Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You

The third & final Against Equality book is finally out! See info below...

cover design by Chris Vargas (me)

From Against
In the third and final installation of its trilogy, Against Equality once again demonstrates that another queer and radical world is possible.  The essays in this volume take a critical stance against the prison industrial complex and the system of inequality and violence perpetuated by hate crimes legislation, formally passed in the United States in 2009 as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  

Prisons Will Not Protect You, a compilation of archived work, is located at the difficult and traumatic point where the violence of the state against queer and LGBT people colludes with the violence we are always trying to escape. The pieces here question the gay community’s fealty to the prison industrial complex, arguing that hate crimes legislation, which enhances penalties and can even be used to bring in the death penalty, only serves to funnel massive numbers of people into prisons with increasing lengths of time served and the use of tortuous methods like solitary confinement. This has significant racial and economic implications in a country that houses five percent of the world’s population but nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners and where prisons have become, for many impoverished area and people, the only source of livelihood.
With an introduction by Dean Spade and work by contributors Liliana Segura, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Jason Lydon, Jack Aponte, S├ębastien Barraud, Imani Keith Henry, James D’Entremont, Yasmin Nair, Erica Meiners, Liam Michaud, Josh Pavan, Bridget Simpson, Prisons Will Not Protect You introduces the history of hate crimes legislation and its part in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. It also examines specific cases, like that of the New Jersey Four and Texas Four, demonstrating the vulnerability of raced and gendered bodies within the labyrinthine and mundane realities of the law. Prisons Will Not Protect You exposes the deadly links between state-sponsored violence, homophobia, and the criminal punishment system.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

.... AAAND, I'm back!

Tumblr wasn't all that I needed it to be, and I don't have the energy to set up a Wordpress, so here I am! Back on blogspot. Yay. Lots of stuff happened since August but I'll spare you the 3 month update, and I'll let you check out my website for an itemized list of all the different screenings, shows, etc.

Most excitedly though, at the end of September Greg & I finished our chapter 20 adaptation for Michelle Tea's Valencia movie! Sadly though, you're not able to view it just yet since it's part of a larger project that hasn't been officially unveiled to the public. But just to tide you over, below are some stills from our chapter for which we cast Michelle's character as Angelina Jolie from all her mid 90s iconic dyke roles [Gia, Girl Interrupted, Fox Fire, Hackers], animated cat eye glasses on & necessary props atop the appropriated footage, and re-dubbed all the dialogue. Watch out for this thing to be touring film fests soon!

Also, have you seen Xara Thustra's new book, whose release party was last night? You should find a way to do so if you haven't. I'm not sure how you go about doing that, so good luck to you. But you'll find a way. I trust. [maybe: sarathustraplease (AT) yahoo com ? ]

 Me enthralled by Xara's new book [in between trying to get drunk punks to pay for it]

Friday, August 10, 2012


can now be found at See you there!

Video still from Falling In Love... "Work of Art! Reality TV Special"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cry Boy Cry

Remember that call for participation I put out at the end of May for the Smalltown Boys video shoot at Queens Nails Projects? Well, the video is up & ready for thine divine eyes to gaze upon its glory. Suffice to say, I'm pretty proud of it but how could I not be, with all these awesome performers (artists, activists, composers, dancers, writers, tarot readers) starring in it?

Anthony Anthonie
Leoni Figueredo
Ralow T. Ampu
Craig Calderwood
Ryan Crowder
Susan Withans
Ali Liebegott
Alese Osbourne
Janey Smith
Eric Stanley
& yours truly.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

DocumentO documentation

Installation photos of the DocumentO show at Krowswork gallery in Oakland: HERE

Go see that show now, it closes soon! A great line-up in a great space!

an unofficial satellite of Documenta 13
June 22-July 1, 2012
@ Krowswork gallery
480 23rd Street
Oakland, CA 

* Gallery hours during the show:
Saturdays 1-5, Sundays 2-4
Wed 5-8, Thurs & Fri: 2-6
other times by appointment

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June's Second Quarterly Update

June's high gay holidays are in full swing! And some how I've found time to update my blog again this month. Quite a feat! But, I have some very important things I need to announce so here goes...

DocumentO @ Krowswork gallery, Oakland, CA
I am thrilled to be participating in DocumentO, the Oakland response to Documenta (13), a biennial featuring artists from all over the place, happening in Kassel, Germany this year. DocumentO is the Oakland response, an Oakland biennial if you will... and Greg and I WILL! We're showing our latest Falling In Love... with Chris and Greg video "Work of Art! Reality TV Special." I may or may not be making it to the opening because it's Transgender Pride Day, but you never know.

