What Made New York Great

There has been so much talk about what made America great lately – well, for well over 200 years the answer to that question was New York. I am talking about the mythological New York that belongs to everyone all over the world but which functioned in real time on this planet as a place that created culture, politics, and realities not possible in other parts of America or in the world or that matter. New York is like a stray mother cat which births litter after litter of realities and those realities make their way like dandelion fluff and settle in other places. From it’s earliest times New York was the place where new ideas, new politics, new sociology fomented and were distilled. In the 20th Century NY took over from France as the place of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. After World War Two, with the intelligentsia of France, Germany, Austria, Belgium yea the whole of Europe, transported to New York, France ended it’s 300-year reign as the center of art and New York leapt at the nourishment provided by those émigrés and applied New York’s grit, edge and sharp sense of reality and from the 1940’s to the 1990’, NY s burned with a fierce light, unequaled anywhere else on the planet. Of course that is less true now as New York style inquiry and culture have been seeded all over the world from Beijing to Tokyo, Paris to Buenos Aires, Seattle to Bangkok and while NY is far from dead it is the wounded warrior of urban centers as its geographic size, defined by being a very small island, has made the conquering of it, through the control of real estate interests, pitifully easy. Even here in The East Village and Lower East Side, known since the days…

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When Closeted People Censor

In 1990-1995 my sex and censorship show Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore! was a backlash against the censorship we were experiencing during the Helms – NEA Culture Wars but it also spoke out against The PC Movement that had been rising in the Gay world since the mid seventies. B!D!F!W! was the queer, feminist,erotic dancer backlash and united thousands of people in 30 cities around the world, hiring strippers and performers in every city we played in and proved undeniably in the face of that JUDGEMENTAL PC world that one could be a FEMINIST and a stripper, a FEMINIST and a Prostitute a Feminist and ANYTHING you wanted to be or were including a MAN.We left a legacy in the world as well as a neo burlesque movement in every city we performed in. We changed peoples minds because we created COALITION EVERYWHERE WE WENT, we were INCLUSIVE and regular, often heterosexual people were welcomed and included, people dared to come out at our shows and often brought their families and friends so they could experience solidarity. In Ireland we performed all over the country one year after homosexuality was decriminalized in 1994. I went on Ireland’s biggest TV show as an out, bisexual faghag, a 40 something year old women nude on stage for 20 minutes talking about AIDS, Feminism, politics, free speech, censorship,rape,violence, family and in Ireland today many people remember us as part of what created gay marriage 25 years later. Here’s the real news people we are living in a time of GREATER CENSORSHIP than ever and the amount that is coming from the the Right Wing is miniscule compared to what is coming from the so called left, from so called queers and so called social justice activists. Black Civil Liberties did not happen because only Black people worked…

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The Rise of PC Trolling Disguised as Activism

I am stunned by the increasing numbers of internets trolls the universities are churning out as they continue to couch both history and culture in an increasingly myopic and totalitarian politically correct straight jacket. These academics are not teaching people how to think but what to think. They are not preparing young people to participate in the real world. They are churning out populations who without any actual personal experience of the diversity of human nature and experience believe it is their calling to prey on and harass people who are doing real work in the world. They judge everything and everyone by race, age, ethnicity and gender, spouting and presenting themselves as the ultimate authorities. Criticizing harrassing and attacking people on social media IS NOT ACTIVISM! Meanwhile many sensitive souls are frightened into silence or commiseration fearing that they may become the target of the witch hunts. This is the real effect of CENSORSHIP – because Censorship only leads To SELF CENSORSHIP! People! In the 1960’s thru 1980’s these kinds of behaviors would be suspected of being infiltration by right wing forces in order to sow destabilizing and disrupting energies against resistance movements. The witch hunts are increasing while the real white supremacists and haters are building their power bases. Coalition and cooperation with like minded people is what is needed to fight the fight that needs to be fought for liberty, true liberty. Freedom to speak, to express to inquire. The freedom to be a beginner, to learn with and from others. A witch hunt is the opposite of a search for freedom. It is search for blame and there MUST be a victim: guilty or not.

