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Comedy Dance Darinka Exhibit Film Music Performing Arts Photography Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals Interview with Gary Ray – “Darinka”

Darinka Membership Card

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Alien Comic and DanceNoise at Darinka Flyer from 1985.

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Darinka interior archive shot.

‘They Might Be Giants’ performing at Darinka.

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The archives from Darinka were donated to The Fales Library & Special Collections at NYU. Here is a Biographical/Historical note from the archives.

Darinka: A Performance Studio was opened on April 21, 1984, by Gary Ray Bugarcic (aka Gary Ray). The club served as a venue for artists of all disciplines, including performance, theatre, music, dance, film, video, fine art, and poetry and prose. In keeping with the Eastern European roots of the East Village/Lower East Side, the club was named after Gary’s mother, who was Croatian-born. Darinka is a derivative of the Slavic word dar, meaning “gift.”

The club was located at 118 East First Street, two doors down from Avenue A, and had a speakeasy type entrance under the residential stoop of the building. Up to the late 1970s, the space was used as a local Italian Social Club until a fire destroyed it. During the renovation of the space, all the old charred beams were laid in the backyard to provide an urban rustic wood patio enjoyed by patrons during the hot summer months. The interior of the club had a small proscenium stage that was described by many as looking like a live television. A variety of local painters such as James Romberger and Mark Kostabi showed their work on the walls of the club until the permanent murals and stencils were painted. Regular performers included They Might Be Giants (considered the house band), performance artist Steve Buscemi (still a fireman when he started performing), Karen Finley, Jack Smith, Charles Long, William Pope L., Kembra Pfahler, Nick Zedd, Anna Deavere Smith, and John S. Hall. In addition, there were many writers who read during the Sunday prose and poetry nights, including Darius James, Patrick McGrath, Hal Sirowitz, Lynne Tillman, Mark Dery, Nina Zivancevic, Peter Cherches, Bob Holman, Ira Cohen and Taylor Meade.

On June 29, 1985, the NYPD raided the club during a mushroom party and performance by artists David West and Andy Somma. Gary Ray and the bartender, Robin Clements, were arrested for operating an unlicensed bottle club. Several months later Darinka reopened as a private club with Randy Lee Hartwig and John Gernand as managers. As a private club, each new member would fill out a membership application card upon entrance. The application cards were kept in a file near the door in case of a police inquiry. Membership cards were also distributed.

Darinka was the first home of “The Church of the Little Green Man.” The church was founded by conceptual artist Mike Osterhout and had its first service in December of 1986. Darinka closed in May of 1987.

Articles mentioning Darinka have appeared in The Village Voice,  New York magazine,  Performance,  East Village Eye,  Toronto Globe and Mail,  The New York Times, and  The Drama Review (Spring 1985). The club is also acknowledged in the documentary  Gigantic: A Tale Of Two Johns.

Gary Ray Bugarcic, a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, has worked as an actor and stage director in almost every downtown New York theatrical venue. As a musician, he played in several bands, including State of Desire and The Academy, which performed regularly at CBGB and Danceteria before opening Darinka. After closing the club he toured with Karen Finley in her play  The Theory of Total Blame and worked with The Ridge Theatre Company as well as with Kestutis Nakas and in Jeff Weiss’s “Hot Keys.” He has also appeared in such indie films as Todd Haynes’  Poison and  Desperately Seeking Susan.  New Blood magazine published his poetry in the 1980s and his “3-D Lenticular Photographs of the Eighties” have been shown in several New York City galleries, including the Participant Gallery.

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Here is a calendar list that Gary provided me to give an idea of the lineup that appeared every week at Darinka in 1985.

1/4, Ted Sputnik & his Orchestra plus the music of Kid Ego (Gary Quasar), plus performance with Mike Smith.

 1/5,  Show of Force, films and performance w/ Richard Kern and Brian Moran.

 1/6,  Short stories & Poetry w/ M.Kasper, Kennon Raines, Sadik Sedan (Sedik Grice), Bruce Benderson and Lisa Blauchild.

 1/11, performance w/ Leonard Grendel in “Do You Want to Fight $11,750,000 ?” plus music w/ Tom Cora.

1/12,  Accordion Summit # 2 presented by Zeena Parkins w/ the B’Z’s Squeezes and Billy Swindler and the Happy New Yorkers. Also Guy Klusevek performed.

