Bruce LaBruce has been at the forefront of Queer underground art and cinema since he started making short films in 1987. After releasing two feature films, he secured his status as a cult icon and adjacent to peers such as Richard Kern, Kembra Pfahler and NYCs Cinema of Transgression.
However, it was LaBruce’s 1996 film Hustler White that brought him universal acclaim and a notorious reputation as a shit-disturber of the status quo. The noteriety found him positioned amongst the likes of Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Gregg Araki and the so-called New Queer Cinema movement. It also landed him a curse cast on him by the witchy queer film forefather Kenneth Anger for referencing him in the film.
Labruce has since forayed into work as a highly regarded writer, photographer, and reluctantly (as the title of his 1997 memoir would have you believe) pornography.
Since his debut feature, 1991’s No Skin Off My Ass, LaBruce has helmed thirteen feature films and as many or more shorts films. However transgressive LaBruce’s work may be, there’s a sentimentality and tenderness that runs through his narratives, just as tangibly as his punk inclinations do, creating a sensibility that can only be referred to as LaBrucian.
Emerging from Toronto’s 1980s punk scene, LaBruce gained initial notoriety and cult-god status with his pioneering queer punk zine J.D.s — a collaborative effort with artist and filmmaker G.B. Jones. The zine was a confrontational and exploitation response to the homophobia the two had encountered in the punk scene, and snowballed into a web of freaks and outsider gays across North America and beyond, eventually being dubbed the “Queercore” movement.
Despite its subversive origins, the legend of Queercore and J.D.s has since been been exploited into quasi-mainstream status, as seen in such recent articles in Teen Vogue, and even being hilariously, yet disastrously referenced by major fashion houses such as Gucci.
While still making the rounds in the festival circuit, his thirteenth feature film, Saint-Narcisse, was released to critical acclaim at The Venice Film Festival in a brief window between COVID lockdowns in 2020. The reliably scandalous film is being referred to as his “opus” and is finally reaching audiences via theatrical runs in Toronto, Vancouver and more to come, after being held over for weeks at the Quad Cinema in New York City.
The story of Saint-Narcisse centers around a brother’s quest to uncover the dark truths about his family’s past, and finds him in an erotic tryst with the twin brother he didn’t know existed. The film blends LaBruce’s inclination to find believable and affecting relationships between unconventional characters with his seemingly insatiable urge to disrupt.
The last time OMG.BLOG spoke to Bruce was in 2008. This time around, we talked with him about the influences behind his most recent film, his storied career, and why we shouldn’t expect him to go PG anytime soon, despite his best efforts.
Read the full Q&A and watch the trailer for Saint-Narcisse after the jump!