This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Tom Neyman stars as the well-dressed Master in cult classic “Manos”: The Hands of Fate

“MANOS”: THE HANDS OF FATE (Harold P. Warren, 1966)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Saturday, November 18, 2:00
Series runs through February 28

There aren’t a whole lot of movies that get skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (aka MST3K) and later have the privilege of being shown at the Museum of Modern Art. But one of them, “Manos”: The Hands of Fate, universally considered to be one of the very worst films ever made, is receiving that honor as part of the MoMA series “You Are Now One of Us: Film at Club 57,” held in conjunction with the gallery exhibition “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978-1983.” And no question about it, “Manos”: The Hands of Fate, which translates as “Hands: The Hands of Fate” and was written, directed, and produced by fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren, who also plays the lead, is thoroughly atrocious; it really has to be seen to be believed. Michael (Warren), his wife, Margaret (Diane Mahree), their young daughter, Debbie (Jackey Neyman), and their doomed dog, Peppy, get lost on vacation in Texas, searching for Valley Lodge but instead winding up at a creaky house with a jittery Renfield/Igor-like caretaker named Torgo (John Reynolds) who worships the Master (set designer Tom Neyman), a caped creep with a bushy mustache and a bevy of wives dressed in white (Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jay Hall, Bettie Burns, and Lelaine Hansard) who participate in crazy rituals when not getting into an utterly ridiculous mass catfight. Each scene is more absurd than the one that precedes it, getting worse by the second as the really stupid family gets deeper and deeper into trouble. All technical aspects of the seventy-minute horror show, from the cinematography (Robert Guidry), editing (James Sullivan and Ernie Smith), and writing (Warren) to the sound (Bruce Shearin), score (Robert Smith Jr. and Russ Huddleston), and lighting, are amazingly atrocious.

All of the dialogue, which often gets lost behind the terrible music, was poorly dubbed in postproduction by only a few actors. Shots could not last more than thirty-two seconds because of the type of handheld camera used. Reynolds was high on acid through the entire shoot and committed suicide shortly before the film’s premiere. At various moments you can see the “Action!” clapboard flash by and Warren mouthing the word “Cut!” Warren added completely unrelated scenes of a teenage couple (Bernie Rosenblum and Joyce Molleur) making out in a convertible because he wanted Molleur in the movie even though an injury prevented her from playing one of the Master’s wives. The 2004 documentary Hotel Torgo claims that since the movie was released, “the cast and crew have all passed away or mysteriously disappeared,” except for Rosenblum. (Actually, several are indeed still alive and have been looking into making a prequel or a sequel.) The movie was made for less than twenty grand, with Warren offering cast and crew percentages that totaled way more than one hundred percent of the take. And just wait till you see the Master spread out his arms and reveal his costume, which was designed by Thomas Ivy, whose grand plans for the wives’ attire was thwarted by the actresses, who refused to wear more revealing outfits. One of the film’s only redeeming elements is the philosophy spouted by a local police officer (William Bryan Jennings; no, really) who states, “If you’re running late, you should have started earlier” and “Well, whatever it is you’re not doing, go and don’t do it somewhere else.” “Manos”: The Hands of Fate is so bad that it’s hard to love it the way so many movie fanatics do Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space and Phil Tucker’s Robot Monster.

manos hands of fate

“This may indeed be one of the most inept films ever made,” explains “You Are Now One of Us: Film at Club 57” guest curator John “Lypsinka” Epperson in his program notes. “But it points toward some other disturbing horror films that became classics of the genre: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, and all of their many derivations. In “Manos,” a family is tormented by a heathen group of bizarre characters. The exposing of the Manson ‘family’ came three years later. Many of the Club 57 members were impressionable teens when the Manson murders took place. Ten years after, at the basement club in the East Village, mocking a questionably tasteless film about ‘family vs. family’ could have been a way of purging the fears.” You’re more likely to purge your lunch than your fears when watching this disorientingly dreadful flick, in which Torgo fatefully declares, “There is no way out.” The wide-ranging MoMA series continues through February 28 with such other films as Andy Warhol’s Vinyl, Luis Buñuel’s El, Phil Karlson’s Kansas City Confidential, and Joseph H. Lewis’s The Big Combo.


