Just before midnight on Friday, monologist Mike Daisey – star of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at the Public – addressed the theater people and Occupy Wall Street protestors convening in Paramount Plaza for Occupy Broadway, a 24-hour “creative resistance” promoting accessible art and the right to organize in privately-held public spaces. After an extended run, Daisey’s show will close this weekend before returning to the Public for a second engagement on January 31. But it doens’t sound like he’s looking for a relaxing hiatus: “I challenge Mayor Bloomberg to a Mexican wrestling match,” he announced as he unbuttoned his shirt and stripped down to his pants and sneakers before a few hundred cheering protesters. “When I have him down, when I have my knee in his fucking back … I will actually relent. I will understand what it’s like when you have something that needs to be heard.”
Daisey’s vitriol towards Bloomberg suggests he may have a new post-Jobs monologue subject in mind. “The day after Zuccotti Park was razed, I had an interview on Bloomberg Radio. I go up to the Bloomberg fucking ass dump of chrome and steel – it looks like a billionaire shit it out … it looks like the product of a little man who wants to feel bigger,” Daisey said. “At Bloomberg, you can tell the tit of the fucking industry is stuck right in their fucking mouth … his media trails behind him like a trail of shitty underwear down the street.”
Occupy Broadway, which concludes Saturday night, was organized by members of Occupy Wall Street’s arts and culture working group. Daisey was one of 70 performers, including Adam Rapp and Yes Men, who were scheduled to appear. There were no arrests during the first six hours — cops stood by, chewed gum, and kept their hands in their pockets. The overall vibe was peaceful, more like a mixer than a revolution. The final result was a game of adult show-and-tell with sing-alongs, stories, and hourly readings of the First Amendment.
Daisey began his 25-minutes oration after an awkward introduction (the emcee clarified that Daisey obviously had no idea that Steve Jobs would leave Apple – let alone die – while he was workshopping The Agony and the Ecstasy, then concluded, “Please welcome Steve…Mike Daisey!”) Daisey admitted that he tried and failed to take the show to Broadway. He complimented the younger generation for taking a stand. “That’s the job of people in the theater – to hold space. And that’s the trick – you don’t hold it, you give it back to the audience.”
“I was a little bit skeptical of this because of the carnival atmosphere” – which included a stilt walker, several clowns wearing rainbow wigs, feathered top hats, a “Mayor Bloomberg Scrooge,” “flag doctors” dressed in lab coats, and Reverend Billy, a performance artist whose disciples ascribe to The Church of Life After Shopping – “but I’m feeling it tonight,” said playwright David Lawson.