Friday, August 26, 2011

In Memory Of Claire O'Connor

Last month, I and the other board members of HOWL!  Arts Inc. were stunned to learn that we had lost a friend, a colleague, a co-conspirator. We, the members of HOWL! Arts Inc. are the folks who bring you NYC's HOWL! Festival each year, outdoors in Tompkins Square Park. We've also established HOWL! H.E.L.P. an emergency medical and financial aid program administered by The Actors Fund for the EV/LES's un- & under-insured artists and performers.. whose numbers are legion.

Claire was a born-and-bred New York City girl with working-class roots, which made her exceptional even before you realized that, not only could she string two words or more together, and do it well, but she was championing the very same things that we were at about the very same time: original and thought- provoking performance, music and art. Most of it occurring after dark. In nightclubs, both big and small.

Claire got her start, so to speak, when she was hired as the publicist for that first famous, but then later infamous nightclub-in-an-old-church, Limelight. Since a publicist's job description is, by its very nature, both vague, vulgar and varied (one club owner simply told his new PR employee, "Just get the people here!") Claire wound up doing much more at the Limelight than getting the perennially reluctant press to write about that fledgling nightspot. She booked bands, threw parties, held events and created concepts. She did it until the Limelight was a place to "see and be seen," and a virtual "celebrity magnet." And this was all, indeed, many years before copious amounts of liquor and tax-free cash, the absence of even the flimsiest of moral compasses and a never-ending supply of the new, so-called designer drugs, combined to turn a clever but clueless Fordham University freshman named Michael Alig into the lunchbox-toting, clown-faced Party Monster now doing time for manslaughter at the correctional facility in Dannemora, New York.

Throughout this period as she was changing Peter Gatien from a Mongol into a Mogul, I had only a passing acquaintance with Claire. We were each busy in our own worlds: Claire at the Limelight and I at my own venue-- the Pyramid Club. It was only later, much later, when we had each been nominated to the HOWL! Board Of Directors and accepted, that we became friends. And much of that friendship developed over the telephone. Claire could always be found awake, up and working, and actually willing to pick up the phone at 2 or 3 or 4 AM. And I, after years on the New York nightlife graveyard shift, even though I no longer worked in the clubs,  was always wide-awake post-midnight and at the computer banging out a press release... or a script. 

"Claire, they are making me crazy... driving me nuts, the lot of 'em!" I complained. "Because N... (a certain play's director) sent me a complete cast-and-crew list from his play with over 50 names, more than half of them incorrectly spelled... I'd cut-and-pasted them into the release that I wrote for this piece of theatrical merde, because, well, N. had insisted on it. And now each of these ham actors is calling me and whining. Or emailing me and bitching about how unprofessional I am... And now even the poets are starting in about their names being misspelled..."  After a few minutes of commiserating, we said goodnight and hung up. 15 minutes later, the phone rang. It was Claire again. "Hattie, check the blog," she said, as she replaced the receiver.

In 15 minutes she had dashed this off...
There Just Aren't Enough Letters In the Alphabet To Describe Howl! Festival's Esteemed Guest Poets
No two poets are alike, but we know three poets who have all, very recently, suffered comparable misfortune. Susan Scutti, Amy Ouzoonian and Thomas Fucaloro had their names misspelled on various Howl! Festival press materials and even on this blog. No doubt each of them will interpret the adversity with great individuality.  Hopefully, they will exploit the incident creatively and for all to enjoy, rather than internalize the pain and bear it alone, wordlessly.
Susan Scutti, Amy Ouzoonian and Thomas Fucaloro, among others, will be appearing at the Howl! Festival’s opening night reading of the Allen Ginsberg poem, “Howl,” in Tompkins Square Park on Friday, September 10th, from 5-7PM.  Below is a little background information on these three fine rhymesters, as well as photos.
Once you know what they look like and how to spell their names, it might be nice to approach them at the festival and impart some empathy regarding this flagrant inaccuracy. Remind them that this exact, same faux pas happens daily to Allen Ginsberg, long after his physical suffering has ended.  Alan Ginsberg, Allan Ginsberg, Allen Ginzberg, Allen Ginsburg, Alan Ginzburg, Allan Ginsburg – it’s exasperating. 
It is, however, much easier to speak the one name Allen Ginsberg than it is to pronounce the three names Susan Scutti, Amy Ouzoonian and Thomas Fucaloro.
Claire, all of us at HOWL! Arts will miss you.

