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Big Joy Oral Histories: H

Haller, Robert

Interviewee: Robert Haller
Interviewers: Eric Slade and Stephen Silha‚Äč
Date of interview: June 2010
Extent: 1 hour, 6 minutes, 51 seconds

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Biography:
Robert Haller is Director of Collections at Anthology Film Archives in New York City, where he has worked since 1980. He knew James Broughton well, and as director of Pittsburgh Film Makers, Inc., he produced Broughton's poetic film Erogeny (1976). Haller has written and lectured widely about experimental and avant garde film, and made a DVD with Bruce Posner, Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film.

Abstract:
Topics discussed: Broughton was a pagan and a poet who believed in the image and freedom; Experimental film as more like poetry than prose; Evolution of experimental film in America 1920s to today; 16 mm film/cameras became available as war surplus in 1940s; Whitney Brothers, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, Gregory Marcopolis, Curtis Harrington, Chester Kessler, Maya Deren, Lawrence Jordan, Stan Brakhage, Ian Hugo, Marie Menken, Bruce Baillie, Hollis Frampton, Jordan Belson, George and Mike Kuchar, Gunvor Nelson; "Art in Cinema" series (run by Frank Stauffacher until 1954) gave doorway to visibility for experimental filmmakers; Canyon Cinema (1961) only lasted 5 years as exhibition; Bruce Conner and others making films instead; Amos Vogel and Cinema 16 in New York; Met Broughton at Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in early 70s through Sally Dixon; photographed him and made stills from his films; Broughton's relationships with Jonas Mekas, Stan Brakhage; Oskar Fischinger and James Broughton as grandfathers of West Coast experimental film, Maya Deren as grandmother; Willard Maas on East Coast; Broughton's fun, snappy poetry and films as contrast with East Coast films; Broughton's films well received in Europe; praise by Cocteau for The Pleasure Garden; The Bed and Dreamwood as his favorite films of Broughton; Broughton's role in Anthology Film Archives, and its Essential Cinema Collection; The Legion of Decency, U.S. Post Office and film censorship before 1974; Producing Erogeny (1976), which would have been censored because of nudity in the 1960s, and impossible to get funded by the NEA in later years.; James as a "pixie" who had somehow landed on earth.

Halprin, Anna

Interviewee: Anna Halprin
Interviewers: Stephen Silha and Eric Slade
Date of interview: July 2009
Extent: 28 minutes: 15 seconds

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Biography:
Anna Halprin (born 1920) helped pioneer the experimental art form known as postmodern dance, and referred to herself as a breaker of the rules of modern dance. In the 1950s, she established the San Francisco Dancers' Workshop to give artists like her a place to practice their art. Being able to freely explore the capabilities of her own body, she created a systematic way of moving using kinesthetic awareness. Halprin has written books including: "Movement Rituals, Moving Toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance" and "Dance as a Healing Art." With her husband, the late landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, she created the "RSVP Cycles" a creative methodology that can be applied broadly across all disciplines. She appears in a number of James Broughton's films.

Abstract:
Topics discussed: First met James when she was performing The Nice Wife -- they immediately clicked; Exciting cross-pollination during the San Francisco Renaissance. "We weren't aware."; Compares to dance scene in New York. Multi-disciplinary freedom with poets, painters, writers, actors, architects.; Breaking boundaries: beyond the stage, beyond gender roles, connecting life with art; Connected with Broughton through wit and humor, improvising to his poetry; Kermit Sheets produced at San Francisco Playhouse, he allowed things to happen; Describes process for making "Princess Printemps" in Broughton's film Four in the Afternoon; Describes her part in The Golden Positions -- lying, sitting, standing; Talks about The Bed, and Alan Watts' introduction of Zen philosophy; Reads "This is It," talks about its succinct originality; James and Suzanna's marriage, and his failure as a father; Relationship with Joel was what he needed, gave him a whole new life; Sweet loving context of occasional poems, like "Everything is Connected" for Imogen Cunningham; Never saw him act on his dark side, his depression, but knew it was there; Broughton's work as universal, "King Lear in a whole new costume."

Hart, Suzanna

Interviewee: Suzanna Hart
Interviewers: Stephen Silha and Eric Slade
Date of interview: April 2009
Extent: 22 minutes, 26 seconds

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Biography:
Suzanna Hart is an artist and costume designer who was married to James Broughton from 1962 to 1975. She was part of a Jungian collective which had a store, Anima Mundi, in Mill Valley in the 1960s and 70s. They have two children, Serena DeCastro and Orion Broughton.