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My Favorite Holiday

I love all holidays, after all holidays are the theatre of the masses. The special days when most people, regular people, get to step off the grind of the every day and enter an altered reality. Of all the holidays, Halloween has always been my favorite. It outranked Easter, when I got new clothes, the excitement of waking before dawn to be in the Easter Sunday procession at St Andrews Church, the basket of natural and fuschia dyed reeds that my grandfather made each grandchild was taken down off the shelf in the sun room and magically appeared at my place at the breakfast table modestly filled with colored eggs and a few pieces of candy after Easter Mass or even Christmas, with all that spirit of anticipation for weeks leading up to it, when I carried the feverish hope for presents that never materialized but there were presents to open, even if they were never what i had written to Santa Claus about or ferverently prayed to Baby Jesus for. Christmas was the Feast of 7 Fish Dishes on Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner which was really special in those days, with handmade ravioli and the big bowl of nuts and dried figs that came out after the meal only at Christmas. Halloween was my favorite because there were costumes involved, and candy that lasted for weeks, down to the little yellow and orange triangles left over at the bottom of bags we decanted our sweet spoils into that my brothers and sister would eventually tire of but not me, but most of all because it happened at nightime and a nightime, that after an entire year of early enforced bedtime , belonged only to children, or thats how it seemed like back then. I was free to roam…

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Waking Up in Detroit

Waking up in Detroit to the grey marble sky, impenetrable yet somehow benign, I feel empty, not in a bad way but neutral. I don’t feel like anyone in particular today except that this no one in particular is about 13 years old.I am going home today as in home to NY , home to my own bed, home to my stuff , home to what gets put on hold when i travel. It is an empty nest. I created it to hold all my dreams and it is full of those but I don’t dream there anymore. When i checked into the hipster enabled Trumbull and Porter Hotel on Trumbell St, Detroit the first thing I asked the sweet, kindly beard manning the desk was “Did this used to be an SRO?” “No” he said “I think it was a Holiday Inn” A Holiday Inn??? “I don’t think so” I say. Jeez ! You can smell the metal sting of crack as you walk in the door! There’s a cold sweat of desperation about the place. The concrete walls ring with sorrow, that echo never goes away. The beardling offered me a room with a patio. “We happen to have some patio rooms” he said eagerly. “Nah” i replied ,”Nah, I don’t go in for patio rooms, you know those sliding doors give me the heebeejeebies, I already have night terror…PTSD from being attacked, a patio room is torture for me. I just stay up all night watching the door.” “Yeah” he said, “I know what you mean. I don’t like it myself’. The hallways are so long at this spruced up , hipsterized, yuppified, concrete bunker that was the old Corktown Inn. My intuition was backed up listening to John Sinclair and Jason Yates talk about this place…

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The Tyrany of Fragility

I feel the pain of people who have been physically, emotionally , psychologically and sexually violated. Who have been demeaned and made to feel like they are less, less than others, less than human. I have been one of those people for most of my life. To be honest, my entire life has been an exercise in vanquishing the inner self loathing that is the legacy of those painful experiences. .I have borne those scars and still carry some open wounds from those violations. Some were from strangers but some were from my own family and in some cases from people I considered to be friends. I have always refused to identify myself as a victim. I always saw myself as a target. I could never afford self pity because self pity is a hindrance when you are trying to survive. For a long time I believed that I became who I am in spite of the horrible things that happened to me and that were done to me but when I was about 47 years old I began to understand that I became who I am because of my response to those horrible experiences. First and foremost those experiences introduced me to my own grace, to my own dignity. Cruelty taught me what it means to be kind, the lack of compassion I received taught me empathy, the hurling vitriol, lewd innuendo and brutal remarks led to my unswerving need to define myself by my own standards and to develop my own values and to bear no ones judgment. The threat and fear I lived under grew my courage. The near constant rejection created my unshakeable faith in my strength of spirit, which has always blissfully soared above every sordid experience I was subjected to, I have always found…

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Letter To A Young Artist # 1

I cannot help notice that every time I have a conversation with a young artist is that when my age comes up, there is an odd sense of competion present in them mixed in with a kind of misplaced relief. I find it sad too that when I ask someone young their age they often stutter uncomfortably in order to whisper “around 25” or “around 30” as if youth is the only thing that can guarantee them a leg up.Competition may not be the best word to use to describe what I am talking about but there is a sense of “Oh! I am on the way up and you are on the way out.” Or maybe it only is “I STILL have TIME to make it”.Perhaps it is a only sense of relief that they feel in the face of me and my age, in this very ageist time,that they have another 30 years before they reach my age. At 26 or 30 I know that those 30 years feel like more than one life time. But I thought it might be useful to mention a couple of things. 30 to 60 happens almost overnight. Time moves twice as fast from 30 to 60 as it does from ten to 40. Another is that despite the fact that I started performing in the downtown experimental performance scene at 18, with people far older and much more accomplished than myself, between the ages of 21 and 31 I lived several different lives, lives that included performing but were grounded by really living in the world, all very far from the all encompassing ambition of NY.From the 60’s to the early 80’s there was still standards for excellence that were upheld by a very selective and demanding audience of connoisseurs. Since…

