Tag Archives: Performance

E.O.F. TALKS: Film Maker Craig Highberger Talks Andy Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis

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Here at The Eye of Faith we worship the spirit of individuality. Escaping the everyday, and letting your uniqueness shine is something Andy Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis was no stranger to.

Born February 19, 1947 in New York City; Jackie Curtis slayed the scene with a gender bending style and booming persona that should never be forgotten.

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That’s why we’re bringing her from the clutches of the past to the forefront, and it’s no better time, really; gender is undergoing quite a shift in this last decade, and many changes are still abound.

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Our faithful correspondent John Wisniewski spoke with film maker and author Craig Highberger whose 2005 film “Superstar in a Housedress” explored the star’s groundbreaking art and life!

{ J.W. } What interested you about the life of star Jackie Curtis, Craig?

{C.H.} I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is Andy Warhol’s hometown. My Uncle Sam Highberger had gone to Carnegie Mellon University with Andy and was in some of his classes and talked about him and so I became aware of and I loved Warhol’s art and that whole world. I also loved new wave cinema and without telling my parents I snuck out to these film screenings at Carnegie Mellon of Warhol’s films “Chelsea Girls” and “Flesh”.

And in “Flesh” there is this scene I will never forget, in which Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling, in drag, are sitting on a couch reading a movie magazine and chatting while nearby Joe Dallesandro is getting a BJ from Gerri Miller! I was 16 years old and I mean this was just fabulous to me!

In high school I was very aware of what was going on in New York City, pop art, Max’s Kansas City, the Warhol scene. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.  There was a magazine out of New York called “After Dark” magazine that had these really hot photos of Joe Dallesandro, and Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling by photographer Jack Mitchell. I wanted to go to film school in New York and meet Andy Warhol and the Superstars and that is just what happened.

I was a freshman at NYU the fall of 1972, it was just a few years after Stonewall and gay liberation was happening and the first NYU gay student group wanted the University to allow the group to meet officially on campus and the administration did not immediately agree to this so there was a big demonstration announced – a sleep-in, actually in the basement of my dormitory at NYU and Jackie Curtis showed up for it in his signature drag, because Jackie knew that there would be press coverage and maybe TV cameras and Jackie was a publicity hound. And I was just entranced, I recognized him immediately and introduced, told him I was from Pittsburgh, that I loved Andy Warhol, that I loved him (Curtis) in “Flesh” and “Women in Revolt”, that I was majoring in film and television and wanted to film his plays and performances documentary style.

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We became instant friends. And I went around with Curtis to parties, to Max’s Kansas City, we hung out with Holly Woodlawn (who is still a great friend), Candy Darling, and I met Andy Warhol a couple of times. 

In 1974 Jackie played the starring role in his play “Glamor, Glory and Gold: the Life and Legend of Nola Noonan, Goddess and Star”, it was off-Broadway at the Truck and Warehouse Theater on the Lower East Side across the street from La Mama directed by Ron Link. And I told Ron I wanted to film the entire play and he allowed me to if I would show it at cocktail parties for his prospective backers. So I did that.

Everything about Jackie was amazing and exciting and I really wanted to make a documentary about Curtis’ life from the moment I met him. I loved Jackie. 

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{J.W.} How and when did Jackie Curtis meet Andy Warhol?

{C.H.} Jackie told me in August 1967 he and Candy Darling were walking in Greenwich Village and Jackie saw Andy Warhol and Fred Hughes coming out of the Leather Man store on Christopher Street.

Warhol had just bought some leather pants. Jackie ran up to Andy and introduced himself and asked for his autograph on the shopping bag Curtis was toting around. Warhol asked Jackie what was in the bag and Curtis told him it was satin shorts for the tap dancing scene in his play “Glamour, Glory and Gold” which was opening in September, Jackie invited him to come.

Jackie told me he went to the Factory with four tickets and gave them personally to Andy Warhol. He came and afterwards congratulated Curtis, the author and the start of the performance, Melba LaRose, Jr. played the lead Nola Noonan, and Candy Darling played Estelle and was reviewed as a woman.  Curtis asked Andy Warhol for a review quote and Warhol said of the play:  “For the first time, I wasn’t bored” which they used in advertisements! 

{J.W.} Jackie starred in the Paul Morrissey directed film “Flesh”. What was that like for Jackie? How did this film come about, Craig?

