For 3 years Chicago-based OTV | Open Television has been releasing some of the most adventurous series, pilots and video art for queer people and people of color, from the groundbreaking, Emmy-nominated Brown Girls to the recently released trans- and black-led series, the T.
In honor of Pride, the platform is premiering three new videos celebrating the queerness of blackness across the gender spectrum! All three first screened at the Art Institute of Chicago and on the south side at the Dorchester Art & Housing Collaborative before going online.
In Hair Story residents of an artsy Black co-op tell their wild stories to an out-of-work drag queen as she styles their hair to pay her rent.
OTV founder Aymar Jean Christian created the show to bring awareness to the rich characters being developed by artists who had pitched him shows — Felicia Holman, Roger Fierro, Abra Johnson, Phillip Lambert, Jr., Niki Madison, Elijah McKinnon, Meida McNeal, Saya Naomi, Jordy Palmer, Ashley Ray, and Erik Wallace. Every character comes from a series by that writer, making Hair Story a development engine. It features an original music video from up-and-coming MC Roy Kinsey, “BSAYF,” released on queer hip hop company Futurehood.
“We are launching the pilot for Hair Story at a time when both Hollywood and the art world are starting to notice OTV and as interest in historically marginalized artists rises,” Christian said. ” Behind the show is a community of Black, queer, femme, and gender non-conforming early-career artists creatively working to correct inequalities in television and art. The writers include performance artists, drag queens, stand-up comedians, poets, and musicians, each with an original story to tell.”
SUR LA NUIT by Alexa Grae
watch on vimeo here.
Sur La Nuit is a soliloquy to the night, reflecting on love, loss, and identity. Presented thru the lens of otherness – queer identity, race, familial dynamics, gender, and access into classical art forms.
Created by filmmaker Jon Wes & opera director Matthew Ozawa, it features classically trained singer-songwriter ALEXA GRÆ. The film is the first video from GRÆ’s first studio album, Seen, which debuted this month. GRÆ is a vocalist that utilizes every part of their voice often singing in a vocal range typically associated with female-identified opera singers. The video is a dramatic feast for the eyes and ears.
Alexa says: “Sur La Nuit has served as a touch stone on my journey of self. Conceived out of curiosity to find myself, to learn, stretch, sit in shadow, blur edges, to validate where there were walls of NO. A work that I often revisit – expand and reshape, never to make better. Sur La Nuit is my 22 year old diary gifted to me by my Mother with an inscription inside that reads…’on a night as beautiful as this I’ve long not seen…’”
THE ROACH IS COMING by Derrick Woods-Morrow
In 2017, Derrick Woods-Morrow returned home to Greensboro, NC to reconnect with a police officer, who was once just another feral young boy on the playgrounds much like himself. Throughout a 72-hour period, they return to past moments of play, in an attempt to build a future were they could be like they once were – two young boys, searching for each other, deep into the bushes, one white & one unaware of his blackness, Woods-Morrow knowing his body and mind could never truly return to that past.
Woods-Morrow says: “A few days before Philando Castile was pulled over for having a tail light out I was pulled over leaving a gay bar named Big Chicks in Chicago, blocked into an ally, and approached at gunpoint by cops who called me “boy.” After mentioning I was leaving the gay bar, which managed to diffuse the situation, I was left in a tailspin and needed an outlet to create a body of work that I hadn’t dared think about creating–at least not until a publication called Headmaster gave me an assignment for their upcoming issue inspired by the village people and told me I had full agency over the project. It was here that the “Roach Is Coming” was born over the idea of multiple identities, a multitude of questions around Blackness, whiteness, queerness. One question I had: what it would mean for white bodies to perform labor, instead of my own? In this film, Adam, a boy he grew up with, now a police officer, and myself are never really what we once were. We were never really meant to have a future, but in the moments we share we discuss things that I think we always wanted to discuss, things that are hard to discuss, things that others may never discuss…”