DOUBLE FEATURE: CHRISTMAS ON EARTH / BLONDE COBRA
Museum of Human Achievement (Austin)
In 1963 at the age of eighteen, Barbara Rubin filmed some of the most sexually explicit and beautiful footage in the history of New York underground film. Christmas on Earth features two simultaneously projected, overlapping reels of film—images of polymorphic perversity and sexual experimentation, originally accompanied by an AM radio rock-and-roll soundtrack. The film features painted bodies, gay and straight sex, and stars who would have been recognizable to the small crowds who populated the audience in the early 1960s. Like Christmas on Earth, Blonde Cobra (1963) features samples of radio sound, plus underground filmmaker Jack Smith in an outlandish and endearing performance based on his own writings, memories from childhood, and improvisatory acts of absurdity. Its original projection instructions read, “Needed: two loud radios, a calm projectionist, & an audience too aghast to run for the exits.”
Special guest Ara Osterweil, film scholar and professor of film at McGill University in Montreal, will introduce the films. Osterweil’s book Flesh Cinema: The corporeal turn in American avant-garde film, explores representations of sexuality and the body in underground cinema of the 20th century. A conversation between Osterweil and Pastelegram editor Chelsea Weathers will follow.
Barbara Rubin, Christmas on Earth, 1963.
16mm, black and white, 30 minutes
Ken Jacobs, Blonde Cobra, 1963.
16mm film, black and white, 33 minutes
Presented by Pastelegram and Experimental Response Cinema