*throws confetti* *twirls under the disco ball* Why, hello there, our very dearest beloved Filthy Dreams readers! What’s that? What are we celebrating? Well, if you can believe it, today is the 10th anniversary of Filthy Dreams! A decade of decadence! Ten years of trash! Just one-tenth of a century of camp!
On this very day way back in 2013, Filthy Dreams hit publish on our first-ever post (you can see it right there on the top of our homepage! Yes, we haven’t changed our layout in a decade and we’re not about to!): a welcome letter to the criminally insane. And the criminally insane responded by supporting us for ten years or alternately, penning furious retorts about disco in the comment section!
As most of you know, Filthy Dreams started with a manifesto and a dream. No, not a dream for a blog. But a dream for a NIGHTCLUB! As the story goes, this fantasy nightclub would be a confetti-filled vision with the same show happening on the hour, EVERY HOUR, like a, well, eternal eternal recurrence theme night. Our advertisement? Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing” spinning while mold grows over in a petri dish. As the story goes, somewhere along the way we lowered our expectations (commercial rent is expensive!) and started a blog, bringing our dolls/constant sources of inspiration, Carol Anne and Mama Roux, along for the ride.
Though we never quite gave up on our nightclub dream (Maybe in the next decade!), we’ve had quite a decade in this incarnation. We scammed (some of) the art and culture world into taking us seriously. We picked up some faithful contributors along the way. We angered James Franco fans. We won a major grant that nixed the Blog category shortly after awarding it to us. We got mentioned on Dennis Cooper’s list of favs. We pioneered a podcast implosion with Filthy Streams (we were first, Cum Town!). And most recently, we kicked off a shitstorm that ended a blue-chip artist’s mega-deal with Nike and made Filthy Dreams hit the big time (for a short stint anyway). And through it all, somehow the thrill of seeing storied institutions and publications using the name Filthy Dreams never quite loses its luster. Neither does the look of disappointment and horror when someone asks what we do and we answer, “A blog, Filthy Dreams.” That punchline still works.
So, we thought: how do we properly honor the past ten years of Filthy Dreams? Resurrect Filthy Streams for one more podcast? Do a best-of listicle with our most-read articles?! Well…what about a PLAYLIST?
Clearly, the latter was the only option here. Amidst all the arts criticism, all that writing, all that fanaticism, Filthy Dreams has always been about one thing and one thing only: playlists. We’re lost in music! No turning back! Someday this effort will be recognized as the mini-manifestos they are, our type of world-building. But for now, we’re content with just amusing ourselves with these hours-long thematic odysseys. And if we’re being honest, amusing ourselves is really what Filthy Dreams was ever about, whether constructing that imagined bar in our minds over cocktails or giggling over a new playlist.
Take a trip down memory lane with us, Filthy Dreams readers, both longtime friends and newbies, through a decade of playlists as we picked our top 10 playlists for 10 years of Filthy Dreams on June 10. This was not an easy choice or one we made lightly. Well, we have over fifty playlists to choose from! But after much debate, we settled on these. Grab a Bloody Mary, Mary, and a handful of confetti, and let’s get lost in music together for yet another decade to come!
And the stars and youuuuu! It only makes sense to start off our Top 10 playlist list at the beginning: with our first ever Filthy Dreams playlist, posted in August of our birth year, 2013. Kicking off with Jack Torrance’s favorite tune, this playlist is not only an amalgamation of everything that inspired Filthy Dreams in the first place—dances with Mr. D, angels and monsters, healers, jokers, sycamore trees, dirty back roads, a lust for life, Divine—poured over in darkened dives and sleazy bygone bars at NYC’s Seaport (RIP The Iron Horse, coined, by us, “Where dreams go to die!”), but it’s also a manifesto in playlist psychosis coming in at over 10 hours. Talk about a party! With God away on business, this manic edge would sustain us through a decade of playlist-making. Sure, we’ve aspired to come up with more inventive themes as time went on, but many of these songs each come with their own lurid backstory, barely remembered. For instance, screaming the lyrics of Marilyn Manson (we know, we know, we know…)’s “Tourniquet” in each other’s faces as if sung by Elmer Fudd at the now-defunct burlesque/boylesque night Meaner, Harder, Leather at Vig 27 (again RIP). FLIES WILL LAY THEIR WEGGSSS!!!!
