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Acclaimed performance artist Penny Arcade talks New York’s pernicious gentrification, the failures of the LGBTQ movement, and elusive fame.”>

In a recital room at St. Anns Warehouse, the Brooklyn Bridge looming and lit in the encroaching darkness of a recent late afternoon, the musician Penny Arcade recalled the counseling of her close friend Quentin Crisp, the largest British witticism and naked civil servant, who famously induced New York his house.

Miss Arcade , not to worry, Crisp informed her in that wonderfully feathery, arch tone of his, which she perfectly masquerades. Time is kind to the non-conformist.

Arcade had been talking to Crisp, and today to me, about her need of mainstream success, or access, as she calls it, despite playing for practically 50 times, most famously in her 90 s reveal Bitch! Dyke Faghag! Whore !, a inciting polemic with backup dancers that included everything from prostitution to the once-exalted robe of faggot sorceres, which she wore with pride.

The label given to women who gravitated to gay souls symbolize so much more than those women being accessories or frantic, she said.

Arcade, who is performing her latest evidence, Longing Lasts Longer and periphery theater circuit has already been to carry to more lucrative and visible fame.

This is the most recurrent topic of our three-hour communication: She seems indignant and then not furious about it; happy with the pre-eminence of her prestige and status such as it is, and frustrated not to have been granted the consideration, and assent, of The New York Times. If she has made a armistice with it, it seems an uneasy one: She knows her worth, and says so.

I am a captain improviser, she said, this derived from her early participation in the Play-House of the Ridiculous, the underground theater group of the mid-1 960 s.

I was queer before lesbian thought, Arcade said. That was gay theater that was not dealing with real political question , not only gay questions. The revolutionary faggots I grew up with part of that stage were interested in womens rights, reproductive claims, civil right, everything.

Arcade has played and toured over 30 parts since 1985, including La Miseria( 1991 ), Sisi Sings the Blues( 1996 ), New York Values( 2002 ), and The Etiquette of Death( 2012 ). She bemoans the lack of connoisseurship now. When she began play-act in the late 1960 s, there was a requisition and expectation that you had to be good, smart, rigorous. But not now: For Arcade, the devastation wrought by AIDS took a generation of lesbian tastemakers and arbitrators away, like photographer Peter Hujar and the actor, director, and playwright Charles Ludlam. About 300 parties she knew died of the disease.

, either: Its not like shes approached by the finest people on wall street, shes approached by creeps.

Crisps quote comforts her, largely because he was a beady-eyed realist, and no comforter. Arcade, who describes herself as a bisexual faggot sorceres, is now 66, and thinksdespite pop cultures consumption of all things brand-new, young, and shinythat its judges, the right throw national officers and makes will soon be calling on her. When they run out of everybody else, they will come. The disgrace is it will come in my eighties and nineties, when you cant do much with the access.


During our gossip, this and other topics end like thunderous curves, recede, then render, accompanied by the regular pulsate of Arcades fist on the table between us to make a point. She is insistent, emphatic, a relentless novelist who sometimes refers to herself in the third largest party, such as As Penny Arcade says, and who sometimes fails line of the degree she wants to reach. Wonders are pretty irrelevant to Arcade. She talks candidly and fiercely without any encouragement or much elicitation. Anecdotes downfall into other fables and then collapse into big points to be made.


As she herself said near the end of our time together, I can talk the leg off an iron pot.


Arcades political inclination toward coalition-building, of confederations and labels forged at a any more difficult occasion for LGBTQ peopleArcade was there, the second darknes of the Stonewall uprising; she prefers that term to riotsmeans that she despairs over contemporary arguings over pronoun usage.


She has been accused of being transphobic for the utilization of the word tranny, but says vociferouslythump, thumpIve been using the word tranny for 50 years. Fifty times. It is a word that comes out of the lesbian world-wide. All these people who hate the word tranny call themselves queer. Guess what? Queer is a slur that doesnt come out of the homosexual world. Queer comes out of hatemongers. We took back the word queerIm one of those that didand we returned it round. Who did we turn it around against? Not heterosexuals, but against the gay and lesbian political correctness 70 s and 80 s people who were trying to control us, those people who took their occasion coming out of the wardrobe who started telling the rest of us who had never been in the closet what we could and what we couldnt say.

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