Le Petite Versailles is a lovely little garden in the LES that hosts the performance series Summer Nights on Jupiter. It’s curated by novelist, poet and performer Stephen Boyer, and this week features readings and performances by Wo Chan, Tommy Pico, Ariana Reines and Pamela Sneed. The organizers are saying that rain or shine the show will go on. I just checked my Mac’s weather App and it looks as if it’s going to be pretty sunny, so I don’t think they have anything to worry about. If you are unfamiliar with any of the performers I’d suggest doing a quick google search. There’s not enough space here to lay out a full bio for each of them, but needless to say they’re all super talented and accomplished in their own right. GAYLETTER doesn’t promote talentless hacks, now does it? xo
John Early (pictured without a hat) is a funny and talented young man we met a while back (he hosted a Fire Island Performance Series benefit that we were involved with) and was a pleasure to be around. John has become the regular host of Showgasm. As he told us, “It’s a variety show!” Basically John MCs and Hamm Samwich DJs. Hamm is the “Robin Quivers” to John’s Howard Stern, always there to ground John “with her startling intellect” he yammers on too much. Each show they have a bunch of special guests. This week there’s “SNL’s John Milhiser” (he was actually fired from the show today — fuck ‘em boo, it happens to the best of us) ”food exhibitionist Thu Tran (of IFC’s Food Party — Ina Garten meets David Lynch), burlesque revolutionary Bruce Bundy (of The Hunger Games), truly gorgeous LA comic Nate Craig, chanteuse Grace McLean and dancing fools DNA Comedy.” It’s only $5 to get in, so you really have no excuse not to go. John also wanted us to mention that “unlike most events listed in GAYLETTER you will not leave feeling cold or terrorized by the art community.” You Cunt!
The hilarious and cunt performer Chris Tyler emailed us a while ago to tell us about this new play he’s helping produce. The play Who Are You? Who are We? What is This? is an “interactive and immersive experience to find yourself.” It’s performed by “two awesome writer/performers,” Daphne Gardner and Carl Holder (both pictured) — I don’t know much about the lead actors, but just look at that boy’s lovely right nipple! Hi nipple! Chris told me that the plot of the play goes like this: “two struggling writers try to get their shit together before their rehearsal but get overwhelmed by their shitty jobs, overbearing mothers and low grade desperation... it’s dealing with the unique kind of millennial melancholy one experiences in their late 20s...” Sounds interesting, but honestly, after seeing that nipple I was already convinced! Click here for tickets.
Who doesn’t love a picnic? Pack up the wine, cheese, deviled eggs and a bag of cherries and head over to Prospect Park tonight around 7:00PM, lay down your blanket and pop that cork because the fucking NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC is putting on a free concert that starts at 8:00PM sharp. I’m bringing some lovely tomme de savoie, a baguette and a bottle or two of organic Malbec that I plan on having all to myself, unless you’re cute in which case I’ll share.
The program for the evening will include some Strauss, Smetana (Widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music, I googled) and the overture fantasy from Romeo and Juliet, by none other than Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I also hear, although it may be a rumor, that there will be fireworks. The brilliant conductor and music director of the Philharmonic Alan Gilbert will be at the helm so be assured it will be an impeccable night of music. Arrive on the early side to secure a good spot, I’m sure the savvy New Yorkers will come fast and hard for an opportunity like this!
FREE, 8:00PM, Prospect Park at the Long Meadow Ballfields.
Penny Arcade aka Susana Ventura has been absent from our social calendars for a while. Now I know why. Penny has been on a massive, non-stop tour of Europe, but this Saturday she’s back in NYC and performing at Joe’s Pub for the first time in 3 years. She’s bringing us a new show ‘Longing Lasts Longer.’ Her performances are always wonderful, invigorating and full of truth, but it’s often hard to pin down a theme or a topic. Not that she needs to be that formulaic — she generally just unleashes her brilliance upon the audience, and the audience sits back and takes it, gratefully. However here’s what we have been told to expect: “An evening of dangerous ideas and radical inquiry by the undisputed Queen of Underground Performance into what it means to be human, right now! Right here!” Sounds like the perfect way to spend Saturday night. Welcome home my dear.