Easter seems to be an odd holiday for Filthy Dreams to celebrate: what exactly are we celebrating? Church services? The Resurrection? The Easter Bunny? Chocolate? Eggs?? Previous Easter playlists explored religious worship, then Christ worship, and even some bunny worship, but never did we think to pull it all together—until we realized that the Easter bunny is rather Christlike himself! For he laid all those colorful eggs to give us everlasting joy! Typically, adult posts about the Easter bunny highlight horrific-looking mall bunnies or the ridiculousness of egg hunting. Au contraire! We designed our “eggcelent” playlist to save him, to worship him, and to lift him upon high for all to see! Don’t be alarmed if you start speaking in tongues!
Filthy Dreams really was built for the end of the world. And when it came—or so we thought!—in the form of a total eclipse, we were ready to face it head-on, hold tight (!), stare into the balls of fire in the sky, and spin to a playlist until we were swallowed up whole! Of course, once we blinked back the blindness from staring straight into an eclipse like our then-President, we realized the world was still here! No matter! Jim Morrison was there to greet us, “Awake!” But, don’t think of this playlist as just a tribute to an apocalypse past. We have so many, many more to go! That nuke coming from Moscow? Gimme Shelter! The aliens finally arriving to take us away? You’re gonna miss me! The air is on fire? Try me, I know we can make it!
How can we use art for world-building? One answer to that question may well be our incessant need to develop music playlists that build upon each other (i.e. our yearly HALLOWREEN and Christmas playlists); that stretch anywhere from 2-8 hours in length; that explore different perspectives on topics (such as our Easter playlists as described above). This Gepetto playlist explores the role of the queer artist in world-making. Gepetto built a boy through wood and we continue to build our nightclub vision through these playlists. Can art sustain these worlds, or do they all eventually get swallowed by the whale? This particular playlist is personal to me as it was developed in conjunction with my final run as a high school theater director. After 5 years of building worlds, the curtain finally fell for the last time, and then one must move on. To what? To find my Coney Island baby? To finally build that scentorium? In Cruising Utopia, José Muñoz concluded that queerness is “not yet here. Queerness is an ideality…we are not yet queer, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.” I might also add that there are moments, through world-building and art, where queerness can be tangible—if also fleeting. Therefore, we must continue searching for our blue fairy for ways to build, then rebuild worlds, and to sustain them with as much fervor as Gepetto going to the ends of the earth to find his Pinocchio.
What would the music be in the elevator of an Atlantis gay cruise? That’s the question we asked ourselves repeatedly before putting together one of our strangest themed playlists yet. Quite possibly this was all in an effort to avoid the disappointing realization that those Atlantis circuit queens would have heaved us right overboard almost as soon as we arrived! “Who is that giggling on the sex deck?! Who is doing a backstroke through the cruising pool? Who is knocking gym bunnies aside to dance like Fred and Cindy?! Throw them off!!” Harrumph! Whatever. That’s fine with us—the party is in the elevator anyway! Twenty-four hours a day! You can ring my bell! Dancerrrr!
Just when you thought it was safe to brine the turkey! We only have one Thanksgiving-themed playlist—how many ways can we make that turkey gobble—but it’s a doozy. We know that getting up at the crack of dawn to get that turkey in the oven isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so we threw together a bunch of funky tracks about turkey trotting. And, as it turns out, there are many ways to get that turkey a-gobbling! Our original playlist was later updated with more boxed wine insanity. Just add more seasoning! More potatoes! More yams! Passing out before dinner is served never felt so filling!
