“I have a passion for accessibility,” BenDeLaCreme begins, between bites of chips in a NoHo green room. “And I am simultaneously driven crazy by our culture of access.” The 38-year-old staple of Seattle’s drag scene is in town to promote All I Want For Christmas Is Attention, the holiday tour she co-wrote and conceived with her longtime friend and collaborator Jinkx Monsoon. More →
Posts by Amanda Feinman:
Claywoman is withered and weathered, like something literally molded from clay and, by degrees, dried out. She’s the 500-million-year-old extra-terrestrial performance persona of the actor Michael Cavadias, andreappears every-so-often in public to much niche buzz. Last week, in the cabaret backroom at Pangea, she hosted an unscripted conversation with comedian Bridget Everett, which ranged and rambled from menopause to climate change. More →
Switch N’ Play puts a high premium on joy, so it isn’t surprising that A Night At Switch N’ Play—the slice-of-performance-life documentary about the group, making its New York premiere at NewFest this Saturday—is such a joyful watch. The film, from director Cody Stickels and producer Chelsea Moore, provides a window into the beloved drag and burlesque collective at work. Over the course of a single evening at Branded Saloon, the Prospect Heights bar Switch N’ Play calls home, we are invited to watch seven queer performers flourishing, almost in real time. And it’s a treat. More →
It was late on Monday when Allie X called me from a hotel room in Hawaii. She was packing; I could hear the zippers going, quick between her sentences. The up-and-coming pop artist played Boston’s House of Blues on Thursday, and she’ll be in New York tonight, Tuesday, opening for Charli XCX at Terminal 5. But she had to make a brief trip out West first, to headline Honolulu Pride. More →
There are few things so eerie as forsaken dolls; then there’s what’s going on at The Cell’s converted townhouse theater in Chelsea. “FOUND” is the space’s first-ever immersive theatrical experience, a deep-dive into the spooky world of visual artist Mikel Glass, just in time for sweater weather.
It is difficult to describe “FOUND.” The Cell calls it “a new and exciting way to consume the visual arts” (also: “an explosion of dolls”). Glass had free reign to curate all four floors of the townhouse, which The Cell’s founding artistic director Nancy Manocherian converted, in 2006, into a multi-use space for interactive and immersive installations like this one. Glass let loose with chaotic junkyard energy. There is stuff everywhere, found objects strewn about between, above, and below his paintings and sculptures. There are piles of loose pill capsules on the floor. Suitcases and pizza boxes. A cooler of Cherry Garcia ice cream. Even the paintings themselves have a dissonant, slapped-together sensibility; in “Birth of B-Art,” for instance, a faceless woman gives bloody birth surrounded by bobbleheads, baby dolls, and some kind of spider-crab, and upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the emerging baby has the head of Bart Simpson. But the dominant feature in “FOUND” are the aforementioned dolls, creepy things of various sizes and materials—they’re innumerable, literally everywhere, and all, apparently, were discovered by Glass on the streets of New York. Some of them are missing limbs or eyes; some stand and keep watch, holding onto the staircase bannisters; some hold iPhones in their weird little hands, displaying effectively spooky loop-video footage of JonBenét Ramsey.
There are also people everywhere in this interactive exhibit, actors from Mason Holdings (directed by Kristjan Thor), whose disconnected scenes interrupt and enhance Glass’s visual landscape. Audience members are vital participants in what goes on at “FOUND,” willing or not: if you go, you will have to accessorize a distraught woman, add brushstrokes to already-existing paintings, and maybe fill out a beyond-the-grave adoption application. I’m still working through what these theatrical snippets have to do with one another, and how they’re related to Glass’s works. It’s clear that they are all similarly atonal, curious, disquieting; it’s also clear that these cross-medium collaborators are inviting people to have a wholly visceral art experience. Glass sees “FOUND” as something closer to participatory theater than to the typically passive Chelsea gallery walk-through (he’ll tell you so himself, when you find him on his perch somewhere deep inside the house).
I, admittedly, had trouble taking in everything in “FOUND.” There is so much of it, and it’s also hard to focus on a painting when an actor standing in front of it is asking you for your blood type. But overstimulation is part of the game here. “FOUND” is a disorienting but engaging experience, like being tasked with wading, for an hour, through the detritus of a strange and vibrant brain. Which, if you go, you will have been. “FOUND” will have performances through October 31 at The Cell Theatre in Chelsea. You can purchase tickets at their website.
“We let our comics have complete authority,” Alysia Hush emphasized over the phone. “If they want to get onstage and take off one shoe, that’s perfectly fine.” Hush is a co-founder, along with Marisa Riley, of Comedy Ugly, a stand-up show that happens monthly-ish at Easy Lover in Williamsburg. The twist? Their evening of curated comedy is also a body-positive strip tease. More →
“When an octopus gets too stressed out, it eats itself,” begins poet Ashley August in Don’t Be Nice, the feature documentary debut from filmmaker Max Powers. At this moment in the film, August is performing a poem about the (gendered, racialized) expectation that she be less intense, in direct address to the camera. “When you see me with my literal foot in my actual mouth, you can call that dramatic.” More →
Last September, Bushwig sold out the Knockdown Center, that sprawling ex-manufacturing lot just on the Maspeth side of the Brooklyn/Queens border. It was perfect drag weather that weekend—a little overcast, finally cooling—and anywhere your eye flitted under those ancient exposed beams, there was color. More →
Late on a Friday afternoon, right before things were sure to get busy, Zaida Soler-Williams and Roberto Williams welcomed me into their East Williamsburg apartment, which is also their place of business. The living space is furnished simply, with a couch, house plants, and a few black leather lounge chairs; less expected are the large speakers tucked in seemingly every corner, the dominant screen along one wall, and the disco lighting everywhere, illuminating even the countertops in phosphorescent blue. “We go all out,” Roberto told me. “We’re not the type to do things halfway.” More →
When I first read Eileen Myles’s 1994 classic Chelsea Girls, I was certain it was nonfiction. I think I may have told an inquiring stranger on the subway that it was a book of essays, which it isn’t (sorry, now-misinformed New Yorker). It’s fiction, a series of short coming-of-age stories about a queer poet named Eileen Myles, who is like the collection’s author in many ways but not in all. I was so certain it was memoir because the book feels so lived-in—it brings you to tactile places, conjures the mud underfoot at Woodstock and those recognizable, “gorgeous grey feeling(s)” of adolescent romance. But Myles has long called Chelsea Girls an “autobiographical novel,” a hybrid of sorts. It merges the unreal, the dreamed-up, with the hyper-real. More →