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Quentin Crisp was an English writer and raconteur. He became a gay icon in the 1970s after publication of his memoir and the subsequent film, "The Naked Civil Servant." In 1981 and at the age of 73, Crisp transplanted himself to New York City’s Lower East Side. In 1991 in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Quentin named New York City performance artist Penny Arcade, as his “soul mate and anima figure” – the woman with whom he most identified. From 1989 to till shortly before Mr. Crisp’s death in 1999, their friendship blossomed and they took to the stage to perform a gospel of individuality and self-individuation.
For this excerpt from the 2 hour on-stage conversation on the meaning of life and then some...Mr. Crisp and Ms Arcade travel overseas to the elegant and historic Theatre an der Wien Opera House in Vienna, Austria.
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 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. LIKE us on Facebook and see the current cablecast schedule facebook.com/LowerEastSideBiographyProject
Her first book, "Bad Reputation", was published by Semiotext(e) / M.I.T. Press, 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.
For more videos from Penny Arcade and The Lower East Side Biography Project:
The Theatre of Penny Arcade
The Lower East Side Biography Project - Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia
Steve Zehentner: stage design/co-direction, video edit