Fourth Acker Award
ART & SCIENCE OF BOXING:
FEMINIST PORN GENRE:
PERFORMANCE ART COLLECTIVE
A TRANS MEDIA STORYTELLER:
CANDY DARLING ACTIVISM AWARD:
Theatre 80 St. Marks carries on a generational cultural function, which has helped to create the East Village from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. When Theatre 80 was first envisioned and built at 80 Saint Marks Place, the neighborhood of the Lower East Side was a blighted area and the term East Village had yet to be coined. We were among the first of the cultural institutions, which began the Lower East Side Arts Movement resulting in the neighborhood now being referred to as the East Village.
Beginning during Prohibition, 80 Saint Marks Place was a vital destination for performers of all kinds. Jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Harry “Sweets” Edison, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra performed here before Theatre 80 was established in the former nightclub. The tradition of excellence continues at Theatre 80 where the careers of many famous performers were launched. Some of the famous names are Gary Burghoff, Bob Balaban and even one of our ushers, Billy Crystal. During the 1970s and 80s as a film revival house, people were able to see vintage films on a movie theatre screen in an audience setting in Theatre 80. It was also visited by a host of great names in theater, many of whom left their names, foot and hand prints in the cement of our sidewalk. A partial list includes Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Winnie Shaw and Fifi D’Orsay. Recently, Joan Rivers added her name to the listof luminaries enshrined here.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation recently recognized Theatre 80 with the Village Award for its place in the history of the community. We remain relevant to the community, while continuing to recognize and uphold traditions. We present a range of productions from traditional forms such as Shakespearean theater and flamenco dance, to the cutting edge avant-garde and works from new authors. Our current Playwright in residence is SW STOUT. We have helped create new audiences by welcoming both public and private school groups for matinees and tours of the theater which have included schools from as far away as Toronto. We have also provided the theater for free or at reduced rates for community meetings, local film-makers, playwrights, 12 step meetings, memorials for members of the community and we produced a benefit for Japan Tsunami Relief.
With the dedication to making performing arts more accessible, Theatre 80 never stops evolving.
Welcome to LA. Alex Zapak, universally AKA the Countess, on her way him from London, at last reached the end of the passport line. UhOh! She had overstayed her Canadian visa by 16 days. She was put in a special line..” But it didn’t cross my mind that I had a problem until I had to get into a van and go to another part of the airport. My phone was confiscated. I was put in a room. The air conditioning was on and it was freezing. They didn’t see me until about midnight. An agent questioned me. How are you making money?” She said she had a small income.
Why did she travel so much? Why the move to New Orleans? And LA? “I said I had left New York because my heart was broken. I was writing and meeting musicians. Then I went to LA to get the sound on my movie done and ended up staying.”
The agent pounced. So she was working? “I said no. That’s what artists do. It’s not work. I’m not getting paid for it.” Grinding wheels. She was put on a London plane. Banned from re-entry to the US for five years.
Some prehistory. I met Alex Zapak in the Pink Pony. Long-gone. She is an artist/performer sans pareil. We ended up living together on Stanton Street. Where she fell five foot off a stepladder, busting a bone in her rear end. I took her to Bellevue. We were done. But remained close. Why had she gone to England.?
“Only to do the premiere for Captured. A film about ►Clayton Patterson. And a film called Dirty Old Town. I did the premiere at the Red Gallery on Redchurch Street in the East End of London. That was on October 28 2010. Mark Moore and Paul Sevigny were DJing. There was a performance by the Pogues at St Leonard’s Church on Shoreditch High. There were 150 people there. Duggie Fields … Princess Julia … Rusty Egan … London club royalty. And I did my London debut … the Girl with the Horse in her Hair … FairyTail Punk … Then I went more or less straight to Heathrow. I was travelling light. All I had with me was a dress, a horse’s head and a pair of knickers … “ A horse’s head? Knickers? What knickers?
“A rubber horse’s head. Crotchless knickers! Why? Silly man!”
Your fans need to know. How did you feel about leaving the UK?
