The Play-House of Ridiculous’s Technicolor Psychedelia

The Play-House of Ridiculous’s Technicolor Psychedelia

One of the most memorable aspects of Cock-Strong, which debuted at La MaMa in 1969, came from the big discount bags of glitter that John Vaccaro would buy on Canal Street that helped create the Play-House’s cheap explosions of psychedelic Technicolor. “John would have these bags that weighed probably twenty pounds each,” Michael Arian said, “full of colors of glitter that you just never ever imagined you’d see. We had glitter on the costumes. We had glitter everywhere.” Vaccaro usually painted vivid, colorful designs on his face that conveyed some­thing about his character, sprinkling the glitter on the makeup while the color was still wet. “I was raining glitter for years,” Ruby Lynn Reyner said. “I had so much glitter. With my makeup, people used to think I was a drag queen because I had big Joan Crawford lips and had completely filled them in with red glitter. My eyelashes, I dipped them in glitter with surgical adhesive—so I had glittery eyelashes, glittery eyes, glittery mouth.” It was easy to know if a friend was sleeping with someone from the Play-House, because glitter littered their beds or showers.

From Chapter 18 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


La MaMa (final location)
74 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003