Jun 22, 2024

Coffeehouse Chronicles #176: Jim Fouratt

Coffeehouse Chronicles #176: Jim Fouratt

Curated by Michal Gamily
Moderated by Penny Arcade
Panelists/Performers: Morgan Jenness, Carol Lipnik, Richard Barone, Dustin Pittman, Dane Terry, Steve Zehentner, M.Lamar, Hapiface, Sean Apparicio,  Kit Fitgerald, John Erdman, and Michela Griffo

a black arrow pointing downward

Jim Fouratt has been a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA for over 50 years, an American gay rights activist, cultural instigator, writer, and troublemaker. He studied with Lee Strasberg, Sevilla Fort, and Albert Malvern; Joe Chaiken invited him to participate in the formation of the Open Theater.

WRITER: Founding editor of New Times, conceived and edited the Communication Company’s Street News, has contributed to Rolling Stone, Eye, Village Voice, SPIN, Advocate, Gay City News and OUTWEEK etc. Fouratt was a co-founder of the Yippies, a founding member of the Unicorn News Service, a national radio news source, a founding member of the Underground Press Syndicate. He organized with friends the first Central Park Be In. He participated all four nights in the Stonewall Rebellion (which he says:..changed my life). Jim co-founded the Gay Liberation Front the first post-Stonewall political group..Because of his multi-issue politics and radical theater and culture activity, he became a :” person of interest” to the FBI’s Cointelpro program. He was arrested and jailed in Dallas Texas, He co-founded the Purple Star tribe. From the earliest days of the 60s Jim was involved with emerging music scenes which he saw as a form of creativity and political discourse. In 1968, at the insistence of the legendary musician Al Kooper, he was hired by Clive Davis to begin his career in the music world of art and commerce. He tells us he only took the job after consulting with fellow members of the New York City chapter of the White Panther Party (founded by poet John Sinclair) if he should take the job. Theysaid, “Do it,” Among the things he accomplished working inside the music industry was giving the green light to Columbia to advertise in the emerging alternative newspapers The other record companies followed. Only when a member of the John Birch Society and a stockholder asked General Sarnoff, CEO, why CBS was funding communist newspapers. Sarnoff Columbia order all advertising in the Underground Press Syndicate to immediately stop.. As a nightlife entrepreneur, he aimed to bring people together who would not usually be together (culture, political work). The dance floor and the DJs' mix magic were the tools used to accomplish his goal. Jim set a new standard for presenting live music in a club atmosphere. He re-invented Hurrah, followed by Danceteria, the Peppermint Lounge, Blitz, On the Water Front. He has stated his goal was to bring together people in an environment that mixed the discovery of the best in new music on the dance floor, and in live performance. He considered this political work. He created special series at Danceteria:

SERIOUS FUN that brought high art onto the public dance floor and on the stages of popular culture. Artists included Diamanda Galas and Phillip Glass

WORD BEAT: a spoken word series with poets that included Patti Smith, John Giorno, and Ann Waldman.

Video Lounge He created a concept he named the VIDEO LOUNGE with comfortable chairs and multiple television monitors. He hired curators who premiered the best of the emerging video art. His goal was to educate the public about the art of video and provide, in a social sense, a place for people to meet and actually talk to each other.

AIDS: When a mysterious disease began to kill gay men, Jim held the first memorials for artists and friends

HEAL: with Gene Fedorko's help, Jim founded WIPE OUT AIDS/HEAL (late 1981)

MUSIC INDUSTRY: Jim has worked in the music industry in several capacities, ranging from conceiving nightclubs to working with Clive Davis at Columbia Records. In the late 60s, Jim was hired by Columbia/CBS’sClive Davis as his liaison to artist development and the marketing of the recorded music. In 1993, Mercury Record’s Danny Goldberg hired Jim as a vice president of A&R at Mercury Records. He was given his own label (BEAUTY)
to develop artists' careers.

