I splashed out and bought a front-row seat for the ten-year anniversary of Berlin’s PorYes Awards.
The awards were held this year in the beautiful HAU1 theater of the woman-run Hebbel am Ufer. Since 2009, the PorYes award (which is a sparkling, open crystal oyster!) stands for respectful portrayal of all genders and a diverse sexuality.
She created the first lesbian adult film production company, Fatale Media. I absolutely adored seeing clips of her filmsfrom the 80s – they are funny and playful and sexy, with safer sex education and wonderful characters.
Dr. Loree Erickson is doing such important work in empowering queercrips.
Her critical academicwork is in practices of resistance such as the “sexy femmegimp politics of flaunting it”, she makes art that fearlessly articulates desire for historically forbidden bodies, and she was wearing leopard and metallic fucshia which is my favorite.
Wayne Yung talked about the reactions he got when he began bringing feminist gay films to festivals.
He said it was not initially an easy concept to sell! I highly recommend a visit to his site to check out his deep catalog of video art – he has produced an incredible body of work.
The costumes and sets, by Le Pustra, are simply unbelievable, and everyone has such a unique look. I knew I would be spoilt for choice!!
My jaw fell off my face when I saw Charly Voodoo walk onstage.
As a corset-lover (some might say hardcore corset fetishist!) I am always thrilled when I see someone seriously corseted. Charly Voodoo‘s whole look was incredible, with a lace head mask, high heels and stockings. He is absolutely beautiful (as is his husband Pierre-Louis, a dancer and plant-lover who revealed so much more! Sadly, I did not have a chance to draw Pierre-Louis!)
Charly’s corset is by Maxim Blotin, a young corsetmaker in Paris. It looked like satin coutil to me but apparently is made of something called leather satin! It is either corded or quilted, with gores, and a near-pipestem cut. I did not draw the details accurately, which pains me, but I think I got the shaping right. His mask, by Kevin Jacotot, was a thrilling challenge. I was so excited I really couldn’t even see straight.
Next to Charly above, singer and violinist Shir-Ran Yinon, woman of exquisite profile and fabulous pipes.
And then Charly Voodoo started to play the piano!!
Amazingly!! He is FAB. And then, I got a special ringside seat for a spectacular vignette involving Julietta la Doll, one telephone, two glasses of water and no pants!! But I can’t share anything about that on this family-friendly blog, so here’s another drawing of Bridge Markland!
You can find out what wild theater and performance Bridge is up to right here, if you’re not too afraid of her wild soul!
Her staging of an 1890s “German screwball comedy” with puppets is coming up Nov. 29- Dec. 1, at another beautiful Berlin venue, the Theater im Delphi.
Legendary Berlin performing artistReverRso, who unrolled a strip of cutwork cotton from his mouth as he danced in a lace dress, then blindfolded himself.
That is producer and torch song singer Le Pustra above, limned in glitter.
Wigs for the show are done by hair artistNina Butkovich-Budden. They are devastating, characters in their own right. The suberb stage managing is by Lady White Rabbit, who I hadn’t seen in ages – she took very good care of me! I can’t imagine this immersive, improvisational show anywhere but at the historic and louche Ballhaus Berlin. This theater is a treasure, and I hope it will be preserved as a venue for some time.
Speaking of which, I gotta get to Clärchens Ballhaus before they shut it down. Should I draw tango or swing?
As always, I’m incredibly grateful to my Patrons on Patreon. I couldn’t show up and tell these folx’ stories without the monthly financial support of my Patrons, especially as my health has declined this year. The subway was inexplicably just not working when I left Ballhaus tonight, and the fact that I could hail a taxi to go home means so much. I might otherwise have spent hours figuring out a sequence of trams, buses and trains to get home – I have before, and it’s brutal on my body and on my psyche.
I will be increasingly asking for disability accommodations at venues, as I simply can’t move, stand, or do the things I once could.
