BEYOND SHAME: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality

Patrick Moore, Author, Michael Bronski, Foreword by . Beacon $25 (236p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7956-0

A talented novelist who for many years was director of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, Moore (This Every Night ) offers a provocative defense of gay male sex culture in the 1970s as well as a jeremiad on the AIDS holocaust of the 1980s. The most exciting writing here details New York's provisional "theaters of pleasure" (sex clubs like The Mineshaft, dance clubs such as The Saint) with novelistic atmosphere and a canny ear for interview and synthesis, while Moore's portraits of artists lost to AIDS are also first-rate. Writers Cookie Mueller and Assotto Saint emerge as more interesting than their work, while the late David Wojnarowicz's memoir in particular is vaunted. Art world hackles will rise at Moore's unsympathetic account of gallerist Andrea Rosen's administration of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres estate, as Moore raises the specter of dealers and collectors profiting from the work of the dead and "de-gaying" it in the process. He also recreates the heady, vivid ACT UP era of street activism, recalling how the pink-and-black "Silence = Death" poster ignited the conscience of a generation. Some of Moore's arguments feel more like assertions, in particular his statement that the wild sex pioneered by gay men during the '70s was itself a form of art, although his argument is partly salvaged by a deft reading of Fred Halsted's threatening, aimless porn, and by his witty follow-up that, during the '80s East Village art boom, "art became sex." As a detailed examination of the ways in which rage gives depth to art, Moore's book has no peer in recent memory. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
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