gay spy film television video blog
Pimp & Ho Started as a Thesis
by Ryan Porter
Dy-no-mite! Jive talkin' sleuths Jonny Pimp and Honey Ho are back August 5th, 2002 in their second season of internet escapades. Pimp & Ho: Licence to Queer takes the gaybourhood vigilantes outta the hood, leaving behind last season's parodies of blaxslpoitation classics like Shaft and Cleopatra Jones. The new mission: chewing up the super-sexy secret agent motif. Pimp & Ho's creator Mark Kenneth Woods is slapping the queer characters into James Bond-like roles in hopes of exposing the homophobic undercurrent of the films.
"James Bond is kind of notorious for having really effeminate 'hint-that-they're-gay' bad guys," he says. This edition of the web-based broadcast will be tailed in November by a concluding chapter in the trilogy, where Woods may poke the satire wand at gangster films or sci-fi. While Woods and co. don't get cash for their hilarity, he does receive some credits. "Oddly enough," he laughs, "I am a lucky bastard and I get to do this as my thesis!". The York University communications student's first series, Pimp & Ho: Adventures in Queersploitation, is currently riding the film-fest circuit, recently hitting Chicago and Texas. "Not Inside/Out mind you! Maybe next year," sighs the dramaturge. www.wayoutwest.tv. Check it out, it rocks.
Subverting the hero
OUT ON SCREEN FILM FEST / Twisting hetero plotlines into queer-friendly shapes
story by Brett Josef Grubisic / photos by Jacques Gaudet / Xtra! West Aug 7 2003
Picture a university seminar room in which a student defends his Masters thesis.
Under the scrutiny of his tenured professors, the young man argues that the thesis, Outrageously Political: The Use of Queer Theory and Camp in the Subversion of Heterosexist Action Adventure Film, illustrates how "camp can be used pedagogically to promote aspects of queer and feminist theory."
He switches on the VCR to show License to Queer, one of three videos he made in support of his point. Its not an educational video in the usual sense.
The professors watch as Jonny Pimp and Honey Ho, agents for the International Queer Secret Service, save the queer planet from SPOQ, the nefarious Society for the Prevention of Queerness (which has developed a breeder bomb designed to eradicate queers forever). In just 17 minutes, Pimp and Ho travel the globe, face vexing sexual challenges and manage to disarm SPOQs dreaded weapon with mere seconds to spare.
The situation described above is not imaginary. The student is Mark Kenneth Woods, and his Pimp & Ho Trilogy (License to Queer; Adventures in Queersploitation; Queer Fashion Crime Models) helped him successfully complete his Masters in June. More than successfully, in fact, considering Pimp & Ho has screened at over 100 festivals and galleries around the world.
An activist with a sense of style, Woods ("originally a little Frenchie Virgo from Montreal, but my family moved to Vancouver in 1990 when I was 12," he says) has long been intrigued by the possibilities of both film and gender. While he can recall bossing his brothers around when he was a pre-teen holding a camcorder, his path to the kitschy DIY aesthetic of Pimp & Ho was also the product of years of schooling.
His route started at the Vancouver Film Schools film production program, and led him eastward. Woods explains, "The [VFS] program was very technical and not particularly stimulating, so I moved on to pursue a BA at the University of Toronto specializing in Cinema and Sexual Diversity Studies.
"Since I am kind of a nerd and am so fascinated and inspired by philosophy and theories of sexuality, gender, race and oppression, I decided to explore some of these ideas further in the MA program in Communications and Cultural Studies at York University. Thats when I joined the House of Venus. The Vancouver-based artist collectives ideals matched my thesis goals, and weve all had a strong working relationship ever since."
With the much-appreciated help of friends and fellow artists, Woods made the trilogy cheaply over four months while staying in Vancouver.
Woods plays Jonny Pimp as a hero more likely to take his shirt off than to win a Nobel Prize. Of his alter ego, he says, "The Pimp part of me and the MA part of me complement each other very nicely, I think. I could never be just one thing, and am definitely a proponent of fusion and alternate possibilities. On one end, I am very much a performer and love to crack jokes and just generally fool around. But when it comes to my videos, I need the work to provoke thought. I dont think I could ever create anything that was made simply to entertain or be pedagogical. I like to create work that blends humour with social criticism."
That blend raises issues via an entertaining format. Woods describes its fundamentally political dimension. "Jonny Pimp & Honey Ho were created out of my love for blaxploitation films, the Bond series and the gangster film genres. I love them all, but they are all ridiculously heterosexist. And so, I have subverted the heterosexist conventions of the genres, and while this is amusing, it wasnt enough for me.
"They are also inspired by my frustration with aspects of the LGBT community. Pimp is representative of a particular group of gay men. The kind who are happy to fight heterosexism, but dont give a shit about race or gender. The kind who wave the pride flag out of their window yet trash trannies and lesbians. And Ho is meant to challenge our cultures and our communitys fixed notions of identity. Shes a transgendered, bisexual, know-it-all beauty. She represents diversity."
And though the shorts represent fantastic scenarios, they have practical, use-daily applications.
"I dont think the videos are a huge stretch from reality," Woods says.
"Clearly, nobody can go out and shoot flowers out of hairdryers to change the world. However, the political action the characters take in terms of challenging sexual and gender identities can be done by anyone, every day. Suck dick, lick pussy, wear a dress, dont shave your legs, let your tranny girlfriend fuck your ass with her huge cock. Its that easy. There isnt one way to be gay or lesbian or one way to be a man or woman. If you play with gender, sexual and racial stereotypes, then you are challenging our culture. Besides, its fun."
A man with a mission, Woods (just returned from the queer film festival in Tokyo), is now juggling several projects. He exclaims, "There is always something in the works! Ive just literally finished work on a TV pilot for a variety show I have put together with other members of the House of Venus. Its kind of In Living Color meets Solid Gold meets SNL.
"As for the future, I would ideally like something like the TV show to pan out, but I guess that goes without saying. I must admit that it would be nice to make some cash from all this work one day. But at least without funding, Im in full control of my work and can say and do whatever I please."
Woods is also happy to report that Pimp & Ho: Adventures in Queersploitation will air on CBC this fall and that parts of the Pimp & Ho Trilogy are available as episodes on www.wayoutwest.tv.
* License to Queer plays in two Out On Screen programs: The Coast Is Queer (Aug 12, 7 pm; Aug 16, 1:30 pm) and Do Not Adjust Your Set (Aug 11, 7 pm).
gay tv spy film
& Ho: Licence To Queer (1-5)
- Mark Kenneth Woods
Camera/Editor/Producer - Robert-John Farrow
Original Music - DJ Dickey Doo for DIXMIX Productions
with Guitars by Daniel Elmes at Dubvibe Studios
Pimp - Mark Kenneth Woods
Honey Ho - Cotton
Connie Lingos - Jennifer Legge
Commander B.J. Goodhead - Shawn Ayers
Ike Dyke - Morgan Brayton
Dickey Galore - Dickey Doo
Phil McCracken - Will Bravar
Transgadget - Jovainka
Dr. Normal- Michael Venus
James R. Steck
The Oasis Pub
Peter and Vicky Kerasiotis
Anne and Ken Woods
The House of Venus
Produced with the co-operation
Union of B.C. Performers
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