I have things to tell you about my general life, but that can wait until later in this letter, because THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!! I’M ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING YOU CAN GO TO!!!
Monday, October 11, I will be opening up a night of music as if it were a long-forgotten clown car full of traumatized Emmet Kelly hobo types, only slightly cheerier and minus the calliopes! If you are in the New York area, please come see Jim Andralis & the Syntonics (with Jim, Susan Hwang, Julie DeLano & me), David Clement (with Erin Hall & Rob Bailey), and moi, moi, MWAH!!! – entertaining you via song at East Berlin, 169 Avenue A, which is where Brownies used to be on Avenue A between 10th and 11th Streets, right next to my birthplace as a nightclub performer, the Starlight Bar & Lounge (which is now a bagel shop). I’m excited and nervous about this show. I’m playing first, at 7:00, with a 40 minute set of all my own songs, including two that I wrote recently that I’ve never performed in front of an audience before. I promise/threaten to wear something fancy and perhaps remove my top. And I also promise to invite Jim, Susan, and Julie up to sing a little with me and to pull out all the stops vocally and emotionally, as if I have any choice. ($15 tickets & proof of vaccination with ID required)
October 12, I will be getting my booster shot, and then look out, because on October 21, Kindred Solidarities: Queer Community and Chosen Families, curated by Anjuli Nanda Diamond and George Bolster opens at The 8th Floor Gallery. Other artists in the show are Jamie Diamond, Andrea Geyer, Nan Goldin, David Kelley, Kalup Linzy, Carlos Motta, and Christopher Udamezue. I am so excited about this show! First of all, it happens to be on a topic about which I have a lot of passion—the notion of kinship by choice: chosen family. It is a beautiful, liberating notion that should seem obvious but takes many of us a lifetime to learn. And it has saved my life. I am grateful that Sara Riesman, Anjuli, and George saw that notion in my work where I already knew it lived, if quietly.
The show will feature Cooking With Love, this 25 foot long Mylar curtain I made in 2007 as part of an integrated, collaborative project for Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time Based Art festival in 2007. The process of making the curtain, strand by strand, with a team of volunteers was a part of the piece as was the organized singing and whiskey-drinking breaks that were incorporated in our long workdays. For Kindred Solidarities, the curtain will be shown as a stand-alone art object. I will also show two mirror pieces, It Gets Better and You Ought to See My Heart, and the piece that is possibly the most important to me that I have ever made, Then and Now (Cape Collaboration).
There was a time, about fifteen years into my career, when I got really depressed. I tested out quitting being an artist and just kept my job at Phoenix, the bar where I had been working, and went home to watch a lot of TV in my newly vast amount of spare time. I was questioning whether I was tough enough to handle the rejection, disrespect, and poverty that went with my career—there had been so many let-downs and near misses, and it seemed like my life would never look like what I’d imagined for myself with the particular kind of success that was in my head. After a while in my new artless routine, I felt ready to try to reclaim at least the joy of making things, if not in the context of creating it for an audience. So, I began work on this project which was so close to my heart yet completely impractical and outrageously labor intensive. I knew at the very least, this long-term project would buy me more time to be by myself to figure out what I wanted to do. Along the way, I showed my progress to some people, and some liked it. I was surprised and hurt that some of my art friends hated it and were eager to enthusiastically tell me so. They thought it was too crafty and didn’t look like art, and they thought I was turning my back on the world that had helped me build my career up to that point. It was perfect to suffer this kind of abuse at this moment – it made it so clear what was not working in my life: those people and that kind of attitude.
This piece started by being about focusing on the things I loved and making something that I had no idea where it belonged—conceptually, categorically, or physically. I gathered together the hundreds of embroideries and needleworked pieces that I’d been compulsively collecting since I was a teenager, taking them out of their frames and undoing them from their backings and embroidery hoops to patch them together and form what became this enormous cape. I thought of the cape as a sort of fur piece: a cohesive whole composed of many pelts, each pelt representing a life, a soul that I was lucky enough to spend hours and hours of my time with as I then sewed sequins—one by one—on the unembellished surrounding fabric that connected each artist’s work. At that time I was depressed, and I did not want to be around real people, but these embroidered pieces filled me with a love for humanity as I created a ramshackle community of people who never really met but who all shared that at one time they had the impulse to create something with their hands, just like I did.
