It’s all about LEGACY, LEGACY, LEGACY, darling!
Drag queen, cabaret singer, performance artist, and legendary legend Joey Arias has donated a collection of his papers to the Harvard Theatre Collection at Houghton. According to curator Matt Wittmann, the Arias Archive includes nearly 70 boxes of photos, correspondence, artwork, posters from shows, and audio materials.
via The Harvard Gazette:
“I don’t know what’s even in some of the boxes,” Arias admitted.
Wittmann said he was particularly excited to acquire Arias’ materials because they represent a broadening of the Theatre Collection’s perspective.
“Joey’s archive illuminates aspects of the performing arts that haven’t previously been represented in our collection,” Wittmann said. “Part of my impetus here has been to reflect the diversity of American life and orient the collection more toward current interests.”
Arias’ 40+year career began as a window dancer and salesperson at ’70s-era it-store Fiorucci. Since then, he has racked up an impressive run of performances that include “R-rated puppet shows, a trippy rock band called Mermaids on Heroin, a gig at Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and singing backup for David Bowie on Saturday Night Live.” His most popular act is a cabaret show in the style of Billie Holiday.
“My archives show a career that’s not just drag,” he said. “It’s drama, movies, performance art.”
Also included in the archives, a documentation of his legendary friendship with underground icon Klaus Nomi.
Among dozens of friends and collaborators in the 1970s and ’80s, Arias was closest with the German opera singer and performance artist Klaus Nomi. Nomi, an experimental performer who often combined vocal synthesizers with opera, was Arias’ best friend and roommate. He died in 1983 of complications from AIDS, and Arias became the executor of his estate.
Nomi’s archives, including audio recordings of the singer and his “treasured” record collection, were given to the Theatre Collection along with Arias’ own archive. Preserving and promoting Nomi’s legacy is one of the things Arias feels most passionate about when it comes to sharing his archive with Harvard.
Very impressive! Condragulations, Joey!