At Wigstock there is no line dividing the performers and the audience. It is all a show; everyone is both a performer and an observer, an artist and a work of art. The personal is the political. Fantasy is made flesh. Dreams are made visible.
The Wigstock festival is an homage to excess and over-the-topness. Inspired by a night of clubbing about 20 years ago, the festival has evolved into a more-or-less annual summertime celebration of drag, art and good, dirty fun.
Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is now 50 years old. When Lawrence Ferlinghetti published and tried to distribute the epic poem, it was seized by U.S. Customs authorities as obscene. The courts eventually found that the poem (laden with words that still have the power to shock) was not obscene, but the headline-making trial brought Ginsberg fame, notoriety and a permanent place in the pantheon of hipsters.
In honor of Ginsberg’s contributions to “the countercultural heritage of the East Village/Lower East Side”, The Federation of East Village Artists named their annual arts festival the HOWL! Festival of East Village Arts. This year, to commemorate its 50th anniversary, the third annual Howl Festival is hosting a celebration of the poem.
From the official festival listing:
Tompkins Square Park – FREE
FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, 2005, 6:00 PM
ALLEN GINSBERG POETRY FESTIVAL
50th Anniversary of the HOWL! Poem
The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Festival celebrates the spirit of the renowned poet, world traveler, spiritual seeker, founding-member of the Beats, champion of human and civil rights, photographer, songwriter, community activist, teacher, and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Featuring Anne Waldman, Antler, John S. Hall, and Ed Sanders; HOWL will be read in seven languages and 16 voices.
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked …