Bent "It" Brontez Purnell
Art Jock Brontez Purnell
Bent “It” is where we give space to people who were interesting before the Internet was a “Thing” and continue to make “It” happen across multiple artistic mediums. We at Bent Zine celebrate careers, not moments. You can’t be Bent “It” without some controversy, grace, and grit. This is for the 30 and over crowd. Pay attention kids, you might actually learn something.
“I think as with everything in life, it all comes back to slut shaming. For instance if you if you asked me what I “did” and in one breath I was like “I’m a queer, black, photo essayist, author, film maker, dancer, musician, weed trimmer, cocktail waitress, etc.,” there would be no way to perceive my character as a person other than anything less than whorishly promiscuous. You would think “That boy is an art slut. He’ll bend over and spread his cheeks for virtually any form of creative expression.” Again, pure slut shaming. This is how squares cypher us all the fucking time. Now I get people being a bit itchy in the crotch about how the term gets finger fucked into like every grant application now, and how just cause you pretended to play a flute in a performance piece that one time in college doesn’t necessarily mean you get to write “interdisciplinary musician” in your liner notes—this is also a fact. But when you consider that art is forever more the biggest mirror of life, how can we as artists even move past this? We live in a pretty fucked and ubiquitous gig economy. It’s not the era of masters. All the forms were “perfected” a long time ago. We as contemporary artists can’t really afford to just do one medium. If someone said to you, “I am only a photographer,” sure, you would respect it, but also it reads as “lazy.”. And perhaps even in a more bitchy summation “isolationist,” like who really has time to only hang out in a darkroom all day?”
—Brontez Purnell In conversation with Miguel Gutierrez, Evergreen Review
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!
Free Jazz – Brontez Purnell Dance Company
Choreography by Brontez Purnell with cinematographer Gary Fembot Gregerson and lighting designer Jerry Lee. To produce, choreograph, and score “Free Jazz” (2012), a 8mm B&W dance film documenting “various dance parties, structured improvs, rituals and happenings” performed by BPDC between 2010 and 2012, which has been shown internationally.
“So its a common misconception that the title of this work is a statement on Jazz music (as most of the music in the movie is not Jazz music at all). “Free Jazz” as a title is a statement on Jazz dance. I remember reading an outdated book about Jazz dance in College (the name escapes me) but it mentioned the fact that the original “Jazz” musicians rejected the word Jazz at first at it was a media invention and not what they themselves had termed it at all. I was obessed with the idea or the notion that on a performing black body all movement becomes “Jazz” of sorts. (I was a quite a party kid back in my day and would notice that every five years whatever new black dance that entered the mainstream eye was then put on my body whenever i was dancing. Some person would come up and say “oh your Crumping!” then five years later “oh your doing the Dougie!” then five years after that “oh your Twerking!”- keep in mind when Im in a social setting i basically do the same dance movements ive been doing all my life in social dances! lol). So in a sense “Free Jazz” was a statement or protest if you will of wanting to “free” the form and expectation of what our cultural/racial/social backgrounds in dance designated us too. I was not wishing to erase any history but just augment it with the fact that my body in time is as much its own version of history adhering to shape, space, and time as it was any social construct being put onto it. I paired with the SF underground film boy queer genius Gary Fembot on this one. I was a queer punk as a teenager and had seen his films on underground film/zine mixtapes. I had also danced in a dance film of his that was an homage to 60’s go-go boys called “Mando Bottomless”. I told him what i wanted to do and he loved the idea and so together I directed and he filmed “Free Jazz” in the space of a year. We wanted a dance mixtape that was the mid-way point between Mod, Punk, Surf, New Wave and Free Jazz dance interpretations”.
– Brontez Purnell
Bent Questions: Brontez Purnell (@brontezpurnell)
Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children's book, and the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down. The recipient of a 2018 Whiting Writers' Award for Fiction, he was named one of the thirty-two Black Male Writers of Our Time by T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band the Younger Lovers, a cofounder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and the documentary Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock. Born in Triana, Alabama, he's lived in Oakland, California, for more than a decade.
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So tell me how BENT you are…
Virus or Bacteria? Viruses are kind totalitarian, no? FASH-IZ-UM, girl. Its a no for me, im a bacteria all day.
Preferred Pronoun? "Auntie" or "Y'all"
What Periodic Table Element are you? NEON- its the element most associated with strippers, if that makes any sense
Favorite Object? Guitar Picks! ALL OF UM
What shape are you? Thicc
Give us a texture. Freshly shea buttered booty cheekz
Anarchist, Socialist, Capitalist, Libertarian, etc. i dont trust ANY goddamn philosophy codified by white people. that said i hate capitilism but love consumerism.
Favorite person of Color that you disagree with? duh, Azealia Banks, i mean...
What sound are you? THE BIG BANG
Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, or a Broken Copper Pot? JEFF FOR THE WIN
What’s the last thing you broke? my glasses
Last person you kissed? Ryanaustin Dennis (this hipster nigga)
Best thing about men’s right activists? They think they too good to pay for pussy, which is basically why their whole movement is a PR nightmare.
Do you meditate? yes, but very very LOUDLY
Are you a Neutron Star, White Hole, or Solar Flare? NEUTRON ALL DAY. IF ONLY YOU NIGGAS COULD HARNESS THE POWER OF MY ROTATION
Which fetish are you? Klismaphilia, EDERACINISM, Fornifilia, OCULOLINCTUS: you got me FUCKED UP if you think im googling ANY of that bullshit...
Your opinion on Lesbian Separatist. I wish that movement was better funded- too bad men own everything :(
Favorite Mythological Character? Eros- specifically him as an adult in the whole "Eros and Psyche" story.
What type of Cancer are you? the kind that will fuck you up indefinatly.
Matriarchal Punishment or Patriarchal Redemption? they both basically trash (see question #21)
Who do you actually hate? The 80's and 90's versions of my parents.
Best regrettable purchase this month? BBRT subscription
Finish this sentence. I know Kim Kardashian…is in all actuality 100% pleased with herself, the gag is im kinda here for it.
Your favorite body of water. SAN FRANCISCO BAY BABY
What’s the most middle class thing you’ve done this week? deleted my Only Fans page
I’m only politically correct when…im really really politically wrong about something
What’s your favorite scar on your body? im only into my emotional scars
Last time you cried tears of joy. it was a meme, im certain
Your most noble trait. my valor
I know the taste of...LONGING
BEND DON’T BREAK.