This was a tough choice. Which of our many unhinged Christmas playlists would make the cut? Our chamber/country music mash-up, Holy Ho-Ho-Ho-down? What about the year we put “Blue Christmas” on deranged repeat? Who could forget the even more demented overblown Vegas dancing fountains-inspired “Hooked on Tchaikovsky” spiral? Or the Candy Cane Lane playlist with a hefty dose of saccharine and grating mall Muzak? And we can’t lose sight of the year we Made Christmas Great Again!!! Still. If we absolutely had to choose, we’d have to reach for the heavens and snatch our Born Again Christmas Miracle Playlist. Filthy Dreams has always been about outsized devotion and what playlist announces perverse piety more than the dulcet tones of Reverend Jim Jones followed by Nick Cave climbing up those stone steps of the Brompton Oratory?! Sure, some listeners may bristle at hearing empty doll-eyed televangelist Kenneth Copeland croon about how much he loves Jesus, but we’ll win you back with a few hidden gems like our personal Lord and Savior Liberace’s version of Silver Bells. Praise His Name!!!!
Like Emily noted above regarding Christmas, it was difficult to choose the right HALLOWREEN playlist. After all, we have 9 of them covering everything from Dracula to country Halloween tunes to alien abductions (the truth is out there). While most of our playlists are tongue-in-cheek, this edition was full of pure rage (2018 was a helluva year!) and we invoked ancient gods and turned to witchcraft to channel primal screaming into something dance-worthy. We were at once simultaneously Lady Macbeth screaming to be unsexed and Courtney Love crooning over doll parts. Things not going well for poor Mary Bellows? Needing some credit for the straight world? Being gaslit by that hot dog, Dr. Frank-n-Furter? Unable to tell between death and glory? We agree with Pete Doherty: it’s one and the same!
In July 2014, Marion and I taped two images of Jim Morrison—the young virile leather-wrapped Lizard King and the haggard, bearded, winking hammered Jim of his, well, not-much-later years—on either side of our rented car, The Morrison Hotel, filled the trunk up with Indiana IPAs and crawfish étouffée, and set off swinging down the lane, from Indiana to Louisiana by way of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. This was the soundtrack to our personal odyssey as we howled, “You are a Staaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr!!! EVERYBODY IS ONE!,” our way south while veering off the highway in a frenzy. On this road trip, we caught a glimpse of the event horizon as we sat too close to July 4 fireworks, drank 40s to the blues at Wild Bill’s Juke Joint in Memphis, scared waitresses in Hooters parking lots looking for the next party, fell to our knees pleading for redemption at Elvis’s grave at Graceland, and heard mythological tales of Marion’s mayonnaise-passionate, burger-loving, mattress-burning Aunt Patsy from his beloved Gammaw. If I close my eyes, I can still imagine gazing out at the flat Clarksdale, Mississippi countryside while staying at the legendary Shack Up Inn (which also thankfully had a mural of our King, Elvis) as we cranked up The Doors and thought, “Where the hell are we?!” Who knows?! Land ho!!!
Queen for a day! It should come as no surprise that a Pride playlist about a gay villain like Lady G would make it to the top of ten years of playlist insanity. After all, we love a good gay villain! Move over, Dracky! Step aside, Mommie Dearest! Sure, our Lady G is as slimy a politician as it gets, and yeah, she really likes to stick it to the community for some clout, but all of that fell by the wayside when news broke out about her predilection for rent boys and ladybugs. Take center stage! We have ourselves a star! Suddenly, the image of Lady G slipping away from the Capitol to dance with boys all night at D.C. gay bars was too irresistible not to turn into a mental GIF. So, our Lady G playlist became a 13-hour embodiment of this nonstop GIF. Threatening retaliation for impeachments, then off to dance the night away? You’re such a dirty bad gurl! Kissing MAGA booty, then off to slam vodka sodas and tease boys with your ladybugs? You can win you can win! Of course, now that we have a new gay villain in town with Kitara Ravache (hint, hint Pride 2023 playlist), is the carnival finally over for our blessed Mommie G and her ladybugs? No way!
We’re lost in music
Caught in a trap
No turnin’ back
We’re lost in music