{C.H.} Warhol’s “Flesh” was Paul Morrissey’s response to “Midnight Cowboy” which was filming on location in New York City in 1968. Morrissey knew that Hollywood would tone down the subject matter and nudity and wanted to do something more gritty about a hustler (played by Joe Dallesandro) working the streets trying to raise money for his wife’s girlfriend’s abortion – talk about controversy in 1968 – that very concept was designed to stir up publicity and fill movie theater seats, especially with Warhol’s name attached to it.

Warhol and Morrissey already knew Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling and so Morrissey came up with an idea to have them sit on a couch and talk extemporaneously about a movie magazine while Joe Dallesandro is getting a blowjob from Geri Miller practically next to them in the same room!

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This was Jackie’s dream, to be in a movie in theatrical release on the big screen, and you bet that Curtis went to every screening and that it propelled him into more self-publicity (I believe this was the moment Curtis had 1000 Jackie Curtis shopping bags printed up which were sold in Greenwich Village head shops)!

{J.W.} Could you tell us about The Jack Mitchell Archives, Craig?

{C.H.} When I first began thinking about making “Superstar in a Housedress” I knew I would need lots of archival photographs of Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling, Andy Warhol and the whole crowd. And I immediately thought I need Jack Mitchell photographs, he photographed them more than any other photographer. But how was I ever going to afford license fees? I got on Google and did some research and found that Jack Mitchell had retired in 1995, he lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and he did not have a website. So I thought I will offer to do a website for him and to be his webmaster in exchange for the rights to his photographs. And that is just what happened.

Jack and his partner Bob Pavlik came to the opening night of the film at Film Forum in New York and everyone was there, they were very impressed, and loved the film and seeing his photographs in a feature length film in a theater with a packed audience. And the film toured film festivals and we had a theatrical run and it was broadcast on cable and Jack loved it all. It brought him new attention. And I called him and said I know what my next documentary subject is and it is you!

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+Jackie Curtis by Jack Mitchell+

I want to do a film about your life and work. And he was very pleased and excited. He put me in touch with people who were old friends and people he had photographed who loved his work that I could interview on camera, like Broadway diva Patti LuPone, playwright Edward Albee, Alvin Ailey dancer Judith Jamison, famed choreographer Merce Cunningham, and many others.

And I made the film “Jack Mitchell: My Life is Black and White” and Jack said that it was the greatest honor of his life. He and Bob came to the opening in New York and they came to film festival screenings and Jack did Q&A sessions afterwards with me and he loved it so much.

About a year later Jack and Bob called me and told me that they had decided to leave me Jack’s archives, the entirety of his life’s work, all the vintage photographs, his negatives and color transparencies, his files and memorabilia, everything. Bob died in 2009 at the age of 77 during an operation. Four years later on November 7, 2013 Jack died just weeks after his 88th birthday. I was there with him when he passed away and moved his archives to a vault.

A few months later I began the full time work of cataloguing and digitizing everything. It is a huge job. Jack Mitchell’s career as a professional photographer began just after World War II, when he moved to New York City and continued for about the next five decades. The negative files are almost 6000 photo sessions and there are thousands of boxes of color transparencies as well. There are 77 boxes of vintage prints. I have been working on it for almost two years and have many years of work left. It is very exciting and I make new discoveries with every box I open and every negative file that I scan.

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{J.W.} What was Jackie Curtis’ finest hour?

{C.H.} Jackie Curtis’ finest hour?  Any of the countless hours Jackie performed – whether is was in his hit play Glamour Glory and Gold, or Cabaret in the Sky, Vain Victory, or singing at his grandmother’s Slugger Ann’s Bar – Curtis was an incredible star of amazing brilliance. So many people remarked upon his being a genius: La Mama founder Ellen Stewart and comic icon Lily Tomlin among them.

Jackie Curtis had an electric charismatic magnetism that enthralled and thrilled audiences. I loved Jackie. Jackie put all of himself into every performance for the love of the art, and that is why it is really impossible for me to zero in on one performance, one hour, one moment. Now that he is gone, I think of him and a whole kaleidoscope of incredibly beautiful moments of sublime artistry blossom in my mind. As others have said, he was sui generis – absolutely unique.

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{J.W.} What will your next book be about, Craig? Any other projects that you wish to tell us about?

