June 3 – July 15, 2010

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, June 3rd, 7–9pm



Please join us next Thursday to celebrate the opening of “Clayton Patterson: Pyramid Portraits,” which will run at Esopus Space from June 3rd to July 15th. The exhibition features a series of never-before-seen photographs taken by artist, documentarian, and community activistClayton Patterson of the extraordinarily inventive drag queens who performed at New York’s Pyramid Club in the mid-1980s.

“Up to that point, drag had been about referencing movie stars like Bette Davis or Judy Garland,” Patterson notes in an interview for the exhibition, “But the queens at the Pyramid Club invented entirely fictitious characters.” Those characters, embodying everything from space aliens to goth punks to suburban housewives, were created by performers including Tabboo!, Hapi Phace, Lypsinka, Sun PK [née Peter Kwaloff], John Kelly, Maze, John Sex, and International Chrysis. The portraits, taken by Patterson in the club’s dressing room over several years, chart the boundless creativity of these artists, who, with little or no money, utilized everything from shards of broken safety glass to abandoned lampshades to create the ultimate artworks of the period—themselves.

Like Patterson’s countless photographs and videos of hardcore punks, squatters, junkies, rabbis, tenement dwellers, and beat cops, these works document—and celebrate—the denizens of a dynamic, radically diverse Lower East Side, a community that was soon to be decimated by the AIDS epidemic (and in the ensuing years, by relentless gentrification and development of the neighborhood).

Make sure also to mark your calendars for a panel discussion about the drag scene at the Pyramid Club at Esopus Space on Wednesday, June 30th, at 7pm. Panelists will include Clayton Patterson, downtown drag legend Agosto Machado, historians Joe E. Jeffreys and Iris Rose, and Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, which will co-sponsor the event (and which is seeking landmark designation for the Pyramid Club’s building at 101 Ave. A).


Esopus Space is an exhibition and performance venue operated by the Esopus Foundation Ltd., which also publishes Esopus magazine. For more information, visit the Esopus Space website, send inquiries to, or call Tod Lippy at 212-473-0919.


The Esopus Foundation Ltd. is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Greenwall Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, The Jane Henson Foundation, The Fifth Floor Foundation, and other institutional and private donors.

COLOR PHOTOGRAPHS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON ABOVE: [left to right] Hapi Phace, 1986, 13″x19″; Sun PK, 1986, 13″x19″; Alexis Del Lago, 1986, 13″x19″;Maze, 1986, 13″x19″

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