Archive for Slipper Room

“Mad Jenny’s Weimar Girls” is Back Tomorrow Night!

Posted in Contemporary Variety, Indie Theatre, PLUGS, Women with tags , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2017 by travsd

Tomorrow night: run, don’t walk, to see Mad Jenny’s Weimar Girls at the Slipper Room! It’s your last chance, at least during the present run, and the Slipper Room is the perfect, magical venue for this absinthean elixir of a show.

I have watched Mad Jenny (Jenny Lee Mitchell) marinate this delectable suaerbraten over a period of several months and it’s just gotten richer and more rewarding as she continues to develop it. Ostensibly a revival of Weimar Era Berlin cabaret, she’s tweaked what once might have been Hitler patter into Trump patter with disconcertingly little strain. We live in scary times. But the beauty of her show, and the beauty of the environment: you begin to understand escapism, even if she’s constantly making sure you don’t forget.

She’s also got a full band behind her now (trombone, piano, drums and bass, I think?) and Jenny herself plays clarinet. And (much like Company XIV, another favorite outfit of mine) she’s found a way to integrate neo-burlesque in a way that is true to her historical vision, elevating popular art to something that seems very elevated indeed (literally, in the case of Miss Ekaterina’s aerial act). Faux Germanic Jenny sings throughout, sometimes drawing from the historic songbag (Brecht/ Weill and Mischa Spoliansky mostly) and sometimes she twists modern stuff like Blondie or the Eurythmics into a post-modern pretzel. Jenny is a world class clown and mime herself, so she has her own physical bits that accompany the songs, and on some of the numbers she accompanies her talented terpsichoreans. My favorite thematic numbers in the show were something called Milk Maids, devised by Djahari Clark, which seemed like one part Von Trapp Family, one part Russ Meyer; and another number that evoked silent German Expressionist horror films. Tomorrow I imagine she’ll have more of the same, and I hope she (metaphorically) kicks Donald Trump Jr good and hard in the balls. “Ve must vip you mit ze riding crawp, Dawnald, Ja?”

Tickets and info here. 

 

 

Last Words on the Wedding (From Soup to Nuts)

Posted in Contemporary Variety, ME, My Shows with tags , , , , on October 17, 2016 by travsd

Okay, “last” is probably a bit optimistic, cuz pix are still trickling in. But since we pretty much inundated social media with images all day yesterday I just wanted to assure those friends who are probably already tired of it that the deluge is just about over! However, there are folks who only follow us here on Travalanche, and this seemed the best place to lay out the whole story.

My new wife (and long time significant other) is the illustrator Carolyn Stewart (nee Raship). 

I slipped a little bit about our first date (in early 2010) into this post on Henry VIII a few months ago. Henry VIII — now THERE was a guy who got married.

Back in August Carolyn and I tied the knot in a civil ceremony at City Hall, with two close friends Hope Cartelli and Jeff Lewonczyk along as witnesses. You can read more about Hope and Jeff in this profile on our friend Nina Mansfield’s swell web site Not Even Joking. Most of these photos are by Hope and Jeff:

Look! We drew the clerk at Window 13! How Addams Family!

Look! We drew the clerk at Window 13! How Addams Family!

 

The "ring" (we drew them on with Sharpies)

The “ring” (we drew them on with Sharpies)

 

First kiss as 'usband and wife

First kiss as ‘usband and wife

 

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Post-wedding brunch with Lewonczyk and Cartelli

Post-wedding brunch with Lewonczyk and Cartelli

So that was phase one — the legal marriage under our belt. We’d been together six years and it seemed about time.

Phase two was the public wedding ceremony. We wanted to share this bond with our friends and family and celebrate with them as well, so on October 15 we held a succession of events on New York’s Lower East Side, a combined wedding ceremony and vaudeville show at the magical Slipper Room, and then a continuation of the celebration at Paulaner Brauhaus, on the Bowery. The event mixed thematic elements of Halloween, surrealism, fairy tale, and Oktoberfest…just because we like all that stuff and it’s mid-October. Apologies in advance for not identifying some of the photographers — all were taken by friends at the event (I amassed them all in a file and lost track of who took what).

