Monday, September 12, 2011


  Recently I received an email from a grad student wanting to know about the famous Karen Finley and a piece I did long ago. I had rented the display windows of a defunct department store in SF, and scheduled artist performances and installations. One of my artists was Karen Finley. We were fresh out of art school. She proceeded to get naked and bang on the windows like a crazy woman for the downtown SF lunch hour crowd. After she escaped on the back of a motorcycle the crowd and the cops were left to me. Without the naked girl they had nothing. I told them I had rented the windows from Bob Lurie (the owner of the SF Giants) and was just trying to bring a little art to downtown. They scowled, got on their radios and eventually kicked me loose. "Watch yourself!" a burly officer warned me. This got me to thinking- how many times have I been told that by the law?
   A year later I organized an exchange between The Federal Correctional Institution in Pleasanton, CA and The SF Art Institute. My contribution to FCI co-ed prison was THE UNDEAD and THE PUDS- both punk rock art bands who had a predilection for removing their clothes. When Philip Huyser the lead singer for THE PUDS took the stage with his penis poking though the hole in a 45 rpm record taped around his waist I should've realized things were not going to go well. By the time a doz. Kathy Acker paperbacks had been tossed to the cheering crowd the Warden was already on her way. "Where the HELL do you think you are?" the big stern woman asked me as I squirmed in a metal chair. After confiscating the photog's film we were all released. "Watch yourself!" the Warden growled as we made our way back to the truck.
  In NYC I strung the artist Stelarc over East 11th St. with 18 shark hooks in his back. The cable was jerri-rigged to a 4X4 and a fire escape three stories above the street. When the cops shut down the spectacle their only concern was that the man hanging from hooks and flimsy cable was naked. They hadn't written yet all the other laws we broke. It being NYC the cops were cool and non-plussed by the whole thing. They wrote Stelarc a ticket for disorderly conduct and assured us they wouldn't show up. I accompanied Stelarc as his dealer. I have a fond memory of Stelarc bantering with the judge after he insisted the artist come up with a last name. "Like Cher your honor." Stelarc told the judge, in his most charming Aussie accent. "Dismissed." his frustrated honor barked with a bang of his gavel. Then he looked down at me and pointed his hammer at my face. "You better watch yourself mister." I got a million of 'em.

Nowadays it's me calling the cops when the kids fuck up my GOD LOVES FAGS sign or the neighbors  cover my FOR SALE sign or run their ATVs in circles at 4am in the morning. WTF am I losing my stuff? Must be getting old. Still, I'd like to think that given the opportunity to walk that razor edge between legal and illegal I'll always come down on the side of the law. I'm just trying to bring a little art to the sticks.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home