Jail Bait
Jail Bait

c. 1991

Signed and inscribed at length on the opening page

Self-published zine

11 x 8.5 inches

Sold.

Undoubtedly the Michael Parker of Gus Van Sant films “Drugstore Cowboy” and “My Own Private Idaho,” little is known about this self-published zine, nor what became of Parker. Parker was a homeless Portland, Oregon street hustler when the stalwart filmmaker both discovered and provided him with employment as an actor and technical support concerning the business of male escorting. The images and text of this zine reference the cast and crew from Van Sant’s films, including William Burroughs, Flea, River Phoenix, et al.

One of the high points in the arts during the late 20th Century was American Queer Cinema. Numerous factors affected gay film of the 1990s, prime among them was the AIDS epidemic. For years, there was fearful avoidance of dealing with the AIDS phenomenon, then controversy erupted over the kind of “morally responsible, yet realistic” entertainment that artists should be making about the medical crisis. Into this mix and conversation came along a film that changed the direction of the queer film genre. “My Own Private Idaho” provided a glimpse into the world of male sex for hire, unrequited love, and class conflict. Van Sant based the script upon the real life of male escort Michael Parker (played by River Phoenix), which he both acted in and provided technical support on. While the film did not deal directly with AIDS, it was one of a handful of movies that explored homosexual relationships openly and honestly. Shot and released during the height of the epidemic, it traces the reckless nature of sex pushed into the margins, offering one of the first glimpses to a mainstream audience of urban gay promiscuity during the height of the outbreak. It stands as a landmark of queer cinema from the AIDS era.

G.E.

Work by Michael Parker