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A Play-House for Misfits

A Play-House for Misfits

The Play-House of the Ridiculous attracted misfits of all kinds, such as Chris Kapp, who didn’t blend in with her peers growing up in the 1950s. “I find that most people that go into show business have had horrid lives, and they sort of all joined together,” she said. “It was very much a second family. I think we all were outsiders—all the drag queens, certainly, and gay men. We had this common bond.” Penny Arcade added, “We had grown up in our imaginations and didn’t really have playmates, and suddenly we had all these playmates. So we would create cacophonous explosions everywhere we went, and part of Vaccaro’s genius was he corralled those kids.” The Play-House mostly consisted of people Vaccaro bumped into around town and on the scene. “Like with Penny Arcade,” Ruby Lynn Reyner said, “John used to pick people from the streets and put them on the stage. He used to take bums off the Bowery—you could go out during the day, and they would be lying all over the street—and he’d bring them onto the stage.”

From Chapter 16 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore

Location

Play-House of the Ridiculous
12 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

People