The Harris Family Matriarch Comes Into Her Own

The Harris Family Matriarch Comes Into Her Own

“Everything was one, the music and theater and art,” Ann Harris recalled. “Everybody was interested in everybody then, and it was beautiful.” When Ann was in her mid-40s, she appeared in the 1970 cult film The Honeymoon Killers with actress Shirley Stoler, and Harry Koutoukas also cast her in one of his eccentric “camps.” She could occasionally be found running around with Koutoukas and Hair creators Jim Rado and Gerome Ragni, having a blast on the streets of downtown New York. “I think the Catholic Church was Mom’s anchor into a magical idea of life,” Walter Michael Harris said. “She had pretty strong, stringent Irish-Catholic roots in her childhood, and I think part of her fantasy life was really among the angels and with heaven—the idea of that sort of magical place.” After the family moved to New York, they stopped going to church and entered Off-Off-Broadway’s dingy temples. “Cino became the church,” he continued. “La MaMa took the place of that in our lives.” The Harris family matriarch finally entered a new act of her life after finding herself among a like-minded tribe of experimental playwrights, directors, and actors. From her headquarters on East Ninth Street in the East Village, Ann began writing more songs and collaborating with her husband, children, and newfound extended family. “It must have been a relief for Mom after what must have seemed like a long exile in a desert—the years in Florida. For Mom, I think it was just really quite liberating.”

From Chapter 7 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Harris family's residence
319 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003