on art parties

CH: And we had parties. We have had wonderful, wonderful art parties in our building. I don’t know if you have heard about those from other people. We’ve done three monumental parties. And I call them “art parties” because they involve more than just a party.

Like, one party was the high school party, and it came about because I never got to be prom queen. Of course, in high school, I was far from ever being the prom queen. But I always sort of wanted to be the prom queen. So I decided, why couldn’t we just have a high school party? Because there are other people probably who wanted to be the star quarterback of the football team or whatever, or the head of the yearbook or something. “Why don’t we have a high school party and then we can all live out our aspirations?” So everybody—well, Kate [Thomas] and Bob [Levine], in particular—were our cohorts, and sometimes Nancy and Lou [Linden]. And they said, “Yeah, yeah! It sounds like a good idea.”

So then we got other people in. But then the party just kind of morphs into a really big, big party. Because we began to think about how real we wanted it to be. We got somebody to be a nun, for those of our friends who went to Catholic school. And we installed a nun in there. And then we rig up a PA system so that we can talk to people and make announcements. We began thinking about the things from high school that we remembered. The surly cafeteria lady that used to slop your peas! So we bought these big things of canned peas, and my sister-in-law was the surly cafeteria woman. And then we made people go through the cafeteria line, and we literally sloped stuff on their [plates]. And the part that was amazing was that our friends actually ate it!

AF: [laughs]

CH: And we were like, “You’re are eating it? That was meant to be a joke.” We actually had other food! We used three different loft spaces. Dave Herman’s space was used as a gym. We had people bring red and blue tee-shirts—because we had teams—and then we had it in the gym. And then we had graduation. And Dennis had created a huge puppet on stilts and everything, and that was the Great Professor. We had a graduation ceremony. We had artists friends of ours create lockers. They are fanciful and wonderful beyond belief.

And then we had the prom, to which I got to be the prom queen. Then we decided it wasn’t enough that I got to be prom queen, but we needed to have a story, a scenario about the prom queen. So it was that Kate was the real prom queen, right? But I kidnapped Kate and I tied her up. And we had pictures of that. Like in my locker, I had a small picture of Kate all tied up in a chair. So she couldn’t be prom queen! But of course, somehow at the last minute, somehow she gets free and she takes the crown off my head. And I still don’t get to be prom queen!

So, they were fun parties. We had music and dancing. And people had to bring formal attire for the prom. So people are changing. It’s just crazy. We also had classes. We taught classes. We had an anthropology class. Kate taught a sex class. Bob taught the gym class. Somebody else taught a history class. And every now and then, there would be announcement over the PA system. And one of our friends was a librarian, and she was in my anthropology class. And she had gone to Catholic school. And it came over the system that, “Will Mary please go to the Principal’s office?” This was the nun. “There seems to be missing library books.” And she was so into it, she goes, “No! I would never steal library books!” [Laughs]

AF: [laughs]

CH: So it was fun! Then we had a heaven and hell party. And we had hell in Kate’s loft. We had heaven here. And the gallery was purgatory. We had somebody going around all night with a milk cartoon collecting money for babies to get them out of purgatory. We had pictures of babies on the milk carton; we had baby angels. It was Halloween time, so at the heaven and hell party, you had to come in costume. You had to come as an angel of some kind. You could be a bad angel, a good angel, whatever. Some people came as the Baltimore Hon angel. I was a Baltimore Hon angel.

There were some elaborate [costumes]. There were some prizes given for that. And in hell, everybody had to make things. It was like a factory. Kate made them move along. “That’s enough, that’s enough! Move on, move on, move on.” And then we had a white boy museum in hell. And we also had something rigged up something where they couldn’t see, but they…no…. I can’t remember if they could see, or just hear what was going on in heaven.

In hell, there was only crackers and water. In heaven, was chocolate and wine. And we had made a big cloud, and people got to have their picture taken in heaven to prove they made it. You know, we had all the good stuff in heaven.

Then we acted out the seven deadly sins in play form. We put all of our friends on chairs in the freight elevator and we acted out the plays on the different floors. So then we took our friends down in the elevator. They were reasonably terrified, but they got used to it. And we’d stop on a floor, and there’d be a two-minute skit for sloth. And then there’d be a two-minute skit for whatever the others would be. So we did that, too. So we always had an art component to our [parties]. And they were just incredibly elaborate. Like two hundred or more people would come. And it was totally fun.

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