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Riot Grrrls and drag queens meet up in early 1990s New York in Glenn Belverio’s Bad Grrrls, an episode from his popular cable access series Glennda and Friends. Made at the height of media activism around gender and sexual identity politics, the video offers a window into the history of several important cultural movements.
During the 90s, Glenn Belverio, also known as Glennda Orgasm, was cohost of a popular Manhattan Cable series called The Brenda and Glennda Show. A mix of politics and satire with an activist edge, the show took the art of drag out of the nightclubs and into the streets. Both playful and political, this hugely popular series, which included a Christmas special, featured a variety of guests ranging from Wexner Center Artist Residency Award recipient Barbara Hammer to drag queen Hedda Lettuce. After Brenda left the show in 1993, Belverio started Glennda and Friends, a postqueer talk show that featured costars such as artist Vaginal Davis, gay pornographer Bruce LaBruce, and best-selling author and controversial social critic Camille Paglia.
In this episode of Glennda and Friends, entitled Bad Grrrls, Glennda and Fonda LaBruce (Bruce’s drag persona) attend a Riot Grrrl conference on New York’s Lower East Side. Popularized by such West Coast bands as Bikini Kill, Riot Grrrl was a 1990s movement that updated punk rock’s activist stance with radical feminist and queer-positive politics. At the conference, the two hosts conduct interviews with performers, artists, and attendees (with cameos by Sadie Benning, another past Artist Residency Award recipient, and Penny Arcade) as they navigate a range of perspectives on feminism, punk culture, and underground activism. A reminder of the rich creative history of cable access television, the video provides valuable insight into drag’s relationship with feminism and questions how to reconcile the problems of punk (until then a largely male-dominated movement) with Riot Grrrl’s desire for women’s liberation. (29 mins., Hi8 video)
Bad Grrrls (1993) presented courtesy of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, vdb.org.
Still from Bad Grrrls, © Glenn Belverio, courtesy of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, vdb.org.
Glenn Belverio is a filmmaker, journalist, and editor living in New York City. In addition to producing and cohosting The Brenda and Glennda Show and Glennda and Friends, Belverio collaborated with Camille Paglia on Glennda and Camille Do Downtown (1994), which played at the Sundance Film Festival and won first prize for best short documentary at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.
FILM/VIDEO PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Rohauer Collection Foundation
FILM/VIDEO STUDIO SUPPORTED IN PART BY
National Endowment for the Arts
WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
The Wexner Family
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
L Brands Foundation
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
Bill and Sheila Lambert
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease
Arlene and Michael Weiss
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
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Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
President Kristina M. Johnson and Mrs. Veronica Meinhard
Russell and Joyce Gertmenian
Liza Kessler and Greg Henchel
Ron and Ann Pizzuti
Joyce and Chuck Shenk
Bruce and Joy Soll
Clark and Sandra Swanson