Tag Archives: New York City

Our Man in Tribeca: A Fish Out Of WaterUncategorized

Our Man In Tribeca: A Fish Out of Water at the TFF by


A film festival is really nothing more than a community gathering, a selective, economically defined, cultural experience that in many ways is just as sociologically constructed as the neighborhood bar, or the set of people assembled on the A train, or a group of friends gathered at the Piers. The New York Film Festival looks very much like one neighborhood, one anthropologically gathered group of humans; Rooftop Films‘ summer film series another; MIX NYC a third,  Human Rights Watch a very different other.

For this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Keep the Lights On has asked writer and man-about-town Ioannis Pappos — himself a fish out of water from Pelio, Greece — to keep his own eye on the goings ons at Tribeca from a very human perspective. What’s going on here, during these 10 days in April? Which New York do we see here?  In a continuation of the sites interest in understanding New York as an organism made up of stories, join us for the next few two weeks as we see the Tribeca Film Festival through the eyes of one astute outsider.

Art & Autobiography

WTC View: My Autobiography of New York After 9/11 by

Brian Sloan on WTC View set

On the night of September 10th, 2001, I placed a roommate ad on the Village Voice website for my 2BR share in the West Village. The next morning I woke up to emergency sirens and witnessed the attack on the World Trade Center from my bedroom window. After a harrowing day, I left my apartment to stay at my boyfriend’s place in Brooklyn. Then, a few days later when I called my machine (remember doing that?) to get messages, there were a number of people who had called asking about my roommate ad. Some people even called me the day after 9/11, casually asking if they could “stop by and see the place.”

This was the strange but true story that was the inspiration for my first full-length play and later feature film, WTC View. It tells the story of a man who, like myself, placed a roommate ad for his apartment on September 10th. Because of this fact, people often mistake the play for being autobiographical. This is a situation that I’m somewhat familiar with because it’s happened before with other works of fiction and films I have written. In some ways, I find this flattering because I think it means people find the story so believable and real that it must be true. However, I also find it somewhat annoying because it assumes I just write down everything that happens to me and that there is little imagination involved in my writing. Still, the burning question remains…is it true or not? Is this the story of your life? Well, here’s my attempt at an answer. More…

Avery Willard

Adrian and the Dance of the Seven Veils: The Story of An Unknown Camp Classic by

Adrian (Henry Arango)

The story of Salome, the femme fatale who danced for the head of John the Baptist, has long been a source of fascination to scholars and artists. When Henry Arango saw a production of Salome at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1965, his first thought was, “Hell, I could be Salome.” In those days, Arango was one of the bright stars of the legendary East Village underground drag nightclub the Club 82 after emigrating from Castro’s Cuba in 1956. Arango performed under the stage name “Adrian” and was always seeking inspiration for production numbers to entertain the highbrow crowds who would descend into the 4th Street lair (now the location of the Bijou Sex Theater) to watch the glamorous, show-stopping female impersonators. When the cast was booked into a show in Florida, Arango went to work on the Salome number and mentioned it to his friend, filmmaker Avery Willard. Willard thought the duo should make it into a film. Thus begat the one and only filmed collaboration between Arango and Willard, Salome and the Dance of the Seven Veils, a 10-minute color film that remained in Arango’s possession, unwatched until many, many years later when drag scholar Joe Jeffreys presented it for an admiring audience at one of his Drag Show Video Verite screenings. Director Ira Sachs and documentarian Cary Kehayan, who are working on In Search of Avery Willard, a documentary about the forgotten gay experimental filmmaker, headed to Arango’s home in Astoria to talk about the film, Arango’s friendship with Willard, and what it was like being a gay man in New York in the ’50s and ’60s.

Ira Sachs & Cary Kehayan: When were you born?
Adrian: I wasn’t born. I was created, because I’m a goddess.

