GB Jones is a musician, filmmaker and artist based in Toronto, Canada and active in the queer/underground scene there since the early 80s. Her many projects over the years have included co-editing the seminal queer zine J.D.s with Bruce LaBruce and later Double Bill with friends and bandmates from her all-girl band Fifth Column. She has also appropriated Tom of Finland art into her own series of Tom Girls drawings. Over the years she has also produced a handful of low-budget, high-drama, super fun Super 8 films including The Troublemakers, The Yo-Yo Gang and her most recent (yet not so recent) film The Lollipop Generation.
I first met GB in 1993 as a cheeky teenager living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania putting out a photocopied zine called Beri-Beri. I started a postal correspondence with GB Jones culminating in her inviting me around to her place for tea, conversation and a mixtape during a chance visit to Canada. She put together a compilation of girl punk sounds that would guide me for years to come and indirectly lead to the work I do now. We returned to our transcontinental written dialouge as I asked her a few questions recently about The Lollipop Generation, a film project started in 1995 and completed in 2008…
JW: What was the intention of Lollipop Generation when you began filming and how has the project changed over the years?
GBJ: I first started filming when I was on tour with Fifth Column and it wasn’t for any particular movie, it was just to be able to remember all the places we were going. So, when I say it took 13 years to make the movie, it includes this early period before I even knew I was making it!
It was after I got home and looked at all the footage that I got the idea for a story about a girl, played by Jena von Brücker, who has to leave home and hitchhike across the country to a big city and live on the street, where her and her friends are preyed upon by an evil pornographer. Then I started filming for real, with producers and everything, until the producers backed out and one of the lead actors left. At that point, more than half the movie had been shot and the story had to be totally re-written around what was already done.
I didn’t have any money so I had to keep saving up to get each roll of film and get it developed. That’s when Jane Danger joined the cast and saved the movie! She was so great. She was always ready to dye her hair bright pink and come up to Toronto to film, so I kept writing more and more scenes for her. It was in the 2000’s that I started filming all the people from Toronto, like Joel Gibb and Scott Treleaven and Paul P. and Andrew Cecil and all the people who came to visit, like Anonymous Boy and Gary Fembot. The story would change each time someone came to visit, so I could put them in the film. But the intention always stayed the same.
I always wanted to make a movie about kids who live on the street because when I was really young I had met all these kids downtown who were living on the street and they became my friends. Most of the things that happen in the film are things that really did happen to them.
At the same time, I really wanted to document all the amazing artists and actors and musicians and filmmakers I know in all the different scenes they are a part of, so I put them all in the film. And in some ways, it was fortuitous that the film took so long to make because it gave me a chance to really capture a whole era on film.
JW: Has it taken on more or less significance (to yourself, those involved, the gay scene) during that time?
The Lollipop Generation has significance for me because it’s really like home movies of all the places I traveled to, and all the people I met, people who I had wrote to and visited and traded zines with. I like that it captures so many of the people from zines and bands and movies from that whole period of time.
I don’t think “The Lollipop Generation” has any signicance to the gay scene. No one involved was part of that scene and I don’t think they’re really interested in all our zines and bands and art and movies.
JW: How important is the medium of super 8 film to your work? What is your relationship with digital interactive, instantaneous on-line media such as YouTube and blogging?
GBJ: I like Super 8 because it’s so easy to use. You can’t really make a mistake with it, and if you do it’s even better. In “The Lollipop Generation” I put in all my mistakes. Everything that people think are mistakes are good. That’s my message.
I have a You Tube channel so obviously I do have a relationship with it, but it’s love/hate. It’s great that people finally have the chance to see ‘underground’ film and videos, but these sites are often highly censored and rigidly formatted. It’s a shame that some people feel they must create work that’s designed to fit the format of these sites. If you can be subversive about it, though, you can get your message across to a lot of people. With blogging it’s probably easier. People just really have to remember to go to their “search preferences” and click the ‘Safe Search’ filter off!
The Lollipop Generation premiered in Toronto in Spring 2008 and is currently screening at cinemas and festivals around the world, including the London premiere at the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in April 2009.