Abstract:
Topics discussed: James Broughton as an unlikely husband; more a dreamer, creator, poet; Meeting James at the Playhouse theatre in San Francisco; creativity in the '60s; Her own costume designing; her different art; Broughton's easy style: "A master of self-adjustment"; Broughton's use of past, present and future in his creativity; Jungian psychology as a common thread between them; The wedding announcement: Nuptiae, December 8, 1962; Reads "Wedding Song" and "Union" written for Suzanna by James; What she thinks he means by "Follow your own Weird"; She liked his tolerance, but had to put up with a lot she didn't like; Broughton's sense of humor and playful fatherhood; Making "The Bed"; James's "scene" being different from hers; The painful ending of their marriage and his reluctant fatherhood; James's Zen and reconciliation of opposites; Alan Watts and the East-West thing, James and Alan's friendship; How the photo behind her is NOT her and James, but her and Kenny O'Hara; Reads "This is It."

 

Hathaway, Michael

Interviewee: Michael Hathaway
Interviewers: Stephen Silha and Eric Slade
Date of interview: January 2010
Extent: 32 minutes, 44 seconds

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Biography:
Activist, author and poet Michael Hathaway studied Russian language, culture, politics and history at Stanford (where he also rowed in varsity crew), Monterey Institute of International Studies, Harvard, Free University of Berlin and Charles University in Prague. He served on the Eugene McCarthy campaign in 1968 and worked at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He organized demonstrations against the Vietnam War, was a co-founder of Earth Island Institute, and volunteered at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. He published three "Calendars of Saints for Today" featuring "saints, hobos, dervishes, lovers, healers, helpers and ordinary fools" in the 1970s, and a volume of poetry, They Came to Love, in 1994. Today, he lives in the San Francisco Bay area, working on a series of books "showing The Possible Happiness of Life" (the title of his first), which he says "will offer hope, cheer, inspiration, sustenance, comfort and amusement for the spiritually bold and persevering among us."

Abstract:
Topics discussed: Originally, he "met" Broughton through Alan Watts and harpist Joel Andrews; Broughton taught a class in ritual; he lived a civilized life; Mentions Ruth Costello, the painter Varda, and the houseboat Alan Watts lived in; How Joel Singer's food "elevated the conversation" at the Broughton-Singer home; The "secret map of gay California" - people Broughton knew from closeted years past; Broughton's "fey" Irishness - mischievous, pleasure-loving; Broughton's approach to spirituality: Taoist, with a sprinkling of other religions; Parties are the essence of James, he loved celebrating, especially his birthday; Michael created a "Pleasure Garden" party, where you had to enter "The Bed"; California Men's Gatherings, Radical Faeries, and other places where James was "elder"; Michael being "grossed out" by James Broughton & Joel Singer's film "Devotions"; Connection between Joseph Campbell's "Follow your bliss" and Broughton's "Follow Your Own Weird"; Why James Broughton didn't want big fame, or to be a guru; Comments on Broughton's sexuality, his unusual use of language.

Hennessy, Keith

Interviewee: Keith Hennessy
Interviewers: Eric Slade and Stephen Silha
Date of interview: July 2009
Extent: 23 minutes, 12 seconds

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Biography:
Keith Hennessy dances in and around performance. Born in northern Ontario, he lives in San Francisco since 1982 and tours internationally. His performances engage improvisation, ritual, collaboration, and protest as tools for investigating political realities. Practices inspired by anarchism, critical whiteness, contemporary dance, activist art, the Bay Area, wicca, punk, contact improvisation, decolonial indigeneity, and queer-feminist performance motivate and mobilize Hennessy's work. Awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, United States Artist Fellowship, a NY Bessie, Sui Generis, multiple Isadora Duncan Awards, and a Bay Area Goldie. Hennessy directs Circo Zero and was a member of Contraband with Sara Shelton Mann. He is a co-founder of CounterPULSE, a thriving performance space in San Francisco. He earned an MFA and PhD from UC Davis. His website is www.circozero.org.

Abstract:
Topics discussed: How I pirated James Broughton into my own performance poems; How Broughton helped create my consciousness, create the conditions I live in; Broughton's magical "child's eye view" of innocence and curiosity; James in a lineage of experimental artists, including Hennessy; Broughton's messages of positive gay sexuality; Broughton's poetry as liturgical, embedded with ritual; James and Joel as early models for gay marriage; Reads his own poem, in the lineage of ecstatic gay poetry of Whitman, Ginsburg, etc; Context in poetry and sexuality, including Whitman, Rumi, Broughton, Baldwin, Hamphill; Connection between Broughton's art, poetry, film, life; Anna Halprin in Broughton's films: comedy, emotion, gravity, California silliness; Broughton's politics embedded in pagan spirituality, hippie sensibility, queer ritual; see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA4KSI761A4&t=9s

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