21 questions

Joan Wasser Knows a Good Story About a ‘Midget Choreographer’ and Some Fake Quaaludes

Name: Joan As Police Woman
Age: “I hit Freedom Forty on July 26”
Neighborhood: Industrial Paradise Greenpoint
Occupation: Entertainer, singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, violinist, positive attitudinalist. She’ll be performing at the free Celebrate Brooklyn show next Thursday, August 5, at the Prospect Park Bandshell, with Holly Miranda and Metric.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Can’t do it in one — James Baldwin, Emma Goldman, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
If on tour, search for the filthiest and/or most sacred part of the city, then hit the stage and emote like it’s potentially my last show ever; if at home, stare at the sky, talk to as many strangers as possible and dream up dreams to make into reality.

What was your first job in New York?
To survive.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
A great Afro.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Yes, but not to every panhandler. Having a deep interest in what is moving about the human voice, both spoken and sung, if the asker has something that compels me I will probably give money. Honestly, I have heard some of the best singing from folks on the street who are down on their luck. Pain is clearly not comfortable, but can and does produce ravishing and wildly beautiful art.

What’s your drink?

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Half the time.

What’s your favorite medication?
Telling dirty jokes.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
I am so tempted to write “my ex-wife,” but truthfully it’s a blue-bulb-lit wire star from a forties traveling circus and a mirrored portrait of Stevie Wonder, seventies-beaded-cornrow era.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?

When’s bedtime?
5 a.m.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
There is nothing at all wrong with either, and anyone who tethers themselves to anything that is gone is setting themselves up for pain. There is a magnificence in the old Times Square that can’t be beat. My friend has a great story about the olden days — a midget choreographer, who worked for Bowie at one point, was on the strip there between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

Someone is saying “Quaaludes, Quaaludes,” so he asks him, “Would you please give me a few of those, sir?” Unfortunately, the reported Quaalude salesman gave him aspirin instead. This choreographer, who went by the glorious name of “Gui Comme Toi,” says “These are not Quaaludes.”

So enraged was he to be questioned on the validity of his product that the salesmen punched him under the jaw, which lifted him up and through a plate-glass window of one of the many tiny shops that filled Times Square at that time (as well as joints like Hubert Hunky’s freak show/flea circus).

Because our nation has been corporatized, Times Square now resembles Tokyo — which is an amazing thing in itself.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
I am thinking of that crazy peach-colored swirl he’s got at the front of his hairdo and how much THAT must cost to get done, if anything.

What stylist is genius enough to make THAT up?

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Not enough time in the day to hate. Need the day extended to 33 hours so I can squeeze in a couple of minutes of good hating time.

Who is your mortal enemy?
My shadow.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Today. I own one. And my other car is a bicycle.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
If it’s affected me I don’t know about it and don’t care.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
Times, but I generally stay away from the news.

Where do you go to be alone?
My crib.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
If they feel it.

Joan Wasser Knows a Good Story About a ‘Midget Choreographer’ and Some Fake Quaaludes