RADIO: Jim, in the early ’90s for about a year Jim was the co-host host of the Morning Show at WBAI, a part of the Pacifica network. He also has worked as an artist manager: Two Nice Girls, Richard Lloyd and Ornette Coleman. He continues to be an active journalist and has been a provocative film critic both online and in print for over 10 years. Jim wants you all to know that his SAG-AFTRA aformation of the Open Theater. He has never forgotten the impact the Living Theater had on him when he first arrived in NYC in1961,

Television Jim Fouratt is been a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA for over 50 years, , an American gay rights activist, cultural instigator, writer, and

THEATER: La MaMA debut in Fernando Arrabal’s “A Picnic on the Battlefield,” Cafe Chino, and on Broadway “The Freaking Out of Stephanie Blake “ with Jean Arthur.and regional theater. Joe Chaiken invited him to participate in the fo: network dramatic episodic programs, as well as other AEA-approved vehicles and EQUITY union cards are active, and he is “available.”

Excerpts from Sam Green’s Don’t Call Me Gay Zelig
Excerpt from Jim Fouratt’s interview with Stephen Colbert for the Colbert report and Jim Fouratt testified at St. Patrick's Cathedral with Rise U Abortion Rights

Photos by TRIX ROSEN and Peter Hujar

Curated by Michal Gamily
Moderated by Penny Arcade
Panelists/Performers: Morgan Jenness, Carol Lipnik, Richard Barone, Dustin Pittman, Dane Terry, Steve Zehentner, M.Lamar, Hapiface, Sean Apparicio,  Kit Fitgerald, John Erdman, and Michela Griffo

PENNY ARCADE - Penny Arcade is an international cultural icon, revered as a performer, poet, writer, and actress who speaks truth to power. Innovative, charismatic and magnetic, she has brought experimental theater to mainstream audiences and built a reputation for innovation, authenticity and integrity in the international art world. She debuted in 1968 at 18 with New York’s explosive Play-House of the Ridiculous, the seminal, rock and roll, queer, glitter/glam, political performance theater that influenced everything from Hair to Punk. She was a Warhol Superstar at 19 and was featured in the 1972 Warhol/Morrissey comedy, "Women in Revolt". Penny is the author of over 16 full length plays and hundreds of solo performance pieces, who's active career spans over 50 years. Since 1992, she has collaborated with former architect and video producer Steve Zehentner in her theater work. They are currently developing her musical memoir, The Art of Becoming. The next performance is July 23 at Joe's Pub. Since 1999, they have co-helmed, “The Lower East Side Biography Project”, an oral history video biography project that streams live every Monday at 11pm EST on mnn.org. A partial collection of her scripts with photos and essays, Bad Reputation, was published by Semiotext(e)/MIT. Press. Penny is the recipient of a Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement, New York Innovative Theatre Award, Edinburgh Herald Angel, Edinburgh Fringe First, Adelaide Fringe Award, Theater for the New City Love and Courage Award, NYSCA grants MacDowell, Yaddo and Orchard Project Fellowships. Her entire body of work plus The Lower East Side Biography Project is available on her Patreon page. www.patreon.com/Penny_Arcade

Carol Lipnik is acclaimed as one of New York’s most individualistic and virtuosic singers. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called her an “Ethereal vocal phenomenon.” With her stunning four octave range, subtle wit, charismatic stage presence, and distinctive song-writing, she draws equally on 70s art-rock, theater music, Eastern mysticism, opera, and the decaying phantasmagoria of the Coney Island where she was born and raised. Carol has built a dedicated following through her popular performances at the East Village boîte Pangea (where she will next be performing on July 18th), and at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. This August Carol will be appearing at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Cabaret Festival in Waterford CT, and at the 21st International Cabaret Festival in Mexico City. She is the winner of the BroadwayWorld Award for “Best Alternative Cabaret Show” and has released seven albums on her Mermaid Alley Music label. Visit carollipnik.com for more info.

Richard Barone is a recording artist, performer, producer, and author. Since pioneering the indie rock scene in Hoboken, NJ as frontman of The Bongos and helping to launch the chamber pop movement with his solo debut “cool blue halo”, Barone has produced  numerous studio recordings and worked with artists in every musical genre. His list of collaborators has included producer Tony Visconti, Donovan, Lou Reed, and folk legend Pete Seeger. He has scored shows and staged all-star concert events at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and SummerStage in Central Park. His memoir Frontman: Surviving The Rock Star Myth was published in 2007. His album Sorrows & Promises and his latest book, Music + Revolution (2022), are celebrations of the 1960s music scene in Greenwich Village NYC, where Barone lives. He teaches the course “Music + Revolution” at The New School’s School of Jazz & Contemporary Music, has served on the Board of Governors of The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), serves on the Advisory Board of Anthology Film Archives, and hosts Folk Radio on WBAI New York.

