Being an Off-Off-Broadway playwright and performer certainly did not pay the bills, and Harry Koutoukas never held a real job, but he survived with a little help from his friends—and various patrons that he juggled. “More or less, they were women who had money who needed a walker,” Agosto Machado said. “You know, that term for a gay male who escorts a lady to functions, so she won’t be alone. They really thought he was so unique and unusual and talented.” Koutoukas also wrote many chamber plays that were performed in candlelight in the apartments of wealthy uptown patrons who were dazzled by his wit and wordplay. “Now and then, Yoko Ono might give him a call,” Machado continued, “but it didn’t mean automatically she’s going to help him out, though she often would.” Harry also had a patron, Angela Boone, who ran the restaurant Pennyfeathers near his apartment. After discovering he was a playwright, she set him up at a little round table and would introduce him as the house playwright. “Harry would always come in,” his friend Bruce Eyster recalled, “and he would have all this food and then say, ‘Oh, put it on my bill.’ Until Angela died, he sent me to go over there and say, ‘Harry needs two sandwiches, roast beef.’ And she’d say, ‘Okay,’ and she would make it and send it over.” Despite the speed demons and drug-fueled craziness that nearly killed him, Koutoukas beat the grim odds and lived into his seventies, spending a full half century in a building he called home—with his trusty deceased: return to sender stamp ready when the bills piled up in his mailbox.
From Chapter 29 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore