Porn and Perverts: Are Stimulus Funds Showered on 'Stimulating' Art?

That paragon of quality news reporting, Fox, ran a story on its Web site today about two local arts organizations that  received federal stimulus funding for “…Saturday night 'pervert' revues and the airing of pornographic horror films at art houses in San Francisco.” The two organizations in question are CouterPULSE and Frameline.

The National Endowment for the Arts received $80 million of the $787 billion stimulus package. Of that $80 million, CounterPULSE received $25,000 and Frameline received $50,000. The article calls into question whether or not the organizations deserve funding when they produce and promote content of an adult nature. The two items held up for scrutiny? The pervert “revue” put on by CounterPULSE and a film called Thundercrack, billed as “the world's only underground kinky art porno horror film”, screened by Frameline as part of its annual film festival.

CounterPULSE is, in fact, home to a production called “Perverts Put Out!” described as a “long-running pansexual performance series” and information about the show is accompanied by a photo of a nude man at a microphone, a frill of pubic hair just peeking into the frame. However, when we talked to CounterPULSE Executive Director Jessica Robinson, she told us that the event is not produced by CounterPULSE. They just rent the space to the people who put it on. And the money that was given to the organization by the NEA pays for employee salaries, it doesn't pay for events to be produced. “Fox didn't ask about that,” Robinson said with chagrin.

What kinds of events does CounterPULSE facilitate? There's a program called “Performing Disapora” which contains “many diverse and talented practitioners of traditional performance.” Dirty! The series features poetry, dance and music. Filthy! And the organization will soon be conducting a bike ride during which participants will receive a history lesson about San Francisco labor issues. Lascivious! CounterPULSE conducts classes (there's a dance improv class offered right now), talks (topics include the Great Depression and community journalism), and provides space and resources for artists. Pretty scandalous stuff, indeed.

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