You thought Kathy Acker was wild? Well, we’ve got more crazy-smart ladies for you in this round of From the Archive. First up there’s Kim Wozencraft talking to Jill Eisenstadt. Jill pretty much qualifies as nuts because she went to Bennington (you know what they say about us Bennington girls…) and Kim, well, Kim did TIME. She was a narcotics officer in Texas and got in some trouble with drugs and ended up in prison, then went to Columbia and wrote a book about it that got made into the movie Rush. Then there’s the craziest B of them all, Miss Penny Arcade. She’s made a career out of imitating divas like Edie Sedgewick and Nancy Spungen, but it’s her anecdote about playing Margo Howard-Howard that made this interview one of those little gems that make this job worthwhile. See below:
Margo and I performed together several times at the St. Marks Poetry Project where I played Margo and Margo played the other characters of her memoir, I Was a White Slave in Harlem.
Towards the end, when Margo started suffering from Grand Mal Meglomania, as she would call it herself, we did a performance on our mutual birthday, July 15, during which Margo refused to give me the script we were supposed to read from. Out of self-preservation, I just started doing what Margo would do when Margo was on stage with anyone else—because Margo couldn’t bear not to he the center of attention for one second—which was to start making all these faces, calling attention to myself. Margo glanced over and I could see the look of recognition, like Margo thought, “Oh my God, she’s going to go that far!” And then Margo turned to me and said “Penny Arcade, cut that out!
I looked at Margo and said, “What is my function?”
Margo said, “I’ll give you something to say when I’m ready!
I said. “Am I here for the hearing impaired?”
Margo got really mad and crazy yelling, “Penny Arcade, cut that out! Susanna Ventura, cut it out!” She had a drink in her hand and she threw the drink at me and it went over my head because I’m short.
I leaned into the audience and said, “She’s many things, but she’s never been athletic.” And the audience went wild. It was just too much for Margo to get the Margo treatment, and she didn’t know what to do next so she threw the glass. And it shattered all around me. Just before she threw the glass, she said, “Penny Arcade, if you don’t stop. I’m going to give you a blow to the head.”
And I took off my shoe and said—one of Margo’s famous claims from her book—”And I will do to you what I did to Truman Capote in 1958 when I hit him with my shoe.” When I had my shoe in the air, Margo took the glass and shattered it at my feet. So I’m standing there, one foot in the air, glass all over the floor, thinking, “Oh my God, I managed to get out of it. I said, “That’s enough! Where’s my coat?”
Margo used to create scenes at other people’s performances, before she ever performed onstage, and usually she would do it by asking for her coat. And she would not have a coat. “Where’s my coat? Where is my coat? I’ve had enough! Enough and we’ll leave! Goddammit where’s my coat?” And she would effectively destroy whoever was performing.
I’m totally stealing the coat trick.
If you want to have a moment of “The art world certainly isn’t what it used to be,” read Anney Bonney and Mike Bidlo’s conversation (which is where the title of this blog post comes from). He and David Wojnarowicz took over an abandoned Port Authority Pier on Spring Street and put on an art show til the police shut it down.
Here are the rest of ‘em:
Mary Shultz by Tod Wizon
Carl Phillips by Nick Flynn
Reynolds Price by Caleb Smith
Mary Heilmann and Ellen Phelan by Richard Armstrong
Ann Hui by Lawrence Chua
Alexander Kluge by Gary Indiana
Jane Wilson by Mimi Thompson
Barry Hannah by Fiona Maazel
Christian Marclay by Ben Neill
Roscoe Mitchell by Anthony Coleman
Valerie Jaudon by Shirley Kaneda
Erna Brodber by Keshia Abraham
Dario Fo by Matthew Fleury
THANK YOU INTERNS!