Queer Horror Film Series at Hollywood Theater Thursday
By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly If you enjoy being scared while eating popcorn you might be interested in checking out Queer Horror, a bi-monthly horror film series run at Hollywood Theater. The program is hosted by Portlandâ€™s premier drag clown, Carla Rossi. I chatted with Rossiâ€™s human avatar, Anthony Hudson, to learn a bit more about the event. PQ Monthly: What is Queer Horror? Anthony Hudson: Queer Horror is a film night I host and program at the Hollywood Theater. It's a collaboration between me and horror/cat painter Jason Edward Davis, who creates all the images for our posters and slides (and is also my boyfriend/fiancÃ©). It's just like watching a bunch of horror movies with your friends, except you're in a beautiful old movie theater packed full of queer people, and it's hosted by Carla Rossi. And Carla spends the opening of each show talking to a senior citizen named Delores (played by my actual tech specialist Daniel Quasar) who she's kidnapped and forced into becoming her projectionist. PQ: What inspired you to start the Queer Horror series? Hudson: It was actually inspired by a painting by Jason. I was applying for a residency at the Hollywood Theater and I had to propose a project. I've always wanted to be a horror host/ess like Elvira, Peaches Christ, or Eerie Lee Shivers, and I kept thinking of this painting Jason had done of a mouth with the words "QUEER HORROR" sitting on the lips like teeth, except in a dripping, hot pink font. We did Queer Horror first as a short film festival featuring the likes of Peaches Christ, Stacie Ponder, and the Soska Sisters, and the Hollywood liked it so much that they made it a regular program. PQ: How do you think horror has influenced queer culture? Hudson: I think survival for oppressed people depends on laughter and making stories of the awful things we've survived, and horror often does both. I think horror's contributed to building a sort of gay aesthetic, a queer aesthetic. You know it when you see it. It helps that horror usually follows the weirdo, the outcast, the other. As a kid though, horror just felt like grown-up fairy tales. There's a morality story, everything's fantastic, and beautiful and awful things can and will happen.
PQ: Whatâ€™s the next movie? Hudson: This month is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddyâ€™s Revenge. It's the gayest franchise installment ever. It stars a gay actor (Mark Patton), has a gay writer, and includes a leather bar and death-by-towel-whipping. My criteria for programming is that there has to be a strong queer aesthetic or a prevalence of queer actors and filmmakers behind it, and this movie has both. You can tell they didn't know what to do with Freddy yet for the second movie because a formula hadn't been established, and so it really goes down this weirdo path like no other sequel in a big series. PQ: Can you tell me about the short film you're showing as well? Hudson: Queer Horror always opens with an opening horror short starring Carla, so this time it's very Elm Street. Carla is haunted in her nightmares while her friends are dying around her. It co-stars my best Judy and frequent collaborator Pepper Pepper, and the surprise guest star playing Freddy Krueger is one of my absolute favorite performers in Portland. The audience will die when they see her. PQ: How can people keep track of when the next Queer Horror happens? Hudson: People can keep up with Queer Horror and all of Carla's endeavors at our website, thecarlarossi.com. And if you come to the show you can sign up for our email list, too. PQ: Your favorite horror movie? Hudson: I have so many favorites like Sleepaway Camp, the first feature we showed at Queer Horror. But I especially like witches, so one at the top for me right now is Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem. It's such a weird movie and the witches are basically early feminists who reject the patriarchy to go play instruments in the woods and kill people. Rob Zombie's getting so good at creating a fully-realized emotional core in his movies and then using legendary genre actors to bring them to life with high camp, grit and kitsch. It speaks to me. The next Queer Horror is this Thursday, August 27 at 7 p.m. at Hollywood Theater, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. You can purchase tickets online. Portlandâ€™s premier drag clown (and Hoarders Season 7 runner-up) Carla Rossi has been featured at Seattle PrideFest, Pepper Pepper's Critical Mascara for TBA (PICA), the Cascade AIDS Project Art Auction, the Risk/Reward Festival, and Conduit Dance's DANCE+ Festival, along with starring in a veritable buffet of monthly nightlife events where she has performed alongside drag legends like Coco Peru, Peaches Christ, Jinkx Monsoon, Bianca Del Rio, and many more. She hosts Portland's monthly party LOCAL QUEEN along with her own bimonthly LGBT horror film series QUEER HORROR at the historic Hollywood Theatre. Find out all about Carla (and her human avatar Anthony Hudson) at thecarlarossi.com.
Illustration credit: Jason Edward Davis