For many, many reasons. Do you know what to do if you are attacked?
Susan, we love you. Just look at that smile. But imagine not having any teeth. Show Brooklyn some love on Saturday?
Jamie was hit by a drunk driver in 1995 and lost most of his teeth. Since then, it has been a difficult road to pearly whites, so he has challenged the public to a ping pong game during his 15-hour attempt to raise $35,000 to have a normal mouth again. He’s a really nice guy and I have known him for a few years now. Despite missing his teeth, he is always smiling. Even the Gothamist comments have been kind, and I know you might remember when some jerk called me a “slutmuffin” for riding the subway and helping people in my spare time (it was at that moment I heeded your advice to “never read the comments”).
Please help Jamie get teeth on Saturday! Donate via PayPal here, or come to B61.
Do the right thing.
More information and gory stitches picture
There was a time in my life when I transitioned from being a ball of fire on the loose and hurdling through Greenwich Village to a ball of fire with more of a sense of belonging due to the opportunities I took or created for myself. I’m in the midst of a new kind of transition now, and it is forcing me to reflect back on those times when I was more of a projectile. Back then I also realized that toxic relationships, no matter how intense the passion is that draws two particular ill-suited people together, are just not worth it. This goes for friends, lovers, family, bank tellers, doctors, neighbors and anyone else you regularly interact with. It’s great to learn these things on the first go (usually in our 20s) and remember them; somehow these “tests” of our maturity and evolution seem to continue, according to my living grandmother, at least into our 90s.
I had a boyfriend during this time who worked in advertising and had a penchant for late nights out drinking and partaking in what we New Yorkers refer to as “booger sugar”. Needless to say, my patience regarding our “lifestyle differences” wore incredibly thin toward the end of our three-plus year on again, off again relationship. The final straw was him phoning a prostitute from the Yellow Pages one night with friends after a bachelor party. This brings up two interesting notions, one that in New York City you can order a hooker much like ordering a Dominos pizza even though it is illegal (the girl not the pie), and two, that a person would typically think the bachelor party itself is what a girlfriend has to worry about. Not the case. Unless we’re talking about a very wealthy and generous best man or a bachelor party of creeps, most Joe Schmoe stags almost never end with anyone but the groom getting some sort of special attention, although for some especially brazen douchebags, the otherwise innocent excitement of the groom’s “last night out” only fuels their bad decision making after the party bus is in park and the good little boys have turned in for the night. (How I came to find out about this incident includes a dream that morning of my deceased grandmother screaming at me in Italian about him, but that’s another story for another time.)
To his credit, said bad boyfriend – and although a bad partner he is not a bad person, just not the person for wonderful me – supported my, at that time, burgeoning transition from producer to performer and the explorations in combating my crippling stage fright which ensued. While his spiritual epiphany included LCD Soundsystem, CB2, the Chicago Cubs and “deliverables”, mine were more public, visual and artistic. I had organically evolved from years of being a writer to being a producer, and was blindly careening into uncharted territory that I was terrified of, but very good at. I can’t say that he understood the gravity of what I was doing, and he definitely didn’t talk to me in “artist speak” about any of it. He had no feedback and just went along with my stream of consciousness much like a dead fish but with more smiles and nods. The more I evolved, the less I could tolerate our increasingly banal discussions, and a constant argument was that he was “creative” in his field but not an “artist” and this was a fundamental difference that was unable to be resolved. However that misplaced passion between us didn’t allow for this rational understanding of our incompatibility to prevail, and instead of ending it, he instead consistently failed to measure up to my level of standard and passion as well as making the most of out this life, exploring one’s Self, taking healthy risks, following through on one’s word and not staying out Friday night until 11am Saturday partying with other people in advertising when we had a bike ride scheduled for noon…all very predictable and boring. But I do give him credit for being incredibly patient with me, too.
When I first became a character every day with Alice Cooper on his radio show, “Mistress Kitty” the celebrity dominatrix who wanted to be taken seriously as a broadcast journalist, there were times when she would pretty basically leak out unexpectedly. And no, not in the bedroom, more like while cooking dinner; a lacerating wit from over the counter, crossing a street, passing the butter. In time I learned how to effortlessly step into and out of that character without her taking over my life or getting me arrested, and it was during these years Alice really taught me the difference between character and persona. Not many people can coach you on persona like the King of Shock Rock. I am so grateful, and I am sure that most of the people I know and love are thrilled that I’m not wielding a riding crop at brunch in 2011.
