The Lower East Side (LES) and East Village (like the rest of New York City) are packed with history, cool stories and drama. I’m doing a mini-salute to the area with three posts about proposed new Lowline Park, the new show Sister’s Follies at Abrons Arts and the legendary 80s club, The Pyramid.
Secrets of the Great Pyramid: The Pyramid Cocktail Lounge as Cultural Laboratory is curated by Brian Butterick(aka Hattie Hathaway) at Howl! Happening Gallery. Secrets of the Great Pyramid is an exhibit that pays tribute to the legacy of the famed 80s nightclub, named for the stepped pyramid motif above the entrance of the bar, the Pyramid really was an epicenter of the EV & LES artistic communities. Along with other clubs that came before and after, like the Mudd Club, CBGB, Danceteria, Area and others, it sparked a cultural revolution in music, dance, theater, drag, video, fine art, performance art, activism, feminism and LBGT politics. The opening last night ast night was, as it advertised, was…
“…more than a reunion, a retrospective, or a forced march through niche history, Secrets Of the Great Pyramid shows how a simple cultural laboratory continues to resonate in Post-Millennial America.”
On December 10, 1981, Ronald Reagan had been president for less than a year when a group of New York art-school flunkies threw a party at a Polish/Ukrainian dive bar on Avenue A in New York’s East Village. Ed Koch was mayor, the East Village was nearly in flames, the street drug trade was rampant, but rents were cheap! (I was working at Vogue at the time, when I moved to Avenue B in ’82 and First Avenue was viewed as the farthest east any sane person would dare go. When I told an editor at the magazine I was moving there, they grabbed my arm to say, “No! You CAN’T! You’ll be murdered!”)
Featured in this three-week only exhibit is a recreation of the legendary Pyramid with artwork and visuals from deceased trailblazers and working artists embraced by the club along with ephemera and ancient artifacts. (To my shock an issue of Straight To Hellmagazine with me on the cover, was in a glass case below the piece I contributed as a tongue-in-cheek remembrance of our long-gone pals, Forget Me. Also included in the exhibition is work by Stephen Tashjian, Greer Lankton, David Wojnarowicz, Laura Levine, Tanya Ransom, Alice O’Malley, Jayne County, Connie Fleming, Chris Tanner, Keiko Bonk, Frederick Nunley, Lynn Grabowski, Antony/Blacklips, Andé Whyland, Aleta Joy Wolfe, Billy Beyond, Nelson Sullivan, Richard Oszust, Jack Pierson, John Kelly, Flloyd, Dug Wah and more…
Last night was also a revisiting of first Sunday night party at the club, called Cafe Iguana. Part Weimar-era Cabaret, part cracked Broadway last night was held together by host Heather Litteer, who was channeling the late Ann Craig, Iguana’s original MC. Alternative Theatre founder Kestutis Nakas flew in from Chicago to regale us with what we were like and the “non gender-specific” Seattle burlesque icon, Paula Now killed the crowd with her strip tease to And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going from Dreamgirls when she tossed her wig and it landed PERFECTLY on the crystal chandelier. John Kelly closed the performance with amazing rendition of “What makes a Man” and said to me after the show, that when Paula’s wig landed on the chandelier.
“… the night was MADE.”
Artist Chris Tanner was in beautiful voice contrasting a raucous and very interactive performance by Jack Waters & Peter Cramer who had us all doing keigels to warm up before dancing on the bar which everyone who had anything to with the Pyramid has done, including your's truly in my pajamas.
I saw SO many old friends (and frankly, I successfully avoided several!) and some flew in just for the night; Downtown PR legend, Susan Martin, artist Izar Patkin, performer Nora Burns, Pyramid regular Frederick Nunely, photographer Janette Beckman, the legendary Connie Girl, Perfidia, Debra Ortega, Carlo McCormick, Maripol, Mark Phred (Hapi Phace) and the list goes on and on…
Today, Sunday October 18th at 3 PM is a panel discussion moderated by Hattie Hathaway with Victor Mendolia (Anonymous? Productions), Kevin Malony (TWEED TheaterWorks), Hapi Phace, Kesutis Nakas, Paula Now, John Jeserun, Iris Rose and more. I'm going to miss it, but come next Friday to Whispers, where there will be a surprise performance, not on the calendar. Scroll down for the rest....
WHISPERS TRIBUTE– Hosted by Hapi Phace: Saturday October 24th, 8 PM
Conceived as a response to the gentrification and pasteurization of New York in 1984, Whispers was billed as “The Complete Suburban Gay Experience” and as a party for “hairdressers, display queens, theatre folk, fashionistas, florists, and sensitive straight people,” Whispers was distinctly tongue-in- cheek, featuring everything from the hanky code, to roller disco, Sixties kitsch, drag queens and kings and the fine art of the lipsynch. Performers include Pioneering Experimental Theater performer Agosto Machado, Poet Kennon B. Raines, from Montreal, chanteuse quebecoise Marleen Menard, Hapi Phace and Hattie Hathaway, and, in a tribute to International Chrysis, Bobbie. PLUS: Bar dancing turns by Butch Icon Dee Finley and “The Painted Man”, David Caskie!
FILM/VIDEO PROGRAMME– Thursday October 29 7 PM
Including works by: Disturbed Form Theater, Tennevision, Tom Rubnitz, Mark Oates, Nelson Sullivan, Tabboo!, Blacklips, Flloyd, Marjan Moghaddam, TWEED TheaterWorks & more.
LIVE PAINTING SHOW: SCOT WRIGHT– Day Of the Dead, Monday November 2nd 6 PM
Former Pyramid door person and frontman for the legendary 1980s Synth-Metal Band “Dem Vackra,” Scot Wright has turned his talents to creating angular, near-Rorschach water-colors of epic proportions. Tonight we transform HOWL! Happening Gallery into the artist’s studio, with Scot, his models (in various stages of undress,) and gallery-goers alike, invoking the spirits of those dear and departed.
CHANNEL 69 SALUTE– Wednesday November 4th 7:30 PM
LINDA SIMPSON’S DRAG EXPLOSION –Despite a demanding career in publishing, Minnesota native Les Simpson found time to create the iconic Wednesday night bacchanal Channel 69 which featured DJ Dany Johnson and lasted into the 1990’s, while concurrently releasing My Comrade/Sister, a high-end Lesbian and Gay ’zine. Author of several plays, one time Time Out NY editor, and currently touring round the globe with a slick audio-visual presentation as Gay “herstorian” Linda Simpson.
CLOSING RECEPTION/BLACKLIPS PERFORMANCE– Saturday November 7th 8 PM
Performers include Beaut (featuring Marti and Twinkle,) Flloyd, Kembra Pfahler (The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black), Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Poison Eve and Craig Curiousity, Video Art by Antony and more. Plus the return of Aloe Vera!