Penny Arcade Says

A cultural icon of Downtown New York, Penny Arcade is a writer, actress, comedienne, social commentator, political activist, and one of the inventors of Performance Art (for which she apologizes!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Q&A re Jack Smith

I will be happy to answer all your questions on Jack smith. I am usually known for my cooperation. I only have issues when people get me stoned before an interview and then spring questions on me from events that occured 15 years before and then make my confusion about dates and who , what where into
a kind of proof that I am lying, which was what occured in my distressful interview with Mary Jordan when I had been told in advance that I would be asked questions about Jack Smith's work and philosophy and instead I was asked why I didn't call Jack's sister and tell her Jack had Aids and was in the hospital as if that was my decision to make when Jack was 57 years old, completely sane and self directed and was emphatic about making his own decisions Anyway up until I brought up if he wanted anyone notified like family for instance, he never spoke abut his sister and only then said he hated her, didn't want to be in touch with her and that they had been estranged for years.

I am sorry to be this blunt. I spent years NOT talking about what Jack said about his sister whike he was in the hospital and testories he told about her and her husbands cruelty towards him. The unfortunate thing in a case like this is that there will always be real investigtions and press reports that will have to reveal
the real story of Jack, his death and what has happened since.

That aside, I know everything about what was in Jack's apartment sine I had been taking care of him hands on before he went into the hospital and he was very specific about what he did with his work...and what he considerd important. I CHOSE to save everything I could and I held on to Jack's apartment for almost two years while trying to save it as a museum. I have the history of that struggle and the letters of support and suggestions by two prominent architects Robert Moon of The Rockerfeller Plaza Restoration Project and Frederich Fisher , the renown museum architect. I also allowed anyone and everyone to document the apartment in photo and video.So there is plenty of documentation not to mention what Irving Rosenthal shot.

The idea that Jack still had any cameras by 1989 is sadly absurd. Jack used borrowed cameras .
Somehow this has been glossed over by Jordan, Podell and Rosenthal but Jack lived in abject poverty. He almost never ate.He had no way of earnng money and had never held what is populary called in ethe art world a 'day 'job

Jack was living on the interest from the $50.000 in bearer bonds from the nuclear power plant in Washington State (which I gave to his sister in order to get her to agree not to trash his work and apartment, which she had wanted to do ) The bonds gave him about $750. a year in least I think the dividends were paid once a year..if they were paid twice a year that would have given him the grand sum of $1,500 a year..( no wonder he lied to SSI and welfare saying had no assets ...the man was starving to death ( I wonder where his sister was while Jack (who had depended on his mother for handouts all his life) was literally eating gruel for ten years)

Jack had this income from the bonds from 1978 or 1983 until 1989 . I think you will agree that this was not very much money (no wonder he was toothless!.)..He proablaly pawned what ever he could have years before.Howevr I also have the list of jewlry that was divided by Mrs Slater's own lawyer in 1977 between Jack , an Aubt Julia and Mrs Slater. I it's entirty it was work under $2,000. i have the paperwork. It is not the fortune his sister is srying out about.

Jack's rent was $260.00 a month not counting utilities and phone..he had next to no other income...what do you think he was living on? what was he eating? he had virturally stopped photographing in 1965-66
as he began to focus on performance art and he became the photgraphic subject of his work and was photographed by others..the only self portrait that I know he did was of his penis!

Irving Rosenthal hadn't seen Jack Smith in person since the late 60's has kept up a furious and hysterical belief that whatever he remembered from Jack's loft or apartments in the mid 60's was still extant. Jack was evicted and moved 3 times before he settled at 21 1st Avenue.
Irvings insistance that there would be prints of Jack's black and whites in 1989 the way there may have been in the early 60's when Jack was a photographer is like someone remembering their friend in high school's record collection and expecting it to still exist when their pal was 57. I wish I had the record collection I had when i was would be worth a small forturne.

Unfortunately , the people who are coming up with the list of what Jack possessed are largely uneducated about Jack's work. Jack was not a painter. He painted and decorated his apartment.
Mary Jordan convinced Mrs Slater , Jack's sister that the place was hung with paintings like the Louvre. There were NO PAINTINGS in Jack's space. except for what jack painted directly onto the walls. Jack loathed 2 dimentional art as he called paintings.

You can always inquire from Bill Neiderkorn, Charles Alcroft, Ela Troyano and Uzi Parnes, and Agosto Machado what Jack had in the way of paintings. He was not friends with any painters and to my knowlege NO ONE had ever given Jack any paintings. Jack was only interested in photographs of himself. My ex husband Mitch Markowitz painted a portrait of Jack and Mitch gave it to me. He is the only painter I know of who painted Jack.

Many people contributed mementoes to the PS122 show believing as I did that Jack's work was going to stay together, according to Jack's wishes and instructions, and end up in a public arts institution (which is what Hoberman and I had been working diligently towards for 14 years)

I direct you to my website blog for more could also read my account of the last days and last moments of Jack's life under Friends on my site. It is the original from Film Culture in 1992...Ed Leffingwell, frighteded of alienating Rosenthal or Allen Ginsberg, edited out the parts that refered to them in the catalogues version of my essay.

On of the most annying issues is the red herring of 'missing work' It is just that , a red herrring Everything that Tony Vasconsellas , the PS1 program director thought should be archived was brought to PS 1 in 1992 along with items donated from far and wide (The boxes rescued from Jack's house had been in the center of my studio for over a year,(from 1991 to 1992) until they went to PS1 because I had no money for storage , and no one in the art world was willing to help save Jack Smith's work and that is a fact. Which is why the elephant tusk is here.

Jack's record collection , which was also made up of many borrowed records has been stored for years by the Plaster Foundation at Anthology Archives.I believe since 1990 or perhpas 1989.

The mural which was painstkingly removed with great difficulty, in July 1990 when there was threat of the landlord gutting the apartment, and which I was able to show at Lincoln Center's Serious FUN , in the art show dedicated to Jack that year by curator Frank Moore, is also here as there was little place to store it and it was never considered important by the curator Leffingwell and frankly was treated as an afterthought in the exhibit in 1998 because as i said it was a set decoration , not a paintng as such..because as everyoen knows..Jack did not paint.