Le Pustra was kind enough to let me in the theater early to find a seat that was comfortable for me. Pure luck that I picked the one where Julietta was going to be making a very naughty phone call – my luck, that is! I was also very grateful to both Mayliss – stage manager Lady White Rabbit – and Julietta la Doll for warning me about the water in Julietta’s performance and making sure my art wasn’t damaged!
I was so excited when Cadbury Parfait told me she was producing a fantasy-themed Extravagant Shambles!
There is nothing I love like some dark fantasy and mythology – mix with burlesque and drag acts and you get pure entertainment mithril! (lil geek joke there for ya. Very little.) This Shambles was in the Club at Kunsthaus ACUD MACHT NEU, an epic Berlin queer art space. I don’t get to Mitte much, but I had been previously been to an art show there with artist and curator Suzanne Wegh – they are the source of all my art event hot tips. Above, Alan Lee (but not THAT Alan Lee) as Alexa Spread did a terrifying, grasping Gollum, then rose into a column of light and became Galadriel.
Darell Haynes, Louisiana born but now singing his heart out in Berlin, sang “I See Fire” from the second Hobbit flick.
He just filled the room; it was one of those moments that makes the hairs on your arms stand up. He is an actual trained professional opera singer, which is not what you are expecting in the club where the entrance always smells a little like piss. Darell was on German tv show Supertalent last year, with the group Mo’Voce! You can see them sing and get a standing ovation here.
I always love to draw her. My friend and Patron Daniel Paikov was there taking pictures with his usual sang-froid, managing despite the fact that the ACUD Club is a dark cave of bloody light. We nightlife documenters find a way!
She was an ethereal Persephone who stripped down for a deep dive into the darkness of Winter. I so much appreciate coming to her productions, as they are always inclusive and amazing, and she makes sure I feel welcome and have a seat.
I didn’t draw everyone at this show – and I didn’t draw my muse Noéline la Bouche for an unusual reason. Noéline performed as the Goddess “Yemaya – mère de l’eau”, and I was so captivated by her dance choreography and costume for this number I actually decided to just watch! But you can see photos of her doing the act!
This has been a terrible year for me healthwise as a disabled artist, and crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. I’m so grateful to my Patrons, who make my work happen.
I went to celebrated cinema Babylon Kreuzberg for the screening of my friend Sadie Lune’s new movie from Maria Beatty, Spit and Ashes.
The whole scene was like Planet of the Invasion of the Sexy Young Queers. Basically no-one had any gender binary and no-one had any hair on the sides of their head. If I hadn’t already been dizzy and exhausted I would have been knocked into a chair by the sheer gorgeous life and freedom of the young people. I drew this blue-haired artist while they were waiting in line.
Everyone was looking fantastic and fearless.
While waiting I got to IRL meet and talk to Sara Niedorf, co-founder of Final GirlsBerlin Film Festival, Berlin’s marvelous showcase for horror films produced, directed and written by women. As the crowd lined up for Spit and Ashes, I saw an old friend from SF! He had wanted to let me know he was in Berlin but decided to respect my mentioning health issues on my twitter. It was so good to hug an old friend who understands the challenges of my life with disability.
When Sadie arrived, she was in full Witch regalia and breathtaking! Director of Production Jo Pollux was gleaming like a fey creature, spooky and ethereal.
I hugged them and then I had to leave, because I have been having a crushing Hashimoto’s flareup; I was feeling like hammered shit. I am so damn sad I couldn’t see their gorgeous movie on the big screen with that amazing crowd. But I had already done one event that day, live-drawing Shine Louise Houston teaching film-making, and then gotten mixed up and gone to Moviemento (where I had drawings on display this year btw!!!) instead, and had to cab it to Babylon. I was in spoon debt already.
I didn’t have any trouble at all accepting that I’m an alcoholic and an addict and that addiction is a lifelong, incurable disease. But I am having a terribly hard time accepting that autoimmune illness has permanently changed my life. Every time I get better I think I’m better for good; every time I get worse I feel consumed with guilt and grief for the work I’m not doing and terrified of a future where I may be able to do less and less.
