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AN INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA HAGEDORN Jessica Hagedorn f Karen Dacker Jessica Hagedorn was born in 1949, and raised in the Philippines. At the age of 14 she moved from Manila to San Francisco, were she became a protege of poet and translator Kenneth Rexroth. Hagedorn's work includes poetry, prose, performance art, and music. For 10 years she was the lead singer and songwriter of the Gangster Choir band. Her multi-media theatre pieces include "Holy Food," "Teenytown," "Mango Tango," and "Airport Music." Her first novel, Dogeaters, published in 1990, received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. In addition to Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn's books include a collection of poetry and short prose, Danger and Beauty, which combines the work from two previously published collections of poetry and short prose, Dangerous Music, and Pet Food and Tropical Apparitions. Jessica Hagedorn is also the Editor of Charlie Chan is Dead, a groundbreaking anthology of Asian American writing. This interview with Jessica Hagedorn was conducted by Kay Bonetti for the American Audio Prose Library in April 1994. The American Audio Prose Library has produced recordings of readings by and interviews with 126 contemporary writers. For a catalog of complete listings, call 1800 -447-2275, or write AAPL, PO Box 842, Columbia, MO, 65205. An Interview with Jessica HagedornIKay Bonetti Interviewer: Jessica Hagedorn, you've worked in such a variety of mediums: poetry, prose, theater, rock 'n' roll—with The Gangster Choir—and also film. What medium are you busy with right now? Hagedorn: I'm preparing for a multimedia theater piece, Airport Music, that's coming up in New York City. And I've just finished work on a film, Fresh Kill, I actuaUy wrote a couple of years ago— you know how long it takes to make a movie—for an independent filmmaker named Shu Lea Cheang. It was based on a story of hers, so in that way it was a real collaboration. Most of it is shot in New York City, which was reaUy a crazy thing to do but we Uved through it. And now it's making the rounds of festivals and looking for a distributor. And the theater piece which involves film and sUdes and soundtrack collages, I'U be performing in as well. Interviewer: Dogeaters begins at the movies. You seem to be fascinated artisticaUy by film. Can you tell me why? Hagedorn: Because the movies really shaped my life. Growing up in the PhUippines, I loved all kinds of movies. We had a very healthy film industry there when I was a cluld. It's now gotten very limited. They only make action movies and hardcore exploitation movies. Women get raped; men get shot. But in my chUdhood, they had all kinds of movies—to rival HoUywood's really—musicals, dramas, comedies. They were wonderful. I would go see those movies faithfuUy every week. It was my big treat. And I'd go see aU the Hollywood movies that would come to Manila. We didn't have television until I was about eight years old, so it was either the movies or radio. A lot of radio drama. That was our television, you know. We had to use our imagination. So The Missouri Review · 91 it was reaUy those two things, and the comics, that I immersed myself in as a chUd. Interviewer: In Dogeaters, you make deUghtful use on many different levels of Love Letters, the radio serial that Rio's grandmother is so enamored with and that Rio Ustens to in the bedroom off the kitchen late at night whUe they eat rice with their hands. The servants come In too, and aU socioeconomic Unes are crossed. Hagedorn: Right. There were also horror shows on the radio. Very terrifying and thriUing to me as a kid. They had aU these creepy sound effects. They would come on at ten o'clock at night, and I just would scare myself to death. Interviewer: Did they import any of the American ones Uke The Shadow, or was it aU produced in the PhiUppines? Hagedorn: We produced our own. The radio was, and...


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