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From Robert Heide’s article for West View News:

Joe Cino operated his Caffe Cino, a storefront at 31 Cornelia Street from 1958 to 1967 when he died from self-inflicted knife wounds. The Caffe was operated for another year by Charles Stanley, Michael Smith and Wolfgang Zuckerman but due to police harassment and licensing problems closed permanently in 1968 after ten incredible years where many new playwrights such as Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, John Guare, Robert Patrick, Jeff Weiss, Jean Claude van Itallie and others had their early plays performed. On one wall of the gallery are original posters and flyers from those early Off-Off Broadway beginnings. Yes, in terms of Off-Off the Cino has been cited as the first of the coffee-house theaters to emerge in the 1960s. John Vaccaro, the actor, director and force behind the Theater of the Ridiculous that focused primarily on absurdist plays referred to the Cino as, not only the first of its kind, but called it “the cradle of gay theater.”

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Browse the exhibition “Magic Time!—Art & Ephemera of the Caffé Cino” at ClampArt

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