DocumentO: an unofficial satellite of Documenta (13)
June 22nd - July 1st
* Opening reception June 22nd 6 - 9pm *
Krowswork gallery
480 23rd Street
Oakland, CA 94612

"Yesterday Once More" a Dirty Looks Program, New York NY
Liberace├│n is screening in Dirty Looks, a roaming queer video program that happens monthly in NY. I'm so jealous I can't be there, it looks like a great line up: Matt Wolf, Mariah Garnett, Zachary Drucker, and yours truly!

"Yesterday Once More"
June 27nd 8:30pm
White Columns
320 West 13th Street
NY NY 10014

from the Dirty Looks website:
"Dirty Looks is thrilled to present Yesterday Once More, a program of queer moving image portraits from the last two years. Documenting four figures who helped to shape and define a public image of queer life (Peter Berlin, Joe Brainard, Liberace and Flawless Sabrina), each filmmaker in Yesterday Once More approaches their subject with the weight of their historical distance and a panache for contemporary performativity."

Friday, June 8, 2012

June's First Quarterly Update

June is off to a busy start (just like my horoscope said--thanks for the heads up, Susan Miller) and I have lots to update and oh so many links to provide that I don't even know we're to begin! I guess I'll just do what I do best and 'wing it', here goes...

Criminal Queers @ New Museum
Last night's event was off the hook. We screened Criminal Queers to a packed house @ the New Museum in conjunction with Carlos Motta's We Who Feel Differently Thursday Night Programs! If you have not already seen Carlos' project, I invite you to do so NOW (! As you might be able to tell, most of the project is archived online, and the website includes downloadable PDFs from the journal, video & audio of the many notable queer participants, etc. etc. Photo & audio documentation of OUR event "Love Revolution, Not State Collusion" co-organized by Jeannine Tang & Reina Gosset lives: HERE

Playback > @ Queens Nails Projects
Before I left for NY, last week I participated in Playback > a mini-video themed residency program at Queens Nails Projects in SF. Two blog posts ago, I put out a call for participation (Call For Participation: Smalltown Boys) and last week I set up shop in the gallery space and video'd friends & acquaintances in front of a greenscreen responding (lip-synching, dancing, swaying, staring) to the song Small town Boys by Bronski Beat. In little over a day I edited all the majick together and the first screening of my five minute piece, as well the other work produced during the residency, will be on:
June 20th, 7pm
Rock Bar
80 29th Street
Lots more info here: Playback > events & screenings

TOPOGRAPHIXX: Trans in the Landscape program :: currated by Tobaron Waxman
This brilliant & inspired program, which includes my video Have You Ever Seen A Transsexual Before?, screened in Rome, Italy on May 20th in an event called "BaBel2. The Independent Biennial of Critical Housing." Provocative propostion, right? I wish I could've attended, but the next best thing might be reading someone else's experience of the event: A Right To The City / Trans In The Landscape  on

The TOPOGRAPHIXX program will also screen as part of the OUT LIKE THAT! Festival
June 14, 2012. 8pm
Tickets: $5
@ Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!)
841 Barretto Street 2nd Floor, Bronx, NY.
1 (718) 842-5223

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NYC: Criminal Queers @ New Museum & Sylvia Rivera Law Project

I'm in New York this week! Eric Stanley & I are here for two very exciting events. This first of which is tomorrow at the New Museum--in conjunction with "Carlos Motta: We Who Feel Differently" Thursday Night Programs! The event Love Revolution, Not State Collusion was conceived of by the brilliant Jeannine Tang & Reina Gosset, and will consist of a screening of our film Criminal Queers with a Q&A and discussion afterward. Then on Friday a community screening & discussion at Sylvia Rivera Law Project. We are so thrilled! Please find details below...


Thursday June 7, 2012, 7:30 pm
@ New Museum Theater
Venue has an elevator

Museum as Hub: Carlos Motta: We Who Feel Differently Thursday Night Programs Presents: "Jeannine Tang and Reina Gossett with Eric Stanley and Chris Vargas: Love Revolution, Not State Collusion"

As transgender issues, artists, and theory have received greater recognition in contemporary art discourses and institutions since the 2000s, activist Reina Gossett, art historian Jeannine Tang will discuss the role of art and artists in recent movement building, and how contemporary art figures in critical trans politics today. This will feature a screening of the film "Criminal Queers," followed by a conversation with filmmakers Eric A. Stanley and Chris Vargas.

