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THEY LIVE BY NIGHT John Howell As New York clubs have multiplied, heating up the scramble for your "new wave" dollar, they have been fighting all the more to become the HQ of the artfashion -music nexus. Some places work at this elusive, formulaic cachet from scratch (the Rock Lounge), others try to hang on to what they've got (the Mudd Club). One common practice at these and other clubs-Hurrah's, the late Tier 3, Club 57-has been the presentation of special events: theme nights, fashion shows, and personality skits. During the last year or so, they have begun to host more all-out performances , from group variety shows like Last War IIIat Mudd, last winter's monthlong series, and A's at s.n.a.f.u., an occasional showcase for Arleen Schloss' workshop, to any number of solo shots around town. Certainly it's been a mutual affair. The venue shift makes sense for performances built around music, slide, film, and video images, "personality," and costume, which deal with hot subjects-politics, sex-in a topical way. This brand of performance has all but been evicted from galleries, and the alternative art spaces have booked-up programs. Besides, the club idea comes on sexy: late hours, new audiences, lots of uh ... social interaction -in short, nightlife glamour instead of art world aestheticism. However, this unholy union has its price. The flip side of these shiny thrills means big problems: rudimentary technical resources, lack of appropriate space for both performers and audience, disorga10 nization by organizers, late-arriving viewers who are notably impatient (better be "good," i.e., flashy, fast) and less than attentive (gotta check out the scene). So far, the experiment has turned up nothing to shout about in terms of either club as social milieu or performance as art. Leave it to Edit deAk, all-around producer of Art-Rite magazine fame, to come up with another take on the whole phenomenon. Her 1974 Person/Personashow, a week-long program at the original Artists' Space gallery, introduced pizzazz to alternative space earnestness, and so made the liveliest statement about seventies performance activity (among the artists: Jack Smith, Eleanor Antin, Scott Burton, Laurie Anderson). Three nights of this November's Dubbed in Glamour gave a twist to such matchmaking by presenting personalities as performers; kinky glamour met up with straight (relatively) art space. In the Kitchen's more formal setting, the frothy creme de la creme of club society served up an "image frolics" of performances , slideshows, videotapes and films, music prerecorded and live. When the glitter settled, there were more than two or three things we knew about her ("Glamour is woman, of course"-Edit deAk). 1. Glamour makes you wait. The first two hours of each four hour plus show were like sitting on the sofa talking to parents while the corsage wilted in your hands. Glamour takes her time. 2. Glamour doesn't work too long. Brevity is the soul of flash. Too long under the lights and style, like make-up, melts into a patchy blur. 3. Glamour doesn't exert, she exudes. Sweat means she's sick. Trying too hard is trying. Glamour doesn't try at all. 4. Glamour is extreme. Catch her in the middle of the road and you've caught her in motion, not action. 5. In glamour, pose is neplus ultra. Attitude is all, or she's nothing. Image is skin deep, artifice is her only reality. 6. Glamour begins with looking good. Ugly will never do. (See Baudelaire on make-up.) 7. Glamour dresses up. A "come as you are' invite never catches her with pants down. 8. Glamour "does it." To dress up is a necessary first step for undressing. Then comes step two. 9. Glamour loves herself. Narcissism in the pursuit of image is no crime. Media exists to play back her portrait to her own adoring self. 10. Glamour likes music. She's got rhythm in her methods. Talk is cheap-which she is not. 11. Glamour saves the best for last. Each night ended with a musical bang: ExDragon Debs, Funky Four Plus One, Bush Tetras. 12. Glamour travels...


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