Jess Barbagallo

  • View of “Linda Simpson,” 2022.

    Linda Simpson

    Hard-core nightlife denizens are not necessarily archivists or librarians—though legendary drag journalist and bingo maven Linda Simpson is clearly an exception. On two separate visits to this presentation of Simpson’s seminal queer zine, My Comrade—which was also a celebration of the periodical’s thirty-fifth anniversary—I was able to revel in the aftershocks and ephemera of downtown Manhattan’s queer nightlife scene, spanning 1987 to the present.

    The exhibition featured blown-up copies of pages extracted from the magazine and its sister publication, Sister! (the latter, nestled into several

  • Morgan Bassichis, Pitchy #2, 2020, video, color, sound, 5 minutes 30 seconds.

    Morgan Bassichis

    Political cabaret wunderkind Morgan Bassichis lives and works in that liminal realm of the pedestrian surreal, as evidenced by their first solo gallery exhibition, “Questions to Ask Beforehand,” which opened at Bridget Donahue in Manhattan’s Chinatown. A live performer by trade, Bassichis infused the gallery with levity, creating a show that hovered somewhere between an archival display of queer sociality and a pitch for an unrealized musical about millennial ambivalence. The airy installation re-created those familiar sites of waiting: a therapist’s office, a spare performance space replete

  • Agosto Machado, Shrine (White), 2022, mixed media, 91 1⁄2 × 36 × 10".

    Agosto Machado

    Any artist who is devoted to experimental performance becomes an expert in letting go. When a show closes, the actor is left with totems that are difficult to capitalize on: a pair of show shoes, for instance; a playbill signed by the cast; or, if you’re lucky, a treasure chest of stories that will sustain you through the inevitable precarity of operating on a theater’s margins. In the case of performer and archivist Augusto Machado—whose collection of colorful ephemera and artworks accumulated over a lifetime were on display in “The Forbidden City” at Gordon Robichaux—viewers could glean more

  • Shaun J. Wright performing inside of Sadie Barnette’s The New Eagle Creek Saloon. Performance view, the Kitchen, New York, January 22, 2022. Photo: Paula Court.
    performance February 14, 2022

    Bar None

    WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES! Or—in the case of my recent two-part trek to the Kitchen to experience multidisciplinary artist Sadie Barnette’s installation-as-performance-site The New Eagle Creek—a couple of weeks. Presented in collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem, Barnette’s work (or the beginning of it) is a shimmering recreation of her father Rodney Barnette’s now-shuttered San Francisco watering hole, The New Eagle Creek Saloon (1990–1993). The establishment held special significance as the first Black-owned gay bar in the area, a response to the urgent need for a non-discriminatory

  • Anne Waldman was among the more than one hundred participants in The Poetry Project’s Forty-Eighth New Year’s Day Marathon reading, which took place online last week.
    diary January 04, 2022

    First Words

    IT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME to be there for it all: the Poetry Project’s Forty-Eighth Annual New Year’s Day Marathon reading. Beginning at 11 a.m. and ending just after midnight, the fundraiser is my favorite New York City tradition, a sentiment echoed by many of the more than hundred and sixty poets who performed remotely over the course of the day on January 1, 2022. The Poetry Project—an institution by and for poets predicated on the virtue of nonhierarchical community-building—has been around since 1966, offering readings, lectures, workshops, and intergenerational mentorship to emerging writers.

  • Performance view from Let 'im Move You, jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham, 2021. Photo: Angel Shanel Edwards.
    performance October 21, 2021

    Moving Home

    DRIVING THROUGH DOWNTOWN SEATTLE, I saw construction everywhere, luxury housing for tech employees rising up around small tent cities. I was a tourist, visiting for a week to check out the New Now Festival, which is being presented by interdisciplinary performance venue On the Boards and curated by its artistic director, Rachel Cook. This is the first time in eighteen months that On the Boards has been open for business, although the space provided residencies and support to artists during quarantine. Before a performance of Beyond this Point’s Reclaimed Timber, executive director Betsey Brock

  • A Domestic; Cut, 2021. Photo: Xiomara Sebas Castro Niculescu.
    performance July 20, 2021

    Heart and Home

    TWO ONLINE PERFORMANCES earlier this summer—a reading of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town by the National Asian American Theater Company (NAATCO), and Xiomara Sebas Castro Niculescu’s A Domestic; Cut, presented by danilo machado and Claire Kim as part of Stream/line Artist Residency—conducted serious conversations with the deceased while wisely refusing the dueling lures of nostalgia and better tomorrows. On the surface, these two projects couldn’t be more different—one, wholesome, the other, salacious—but both demanded a strangely profound patience with time itself.

