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Remembering Tom Murrin, Legendary Performance Art Pioneer

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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.

I first came across The Alien Comic in the 1990s, when I was working at PS 122. By that time the Full Moon Shows were in full bloom, filling the house to capacity. One would never have guessed that that the person under all those layers of outrageous masks, costumes and props, was an unassuming, sweet-faced, kind-as-can-be man.

Murrin was incredibly supportive of his peers, helping to launch the careers of many downtown performers. As a reporter for PAPER Magazine, he was a huge booster to the countless artists and performers he wrote about.

Some of my fondest memories of Tom are of seeing him in the audience, as excited to be watching the newest performance by an up-and-coming performer, or the latest show by the most seasoned, as if it were his first time at the theater. Of course, I will never look at a full moon again without thinking of him. On stage, or off—in whatever guise, he will surely be missed.


Robin Schatell has lived in the Lower East Side for nine years, and has worked in the arts for over 20 years,  developing innovative programs and events from concept to production, and presenting adventurous new work by emerging and established artists.

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