{C.H.} I have been working on the Jack Mitchell Archives (cataloging boxes of vintage prints, and scanning negatives and color transparencies) since Jack’s death two years ago. There is a lot of material for my memoirs including several years I spent running around with Curtis. I am going to work at what may be my memoirs, but potentially could take a new form (film or multimedia) because I have the journals, and visual and audio elements as well.

Also, I decided to post five of my documentary films on Vimeo for reasonably priced on-demand streaming, as well as downloadable for iPhone and iPad. Here is the link: https://vimeo.com/craighighberger/vod_pages/sort:videos/format:thumbnail

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SPECIAL THANKS TO JOHN & CRAIG FOR THIS INTERVIEW

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BE YOURSELF!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

{theEye}

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The Eye of Faith Presents Karaoke Cabaret Tuesday!

 

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So in case you haven’t heard, us boys from The Eye of Faith have begun hosting a Karaoke night at Hamilton’s very own The Baltimore House.

The guys there were so kind to allow us to run a bi-weekly event where we get take over their bar where people get to have perform, enjoy some drinks and laughs with friends, and let loose on a Tuesday.

Our love for karaoke began a few months ago. What can we say? We got the bug.

One begins their karaoke journey bashful, unassuming and reluctant to sing.  After some liquid courage and razzing from peers, it’s time to shine.  Our Underground Karaoke Crew (UKC) started off small with 4 or 5 close pals and gals, and evolved quickly into 15-20 people would show up to our apartment ready to party.

Before we knew it the Cops came to break up the apparent riot! So once we realized we were growing too big for our bridges we needed a solution.

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Then came Baltimore House.

Now we get to host a party every other week where we encourage participation whether it be dancing along to an amateur performer living for the glory of that spotlight, or riding that wave of none judgemental adoration from the room.  We just enjoy witnessing the joy that karaoke brings to what may be a ordinary Tuesday night spent inside.

Please check out our Facebook group page below where we post photos and videos of all the madness from our evenings out.

And please if you are in the Hamilton area we’d love to see ya!

Frankly, the Karaoke Gods have spoken…

and they want you there to!

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Sincerely,

{theEye}

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Anita Pallenberg: E.O.F. Divinity.

The Hollywood Actress may come and go; whether or not she leaves behind a handful of memorable performances, a Style Maven is iconic, and we see reflections of their taste decades after they’re gone. Beauty, class, and 1 of a kind style sensibility we find in Anita Pallenberg.

“I’d wear that [second-hand red fox fur coat] to modelling jobs with just my underwear, boots and a bag because you couldn’t leave your clothes lying around. The other models would steal them!” Anita Pallenberg

A model in the early 60s, Anita made her way into movies and rock and roll. Starring in such cult favourites as Barbarella, Performance, and Candy. We love her spin as the great tyrant in Barbarella, where her voice is dubbed yet her appeal cuts through the screen. This exotic alien villian is the perfect yin to Jane Fonda’s yang in the 1968 cult classic.

Style maven Anita Pallenberg’s influence over The Rolling Stones is clear. Being the mother of rock n’roller Keith Richards first 3 children, the two were never married. But, her influence during the Rolling Stones establishing days are evident up to this very day. Not only did she find partnership with Richards, but Pallenberg once courted the late founding member of the Stones, Brian Jones. Perhaps these men rubbed off on her, but we feel this gal held her own amongst these men. She charmed and captivated the boys and the world for years.

Whether yesterday or tomorrow we know the ‘look’ and ‘vibe’ of Anita Pallenberg will be appreciated forever, because an idols like this doesn’t come around just every day.

Sincerely,
{theEye}

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The Eye of Faith Presents . . . Gabrielle + Architect (PLUS our very first Fashion Show)

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Excited things! Excited things, my friends are happening . . .

For the past few months we have been secretly scheming and planning with our friends Gabrielle + Architect to bring her incredibly evocative and seductive musical stylings together with our lust for mystery and taste for fine vintage fashion. With her upcoming EP release, we thought we could make the perfect marriage of the two, and hold a night that could only be described as purely wicked!!!

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Taking place at awesome 3030 Dundas Street West, we are excited to host Gabrielle + Architect here in The Junction, Toronto and feature her atmospheric electronic jazz musings for the artful and like-minded crowds that gather in these parts.