“I was so happy to get out of England. I had just rented a house in LA. Did I tell you that I met Malcolm McDowell on the street there? And I mistook him for somebody who worked at the Chateau. He was so cross. My house was just off Sunset, next to the Mondrian. The Skybar looks right down on my pool. I wanted to start flash mobs so I had beautiful girls with bows doing synchronized swimming. Things were going so well. I was working with Not A Man Apart, one of the best theater groups in the country. They were going to make me a member of the company. I was using my house as my theater.”
You can do that? “If you don’t charge admission, yes.”
Alex had loathed Bellevue but taking her there had been a memory. So that’s where I chose to go when I busted four ribs a few months ago. The five years was up two years ago. She still can’t get papered up. Alex Zapak is a tremendous performer, and tremendously beloved. The US needs her. Please!!!
►Clayton Patterson on Feb12, 2017: Alex denied entry to America - even after 7 years. Alex Zapak - Acker recipient= Picked up by Anthony Haden Guest. Welcome to LA. Alex Zapak, universally AKA the Countess, on her way him from London, at last reached the end of the passport line. UhOh! She had overstayed her Canadian visa by 16 days. She was put in a special line..” But it didn’t cross my mind that I had a problem until I had to get into a van and go to another part of the airport. My phone was confiscated. I was put in a room. The air conditioning was on and it was freezing. They didn’t see me until about midnight. An agent questioned me. How are you making money?” She said she had a small income.
Why did she travel so much? Why the move to New Orleans? And LA?
“I said I had left New York because my heart was broken. I was writing and meeting musicians. Then I went to LA to get the sound on my movie done and ended up staying.”
The agent pounced. So she was working? “I said no. That’s what artists do. It’s not work. I’m not getting paid for it.” Grinding wheels. She was put on a London plane. Banned from re-entry to the US for five years. Now 7 years and same problem.
One winner is looking at becoming homeless.
With noted Avantgarde-artist ►Clayton Patterson serving as Presenter, the 2017 Acker Awards Ceremony was warmly acclaimed by a packed audience of fellow artists and arts enthusiasts. It was more of a happening than a ceremony. Initiated on the West Coast, and named after novelist Kathy Acker, the East Coast Acker Awards in 2013 was founded by Clayton as a means of documenting the extraordinary artistic activities in the lower east side of New York. Clayton champions and celebrates the leading edge of artistic development that has long been identified with the East Village.
The Acker Awards are named after novelist Kathy Acker, who personified the risk-taking and uncompromising commitment of avant-garde artists. A commemorative box containing original art works, replicas, and mementos created by the 40 winners along with their bios serves as the award icon handed to each recipient in the spirit of Oscars, Emmys, and other artistic awards aimed at celebrating excellence within creative communities. This award provides an enduring context for noticing and documenting the extensive creative contributions of the East Village artists.
Each recipient receives a commemorative box that contains original art works and mementos created by some of the 40 winners. Each year the box,includes booklets, bios and original works of art and ephemera. Previous boxes have contained a signed and numbered papier- mâche potato by Hapi Phace, a sculpture by Tom Otterness, a handmade book by Edgar Oliver, and other specially-created art works.
Flanking ►Clayton Patterson's stage presentation was the celebrated Phoebe Legere, musician and multiform artist, serving as MC of this event that had elements of spontaneous combustion. The energy of the artists and the audience was palpable, immediate and free spirited.
The evening was laced with impromptu performances, witty and insightful comments from Phoebe and Clayton, with an air of celebration in understanding that this event helps create and maintain community among a wide range of arts and generations from young and aspiring to venerate veterans who have established identities and domains through many struggles and challenges.
Many in the audience were former winners of the Acker Awards, suggesting that ►Clayton Patterson's vision of establishing a strong sense of community through the awards has become manifest, It is a monumental achievement to put together these awards, prepare the commemorative boxes, hire a hall, advertise and stage the event. Kudos to ►Clayton Patterson.