I admit to being resentful, when allegations and rumors are tossed around publiclly without anyone (Ie Mr Podell or Mary Jordan ) ASKING where things that they are interested or curious about are, however you can feel confident that I enjoy talking about Jack's work and have been doing so publically for years before Jack died.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gay Pride.The Kevin Aviance Story

On friday I spoke to Kevin Aviance and we booked his flight to LA to appear at Outfest 06 with me. Tonight I just visited him in Beth Israel Hospital two blocks from where he was jumped and beaten by several boys hours after I had spoken to him friday night. Kevin and I were excited that he would be dancing in the 15 year show anniversery of Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore!

Earlier that day I had been on the phone with Freeze , my dance captain for the revival of B!D!F!W! for OUTFEST 06's Platinum Series. Freeze had recommended Kevin when it turned out that James 'Tigger" ferguson , couldn't get the time off from his rehersal for a Shakespeare show he was doing later this summer.

"Kevin Aviance?" I said."Kevin Aviance?? "Do you think he would want to do it?" I asked doubtfully. Frankly , after how the downtown art scene has changed over the past 15 years, I am used to much less accomplished performers with far less experience than the 15 years Kevin has been at it, being insulted and arrogant if you suggested having them appear in a show they are not the star of.
Of course in a Penny Arcade show..If you are a shine! because as people ought to know..that what makes a real star!

I myself have always continued to work with anyone whose work interested me, but more and more the rampant careerism of downtown had led to performers who because they don't realize that there is actually NOWHERE to get to with their careerism, out and out steal other performers material, leave the names of people who influenced their work out of their resumes and other actions that frankly make my skin crawl.

I had become a bit jaded , thinking that someone with Kevin Aviances career wouldn't want to be in 'someone elses show".Later the day before he was attacked when I spoke to him, I was amazed by his modesty, his kindness and openness and that he was in fact not just willing to come to LA to be in B!D!F!W! but EAGER to be in my show as a dancer. After all he is a huge star,(not just tall)He has had Billboard hits and is a powerful performance presence all over the world.
On the phone Kevin was sweet and kind and so open about appearing in B!D!F!W!
"I know I would learn alot from working with you "he said. I was so touched.

After I got off the phone with him I kept thinking about the most emotional moment in B!D!F!W! The Red Dress number in the middle of the show , what B!D!F!W! alumnnas call the Faghag-Aids-Love part of the show.

The Red Dress scene had started spontaneously one night in 1992 at PS122 during the early days of B!D!F!W! I had taken off the dress while making a strong statement about AIDS and my dead friends and I had walked off the stage..behind me Kenny "Angel" Davis had stopped and picked it up and had put it on...the effect was startling! There was Kenny representing everyone and everything I had been talking about.After Kenny, James 'Tigger "Ferguson had done the red dress as well as Aaron
and Lindel. It was a scene with a history,

In it, the red dress that I have been wearing, through the central part of the show , which I say I wear in honor of all the gay men who raised me, as I speak of being taken in by gay men as a young girl and mentored by them , and then about all the adventures that I had with them and what it meant to be a faghag and after I speak about the devastation of AIDS and homophobia and a million other things that mean alot to me and that I know represent the lives of many ,many people around the world like me, which are almost always left out of our story, While the bitchy, cynical, sarcastic, face continues to always be shown..mostly bereft of the great humanity,tolerence and understanding of the human condition that the gay world that I grew up in and live in still, carries.

I take the red dress off while speaking of these things ..and for me it is one of the saddest things I have ever done on stage..because after I have revealed all of these emotions that the dress symbolises for me , I take off the dress..and I walk away..leaving the dress on the stage For me this i a symbol of leaving this history, these ideas, with the audience. Leaving them to feel my sadness and my bitterness...leaving them to feel all the people whose spirits cling to me long after they have left this sphere (I always say I am surrounded by dead people and all of them want just one thing- publicity!) I leave the audience to just FEEL these vibrations that I live with everyday, ...the dancers follow me off the stage...but one dancer hangs back, and picks up the dress, as there is always one throw back fag out there, that reminds me that what I lived and fought for is still there to live and fight for , and that dancer, lifts up the dress with great tenderness and honor for all the gay men and queens who are represented in my history, because when you see Penny Arcade you never see just me..I am always conciously carrying the history and the personalities of the people who came before me, of my history and the history that formed me. I would no sooner hide my lineage than I would deny my just wouldn't happen..THAT is my pride.

When the male dancer in B!D!F!W! puts that red dress on and just stands there with the the honesty and strength that it takes to be a queen, to be in drag in this society..not the Halloween drag, but self expressing drag, everyday drag, working drag, who has to be strong..who will be strong and is always tougher than any butch muscle queen. This dancer represents for every queen that has ever been ridiculed, fag bashed, treated like less than human for being gay, queer, effeminate or different. It is the most powerful moment in the show nd it is one of the most powerful moments in all my work. it is non verbal, and anyone from any culture can understand it.

On friday night I kept seeing Kevin do the red dress..I called Steve Zehentner, my collaborator and partner in theatre and video of 14 years and I told him.."I keep seeing Kevin in the red dress."

Meanwhile I was expecting a call or email from Kevin. Late friday night while Kevin was getting the shit kicked out of him by 5 cowards, while Kevin was getting the shit kicked out of him while a crowd of friday night East Village revelling cowards stood and watched and didn't lift a finger to help him, while Kevin was kicked repeatedly in the head, a few doors from a gay bar, while Kevin was kicked 12 times in the head the week of Gay Pride , while Kevin was kicked without interuption in the middle of the street at East 14th and 1st Avenue, I was writing Kevin an email....and imagineing him in the red dress.

Today I went to see Kevin in the hospital, at Beth Israel Hospital ,a hospital like all the hospitals in NY where I have been too many times in my life, where I have too many memories and too much history. It was 7:45 pm and the guard didn't want to let me in, Kevin had already had way too many visitors, way too many visitors that stand out, you know, the kind who laugh too loud, or get too upset, or have a belligerence about them or who just dress too loud, or have a belligerence about their clothes or their hair or just something that is ..well too , too.