The show starts at 9:45, with a beguiling style procession by, yours truly, inspired by The Chicken Game in “Rebel Without a Cause” gone completely awry via psychic witch rituals . . . there will be both mens’ and womens’ looks incorporated into the show – so something for everyone! A great time to see our style in the FLESH!!!

rebel without a cause- the bad boy from a good family- vintage poster

Jackson Charles Ferri Mugshot EOF

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Natalie Wood Insanity At The Vanity EOF

We are pleased to have on board Mysterion The Mindreader, Toronto’s premium purveyor of the weird and strange (as well as being a collector of vintage and antiques, himself), as well as the delicious Esther De Ville in an erotic burlesque performance of “The Devil’s Bride” to cap off the evening.

At the stroke of midnight we will be auctioning some of our looks from the show to raise money for Mt. Sinai Hospital’s “Grateful Hearts Foundation” in thanks of the ongoing care and treatment they are providing my partner in crime, Paul.

How Bad Can A Good Girl Get

real 1950s gang chick

Ill slit your throat

Greaser Child

It has been a wild roller coaster of a month, and the evening’s antics should reflect this as such. Lots of mystery, cool clothes, talented people, and plenty of drinking (if the weather permits). Should be fun, so tell all your friends!

If you aren’t in Toronto, stay tuned for all the pictures from the night!

How Could You

Hope to see you there!

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 Until next time. . .

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{theEye}
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Music Minute: Billy Fury – “A Wondrous Place” (1960 Recording)



This artist we’re bringing to you today has a wondrous sensibility to style and passion, cultivating his own hip pulse alongside Elvis himself.  Rockabilly style sensationalism must be in the air, because we’re tripping off of this pretty-boys badass look.

Born 1940 to the name Ronald William Wycherley in Liverpool, England, where winning a talent show as a kid would lead to a life showcasing the goods he was born with.  Born with an abundance of talent and a weak heart, he was destined to leave behind a big handprint.

Wycherley fronted his own group in 1955, but simultaneously worked full-time on a tugboat and later as a stevedore. By 1958 had started composing his own songs.  When he was signed he was such an immediate success, new management would rename him ‘Billy Fury’.

However, his early sexual and provocative stage performances received censure, and he was forced to tone them down.  But we have to attest, the world was changing in a big way, and sex is exactly what people wanted!

With a whiney twang, and a pouty quality to his style of sound, he is a forgotten idol of the changing pop culture through the 1950s.

BILLY FURY on stage performing

billy fury with the beatles

Having spent decades making career choices based on health, and having to pass on many opportunities and tours, ‘Billy’ would be found on his hotel room floor in 1983.

billy fury bad in black

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Music Minute: “Goodbye to Love” – The Carpenters (1972)

Richard Carpenter and Karen Carpenter

Composed by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis,  and fiirst released in 1972 on the “Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters” documentary; the song was ispired by a visit to London, where Richard saw an old Bing Crosby 1940 film called Rhythm on the River, where he noticed that they kept referring to the struggling songwriter’s greatest composition, “Goodbye to Love”.

He says `You never hear it in the movie, they just keep referring to it,’ and he immediately envisioned the tune, and lyrics starting with:

I’ll say goodbye to love
No one ever cared if I should live or die.
Time and time again the chance for
Love has passed me by…

He said that while the melody in his head kept going, the lyrics stopped “because I’m not a lyricist“, and he completed the rest of his arrangement upon his return to the US.

Karen Carpenter called guitarist Tony Peluso  herself to get him to play on the track.  Tony remembers: “At first I didn’t believe that it was actually Karen Carpenter on the phone but she repeated her name again. … It was at this point that I realized it was really her and that I was speaking to one of my idols.” She told him that she and Richard were working on a song called “Goodbye To Love” and they were both familiar with his work with another band (called Instant Joy), and that he’d be perfect for the sound they were looking for.

Peluso first played something soft and sweet, but then Richard Carpenter said

No, no, no! Play the melody for five bars and then burn it up! Soar off into the stratosphere! Go ahead! It’ll be great!

Peluso insists this was one of the first, if not THE first, love ballads to have a fuzz guitar solo.

Funny enough, The Carpenters did receive hate mail; claiming that The Carpenters had sold out and gone hard-rock because of Richard’s idea for a fuzz guitar solo in a love ballad!  And even some Adult Contemporary oriented radio stations refused to play the song because of it.

