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African Refugees, Gay Life, and Pornographic Cinema

January 26, 2011

A friend and co-conspirator send me a random link with a subject text of “with films included, ha!” I didn’t think twice about it, so I opened the link, which took me straight to an “internet archaeology” of Turkey’s pornographic cinema.

Did I mention I was at work?

I closed the window quickly but I remembered the site. How could I forget? Who could forget running into porn at a place called Mashallah?

The website’s dirty. Not because of the history of blue cinema, but through the gully, grungy, way they present Istanbul (as well as Algiers, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jeddah, and Tehran). The – if you pardon me – fucked up soul of these places gets a chance to breathe a little bit. I appreciate the mainline news that gets out on Istanbul, I really do. But I also think that the more grounded perspectives can be a lot of fun, and add a lot of flavor.

Alex Christie-Miller’s story on African Migrants and football was interesting. Clement Girardot’s has unfalsifiables and soul:

While waiting for the decision, he could only rely on the solidarity of other Sudanese migrants. Among them were his friend Ammar (first picture on the right), also 18 at the time, who summed up the migrant life: “People have no jobs and usually don’t stay in Turkey for long. Those who want to try crossing the sea to reach Europe, go to Izmir. Sometimes these people die trying. Others head directly back to Lebanon or Syria where they might find work. It’s not uncommon that the Turkish government arrests migrants and puts them in jail. So that’s it, it’s very hard but we try. If people had known how Turkey actually was, they would never have come here.”

The story of a gay young Mersinli coming to Istanbul reminds us of the Istanbul we don’t have the guts to visit, the Beyoglu that has stuck around through Refah’s doomed clean-up and the ensuing corruption of the late 1990’s:

This was my first time in Istanbul. Before coming, everyone used to tell me that it’s a cosmopolitan city, but I don’t know if that’s the right way of describing it. I noticed after some time that it’s actually a weird city with all sorts of people: prostitutes, junkies, nationalists and fascists.

There’s currently only a few stories out there, but they all bear reading. And they should be growing – a place that interviews Ahmed Umit is going to keep going strong. Not to mention the half dozen other cities they focus on.

It’s worth keeping your eyes peeled in this direction to catch more of that “unvarnished, polychromatic” stuff that exists in our mission statement but less in our words.

UPDATED: A word or few should be said about the internet archaeology that Ms. Doffing was able to do as well. Fuck yeah turkish nationalism and Fuck yeah anatolia are two of the more charming Tumblrs out there. The Rebecca deserves the credit for finding them.

And if you just have too much time to kill that pictures can’t resolve, check out the fun academia at GeoCurrent Events and Languages of the World. The most recent post on the former about suicide in the post-Soviet landscape may fall a bit outside of the purview of this blog, but that makes it none less fascianting.

This was my first time in Istanbul. Before coming, everyone used to tell me that it’s a cosmopolitan city, but I don’t know if that’s the right way of describing it. I noticed after some time that it’s actually a weird city with all sorts of people: prostitutes, junkies, nationalists and fascists.
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