Elizabeth Purchell presents: Tally Brown, New York (1979)
A rare 16mm screening of Rosa von Praunheim's verité portrait of the magnetic cabaret singer, who performed in films by Andy Warhol and Gregory Markopoulos.
Nov 09, 2022, 8:00 PM
2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA
Tally Brown, New York
directed by Rosa von Praunheim
1979, 93m, U.S., 16mm
Selected and introduced by archivist and historian Elizabeth Purchell (Ask Any Buddy)
16mm print courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Over the last half-century, New German Cinema filmmaker and activist Rosa von Praunheim has chronicled queer life and sensibility through major historical and political shifts, yet his work remains rarely screened in the U.S. We are pleased to screen a 16mm print of his warm, laid-back verité portrait of the magnetic Tally Brown, a mesmerizing cabaret singer and lifelong New Yorker who performed in films by Andy Warhol and Gregory Markopoulos as well as on Broadway -- and who here becomes an emblem for a storied counterculture in its twilight era. Featuring performances from her contemporaries Holly Woodlawn and Divine, the film observes Brown as she tells candid tales of her life in the city, performs David Bowie and Rolling Stones covers in long-gone clubs and bathhouses, and commands the screen.
Special thanks to Rosa von Praunheim, Thomas Beard and Ed Halter (Light Industry), and Elena Rossi-Snook (New York Public Library).
“Covering Kurt Weill, Johnny Mercer, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie, the chanteuse, resplendent in a shoulder-baring black mini-muumuu, vivifies each number with a tobacco-deepened tremolo. Just as spectacular are Brown’s gifts as a raconteur. In her colloquies with von Praunheim, conducted almost entirely off-screen, she recounts a fortuitous early encounter at Tanglewood with Leonard Bernstein (who called her “a white Billie Holiday”) and gigs both on and way off Broadway. (A sample exchange between director and subject: “How did you come into the underground?” “Which one, sweetheart?”) As Brown reminisces, her orotund elocution evocative of an early-talkies star, the film offers glimpses of Manhattan homo redoubts of the 1970s, long since shuttered: the Continental Baths, the West Village cabaret-revival club Reno Sweeney. “This is my city....Its soul comes from the fact of its difficulty,” the lifelong New Yorker tells the German filmmaker, who is as besotted with the metropolis as Brown. Von Praunheim has made several other documentaries centering on intriguing heroines, such as Fassbinder’s Women (2000), but none captures a place and the singular talent that emerged from it quite like Tally Brown, New York.” -Melissa Anderson
Elizabeth Purchell is a queer film historian and programmer. She is the creator of Ask Any Buddy, a multimedia project that explores the history of the gay adult film industry and its role in the development of queer cinema and the spread of gay male visual culture. To date, Ask Any Buddy consists of an acclaimed Instagram feed, a feature-length mashup film that was selected to play nearly two-dozen international film festivals, and a companion podcast. Recently, she has produced and appeared on home video releases by Altered Innocence, the American Genre Film Archive, and Vinegar Syndrome, and programs and hosts the monthly Queer Cinema: Lost and Found series at Austin Film Society. Her work has been featured in publications such as Artforum and The New York Times.