If I didn’t have this monthly financial support, I wouldn’t be able to work at all. The flexibility of being supported by Patrons is so critical to my work. I’m writing this flat on my back on the couch on a Halloween night when all over town my friends are doing beautiful events I desperately want to document – but at least, thanks to my Patrons, I can take the time to scan, edit and post these drawings of cool young folx, and share them with the world.
Shine started out with some gems about filming adult media that I never would have thought of!
I was absolutely fascinated to hear her talk about the secrets of a happy set and how to troubleshoot when things go sideways. Shine on IMDB here! You would not believe how much creative work she has done as a producer and director of sexy erotic cinema.
“There is power in creating images, and for a woman of color and a queer to take that power… I don’t find it exploitative; I think it’s necessary.” – Shine Louise Houston
Here’s Shine with Jiz Lee, demonstrating the concept of the 180-degree Line.
Although all I know about film-making is what I’ve seen on queer porn sets, I know this concept from my career as a comic-book penciller! I drew Jiz Lee often in the Oughts in the Bay, because we both donated lots of time to benefits for local sex-positive institutions like The Center for Sex and Culture. I keep up with them daily on twitter and Instagram, because Jiz is always on top of news and opportunities for sex-positive activism and education.
Seriously, if you want to be learning and growing about how to support trans and nonbinary folx and QPOC erotic cinema, Jiz Lee is your first stop.
They were the first out nonbinary person I knew IRL, and their clear voice is always educating me on how to be of use and of help. Step one: PAY FOR YOUR PORN!!!
Suzanne Forbes photographed by Jiz Lee at Shine Camera Work class Oct 26 2019
Jiz Lee took this cool over-the-shoulder shot of me drawing!
It was a total treat that one of the demo models for Shine’s class was Bishop Black!
Always a pleasure to see that gentleman creative, who is one of the hardest working artists in Berlin’s incredibly rich queer life.
People I know have been shooting with Shine Louise Houston forever!
Sadly my health got worse and worse in my last years in the Bay, and I never managed to be somewhere Shine was working. It was an honor to at last document her historic and powerful artistic presence. I loved hearing her talk about intuitive and spiritual approaches to cinema; even if you’re not a film-maker the class is so interesting and I highly recommend it!
These drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
That means they’re 100% FREE for all to share and enjoy! In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.
As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free.
I was recently in a group show at Schöneberg gallery The Ballery.
The works shown included a beautiful series of portraits by photographer Eva Brunner. Barbara, above, was the model. During the finissage evening of the exhibit, Barbara performed some deft comic numbers.
This is an example of a drawing where I could take my time with the background and really work out the details. As all my dear ones know, I love to draw people playing music and have had far less chances to do so this year, since I’ve been ill so much.
I added the color when I got home, based on memory and little scribbly notes on the drawings.
I swear to you that the colors appeared exactly as they do here: the glowing red light in the Ballery’s cloakroom, the oversize bottle of Campari, Barbara’s signature red/orange look, the red accent on her mike, and the red nailpolish in the portrait behind her. Other than that it was all grays and whites and blacks.
A marvelous scene I was lucky to capture, including Barbara’s gorgeous gams!! Thanks to my Patrons on Patreon, who make my documentary art possible <3
She is the Motha of the House of Bushwig, a LatinX punk and International Queen who came to Berlin to light things up this summer. I got a good likeness of her, but I could not find photo reference of her outfit, so the look I have drawn her in is a composite of several of her incredible pastel explosions of creativity. I hope the Queen will find that ok!
This extremely cute boy Nām was one of two backup dancers for queen Ocean.
As a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festivalBushwig this summer, I drew more performers in a single day than I have EVER drawn before, but I couldn’t draw everybody. I felt bad I couldn’t capture the beauty of the queen herself, but sometimes even the best stage-side seat doesn’t give me a decent view of a performer, and that was the case here.