OK, wake up, Larry. Nobody wants to hear this shit! Or do you…???
Anyway, the happy ending of the story is that when I needed it most, this project restored my love of art and shifted my purpose in making it. Also, applying with the cape as my intended project, I got accepted into MacDowell, a luxurious artists’ residency where I worked intensely on the cape for four weeks, 2 years in a row, amid the most extreme version of a supportive and nurturing environment that exists!
So, almost three years after I started it, the cape was finished. That time working on the cape allowed for the weird naysayers to fall away from my life, making room for a new group of smarter, more supportive people. And loving them did not even require any work! It is impossible for me to separate all of this from the object, the cape. There is a chosen family composing it and, for me, living all around it.
Congratulations, you got all that sappy sentiment out of this rough tough curmudgeon! Give yourself a hand!
And as long as I’m suggesting things for you to do, how about coming to my OTHER music gig on November 10th at Sid Gold’s Request Room. My friend, comrade, and fellow Syntonic Jessie Kilguss will be headlining that night, and she graciously asked Jim and me do so sets before her. Karoake after!
But what of House of Larréon, you ask? Oh, not to worry! The atelier is getting fired up as we speak! We warmed things up by rekindling our relationship with the mad genius Dr. Larréonstein, creating some new t-shirts for sale in our SHOP, along with a fantastic new gender-neutral dress!
And it only gets hotter from there! November 30 – December 4, our muse Bridget Everett takes to the Joe’s Pub stage for the first time since COVID happened, with several evenings performing with her band The Tender Moments! The incredible Celisse will open each night, and then make way for Bridget in a brand new House of Larréon showstopping ensemble! Can we outdo the NEO CEO??
YES WE CAN!!
And save the date of January 25th! This is the day you will praising your higher power of choice for the fact that I was born fifty two years ago (or questioning your faith for that same reason), AND going to Joe’s Pub to see my soul brother and oft-time collaborator Neal Medlyn perform his new piece Comeback Comeback, featuring costume creations by ME that defy my sense of good taste more than ever before. And that’s saying something !!
In the meantime, I will be blindly stabbing away at my book, My Life in Pictures (Unillustrated) [working title]. Right now, I’m describing it as a multi-genre, comprehensive portrait of a person (me) and their (my) many facets. I’m writing it as a combination manifesto/memoir/cookbook/advice column/fitness guide/last will and testament. As an avid (obsessive) reader of other people’s memoirs and biographies, I am inspired to try to show a bigger picture of what makes somebody who they are in a way that will make people appreciate the stories of their own lives in a new way. Is an identity formed from how a person sees themselves or how they are seen by others? Is it what they proudly show the world or what they hide because they have spent their life ashamed? Is it their new experiences or their formative years? Their family or their lovers? Their career or the ways they have fun? Yes!
It sounds very grand, but it’s actually a fun, if emotional, read, written in a style you are way too familiar with if you are the kind of trooper who has read this far here today!
There is more to say about the book, but there will be plenty of time to expound in future letters! I have the feeling that I will be working on this thing for a LONG TIME. At the moment, though, I am almost finished with two adjacent chapters that I want to polish up enough so I can cautiously show that segment around to some agents and literary people to see if they think I should try to get the book published or just file it away circularly, as it were.
The two chapters I’ve been working on are titled “Who Knows how Love Starts” and “Krazy for Kanapés,” and here is some of what I have been using for research:
OK enough about me. I hope you stay healthy and safe, happy even. And I hope to see each of you again someday soon – maybe even at one of these gigs or at The 8th Floor Gallery. Or how about at a bar? At my studio? At the garbage dump? Anywhere!! (I miss you.)