Jackie Curtis

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Jackie Curtis
Jackie Curtis Backstage by Gary LeGault.jpg
Curtis Backstage at SNAFU in 1980 by Gary LeGault
John Curtis Holder Jr.

(1947-02-19)February 19, 1947
New York City
DiedMay 15, 1985(1985-05-15) (aged 38)
New York City
Cause of deathDrug overdose
Resting placeRose Hills Memorial Park, Putnam Valley, New York
OccupationActress, writer, singer, Warhol Superstar

Jackie Curtis (February 19, 1947 – May 15, 1985) was an American actress, writer, singer, and Warhol Superstar.


Early life and career

Jackie Curtis was born in New York City to John Holder and Jenevive Uglialoro. She had one sibling, half-brother Timothy Holder, who is an openly gay Episcopal priest. [1] [2] Her parents divorced and she was mostly raised by her maternal grandmother. Her maternal grandmother was Ann Uglialoro, a well-known East Village bar owner known as Slugger Ann. Jackie performed as both a man and a woman throughout her career. While performing in drag, Curtis would typically wear lipstick, glitter, bright red hair, ripped dresses, and stockings. Curtis pioneered this combination of trashy and glamour, a style that has prompted assertions that Curtis inspired the glitter rock or glam rock movement of the 1970s.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

East Village, Manhattan Neighborhood in Manhattan in New York City

The East Village is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly defined as the neighborhood east of the Bowery and Third Avenue, between 14th Street on the north and Houston Street on the south.

Ann Uglialoro, known by her nickname Slugger Ann was famous as the owner of Slugger Ann's, a popular bar in the East Village area in New York City, which she operated from the 1950s until her death in 1980. She was also known as the grandmother of Jackie Curtis.

Andy Warhol said of Curtis, "Jackie Curtis is not a drag queen. Jackie is an artist. A pioneer without a frontier." Primarily a stage actress, Curtis debuted at the age of 17 in Tom Eyen's play Miss Neferititi Regrets produced in 1965 at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. [3] Curtis began writing her own plays immediately after this production. Her productions often featured well-known transgender people, such as Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn. Curtis' work was influenced by the Playhouse of the Ridiculous, a resident company at La MaMa. As writer and lead actress, her plays included Glamour, Glory and Gold, which also starred Darling, Melba LaRose, Jr., and Robert De Niro in his first appearance on stage, playing several roles; Vain Victory, with Darling and Mario Montez; Amerika Cleopatra featuring Harvey Fierstein; Femme Fatale, with Patti Smith, Jayne County and Penny Arcade; and Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit with Woodlawn.

Andy Warhol American artist

Andy Warhol was an American artist, director and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertising that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silkscreening, photography, film, and sculpture. Some of his best known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell's Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962), the experimental film Chelsea Girls (1966), and the multimedia events known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966–67).

Tom Eyen American writer

Tom Eyen was an American playwright, lyricist, television writer and director. He received a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Dreamgirls in 1981.

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is an Off-Off-Broadway theatre founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, African-American theatre director, producer, and fashion designer. Located in Manhattan's East Village, the theatre began in the basement boutique where Stewart sold her fashion designs. Stewart turned the space into a theatre at night, focusing on the work of young playwrights. La MaMa has evolved during its fifty-year history into a world-renowned cultural institution.

While writing plays, Curtis continued to act. She reprised her role as Ptolemy II in a 1966 production of Miss Nefertiti Regrets at La MaMa. [4] In 1969, she performed with the Playhouse of the Ridiculous in Tom Murrin's Cock-Strong alongside Penny Arcade, Anthony Ingrassia, Ruby Lynn Reyner, and others. Music for the production was written by Ralph Czitrom and performed by the Silver Apples. [5] She co-directed a production of her own play, Vain Victory, at La MaMa in 1971, [6] and directed and performed in Nick Markovich's I Died Yesterday at La MaMa in 1983. [7]

Tom Murrin, also known as Jack Bump, Tom Trash, and The Alien Comic, was an American performance artist and playwright in the downtown avant-garde art scene in New York City. In the 1980s and 1990s, Murrin curated a variety night called The Full Moon Show at Performance Space 122 and later at La Mama and Dixon Place. In 2013, Dixon Place introduced a performance award, "The Tommy," to honor Murrin's life and work.

Penny Arcade, is an American performance artist, actress, and playwright based in New York City.

Anthony J. Ingrassia, better known as Tony Ingrassia, was an American director, producer, and playwright whose works were produced on Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and internationally.

Andy Warhol and director Paul Morrissey cast Curtis and Darling in Flesh (1968) and, with the addition of Holly Woodlawn, in Women in Revolt (1971), a comedic spoof of the women's liberation movement.

