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Movie Lovers We Love: Little Joe Magazine Cultivates, Redefines and Enriches the Queer Film Canon

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | feelingsoblahg.blogspot.com February 24, 2012 at 1:30PM

Sam Ashby was a busy graphic designer who wanted to put his skills to work on a magazine. And then one night, while watching Paul Morrissey's "Flesh" starring Warhol favorite "Little"Joe Dallesandro, he found his muse.
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The second and third editions of Little Joe. Little Joe No. 3 (left) features a portrait of George Kuchar on the cover; Little Joe No. 2, a still from "Taxi Zum Klo."
This is the second in a new column, Movie Lovers We Love, that looks at the best in entrepreneurial, impassioned and otherwise cool cinephiles and what they create -- the websites, theaters, film programs and ideas we hadn't even begun to consider. If this sounds like you or someone you know, send us a note at editors@indiewire.com.

A few years ago, London-based Sam Ashby was a busy graphic designer and a casual fan of queer film, albeit one with a thirst to explore the genre's legacy. He also wanted to put his design skills to work on a magazine, but he hadn't come upon the right subject.

And then one night, while watching Paul Morrissey's "Flesh" starring Warhol favorite "Little"Joe Dallesandro, he found his muse. Thus Little Joe -- the biannual, limited-run "magazine about queers and cinema, mostly" -- was born.

Buoyed by Ashby's artfully eclectic design skills (recent projects include the UK poster for Andrew Haigh's smash "Weekend"), Little Joe fills its pages with anecdotes from the queer film world and celebrations of queer cinema. You can find an interview with John Waters that touches on "Pink Flamingos" biker fanbase, Kevin Killian's story of Sal Mineo cavorting about the set of "Who Killed Teddy Bear?," and Wayne Kostenbaum's 1999 lecture about Warhol's "Taylor Mead's Ass"

In the latest issue, a critical exploration of ACT UP artist Gregg Bordowitz's classic personal essay video, "Fast Trip Long Drop" leads into a personal history of the 42nd Street porn theaters by the artist Scott Ewalt. Whitney Biennial and Light Industry curator Ed Halter memorializes recently deceased experimental film/video artist George Kuchar with an interview from his last days, and there are tributes to exploitation filmmaker Andy Milligan and prolific camp director David DeCocteau. (The Milligan profile includes a gorgeous never-before-published set of Milligan's flash frames, from the moments of film captured when the camera is turned on and off.)

Little Joe provides the opportunity for queer film fans of all ages and degrees of cinephilia to enter into the conversation. Their essays and features make the case for new addititons to the queer canon or provide new entry points to talk about well-established entries in the hallowed halls of queer film history.

With their penchant for physically bringing the magazine straight to its audience, the men behind Little Joe (Ashby is aided on the crafting and distribution of the magazine by deputy editor Michael Pierce) are intent on fostering and serving various communities of queer cinephilia. They regularly host queer film screenings and have toured Europe and New York for magazine release parties, creating spaces to experience and chat about the joys and troubles of watching queer film, to explore diva worship, to recommend camp should-be classics.

Little Joe has earned our love for being true to its cinephilia and for knowing so well what will ignite its audience's memory and its imagination.

In his forward for the latest issue, Ashby, inspired by the thought of "Fast Trip Long Drop" notes, "Our queer lineage was so violently ruptured in the 1980s and '90s that it is not surprising the effects of this huge loss should still be felt now. As part of the generation that 'came after', I have often felt like I am arriving to the party too late, that I have missed out on something, on so many amazing people and stories.  We have to pick through the detritus to make sense of it.  By investigating the past, which has been obscured to us through this loss, we can begin to make out and define our own histories.  It is this procses which continues to define Little Joe."

While Ashby here highlights his magazine's devotion to recovering and re-digesting queer (film) history, the issue also includes deeply genuine, probing interviews -- no, conversations -- with contemporary directors Celine Sciamma ("Tomboy") and Andrew Haigh ("Weekend"). The pages of Little Joe are stylized to harken back to an older queer aesthetic, and the effect of this, a sincere (often camp) nostalgia, is evidence of the magazine's devotion to offering audiences of all types access to the conversations, communties, and counterpublics that drove its creation and drives the creative excitement around the magazine.

For a copy of your very own and for more information, visit the Little Joe Magazine website.

And for your viewing pleasure, an animated .gif that takes you on a tour through the pages of Little Joe No. 2.

This article is related to: Interviews, Queer Cinema, Movie Lovers We Love