BUTT Magazine presents “BUTT IN ASS,” an exhibition of queer video art that transforms the gallery into a mock porn shop, complete with a three unit video-buddy-booth sculpture (Shawn Maximo) screening art films in lieu of porn. Curated by Michael Bullock (U.S. publisher of BUTT) and Yasmine Dubois-Ziai, “BUTT IN ASS” honors BUTT Magazine’s tradition of showcasing the artistic gamut from established luminaries to emerging talents, and is organized in support of the ethos of Gay Pride. This show was made possible by the generous support of American Apparel, a long time friend and supporter of the gay community.
“BUTT IN ASS” also aims to bring attention to the NYPD’s unjust practice of entrapping gay and bisexual men in sex shops and charging them with prostitution. Guests are invited to both enjoy the video art and also use the booths for their originally intended purpose, creating a safe space for public cruising.
Employing tactics evocative of the pre-Stonewall era, the NYPD Vice Squad deploys handsome young undercover police officers in and around video booth stores to cruise and pick-up gay and bisexual men, targeting predominantly those in their 40s and 50s. When the targeted gay or bisexual man accepts the young officer’s offer to go home with him for consensual sex, the officer then offers to pay the target money in advance for sex. This unforeseen reversal of roles leaves the target confused, wondering: “Why would this young man make such a proposal?” As the officer and the nonplussed target (most often an individual with no prior arrests) exit the store, the target, despite never having agreed to an exchange of money for sex, is surrounded by undercover police officers, handcuffed, and charged with prostitution. Since 2005 nearly 50 men have been arrested in this manner.
Ironically, while the city’s Rainbow Pilgrimage campaign invites gay men from around the world to spend their money here for Gay Pride- commemorating the GLBT community’s seminal resistance to the vice squad during the Stonewall riots—the NYPD engages in an arrest policy targeting gay and bisexual men that N.Y. state senator Thomas Duane calls “utterly inappropriate and out of control.” (NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketing agency, estimates that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender tourists spent $3 billion in NYC in 2008. In 2009, city officials are looking to GLBT tourists to help reduce the city’s $4 billion budget deficit.)
“BUTT IN ASS” features videos by: Kathryn Garcia, Paul Pfeiffer, Ely Kim, Jean Genet, Paul Lee, Wayne Yung, Kalup Linzy, Slava Mogutin & Brian Kenny, Chris Moukarbel, Julika Rudelius, Shahryar Nashat, Lovett/ Codagnone, Nayland Blake, Stewart Marshall and Isaac Julien. The installation also includes the artwork of Michael Magnan, Chiang Fu, Desi Santiago, and Shawn Maximo.
On the occasion of Gay Pride 2009, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, “BUTT IN ASS” embodies the mission of BUTT Magazine. Through the art of the queer community, the installation celebrates the aesthetic of BUTT, and exemplifies the ethic of protest against injustice.