Performance artist Penny Arcade became a staple of the New York avant-garde scene at an early age. She went on to join John Vaccaro’s Playhouse of the Ridiculous and had a small role int he Paul Morrisey/Andy Warhol film Women in Revolt.
Arcade, who identifies as bisexual, is the author of 10 plays and has hundreds of performance art pieces on racism, homophobia, and feminism, among others.
She brings her latest piece Longing Lasts Longer to City Winery on Tuesday, June 25 for her long awaited Chicago debut.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Is this the first time you have performed in Chicago?
PA: (Penny Arcade) It’s the first time doing a show of mine. I have done a couple of benefits where it was about 10 minutes in the past.
JN: Where did your stage name come from?
PA: I named myself Penny Arcade when I was 17 years old and coming down off of LSD. I was living with a gay guy who had taken me in from off the street. I came in at four in the morning and was reading a book with the protagonist being Penny Kincaid. I was paranoid he was going to throw me out, but I woke him up in his loft bed and told him I had changed my name to Penny Arcade.
JN: Tell one story about Andy Warhol.
PA: We were making a film called Women in Revolt. In my opinion, it’s his most watchable film. Andy would turn the camera on as soon as you would get there. Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling were fighting in one room and I told him he should film it, but he had run out of film.
Andy became famous for shooting movies where nothing happened. The truth was he wanted to shoot films where something happened, but he would film and then run out of film before anything happened.
JN: I used to have such a crush on his star Joe Dallesandro.
PA: He was very handsome as a young man.
JN: Were you at Stonewall during the riots?
PA: No, I was there just after the riots. I was at Max’s Kansas City, a nightclub that we went to every night. Someone came running in telling us there was a riot at Stonewall. We were used to that because The Stonewall Inn got raided sometimes. We all went there because it was the place to dance. We ran over and were there for the next three nights.
The first gay Pride march was a moving demonstration. Stonewall was a demonstration like many demonstrations. Demonstrations for gay rights came out of other demonstrations we were doing against the war and for women’s rights.
JN: Talk about your new show Longing Lasts Longer.
PA: It’s a comedy, but rock and roll theater, like Playhouse of the Ridiculous was. There are a hundred sound loops with the best music of the past 60 years. It is cultural criticism you can dance to. It’s comparing nostalgia to longing. Nostalgia is a wistful, sentimental yearning, not only for the past but who you were in the past. Longing is a persistent sense of loss that we attach to ourselves and our history. Nostalgia is the past and long is into the future. Longing Lasts Longer, so that is what the show is based on.
We have done it in 40 cities around the world. I have done over 350 performances of it. I think Chicago will really love it.