Off the 4th Avenue / 25th Street stop on the R Train, you can visit the Green-Wood Cemetery. Or, from tonight through November 15, you can stroll on over to the MIX Factory. Don’t be fooled, it’s not a new operation drumming up artisan cocktail mixes; rather it’s the name of the venue for MIX NYC, the annual New York Queer Experimental Film Festival now in its impressive 28th year.
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Erik Zajaceskowski and Rachel Nelson, the husband and wife behind art/music space Secret Project Robot and hoppin’ Bushwick bar Happyfun Hideaway, are putting the finishing touches on their latest project, a tavern, cafe, and gallery on Dekalb Avenue, in that blurry area between Bushwick and Bed-Stuy. With the grand opening of Flowers For All Occasions set for Thursday evening, the smell of fresh wood still lingers in the air and there’s a bare back room of sorts where a “zine vending machine and cabinet of curiosities” will eventually stand.
As I’m checking things out, Erik comes in, gleefully brandishing a small sparkly object.
“Look!” he says with a grin. “Pink pepper spray!”
“These are the things you get excited about after five months of construction,” Rachel says.
It’s raining when I head to Greenpoint to meet writer Sean Edward Lewis and actress Claire Campbell, theater artists making experimental work under the name Lilac Co. They’re a unique pair, reminiscent of the muse and the artist: Campbell, fresh-faced and young, is from Brighton, England (“Lots of hippie mums by the sea”), fresh out of drama school overseas. Lewis, older and gruffer, grew up north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, attended CalArts for graduate school, and has been in New York writing and showing his own experimental work as an auteur of sorts for ten years now.
This week, whether you want to be entrenched in the Halloween spirit or just want to watch some good old fashioned people telling jokes, you can slide on over to one of these shows to get your fill.
Esoterica Teaser Performance
At Visana NYC, 321 1st Avenue, East Village. 11:30 doors, midnight performance; free. More info here.
There isn’t much info available on this late-night performance preview at a speakeasy—it appears to be purposefully cryptic—but Esoterica’s website indicates it’s a richly-visual performance experience based to some degree on Dante’s Divine Comedy, where heaven and hell intermingle. “A portal to The Inferno will be opened,” the Facebook event declares. Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself.
When folk-rock band The Lisps, helmed by César Alvarez and Sammy Tunis, assemble in front of the big curtain atop The Connelly Theater’s stage, they look like your average band: quirkily dressed, bantering amongst themselves and strumming out jaunty and conversational indie Americana-influenced tunes.
Several free festivals and absurd doses of comedy await you this week. Read on to get the scoop.
The Terrible Them
at The Experiment Comedy Gallery, 20 Broadway, Williamsburg. 8pm. More info here.
The Experiment Comedy Gallery, a newly opened waterfront space for offbeat comedy, brings this one-night-only play (previously seen at The Creek and The Cave in 2014) by Gonzalo Cordova and Nick Naney, inspired by the dramatic sci-fi horror of filmmaker John Carpenter. Created and performed by comedians but billed as theater in a satisfying collision of artistic disciplines, The Terrible Them tells the tale of a disgraced journalist who gets the chance to revitalize his career in the midst of an alien invasion. Featuring a large cast of funny folk, visual effects and an “original synth soundtrack” by Steven DeSiena.
Get off at the Bedford L. Walk ten or so minutes into Greenpoint. Pass the house with the eerily-lit windows, but don’t forget it. You’ll be getting to know it quite well later. Turn the corner and enter the old church. This is where your journey begins.
A little past 8pm, the band atop the Wild Project’s bare stage begins to play an opening jaunt by Zoe Sarnak, part of a genre-bending new generation of musical theater writers, and Shakina Nayfack steps onstage to sing about her Brand New Pussy. “She’s made for lovin’ and breakin’ hearts,” Shakina proclaims fiercely.
This week, catch some clowning, site-specific apartment theater, and more vaudeville than you probably knew existed.
The Folk Circus Presents: A Valley Son
at Bizarre Bushwick, 12 Jefferson Street, Bushwick. 9pm; $7-20 suggested donation. More info here.
Concept album plus circus freaks equals a devilishly good way to spend a Thursday night. The Folk Circus takes an album by a local band and puts their unique twist on it at aptly-named haven for offbeat performance and parties, Bizarre Bushwick. This time they’re taking on music by chill NY-based rockers A Valley Son. Expect aerial routines, fire-breathers, burlesque, clown, dance, music, and anything unexpected.
As I walked through the Friday night rain, clutching an umbrella with a price that far exceeded its quality, I felt lost. I was looking for the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, which that evening was opening Queer WAH, an exhibition of contemporary work by queer artists. Little did I know the shabby green door I had confusedly paused by was the very place. Despite the official sounding name that calls to mind tours and pamphlets, the WAH Center sat far more unassuming than I had initially guessed.
What do DJ and New Museum darling Juliana Huxtable, a former member of industrial outfit Throbbing Gristle, and “drag mother” Flawless Sabrina have in common?
Empty Spaces takes a closer look at the buildings that used to house well-loved establishments, shuttered due to inevitable rent hikes or an unfortunate turn of events. When one establishment leaves a building, it is expected that another will take its place. Some, however, remain unoccupied for months or even years. We check in on these Empty Spaces to find out what’s up.
Address: 940 Flushing Avenue, Bushwick