Mark Cockram will discuss his unique book designs at Center for Book Arts on November 17

Mark Cockram will discuss his unique book designs at Center for Book Arts on November 17

The Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th St., third floor
Friday, November 17, suggested admission $10, 6:30

“I work with the book. It is my chosen medium for the simple fact that it can contain and embrace all artistic media and expressions. Within the book, an infinitely complex array of materials and techniques come together and combine with a history as rich and diverse as we who create and use it. I often refer to the book in its totality as Alchemy.” So declares Mark Cockram, a faculty fellow at the Center for Book Arts, where on November 17 he will participate in an artist talk and reception in conjunction with his exhibition, “Beyond the Rules.” The show features several of his unique, multidimensional books and bindings, including The Lysistrata of Aristophanes, Wine from My Garden, Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay Eterniday, and Iskandar Jalil: Kembara Tanah Liat (Clay Travels). The exhibit continues through December 16; also currently on view at the center are “Felicia Rice: Collaboration and Metamorphosis” and the interactive “The Internal Machine,” consisting of pieces, many of which visitors can touch and activate, by Doug Beube, Ranjit Bhatnagar, András Böröcz, Caroline Bouissou, Gillian Brown, Brian Dettmer, Juan Fontanive, Arnaldo Morales, Bruno Munari, Alexander Rosenberg, Claudia Schmitz, Ward Shelley and Douglas Paulson, Kaethe Wenzel, Benjamin Wright, Nick Yulman, and Mary Ziegler.


Croatias Perforations Festival returns to New York City with unusual productions at Abrons Arts Center and La MaMa

Croatia’s Perforations Festival returns to New York City with unusual and innovative productions at Abrons Arts Center and La MaMa

Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 East Fourth St., second floor
November 17-26, $25

Croatia’s Perforations Festival, featuring ten days of cutting-edge performances from Central and Eastern Europe, returns to the city with seven productions running November 17 to 26. Founder and curator Zvonimir Dobrović notes, “It is always a privilege to present such an exciting roster of energetic and creative artists to new audiences. These artists have been the driving forces behind the current wave of resistance to neo-conservatism in Eastern Europe and their work has been an oasis of hope for a whole generation.” The festival kicks off November 17-18 at Abrons Arts Center with Jasna L. Vinovrški’s interactive Staying Alive, then moves to La MaMa with the Great Jones Repertory Company’s adaptation of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Pylade, directed by Ivica Buljan; Marta Ziółek’s Make Yourself, with the Polish Ziółek serving as moderator and guide; Via Negative’s One Hundred Toasts, with music by Glenn Miller, Michael Nyman, Alfred Schnittke, and the Stooges; Bruno Isaković and Mia Zalukar’s multimedia, multidisciplinary Suddenly Everywhere; TukaWach/Magda Stawman-Tuka and Anita Wach’s double bill, How the Hares Are Dying and Private Inventor, exploring ontological insecurity and transformation; and Ina Sladić’s two-part Penny/Audience, in which Sladić receives live instructions from Penny Arcade in the former and the audience in the latter. Tickets to all performances are a mere twenty-five bucks to check out some innovative and unusual theater.


at the Quad

Director Bobbi Jo Hart and members of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo will be at the Quad for a Q&A on November 15

REBELS ON POINTE (Bobbi Jo Hart, 2016)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Wednesday, November 15

You don’t have to wait for their next season at the Joyce to catch the Trocks, aka Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, here in New York City. On November 15, Canadian director Bobbi Jo Hart’s ninety-minute documentary, Rebels on Pointe, opens at the Quad, an intimate look at the “the World’s Foremost All-Male Comic Ballet Company.” Founded in 1974, the Trocks specialize in parodying classical ballet and gender identity. “In the early years, the company was blackballed because of the gay element,” notes one troupe member, while another says, “I can be myself. I can wear tutus; why not? Little things change the world.” Named Best Documentary at several film festivals, Rebels on Pointe follows the troupe as it travels around the world, presenting its unique flair and talent, going behind the scenes and showing them perform onstage. “When that curtain goes up, it’s just electric,” another dancer declares. Hart (Rise, I Am Not a Rock Star) and members of the troupe will be at the Quad for a Q&A following the 7:00 screening on November 15.


Barbara Kruger takes back her iconic graphic style in  pop-up skate shop as part of Performa 17 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Barbara Kruger takes back her iconic graphic style in pop-up skate shop as part of Performa 17 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Multiple locations
Daily through November 19, free
“Untitled (The Drop),” Thursday, November 16, $5, 4:00 - 8:00 pm