Since I have spent an inordinate amount of my life trying to get into hospitals that don't want to give me entrance because of the time, or because I am not a 'relative' or because there are too many visitors or for one reason or another, I have had a lot of practice and I got in.

As I got rode the elevator to the 10th floor I had no choice but to watch the internal movie of all the other times I have been to Beth is always the first time and it is always the last time and the times blend togther till the elevator spits me out .

Kevin had just returned from surgery.His friends and loved ones who had kept vigil were hanging back, Kevin weak and probably woozy, returning from the recovery room he was helped out of the wheelchair and into bed.The room was filled with flowers and gifts and sad friends. Most of the friends were young and I could feel what a shattering experience this was for them. Most of them hadn't sat in endless hospital rooms with endless friends who were dying or beaten up.There was a hush in the room...I made for the chair by Kevin's bed. "Is there somone older them me who should be sitting in this chair ?" I asked. Close to Kevin I could feel his sorrow... the after shock of the attack. After an attack, here is the realization that this has been done to you, that arbitrarily, for no reason personally connected to you, you have been the focus of the blank hatred and empty rage of people with eyes and ears and physical sensations that allow them to see and hear and feel what they are doing to you.

Kevin tried to speak to me through his wired shut mouth. "Shh", I said don't talk
"Did you have surgery?" I asked. Kevin nodded still processing that this awful ordeal was happening to him.

I asked if I could photograph him..the flowers were so beautiful. He nodded yes.
"You made all the papaers "I said, "and all the radio and tv news" "Kevin " I continued, "It is a terrible thing that this happened to you, but it is an important and meaningful thing that this has happened to you and that you could bring attention to this," Kevin nodded again. Looking at his bruised and swollen face. "May I kiss you? somewhere it doesn't hurt" I continued, He nodded and I looked till I found a place far away enough from the bruises.

I felt enormous rage.I thought about Gay Pride this week, I thought about the gigs Kevin couldn't do. Would his beating make any impact on Gay Pride? Would the story of what happened to Kevin Aviance be told at every Pride event as it should? Would money be raised for kevin to pay his bills, to pay for his loss of wages this week? or will it be just another market place week, another time to focus on what is for sale without mention of the long way we have to go as a community and as a community that focuses on what makes us the same as any other human on this planet, in this city, that focuses and sends the message of equality and the message of what it takes to create equality. Kevin Aviance is not only an artist and performer and celebrity, he represents a long line of heroic entities who have carried all our Karma on their backs, larger than life people, like Marsha P Johnson, who started the Stonewall Riot. I say take it to the voting booths or take it to the street.We are not going to evolve as a race in a vacumn.
It is like Mayanamna Buddhism..either everyobody evolves or no one evolves.
The fight for equality is still ahead, the long fight ahead for equality which means we have to focus on the result of equality and not just the message of what to buy and wear and see and do as gay consumers but faces that we have still not reached the even the bottom rung of understanding that we are still all in danger,that equality and freedom whether it is to marry or adopt children or any thing else is all still caught up in the dollar value of it in the market place
and that the blind hatred that jumped Kevin Aviance from behind on East 14th St and 1st ave still has to be confronted head on and dealt with and it is we who have the responsibility to do this and that the people who graze off the so called gay community need to put some of that cold cash to hot use to educate the public, both the public that attacks and the public that stands around and watches.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

The New East Village

I just recieved a call telling me that kevin Aviance, the great performer and singer was attacked last night coming out o fa club in the East Village, jumped by 4 men.

Friday, June 09, 2006

When the Roosters come home to Roost

People continue to ask me what is occurring with Jack Smith's work, which has been under threat for four years since one of the strangest sagas of my life began.
It started as the cab pulled up in front of my building in 2002. I was returning from the most harrowing tour of my life with a group of young women who were all with the exception of Scarlet Harlot ,Leslie Bull ,Carol Leigh and myself under age 30. It was the Sex Workers Art Show Tour . This idea like the idea of 'gay role models' fills me with distrust and a kind of embarrassment. I mean, why not have The Plumbers Art Show Tour? It makes as much sense. but as we know SEX SELLS SOAP. At the time however I decided to give the ringleader of Sex Worker Arts Show , Tara the benefit of the doubt in the face of my complete bitter paranoia which is based on repeatedly being fucked over by women my entire life...I had been booked on to the Sex Worker Art Show Tour without being asked if I wanted to go , if I was available for the dates etc AND booked across country in 30 cities by this Tara who parades as Annie Oakley ( managing to hide her identity publicly while outing everyone else) At the time I thought itwas simply a mistake, that she had been excited about having me on the tour and simply didn't know (????) that you have to book someone BEFORE you book the gig. Later I realized , she just used my name to book her tour, since she couldn't book anything on the strength of her own NON-Performance skills. At the end of the 30 city tour which turned out to be an inhumane and emotionally dehabilating experience, where I had to watch fragile women who had lived and survived sexual lives of extraordinary abuse, which they managed to transform into art, be used and manipulated, marginalized and discarded because Tara (Annie Oakley ) found them too hard hitting for the kind of Up With Sex Workers feeling she was trying to project..the reality is that three of these women, Ariel Lighting Child, Leslie Bull and Emmy, were the artists with the most emotive weight on the tour but they were marginalized by either as in ariel's case NOt having her films show (too depressing concluded Tara) or having thier time cut Like Leslie Bull , who had something to say that NO ONE else was going to say because FEW if any whores survive what she survived and she is so wonderously articulate about her experience, and Emmy , whose abusive background was triggered on the tour and who almost immediately started to decompensate (She who as an ACADEMIC) had the most to lose by revealing herself, was continually treated not as an emotionally fragile and ill girl but as an inconvience. These unique women were marginalized, while those who bounced about cheery with a Saturday Night Live Lite style "Isn't Sex Work Powerful" vibe were continually given more time. To be blunt it was a Popularity Contest. I had to face that this was the reality and the basic foundation of all relationships of women in had changed little since junior high school. The failure of feminisn is the reality that women seem to always betray each other.
In this cabal on wheels I had to contend with women who wanted to promote themselves as daring prostitutes while putting down the men who had been their clients , aggrandizing themselves for their 'courage' but at the same time making it very clear that they wanted to be performers, artists NOT prostitutes. So the message was pathetic..and weak as well as focused on a pseudo queer premise (note the small "q")since one can't actually be queer and be willing to marginalize ANYONE.
I also had to contend with the agesim that is rife in the under 35 year old world of women (and cnstantly be introduced with the caveat that I had the best and firmest breasts of the lot) Then there was the rampant careerism and lack of empathy and respect that hordes of priveleged tattooed twats across the country ooze while claiming to be feminists. But that is a different story than the one I am telling today.

