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Michelle Tea Gets The Tea From…Clement Goldberg

Artist and filmmaker Clement Goldberg’s most recent extravaganza is the multimedia performance Our Future Ends, which weaves a new queer mythos from the legends of Atlantis and Lemuria, with gentrification and extinction the villains and lemurs – both live action lemurs and a gang of stop-motion puppet lemurs – the heroes. Like John Waters, Goldberg populates their projects with the voices and bodies of fellow queer artists; when Our Future Ends showed in Los Angeles as part of the Outfest film festival, actor and filmmaker Heather Acs danced across the stage, shimmying and trading philosophical bon mots with writer and dancer Brontez Purnell; the puppet lemurs came alive with the voices of director Silas Howard, queer witch Ben McCoy, performance artist Maryam Rostami and others.

Self-taught in puppet-building and stop-motion, Goldberg’s latest builds upon past projects like the otherworldly web series The Deer In Between, as well as the short films In the Spotlight (which riffs on the JT LeRoy scandal) and Beyond Lovely, which features cult heroines Guinevere Turner and Vaginal Davis. There have been other multimedia projects and animated shorts and a book of poetry, and there will be more, because Goldberg is prolific, inspired and unintimidated. And they took a minute to answer my 15 questions!

What is the most uncanny thing that you have ever experienced?

I am not sure, but there is something that happened a few months ago that feels worth mentioning here. I moved recently and it was one of the first nights in my new space. I woke from sleep in a pitch black room and there was a glowing light right in front of my face! I scooted back into my pillows and the glowing light jumped back on the bed in near equal measure. I asked aloud: who are you, what do you want? No answer, but speaking helped me wake up enough to realize that it was just the dimly lit orange light-switch by the door (a new feature in my life and bedroom). I should probably also mention that I am nearsighted.

What is in your wallet?

Boring. Driver’s license, Credit Union Debit Card, Auto Insurance Card, Clipper Card, Receipt from MOCA and 13 bucks!

Please share the 15th picture on your cell phone.

Leo the cat with his rainbow string. 

How are you like or not like your sun sign?

I am a Capricorn. I love to work. I was born an old man who got and gets younger by the day. I love earth. Capricorns have a reputation for being very traditional. I wouldn’t describe myself that way, but I do respect ritual.

What is the last book you read? Song you listened to? Show or movie you watched?

Last book was Mean by Myriam Gurba, last song was a visual album that my friend Maryam Rostami just told me about, Tierra Whack – Whack World (whoa). And harkening back to the MOCA receipt, I just for the first time saw Nan Goldin’s incredibly haunting piece The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.

What was the last meal you cooked?

Oatmeal for breakfast.  

Where would you like to go on vacation right now?

I want to spend time with lemurs in Madagascar. I’d also love to see Alaska before it melts.

Tell me about getting to meet someone you idolize or admire.

My friends and I got to dance with Judith Butler not too long ago. That was fun and unexpected!

What are you like when you’re sick?

After a much too long denial period ends, I accept the situation and hide away like a monster. My grandmother really loved Quasimodo and I think it made a lifelong impression. There was also lots of blame from the “townspeople” for germ spreading too. Best to hide.

What are you obsessed with or inspired by right now?

Lemurs.

What are you upset about right now?

Everyday extinctions of wildlife and the ignorance around modifying the Endangered Species Act, the 16 states that filed a brief to be able to fire employees for being transgender, ICE kidnapping and drugging children and caging people, the prison industrial complex, voter suppression and racism, so many things.

What is the most recent dream you remember?

From last night I recall little bits of a dream where there were armed dogs, flying cars, and people eating pharmaceutical drugs shaped like Slim Jims.

Who are your queer ancestors?

I’ve been unearthing Lemurians (our pre-historic queer and trans ancestors) for my latest work and it’s an ongoing gay floral fantasy. David Wojnarowicz and Klaus Nomi were very present during that project. I’m also rereading Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and thinking about lineage.

What is your dream project?

Turning my latest project, Our Future Ends, into an epic feature film. There are also some other dream projects in the works but I’m too superstitious to say anything.

What are you doing this weekend?

Working on said dream projects and visiting with friends.


Michelle Tea

Michelle Tea is the author of several books including The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, ValenciaThe Chelsea Whistle, Rent Girl, How to Grow UpMermaid in Chelsea Creek and Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, Rose of No Man's LandBlack WaveModern Tarot, and Against Memoir.

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