 1/13,  Poetry w/ Robert Kendall and friends.

 1/18, They Might Be Giants, plus the music of Bond Bergland.

 1/19,  Films by Mark Kehoe including; “Revenge of the Amazons,” “Metal Madam,” and “The Naked Hiptress.” Plus performance w/ Michael Smith and the music of Burnt Orange.

1/20,  Poetry w/ Amy Shaipiro & friends with Sharon Gannon, David Life, Sue Ann Harkey, Judy Berger, Eric Eddy, and Stephen Paul Miller.

 1/25, Performance w/ Cindy Frawely’s  “War Dreams,” plus video & performance w/ Steve Thurston and James Minnis.

 1/26,  Directart Productions Ltd. Present A Cavalcade of films. “Three Step” & “Minute of Mystery,” animation by Joey Ahlbum and “Bass Line” & “Devil Movie’ by Barry Masterson, “Dapple-Grey’ & Dirt Road” by Leslie Pascel-Laufer, “Soul City” by M.Henry Jones, “Bloody Stump” by Michael Wolfe & Sidney Gilbert. “A Portrait of the Man’ by Fabio Roberti & Directart Films. Plus 2 films about the local band The Jickets; “Good Lovin’ Guitar Man” and “Heterosexual Love” by Directart Films.

 

1/27,  Celebrate Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Birthday “ The Disciplines of Distress” a play by Greg Masters & Jeff Wright w/ Elinor Nauen, Doris Kornish, Francesca Shrady, Blair Breard, Jeff Wright  and Greg Masters. Plus readings by Carla Liss, Don Yorty, Mayer, Hamilton and Mastersschiff.

 2/3,  The Tweed Theatre presents: Tzara’s “The Gas Heart.” Directed by Kevin Malony. Plus Club 86’ed w/ Mike Golden, Bob Riedel, Meegan McCombs, Rusty Hoover, Janet Cannon, Phil Herter and Mike Schwartz.

 2/8,  music and dance w/ Gregg Bendian, Ned Rothenberg, Sally Silvers and Pooh Kaye.

 2/9,  “A Hollow Venus (the Diary of a GoGo Dancer),” performance w/ Heather Woodbury.

 2/10,  Hard Boiled Night of Readings curated by Peter Cherches w/ Bill Dupp, Jim Strahs, Lee Eiferman and Sue Weinstein.

 2/15,  Nancy Cassaro’s “Be My Valantine” w/Otis Jah Baker, DeWitt Mebane, Jennie Moreau, Mark Nassar, Hal Simons and Moira Wilson.

 2/16,  Barbara Lehmann’s “Physical Education” performance concerning her medical history.

 2/16,  Music – Hugo Largo- w/ Mimi Goese.

 2/23-24, They Might Be Giants plus performance with Watchface.

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Thanks to Gary Ray for this interview!

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Categories
Comedy Dixon Place LaMaMa etc Music Performing Arts Photography PS122 Story Teller Television The Kitchen Vaudevisuals Interview Video Writer

Frank Maya – A Tribute – Video/Essay/Postcards/Interviews

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FRANK MAYA

Frank Maya: Out There By Victoria Linchong

Frank Maya once said that he turned to comedy “as a way to make the world safe for me.” The first openly gay comedian to appear on MTV and all three major television networks, Maya’s candor and wit helped pave the way for greater acceptance of homosexuality in mainstream media. As ABC News noted in a 1993 introduction to Maya, “Until recently, comics who wanted to succeed in show business never ever admitted they were gay. And they certainly never used their homosexuality as a punchline.”

Maya was born in 1950 to a middle-class Catholic family in Long Island. His Irish and Colombian background later became fodder for much of his comic material. A gifted musician and vocalist, he found work playing in cabarets and folk clubs after graduating from Hofstra University. In the mid-1970s, he met director John Jesurun and began venturing into the alternative music scene, then dominated by the Talking Heads and post-punk New Wave.

Fronting a band called the Decals, Maya became known for satirical songs that combined Latin-infused pop with absurdist poetic patter. Several of his songs also used toy instruments, recorded sound, or found objects such as scissors or a jar full of pennies. In one song, the refrain consisted of Maya shouting, “Pancakes!” with a recorded voice responding, “They’re ready!” Impish and whimsical as his songs were, they also were biting commentaries on consumerism and the banality of everyday life. His lyrics also revealed a quirky way with rhymes, “When you’re home for the holidays do you realize your dog looks upset? Does he realize during dinner, he’s simply the household pet?” The New York Times praised him as “a wacky pop iconoclast with enough star quality to have earned comparisons to performers as dissimilar as Laurie Anderson, David Byrne and Peter Allen.”