Eventually, bad boyfriend started ribbing me about the publicity I was getting. I learned from him that unabridged sarcasm is often a defense mechanism and protects people from actually opening up (this was also predictable and boring). But people liked my work, and better yet, they liked talking about it. I was finally getting some of the feedback I was so hungry for outside of Kitty fan mail from those who were incarcerated or driving a rig and listening to the show. So I developed a routine (which I still do) of coming home and seeing what is new out there in the world reflecting what I am putting all of this heart into. Eventually the “what are you doing, looking up pictures of yourself on the Internet again?” got more and more frequent. More and more snarky. And I came to realize that what this person was doing was destructive to who I am and my purpose on this planet. He was making me feel badly about what I do as – even today – an undefined artist. It isn’t easy or safe to try new things and challenge oneself, but if a person is so inclined, New York City is probably one of the only places where the magic of chance and opportunity still breeds; where you can fail miserably and think about leaping off the Brooklyn Bridge one day and get on a subway and meet your soul mate the next. It is crucial that we surround ourselves with those who share a vision and values about “live and let live”, who totally believe in what we are doing with our lives and who appreciate the way that our lives complement the lives of those around us like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Even though two corners are extremely opposite, they are still connected by all of the pieces in between them.
All I can say is that I am happy to report bad boyfriend has been in a relationship for a while now (and for the record I think it’s fine not to be friends with all of our exes) and more importantly that I was absolutely thrilled to come home tonight and check out the world premiere of the Art Brut video director Alex De Campi asked me to be without some guy giving me a hard time about looking myself up on the Internet. It could be due to my upcoming birthday and that I have been reflecting on the path I took to get where I am today, how lucky I am to still be up and running around and taking calculated risks when and where I can, avoiding toxicity when and where I can and that I am so grateful for realizing the precious value of my uniqueness and abilities before I let another “Eeyore” take a leak in my Cheerios.
Every person on this video shoot was an important part of the puzzle Alex De Campi saw in her vision of the piece. And I am so thrilled to be in a music video with a unicorn! The nine-year-old girl who lives inside of me is beaming. But most importantly, to those of you who believe in me and my work, in all of its uncategorized glory, thank you. I think it is law that “you’re only as good as the people you work with”, and I hope my next year of existence brings even more electric collaborations and captivating experiences.
Good, now that that’s out of the way, let’s have some fun! “The MENSA of variety shows” is back. This will be quite a happening and we all hope you will attend to share in the magic combination of complimentary absinthe, comedy and more dangerous movement than plate tectonics can shake a continent at. Yes, there will be a hula hooper, a wonderful human with wild hair, a Goddess, a madam, a trumpet, a bass and surprise performances that promise to thrill and delight.
Featuring the music of Chet Baker, Julie London, Tom Waits, Rilo Kiley and original live music and language arts by Reggie Watts. Attendance prizes will be drawn. And no, we weren’t kidding about the complimentary absinthe. It’s local, artisinal, small batch and made with home grown ingredients. And it’s appropriately called “Meadow of Love”.
Entry for the evening is $11 and supports the participating performers. Bios and further information about our cast can be found here.
CENSORSHIP IN 2011!
Upon residing in Gotham for as long as I have, I am exposed to “the N word” on a daily basis. And no, I’m not talking about “neurotic”. The flurry of media attention regarding one educator’s mission to publish a revised version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, replacing the word “nigger” with “slave”, has me concerned about the overall integrity of our culture. As a Caucasian, that word has always been at the root of many a controversy during intellectual albeit heated conversations among my peers. Personally, it does not exist in my own vocabulary. But following the lead of Mr. Alan Gribben, the champion of this new and censored publishing of the applauded literary masterpiece, why stop there?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could “edit” the word “nigger” from the subways, bus stops, bodegas, streets, sidewalks, popular music and overall vernacular of our urban communities? Or how about just walking around with a big, Fascist bar of Ivory soap for the mouths of those who use it? I can’t believe the whitewashing of history I am witnessing. This editing, to me, is a dangerous revision of American history and a smite to to the written words of an author who is not alive to defend his work.
Thankfully, I was able to locate one witty quote on censorship from Twain in a letter from 1902 to the Denver Post regarding the banning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the Denver Library. It was also published in the NY Tribune one week later:
“There’s nobody for me to attack in this matter even with soft and gentle ridicule–and I shouldn’t ever think of using a grown up weapon in this kind of a nursery. Above all, I couldn’t venture to attack the clergymen whom you mention, for I have their habits and live in the same glass house which they are occupying. I am always reading immoral books on the sly, and then selfishly trying to prevent other people from having the same wicked good time.”
The best example of intelligent discussion of use of this word, to me, can be found from the mouth of comedian Lenny Bruce. In the 1974 film Lenny, Dustin Hoffman recites Bruce’s speech on the subject, verbatim. The controversial Bruce was first arrested for obscenity in 1961 after a performance at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco after using the word “cocksucker”.
Regularly the victim of censorship and being banned – despite our First Amendment right to free speech – in April of 1964 he appeared twice at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, New York. Undercover detectives were present in the audience, and Bruce was twice arrested immediately after leaving the stage with complaints again resting on his use of various “obscenities”. The good news is that on December 23, 2003, and 37 years after his death, Governor George Pataki, in “a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment”, granted a posthumous pardon to Lenny Bruce. It was a landmark decision, and the first in New York history.