I once heard someone talking about how the ultimate goal for all humans is to be shameless. Because when you think about it, being shameless, meaning free of shame, is true freedom. It’s the greatest, purest state to live your life in. It’s weird that our society attaches negative connotations to that word. And it’s time we took it back. This event is a good start. It’s a “showcase of bravado, absurdity, love, death, sex and filth brought to you by renowned producer Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl.” The night is hosted by a fellow Aussie, the “Drag Idiot” Shivannah. You can expect performances from some shameless legends like Amber Martin, Captain Kidd (AU), Trixie Little & The Evil Hate Monkey, Glitta Super Nova (AU, pictured), Jenny Rocha & The Painted Ladies, Diety Delgado, Dee Dee Luxe, Cheeky Lane & more! It’s all going down at Drom, an unusual, but surprisingly spacious space on Ave A. Get your tickets in advance and save some cash. You gotta be shameless about these things.
A week of thought-provoking queer performance workshops
As the big rainbow-touting holiday that is NYC Pride approaches, now is as good a time as ever to take a look back at the history of queer theory. Queer theory is the branch of sociology that surfaced in the 1990s out of queer and women’s studies, postulating the idea of ‘queerness’ itself in the monumental work of writers such as Judith Butler, José Esteban Muñoz, David Halperin, and many, many more. These writers’ manifestos and theories challenged contemporary social mores and brought queerness into the realm of critical thought, which is historically one of the most essential ways we’ve managed to come as far as we have in politics at large. So, naturally, any opportunity to overlap theory with actual practice is something that should always be taken advantage of. Lucky for you, one of those opportunities is available starting this week: organized by dancer, choreographer, and arts organizer Li Cata, What Is Queer Performance? is a set of workshops made by and for queer artists, bridging ‘queer writing practices with queer body based practices‘ in performance-centered classes.
Housed in the Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, the workshops are all performance-based, but not in the sense you may think. Performativity, in its theoretical meaning, is the “capacity of speech and gestures to act or consummate an action, or to construct and perform an identity.” So for What Is Queer Performance?, queer artists will be touching on “text, sound, witchcraft, impulse, free association, and movement” to inspire, teach, and provoke your inner performative instincts and bring them to the forefront. The workshops are led by Luke George, Mariana Valencia, Jaamil Kosoko, Tatyana Tenenbaum, Iele Paloumpis, and Marissa Perel, and they all sound crazy fantastic. Improvisation based on a group of random items? Blurring the lines between sound production and movement? An astrology-based dance workshop focusing on inclusion of all kinds of bodies? Yes, please.
Tickets are only $10, so go buy one to any/all of these workshops and make good use of those queer theory electives you took in college.
Workshops start June 11 and run through June 14. More information can be found here. Space is limited.
New York City Ballet is impeccable. My dear friend Beth took me to see a classic night of Balanchine repertoire last week for a belated birthday gift and to my surprise there was one piece choreographed by rising star Justin Peck that rocked the house. So good even that style maven and fashion director from Vogue, Tonne Goodman, seated just a few rows back from us (yes I was staring), seemed impressed. Lucky for us NYCB’s season ends this Sunday with a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream based on the Shakespeare play penned in 1595 with a score by none other than Felix Mendelssohn. Not knowing much about the play I was intrigued to note that “Midsummer Night has long been associated with love and magic. In European folklore it is the one night of the year when supernatural beings such as fairies are about and can interact with the real world.” A perfect premise in the hands of genius George Balanchine to create an ethereal and timeless ballet that holds up some 50+ years after it premiered. I say dress up, way up have a bottle or two of champagne with your fellow dance lover and get your gorgeous asses up to the Philip Johnson designed David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for a night to remember, even the cheap seats are fierce!
Dancers, boyfriends, unique individuals.
MADBoots is a New York based dance company, founded in 2011 by Austin Diaz (right) and Jonathan Campbell (left). The boys wanted to create an all-male exclusive dance troupe that pushed the boundaries of masculine identity in performance art. Their work is dramatic, impassioned, sexual, and athletic. GAYLETTER chatted with the dancers about how MADBoots was born, their relationship on and off stage, and the company’s upcoming June performance, BEAU.
How would you describe MADBoots, and how is it different from other dance companies?
Jonathan: There aren’t a lot of male-centered dance companies in NYC, so that kind of makes us different. But beyond being all male, we like acknowledging both the masculine and feminine qualities of being a man, which I think aren’t always acknowledged in dance. In conventional dance companies, men have to be the macho ones, partner with the girls and lift everyone. There are so many different sides of being a male artist, and we really try to acknowledge that with a unique movement vocabulary.
Where did the name MADBoots come from?
J: We wanted something that was different and something we thought people might remember because it was sort of odd. The name is partly inspired by Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. In the book, Oskar, the little boy and narrator of the story, says he’s in heavy boots when he’s sad. So, we thought of being in boots as a kind of a state of mind or state of being. And madness is just being crazy, so we smashed those ideas together and made a nonsensical word.
