The Lower East Side Biography Project - Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia

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New York Values, an autopsy on the death of Bohemia is told in the fragmented, disjointed vocabulary of today's culture. Music and movement collide with crackling observations that reveal the current commoditization of rebellion and explores the nobility of failure in a society obsessed with youth and success. New York Values is about the complex tapestry of art, criminality and iconoclasm that the great tradition of the 'underground’ is woven from. Miss Arcade creates an emotional, informative, an interactive theater piece that mediates through improvisational performance, storytelling, monologues, music, rants and dance to elicit a sense of freedom & individuality in the audience itself.

New York Values excerpt from New York performance at P.S. 122 features performers: Anna Curtis, Jeffrey Freeze, Jodi Wetzel, Patti Van Dyke, Kelly Webb, Julie Atlas Muz, Dirty Martini, Kenny Davis, PJ Mehaffey, and Pedro J. Rosado Jr.

This Lower East Side Biography Project episode was edited by Steve Zehentner.

Penny Arcade: A runaway at thirteen, a reform-school graduate at sixteen, a performer in the legendary New York City Play-House of the Ridiculous at seventeen, and an escapee from Andy Warhol’s Factory scene at nineteen, Penny Arcade emerged in the 1980s as a primal force on the New York art scene and an originator of what came to be called performance art. Arcade’s brand of high camp and street-smart, punk-rock cabaret showmanship has been winning over international audiences ever since.

Penny Arcade is the author of ten full length performance pieces including the mainstream hit Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore! Her work has been presented in venues as celebrated as the Sydney Opera House and as sordid as New York’s Pyramid Club.

With long-time collaborator Steve Zehentner, Arcade is the co-producer of The Lower East Side Biography Project, a video oral history project. The project’s biographies cablecast in New York City every Monday at 11pm EST on Time Warner Channel 34, RCN 82, FIOS 33, and stream live on Manhattan Neighborhood Network Channel One

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Penny's first book, Bad Reputation, was published by Semiotexte/MIT, and she was portrayed by Sex in the City actress Cynthia Nixon in the film, Englishman in New York, the biopic about her friend Quentin Crisp.

If there is an underlying thematic in all of Arcade’s work, it is perhaps this concern to advocate the full expression of our “life force”—creative, sexual, physically and verbally expressive—and to speak out against those societal and political forces that would repress such energizing self-realization.

– Stephen Bottoms, University of Leeds, U.K.

Steve Zehentner: New York Values design/co-direction/sound score; Video edit


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