Q&A: Scott Wittman on Drag Superstar Jackie Curtis and Employing “Cabaret Crazies”

Q&A: Scott Wittman on Drag Superstar Jackie Curtis and Employing “Cabaret Crazies”
Director, lyricist, and writer Scott Wittman
(Getty Images)

Jackie Curtis,  a Warhol superstar and one of the high (drag) priestesses of  ‘70s glam rock, is back at La MaMa thanks to Scott Wittman, the Tony-Award-winning writer, director, and lyricist  (“Hairspray,” “Catch Me If You Can”). The writer-director has created an impressionistic collage of Curtis and his work, “Jukebox Jackie,” which runs at the downtown theater on East 4th Street through June 10th. “Jackie was decades ahead of his time,” says Wittman of the subversive, gender-bending musician, dramatist, and poet born John Curtis Holder, Jr.  Wittman says that his aesthetic was heavily influenced by Curtis, who, before he died of a drug overdose at the age of 38, had a similar effect on a Who’s Who of pop artists including Andy Warhol, Bette Midler, David Bowie, the New York Dolls, Harvey Fierstein, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed.  Reed celebrated Curtis in “Walk on the Wild Side,” his ode to the ‘70s New York underground: “Jackie is just speeding away/Thought she was James Dean for a day/Then I guess she had to crash/Valium would have helped that bash/She said, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side…’” Read the full Q&A on Spotlight.

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