“Gentlemen of the Shade brought my horny '90s back to me; I felt 20 years younger reading this book. Jen Sookfong Lee presses on the pulse of Van Sant's film, catching its rhythm, and then, in a terrific alchemy, she draws her own images of his dark jaded youths and their hard-won insights across our backs. This is a gorgeous and dirty book, like a line of shooters along the bar to remind you what it was like to be badass.” ― Michael V. Smith, author of My Body Is Yours
“Lee perfectly captures the feeling of the pre-internet early 1990s and how My Own Private Idaho helped shape and define alternative culture, as well as influence the ideas and attitudes of a generation.” ― This Magazine
Gus Van Sant’s film and the ’90s cult of the alternative
Gus Van Sant’s 1991 indie darling My Own Private Idaho perplexed and provoked, inspiring a new ethos for a new decade: being different was better than being good. Gentlemen of the Shade examines how the film was a coming-of-age for a generation of young people who would embrace the alternative and bring their outsider perspectives to sustainability, technology, gender constructs, and social responsibility.
My Own Private Idaho — fragmented and saturated with colour and dirt and a painfully beautiful masculinity — also crept into popular media, and its influence can still be traced. R.E.M. Portlandia. Hipsterism. James Franco. Referencing the often-funny and sometimes-tragic cultural touchstones of the past 26 years, Gentlemen of the Shade sets the film as social bellwether for the many outsiders who were looking to join the right, or any, revolution.