Our wedding officiant was the intoxicating Kelly "Killy" Dwyer. L-R, we have my female "best man" Hope Cartelli, me, Killy, my bride, and Maid of Honor Nora Lockshin

Our wedding officiant was the intoxicating comedic performance artist Kelly “Killy” Dwyer. L-R, we have my female “best man” Hope Cartelli, me, Killy, my bride, and Maid of Honor Nora Lockshin

 

After this, we took vows. Carolyn said “yes” to vows I wrote for her (perhaps the first wedding vows in history to contain the word “cockroaches”).

Carolyn went with an even broader definition of the concept of “vows”, painting them on cardboard signs for me to “agree” to:

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Here they are in close up:

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Bride whispers to me her secret vow

Bride whispers to me her secret vow

 

The deal is sealed with the ceremonial drink of wine

The deal is sealed with the ceremonial drink of wine

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We are declared man and wife by a Mock$star

We are declared man and wife by a Mock$star

Then Killy sang her new up-to-the-minute song “Vagenda of Manocide”.

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I don’t have video of her at the show, but here’s the official Youtube video:

Then I launched the vaudeville show. Photo by the artful Moira Stone

Then I launched the vaudeville show. Photo by the unfailing eye of Downtown Duse  Moira Stone

 

Poor Baby Bree performs "The Wedding of the Painted Doll" from "Broadway Melody" (1929), written by Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed, accompanied by Franklin Bruno (not pictured). This song was used in my first dramatic performance, in a first grade school play. More on that here.

The one and only Poor Baby Bree performs “The Wedding of the Painted Doll” from “Broadway Melody” (1929), written by Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed, accompanied by Franklin Bruno (not pictured). This song was used in my first dramatic performance, in a first grade school play. More on that here.

 

Patrice Miller and Jeremy Barker perform "Two Bound, or How I Learned to Love the Coat Rack: A Surreal Vaudeville Dance" to the tune of the Velvet Underground's "She's My Best Freind

Director/ choreographer Patrice Miller and Jeremy Barker perform “Two Bound, or How I Learned to Love the Coat Rack: A Surreal Vaudeville Dance” to the tune of the Velvet Underground’s “She’s My Best Friend”

 

At this point in the proceedings I believe I gave an expurgated rendition of Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat"

At this point in the proceedings I believe I gave an expurgated rendition of Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat”

 

Lewoncyck and Cartelli sing Gershwin's "Blah, Blah, Blah" song (1931)

Lewoncyck and Cartelli sing Gershwin’s “Blah, Blah, Blah” song (1931)

 

 

Gay Marshall, premier Edith Piaf interpreter, sings "La Vie En Rose." There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Gay Marshall, premier Edith Piaf interpreter, sings “La Vie En Rose.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

 

I wrapped it up with a fractured version of "Froggy Went a-Courtin'"

I wrapped it up with a fractured version of the old folk classic “Froggy Went a-Courtin'”

 

Bride thanks everyone. Groom reaches for his pistol, as Lenin taught him to do (the bride must have mentioned the word "art")

Bride thanks everyone. Groom reaches for his pistol (the bride must have mentioned the word “art”)

Here’s the wedding and show in a short video prepared by our intrepid friend Nicole DeSmet: 

 

It was our honor to have our wedding cake made by the writer and artist Sarah Porter, whose new book "Vassa in the Night" is in bookstores now!

It was our honor to have our beautiful wedding cake made by the writer and artist Sarah Porter, whose new book “Vassa in the Night” is in bookstores now!    Sarah is pictured below.

 

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Cake gets distributed. The man taking a seat in the lower right is the great Hovey Burgess, one of American’s top circus historians, who camps out at that table at the Slipper Room almost every night

 

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A better shot of Hovey

 

Radio Free Brooklyn's Robert Prichard and Rachel Cleary arriving

Radio Free Brooklyn’s Robert Prichard and Rachel Cleary arriving

 

The Brick's Robert Honeywell and Moira Stone

The Brick’s Robert Honeywell and Moira Stone (see above)

 

Catherine Porter and Barry Rowell of Peculiar Works Project

Catherine Porter and Barry Rowell of Peculiar Works Project

 

L-R, Josephine Cashman, Sarah Lahue (back to us), Noah Diamond, unidentified Slipper Room staff lady, Bob Laine, Alyssa Simon

L-R, Josephine Cashman, Sarah Lahue (back to us), Noah Diamond, unidentified Slipper Room staff lady, Bob Laine, Alyssa Simon

 

Michele Carlo and Jennifer Harder

Storyteller and author Michele Carlo (“It Came from New York”) and clown/ musician/ performance artist Jennifer Harder

 

Family of bride and groom: L-R, Charlie Stewart and Manush and Michael Raship

Family of bride and groom: L-R: Son Charlie Stewart and Manush and Michael Raship. Writer Nina (Mansfield) Haberli in the row behind

 

Honeywell and Rolling Stone's Alexis Sottile

Honeywell and Rolling Stone’s Alexis Sottile

 

Son Cashel Stewart with Hali Chesher

Son Cashel Stewart with friend Hali Chesher

 

Paige Blansfield and Richard Lovejoy

Paige Blansfield and Richard Lovejoy (of the 2014 film The Widowers)

 

Carlo with documentary film-maker Heather Quinlan ("If These Knishes Could Talk")

Carlo with documentary film-maker Heather Quinlan (If These Knishes Could Talk)

 

From here the scene shifts to the beer hall:

Groom ceremonially taps keg

Groom ceremonially taps mini-keg

 

Todd Polenberg and Sarah Porter

New media artist and electronic musician Todd Polenberg and author Sarah Porter (see above)

 

Gyda Arber, Connie Wu

Gyda Arber, Connie Wu

 

Steve Sabaugh

Steve Sabaugh

 

Larry Desgaines w/ Carlo

Larry Desgaines w/ the ubiquitous Carlo

 

Painter T.L. Duryea

Painter T. Duryea

 

UTC #61's Edward Einhorn

Untitled Theater Company #61’s Edward Einhorn     

 

Gabriele Schafer and Nick Fracaro of International Culture Lab

Gabriele Schafer and Nick Fracaro of International Culture Lab

 

Author Kevin Fitzpatrick of Marxfest and the Dorothy Parker Society, and wife Chris

Author Kevin Fitzpatrick (of Marxfest and the Dorothy Parker Society) and wife Christina Hensler

 

Chris and Jennifer Daltry of Providence's What Cheer Antiques

Chris and Jennifer Daltry of Providence’s What Cheer Antiques

 

Bride and Maid of Honor

Bride and Maid of Honor

 

Me and my kiddos Cashel and Charlie

Me and my kiddos Cashel and Charlie

 

Happy bride and groom

Happy bride and groom

Lastly we went to the roof of our Lower East Side honeymoon hotel with some friends and looked at the rare Hunters supermoon and the beautiful NYC skyline. The perfect end to a perfect evening. There won’t be a similar moon in the sky until 2034!

 

Jim Moore’s Pix of the Recent Slipper Room Show!

Posted in Contemporary Variety, Indie Theatre, ME, My Shows, SOCIAL EVENTS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , on May 8, 2016 by travsd

The great and ubiquitous Jim R. Moore of Vaudevisuals.com came to our recent Slipper Room Show celebrating 20 years of the American Vaudeville Theatre, 1000 vaudevillians on Travalanche, and raising money for, and awareness of, the new version of I’ll Say She Is, opening at the Connelly Theatre on May 28!

