Speaking From the Diaphragm
The Vaginal Davis Blog
. . .From the Counsel of Inter-Continental Balistic Principalities
Friday, March 27, 2009
In Zurich preparing for the Bruce La Bruce hostile takeover Macho Family Romance that features Susanne Sachsse, Black Sun Productions and the male actors of the Neumarkt Theatre. The theatre has put us in the glam boutique hotel Plattenhof near the University of Zurich. My room is gorgeous with a grand vista outside the windows. The staff here are very sweet and accomodating. Its lovely to be away from Berlin.
Massimo and Pierce of Black Sun Productions had us over for a delicious feast of a dinner, where we met Lukas Beyele, who will also be working on this production. Last night Judy LaBruce and i went to the rent boy bar Carousel and saw some scrumpteous specimens of Brazilian bubblebuttness, and Shiva, the local Zurich celebrity TV psychic who was drinking at the small pub with a large entourage of sychophants. Earlier in the evening we saw the Neumarkt Theater production of Anna Karenina directed by Barbara Weber who is the attendant of the theater. The piece started off like a melodramatic retelling of Tolstoy ala Douglas Sirk. I loved the music that was used and wished there was more of it throughout, and of course the set design was magnificent. We will be using the same set for our production that premieres April 4th.
Received some distressing news from Berlin. Ronald Tavel died on the airplane on his way back home to Bancock. Below is the letter sent to all the participants of Live Film. Mr. Tavel was a great talent and will be missed by the world.
It is with deep sadness and great regret that we write to inform you of the
death of Ronald Tavel. We were notified Wednesday afternoon that Ron died on
his return trip to Bangkok. The exact cause of death is still unknown to us.
We are shocked by this horrible news. Ron is survived by his brother,
Harvey, and scores of friends worldwide.
It was certainly clear to all in attendance this past weekend that Ron is of
central importance to the LIVE FILM! (jack smith) Festival, to any
discussion of Jack Smithıs life and work, to Andy Warholıs filmmaking, and
to the development of 60s off-off Broadway theater. Many of us had the
great pleasure of working with Ron eight years ago when we invited him to
Berlin to develop a performance with us that paid homage to Carmen Miranda
and Jack Smith called CHEAP JEWELRY: A Fruitbasket for JS. Excited by this
collaboration, Ron spontaneously suggested staging a new production of his
seminal screenplay/stage play The Life of Juanita Castro. Juanita Castro was
performed once in Berlin in Podewil in May 2001 under Ronıs direction,
starring Vaginal Davis as Juanita and Susanne Sachsse as Fidel. Concluding
his extended reflection on this production for Theater Heuteıs yearbook,
Diedrich Diederichsen wrote, ³Ronald Tavel was-and isahead of his time.²
While in Berlin, Matthias Haase and Marc Siegel conducted a lengthy
interview with Ron, an excerpt of which was published in German in the book
Golden Years. Throughout the interview, Ron talked extensively about his
theater career, the emergence of the Theater of Ridiculous out of his work
with Warhol, his relationship to Smith and his and Smithıs fascination for
Maria Montez. About Smith, Ron said: ³I would never mention Maria Montez in
public before I met him, because that would seem like talking about a very
private thing. It was nobody elseıs business. They wouldnıt understand. It
was somewhat embarrassing too. In that way, he freed me up.² At the end of
his excellent essay about Smith and Montez, ³Maria Montez: Anima of an
Antediluvian World,² Ron writes:
"I was living in New Orleans and trying to rouse a roommate too dissolute to
go out on the street and get a job when Penny Arcade called me to tell me
that Jack had died. I dropped the phone, and ran away from it, sobbing and
jabbering, ³No! No! No!²
And I was a kid in Coney Island gathering my courage to conquer a fearful
fantasy by getting on the cloud-topped Wonder Wheel, when its loudspeaker,
tune to a radio station, blasted a new bulletin: the death of Maria Montez,
sheıd drowned in her bath in far-off France. It made no sense. Like every
little boy on my block, I was set on growing up to marry her. What would
happen now? I couldnıt process the information. I decided to dismiss it. By
then no one had spoken about her for a while, anyhow. I boarded a car on the
Wheel and it took me up haltingly farther off the ground than Iıd ever been
in my life. From the windows of the car when it reached its height, the
quarter-million people on the beach, the great gray Atlantic beyond them,
and the worldıs largest amusement park seemed small."