Brian Butterick (AKA Hattie Hathaway)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The 2011 Howl! Festival in Tompkins Square Park was a grand success!

Hosting an estimated 100,000 visitors, under mostly blue skies, and featuring an incredible children's section called The Howl! Out Loud Kid's Carnival.

Over 95 artists performed over the course of the Howl! weekend. 

This year's stunning debut (with rave reviews from young and old alike) was The Hot Howl! Disco Tea Dance curated by DJ Johnny Dynell and Nathaniel Siegel. 

The Children's Carnival included story-telling and performances by Rosie's Theater Kids among many others. 

In addition, Howl! 2011 hosted perhaps the most diverse and interesting Art Around The Park we've ever had! 200 artists participated in the creation of beautiful works of art on 1100 square feet of canvas.

Misstress Formika at HOWL! 2011

Coming October 2011, a month-long cavalcade of theater, performance, music, spoken-word, dance, and film at Theatre 80-St. Marks all to benefit HOWL! HELP, an emergency medical and housing safety net for local artists in crisis. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


On June 5, 2011, JACKIE FACTORY producers CHI CHI VALENTI and JOHNNY DYNELL will present their fifth annual LOW LIFE to crown the 2011 HOWL! FESTIVAL. LOW LIFE is the free and fabulous Sunday evening climax to HOWL! - a two hour spectacular inspired by East Village decades past. Each year's theme is served up in a lavishly costumed production starring dozens of downtown's finest. This year's LOW LIFE 5: FLAMING QUEENS celebrates the East Village (and its pivotal nightclubs and boites) as the birthplace of brilliant Gay, Trans and Lesbian performers and performance genres for over a century. LOW LIFE 5: FLAMING QUEENS pays homage to movements and moments including the mid-century 82 CLUB and its lavish shows, the protest performance art of ACT UP and GRAN FURY, Tompkins Square's own WIGSTOCK and the notorious 19th century Bleecker Street Tranny Bar THE SLIDE.
This hour and a half show features multiple dance companies, vocal and musical performances, burlesque and drag renderings and of course - brilliant lip synch! The bill (still in formation) includes showstopping trans songstress SADE PENDAVIS (Paris is Burning), HOWL! resident butoh company VANGELINE THEATER, Low Life chorines the PIXIE HARLOTS (costumed by MACHINE DAZZLE), former MISS BOYBAR HRH PRINCESS DIANDRA, Neue dance/performance ensemble the RACHEL KLEIN THEATER and the Low Life debut of Bowery Boylesque star Go-GO HARDER. LOW LIFE MC PAUL ALEXANDER (of THE ONES and JACKIE 60) will join SADE PENDAVIS and voguers from the HOUSE OF XTRAVAGANZA to debut the new 21 century Voguing Anthem BRING IT! from new Jackie Factory music label ENDLESS NIGHT MUSIC.
LOW LIFE events were inspired by the seminal LUC SANTE book "LOW LIFE: The Lures and Snares of Old New York" and are produced by local performance collective THE JACKIE FACTORY NYC. The annual LOW LIFE extravaganzas at HOWL! continue a body of work born at the seminal Meat Market nightclub JACKIE 60 in 1997, with past editions in London, Minneapolis and of course, the HOWL! FESTIVAL since 2007. For the show's producers, East Village residents for over two decades, this annual spectacular is a Valentine to the neighborhood's past, present and future stars.
THE HOWL! FESTIVAL, the East Village festival of the arts, was named in honor of the groundbreaking poem by ALLEN GINSBERG and began in 2002. This year HOWL ARTS, INC brings the 8th annual HOWL! to Tompkins Square Park from June 3-5 - moved from its former September dates to a new June weekend. This "exceptional, existential and uplifting weekend of cutting edge art, fantasy and fun" arrives just in time to celebrate Allen Ginsberg's 85th birthday on June 3. That evening, the stage opens at 5pm with the festival's traditional reading of Ginsberg's famed poem HOWL, his impassioned words delivered by his friends and contemporaries led by BOB HOLMAN and including Beat poets JOHN GIORNO, HETTIE JONES, ED SANDERS and BOB ROSENTHAL. This weekend of poetry, performance art, music and dance will once again feature ART AROUND THE PARK, a two day exhibit of EV/LES artists exhibiting their work as they create it; main stage performances of HIP HOP HOWL!, HOUSE OF HOWL and LOW LIFE and this year's brand new children's attraction, the Great HOWL! OUT LOUD Carnival for kids of all ages. Please visit HOWLFESTIVAL.COM for details on all of the weekend's exciting programming.
THE JACKIE FACTORY is the NYC based nightclub arts collective founded by husband and wife team CHI CHI VALENTI and JOHNNY DYNELL in 1990. Most famous for the 450 themed editions of its decade-long party JACKIE 60, venue MOTHER, and annual Stevie Nicks extravaganza NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STEVIES, THE FACTORY also creates large-scale spectacles in New York and cities nationwide and worldwide, including LOW LIFE @ HOWL!
More on the 2010 show at the LOW LIFE 2010 FLICKR SET
More on the 2009 show at the LOW LIFE @ HOWL 2009 FLICKR SET
Image: The 82 CLUB marches in the 1973 GAY PRIDE MARCH, photographer unknown, courtesy of

