"In the early '70s, Kathy Acker performed at live sex shows on 42nd street at the club Fun City. She was in her twenties, and supporting herself through sex work. It changed her understanding of gender and power relationships, and had a profound impact on her work. Her boss was Marty Hodas, infamously known as 'the king of porn,' who was recently depicted on the HBO show The Deuce. In an early journal, Acker writes about being stuck in the club during a black out in Times Square, and Marty not letting anyone leave. She writes, 'After four shows mostly lousy... half of 7th avenue blacked out… but of course we can’t leave in case the management can make another 5 bucks out of us.' Here is Maya before we shoot her entering through the club past the dancer on stage."
"We shot the stripper scenes at the club Satin Dolls in Times Square. Four AM call time. There was a very small window of shooting time since those places like to stay open, keeping the dollars pouring in. Kathy Acker grew up on Sutton Place, and she went to an elite private school on the Upper East Side. She wore a uniform every day, which is why Maya wears one here. I had imagined a young Kathy in a dream sequence, reading in the club. She was a voracious reader, studying Greek and Latin. Alas, these scenes above didn’t make it into the short film."
"Maya is holding a journal that is a painstaking facsimile of one of Kathy’s original journals. The art department did a beautiful job. I love this object; it sits with a prized pile of books on my bedside table. Handwritten on the cover are different lines Kathy wrote: The color of raw velvet; Jane Eyre II; The Black Tarantula 1973; I become a child; Freud Kant Russell."
"This is an overhead shot of Kathy/Maya surrounded by books like Theresa and Isabelle by Violette Leduc (the cover features images of the film version directed by Radley Metzger), and The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats. Kathy wrote a chapbook called, 'I explore my miserable childhood: I become William Butler Yeats.'"
"Kathy was known for her exceedingly long list of lovers, which started accumulating early in her life. She slept with both men and women. The scene above illustrated a passage Kathy wrote about sneaking out of her parents’ home to her lover’s place downtown. Our cinematographer, Sean Price Williams played the part of the boyfriend."
"When you Google 'Kathy Acker Sex Tape,' you can watch a bootleg of the infamous 1974 videotape starring Acker and the artist Alan Sondheim titled The Blue Tape. The artists and lovers have sex on camera. Their ongoing conversation is perhaps more compelling than the footage itself, they give a blow-by-blow of what is happening and what they’re feeling. It’s really the anti-sex sex tape. We re-enacted a portion of it."
"Me and Maya during shooting. I am literally resting on her shoulder, I took my break in that Polaroid."
"Kathy Acker was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe dressed like this—we tried to reenact it exactly. This is Maya and our stylist Haley Wollens—thank the heavens for her, an angel transforming Maya into Kathy."
"Maya’s half smile here makes me think of something the artist Eleanor Antin, a close friend and mentor of Kathy’s, said to me during my research for the film, a period where I talked to dozens of her old friends and associates: 'Kathy was darling, she was small and charming and cute and lovable and shy in a way. All of these attributes of sort of mysterious glamor that have been attributed to her, that’s fine, she took them on and she wore them very well, but the point is she was a young artist, she was playful and she babysat for us…'"