Two Queens is delighted to announce the premiere of a new film work by Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings: Something for the Boys.
‘Something For The Boys’ takes place in Blackpool, a historic seaside resort whose dazzling entertainment culture has been brutalised by austerity and falling visitor numbers. The town provides the conditions for a unique political conflict to play out: between the reactionary nostalgia of the Victorian holiday destination and its vibrant and fantastical gay scene.
Blackpool has become synonymous with a mode of British identity re-energised by recent political events; fuelled by a yearning for traditional post-war social values and austerity-induced anxiety, Blackpool voted for Brexit by a steep majority. The town’s thriving gay nightlife absorbs and reflects the tensions of the town, producing opulent venues and ambitiously produced drag shows which often play to only a handful of customers. Within this gay community, the utopian camp of musical theatre and the ultra-masculine leather scene fight for visibility and survival. Quinlan and Hastings’ film explores how Blackpool’s nostalgia extends into the gay scene, harking back to both the golden-era of musical theatre, where closeted queers found a language to describe their experience, and the trauma of the AIDS years – an internalisation process that allows the community to come to terms with its own history.
‘Something for the Boys’ presents a series of vignettes filmed at two locations in Blackpool’s gay district, the art deco-style Funny Girls cabaret theatre and Growlr sex club. Utilising the opulence and grandeur of these locations as the backdrop to performances by veteran drag queen Betty Legs Diamond and professional go-go dancer Ted Rogers, the film is interspersed with material from Blackpool’s local history archive. Through these performances Quinlan and Hastings establish a connection between the hyper-femininity of Drag, which seeks to reveal the mechanisms of constructed gender, and musical theatre’s exaggerated post-war morality, which in turn reveals the latent hierarchies of class, gender and race in Anglo-American culture. In a similar way to the world of mainstream drag, musical theatre often fails to live up to its subversive context, reproducing the classist, misogynist and racist dynamics of the dominant culture within which it operates.
This exhibition is the first in a series of four projects at Two Queens across 2018-19 aimed at providing the opportunity for emerging artists to develop ambitious new projects through a supportive curatorial dialogue. The programme is made possible by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and De Montfort University.
Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings (b. 1991, Newcastle/ London) live and work in London.
Their work centers on themes of queerness and resistance, and includes the on-going project @Gaybar, where the artists re-stage the historicized gay bar as a container for queer practice, and the UK Gay Bar Directory, a moving image archive of gay bars in the UK. Selected gallery exhibitions include Queer Thoughts, New York, Arcadia Missa, London; Truth and Consequences, Geneva; 15th Venice Architecture Biennale; Oslo 10, Basel; Room E10-27, Paris. Their work has been presented in institutions such as Birmingham Museum of Contemporary Art, Birmingham; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; The David Roberts Art Foundation, London; and Somerset House, London. A publication documenting the UK Gay Bar Directory was released by Arcadia Missa in 2017.
Sound: Owen Pratt
Director of Photography: Rosie Taylor
Performer: Ted Rogers
Performer: Betty Legs Diamond