But you left Cuba in ’56, right? How did you get from Cuba to Miami?
I had a friend of mine who actually was gay and who worked at the American Embassy. And I said, “I have to get out of here.” I was working at a nightclub called Montmartre. It was a beautiful penthouse club with a bar and an elevator that opened up into this huge space. But Castro, I think, uh—There were a couple of guys with machine guns and they wanted to kill a couple of people there, and they did, they killed a couple extra people who were there. So they closed the place.

Were you there every night?
There had never been a female impersonator. But they created a whole themed show about Madame du Barry. They made me a huge contraption with a powdered wig and all that. And they had a line of eight boys who actually gave me a hard time because they didn’t want to back-up a drag queen. Though there were no drag queens. They were called “impersonators.” But we did it. The show lasted a week because they killed these guys and then my friend said, “I think it’s time for you to leave.” Already I had an audition at the Club 82. Two friends of mine who were working there got me an audition. I arrived. Got the job. Met Avery Willard in the club—he was one of the customers—and we were friends for many years. More…

Tell Your Story

New York is My Man-Oyster by

Six months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of a year and found myself single in Manhattan for the first time since moving here. Young, romantic and a glutton for excitement, I am constantly flirting with the idea that the next man who walks around the corner could be the next man walking into my life. I find nothing more exhilarating than locking eyes with a stranger on the subway…or sleeping with a man because he’s sexy, I want to and I have no reason not to. I had already discovered the breadth of opportunity here professionally, but I had not realized just how much this city was my man-oyster. Frankly, I’ve gone a little bit crazy. Quite frankly, I don’t (yet) regret one moment of it.

Tell Your Story

Rats ‘n Crackheads by

I’ll never forget the time I was walking home on Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side with my roommate and two men we had just met at a church-turned-bar. It was 4 a.m., prime rat-roaming time, and in true form the little critters could be heard and seen playing connect the dots from trash bag to trashcan all along the block. Roommate and her photographer walked paces ahead, while I meandered behind with my guy who was packing his one-hitter and respectfully attempting to persuade me to toke with him. I wasn’t aware at this point that omens and signs should be taken seriously when you’re a single-ready-to-mingle girl in Manhattan (although I had cautiously begun to wonder if my mother was right in saying nothing good happens after ten o’clock). I also hadn’t concretely formed the opinion yet that a strange man who tries to get you to smoke with him almost immediately upon meeting, while perhaps very attractive, may not be the kind of person you would actually want to see again. More…

Art & Autobiography

Chinese Take Out by

Dominique and her brother

In the Art and Autobiography section, we’ll be regularly featuring interviews with artists from across the creative spectrum who create, or are attempting to create personal or autobiographical work. We’ll also be featuring examples of personal storytelling from many of these artists. For our first post, Obie award-winning playwright and one of the legendary Five Lesbian Brothers Dominique Dibbell has graciously agreed to share an excerpt from “Adam and Jane”, a memoir she is currently writing about her parents.  

After an hour or so, maybe more, my father stopped into one of those Chinese food shops in New York that are very bare bones. Thick, scratched, and dirty plate glass front, approach the counter, order from the menu on the wall above, order taker scurries back through a door to the kitchen and delivers order. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, order taker retrieves your meal from the back and gives it to you. It is in plastic containers, in a plastic bag, and included is a plastic fork, maybe a napkin, and soy sauce and hot mustard packets. If you’re lucky, it comes with a free egg roll.

So we go into this little Chinese food place with my father, and it smells bad. It smells more sad than bad. Like death, sickness, and loneliness are their fare more than lo mein and spare ribs. I am having a moment of disgust for this food and the people who eat it. On the other hand, it is around lunchtime on a cold winter day and I have probably eaten a bagel about four hours ago so I am hungry. I would like to eat some of this Chinese food. Because sometimes, of course, very good food can come out of very sad looking places. Not usually, but sometimes. Also, I am new to New York, so I don’t know that most likely the food from here will be terrible. Also, it might not taste terrible to me because my tastes are not fully matured. More…