HOWL! 2011: Saturday & Sunday In Tompkins Square Park

Photo: Vangeline Theater

Saturday, June 4th, South (Adult) Stage (East 7th Street between Avenues A & B)

Starts at 2 PM
Performances include:

Ekayani and the Tom Glide Space 
Chris Rael 
Bina Sharif
Vangeline Theater
Arthur's Landing 

Sunday, June 5th, South (Adult) Stage (East 7th Street between Avenues A & B)

Hip Hop HOWL! 2 PM- A Massive live mixtape showcase featuring the hottest, up-and-coming hip-hop artists...

Images/Design: Jermaine Daniels

House Of HOWL!- 3 PM- Is a vivacious variety show featuring voguers, vocalists, dancers, and trendy fashion designers. This year's them is "The High Life" featuring JSTN, the star of Broadway's mega-hit, "Rent".

Low Life- 5 PM- Inspired by the seminal Luc Sante book, Low Life: The Lures and Snares of Old New York and produced by local performance collective The Jackie Factory NYC... The annual Low Life extravaganzas at HOWL! continue a body of work born at the seminal Meat Market nightclub Jackie 60. For the show's producers, colorful downtown self-described impersarios Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell, East Village residents for over two decades, this annual spectacular is a valentine to the neighborhood's past, present and future stars. This year's edition is entitled, "Flaming Queens."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Eighth Annual HOWL! Festival Presents Poetry Circles Throughout Tompkins Square Park Saturday 6/4 & Sunday 6/5, 2011

As part of the late Allen Ginsberg's 85th birthday celebration, HOWL! 2011 will be presenting more poetry/spoken word events than we've ever had before. This year, ALL poets are invited to participate in Open Air Poetry Circle Readings which will be featured throughout the park on both Saturday June 4th and Sunday June 5th.

Each poet will read for 5 minutes. To sign up, simply send an email to: with the following information:

1. Your name
2. A one sentence bio.
3. Any online links to website(s) blogs etc.
4. A photo with permission to post and photographer credit.
5. The day Saturday or Sunday you would like to read in one of the circles.
6. The preferred time you would like to read 12-1pm, 1pm-2pm, 2pm-3pm, 3pm-4pm, 4pm-5pm.
7. In a few words, describe your poetry.

The HOWL! Festival will confirm your participation by email in advance of the reading.

