TRACKING DOWN PORN IN THE BIG APPLE
Carl B. Weisbrod
The Washington Post
May 20, 1979, Sunday, Final Edition
October 13, 1978
TO: Edward I. Koch, Mayor
FROM: Carl B. Weisbrod, Director
Midtown Enforcement Project
RE: Squat Theater, West 23rd Street
We have investigated the complaint regarding a production at the Squat Theater on 23rd Street during which a 250-pound woman was reported to have performed nude in a storefront window.
It is true that this performance did indeed occur as described. It was, however, part of a radical avant garde theater group's play entitled "Andy Warhol's Last Love." The play itself was not written by Andy Warhol. Nor did Warhol have any connection with this production which has been described as the reflection of recent immigrant experiences in America. The production was staged by an extended family group of Jewish Hungarian refugees who fled from Hungary because they were about to be arrested for not conforming to the standards of Socialist Realism of the East Bloc nation.
The play ended its run here in New York on Sept. 15. It is currently in production in Amsterdam, Holland, where the group will be spending the fall season. The scene involving the naked fat woman in the window was part of this group's theory about "inside" and "outside" theater. They created a concept of performing before two audiences - the audience in the theater and passersby on the street. The woman has been described as an authentic American witch who acts out a real witch's ceremony in the window. She was not cooking. It is doubtful that her act would be declared legally obscene.
This play, supported with a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, was apparently very popular. It attracted an average of 90 percent capacity audience. It received good reviews except from John Simon. The theater group, consisting of nine adults and five children, arrived in this country in June of 1977 under the aegis of the International Theater Institute. It received an Obie for the play, "Pig! Child! Fire," in 1977 and has been invited to represent the United States at the Festival of Nations next spring in Hamburg, Germany.
It is considered a serious group of artists who came to this country seeking freedom of expression through innovative methods.