Paul Morrissey American film director

Paul Morrissey is an American film director, best known for his association with Andy Warhol.

<i>Flesh</i> (1968 film) 1968 film by Paul Morrissey

Flesh is a 1968 film directed by Paul Morrissey and starring Joe Dallesandro as a hustler working on the streets of New York City. It highlights various Warhol superstars, in addition to being the film debuts of both Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling. Also appearing are Geraldine Smith as Joe's wife and Patti D'Arbanville as her lover. Flesh was first shown at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre at 152 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, New York City on September 26, 1968.

<i>Women in Revolt</i> 1971 film by Paul Morrissey

Women In Revolt, also known as Andy Warhol's Women in Revolt, is a 1971 satire film produced by Andy Warhol and directed by American filmmaker Paul Morrissey.

Curtis was also a singer and poet. In 1974, Curtis and Woodlawn appeared in Cabaret in the Sky at the New York Cultural Center. An album by Paul Serrato collecting songs from the Curtis works Lucky Wonderful and Vain Victory, including the love ballad "Who Are You", which Curtis sang to Darling, was released in 2004. Curtis' poem "B-Girls", much of which is based on her observations of people who visited her grandmother's bar, Slugger Ann's, was included in the 1979 book The Poets' Encyclopedia . At eight pages long, it was the longest poem in the book.

Album collection of recorded music, words, sounds

An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at ​33 13 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.

The Poets' Encyclopedia is an English-language poetical anthology, covering the literary, art and music worlds of New York City in the 1970s. 225 poets, artists, musicians and novelists transform the world's basic knowledge. Imagination trumps fact. John Cage writes on mushrooms, Richard Kostelanetz on gimmicks, Jackie Curtis on B-Girls, Pier Paolo Pasolini on reality, Daniel Berrigan on Israel, Allen Ginsberg on junk mail, Irene Dogmatic on junk food, John Chamberlain on junk sculpture, and William S. Burroughs on heroin. The New York Times said, it "includes Everything and Nothing ." Unmuzzled OX, the publisher of The Poets' Encyclopedia, attempted as a kind of sequel The Poets' Guide to Canada. Although George Bowering, Margaret Atwood, Sonja Skarstedt and other prominent Canadian poets wrote articles, the issue devolved into a jokey conversation between New Yorkers, pseudonymous New Yorkers, and the surrealist poet Russell Edson.


Jackie Curtis made two more movies during the 1980s. Drug addiction, however, took its toll on her [8] , and she died from a heroin overdose in 1985. [9]


1968 Flesh Jackie
1971 W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism Herself
1971 Women in Revolt Jackie
1971 An American Family Herself1 episode
1973 The Corner Bar Herself1 episode
1980 Underground U.S.A. Roommate
1983 Burroughs: the Movie Nurse
2002 The Cockettes Herselfarchival footage
2004 Superstar in a Housedress Herselfarchival footage
2010 Beautiful Darling Herselfarchival footage

Plays (as playwright)

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Superstar in a Housedress (2004) is a feature-length documentary by independent filmmaker Craig Highberger about the life and legend of Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis. Highberger also wrote the biography of the same name, published by Penguin imprint Chamberlain Bros. in 2005. The film includes interviews with surviving superstars Holly Woodlawn, Penny Arcade and Joe Dallesandro; as well as Paul Morrissey, the director of the Warhol films Flesh and Women In Revolt that Jackie appeared in; and Tony Award winners Harvey Fierstein, and Lily Tomlin who also narrates. The film also includes twenty friends and colleagues of Curtis who round out the story of the artist's life. Rare footage includes Curtis performing in Vain Victory, Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit, and Glamour, Glory and Gold.

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  1. Interviews in Superstar in a Housedress Accessed 4/4/2015.
  2. About Timothy Holder Accessed 4/4/2015.
  3. La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Miss Nefertiti Regrets (1965)". Accessed April 9, 2018.
  4. La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Miss Nefertiti Regrets (1966a)". Accessed April 9, 2018.
  5. La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Cock-Strong (1969)". Accessed April 9, 2018.
  6. La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Vain Victory, The Vicissitudes of the Damned (1971)". Accessed April 9, 2018.
  7. La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: I Died Yesterday (1983)". Accessed April 9, 2018.
  8. Holden, Stephen (May 5, 2004). "FILM REVIEW; Always the Lady, Even When He Needed a Shave". The New York Times. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  9. ABBOTT, ALYSIA (August 1, 2017). "Living with Cookie". The Recollectors. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  10. Hann, Michael. "Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side: what became of Candy, Little Joe and co?". The Guardian. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  11. County, Jayne (1995). Man Enough To Be A Woman. Serpent's Tail. p. 51. ISBN   1-85242-338-2.