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Your host Trav S.D., who appears to sending a secret signal to a confederate in the balcony

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CARLA RHODES & CECIL SINCLAIRE

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RICHARD FERIDUN & TAMMY FAYE STARLITE

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MOLLY POPE

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MATT ROPER AS CHICO IN A SCENE FROM “I’LL SAY SHE IS”

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NOAH DIAMOND AS GROUCHO

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SETH SHELDEN IS HARPO

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MELODY JANE

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Also in the show were: WILL HALL , JO “BOOBS” WELDONZERO BOYJONNY PORKPIE and NELSON LUGO.  We raised around a grand for the show and every little bit helps. Thanks to all involved. Another way to support I’ll Say She Is is to buy your tickets NOW! Do that here. 

A Night of 1,000 Vaudevillians! (A Benefit Show for “I’ll Say She Is”)

Posted in Contemporary Variety, ME, My Shows, PLUGS with tags , , , , on March 23, 2016 by travsd

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Much afoot! We’re nearing three milestones: 1) the 20th year of Trav S.D.’s American Vaudeville Theatre; 2) the 1,000th vaudevillian to be profiled on Travalanche; and 3) the brand spankin’ new production of our hit 2014 production, the Marx Bros.’ “I’ll Say She Is” coming your way to the Connelly Theatre, May 28.

To celebrate, we’ve looped it all into one event, with an all-star roster of talent not to be believed!

Save this Date for The Night of 1,000 Vaudevillians: April 20, 7:30pm

At the One and Only Slipper Room, 167 Orchard Street, NYC

On the bill we have none other than the following STARS:

TAMMY FAYE STARLITE!
MOLLY POPE! (with WILL HALL at the piano!)
JO “BOOBS” WELDON!
ZERO BOY!
JONNY PORKPIE
CARLA RHODES & CECIL SINCLAIRE!
NELSON LUGO!
THE CAST OF “I’LL SAY SHE IS”! (including MELODY JANE, NOAH DIAMOND AS GROUCHO, & et al TBA)

Hosted by the one and only TRAV S.D. (abetted and assisted by his diabolical yet unindicted co-conspirator Mr. PINNOCK. )

Magic! Comedy! Ventriloquism! Song! Dance! Burlesque! and Celebrity Impersonation! If we ain’t got it, it ain’t vaudeville!

Not to mention which WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE. So much star power, so much talent, I am afraid the stage will collapse beneath the weight of the supernova.

Tix are $10 general admission/ $25 for preferred seating. Get ’em here:http://www.slipperroom.com/event/1134553-guest-event-night-1-000-new-york/

Molly Crabapple: Drawing Blood

Posted in BOOKS & AUTHORS, Burlesk, PLUGS, VISUAL ART with tags , , , , on December 2, 2015 by travsd

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We’d say we are excited for our friend Molly Crabapple, but she doesn’t need our excitement. She is now officially an international global force of nature. Some people just tap into SOMETHING. It would be remarkable if she were just ONE of the many things that she is one of: an illustrator of genius; a visionary entrepreneur (whose franchise of burlesque drawing salons Dr. Sketchys swept the country like wildfire); and then a globe-trotting activist of a new kind. Who would think of attending earth-shaking historical events (e.g. the trial of Khalid Shiekh Mohammed) and drawing them in this day and age?

Her new memoir Drawing Blood (brilliant title) was released yesterday, and there is a launch event tonight at the Slipper Room.

Now, I often like to gloat that she is a fan of No Applause and she had even drawn me, as a character in her 2009 graphic novel Scarlet Takes Manhattan. The original is framed and hangs in our house:

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As part of the launch for that book, she and I and her collaborator John Leavitt did a joint event at the Museum of Sex.

So tonight, we will be going to the Slipper Room — I hope we can even get in! If we can’t (I tend not to be assertive about such things, because, who wants to be one of those people? I never do)…but if we can’t get in, the Marchioness has already acquired the book and we’ll review it here in a few days. Congratulations, Molly. You’re an astounding person.