As the cab driver chugged out the receipt in front of my house on my return from 30 days on the road with a few of most self congratuatory, self absorbed truits (Dutch for evil cunts) I had ever encountered in my life. I leaned back in the cab..suddenly I started up and thought out of nowhere.."Oh my god , I hope Jack Smith's sister doesn't decide she wants Jack's work after 13 years...I brushed the feeling off and walked up the 5 flights. Upstairs I greeted my loving partner Chris, who gleefully allows me the freedom and adventure I need to feel right in myself..after embracing he frowned and handed me an open envelope. "I'm sorry "he said,"I wanted to check if it was important and it was ..but I didn't want to worry you while you were already under so much stress. I thought it could wait till you got home."

I looked at the envelope, it was from a law office..the first page read..that Jack Smith's sister wanted the art work of her brother Jack, the work and debts of the brother she hadn't seen since 1953...because she hated his homosexuality and he hated her values.

After Jack died in 1989 many of the people who had been his acolytes gathered and wanted to operate by committee. I had been caring for Jack like a child, like a brother, a father and a lover and he had made his wishes completely clear to me. Shortly after his death despite my trying to include then as best I could, my life became a living hell as slander and lies and misinformation poured out about me from certain of the people who couldn't control Jack during his life and now wanted to control him after his death.This is not the only time this has occured to me,I experienced the same thing when Jeff Buckley died, and when Quentin Crisp died.
Year and years ago when I was 21 ,living on the island of Formentera in Spain, I found myself first placed high on a pedstal among the expats there ( a motley band of drug dealers, hippies, social rejects and recluses)and then without even being aware I had been on the pedestal, I found my self thrown down. "Why ?" I asked my friend Richard Hanneman , after he retold teh rumors taht were passing arond this tiny island about me "Well, Penny " he repled, insightful as ever, "People think that you are too smart to be good."

There were certain people who had long and complicated relationships with Jack. Jack had love/hate relationships with everyone I can think of except Margot Howard Howard the great drag queen...he was mesmerized by her..perhaps because in her he found a match for his cruelty. His friends and acolytes included Charles Alcroft, Ivan Galietti, Bill Niederkorn, Michael Oppedisano, Uzi Parnes and Ela Troyano. All of them were from a different generation than I and had known Jack in a different way than I, who had met Jack when I was a teenager in the late 60's when Jack was younger and a good deal less paranoid and bitter, and part of a varied scene of artists from all mileurs, every bit as talented and unique as he was. I had experienced the special relationship that one has when one is very young and is beloved by much older people, when one is in awe of the the older, more confident enties and clearly accepts that these magical creatures are giants and one, like a human Toto becomes a mascot of sorts...perhaps HM Koutoukas said it best when he called out to me at the Jackie Curtis film premier.."Look! Here comes Penny Arcade, the little sister of the Avantegarde."

Things were quite different in the late 70's and 80's when Jack was isolated from the community of his peers and his life became more and more filled with younger people,naby fresh out of art school,many who were trying to become artists and who as enamoured as they were with the glamour of Jack's legendary but now publicly passe glory, couldn't really tolerate Jack's cruelty, disinterest and paranoia about their real motivations in knowing him.
"I refuse to fertilize these brain pickers" he would often say about no one in particular..or "They're sweet but their work is hopeless"

I have thought many times through the past 3 years as I suffered from the campaign of disinformation and out right lies that Mary Jordan and Irving Rosenthal spread about me after my years of toiling with Jim Hoberman to build the legacy that Jack Smith, deserved , that could be passed down to generations of artists, of writing to Charles Alcroft, Ivan Galietti, Bill Niederkorn , Uzi Parnes , and Ela Troyano as well as to Michael and Mary Sue Slater, Jack's sister and nephew, about what was going on with Mary Jordan and the virulent lies that were being spun. Occasionally I found myself speaking to the very dead Michael Oppedisano , who had spread endless rumors about me and had after Jack's death been the ringleader of paranoid delusions about me. Michael had continued his demented relationship with Jack, by projecting his hatred and paranoia to me.

Mary Jordan came into my life telling me how much she admired my devotion and committment to Jack Smith's legacy. She had waited after a performance of New YOrk Values, my 1992 autiosy on the death deathh of Bohemia that was built around my understanding at age 50 of what Jack Smith had tried to explain to me and make me undertand when I was 32 and he was 50. Jordan started out ingratioating herself but soon set about to destroy my reputation and erase the history of my friendship and committment to Jack using the resentment towards me by some of Jack's friends and acolytes as a shovel to pry open an endless Pandora's box of insinuations, rumours, and out and out lies about me and my role in Jack's life and death.

Most of this time since the initial court case and since the day that Jordan came ostensibly to interview me about Jack's work, proferred a lit joint to me and proceeded to ask me inflammatory questions about why I hadn't called Jack's family to tell them he had been in the hospital, I have been in a position where I had no public platform against a campaign of disinformation aimed at undermining the only thing I have ever really cared about, my reputation for my personal integrity. Being ambushed in an interview, while being gotten stoned is a bizarre experience.Then suddenly being asked questions about events that had occured 14 years out of the blue WHILE on camera , was one of the most evilly premeditated experiences of my life.After about three minutes of questioning ,I rose to my feet screaming at Jordan, "Who are you? You are not a real filmmaker! Who are you trying to collect this material for?"
The horror of this situation , this game I never planned to play with Slater,Jack's homophobic sister the lawyer Podell, Jordan and in the background always , Irving Rosenthal, has wratched up it's pressure in the past three years. I have also been too sick, and too resentful towards the people who were slandering my name and casting aspertions on my motivations while the tried to enroll people who didn't know me or even people who had never met me into a suspicious and distrustful view of me, to ever publically address my side of the story.