"Criminal Queers" visualizes a radical trans/queer struggle against the prison industrial complex and toward a world without walls. Remembering that prison breaks are both a theoretical and material practice of freedom, this film imagines what spaces might be opened up if crowbars, wigs, and metal files become tools for transformation. By expropriating the "prison break" genre the question of form and content collapse into a rhythm of affective histories as images of possibility materializes even after possibility itself is foreclosed. Follow Yoshi, Joy, Susan and Lucy as they fiercely read everything from the Human Rights Campaign and hate crimes legislation to the non-profitization of social movements. Criminal Queers grows our collective liberation by working to abolish the multiple ways our hearts, genders, and desires are confined.

This event is supported by the New Museum, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. 

New Museum Facebook Event


Then on Friday, almost the same drill but this time at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project...

Friday June 8th at 7 PM
147 West 24th Street, 5th Floor
Free, All Are Welcome. Building has an elevator.

On Friday evening come join filmmakers Eric A Stanley & Chris Vargas for a screening of the film CRIMINAL QUEERS. We'll be discussing the role of art and artists in movement building, and how art helps shape trans politics today. The screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmakers Eric A. Stanley and Chris Vargas.

Supported by Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice & Queers for Economic Justice

contact Reina Gossett for more details:

SRLP Facebook Event 

Also at the New Museum (again), Gran Fury's neon number
2 Legit 2 Quit

Eric dresses for the occasion

Monday, May 28, 2012

Call for Participation: Small town Boys

Dear Small Town Boy (past, present, future… or none of the above),

I am days away from embarking on a residency at Queen’s Nails Projects, during Playback >. It’s a week-long, television-themed residency which will culminate in a few public screenings of the 10 artists' works created therein TBA. In the week or so that I will inhabit the gallery space, I plan to shoot a video piece that is a cross between a karaoke booth, a “lip-sync for your life” performance, and/or a solo dance portrait, among other things. I am taking my inspiration from video karaoke booths in the mall, the artist Rineke Dijkstra (esp. The Buzz Club video stuff, on view now at SFMOMA), and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

I am making a homemade greenscreen and asking people (this is where you come in) to show up and be in front of the camera as the song plays: it’s Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy.” You can do whatever you’d like: dance, sway, “lip-sync for your life” to it, look into the camera lens and cry, whatever. I’ve even made a DIY karaoke version of the video to help you lip-sync! I would like to video people one at a time. In post-production I will cut all the performances into one video.

The song, as your homosexual ass may already know, is about growing up gay (in a smalltown), getting fucked with or ‘bullied’ (as they say, nowadays) and finding your freedom by forging your own path the-hell-outta-there. It predates all that “It Gets Better” nonsense. It’s one of the classic gay liberation anthems (in my book), and like it or not, the song’s storyline parallels many of our own stories before we got to the SF Bay Area.

I acknowledge that it may not be your story at all, as it wasn’t really mine, but there’s still something about the song I identify with. This could be a time to reflect on how the song does or doesn’t reflect your experience back to you, how sometimes leaving home isn’t an option (or a desire), and how it might feel “more queer” to stay. We can talk about it. I’ll have drinks & snacks for you.

The song is 5 minutes, and if you commit to showing up, I’ll commit to having already set up the lights (ideally), so it’ll be real easy: you can warm up, then I’ll press play (I’ll have the karaoke video handy if you want to lip sync-along) and hit record on my camera. Let's make a date!

The dates I’ll be there: 
Wed. May 30th
Thurs. May 31st
Fri. June 1st
Sun. June 3rd
Mon. June 4th
*11-6ish (later or earlier by appointment)

Queen's Nails Projects
3191 Mission Street
SF, CA 94110

Get in touch (email, call, text) to schedule your close-up! Or just drop by! Also, if you know anyone whose alley this might be up-- tell 'em!

Yours truly,
(5-one-oh) 520 - 3390
chrisevargas (at) gmail {dot} com

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OP blog: Failures To Communicate

Greg & I co-wrote a piece for the Original Plumbing blog about our new video "Work of Art! Reality TV Special." We were so excited to do it, because we love OP and we want people to watch our video and love us! But we posted it earlier today and honestly folks, it felt like we just threw it away into the void. Like composting or recycling, you hope maniacally separating your refuse is doing some good for somebody (or some future somebodies)—but you're just not sure. That's what my blogging feels like. Very self-righteous, but very unsatisfying—usually.

