The Fortune Teller is a film by gay artist/activist Leo Herrera, chronicling milestones and icons of the modern gay man. The story is told through the trance of The Fortune Teller (played by Stanley Frank) and created using archival and modern footage. The film is a documentary and time capsule, paying homage to psychedelic films of the 1960′s and the modern art of the YouTube Montage film. From Mapplethorpe to Lohanthony, Uganda to Burning Man, Vogue to Sissy Bounce, AIDS to The Berlin Patient, meticulously edited clips create a kaleidoscopic five-minute journey through more than 50 years of gay history. See the “The Fortune Teller” decoded for a visual legend to the clips.
“The Fortune Teller” is comprised of over 50 years of imagery and footage. The 5-minute clip took six months to film and assemble, and is made up of 100 carefully selected clips. The style is a take on Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” video, or The Scissor Sister’s “Let’s Have a KiKi”. It also pays homage to some of our modern day gay “preachers,” such as Chris Crocker or Lohanthony, or Kid Fury, who, as we always have, developed ways to use technology to reach one another.
The Fortune Teller does not attempt to be an all-encompassing history; the clips in the Fortune Teller were curated based on icons and moments personally selected by Leo as they defined him as a gay man and the gay community world over.
During the next few week of Pride month it’s Leo’s hope you contribute to his project and will tell your story, adding to his, by sharing your own history with being gay, coming out, or perhaps sharing the story of someone in your life who has come out as you post this video on Facebook and Twitter.
“This film was created with the hopes that every gay man can find something to identify with. The Fortune Teller does not attempt to be an all-encompassing history; the clips in the Fortune Teller were curated based on icons and moments that personally defined me as a gay man. Mexican singer Juan Gabriel was the first gay person I identified with as a child, I’ve sat many nights laughing at Kid Fury’s preacher-like passion and razor wit, I still remember the first time I saw the androgynous Karis perform in the Scissor Sister’s Filthy/Gorgeous video and thought “I can be that?!” or the moment Hedwig sang Wicked Little Town and reminded me of the unrequited love of high school. My work in HIV Criminalization has made me see how deeply ingrained the stigma of HIV is within our community and my wild nights in San Francisco’s nightlife has shown me that a party can be a cathartic communal experience.”
“I grew up an illegal Mexican immigrant in Republican Arizona, as far from “gay” as possible. Yet, the challenges and hopes I’ve faced as a gay man are the same as all of my peers across the world, as if homosexuality transcends culture, geography and race. Homophobia is the same in New York City as it is in Russia, HIV and its stigma are as devastating in the South as they are in San Francisco, our sexual freedom is as reviled in America as in Uganda…and yet we are all moving forward on a global scale: our contributions to nightlife and the arts are as pronounced in Berlin as they are in Provincetown, the legalization of our unions is spanning continents, the unmistakable softness of our gestures transcends language. I don’t know if these universal similarities make “Gay” a culture, a race or a shared experience. What I do know is that they stir a deep pride in me that is almost religious.”
Some of the images in “Fortune Teller” come from the archives of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, where I was an intern in 2005-2006. For more information on the society and The GLBT History Museum it sponsors in the Castro, visit www.glbthistory.org.