It was at the court case, instigated by Jordan using the contract she signed with Hoberman for the use of Jack's films in her documentary ( a documentary I championed Jordan to make after she presented me with phoney information about her non-existant human rights films..She has, in fact NEVER completed a film until this one on Jack.Try googling her name...all you get is her work on this film of Jack and her self aggrandizement as an award winning filmmaker but with out one shred of proof.Inagine an award winning film maker without one review or credit anywhere on the internet )It was through Mary Jordan that I became aware of evil as Jack defined it.Some people like Jack continue to teach you and torture you from beyond the grave.

The stress I was under with that court case and the slanderous lies circulating about me and my partner in the archive Jim Hoberman pushed my health over the edge as it did Jim's . We both had serious illness in these past few years, in my case Hepatitis C , previously dormant became very ,very much AWAKE when i started dealing with Jordan, always ready to bring a fivolous lawsuit since she has endless finacial resources to hire lawyers .When I returned from court Jan 30th 2003 after a hearing in front of Judge Eve Preminger that lasted 6 minutes where our side of the case wasn't even heard, I had to go to bed for 3 days...with what my immigrant italian mother Anotinette Parisi would have diagnosed as the EVIL EYE. I had felt fine before I saw them at court and then after court where i ws exposed for an hour or more to their direct evil vibe I felt as if I had been in a car accident..every muscle in my body seized up. That was the level of the stress and the palapable feeling of evil in the court room.

Later in the press, in The Village Voice and on NPR , like everyone else we learned the history of the court case . Jordan took the contract for the use of Jack's films , which the Plaster Foundation archive signed with her (for $13,000 for up to 40 minutes of film,) and Jordan gave the contract to Irving Rosenthal ( Jack spent the end of his life in fear over Rosenthal getting his hands on his work which is the main reason why Jack left me in charge of his work)

Rosenthal then contacted Jack's sister, Mary Sue Slater , who Jack hadn't seen since 1953, and whom he had hired a lawyer to represent him against in the settling of heir Mother's estate in 1977...the rancour Jack felt towards her was well known at his death bed ...Jack didn't even want her notfied of his death, it was I who I contacted her out of compassion)

Rosenthal told her that Hoberman and I were , according to research done by Mary Jordan , SELLING Jack's work. Of course, the fact that we had never in 14 years sold ANYTHING of Jack's photos or anything considered his art work, and that the only people we would consider selling to were people who would buy Jack's work and donate it to major museums, The one person who wanted to do this was collector Kourosh Larodosh of LA..(a major collector of artist Mike Kelly) and he only wanted to spend $7,500 in 2000 for three major pieces of Jack's work, We had asked for $25,000 , hoping to be able to cover storage for sometime , with the hope tha twith the publicity after teh PS 1 show , a museum would soon accept Jack's work .. Every cent of rentals and any other monies that came into The Plaster Foundation, went only into restoration or storage fees but this idea was beyond Jordan's or the people that she was interviewing's understanding..anyway these are largely people who spread rumors, and jump to the conclusions of what they would do if they were in a similar situation rather than CALL AND ASK either me or Hoberman. Naturally I know the pool of people whom Jordan says she got this information from. Since I have been slandered by this same pool of people for years it wasn't a big surprise. Now I think people should know where their slandering , rumor mongering and self interest has gotten Jack 's legacy .

As of right now, a sale is pending to only ONE person which will leave Mary Jordan in charge of Jack's the time the cabal of people who thought they were protecting Jack's work from me by supporting Jordan figures out the reality of the situation...Jack's work will be completely compromised.

Why this situation , which can only be called an ART HEIST is not publically announced , and why there is not an open bidding among not -for -profit institutions for this body of work that I scraped the cat shit, and human excrement off of is very depressing to me. I saved nearly every piece of paper out of that hovel and as the saying goes, no good deed is rewarded.
I managed to hold on to that space and protect it from demoliton s for two full years while trying to to save the apartment and the walls which Jack had modified and painted.

Jack asked me to destroy his work, not metaphorically, but specifically in the month before he died, because he didn't trust the strength of the people who knew him to stand up against Rosenthal. I convinced him otherwise and now in many ways I am sorry I didn't just take everything for myself as I have been so often accused of doing and even I can now see why Jack asked me to burn it to avoid it falling into the wrong hands.

We at the Plaster Foundation learned through CCarr's article in the VV how this court case had come to be. The obvious case of Mary Sue Slater abandoning her brothers debts as well as his apartment and work was never considered in the 6 minute arraignment, and we were never able to present our case, reasons stemming no doubt from the actions of the Probate office to whom we went to for relief in 1994 and which is part of the Surrogate's Court.

Since Jack's death , I have had to put up with every kind of false allegation for the same one ever calls and asks..they just spread rumors, for instance, in 1990 when with the fear that the landlord was going to destroy Jack' apartment, which I spent almost one year then trying to save as a museum..(and I have the paperwork to prove it,) We very delicately attempted to remove the main mural of the salon. Afte hours of painstaking work we discovered that it was painted on two seperate sheets of rubber and plastered around and nailed on all 4 sides, the holes are still visible.

When some of the people who think they knew Jack best saw the two parts of the mural put up at Lincolm Center, (hello displayed at Lincoln Center as the honored art work, less than ONE year after jack's death after Jack was living and dying for nearly 20 years in poverty and obscurity) no one called me and asked why it was in two..they just immediately started saying I had vandalized it and cut it in two because I was what??? stupid ? no they said I was greedy and wanted 'two ' Jack Smith paintings.

So rest assured I was used to be treated in this way , despite my real attempts to recognize jack's friends and acolytes, despite the fact that Jack himself DID NOT WANT to recognize anyone else and only acknowleged me and Ira Cohen because after we suggested everyone he knew..we were the only names we HADN"T suggested to him..

I am accused of 'taking stuff out of Jack's apartment' , even when people knew full well that the slides and Jack's films HAD to be removed and were done so in front of Hoberman and with the help of Uzi Parnes. Mr Parnes then WROTE a letter to Hoberman , telling Hoberman where we had taken the film cannisters etc , despite the fact that Hoberman KNEW where Parnes and I were going when he left Jack's building.

