Photo by Jack GouldMy preconceptions and prejudices tend to have a sameness about them. Before I saw "Sensation" at the Brooklyn Museum, I was convinced it was just another smutty shock fest. I had to be dragged in, holding my pert little nose the whole way, to see the most wonderful show of 1999. I castigated the terrific Chasing Amy (without having seen it, naturally) as an anti-feminist, Howard Stern-like lesbloitation flick. And I was smugly sure that I knew exactly the kind of smutty shock fest I'd find in "Dismembered From Society" at the Smallest Art Gallery in California (TSAGIC). The only reason I went, bitching and kvetching? The coffeehouse art I'd planned to see in the neighborhood was worse than expected, and my friend Skeith DeWine had TSAGIC's key on him.
You have to crawl into the little cubby that is TSAGIC, a former broom closet under the Santora stairs. It's very Alice in Wonderland. And once inside, there's no standing up; there is only a crab-like scuttle, hopefully not showing any ass while you're bent over.
Inside, what's most surprising about the big gay cocks is how very sweet they are. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. You expect something like Bob Finnegan nailing his penis to a board. Instead, gay porn star Bud Cockerham's amputee fetish reveals itself in sweet little nubbins. Arms, for instance, are shaped like bowling pins. Legs? Bowling pins. And penises? They're shaped like Mt. Everest. Come on. There are some things in this life we can predict with certainty, and one is that penises shown in DeWine's gallery will be big, and they will be gay.
Simple but sure-stroked drawings depict a Mr. Clean-like Cockerham and his boyfriend ejaculating on each other, as smiling and loving as Pollyanna. They are both drawn as amputees, if amputees had gently pointed nubbins like those of thalidomide babies. The penises especially are drawn with care, each vein strong and meandering like a mighty river. The Ganges, probably, or the Snake.
The men kiss. They love. They ejaculate on each other's chests. They have orgies with three or four of themselves sliding over each other like the snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark, looking concerned and vulnerable. There's even a palpable sadness and fear in the group-sex drawings, where three of Cockerham all blow (and try to placate) a looming, bigger-than-life boyfriend. Whether Cockerham knows it or not, there are issues swirling around inside him about fidelity and identity. He may think he's just a big, happy, queer porn star who gets sexually aroused by stumps, but there's a lot more to it than that.
The drawings can be graphic, but mostly the licking and jizzing are subtle; the eyes are drawn to the bulging muscles and sweet faces more than the serpentine wrangling. It even takes a few minutes to notice the poo dropping out of an ass and into a waiting mouth. It's subtle, sort of.
I know you're busy not believing me. I don't blame you. It's hard to get past prejudices, especially when gay porn stars fucking stumps are involved. But guess what? I'm done talking smack about Chasing Amy and "Sensation" and Finnegan nailing his penis to a board. I've never seen Finnegan nail his penis to a board. Perhaps it's the tenderest, most romantic penis-nailing in the world.
I'm tired of not liking green eggs and ham. I would eat them in a boat, and with a goat, and with some stump-philic gay porn-star artists. I would! I like them, Sam I Am!
"Dismembered From Society" at the Smallest Art Gallery in California, 206 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-0836. Open by appointment. Through Wed.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Orange County art and theater scene.