Arts Watch: La MaMa to Celebrate the Work of Tom Murrin with Full Moon Festival

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People come and people go. People live and people die. Some people, or rather their “spirits,” live on forever; Tom Murrin’s is one of those. Tom was a beloved downtown original – a pioneering performance artist. Generous and kind in spirit. When eager young theater folks like me descended on the East Village performance art scene in the late ’80s and ’90s to take part in Tom’s Full Moon Shows with his infamous alter ego, the “Alien Comic,” he had already lived several past performer lives. He had traveled around the world with his madcap “Trash Theater” street performances in places as far away as the streets of Bombay, and penned original plays as one of the first generation of La MaMa playwrights.

Tom passed away in 2012, and he is sorely missed, but this week, La MaMa is celebrating “all things Tom” with The Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival. The centerpieces of the festival are his surreal comic plays. I for one can’t wait to see Cock-Strong (1969) the musical, “recommended for all fans of risqué song, topsy-turvy dance, wildly oscillating character-choices and, of course, sex.” After its premier at La MaMa, The Village Voice described the show as “a triumphant paean to potency” and “the opposite of a nightmare.”

If you are fan of all things lunar, you can join in an homage to the one of Tom’s favorite characters, the moon goddess Luna Macaroona, at this Thursday’s Full Moon Show on the occasion of the April Full Pink Moon.  The performance collective AUNTS leads this one along with a stellar line-up of downtown luminaries. The ten day celebration will also feature readings, street performances and art installations. Knowing Tom, he would be front row and center, smiling as usual.

The Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival at La MaMa/ 74 A East 4th Street / April 17–27, 2014

Review: Avant-Garde-Arama is Alive and Well

Tom Murrin in Full Moon blue glitter. Photograph ©2013 Jim Moore/Vaudevisuals.com.

Tom Murrin in Full Moon blue glitter. Photograph ©2013 Jim Moore/Vaudevisuals.com.

As a long-time fan of PS122’s Avant-Garde-Arama and Tom Murrin’s Full Moon shows, I was eager to catch the tribute show held at Abrons Arts Center last weekend.

Avant-Garde-Arama: New Moon was put together as a celebration of sorts, dedicated to Murrin, a downtown luminary and performance artist (aka “The Alien Comic”), who passed away last March after a long illness. Tom never missed an A.G.A. – he performed in them for 27 years. His own Full Moon shows, performed on every full moon at PS 122, were infamous for their outrageous antics and zany rituals performed by Tom’s imaginary friend and creation, the lunar goddess, “Luna Macaroona.”

In keeping with the times, Lori E. Seid’s Lesbian Love Lounge was virtual. But everything else about the show felt familiar and in keeping with its origins nearly thirty years ago as the anything-goes downtown variety show—just as long as the ‘anything’ was under eight minutes long.

New Moon Tribute to ‘Alien Comic’ Tom Murrin

Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore

Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore

If you recall, I wrote about the untimely passing of Tom Murrin, aka the Alien Comic, here on The Lo-down last March. Thankfully, his spirit lives on (not that it’s been forgotten) in PS 122’s Avant-Garde-Arama: New Moon tribute at Abrons Arts Center this weekend.

Tom was ‘avant-garde’ way before PS 122 popularized the phrase in its long running variety show.  He was a first generation La MaMa playwright in the ’60s, penning plays with titles like “Cockstrong” and “Butt Crack Bingo.”  In the ’70s and early ’80s he performed as “Tom ‘Trash’ Murrin” (often on the street for unsuspecting passers-by). Props were his thing—Tom could animate any object — hence the “trash” moniker. From this, the Alien Comic was born and soon Tom was performing his hilarious antics around town, including at many long lost East Village rock clubs and venues such as CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, 8BC, and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Ah, the good old days when a night out meant more than just a fancy meal and specialty cocktail.

Remembering Tom Murrin, Legendary Performance Art Pioneer

Tom Murrin. Photo via PAPERMAG.

Yesterday, we received the sad news that legendary performance art pioneer and playwright Tom Murrin has died of cancer. Murrin was a downtown original, heavily involved in the avant-garde theater movement, beginning at LaMaMa in the 1960s. He performed around town as “Tom ‘Trash’ Murrin” in the 1970s and in the ’80s, launched his celebrated Full Moon shows, performing as his alter-ego, The Alien Comic.

Every full moon, like clockwork, Murrin and his Full Moon Crew of downtown denizens could be seen at PS 122 performing their wacky and hilarious rituals to the lunar goddess, Luna Macaroona.