When did you each start dancing?
Austin: I started when I was 10 years old at a local studio in New Jersey. I did tap jazz, and ballet until I was 18, then I went to NYU Tisch and studied there for three years. I joined Sidra Bell Dance and met Jonathan, and we started creating work together.
J: It’s pretty similar for me. I was about nine, and my younger sister was taking ballet class. I would have to go sit at her studio after school, and one day the instructor there put tap shoes on me. I decided I hated tap, so started doing jazz, I then went to a performing arts high school, then on to Julliard, and then joined Sidra Bell.
Did you guys ever date? Or are you just friends?
J: Oh no, we’re not friends.
A: We’re not friends!
J: Why, does it seem like we’re just friends?
I don’t know! I didn’t want to assume or be invasive. Well, I did want to be invasive, that’s why I asked.
A: Thank you.
J: A lot of people usually can’t figure it out
A: A lot of people think we’re brothers, which I think is so bizarre.
Is it a challenge to bring your relationship into the work space?
J: Oh, yeah. Totally.
A: Sometimes we have to stand on opposite sides of the room. But through that conflict we always find a stronger idea.
J: I say black, he says white, and then we find some gray middle ground to work on.
Which one of you is the serious one, when it comes to cracking down and getting stuff done?
A: I think we both are.
J: I guess I’m more of the disciplinarian, the one that’s like “shut up.” But he’s stricter with going through the material and nitpicking and tearing it apart. We are both assholes sometimes.
Both of you have experience teaching master dance classes. How do you incorporate the themes of MADBoots into your lessons? Or is your work separate from your teaching?
J: Physically, we try to bring really athletic material to the class and challenge students physically, but not always thematically or conceptually. We try to use music, or a section from the piece we are working on, so they get a taste of what’s going on.
A: It has been challenging finding ways to introduce the ideas we use in performance in the classroom. Some thematic elements we use in MadBoots are just not appropriate to teach.
What are these inappropriate themes?
J: Some of the sexuality issues existent in the work.
A: It can also be somewhat violent sometimes, and that’s not okay to bring into a classroom. We don’t want anyone to get injured while taking a dance class. So we water it down a bit.
Out of all the places you’ve traveled, what’s been particularly special?
A: They’ve all been special.
J: Canada is really cool, because we’ve got an audience base there. But as far as memorable, it’s Italy. We flew there a few days early, so we got to sit at the resort and do absolutely nothing.
Do you have any naughty stories from that trip?
J: Someone from Bulgari presented an award to us and spoke in Italian and we had no idea what he was saying. So we looked like idiots.
That’s not very naughty.
J: I don’t know! It was fun sitting by the pool…They like to wear…not much.
A: Yeah. Everyone is in Speedos.
So did you bring tiny little bathing suits too?
A: No we did not. We didn’t know we were going to have so much time, honestly!
J: I don’t think I have the confidence to wear one of those anyway.
A: Shut up.
The dancers during the rehearsal for their world premiere of ‘ACADEMY,’ with David Norsworthy, Garth Johnson and Eli Bauer.
You had your first full evening performance last summer. What was that like?
J: It was a little scary, because we weren’t sure if anyone was going to come. There was a lot of new things happening for us, but it ended up being really great and we did an encore performance for Pride Week.
What’s next for you guys?
A: Our next show is called BEAU, and it is a duet between Jonathan and I. It’s inspired by text on suicide and drug culture, and deals with the vibrant delusion and numbing loneliness of death.
Also upcoming, we will be be attending Springboard Danse Montreal in June as Emerging Choreographers, Teaching in Toronto in July for Ignite, a program run by TOES for dance, and performing at Socrates Sculpture Park in August. The company was granted a week long residency by Norte Maar to begin a new work.
The king of “showbiz” Mr. Murray Hill is back, performing a new show as part of Marxfest at The Cutting Room called ‘You Bet Your Ass.’ For those of you not familiar with Marxfest it’s “a series of events celebrating the lives and work of the Marx Brothers, all taking place throughout the month of May, 2014, in New York City.” The show is presented by Thirsty Girl & Porkpie International. “After being interviewed by Murray in his own inimitable style, contestants compete to win 1950s-level cash prizes in this saucy live game show…” The show also includes “commercial breaks” and features the announcer Jonny Porkpie, the pick up artist Melody Jane and of course it’s not a Murray show without some burlesque dancers. Expect the burlesque stars Trixie Little & The Evil Hate Monkey, Lady Scoutington and Anita Cookie. The tittle of the show may mention ass, but as you can see they’ll be serving plenty of pussy too!