Due to the exhilarating and productive work we had done with Ron, we were
thrilled that LIVE FILM! (jack smith) gave us the opportunity to bring him
back to Berlin to collaborate on a new project. On Sunday, the day before he
died, Anna, Matthias H., Susanne and Marc spent a lovely, long afternoon
with him discussing the events of the weekend and his plans for the festival
in October. We asked Ron if he would program and introduce one of Maria
Montezıs films in the context of the festival. He agreed and said
immediately, ³Youıll have to screen Siren of Atlantis.² After the intensity
of those compact two days, this leisurely, relaxed afternoon together
brought the weekend to a delightful close. Ron was at his most charming and
we all relished in his talents as a witty raconteur and an experienced
gentleman of the theater. He was excited about writing a new play for the
festival to pay homage to Jack Smith, one that he was going to call either
Que dices? or What did she say? We spent a great deal of time tossing around
ideas in HAU 1 (the old Hebbel theater) where the play was to take place in
October. Ron was particularly interested in involving a number of people
from the festival in the production. We left him that evening, all of us
full of excitement and hope about his new play and our future collaboration.
We remain in shock and saddened by his loss. We realize as well that all of
us involved in this LIVE FILM! (jack smith) project have had the great
fortune to spend Ronıs last weekend with him, an exhilaratingly productive
weekend of watching Jack Smithıs films in Kino Arsenal and discussing
Smithıs work, the work of Ronıs long-time collaborator and friend in things
ridiculous, things beautiful.
When we receive information about plans for a memorial service or
suggestions for donations or further assistance, we will be in touch. We
will also ensure that Ronıs centrality to the LIVE FILM! (jack smith)
project is evident in the festival in October in Berlin.
Susanne Sachsse, Marc Siegel, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Anna Mülter, Nadja
Talmi, and Matthias Lilienthal
.: posted by Vaginal Davis 6:29 AM
Sunday, March 22, 2009
After years of neglect and bad diet, its finally caught up with me and my knee problems have turned more urgent. Thank god i have foreigners insurance here in Berlin. I won´t go into all the specifics at this time, but i am taking all this medication and will be performing my next show in Zurich, a collaboration with Judy LaBruce and Susanne Sachsee called Macho Family Romance in a wheelchair ala Miss Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. My illness couldn´t have come at a worse time, being that i am busy with this Jack Smith Live Film project which involves lots of discussions and screenings of the Smith ouvre as restored by the great Jerry Tartaglia of the Plaster Foundation. The last few days has been overwhelming in long deep discourse with Penny Arcade, Jim Hoberman of the Village Voice, filmmaker Ela Troyano, handsome Israeli artist Uzi Parnes and legendary filmmaker and experimental musician Tony Conrad who was in Normal Love. Things got heated, but stayed for the most part pretty calm among those who have shared close relations with Jack Smith and his legacy. The European crew touched by Smith hands: Beatrice "Trixie" Cordua and her husband Ludvig Schönherr and W&B Hein.
The participating names in this event is staggering. Its the ultimate list of greats upon greats: Callie Angell, Antonio Baehr/Werner Hirsch, Tim Blue, Pauline Boudry, Nao Bustamente, Christophe Chemin, Senator Douglas Crimp, Martin Dannecker, Diedrich Diederichsen, Jennifer Doyle, Ulrich Goss, Karola Gramann, Herbert Gschwind, Matthias Haase, Nanna Heidenreich, John Heys, Oliver Husain, Dominic Johnson, Andrew Kerton, Sean Michael Kirk, Jakob Lena Knebl, Michael Krebber, Renate Lorenz, Marie Losier, Jose Munoz, Ulrike Ottinger, Juliane Rebentisch,Evi Rüsseler, Hans Scheirl, Heide Schlüpmann, Isabell Spengler, Tim Stüttgen, Juan Suarez, Ronald Tavel, Klaus Walter, Guy Maddin, Julianna Snapper, Richard Dyer, Amy Taubin, Jose´Teunissen with the curatorial team being Susanne Sachsse, Marc Siegel Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Anna Mülter, Nadja Talmi, Kristian "Kiki" Petersen and Olga Damnitz.
Whew. I am excited about this two part event which will reconvene in the fall. I want to write more about seeing such films as No Presidents, Sinbad of Bagdad and Jungle Island, but i am exhausted and have to prepare for Zurich so i must leave you all horndoggy and anxious.
.: posted by Vaginal Davis 4:07 AM