April 6, 2010: Conference: An evening with Mario Montez

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 7-8:30pm

An Evening With Mario Montez

mariomontez_04_06_10_smThe Department of Performance Studies Lecture Forum presents Mario Montez, the great drag Superstar who reigned over the New York Underground film and theater scene from the early 1960s until the mid-1970s. Not be missed.

Mario Montez and Marc Siegel in conversation with Ela Troyano and Lola Pashalinski

34 Stuyvesant Street
The Barney Building, Einstein Auditorium
New York, NY

This event is free. Seating is limited and is on a first come first serve basis.  PLEASE ARRIVE EARLY.

Please join us for a reception after the talk on the 6th floor loft space!
Co-Sponsored by: Department of Social and Cultural Analysis: Latino Studies,Hemispheric Institute of Performance and PoliticsCenter for the Study of Gender and SexualityCinema StudiesThe Humanities InitiativeSteinhardt School, Department of Art and Arts Professions

Mario Montez Biography by Marc Siegel

Gerard Malanga: Who is your greatest super star?
Jack Smith: Mario.
Gerard Malanga: Why?
Jack Smith: Because he immediately enlists the sympathy of the audience.”

Mario Montez is the great drag Superstar who reigned over the New York underground film and theater scene from the early 1960s until the mid-1970s. Montez got his start with Jack Smith, working as a model for numerous photo shoots and making his screen debut in Flaming Creatures (1962-63) under the name of Dolores Flores. According to Ronald Tavel, Jack Smith claimed that Montez “never took a bad picture. His concentration was complete and a legible, specific idea arranges his features in every print which survives today.”  Smith and Montez shared a fascination for Dominican-born Hollywood 1940s star, Maria Montez, from whom Mario took his stage name and performance identity. Mario Montez worked continuously with Smith in films and performances throughout the 1960s. He starred as the Mermaid in Normal Love (1963-65) and also appeared in Reefers of Technicolor Island/Jungle Island (1967) and No President (1967-70s). Montez also performed in Smith’s live stage performance Rehearsal for the Destruction of Atlantis (1965). In 1964 Montez worked with Smith on Andy Warhol’s unfinished over five-hour film Batman Dracula. That same year Montez starred as Jean Harlow in Warhol’s first sync-sound film, Harlot, and also appeared in Mario Banana and Mario Montez Dances. He quickly became one of Warhol’s most important screen personalities, as well as the Factory’s first drag Superstar. Montez starred in a number of other Warhol films as well, including Screen Test #2, Camp, and More Milk Yvette (all 1965) and Hedy and The Chelsea Girls (both1966). In addition to his better-known collaborations with Smith and Warhol, Montez also appeared in works by a number of other filmmakers, including Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964), Dirt (Piero Heliczer, 1965), Brothel (Bill Vehr, 1966), and Life, Death and Assumption of LupeVelez (José Rodríquez Soltero, 1966). In the early ‘70s, the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica devoted a series of projects to Montez including the film Agripina é Roma Manhattan/Agrippina is Rome-Manhattan (1972). In addition to his work on film, Montez also played a seminal role in the development of the Theatre of the Ridiculous. He appeared in John Vaccaro’s productions of Ronald Tavel’s plays Screen Test, The Life of Lady Godiva and Indira Gandhi’s Daring Device (all 1966) and then went on to become a central performer in Charles Ludlam’s RidiculousTheatrical Company, appearing regularly in the company’s productions until 1976. Additionally, Montez performed in numerous other off-off Broadway stage plays, including Jackie Curtis’ Vain Victory (1971) and Harvey Fierstein’s In Search of the Cobra Jewels (1972). Throughout his performance career, Montez was known both for his creativity and skill with costume and make-up design and for his generosity in assisting fellow performers with their stage appearance. Through his imprint “Montez-Creations,” he therefore contributed substantially to the aesthetics of 1960s and ‘70s underground film and theater in NewYork.

“Mario had that classic comedy combination of seeming dumb but being able to say the right things with perfect timing; just when you thought you were laughing at him, he’d turn it all around.” – AndyWarhol