Maya was part of Jesurun’s legendary serial theater piece, Chang in a Void Moon, when it premiered at the Pyramid Club in 1982. His music performances had always verged on theater with interludes of acerbic monologues he called rants. In the mid- 1980s, he began focusing more on his rants, joining a growing cadre of solo performers such as Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, and Karen Finley, who were similarly examining American society through a personal lens.Pacing around the stage, he tackled pop culture, gender issues, and the mundanity of existence. Thirty years before the current outcry over the lack of minorities in mainstream media, Maya was commenting, “There’re a few movies like Cotton Club where they take all the black actors who’ve been out of work for ten years and put them in the same film… People say, ‘See we’re making progress.” His three-hour-long solo performances were performed at P.S. 122, La Mama, Dixon Place, the Kitchen, and Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun series. He also toured the mid-Atlantic states and performed in Germany.

During that time, Maya was known to paint his ears gold, perhaps to distinguish himself from other solo artists. He soon found a much more authentic way of differentiating himself. While Maya had made a few allusions to his sexual orientation in his music and his rants, he had never been completely overt about his homosexuality. His former partner Neil Greenberg believes that an anti-gay incident may have radicalized him. Whatever the cause, Maya began boldly declaring his homosexuality in 1989. At the same time, Maya was also realizing that he could achieve wider public attention by rebranding himself as a stand-up comic. “In New York they call me a performance artist…” he remarked in a 1989 Washington Post article, “But if you ask the Washington audience after my show, they’ll say, ‘He’s a stand-up comic.’ I always feel that my stuff is misinterpreted — it’s very funny, but it’s got serious points in it… But I’m not afraid of being considered a comedian as long as people like Lily Tomlin are considered comedians.”

Maya made his first openly gay appearance on HA! Comedy Network in 1990. His breakthrough to mainstream media happened at a pivotal time when the AIDS crisis was at its peak. Maya’s self-deprecating humor was a refreshing antidote to the widespread alarm in both the general population and the gay community. Here was a good-looking man without any effeminate traits, talking simply and naturally about being homosexual. “Comedy is about really being truthful,” he stated, “People are hoping the comic will tell them everything. So how can you hide your love life? It just seems impossible.” Though he joked about people in his audience who looked mortified, he said he rarely had hecklers and added, “”I guess people are still recovering from the fact that they can’t believe what I’m saying.”

Throughout the early 1990s, Maya appeared regularly at Caroline’s Comedy Club and MTV’s “Half-Hour Comedy Hour.” He also starred in his own half-hour special on Comedy Central. His last show Paying for the Pool ran at the Atlantic Theater for eight weeks. It was described as, “A one-man show in which Maya talks about his childhood and coming-out experiences.”

Maya was diagnosed with AIDs in 1995 but continued to perform. In The Queerest Art: Essays on Lesbian and Gay Theater, Carmelita Tropicana remembers him at a conference for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) four months before he died. Despite a high fever, he did his entire set and had to be persuaded to go home early. Although friends were tearful over his impending death, Tropicana recalls, “[Frank] hated the tender sweet image of white helium balloons flying up to the sky in memory of those who have died of AIDS. He was angry, he wanted something loud, an uzi, a bomb to explode.” An upfront iconoclast to the end, Frank Maya was 45 years old when he died.

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Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.47.12 PM1986 Postcard for Frank’s performance at CBGB

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Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.49.45 PM1986 Postcard for Franks Maya’s performance at LaMama Cabaret

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Frank Maya at The Kitchen1990 Postcard for Frank Maya’s performance at The Kitchen.

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Frank Maya’s Music

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FRANK MAYA ACCORDING TO HIS FRIENDS: Uncut, Unexpurgated, Unabridged

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Postcard for Franks Maya’s performance at PS122 – 1989

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Frank Maya - Paying for the Pool 1993

Postcard for performance at Atlantic Theater – “Paying for the Pool” 1993

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MORE ABOUT FRANK MAYA – Performance Videos

Frank Maya at Dixon Place (circa 12-31-91)

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REFERENCES

Brown, Joe. “A Little Tattle Tale” Washington Post; 17 March 1989.

