SEP 20-30, 2012, THU-SUN at 8PM
Seth Eisen writes and directs an ensemble of multidisciplinary performers/artists/collaborators in his new Queer history performance project titled Homo File, chronicling the life of Sam Steward, (1909-1993). Steward was a college professor, a prolific author of homoerotic fiction, an influential tattoo artist, and Queer sexual maverick who lived his last 3 decades in the Bay Area. His artistic development and Queer self-awareness evolved through friendships with Alfred Kinsey, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Thornton Wilder, George Platt Lynes as well as numerous other LGBT luminaries.
The performance will feature Steward’s steadfast practice of documenting his private experiences and the development of his alliances amongst Queer artists in an era of few civil liberties. Steward and his circle helped shape contemporary Queer culture despite the repressive climate they existed in. The threat of being outed, tried and jailed were always imminent. Steward was a Queer maverick and one of many lost LGBT histories. Homo File will explore and contrast the lives and relationships between our contemporary Queer culture and that of the early-mid 20th century artists that required significant risks for survival.
Homo File will combine puppetry, live music, video, movement and physical theater. The piece will continue Eye Zen Art’s tradition of creating visually dynamic, interdisciplinary work with a focus on Queer history, aesthetics and sensibilities. The piece will work to raise awareness about Sam Steward and his Queer and artistic milieu of the 1930s-through the 1970s. With Homo File, Eye Zen Art continues to harness and reclaim historic traditions of Queer culture to provoke community development, encourage essential dialogue, and promote social research into the lives of LGBT ancestors.
Books By Samuel Steward (Phil Andros)
As Samuel M. Steward:
- Pan and the fire-bird (1930; short stories)
- Angels on the Bough (1936)
- Dear Sammy: Letters from Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (1977, ed.)
- Parisian Lives (1984; novel)
- Chapters from an autobiography (1981; memoir)
- Murder Is Murder Is Murder (1985; Gertrude Stein-Alice B. Toklas Mystery)
- The Caravaggio Shawl (1989; Gertrude Stein-Alice B. Toklas Mystery)
- Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos: a Social History of the Tattoo with Gangs, Sailors, and Street-Corner Punks, 1950-1965 (1990)
- Understanding the Male Hustler (1991)
- Pair of Roses (1993)
As Phil Andros:
- The Motorcyclist (1953)
- $tud (1966)
- The Joy Spot (1969)
- My Brother, the Hustler (1970; later published as My Brother, My Self)
- San Francisco Hustler (1970; later published as The Boys in Blue)
- When in Rome (1971; later published as Roman Conquests)
- Renegade Hustler (1972; later published as Shuttlecock)
- Below the Belt and Other Stories (1975)
- The Greek Way (1975; later published as Greek Ways)
- Different Strokes: Stories (1984)
Books about Samuel Steward:
- An Obscene Diary: The Visual World of Sam Steward, Justin Spring
- Sexual Inversion (1897), Havelock Ellis (with J.A. Symonds)
Seth Eisen and Eye Zen Art
Seth Eisen’s work is a hybrid of visual art and live performance expanding the dialogue between various disciplines. In 1994 he developed the company Eye Zen Art as an umbrella for curating exhibits, producing performance, visual art projects and installations featured at The Oakland Museum of California, Theater Artaud, Zeum, Yerba Buena Center, SOMARTS, Theater of Yugen, and CounterPulse. He performed with Butoh companies Harupin–Ha and Ink Boat from 1994-1999 and from 2000-2010 with Keith Hennessy and Circo Zero touring in the US and Europe. Seth’s critically acclaimed solo show, Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas, sold out two San Francisco runs and received funding from Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission (IAC) and numerous individual donors.
Eye Zen Art investigates the transgressive traditions of Queer history, Queer space and Queer culture. Through the expansion of LGBT self-awareness our work fosters the evolution of more inclusive conceptions of gender identities and sexual preferences. By harnessing and reclaiming the spirit, stories and traditions of historic and contemporary Queer culture, Eye Zen Arts creates hybrid works that combine live performance and visual media that broaden human perspectives and promote social change. Eye Zen Arts current project, Buffet Flats: Queering Slow Food, is a traveling dinner-salon that combines wild cabaret acts, a live cooking show and ecology talks at Bay Area homes and gardens. Info: buffetflats.org
Eye Zen Art is a fiscally sponsored project of CounterPULSE.
Press for Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas (2010)
“Only a few moments into Seth Eisen’s exceptional one-man cabaret and the place is alive and kicking: doleful aspects of the decor making ample room for a sly, vigorous, soulful performer and a completely unexpected journey through some vibrant underground queer history … A multifaceted performer with quick tongue, nimble steps, and hearty voice, Eisen uses drag, dance, puppetry, and performance art techniques to give flight to worthy exotic blackbirds known and forgotten… a rollicking and poignant act of resurrection, insurrection, and homage.”
— Robert Avila, SF Bay Guardian
“Long before Antony warbled in the indie-rock spotlight, there was the lipsticked, harlequin-stylized Klaus Nomi, singing beside David Bowie on “Saturday Night Live.” Decades before Joel Grey scored an Oscar for his turn at androgynous Master of Ceremonies, there was Jean Malin, the drag emcee of the “Pansy Craze” of the early ‘30s. Those are two of the singer–some shimmering with renown and others sadly lost, and still others languishing in obscurity–that Eisen portrays in Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas.”
— Kimberly Chun, San Francisco Chronicle
“Eisen ingeniously morphs into his characters telling their stories not only in song and poetry but also with shadow theater, puppetry and video. His characterizations are nothing short of mesmerizing and his instinct for the theatrical make Blackbird a performance piece full of wonder.”
— Leslie Katz, The San Francisco Examiner