When asked about her influences, Penny Arcade points to three enduring sources: growing up Southern Italian, immigrant, peasant ,working class in New Britain, Connecticut, the New England factory town that was a center of working class intellectualism, her debut at 17 with the glitter, glam, rock and roll, political, seminal queer, NY theatre, The Playhouse of the Ridiculous which influenced everyone from Bob Fosse and Fellini to Iggy Pop and David Bowie, while a teenage superstar for Andy Warhol’s Factory. No mean feat, they were the two opposing artistic camps that fueled the late 60’s downtown NY art scene and her innate and rampant curiosity, which she claims as her most prominent personality trait. A trait that led the reform school graduate to maintain her oppositional outsiderness without losing her humanity or stunting her intellectual growth.
Arcade will be reading from her new hard cover book BAD REPUTATION, Semiotext(e) a partial collection of her work, replete with essays on her large body of writing that has earned her the title Queen of Performance around the world. Don’t be surprised you have never heard of her. Arcade is widely thought of as America’s best-kept secret, a unique and stellar voice you won’t soon forget. Long considered the queen of the New York Underground, Arcade is one a handful of 1980’s artists who invented Performance Art (for which she apologizes profusely to everyone) and has performed in venues that don’t normally host underground or performance artists, from Royal Festival Hall to Sydney Opera House to Casa Ruiy in Rio de Janerio. A highly acclaimed writer, poet and performer. “The silver tongued Penny Arcade is a writer of scorching comedic candor with a mind like a steel trap”” raved critic Michael Billington of UK’s Guardian, usually a tough man to please. Her writing is for everyone; direct, poetic with a honed, unique, philosophical point of view, filled with hard won wisdom. You can dine out for a month on her one liner’s alone. Did we mention that Arcade “is a wonder to behold, and manages to entertain, absorb, and broaden the audience simultaneously” and that she is “Provocative, intellectually stimulating, perceptive and hilariously funny and combines the anarchy of Lenny Bruce with the pathos of Judy Garland.” Or as The Scotsman wrote “If Penny Arcade was a cult, I would join!”
Penny Arcade may well be the most prolific, intelligent performance artist you’ve never seen. Penny Arcade (born Susanna Ventura) is clearly a force to be reckoned with. Her tough, street-wise persona was crafted by junkies, whores, criminals, and “deviants,” and infused with the discipline of the Italian-American working class. Arcade incorporates all of it in her work, and does so with amazing intelligence and a sense of humor. Penny Arcade has never sought the agreement of anyone, nor has she toned down the hard edge of her performances to facilitate mass consumption. Yet she may still have the last laugh. –Bay Area Reporter January 2010
For more info: http://www.pennyarcade.tv/