Dustin Pittman (www:dustinpop.com)‘s artistic career is an ode to embracing the extraordinary within New York City’s after-hours scene. From the pages of Women’s Wear Daily, W, Vogue, and more, his photography has woven fashion, music, and art together since the 1960s. His images portray an eclectic cast of characters including The Velvet Underground, Warhol’s muses, and fashion icons like Betsey Johnson, Stephen Sprouse, and even pre-fame Marc Jacobs. In addition, he has photographed the rise of musicians like David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Iggy Pop, David Johansen and Lou Reed alongside the regulars of famed nightspots like Area and the Mudd Club. Pittman’s work reverberates with a simple, profound truth: he offers his subjects the opportunity to “Just be”. He prioritizes capturing people naturally, (something he learned from Andy Warhol) allowing their true essence to shine. He values preserving genuine moments that reflect their spirits and life stories. An homage to unadulterated authenticity.Dustin is always searching, looking, always ready, and “posed & present” to capture the moment. He has been photographing people for over 50 years. In the studio. On the streets. Way Uptown. Way Downtown. New York, Paris, London, Milan, Tokyo, Europe, India, the Middle East, and the entire World. Day for Night. Night for Day

Dane Terry is a multi-media artist, writer, performer and composer. He has made stories and music for all sorts of rooms in all sorts of places. He has been up to this for quite some time and intends to stay up to it. Dane was the writer, composer and lead performer of the Music Fiction podcast Dreamboy. Works for stage include: Jupiter's Lifeless Moons (PSNY 2018) and Bird In The House (La MaMa 2015, Under The Radar Festival 2016). Dane was the 2016 recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award from PSNY.

STEVE ZEHENTNER - A former architect, Steve Zehentner is a filmmaker, theater designer/director and archivist based in New York City. Since 1992, he has collaborated with Penny Arcade on dozens of shows including Sisi Sings The Blues – Vienna Festival, Love, Sex and Sanity, Rebellion Cabaret, New York Values, Bad Reputation, True Stories, The Penny Arcade Sex & Censorship Show, Old Queen and Longing Lasts Longer. Together they have created anarchic humanist spectacles, over 900 performances in 80 cities around the world. They are currently developing, The Art of Becoming, a nine-part live episodic memoir. With Penny Arcade, he is co-founder of the Lower East Side Biography Project, a video oral history documentary project that works to ensure that future generations have access to the mad souls of invention that built the Lower East Side’s reputation as an incubator for authenticity, rebellion and iconoclasm. The project streams its biographies live every Monday at 11pm EST in Manhattan on mnn.org. Steve has worked in video production for over 25 years producing story-based social independent documentaries and promotional films for universities and non-profit organizations. His work is held in the collection of many museums, and screened at dozens of festivals. His short films, The Color Line: Racism in America and The Sunflower Project, a film that questions the limits of forgiveness through the lens of the WWII holocaust, have been broadcast on PBS. He recently produced a six part series on Multilingual Learners for the PBS children’s series, Let’s Learn. He is a recipient of an Aurora Video Award, Herald Angel, Fringe First, Adelaide Fringe, NYSCA grants and Yaddo, MacDowell, Bogliasco, Orchard Project Fellowships.

M. Lamar is a composer who works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture and installation to craft sprawling narratives of radical becomings. Lamar holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and attended the Yale School of Art, sculpture program, before dropping out to pursue music. Lamar’s work has been presented internationally, most recently EMPAC performing Arts Center at Rensselaer, The Davis Museum For Lorraine O’Grady,The New Museum, The Rewire Festival in The Hague, Trauma Bar Berlin, Atrium na Žižkově Prague, The Manhattan School of Music, Wellcome Collection London, The Cloisters at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, Funkhaus Berlin Germany, Kunstgebäude Stuttgart, The Meet Factory in Prague, among others.

Coffeehouse Chronicles


Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history of Off-Off-Broadway. Part artist-portrait, part history lesson, and part community forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles take an intimate look at the development of downtown theatre, from the 1960s’ “Coffeehouse Theatres” through today.

Special Event