Space is limited only by the number of poetry circles we create, and that depends upon the number of poets who respond.

So... write poem (or two) today!

Photo From Art Around the Park: Nathaniel Siegel

The 8th Annual HOWL! Festival Takes Off!

JUNE 3rd, 4th and 5th
In Tompkins Square Park, NYC: East Village
Howl Arts, Inc. brings its 8th Annual HOWL! Festival to Tompkins Square Park (located between 7th –and 10th Streets, between Avenues A and B, in Manhattan), from Friday June 3rd through Sunday night June 5th, for an exceptional, existential and uplifting weekend of cutting edge art, fantasy, fun and superb family entertainment.
With sculpture, interactive installations, poetry circles, yoga  and acoustic performances in the park each day from 11am – 7pm, the HOWL! Festival, the East Village festival of the arts, arrives on June 3 just in time to celebrate the birthday of the late poet, Allen Ginsberg, who would have turned 85 years old on this day.
Opening the stage on June 3 at 5pm with the festival’s traditional reading of his famed poem HOWL, Ginsberg’s impassioned words will be delivered by his friends and contemporaries led by Bob Holman and Beat poets John GiornoHettie JonesEd Sanders, and Bob Rosenthal, just to name a few.
Paving the way for the customary weekend of poetry, performance art, music and dance, the HOWL! Festival will once again feature Art Around the Park, a two day exhibit of East Village/Lower East Side artists exhibiting their work as they create it; the live-on-stage performances of Hip Hop HOWL!, House of HOWL and LOW LIFE, as well as the amazing talents of Rosie’s Theater Kids, just the highlights of numerous performances on both the adult and children’s stages.   
This year’s surprise addition introduces a brand new children’s attraction, the Great HOWL! OUT LOUD Carnival for kids of all ages, offering carnival games, fairway attractions, arts and crafts activities, miniature golf and live  entertainment provided by Rosie’s Theater Kids among others...  It's free fun for all ages!
Since its founding in 2002, thousands of artists and performing groups of every genre and background have taken to the streets, to the Park and to the stage when the HOWL! FESTIVAL roars through the East Village.
HOWL! Arts, Inc., a not-for-profit arts organization producing all things HOWL! also presents the HOWL! Arts Project (HAP),  a  month-long performance series which will take place throughout the month of October (2011)  to benefit the HOWL Emergency Life Project (H.E.L.P).  Administered by the Actors Fund,  H.E.L.P is an emergency services and health fund available to East Village and downtown artists in need of assistance. HOWL! Arts Project is sponsored by Actors Fund (administrators of H.E.L.P) and presents poetry, theater, film, dance, music and performance art programs.
HOWL! Arts channels the spirit and artistic invention of the namesake poem and poet Allen Ginsberg to deliver firsthand examples of the creative, cultural, and historical forces that have made the highly original downtown arts of the EV/LES community world-renowned.
For information, photos, press passes, and to request interviews, please contact
Claire O’Connor Public Relations  212.245.5784 / email:
Jane Friedman / HOWL! Arts Inc   917.749.9210 / email:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Allen Ginsberg!

It just so happens that the opening of this year's HOWL! Festival (June 3-5, 2011) coincides with what would have been Allen Ginsberg's 85th birthday.

Each year we kick-off the open air festivities in NYC's Tompkins Square Park with a group reading of Allen's ground-breaking 1956 poem, Howl, just before dusk, conducted in a symphonic manner by Bowery Poetry Club mastermind, Bob Holman.

The line up of poets lending their voices to bringing Howl to life this year (in no particular order) include:

Darian Dauchan
Alice Whitwham
Nicole Wallace
Curtis Jensen
Julie Patton
Fay Chiang
Miguel Algarin
Andy Clausen
Eliot Katz
Bob Rosenthal
David Henderson
John Giorno
Hettie Jones
Steven Taylor
Ed Sanders
sick prose
Elisabeth Velasquez
Helena D. Lewis
Eliel Lucero
Nikhil Melnechuk
Jon Sands