    No longer solely the province of

  • Dr. Brent Binder and Becca Blackwell, 2021. Photo: Jess Barbagallo
    slant April 26, 2021

    In Safe Hands

    IN EARLY FEBRUARY, I hopped in a car bound for Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with my friend Becca Blackwell. Our mission was a mixture of business and pleasure: to visit Youtube-famous chiropractor, and hallowed muscle whisperer, Dr. Brent Binder. Becca—either a performance artist with a staggering knowledge of touch specialists or an anarchist pervert, depending on your chosen paradigm—is working on a new solo performance installation, The Body Never Lies. exploring the possibilities for healing beyond western medicine, which often fails its Hippocratic mandate by ignoring the idiosyncratic

  • A scene from Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran. Javaad Alipoor, Parivash Akbarzadeh. Photo: Peter Dibdin.
    performance January 15, 2021

    Spirit of the Age

    BEFORE SITTING DOWN AT MY DESK for the inaugural evening of the Public Theater’s digital edition of its annual Under the Radar Festival, I scroll through my phone, looking at costumed marauders storming the Capitol Building. The pictures depict smiling Vikings, Confederate and Revolutionary war soldiers, Captain America as a paratrooper holding a straw broom. Is he a warlock, or a street-sweeper? There are enough mixed metaphors for heroism to make your head explode, and I am struck by how desperate people are for cosplay, their imaginations totally warped by popular fictions.

    It’s not the most

  • Postcard for The Pomodori Foundation, Queer & Alone at the Kitchen, 1993. The Kitchen Archive, c. 1971–99. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.
    performance December 04, 2020

    Perfect Stranger

    IN A PARTICULARLY telling moment of the Pomodori Foundation’s 1993 production Queer and Alone, based on the eponymous 1987 novel-cum-travelogue by Jim Strahs, the ne’er-do-well narrator Desmond Farrquahr (Greg Mehrten) finds himself in an intimate conversation with one of his primary nemeses, Miss Deborah Springman (Ann Rower). It’s 1979 and Desmond is mysteriously en route to Hong Kong, along with a passel of morally questionable “travel rats,” whose exploits he recounts with varying tones of amusement, scorn, and outrage over the course of the show’s sixty minutes. Having arrived somewhere in

  • Morgan Bassichis, The Odd Years (2020, Wendy's Subway). All photos courtesy the author and publisher.
    books September 28, 2020

    Open Plan

    TO DO 9/7/20 

    -Bleach tub

    -Eradicate fly infestation

    -Investigate whether or not I am being ghosted by my CSA

    -Forgive former sex partners

    -Don’t be hurt by freshman indifference over Zoom

    ACTIVIST-COMEDIAN MORGAN BASSICHIS'S The Odd Years is an inspirational guide for anyone seeking a model of (modest) art-life practice in the midst of a shitstorm, which I’ll leave as an opaque reference as it's simply too tiring or redundant at this point to enumerate the contents of our shared mess. Comprised of to-do lists recorded every Monday in the years 2017 and 2019—note 2018 is missing, thus the clever

  • Still from Ethan Philbrick’s Disordo Virtutum, 2020. Image: Museum of Arts and Design.
    performance July 27, 2020

    Nun of the Above

    AT 8 PM ON A WARM, Thursday night, a crowd of twenty arrives in a virtual room for a Zoom performance of composer, cellist, and writer Ethan Philbrick’s Disordo Virtutum, presented by New York’s Museum of Arts and Design. With varying degrees of surprise and pleasure, I find that some attendees are familiar to me. I see a former lover, an artist with whom I have made small talk on several occasions, and a choreographer I once had a shy first date with over greasy pasta at a small Italian restaurant in Ridgewood. (Today we’re friends; she’ll text me after the show.) Curator Lydia Brawner is there