Holden Stephen. “A Wacky Pop Iconoclast” New York Times; 15 July 1983.

Holden, Stephen. “Frank Maya, 45, Performance Artist and Solo Comic.” New York Times; 10 Aug 1995.

Holden, Stephen. “Music Noted in Brief: Frank Maya, Singer, Satirizes Consumerism.” New York Times; 30 March 1983.

Rizzo, Frank. “Maya’s Punch Line Reaches a Broader Audience.” Hartford Courant, 22 Sept 1993.

Solomon, Alisa, and Framji Minwalla. The Queerest Art: Essays on Lesbian and Gay Theater. New York: New York UP, 2002.

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Thanks to Neil Greenberg,(postcards, videos,interview) Ellie Covan,(interview, video) John Jesurun (interview) and Victoria Linchong (Writer/Profile) for their great contribution to this post!

Categories
Book Shelf Photography Writer

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “The Downtown Book” – 1974 – 1984 NY Art Scene

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Downtown is more than just a location, it’s an attitude–and in the 1970s and ’80s, that attitude forever changed the face of America. This book charts the intricate web of influences that shaped the generation of experimental and outsider artists working in Downtown New York during the crucial decade from 1974 to 1984. Published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of downtown art (organized by New York University’s Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library), The Downtown Book brings the Downtown art scene to life, exploring everything from Punk rock to performance art.

The book probes trends that arose in the 1970s and solidified New York’s reputation as arbiter of the postmodern American avant-garde. By 1974, the hippie euphoria of the previous decade, with its optimism, free love, and paeans to personal fulfillment, was over. In its place emerged a new kind of experimentation–in art, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The seven essays featured here examine from different perspectives how Downtown artists constantly pushed the limits of both traditional media and the art world. Art critic Carlo McCormick addresses the energy, power, drugs, and nonstop erotic motion that propelled the scene. Music historian Bernard Gendron explores how minimalism, loft jazz, and Punk all occupied the same Downtown spaces. RoseLee Goldberg, the noted scholar and critic of performance art, looks back at ten years of its ascendancy Downtown. English professor Robert Siegle casts a critical eye on the literature of the Downtown scene. Librarian and archivist Marvin J. Taylor surveys Downtown as both geography and metaphor, and grapples with the question of how best to organize and preserve materials that often challenge the very notion of the archive. The book also includes seminal essays on the critical theories underlying Downtown art, by Brian Wallis; and on Downtown film, by Matthew Yokobosky.

The essays are intercut with personal reminiscences by such renowned pioneers of the Downtown scene as Eric Bogosian, Richard Hell, Lydia Lunch, Ann Magnuson, Michael Musto, and Martha Wilson. More than 150 striking photographs feature Downtown denizens and galleries; works by Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, and many other artists; and hotspots such as CBGBs and Club 57. Hip and provocative, The Downtown Book provides a rare glimpse into the cauldron of the New York artistic counterculture–and the colorful characters who inhabited it.

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“In the late 1970s, when Gregory Battcock and I were both writing art columns for the Soho Weekly News, he divided Manhattan into two kinds of people: the Downtown Slouches and the Uptown Swells. This is a book filled with facts and anecdotes, told by astute eyewitnesses and not detached scholars, about the Downtown Slouches–and the wonderful crazy things they did, and made, over a remarkable ten-year period. All of the contributing writers and artists emphasize one crucial issue: for everyone living and working below Fourteenth Street at that time, identity was synonymous with geography–urban space was our mental space. We were refugees from the America of the 1950s and 60s, outcasts of the suburbs and the shopping malls. We wrote, painted, performed and played music in grateful homage to our spiritual home–and our offerings have borne fruit, as this book makes abundantly clear, by illuminating the history of American art.”–Shelley Rice, New York University

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After the Vietnam War we thought we could change the world with a cultural revolution. Read this book and find out how we did it: Art and more Art and lots of Art.”

Karen Finley, Visiting Professor, Tisch School for the Arts, New York University

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“This is history still alive. More than memory, it is our identity. Did we know what we were doing? Yes. We were coming in on energy. And creating the ultimate conflagration. Some kind of end-times party. It’s all over because it’s all over everything we see, hear, and do now. These writings overflow with exquisite passion for a juiced time. Eventually, they swept the streets. But we were already out of there.”

Thurston Moore, singer and guitarist for Sonic Youth

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