Sorry for that bit of a downer rant. Despite it all, we're still glad that we wrote it and it exists. We're also especially thrilled Amos so generously let us post it on the OP blog, and we loved putting down, in writing all that we were thinking about when making the piece. So it's not all bad, I suppose. I think it's worthy of your time. You should read it: Failures To Communicate

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BaBeL2: Biennale of Critical Housing

I'm thrilled to be part of a video program screening tomorrow at this event in Rome (Italy--for God's sake!) Babel2: An Independant Bienale of Critical Housing (site mostly in Italian). The video program, curated & presented by Tobaron Waxman with introduction by Francesco Macarone Palmieri aka Warbear (my new Facebook friend), is thematically conceived of with "landscape, border, zone and territory, in a transgender spectrum" in mind. If I were you and I were in Rome, I'd go. 

The first Biennale of Critical Housing in Rome is a project-laboratory for experimentation, reflection, research and debates focused on the world, spaces and meanings of dwelling."

* Info on the video program, TOPGRAPHIXX: Trans in the Landscape

* Facebook group for the events

Trailer for the program:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Work of Art! Reality TV Special

Finally! This week Greg Youmans and I unleashed a new Falling In Love... with Chris and Greg onto the world the first of what we will arbitrarily demarcate as "Season Two." In the latest installment Greg & I compete on a mildly popular, ever-addictive Bravo! TV reality television show to be "The Next Great Artist", but can we make it through a double elimination? Take a guess! Watch and see why we are doomed to only make failed queer art ("and not in a good way")...

P.S. My Mom was totally convinced that Greg & I were for real on a reality show! She said she was almost halfway through when she realized for sure we hadn't been. Happy Mother's Day, Momz!

Greg's incredible "works on paper" that got him tragically (SPOILER ALERT) rejected from the competition. Sad... and misunderstood (like a real artist):

"For Your Information" a work on paper by Greg (2012)

"Preoccupied" a work on paper by Greg (2012)

Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook! It means the world to our fragile egos.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The RADAR Spectacle!

Remember last Summer when Greg and I went to the Yucatan Peninsula to luxuriate on the white sand beaches of Akumal and completely indulge our creative fancies all in the name of art? In other words, remember when Greg and I went to Mexico for 10 days to hang out with a bunch of other queer artists (all with some sort of writing based practice), and write a script for our own collaborative video series Falling In Love.. with Chris and Greg? Well, we could not have done it unless we applied and were selected to do so as RADAR Lab Writers! RADAR has been so supportive to both Greg & I and our work, and is an amazing model for a not-for-profit arts organization (or any arts organization, for that matter): they do consistently great public programming, they include established & upcoming, local & imported writers in these programs, and they actually pay the talent! As a working artist trying to cobble together a living (or at least pay for materials), this is huge. Take note, other people.

This Friday, RADAR is having its annual benefit to fund this very important and visionary free queer artists retreat! On the bill are some very VERY impressive people, including but not limited to Armistead Maupin, Peggy Noland, Annah Anti-Palindrome, and Falling In Love... with Chris and Greg (impressive by proxy). We'll be premiering a new installment in our video series: A Falling in Love...with Chris and Greg Reality TV Special: "Work of Art!" (2012, 13 min.) Yes, that's right folx, we've finally done it. We're venturing into competitive reality television, and have inserted ourselves into the highly troubling, but very addictive Bravo TV, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. This is a SF, US, World premiere! So please come and help us birth it into existence. (Gross).

There will also be an art auction where one with money to throw around can bid on work by Edie Fake, Sara Thustra, Jibz Cameron (aka Dynasty Handbag), Amanda Kirkhuff, Paul Madonna, and more. For the poor and cheap, there will be a raffle. I LOVE a raffle!

4th Annual RADAR Spectacle
@ Verdi Club
2424 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94110
$15/door (or
Doors: 7pm
Performances: 8pm
Cash Bar
Light fare provided

For more info, the Facebook Event: 4th Annual RADAR Spectacle

Interview with Greg Youmans & I on RADAR's blog: Chris and Greg are a SPECTACLE!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Watch This: ¡Viva 16!

¡Viva 16! Directed by Valentin Aguirre and Augie Robles (1994, 30-ish minutes).
A beautiful video document/ary of Latino queer life in The Mission, SF in the early-to-mid 90s, centered around the bar Esta Noche. Just watch...

