new-york

Karen Finley

The Pyramid Club

Karen Finley’s monologues represent obscenity in its purest form—an attempt to explore feelings for which there are perhaps no words, and certainly no polite ones. Whatever the identity she assumes onstage—as gender, persona, and narrative slip and slide—she’s talking transgression.

At a late-night show she’d ironically labeled her “Greatest Hits,” Finley performed her most (in)famous acts of the last several years. Each piece involved the creation of a distinct persona—in I’m an Ass Man, 1985, she becomes a man, a rapist, disgusted that his victim is having her period; in The Neighbor’s Cock, 1985, she’s the sexually abused girl who’s decided to “tell.” In The Constant State of Desire, 1986, she’s (among other things) a sort of terrorist who coats stockbrokers’ balls with shit and sells them as candy. Sometimes she’ll punctuate a piece by smearing food on herself—kidney beans, ice cream

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