ReveRso is a Berlin drag legend, bringing a very different style.
There was a whole other part of ReverRso’s performance, involving actual fireworks in personal areas, that I could not draw for this Patreon-sponsored site. Perhaps you will find it elsewhere 😉
I didn’t get this performer’s name but they danced tremendously in those sky-high boots!
This guy is incredibly tall and an amazing dancer, he was BEATING the stage into submission in the brutal heat, just moving and slamming. Drop splits!!
I am still working on finishing all the Bushwig Berlin drawings and spraying them with fixativ and scanning them! I actually still have another five performers. The first Bushwig Berlin post is here and the second is here.
As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!
In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.
As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free.
Bishopis a multi-disciplinaryartistwho works incredibly hard in so many swim lanes! And he is fantastically handsome and muscular 🙂 You can see my drawings of him from the Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin Red Hot Love session here and here.
I was experimenting a lot with materials for this session (read more at this post) and struggling to resolve values.
Rendering skin tones and clothing shadows is something I can do easily in paint, but I am a novice at pastels and color drawing still.
A big part of the reason I’m adding color to my drawings now is to give performers of color a more vibrant representation. My approach is ever-evolving, and I always invite POC performers to check me if I get their undertones wrong!
I only got one drawing of beautiful mermaid model Gizem Akram, seen below, because my usual table by the dj stand just didn’t work well for most of her poses.
This happens occasionally wherever I draw; sometimes I just can’t get a good “shot” of one or more performers.
It’s challenging to draw scantily-clad people in multi-colored stage lighting, but I did my best; you know who is awesome at it?
Fabulous muse Noélinela Bouche shook it in purple, amazing as always. Afterwards I visited her at her booth where she sells her beautiful fascinators and headpieces – check her insta to see what shows she’s selling at.
You want your Suz to stay in Berlin, drawing your beautiful selves as you do your wonderful creative work, right?
Here’s how you can help!
My loves, there has been a big mess with the visa office, and I have only a three-month visa to stay in Berlin now. Yes, this is happening when I just had surgery and have had a year of serious health problems.
I have an appointment to renew my artist’s visa or restore my spousal visa on November 20, and before then I need bank statements showing more income as an artist/more media coverage of my work.
How I am asking you to help:
1. Buy an original drawing at my tax/visa sale price of only 40 euros – 20% less than the regular price. And pay by Paypal or bank transfer, stating “artwork sale”, if possible so I have a record of the sale. Paypal: email@example.com
Easy to view and search albums here. Scroll the whole stream of thousands of drawings here.
2. If you can’t afford that,sign up for my Patreon for one euro a month! If you’re already a Patron, you know how incredibly grateful I am to you for transforming my life and work.
4. FREE TO YOU and ideal for US folx!! ! Emailonline art magazines/websites about my work. I desperately, desperately need a break with some media coverage.
Got a gallery contact or a contact at the Schwules Museum? Tell ’em about me!
More info about my work, the loss of Patreon income SESTA/FOSTA has cost me, and how to promote me here:
Sample text/project descriptions for submission to art news websites:
Former courtroom artist makes a life’s work of open source documentary art, live-drawing scenes from sex parties to the Berlin subway.
Former DC comic artist documents alternative culture by drawing live on the scene, then distributes her work open-source.
Huge open source queer and alternative culture art archive in jeopardy from SESTA/FOSTA.
Suzanne Forbes is an expat New Yorker by way of the Bay Area, using the skills she developed as a courtroom artist to live-draw queer, trans and alternative culture. Much like the embedded combat artists who traveled with troops in World War One, she draws live on the scene for public distribution. Instead of newspapers, her drawings are published open source for anyone to print and share on flickr and her blog. Her documentary art project has been running since 2005, and is crowd-funded through Patreon. Her mission is to tell unique human stories, with a focus on visibility and representation.