Even more impressive of this community of village artists is the diversity of practices, preferences, and artistic collaborations/creations spanning almost seven decades of explosive creativity. At one point when Lincoln Anderson and his work with The Villager was announced, Clayton took a moment to remind us that the Villager is on-line, and that its presence on the Internet makes it equal to all other publications in visibility. He noted that this publication is a record of the work of the community, urging that everyone add to the record by commenting on articles and postings.
This was an awards evening worth noting for the city, for the artists represented by these awards are carving out new terrain that resonates with change and the creation of new work. ... Oscar W
Immigration and border politics were unexpected themes at this year’s Acker Awards ceremony — an annual event to honor the pioneer rebels of the Downtown arts scene.
While most of the nation was home watching the Grammys, a packed crowd gathered at Lorcan Otway’s Theatre 80 St. Mark’s Sunday night to pay tribute to some of our local countercultural heros — the artists, poets and musicians who’ve made "outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways."
The Acker Awards were created in 2013 by documentarian ►Clayton Patterson. The name comes from novelist Kathy Acker, who lived both in San Francisco and the East Village, and whose work exemplifies the kind of risk-taking that defines a true "avant-garde artist," according to Patterson.
This year’s New York City event was co-sponsored by The Villager and Overthrow, the boxing gym that took over the former Yippie headquarters at 9 Bleecker St.
All told about 50 people received awards, so the audience was mostly past and present honorees and their friends. That gives the Ackers a real community feel — something like a high school reunion crossed with an East Village "greatest hits" variety hour.
Octogenarian scenester and writer Anthony Haden-Guest opened the night by honoring "Countess" Alex Zapak, a British performer and "c— rocker" who used to hold court at the now-defunct Pink Pony on Ludlow St. Some have called her the inspiration for Lady Gaga.
But Zapak couldn’t come collect her award in person because she has been barred from entering the U.S. since 2010, when customs officials cited her for overstaying a Canadian visa by 16 days.
Zapak was supposed to be banned from the U.S. for five years, but it’s two years beyond that and she still can’t get in, caught up in America’s border-police state.
So Haden-Guest accepted her award — a pizza box full of CDs, poems, art and other ephemera donated by the 49 other Acker recipients — in her absence.
At least Istvan Kantor was able to make it to the show. Last December, Kantor, who now lives in Toronto, was turned back at the Canadian border by U.S. customs officials, after they discovered a graffitied megaphone and hypodermic needles in his luggage. These were props for the "Neoist conspiracy" performance he planned to stage at the East Village release party for the long-awaited compendium he edited called "Rivington School: ’80s New York Underground."
But the U.S. border agents weren’t into his irony; Kantor said they detained him for three hours and grilled him on whether he’d visited any Muslim countries lately.
Admittedly, Kantor, a.k.a. Monty Cantsin, has something of a track record, having been arrested numerous times for splattering his blood on the walls of museums — the last was 2014 at the Whitney, when he got busted for defacing a Jeff Koons retrospective. This time Kantor left his needles behind and said he had no border issues.
"It was amazing," he told the audience. "Even the airline captain greeted me and said, ‘Thank you for your art.’"
Nevertheless, the fact that two white, non-Muslim artists could face such obstacles — even before Trump’s border clampdown — is troubling.
"How can we stop this constantly growing, infectious, control-freaking authority?" Kantor demanded. Aside from that, there was little politics on display, and scant mention of Trump — save for the comments of Lincoln Anderson, The Villager editor in chief, who when receiving his award for "Community Media" recalled the time he interviewed Trump in 2010 at the real estate mogul’s ribbon-cutting for his new Trump Soho condo-hotel.
"He was the weirdest guy I ever met. He gave me the weirdest interview," Anderson said, drawing laughter from the crowd. He noted that his item in the Ackers box was a column he wrote about that encounter.
Speaking right before Anderson, was another Acker honoree, Eden Brower of Eden and John’s East River String Band. Brower ended her acceptance speech with, "I can’t help saying this whenever I have a mic in front of me — F— Trump!"
The other "Community Media" award went to Lucky Lawler of the rock and punk zine NY Waste.
