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The Show Goes Downtown

Kings of Beer Clockwise from left: Michael Portnoy, Faceboy, Reverend Jen Miller, Nick Zedd, Master Lee, Hank Flynn, Jennifer Flynn.  


Misfits, microphones, multimedia marvels

If Andys Warhol and Kaufman were just arriving in New York, chances are they would head straight for the Lower East Side open-mike scene, where performers have dubbed themselves, only semi-ironically, “art stars.” Budweiser tallboys in hand, they perform monologues, play music, read from their journals, or, more often, do something that defies categorization.

The proud parents of the scene are Faceboy, who started his Sunday night open-mike nine years ago, and his elf-eared friend, troll-museum founder Reverend Jen Miller, whose Wednesday night Anti-Slam began seven years ago. Both are currently at Collective Unconscious on Ludlow Street and well-rehashed on “Real, open, and often drunk, the art stars range in age from 18 to 88,” says Miller, who also calls herself Sex Symbol for the Insane. Among the cast of regulars are Master Lee, who often performs as Salvador Dali, and the artist and musician Michael Portnoy, who performs as the characters Professor Kiffy, “a choreographer of jokes,” and XAR (pronounced ksar), a solo “majestic-electro” band.

“We are like a giant dysfunctional family that anyone can be part of. You can be the biggest dork, freak, or outcast in the world, and at the Anti-Slam, we will love you for it.” It’s like performance artist Penny Arcade, alum of both Warhol’s Factory and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, said the other night at Fez: “New York: If you can make it here, you can’t make it anywhere else.” And why would you ever want to?