No one mentions my letting Bill Neiderkorn copy all Jack's records, letting everyone and anyone document the space, or more tellingly, distributing Jack's ashes to his friends, something I had suggested and which he agreed to when he didn't know what he wanted done with his cremated remains. Lets take a poll and see who among these people had the nerve to ask Jack what to do with his body after his death???

. Nor do they ever talk about my opening the door to all who were his friends, whether they liked me or not , after Jack's sister took what she wanted out of the apartment, and then his friends took Jack's household effects. or my giving Patrick Pardo, the archivist at PS1 the names and numbers of everyone who were his friends and my distrbuiting Pardo's number to all is also forgotten.

Meanwhile , even Michael Oppedisano , eventually had to change his opinion on both my motivation and my actions after he saw the extent of what I saved and what was presented at PS1 1997-1998 and my dogged preserverence in getting Jack this recognition within ten years of Jack's death.

Some went around saying to anyone who would listen "Penny Arcade is building her reputation on Jack Smith." if that is even possible since the art world doesn't respect anyone who saves another artists work, from Baudelaire with the work of Poe on down, there is nothing in it except the satisfaction one derives from upholding ones own principals. Well, I shouldn't say that no one can make a career off of Jack Smith, as Mary Jordan is trying to do just that...Many have started to refer to her as "Jack Jordan" as she distorts Jack's ideas , creates 'art' of her own from Jack's work and changes some of the basic reality of his life with statements like "Well, we don't know if Jack was gay because he was very private..we know he loved women."

but I digress...the reality of the response to my accepting Frank Moore's offer to honor Jack at Lincoln Cnetr at Serious Fun in 1990 and recreating Jack's salon, with no commentary from me other than finding the where with all to create a beautiful high quality printing so that the art world would take Jack more seriously resulted in my being disparaged...even though I replicated Jack's salon on the very day my show Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore! OPENED it was the only day it could be done within union if ANY other artist would put their own work second, put more effort into a friends show than into their own, to create PUBLICITY for a dead artists or even a live artist!!!!

I was villafied..meanwhile many of Jack's so called friends and acolytes attended the tacky shows which Mary Jordan advertised "as the greatest collection of jack Smith's work since PS 1 retrospective, where she copied the scans of Jack's work she was given to consider for her film, endangering further the value of Jack's work, not to mention making 'bad 'art' (and I use the word 'art ' with great reluctance here ) she went on to 'copy' Jack's signature and do things with Jack's images that any one who ever knew Jack knew would have driven Jack into a murderous rage...yet there was never one peep from ANYONE from the group that villified me so petitions were sent around to be signed, no one objected to what Mary Jordan did with Jack's imagery ANY way, nor did anyone object to Mary Jordan saying she was a world authority on the work of Jack Smith, not one word from the people who jumped all over my name, who had legitamite insight into various periods of Jack's work and in some cases his personal life and artistic and political philosophy.

Mary Jordan, in cahoots with Albert Podell, the lawyer for Mary Sue Slater who was Irving Rosenthal's college roommate ,was able to go around NY and get people to cast many aspersions on my name and motivation however none of these people would go on camera with these charges, with these accusations, (the young man who originally worked on Jordan's film but later suffered a breakdown apologised to me after telling his ex girlfriend that "Penny Arcade is the villian in our film about Jack Smith" yet the support Mary Jordan got from many of these people, not only verbally against my history with Jack Smith , most of whom, had no idea how long I had known Jack, but with claims that I met Jack the day before he went into the hospital, that I stole his keys etc but they also supported Jordan with free donations of videotapes, photographs and voice overs of Jack, as Jordan convinced peopel of her poverty meanwhile she is every inch the trust fund brain picker who instead of sharing her wealth , hides her wealth off shore, claimng poverty , and claiming socialist and anarchist philosophy, plagues the truly poor and threatens and brings lawsuits like others pay for coffee at the corner deli. Just the type that Jack despised above all others , and these friends of Jack allowed Ms Jordan's rampant obsession of being the world authority on Jack and the sole true defender of Jack's grow and grow. Giving her greater and greater pwer with Mrs Slater who had absolutely no interest in Jack or his work once she revieved the $50,000 in bearer bonds which Jack gave me...which I turned over to her so she would not destroy the 'homosexual work" that she thought was garbage and should be destroyed" one stopped to think...why would I , who had no money, who is from a working class and impoverished peasant background, why would I have turned over $50,000 in bonds worth well over $250,000 on maturation (2012) while still paying $750 in interest each quater...which NON ONE ELSE EVEN KNEW EXISTED ...why would I have turned them over? why didn't I turn over $1,000 or $5,000...why all of it????Because I wanted to insure that Mary Sue Slater in her rage toward Jack's being favored by their mother, would not under any circumstances allow the landlord to regain the apartment to dumpster the whole place.
and I was right. She took the money and fled.

However, thanks to Rosenthal and Jordan, who convinced Mrs Slater that Jack's work was worth over $4million dollars and that we, Penny Arcade and Jim Hoberman had hidden the reality of this EXTREMELY VALUABLE ARTWORK, from Mrs Slater and were selling Jack's work left and right and had amassed a fortune .. offering as their proof the contract for S13,000 for up to 40 minutes of Jack's film (anyone who makes film knows the reality is that someone making a documentary would use only a few minutes of film.) Jordan who was completetly naive regarding Jack's work managed to convince Mrs Slater that Jack was a painter..and that I had removed all these valuable paintings that he had painted, as if Jack's apartment at 21 St Ave was hng like the Louvre!

After nearly 16 years of The Plaster Foundation carefully restoring Jack's work and never so much as buying stamps or buying a cup of coffee on money that came in from Jack's art work , while we attempted to raise Jack's artistic profile in order to attract the interest of a public institution in taking Jack's work in it's entirety while making it accessible to the public and to scholars, in comes Mary Jordan who was able in one year to create smear campaign that for some reason, once again , without any investigation , people who considered themselves friends and acolytes of Jack's bought lock , stock and barrel into her point of view and story in an unquestioning and wholesale way, giving Mr Podell more grist for the mill with acccusations of The Plaster Foundation selling Jack;'s work, stories of my "stealing" stuff from Jack's apartment etc. not to mention simply making accusation publically that were never made directly to us and consistantly undermining our integrity and reputations.