Last Night’s Lower East Side Junket

Posted in Burlesk, Contemporary Variety, German, Indie Theatre, PLUGS, Singers, Singing Comediennes, Women with tags , , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by travsd

Despite yesterday’s oppressively nasty weather, the Mad Marchioness and I finally shook off our summertime torpor last night and poked our heads out into the world. It’s been months since we’ve done such a thing, and as often happens after such a hiatus, we stacked a bunch of activities into a single evening, helped along by convenient geography.

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First we went to the Slipper Room for a sneak peek at Jonny Porkpie’s new silent movie themed burlesque revue, The Stripteaser, featuring himself, Jo “Boobs” Weldon, Fancy Feast, Bastard Keith, Fem Appeal, Patrick Davis, and Polly Wood. It’s duly hilarious and we will be going back to see it again with all the bells and whistles tomorrow night. You should too! Info and tickets are here. 

Next we ate large piles of food at Phebe’s (without an “o”, never put an “o”), where we ran into performer Ione Lloyd, on her way to something at New York Theatre Workshop, I think she said.

Whereas, we were on our way to LaMama, for the launch event for their new downstairs theatre space. If I am counting correctly this is their fourth playing space, essentially a blackbox (in this case a brick box), brand spanking new and shiny on their basement level. Congrats to them! For an institution to still be vibrant and growing at this age! We saw artistic director Mia Yoo, producing director Beverly Petty, Cathy Shaw from the box office, and:

Nicky Paraiso of the Club at La Mama, and Linda Chapman, Associate Artistic Director at NYTW

Nicky Paraiso of the Club at La Mama, and Linda Chapman, Associate Artistic Director at NYTW

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Kids’ Art!

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Then finally, the climax of the evening, Mad Jenny and the Society Band’s debut at Pangea.   I had the terrifying realization last night that I have known, admired and worked with this performer for almost NINE years. Where that time went, I have no idea, but I felt like I saw it all in her performance last night, ideas she has been talking about and planning and trying out here and there over a long period — with this show as the glorious culmination.

With her beautiful singing voice, her clown training, her command of German, and her sharp sophisticated mind, this is a show only SHE could have put together (with her collaborators of course, but who but she could star in this act?).  It’s almost all Berlin cabaret material, by the likes of Brecht, Weill, Eisler and many others. Because her command is so encyclopedic and curated with such vision and focus the repertoire is much more esoteric than the usual “Weimar’s greatest hits” approach most performers tend to take when they attempt this kind of material. The one tune I knew was the “Barbara Song” from Threepenny, although in a different translation from the one I know best (the from the 1954 Broadway production.) Oh yes and she threw in a Eurythmics song which I vaguely recognized. I won’t tell you what she does with props in the show, because that would spoil lots of wonderful surprises, but among the many treats on the song list is a gay-pride anthem from 1921 called “The Lavender Song”, a 1928 abortion song, and a great feminist number from 1931 called “Chuck All the Men”. It’s not all political, but these stuck out — they’re almost a century old….and wow, they still need to be sung, a fact which is stunning, and damning.  But, really, the show was all highlights. When it was over, no one wanted to stop clapping or even let her go. She got two encores, and really the audience still wanted more after that. She’s already got more shows booked, but something tells me a proper long run will be in order once word gets around. People will want to see this and see this again. I would gladly go again already! To get more info on Mad Jenny and her upcoming shows go here. 

The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man

Posted in Burlesk, Clown, Comedy, Contemporary Variety, Horror (Mostly Gothic), Movies, Movies (Contemporary) with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2015 by travsd

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I had the highly pleasurable privilege the other day of catching a preview of James Habacker’s new movie The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man. Habacker is the full-on auteur of this magical confection: producer, director, screenwriter, and — in the guise of his alter ego Mr. Choade — the star.