It being the Ackers, some of the award categories were quite eclectic. Sur Rodney Sur, who helped launch the East Village art scene with fellow gallerist Gracie Mansion — and who also helped
found the Green Oasis community garden — was awarded the Candy Darling Activism Award, for his role in archiving the works of artists who died of AIDS and assisting with their estates.
Appropriately, Sur accepted his box while donning a platinum wig that Darling — one of Warhol’s superstars — once sported.
Former sex journalist and performance artist Veronica Vera got the award for "Sexual Evolutionary" — for establishing the world’s first cross-dressing academy, Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls.
And boxing coach Carlito Castillo — whose grit and knowledge apparently inspired the creation of Overthrow Boxing — got the "Art and Science of Boxing" award.
Many of those honored have roots in the counterculture of the 1960s. Actor Marilyn Roberts was one of the original La MaMa troupe members. Magie Dominic helped preside over Caffe Cino, considered the birthplace of Off Off Broadway.
Photographer and WOW Cafe co-founder Jackie Rudin recalled being drawn to the Lower East Side in 1967, after hearing Bob Fass on WBAI.
"I feel very proud. This was my world," she told the audience.
Others were relative newcomers, like Anne Hanavan, a former sex worker turned lead singer of the band Transgendered Jesus.
"It’s just so incredible that the years on the streets selling my ass have turned into something good," Hanavan told the audience. "So it’s proof of art as healing."
Given the range of talent in the house, it’s surprising that the Ackers don’t feature much actual performance. We only got a brief tastes, like when soul rocker Felice Rosser of the band Faith took the stage and belted out a lick worthy of Nina Simone.
But it’s the community that comes through, the way everyone’s art and existence seemed to bounce off and inform one another. Rosser recalled working the night shift in the early ’80s at a dive on Second Ave. with fellow Acker recipients Charles Schick and Regina Bartkoff. She remembered how graffiti artist Michael Stewart used to come through after the Pyramid Club let out.
These subtle and not-so-subtle intersections are what the Ackers are about.
"The one ambition I’ve had is to try to save as much of the community as possible," Patterson told the crowd. He sees the Ackers as one way to do that. Recipients don’t get a plaque, but instead a box of artifacts contributed by other recipients.
Although the artists themselves often complain about having to supply 40 or more copies of their work to supply the D.I.Y. boxes, Patterson defended the concept.
"Over time, you get these collections of stuff and these booklets," he said, holding up the program. "It’s like building up an encyclopedia of bios — tracing out a family tree.
"You start making all these links between all the people, and so it describes the old community. It’s like building this community abstractly, which we were all part of," Patterson said.
The "booklet" Paterson referred to is the annual Ackers "chapbook," which contains photos and bios of all the honorees, and — as usual — was designed by Michael Shirey, The Villager’s art director. Each box given to the honorees contains a booklet.
"I’ve been in the East Village since 1980," remarked jazz flautist Cheryl Pyle, another Ackers ’17 winner. "I moved here with $100 to play jazz, and this means so much to me. The community is really all the arts, and when we combine we’re much stronger."
Alice Torbush another ACKER winner, in her box she put an original copy of Overthrow. That is a rare and solid connection to LES history. It is popssible that an Alice Yippee archive will be housed at #9 Bleecker . . .
hey clayton---i actually "collaborated" w/ R. Crumb tho i never met him. there's a series of trading cards called "Heros of the Blues" (i think) w/ his drawings of old blues performers. i designed and typeset the info on the backs. also did some typesetting work for the backs of album covers for Yazoo records that featured his band.---alice
As another side bar.. Keith Patchel another ACKER winner his box included a copy of the 100 books he created about the Plain Of Jars a chamber opera he created.
If one looks at the ►bio booklet in each box . . . the AKCER community is growing to become a full house of creative people . . . different from the Obies, Grammies, Oscars, which are for a specific creative category . . . the ACKERs represent the whole community . . . working to save a part of the whole of what was the creative community . . . wish me luck. ACKERS- working on creating the history and saving the history. thanks clayton