Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
I've been 29 for several years now and I work as the communications director for Performance Space 122. I'm also a writer and performer. I've lived in NYC just over 8 years, by way of Baltimore (my hometown), Chicago and Seattle. After many years in Williamsburg I'm back in Manhattan living underneath the Queensborough bridge.
Tres para usted
1. P.S. 122 has been serving the live arts community in downtown New York since 1979. What would say were the high and low moments of its history?
That's a tough one since I haven't been around for all of that history. From the stories that I hear and the people that I talk to, I would say the mid-80's to the early 90's were really great times here. That was the height of performance art's recognition by mass culture, when you saw artists such as Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, Laurie Anderson and Karen Finley really make inroads into the mainstream. That was also a really creative time in the East Village. The past couple of years have been kind of low. While P.S. 122 has consistently presented great work the energy has changed, the cultural climate has changed and the arts funding landscape has changed - and not for the better.
That being said, I think we're due for another upswing. The financial part will probably be the last piece to fall into place, but I think that culturally we've been so inundated with bland, inoffensive and mediocre work that people are going to return to more challenging entertainments.
2. Did the success of Matt & Ben spur any changes or focus of P.S. 122?
Matt & Ben has been a lot of fun for us. It is a bit of a departure from what we normally do and we had no idea when we first brought it in that it would be such a huge hit. So it's been great to have that sort of energy at the space and to see all these new people coming through the doors.
Ultimately we want to keep the focus on presenting challenging new work by emerging artists and providing a home for voices that can't be heard elsewhere. So our focus and mission, our commitment to cultivating adventurous art, isn't going to change. We hope that some of the people who came to P.S. 122 for Matt & Ben will come back and see some of the other work we do, and realize that it's not as intimidating as it may seem.
One of the changes Matt & Ben inspired is for us to find new ways to insure that P.S. 122 is accessible to new performers and new audiences. So we're actively trying to find ways to keep that energy going. We've started a new late-night series called Schoolhouse Roxx which mixes music and performance and, of course, the all-blogger series that started in February which is now called The WYSIWYG Talent Show. It's all pretty exciting.
3. As far as being a previous NYC public school, the P.S. 122 building seems like it must have been a prison for students, saying something about the condition of city education here in the 70's no doubt. How do the artists feel about the space now?
I think artists have a love/hate relationship with the physical space. Well, it's definitely a "love" relationship, with conditions. We have two spaces, each with their quirks and challenges. Having two poles in the middle of the upstairs space is definitely a challenge for most dance pieces. We reconfigured the downstairs space over the summer, but the only show to perform there thus far is Matt & Ben. We'll see how other artists respond to it.
The main thing about the P.S. 122 spaces (and this may sound kind of new-age-y) is the energy. People want to perform here because there's really good energy, especially in the upstairs space. Like the Fillmore in San Francisco or other legendary venues, there's the intangible sense of possibility. There's the presence of all that's come before, the ghosts of great performances, the spirit of freedom and free expression. And artists want to tap into that. Great artists often use the physical limitations of the space to their advantage, which makes it even more exciting.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
I would love to have been around the Village in the Post-War era (mid-40's to early 60's). Like that book by Anatole Broyard, "Kafka Was the Rage" ... I've always been fascinated with NYC during that time: the Abstract Expressionists, Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Lenny Bruce, up through early Dylan. I know that I have it all jumbled into this imaginary soup of alternative culture - all those people didn't necessarily know each other or hang out together - but it just seems to me to have been an extraordinary time of creativity and madness. Also, I love those cool suits with the skinny ties.
9pm, Wednesday night - what are you doing?
Either seeing some kind of performance or, more likely, settling in to watch "The O.C." Man, that Oliver is so evil.
Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
It seems like I see celebrities all the time but I never actually hang with them. Occasionally I get to meet people who I think are really cool, though. Like when I first moved to New York I was doing spoken word. I performed at a big record-release party and after the show Jim Carroll came up to me and complimented me and then I got to hang out and drink with him for the rest of the night. He was dating Tabitha Soren at the time. That was kind of weird.
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
May 2002. I had lost my job shortly after (and due to) 9/11. I had been unemployed for nearly 7 months, I had gone through all my UI, my savings, my 401(k) and couldn't pay my rent. My relationship had fallen apart and I was so depressed, lonely and broke that I thought I was going to have to give up and move back in with my parents. Just when I thought I'd have to pack it in for sure, I got the job at P.S. 122, which was perfect.
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
My tuxedo. I bought it for a friend's wedding and I think I've only worn it one other time. Ouch. What was I thinking?
Finish one of the four following sentences:
1) "Outside of his building, on E. 9th Street, Chip took money from Enid and...
headed into Tompkins Square Park to pay off the tattooed guy with the dancing monkey."
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
Churascarria Plataforma for meat on a stick and capirinhas - on my friend's expense account.
Just how much do you really love New York?
So much I just wanna touch it inappropriately in its secret happy places.
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
I went to a wedding on a softball field where the reverend worked for Disney and talked about his acting career during the ceremony. Yikes! (the softball was fun, though)
Medication: What and how much do you take?
I'm not medicated anymore, except for the occasional Tylenol P.M. and I like to use that Aveeno Stress-Reducing soap.
Of all the movies made about (or highly associated with) New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
Michael Dorsey in "Tootsie"
The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Party like I did during Great Blackout of 2003. Only this time maybe I'll actually have sex.
Check out Andy's site, Culturebot.org, which is devoted to the downtown performance scene.