written about Will here before, but this exhibition’s far broader context better demonstrates his importance. The underwear he lovingly reworked hangs suspended up above, as if awaiting the unrestrained denizens of some heavenly tenement; a further room houses pieces he made while the end was already approaching, such as those from Inside the Solar Temple of the Cosmic Leather Daddy (2010), which unite Tom of Finland iconography with the ancient Egyptian variety. There’s a wall of glorious posters silk-screened for his many parties and DJ gigs, nights with names like Peroxide and Moustache. The curators understood that these were equally integral to Will’s do-it-ourselves practice.

I actually missed the raunchy apex of his flagship event Vazaleen – it went from monthly to occasional when I was barely 18. The glass cases filled with vintage photos, flyers and press clippings emphasize just how radical it was at first: a queer bacchanal (with straight sympathizers) outside the traditional gay village, women making up half the throng, which played off loud, punkish rock and glittery dance music not as foes or strangers but kinky kissing cousins. If all that seems unremarkable now, in Toronto and elsewhere, it’s because his vanguard and their parties staged a revolution. I never knew Will very well, though he was almost impossibly friendly and encouraging whenever we met, but I feel so grateful to be one of its children. Looking at the piece below, I remembered the last time I saw him, at Vazoween ’09. Among the final songs in his final DJ set was that sexual liberation anthem George Michael smuggled inside an anti-corporate one: All we have to do now is take these lies and make them true / All we have to see is that I don’t belong to you and you don’t belong to me.

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