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Situations in which people look out of place on their cell phones are becoming increasingly rare, or the Dead Jack Theater.
Nov 13, 09:01 PM by

After the crowd filtered out of Art in General, and Sharon was last seen embroiled in a tight-knit political debate near the elevators, I walked through the rain over to 177 Mott Street, for the Dead Jack Theater. I knew this was some kind of event about Mary Jordon??s documentary on avant-glam filmmaker Jack Smith, but was rather surprised to be greeted in the candlelit freight elevator by a masked geisha who beckoned us in and pointed to a milkcrate of records. I gleaned that I was being asked to pick a record for the small record player in the elevator. Ah- elevator music. The selection was small and eclectic. I decided on an album of Hawaiian folk songs in order to counteract the rain outside. The geisha started the record and we ascended.
The elevator opened into a huge, dimly-lit loft. Rich fabrics hung from windows and candles flickered. The feeling was thickly orientalist, decadent, and sexy. Loops of Jack Smith??s films and Mary Jordan??s documentary were projected here and there, and languid, atmospheric sounds, from violins and drums to samples of birds chirping came from a group of musicians in the back. Nubile performers walked around the space as though in an opium haze, dressed in masks, scanty flowing clothing, and carrying peacock feathers.
They approached visitors and drew the feathers slowly across them, staring suggestively, before strolling off. Behind a sheer curtain was a lavish bed, and lounging was encouraged on the many plush chairs and rugs. Occasionally, two or more performers would do a kind of dance together that looked like a mating ritual of the extremely stoned??a sort of slow falling into each other rolling on the ground thing. During these moments, an audience would gather thinly around them, yet the whole environment encouraged participation, not just spectatorship. To quote from one of Jack Smith??s films, the most appropriate question was: To be or not to be normal?