Newark-born artist Barbara Kruger has been making socially conscious, provocative signs, slogans, and billboards primarily using white Futura Bold Oblique letters on a red background since the 1980s (in addition to black-and-white statements over photographic images). Many call it her trademark style, but watch that language: “Trademark” is a weighty term. In 1994, the Supreme skateboard and clothing brand opened up shop, creating a logo co-opted from Kruger’s work, which explores aspects of women’s rights and American consumerism; the Pictures Generation artist is also a cultural critic and graphic designer for magazines. In 2013, Supreme sued Leah McSweeney of Married to the Mob for her “Supreme Bitch” T-shirts, which also utilized Kruger’s style with Supreme’s brand name. Kruger, who had not previously commented on Supreme’s use of her iconic design, sent an email to the Complex pop-culture site in response to the lawsuit, writing, “What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers. I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce. I’m waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement.” Kruger, who is based in New York and Los Angeles, has taken the issue even further with her Performa 17 commissions, in which she reclaims her art, incorporating Supreme’s business practices in a series of ultracool installations. On the High Line at Seventeenth St., her billboard proclaims, “Know Nothing. Believe Anything. Forget Everything.” Kruger has added numerous signs to Coleman Skatepark on Monroe St. under the Manhattan Bridge, including “Love It. Share It. Praise It. Please It.,” “Bad Is Good. Happy Is Sad. Ignorance Is Bliss,” and “Plenty Should Be Enough.” Be on the lookout for a school bus traveling across the city wrapped in black-and-white phrases with the word War. And in her ultimate coup, she has built “The Drop,” a pop-up shop at the Performa Hub at Broadway and Canal where people wait on line to purchase skate-related items made by Volcom featuring white type on red backgrounds, including a white T-shirt saying, “Whose Hopes? Whose Fears? Whose Values? Whose Justice?,” a black hat, black sweatshirt, and black T-shirt proclaiming, “Want It. Buy It. Forget It.,” and skate decks declaring, “Don’t Be a Jerk.” Entry is $5 in advance, and the items for sale range from $15 for patches to $65 for a skate deck and $300 for a complete skateboard. It’s a fabulous way to turn everything inside out and upside down while raising money for Performa.


Robert Longo (American, born 1953). Untitled (Raft at Sea) (detail), 2017. Charcoal on mounted paper, 140 x 281 in. (355.6 x 713.7 cm). © Robert Longo, Private European Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York)

Robert Longo, detail, “Untitled (Raft at Sea),” charcoal on mounted paper, 2017 (© Robert Longo, Private European Collection / photo courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Thursday, November 16, free with museum admission and advance registration, 7:00

In conjunction with the excellent exhibition “Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo,” which equates primarily black-and-white etchings, drawings, and films by Spanish painter Francisco Goya, Russian auteur Sergei Eisenstein, and American visual artist Robert Longo as they relate to the socioeconomic and -political issues of their times, the Brooklyn Museum is hosting an artist talk with Longo and American art critic and historian Hal Foster, author of such books as Compulsive Beauty, The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, and The Art-Architecture Complex. The exhibition features stunning large-scale, multipanel charcoal drawings by the Brooklyn-born Longo that resemble photographs, including “Untitled (Black Pussy Hat in Women’s March),” “Untitled (Bullet Hole in Window),” and “Untitled (Mecca).” Longo and Foster will discuss how art and activism, and particularly photography, can have an impact in times of emergency, like what is happening right now in the United States and around the world.


politics of food

Conference: NYIT, 1871 Broadway, $45 - $215, 8:00 am - 12:30 pm
Festival: Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall Street, $95 - $215, 6:00 - 9:00
Thursday, November 16

The Politics of Food will bring together more than 250 chefs, politicians, experts, and policy makers, examining the current state of nutrition in New York State and serving signature dishes. Held on November 16, the day begins at 8:00 in the morning at the New York Institute of Technology for a conference that includes the panel discussions “Future of food programs for NYC’s vulnerable communities,” with Barbara Turk, Donna M. Corrado, Margarette Purvis, and Joel Berg, “Legislating Nutrition and Sustainability,” with Charles Platkin, Elizabeth Balkan, Gale A. Brewer, and Kim Kessler, and “Food Dialogue with Farmers and Consumers: Common values? Common ground?” Richard Ball will deliver the keynote address, with closing remarks by Julia Turshen. The fun really begins at 6:00 at the Museum of American Finance for the Taste of Lower Manhattan Food Festival, hosted by Wylie Dufresne and boasting samples from chefs Jay Strauss, Jin Ruan, Joseph Mallol, Louis Goral, Mark Rosati, Matt Deliso, Nicolas “Nico” Abello, and Shaun Acosta and restaurants Amada, Benares, Blacktail at Pier A, Brushstroke, the Dead Rabbit, Blue Ribbon Federal Grill, Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, Harry’s Cafe and Steak, Harry & Ida’s Luncheonette, Jing Fong, L’Appart, Pier A Harbor House, Shake Shack, the Tuck Room, and Westville. Tickets for the conference are $45 and the food festival $95, with various VIP incentives at higher prices.