Bad James! I see I’ve been neglecting my old chum Brett from Brownsville – you know, the nutty queen with the killer video collection? And he’s always SO GOOD to me. Why, just this week he just sent me a package of DVDs that include Shirley MacLaine’s 1978 one-woman show and a literal BUTTLOAD of British scallyboy porn (shocking stuff, don’t you know. Not for every taste.
Really, more of an acquired pleasure. Now, I wonder why he thought I’D be interested? FRESH!)
Anyway, I thought today we’d play ketchup and post an UNHEARD-of TWO videos of his on Wow TV (!!). The first is a 1981 Tom Rubnitz short featuring the disturbing genius that was Disco Freida. You are going to LOVE IT1 And love HER! Such a goddess! Oh my! I’ll never forget seeing her perform those nutty, free-form haikus of hers at No Entiendes and Whispers. (OMG REMEMBER WHISPERS AT PYRAMID? HOSTED BY HAPI PHACE?—Remember: “I’m Hapi! You’re gay! And this is WHISSSSSSPERS!” – AND HOW IT GOT A LAUGH EVERY GODDAMNED TIME SHE SAID IT?)
Ah yes, those were the nights when every line-up, every week, invariably included an annoying trio of silent, blue-faced “performance artists” who popped ping-pong balls out of their mouths and whatnot. “Oh, they’ll never go anywhere,” we sniffed. Of course, cut to 20 years and 20 KABILLION dollars later, and those fucking Blue Man Group boys sure aren’t going anywhere. ANOTHER annoying trio of upstarts that were often on the bill were the Beastie Boys. They usually performed Yiddish rap songs in rabbinical drag. HILARIOUS! (GROAN) And for some reason, they always thought it was WILDLY AMUSING to climax every performance with a sadistic pelting of ice and folding chairs at Michael Musto and me. Oh HA HA. “THEY’LL certainly never go anywhere,” we assured ourselves, as we picked cigarette butts and cherry stems out of our wigs. But of course, God does not care about karma or hurt feelings. Not really. So the Beastie Boys went on to become legends. And me? I’m still picking butts out of my wig. C’EST LA VIE! Moving on. Anyway, of course, Whispers wasn’t Whispers and no Non Entiendes was complete until a sweet, fresh-faced youngster named Karen Finley shoved a few yams up her ass and chanted her little sing-song about fucking her granny’s twat. REMEMBER THAT? Now, oddly enough, in those days, that was considered shocking. And we couldn’t get enough of it. “Oh SHE’S going places,” we all marveled. “Straight to the top!” NOW SEE, THE LESSON HERE IS THAT YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHICH OF YOUR CONTEMPORARIES WILL TAKE FLIGHT. Never count out the annoying idiots, and don’t put all your stock on the iconoclasts and creative geniuses.
But I digress. And that really WASN’T the lesson I was going for. What I was TRYING to do was simply paint a picture of the downtown cabaret scene of the ’80s, and show you some of the creative energies that informed the era. Which FINALLY brings us to the glory that was Disco Frieda! Sorry. I DO rattle on a bit. Now, for the uninitiated, the less I say about Freida, the better. I don’t want to spoil the bliss of discovery. Hell, I’m not even going to set up this clip. Just relax, sit back and enjoy this little slice of looniness. It’s a bittersweet joy for me, of course, because like so many of those characters, Frieda just up and vanished in the late ’80s. POOF! Never to be heard from again. I always suspected that behind the Freida head (UNDER the Freida head?) she was REALLY Tom Rubnitz, and that when he died, he took her to his grave with him. The editor doubts that, and thinks Freida was more likely the “Barbara Lippman” you see in the credits. But a REAL GIRL? Freida? I think not. Real girls don’t have the psycho-batshit drag sensibility evidenced here. SO, IF ANYONE KNOWS WHO FREIDA REALLY WAS, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO HER, PLEASE GIVE US THE SCOOP! It would fill a deep, gaping whole in my youth, and bring closure to her legend.
– James St James