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Relationship and Destiny

The driving force of my life has always been my relationship to relationship. Perhaps this is the arena , more than any other in my life, including my work,in which I have invested the most energy, shown the most commitment to and which has taught me the most about myself and human nature. People often say I am wise and if indeed I am wise, I have become so thru my interaction with people, thru my willingness to jump into the deep end of other personalities. When I was 22 living on the island of Formentera in Spain, before it became the party island it is now, although to be honest it was always a party island in the summers. It was on Formentera that the now ubiquitous Full Moon Parties first occurred. 30,40 people playing drums,improvisationally singing and dancing and another 40 sitting around smoking hash and/or tripping or both, but those parties were for a very specific kind of person then,seekers not just kids on spring break. Formentera in the 1970’s attracted people who were able to be in an unmapped territory,say opposed to Ibiza, which was then as now , very much a scene. The first morning I arrived in Ibiza on the overnight ferry from Barcelona, the first person I saw was a scenester from NY and I hid behind a palm tree so he wouldn’t see me and I took the first ferry to Formentera without even entering Ibiza. The first person who mentioned Formentera to me was Sandy Sawyer, then the girlfriend of my friend Richard Hannemann. Sandy showed up at Max’s Kansas City one night and said she was there to give me a message from Richard. Then she said just three words to me “Come to Formentera”. Sandy didn’t tell me where…

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I Loved LA

Hearing of  the LA earthquake, I  was suddenly overcome with sadness about leaving LA. I barely got to live there. I guess the sudden end of my marriage in 2008 eclipsed my feelings about leaving, an exodus I never mourned. I loved the near absolute anonymity of LA, an anonymity NY has lost since becoming suburbanized. Oh, I know everyone thinks LA is suburban but I never felt that way about it. If LA is so suburban, how come you can never find a gas station? I loved the stony winter sunlight, the stillness of the desert that lies beneath it. I loved the hollow emptiness of LA  in the daytime and the howling emptiness of LA  at night. I loved walking down Fairfax , a journey that never bored me. I loved coffee at The Farmers Market early in the morning with homeless people propped up on chairs, before it bustled with tourists and regular people. I loved sitting at empty bus stops with a book during my long aimless walks and going to Las Feliz’s for breakfast at Figaro , feeling like I was in the Marais in Paris in 1960 because the painter George Stoll  always has his breakfast there. You can  sit at a sidewalk table and watch people walk by. Yeah, I know it is only one block but that’s all you need for a bit of people watching. Anyway you are watching people enter the cafe. That’s the point. They are walking, from their car. I loved the quirky old spots of Hollywood and the ghosts that accompanied me everywhere. Ever since I was a child, I was intrigued by the history of Old Hollywood that I ferreted out of the 1950’s movie star magazines I found. I was obsessed with then.  Those magazines…

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Queerer Than The Queer

One of the most frightening aspects of organized hatred is how the Christian Right has taken  it’s fight against Homosexuality and exported it to third world countries where the issues are not  same sex  marriage or adoption but the right to life: Theirs. Yes, the right to life for homosexuals. In Africa, The Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean coming out amounts to a death sentence. In many  countries I have traveled in, I have seen see up close the choice between  violence or silence regarding homosexuality. How the Christian Right can balance Christ’s message of Love with hate mongering that incites people to murder is beyond me but that Death Ministries are occuring  NOW with American dollars is irrefutable. Read this excellent article from Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/07/evangelicals-gay-rights-ihop-god-loves-uganda-sundance I post this 2009 article because it is gives alot background http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v24n4/us-christian-right-attack-on-gays-in-africa.html As American Gays and Queers relax into their sense of entitlement thinking that the war is over , few are aware of the evil underfoot. The Christian Right built it’s ProLife Mandate over a 40 year period,  beginning with Roe Vs Wade in 1973.  The fruits of their work are becoming the rule across America and becoming a greater, more terrifying reality for American women, particularly for the ultra poor. When we talk about Russia and the Olympics we don’t seem to understand that our worlds are  connected. It is not only to support homosexuals and and trans people that we demonstrate against Russia’s hate laws but to protect our own future. Sadly it is human nature that someone will always be queer, someone will always be unacceptable to ‘straight middleclass society’. In the 1960’s straight meant narrow minded, not necessarily heterosexual . Jack Smith divided people into two groups Flaming Creatures and Pasty Normals. It is not 1962 and…

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