1996, 60 minutes
DVD sales and rentals, Facets Multimedia, 800-331-6197

WHAT'S UNDERGROUND ABOUT MARSHMALLOWS: RON VAWTER PERFORMS JACK SMITH was the second half of Vawter’s theatre piece, "ROY COHN/JACK SMITH", performed first in New York in 1989, then nationally and internationally until his death from AIDS in 1994. In this complete and uninterrupted version of Jack Smith's MARSHMALLOWS, Vawter captures that Queer Saint's intense rapture - conjured out of that frayed, obsessive, eroticized and glamorous Hollywood magic which had come to camp out on the movie set of his own mind. Recorded at The Kitchen in New York City on 10/31 and 11/1, 1993, this was Vawter's last performance of the piece.

Vanguard filmmaker and seminal performance artist, Jack Smith was one of the most accomplished, influential underground artists in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's. Innovative and idiosyncratic in his films and later performances, Smith explored a deceptively frivolous camp aesthetic, importing allusions to B-Grade Hollywood films and elements of social and political critique into the arena of high art. He blew his "queerness" up big, using it both as an entertainment and as confrontation.

As Vawter tells it, "A lot of people say that Jack only had about twelve ideas, but that they were the most important 12 ideas of the last 25 years. He created a theatrical universe that no one had ever seen before, with himself at the center. Vawter reconstructed Smith's MARSHMALLOWS from the only surviving element – an audio recording that Penny Arcade inherited from Jack and loaned to Vawter. To get Jack's glacial pacing down, Vawter wears a walkman throughout the performance which plays back the original Jack Smith recording. The rest is built from Ron’s memory of many nights in Smith’s loft, watching Jack's sometimes raving, broken and paranoid, all-night performance-of-the-self, in routines built as black, camp comedies of what he knew to be the confounded condition of queer.

Selected Installations
Walker Art Center installation, Minneapolis, MN 1996, 2002
Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA 1998