The reason why I went for two years trying to save Jack's apartment and his work that was on the walls but stopped at the point where I would have to perjure myself in court was because I knew if I lied in order to save Jack's work , one of these disgruntled, unthinking ,supposed friends of Jack would roll out the 'law' on me in a second , sacrificing Jack's work in order to prove that I had some ulterior, self aggrandizing or self enriching scheme in mind.

This is the same reason I didn't file the Will Jack asked me to write down as he dictated it,with Probate. The Will he dictated in front of Ira Cohen, which was later witnessed by Mitch Markowitz and Kurt Lavine, when Jack realizing he was truly failing in health and attempted to sign it, making his mark But here too people went after Lavine , causing him to question what he saw. Did people really want Jack work saved????

I knew that there would be people who would have issues that my name was in the Will . People did have issues that my name was in the will but these people never bothered to think through that the reason the Will sat around Jack's hospital bed was because it was JACK's WILL and he would decide if and when he signed it...while people went around afterwords accusing me , to Mary Jordan and others, of 'trying to get Jack to sign this Will" they somehow missed the fact that Jack was completely LUCID till the moment he went into his coma . How did that completetely escape peoples attention?
Everyone was able to read the will that asked ONLY that his work remain together in a not for profit foundation was also lost on people who were looking for the type of low behaviour
that some people imagined would be the only motivation .

However, now it is all ready to be revealed. A few months ago Mr Podell told us that out of the ether arrived a 'multimillionaire' unknown to him , who out of nowhere apparently read the VV story and wanted to buy Jack's work, there by satisfying Mrs Slater's need for money made from the sale of this 'garbage , of homosexual sexual content'. The story we had heard in CCarr's article about how there was a contract on the table by Mrs Slater (apparently made between Rosenthal and Slater for Rosenthal's help in going after The Plaster Foundation) that the work would be sold to the highest bidder of a not for profit and that the work must be kept together for the public and scholars . However over the past 5 months this agreement , this contract has disappeared ..this caveat that the work must be sold to an institution open to the public and to scholars has EVAPORATED. Just as the contract that Rosenthal apparently had with Mrs Slater for the work to be removed from The plaster Foundation Archive and placed in a not for profit museum has also evaporated.

Suddenly there is just one buyer for Jack's work, a private buyer , who will own the work privately and instead of $4 million dollars, the price is $1 million be split between Mrs Slater, the Plaster Foundation and Mr Podell and the lawyers ......somethng that even the greatest dullard who knew Jack would know would throw Jack into a murderous rage.

Hoberman and Arcade stated that in filed papers that they would forgoe being paid ANYTHING if the work would be placed in a proper public , not for profit institution open to the public and to scholars , where Jack's work would be featured not buried .However , this has disappeared from the public story of our relationship to Jack's work and legacy.

Oddly it turns out that the 'buyer' is none other than the producer of Jordan's film and Jordan's partner, Ross Morgan or as he calls himself in his new role in these transactions Ross James. .The story behind this is truly a drama.Podell claims to not know the buyer, the buyer uses two names and well it goes on and on.

When Mr Morgan or MR James went to inspect the Archive's storage for this 'miliion dollar' sale, he immediately wanted to know where Jack's paintings were..when told by our curotorial assistant Lisa bateman that Jack was not a painter, Mr Ross Morgan or James looked confused and asked where the paintings that Jack had been given by famous painters were..this of course stunning everyone if Jack had ever owned Warhol's or any other work by any artist.

Here you have it..Life is a cess pool.We must never take for granted the angels one meets. Do I regret my committement to Jack? No, however I see how deep my idealistic nature runs...I think of this as The Curse Of Jack Smith.

Indulge me as I explain..when Mitch Markowitz struggled to remove the mural in Jack's salon in 1990 when we were under te fear of having the landlord gut the apartment and Hoberman suggested I ren-mive everything I could while I could. The mura looked like it was painted directly on the plaster of the wall and Mitch stuggeled for hours and hours as MMSerra and I tried to help. Finally Mitch , covered in plaster dust finished. MMSerra perenially optimistic and cheerful chirped "See! That wasn;t so bad!"
"No " replied the terse Mitch..."Just hard enough so you know Jack Smith had something to do it."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Pajama Game

Just got home after my first gig at Parkside Lounge. Here in the studio..reggae plays softly in the background Francesco our guest from Rome, now a dear friend and a great painter is hard at work painting..he usually paints all night every day..
see his work at

Tonight I could hardly leave the house..after 4 and 1/2 hours of sleep last night I headed up to Mt Sinai to see Dr Alvin Tierstein..the pulmonary grand master as I try to get to cured from the cure I was on for Hepatitis C.

Tierstein has a Sarcodosis Clinic and research study on this elusive auto imune disease. People who know me who see in person know that I have had a Sarcoidosis like symptoms at the end of my Hepatitis protocol.

Dry cough, shortness of breath on exertion. last year this time I was doing 4 to 5 days a week of 1 1/2 hours of I could step up and down on a box for 3 minutes!!! The technician put me on oxygen!! Apparently the oxygen in my blood was going DOWN with excercise...tonight before my performance the great voice teacher (and singer) Barbara Meirer rightfully said she sensed that I wasn't letting go of carbon monoxide....yes!
Barbara and I met at Debbie Harry's party for Blondie's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame as the great Chryssie Hynde refers to it,and instantly were 'reunited' as if we have been friends for decades... the same night I met Josh Kilmer Purcell , one of my newest 'real 'friends ..check out his book
the whimsical and earnest "I am not myself these Days"

Anyway...I wasn't in the mood to go out, much less perform, much less leave my bed...I slept for three hours and then woke up at 8:15pm, gig at 9PM.....How do you do it??/people ask...always a question that vaguely annoys do I do it?? I just do it..there is nothing else to do in order to do it except to do it!

I decided since I don't fit in ANY of my clothes since I gained 20 pounds from the meds (everyone else loses 20!! it is not often nice to be special believe me!)
That I would wear satisfied the part of me that didn't want to go out plus it gave me a look!!!!!!as well as a theme! I could wallow a bit in the fact that I am still unwell, invalided in many ways and scared that I am not going to get well.