Here is Dustin Hoffman appearing as Bruce in the film (unfortunately embedding of the video has been disabled, but I encourage the reader to click the link here and to comment on this blog post below): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOnkv76rNL4
And for those unaware of details of the current editing of the novel, here is the article in full:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Mark Twain wrote that “the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter.” A new edition of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” will try to find out if that holds true by replacing the N-word with “slave” in an effort not to offend readers.
Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a combined volume of the books, said the N-word appears 219 times in “Huck Finn” and four times in “Tom Sawyer.” He said the word puts the books in danger of joining the list of literary classics that Twain once humorously defined as those “which people praise and don’t read.”
“It’s such a shame that one word should be a barrier between a marvelous reading experience and a lot of readers,” Gribben said.
Yet Twain was particular about his words. His letter in 1888 about the right word and the almost right one was “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
The book isn’t scheduled to be published until February, at a mere 7,500 copies, but Gribben has already received a flood of hateful e-mail accusing him of desecrating the novels. He said the e-mails prove the word makes people uncomfortable.
“Not one of them mentions the word. They dance around it,” he said.
Another Twain scholar, professor Stephen Railton at the University of Virginia, said Gribben was well respected, but called the new version “a terrible idea.”
The language depicts America’s past, Railton said, and the revised book was not being true to the period in which Twain was writing. Railton has an unaltered version of “Huck Finn” coming out later this year that includes context for schools to explore racism and slavery in the book.
“If we can’t do that in the classroom, we can’t do that anywhere,” he said.
He said Gribben was not the first to alter “Huck Finn.” John Wallace, a teacher at the Mark Twain Intermediate School in northern Virginia, published a version of “Huck Finn” about 20 years ago that used “slave” rather than the N-word.
“His book had no traction,” Railton said.
Gribben, a 69-year-old English professor at Auburn University Montgomery, said he would have opposed the change for much of his career, but he began using “slave” during public readings and found audiences more accepting.
He decided to pursue the revised edition after middle school and high school teachers lamented they could no longer assign the books.
Some parents and students have called for the removal of “Huck Finn” from reading lists for more than a half century. In 1957, the New York City Board of Education removed the book from the approved textbook lists of elementary and junior high schools, but it could be taught in high school and bought for school libraries.
In 1998, parents in Tempe, Ariz., sued the local high school over the book’s inclusion on a required reading list. The case went as far as a federal appeals court; the parents lost.
Published in the U.S. in 1885, “Huck Finn” is the fourth most banned book in schools, according to “Banned in the U.S.A.” by Herbert N. Foerstal, a retired college librarian who has written several books on First Amendment issues.
Gribben conceded the edited text loses some of the caustic sting but said: “I want to provide an option for teachers and other people not comfortable with 219 instances of that word.”
In addition to replacing the N-word, Gribben changes the villain in “Tom Sawyer” from “Injun Joe” to “Indian Joe” and “half-breed” becomes “half-blood.”
Gribben knows he won’t change the minds of his critics, but he’s eager to see how the book will be received by schools rather than university scholars.
“We’ll just let the readers decide,” he said.
Hello, world. It’s me, Kiki. The one who parodies our popular culture, doesn’t watch television or listen to commercial radio. I don’t buy InTouch Weekly (but will peek during a pedicure if the NY Times crossword puzzle isn’t nearby) and certainly didn’t mean to make a fuss. Really. However I think it’s funny that all this time I fought the label of “burlesque performer” because I already thought that, to describe my work, it is not an entirely accurate pigeon hole. And here I am making the tabloid news because I am honest-to-God withdrawing from it and moving on to what most of my mentors and close creative genius friends have suggested all along: a one woman show. To be honest, the concept doesn’t quite grab me. People might think it is stand up. And let’s face it, going to see stand up in New York these days, much like many things in this ever-evolving new New York, is just not what it used to be. That just isn’t going to work.
So instead, and based on the uncensored concept that made the Sunday Show such an underground-cum-public success, I am going to reconnect with my unique style of entertaining the public through topical, somewhat controversial performances and observational humor through a new “One-ish Woman Show”. I am always inspired by how the way I see the world translates, with the help of spectacle performances, to and before an interested audience. It’s medicine in a sick and twisted world. And you’ll see real burlesque (but not from me – the adorable outfits will be staying on from now on!) Admittance will not be selective but instead, limited.
The new year will bring, as usual, more unexpected performance art than you can shake a dollar at. And speaking of, I’m still not going to charge $1000 to see it (ah-hem, you know you are, venue I’m referring to). The type of art that people can afford and relate to is what I want to continue to provide in 2011. I have a fire lit beneath me, and it’s burning off my garter belt.
Perezhilton.com neglected to mention that The Sunday Show had a residency at The Slipper Room on Orchard Street in New York City before it closed. We are doing the anniversary show at Ella because construction on the new theater is pending. I, of course, would love to bring something back to the space that James and Camille Habacker created to delight audiences and give performers a space to work out their concepts. We’ll see how things progress.