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We’ve written about good Mr. Choade before.  He’s one of Habacker’s numerous hosting personae at his Lower East Side burlesque club The Slipper Room. Choade’s name is rich with meaning; I found this explanation very illuminating. Choade is a complex crossroads of the visual (a bit of Snidely Whiplash, a bit of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and the verbal (his vocabulary is studied, ornate, antique and quaint. not unlike W.C. Fields), and the musical (his speaking voice is deadpan and affectless, almost like a child in a school play, living in a jarring juxtaposition with the other two elements in punkish subversion). The latter element is what posits Choade in the present. He looks like he should tie damsels to railroad tracks; but he sounds like he just stepped off the IRT and only put on this costume so he could rob a branch office of HSBC.

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The film is a wonderful manifestation of the same sensibility that cooked up Choade. First, it uses Habacker’s club The Slipper Room as the primary location — it’s so perfect that it’s almost like he dreamt up the club just to be the set for this movie. If you’ve been there, you know it’s gorgeous, traditional, candy-colored, and evokes the great era of saloons, with more than a suggestion of the Moulin Rouge. In the film, the club too is playing a character…a combination burlesque club and Grand Guignol…and, baby, that’s a club I want to go to so bad I hope someone starts it.

Choade is the master of ceremonies and proprietor, aided by two henchpeople (Camille Habacker and Arthur Aulisi). Below them in the pecking order is a company of enslaved burlesque dancers who are kept in line through their addiction to a mysterious green patent medicine (the green suggests absinthe; the addiction suggests an opiate). The meat of the performance consists of burlesque dances culminating in ritual sacrifices in the Grand Guignol show, highlighted by silly but gory special effects. When the girls get too troublesome, the fake weapons are replaced with real ones and there’s a lot of blood to mop up. The end game is the feeding of souls to the mysterious Medicine Man (played by outsider artist Joe Coleman), who lives in a little cottage in the woods, just like a witch or a troll. (Since Choade himself keeps a little boy in a cage, he can hardly cast aspersions). The bargain is that if Choade can supply the Medicine Man with enough souls, he will be rewarded by getting to present the best show ever.

That, by the way, is the template for the Robert Johnson myth, and many a fairy tale. Habacker’s visual sensibility, combined with his strict crafting of his narrative does indeed give his movie a storybook quality, and like the best storybook stories (Disney, the Wizard of Oz, the German Expressionists) his film is a genre-defying mixture of comedy, horror, sex, fantasy, freak show, dream and cartoon. On top of that, he has top loaded the film with underground (and some mainstream) marquee names: Matt Fraser (from American Horror Story: Freak Show), his wife, the burlesque performer and choreographer Julie Atlas Muz, Lefty Lucy, Stormy Leather (and among the extras) Carla Rhodes, Gal Friday, Albert Cadabra, and countless others I’ve left out because I wasn’t taking notes. Our Goldilocks/ Snow White/ Dorothy in all this is wide-eyed young Linda (Jillian McManemin), who drops by the club one day seeking a job, much as a fly would drop by a spider web. The rest of the cast (except the extras) can be found here. 

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There seems to be something like a movement afoot, a cinematic school if you will, percolating out of the humid swamp of New York’s downtown performance community of which the burlesque and alternative (or “performance”) comedy crowds are subsets. I would include among this mini-movement Lola Rocknrolla and Rev Jen (and by god, I have an ever growing pile of scripts I wanna make, so hopefully I’ll join ’em in the trenches before I become worm food). These film-makers make me deliriously happy, reviving the freshness and freedom and attitude of the likes of Jack Smith and Andy Warhol and John Waters and the Kuchar Brothers — sophisticated, daring, bold, dirty, heroic, playful, defying category, defying the expectations of “the market”, essentially giving the finger to anyone who refuses to comprehend, even as it entertains the hell out of those those willing to go along for the ride. The existence of just one of these film-makers would make me hopeful. The existence of all three makes me confident and optimistic. Something good will come of this in the future.

Habacker’s film hasn’t been released yet, but when it is, I’ll be sure to trumpet the news here. Meantime, there are trailers. See them here: https://vimeo.com/118055482

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