Wednesday, July 2, 2014

James Tressler aka JET aka Jilala

I keep finding people with theater groups, blogs, and other forums presenting images, from films made independently by Jim, misidentified as being by the Cockettes.  It’s an understandable error, as excerpts from his films appeared in a documentary about that same theater group, which was founded by George Harris aka Hibiscus, and those excerpts were the high light (at least visually) of an otherwise mediocre film.  JET also did the sculptural collage for the title sequence.  In fact, quite a bit of the theater shown in that documentary wasn’t from the Cockettes at all, but by the Angels of Light, George’s subsequent group project (about which a documentary should be forthcoming.)  Jim likes to say that he was the one who broke up the Cockettes.  In any case, these images come from his personal projects, not his contributions to either of those illustrious theater groups.

The pictures above are screen captures, frame enlargements, and stills from some of Jet’s black and white 16mm films. Below are various posters and collages he made.  He just turned seventy years old a few weeks ago, and lives and works in an apartment in the Tenderloin in public housing (after couch surfing for a few years having lost his longtime apartment in the Mission on Shotwell  Street to gentrification.)  I first met him in a commune soup kitchen in 1985 where he was serving pasta in drag.

Lest anyone mistake his reason for being there, let me make it clear: he was the Chef.

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