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Big Joy Oral Histories: K

Kilhefner, Don

Interviewee: Don Kilhefner
Interviewers: Stephen Silha and Eric Slade
Date of interview: January 2010
Extent: 1 hour, 4 minutes, 53 seconds

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Don Kilhefner, Ph.D., is a Jungian depth psychologist and shamanic healer in West Hollywood. He has worked actively on the frontlines of the Los Angeles and national gay community for fifty years.  With the Gay Liberation Front of Los Angeles (1969-1971) he played a pioneering role in the creation of the Gay Liberation movement.  With Morris Kight he is also founded Los Angeles’ LGBT Center, the Van Ness Recovery House, the Gay Men’s Medicine Circle, and many other seminal organizations in the gay community including (with Harry Hay) the Radical Faeries, an international gay spirituality and consciousness movement. Annually he conducts a series of community-based workshops such as Father Hunger: The Union of the Son of Promise With the Father of Achievement (for young gay men); Midlife Awakening: Rites of Passage into the Second Half of Life; Becoming A Gay Elder; and Seeing the Dark: An Introduction to Gay Shamanism.

Topics discussed: Met Broughton as a grad student at UCLA, seeing his experimental films with music, images, poetry & lots of male nudity; Broughton as important gay elder, grandfather figure - brought spirit & sexuality together, shamanic influence; Harry Hay as Moses figure, Broughton as humorous trickster, practitioner of "Subject-subject consciousness"; Effects of Broughton's Jungian depth analysis, from crazy San Francisco; Lineage of Rumi, Hafiz, village idiot ; Mentions Broughton as a gay man of substance, like his contemporaries Malcolm Boyd, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Harry Hay, Morris Kite; Explores Broughton's "Godbody" concept; Broughton as the archetypal Radical Faerie, dancing in the moonlight; Turning point when he left his wife to become authentic, out of the closet; Lives on in his art - from elder to ancestor; visionary tradition of Blake, Whitman; Reads from "Tidings," (a 1965 poem written for Stan Brakhage), "Song of the Bed," "Gurgles"; Living by cliches and aphorisms with deep wisdom; James and Joel visited Radical Faerie sanctuary in LA, where Don lived with Harry Hay, John Burnside and Michael Fleming; Levels of consciousness in Broughton's poetry, useful for creating "sacred space"; Experiences with Harry Hay and John Burnside, how Broughton helped Don get perspective on his relationship with Harry and the Radical Faeries; Importance of intergenerational communication for survival.

Killian, Kevin

Interviewee: Kevin Killian
Interviewers: Eric Slade and Stephen Silha
Date of interview: March 2011
Extent: 48 minutes, 49 seconds

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Kevin Killian (born 1952) is an American poet, author, editor, and playwright of primarily LGBT literature.  My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, which he co-edited with Peter Gizzi, won the American Book Award for poetry in 2009. His novel, Impossible Princess, won the 2010 Lambda Literary Award as the best gay erotic fiction work of 2009. With Lewis Ellingham he wrote Poet Be Like God, about Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance. Killian is also co-founder of the Poets Theater, an influential poetry, stage, and performance group based in San Francisco.

Topics discussed: Beats were "carpetbaggers" from East Coast; "San Francisco Renaissance" started as "Berkeley Renaissance"; Anti-academic attitudes / no more "dreary" poetry; Some students of "magic" such as Yeats' Order of the Golden Dawn, or magic of Alistair Crowley; Loyalty oath against communism was requested at UC Berkeley; many declined to sign; Cold War meant government control, poets revolted; San Francisco Art Institute as epicenter of avant garde; Talks about his book Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance, co-authored with Lewis Ellingham; Before Alfred Kinsey's book, there was no homosexuality in modern sense; Broughton as showman - reading poetry aloud with bravura; Broughton helped invent poetry festivals in 1940s; Influence of comedy, buffoonery in Broughton's work; North Beach poetry scene, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser; then the Beats; Poetry Center at San Francisco State as locus for poets; small press scene; Jack Spicer's "Poetry as Magic" workshop in 1956; believed in "dictation" from invisible world; later held Sunday afternoon poetry readings; Says that Robert Duncan and James Broughton read poetry naked (which may or may not be true of Broughton); Broughton very involved with The Maidens, a social writing and reading group in the 1950s. Believed in androgyny. (Members included Robert Duncan and Jess Collins, Madeleine Gleason, Eve Trium, Helen Adam. Robin Glaser visited.); Shows a Maiden emblem: a moon from a drugstore barstool; Mentions gay group SIR: Society for Individual Rights, as growing out of Sunday readings; "Blabbermouth Night" at The Place on Grant Street where gay poets were satirized; Broughton tended to stand back, maybe because of class background; more interested in national and international context than others in San Francisco; Maybe Broughton's greatest contribution was his strong consistent character, even if poetry was "sucky."

Kuchar, George

Interviewee: George Kuchar
Interviewers: Eric Slade and Stephen Silha
Date of interview: July 2009
Extent: 40 minutes, 5 seconds

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George Kuchar (1941-2011) was an American underground film director and video artist, known for his "low-fi" aesthetic. He directed over 200 films and videos (some with his twin brother Mike, with whom he lived), starting in the 1960s in New York where the brothers' 8mm films were featured alongside those of Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger and Stan Brakhage. From 1971 until 2011, he taught at San Francisco Art Institute, where he was a colleague of James Broughton. The brothers are profiled in a documentary by Jennifer Kroot, It Came from Kuchar (2009).

Topics discussed: How audience at San Francisco State hissed and booed at Kuchar's videos, but James "protected me"; Colleagues at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), where James slept at faculty meetings ("a plus"); Broughton's films booed in New York; East Coast audiences didn't like California openness, nudity, sunshine; Curt McDowell was mutual friend; his films had "back alley" sex; James Broughton saw a flying saucer; so did Kenneth Anger and Stan Brakhage; Broughton wanted to film the Kuchar brothers naked in a bathtub; but they wore clothes, and he cut the scene; Barbara Hammer shot love scenes with older Lesbians; Broughton didn't like Hollywood melodramas; Getting old for Broughton was a reason to have another giant birthday party; Jim Carey as the Grinch looks like James Broughton, only green; Dichotomy between Broughton's public and private personas; Skillful use of poetry, upbeat music, California skies; "Bohemians" from Canada went to New York, including Bob Cowan; Jonas Mekas wrote about Kuchar brothers in Village Voice, and they became famous; Andy Warhol went to their films; his henchman Gerard Melanga was Kuchar's high school schoolmate; Knew Lawrence Jordan, Gunvar Nelson, Leonard Lipton, Bruce Conner; Why experimental filmmakers can't be interested in making money; Broughton's "Buddhist" approach, with circles and chakras; Rosa Von Praunheim got in trouble for asking students to disrobe in class at SFAI; Not unusual in those years for students and teachers to have sexual liaisons at SFAI; The name "Big Joy" reminds him of Joy Lansing, former Miss Utah, in B movies.

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