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Superstar in a Housedress: The Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis

JACKIE CURTIS made brilliant entrances, and although he sometimes overstayed his welcome, his final exit, in 1985 at age thirty-eight, came much too soon. Heroin, to paraphrase Lou Reed, was the death of him. Craig Highberger’s documentary portrait, Superstar in a Housedress: The Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis, which opens at New York’s Film Forum this month, takes its title from one of Curtis’s wryly class-conscious self-descriptions. The film would be a pedestrian affair if not for the vivacity of its subject, whose multiple incarnations—both on and off stage and screen—are evoked through photographs; reminiscences of friends, admirers, and colleagues; and most poignantly, bits of faded film and video recordings of plays performed at La MaMa E.T.C. and other, more fly-by-night downtown venues. Highberger also secured sequences from Paul Morrissey’s 1971 Women in Revolt (a vehicle for

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