Ethyl Eichelberger, Peter Hujar, Pyramid Club, Nefertiti
Pyramid Club (Ethyl Eichelberger as Nefertiti)

September 1983

Off-set poster (Photograph by Peter Hujar)

14 x 8.5 inches


Ethyl Eichelberger was a key player on the manic East Village scene of the 1980s. Best remembered today for his high octane solo drag performances, for nearly twenty years Ethyl wrote, produced, staged, and starred in a series of thirty-two madcap and highly idiosyncratic plays based upon the lives of great women of history, literature, and myth. The plays, including “Nefertiti,” “Medea,” “Lucrezia Borgia,” and “Klytemnestra” concern strong women who were survivors, mix high and low elements, include accordion-accompanied songs, fire-eating, and rigorous acrobatics. They were performed to critical acclaim by Eichelberger with razor sharp acting skills in clubs and performance spaces such as The Pyramid, 8 B.C., Dixon Place, s.n.a.f.u., and PS 122. In addition to keeping his own repertoire in constant production, he also performed with Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company, both as actor and wig designer.

Peter Hujar produced some of the most intimate photographs of his generation. Known to use as his subjects avant-garde artists of the city’s underground, he captured the vulnerability of his subjects in their brokenness and nakedness. Notoriously difficult to work with, Hujar only had one solo exhibition during his lifetime, held at Gracie Mansion Gallery, before succumbing to AIDS at the age of 53. Period ephemera that utilizes images of Hujar’s subjects remain extremely scarce.

The examples included in this exhibition illustrate the extraordinary collaboration between the two renegade artists. Eichelberger served as one of Hujar’s favored muses, photographed throughout his career in various characters from his extensive oeuvre. As with much of Hujar’s work, the photographs reveal the interconnectedness of downtown artists lost during the AIDS epidemic.


Work by Ethyl Eichelberger/Peter Hujar