And this... Pretty Vacant (33 min., 16mm, 1996) by Jim Mendiola.
Both of these tips are from friend Vero Majano

Thursday, March 8, 2012


What a busy last week and a half! Last Saturday, February 25th Greg and I had the pleasure of being present for a screening of Falling In Love...  with Barbara Hammer's Superdyke Meets Madame X at the TATE Modern in London. The program, titled "Into the body or into the medium" was named, presented, and conceived by Emily Roysdon who was also the moderator for the lively conversation afterward. In relation to our respective work Hammer, Greg, and I all talked about collaboration, sexuality onscreen (and lack thereof, in our case), trans "positive" representation (not something I/we concern ourselves with), queer relationships & educating publics (also not something I concern myself with, despite being something we/I have been accused of doing.). Greg and I were there from Thursday to Tuesday, which is to say we never got over our jetlag which made for a dizzing, dreamy, whirlwind of a trip. Thanks to Stuart Comer, for bringing us out, hosting us, and for giving us the art & delicious food tour of London.

My London art highlights:
Yayoi Kusama at the TATE
Tacita Dean at the TATE, in the Turbine Hall
Jeremy Deller at the Hayward Gallery
"Powerless Structures, Fig. 101" by Elmgreen & Dragset in Trafalgar Squar
A Little Film Club, watching Pasolini's Teorema at Little Joe magazine's monthly screening

Greg and I in the TATE theater
Into Your Body or Into the Medium program
Emily & the TATE
(L to R) Greg, me, Florrie Burke, Emily Roysdon, Barbara Hammer

Greg & I returned from London Tuesday afternoon, and promptly left for LA the next morning for the event Transactivation: Revealing Queer Histories in the Archive at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in conjunction with the exhibition Cruising The Archive: Queer Art & Culture in LA, 1945-1980, which is part of Pacific Standard Time. There, on a bill with artists Wu Tsang, Zachary Drucker, and Heather Cassils I debuted ONE for all...  a video I made in response to the the biography of Reed Erickson, whose papers are housed in the ONE archives.
From the program: ONE for all.. (2012, 7 minutes) is about the tempestuous end of the partnership between eccentric, transgender philanthropist Reed Erickson and the seminal homophile organization ONE. The story focuses on the Milbank Estate, a historic Los Angeles mansion at the center of the conflict, and on the expansive but unrealized dreams that Erickson had for the future of queer activism.

Mezzanine at the ONE, waiting to enter Cassil's performance

event flyer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

KUSF In Exile

Last Saturday Greg and I were on the radio! KUSF In Exile, on DJ Margaret Tedesco's show Roll Call: Bay Area Arts and Culture. What fun! Greg talked about and read from his new book on the documentary Word Is Out, we both talked about our collaboration Falling In Love... with Chris and Greg and our upcoming trip to London to screen at the Tate, and I said a bit about the video I've been working my ass off to complete for Transactivation: Revealing Queer Histories In the Archive, a Pacific Standard Time event at the ONE National G & L Archives in LA.

Here's where the radio show page lives: KUSF 2/28/2012 2-4PM Roll Call DJ Margaret Tedesco, complete with playlist, multiple audio players, our bios, pictures, info about the show & station (SAVE IT!), etc.

Here's where you can listen directly: MP3

Here are pictures I took that day:

DJ Margaret

Faces For Radio

Greg reading from his book, Word Is Out

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hybrid Narrative closing soon | read a review on The Daily Serving

Hybrid Narrative: Video Meditations of the Self and Imagined Self
@ MacArthur B Arthur gallery in Oakland closes on February 26th! Go check it out if you haven't already.

Installation shot

Here is a great review of the show on The Daily Serving written by Jackie Clay:
“Hello, all but forgotten piece of 1970s feminist Earth Art, have you ever seen a transsexual before?”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tate Modern: Superdyke Meets Madame X Meets Falling in Love With Chris and Greg

If I've seen and/or talked to you in the past month or so you know the big news that Greg Youmans and I have been invited to screen our project Falling In Love... with Chris and Greg in London at the Tate Modern with, none other than local Bay Area hero, and godmother of lesbian-feminist experimental cinema, thee Barbara Hammer!!

Yes, that's right! We are so pleased to be participating in the month-long Barbara Hammer's The Fearless Frame survey show at the Tate (did I mention yet that it's at the Tate?)! Plus, we'll be there! LIVE (in person)! So, if you or anyone you know is in London from Feb. 23rd to the 28th, we hope to see you at the show. And, let's hang out after!

Barbara Hammer's The Fearless Frame
Programme Seventeen 
Superdyke Meets Madame X Meets Falling in Love With Chris and Greg
Conceived by Emily Roysdon
Saturday 25 February 2011, 19.00

Emily Roysdon: Into the body or into the medium
A write-up about the program, with screening list

Book tickets online from this page: Tate Moderm | Film | Programme 17