Now that I am healthier I have to face a thought I was few of the people who I thought were my friends took my illness seriously or how few of them who knew I was going thru it ever addressed it. I spent 6 months virtually alone with just a few people checking in on me. I didn't care when I was sick because in a way who wants to see anyone when they are sick? Any way I am a loner in a big way but the truth is between the people who avoid anyone who is sick or in need and ones who think you are over, a loser or in some way not of use , and the ones who are afraid of sickness and is quite stunning.

Of course there are the people who did try to help me.But after all my criticism is of myself, how I continouously make excuses for people who do not show up for me because I do't want to accept how much I cover for people so I don't have to face the truith about my relationshop with them. Of course everyone has the same issues and problems as I which is why I feel I can and should talk about it here.

Today is the first day of the rest of your..huh?


Today is June 6th 2006 or as 50 percent of America likes to call it 666
the mark of the devil..there are born again Christians all over America wondering if today is the day they get pulled out of their cars on the freeway and up into the arms of Jesus.

Truly, even for me, a glittered in the lame' Zen-Buddhist-Sufi- Kali-Karma-Franciscan-Carmelite' it feels like the end days..or as I find myself frequently asking.."Will it never end?"

Just a glance at the news and I want to head for a secluded strip of rainforest or mediteranian mountain strong hold.Which I am going to do anyway at the end of July.
get me out of this country, it is like a car without a driver.
Plus , in NY me and alot of people can't breathe between some as yet un-named pollution, higher than ever allergins and with apparently no city planning...we have a building per block going up or being torn down..the air fetid with dust, dried rat juice and different enviormental hazards.

meanwhile many of you ask me about the Jack Smith keeps fullfiling Jack's fears..that hippie munchkin Irving Rosenthal of the legendery Kaliflower San Francisco SSI comune that was the nesting ground of Cockettes and others who were influenced by the brilliant but disturbed Rosenthal.It was Rosenthal who gave us Mary Jordan, the supposed film maker who has brough the world her version of Jack Smith's life. I refuse to see it until it is in open release..I can't deal with seeing her in person..not that I have ever recognised her, she morphs constantly but I hear she's blonde like me these days..her emails to me "I have found no proof in my research that you ever knew Jack Smith" or her phone calls "Look you love Jack as much as I do" ??????? yeah MJ except unlike you I KNEW him and I don't go around trying to rewrite his life...the latest from her after film talks.."the answer to wasn't Jack gay ? is "We don't know for sure..he was very private about his sex life ??????) and "he loved women too!" While I suppose this belief made the film palatable for Jack's homphobic sister who Jack managed to avoid from 1953 till his death in 1989..Jordan has rewritten history making Mary Sue Slater and Jack Smith as close as ..well, as close as Jack Smith and Penny Arcade!!! oh except in Jordans world view Arcade NEVER knew Smith..I guess that is why the legendery monster Jack Smith,chose Arcade to attend him at the end of his life...Arcade who 'didn't know' Smith seemed to be the only one who could talk Jack into returning to the hospital..Smith who kept most of the people who worshipped him in a constant state of fear for their lives...

So the latest is that a "millionaire' has emerged out of the mists to 'buy' all of Jack's that Jack wanted desperately to stay he didn't want locked up in a vault. Why is there only one buyer??? who knows? Have the museum's who have shown so little interest since Jack's death in 1989 been made aware of this 'special sale" ??? meanwhile these undereducated Smith aficionados who have been oriented by Mary Jordan, who feasted on never proved or publically stated slanders
regarding the archive I altrusistically created for Jack's work 16 years ago up for the first look at the Plaster Foundations
storage space where all Jack's work was returned after it's 1998 retrospective at PS1 where the work was archived from 1992-1998 when the show went to the Warhol Museum.

The Jordan hand picked buyer shows up to the storage space demanding to know where Jack Smith's paintings are..of course anyone who knows anything knows that Jack was a filmmaker and performance artist...and the main thing he painted was his 1st street and First Avenue railroad apartment which he struggled to remake into the set for his never to be filmed master piece SIMBAD IN A RENTED WORLD'

I spent two years trying to save Jack's amazing work at 21 First Ave...were any of his so called acolytes interested in saving this master work? no, no support for that. "Why bother ?" said one of his former acolytes (who Jack had told me crossed the street when she saw him) "Jack's dead!"

Jerry Harding , the famed painter, set designer and costume designer who often worked with Jack as well as with famed Playhouse of The Ridiculous founder John Vaccaro revealed during our interview in January for The Lower Eastside Biography Project (watch it every wednesday at 10:30pm on Manhattan cables channel 34 or rcn 112 or live streaming on he had once met this 'performance artist" with Jack and when Jerry Harding inquired about her Jack said, "She crosses the street when she sees me..she is afraid that I am going to stab her egg sack!"

So here we are poised on the edge of the Art Heist of the downtown art my essay on the last days and last hours of Jack Smith for is on my website under FRIENDS.

Their next visit is here at my studio to look at the negatives Jack asked me to keep from Irving Rosenthal..among the other ephemera that I saved from Jack's fetid and rotting apartment.

Do you think I was naive to hand over the $50,000 in bearer bonds to Jack's sister to insure that the homophobic sibling would not destroy the life work of her brother that she deemed "garbage". Jack made me promise to not give his sister you think I am going through this nightmare for 4 years as Jack's punishment for defying him???
Note I recently contacted old Dyke in the Box, Lori E Seid, who many of you will remember from Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore's tours around the world. who has worked with Rosie O'Donnell since she stopped touring with me ...Lori produced TABOO , the underated musical about the lives of performance artist Leigh Bowery and singer Boy George. If anyone can save Jack Smith's work for te public it would be our magnificent warrioress Rosie O' to hear her VIEW!!!!

Tomorrow is 666....June 6th 2006..the day this site truly launches.
I will be doing a kick off show at PARKSIDE LOUNGE East Houston at Attorney St (god knows I need an Attorney! where is the great Ray Dowd????
Show starts at 9PM and s free and follows with the great Chris Rael unveiling his new Band of Billies

Feel free to respond to my rants..i will print know Penny Arcade -Full Disclosure!

feel like I am leaving something out..but of course i have so much more to say...