Regardless of the controversy, many Carpenters fans today still admire the song for its unique power.

Sincerely,

{theEye}

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E.O.F. Snapshot of the Day {January 11, 2013}

Andy Warhol Lounge{T.G.I.F.!  Be like Andy, and get your rest and relaxation on! Because this is gonna be a Very Busy Weekend!}
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E.O.F. Snapshot of the Day {December 18, 2012}

EOF - The Silent Stare of James Dean, East of Eden Studio Still, Publicity Photograph. Beauty and the Beast.

{The Silent Stare of James Dean – The Rebel King}

Publicity Photograph for “East of Eden” (1955)

as Caleb, the Bad Son.

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BURGER GIRL WANTS YOU…


If you have never heard of Benjamin Dukhan then please let me introduce you to one of fashion’s most intelligible of beings. His face has helped redefine the image of the male model, whom had always been young, spry, and smooth. While he is both young and spry, it is his scruffy hairiness that has helped make a mark for the man on the mainstream.

With a beard like Zeus, Benjamin has become a one-of-a-kind life force in the industry, walking for some of the biggest names out there, and bringing a manly elegance to each new look he dons. He has also shown up on The Eye of Faith in the past in our story entitled “My Demon Brother” walking one of his best looks in the Jean Paul Gaultier FW 2011 collection.

As well as his continuing stint as one of fashion’s staple faces on the catwalk, Benjamin Dukhan’s exciting multi-disciplinary background has taken him, and the industry, to new and unseen heights.

Beginning his career as a dancer, Benjamin has been able to fuse his love for movement with his unlikely chameleon nature in a continuing performance art piece called BURGER GIRL. As much an art piece as some sort of alter-ego or secret persona, the videos Dukhan and his collaborators have produced give rise to thousands of new notions of what it means to perform in front of a camera.

Not only is Benjamin pushing the bounds of what it means to be a “super model”, but he is also pushing the bounds of dance, art, video, music, and fashion to a world where each can see each other off and amalgamate into a singular dynamic art form.

So where do you come in?

Benjamin needs the help of as many people as he can to fund his latest BURGER GIRL project. Donated funds will go towards the production of his 10th and final video, “Vogue Positive” which will be featured on the official site, as well as on Youtube, and will most likely tour the European underground scene.

There are only four days left to make a contribution, so please check it out.

+You can make your donation here. +

Also make sure to check out his site to watch more original BURGER GIRL videos.

Benjamin is graciously awarding contributors with gifts according to the size of the donation, so best to give generously. It’s not everyday that a high fashion supermodel needs your help, so let’s pull ourselves together and do what we can for the sake of fashion, the sake of art, and getting these worlds closer and closer together!

Sincerely,

{theEye}

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Ghost Hole IV: Island Edition!

It’s ba-aaack!

What do haunted school houses, Toronto island, and art have in common? Well for starters, this year’s 4th Annual GHOST HOLE is making its way to the historical ArtScape Gibraltar’s Point Public School for a night of necromancing through the powers of art!

{The Old School House before it burnt down in 1888}

This will be the first ever Halloween event happening at the site, which boasts an impressive haunted history. Visitors of the old school have cited strange feelings and occurrences in the building which was rebuilt in 1909 after a fire burnt down the original school in 1888.

There are over 30+ exhibiting artists and over six musical performances scheduled for this
one-day only event .

GHOST HOLE IV takes place on Saturday October 27th from 2pm to midnight. Rain or shine.

12$ tickets on sale now at Soundscapes, 572 College St. All proceeds from event go to funding participating artists and supporting local
not-for-profit arts organizations.

{The rebuilt School House at Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island}

We will be there, and if you have are in town, love the unknown, and have a taste for great art you will bet here too.

Looking especially forward to a psychomanteum designed by artist, Morris Fox.

These rooms are specifically designed for communication with the spirit realm through the use of mirrors. This technique of seeking mirrored surfaces to open portals to other dimensions has been used since the Ancients.

Artists have also been revered in the past as  gifts from the Gods for their supernatural talent, and what better use of this psychic tendency than to help the invocation of the lost wandering souls holding on to the memories had within the school’s walls.

Hope we don’t see anything too scary – then again, we hope we do!

For more information visit the official GHOST HOLE IV site or contact event
curator Vanessa Rieger at vanessarieger1984@gmail.com.

Until next time,

{theEye}

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