Ackers honor avant-garde’s ‘real heroes’

BY BOB KRASNER | If you want to receive an Acker Award, keep doing what you’re doing — and who knows? — it could happen.

In the meantime, if you want to get a seat at the ceremony, get there early. The East Village community quickly filled the seats at The Theater for the New City, sending the staff scrambling to bring in extra seats and floor cushions, and still part of the audience was left standing.

From left, Clayton Patterson presented Crystal Field, of Theater for the New City, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, as emcee Phoebe Legere emcee’d the proceedings. (Photos by Bob Krasner)

The draw was longtime resident Clayton Patterson’s annual salute to the people who make the East Village / Lower East Side what it is. Honoring an eclectic mix of avant-garde artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, activists and more, the evening moved quickly as emcee Phoebe Legere — appropriately dressed as a very fashionable ringmaster — presented each award.

Patterson hung back, handing out the boxes containing a mix of memorabilia and art contributed by the winners, and occasionally snapping pics.

Puppeteer and producer Vit Horejs, with emcee Phoebe Legere, was another Acker honoree.

Crystal Field, director of TNC, received the first award for Lifetime Achievement. Field gave a brief speech, noting that she thought that “things are getting better,” while reminding us that “we are a grain of sand in history’s march forward.”

Cynthia Carr, a writer and historian, received the Candy Darling Award.

“I hope that I’ll end up deserving this someday,” she said.

Linus Coraggio, of the Rivington School, accepted his Acker “in the name of positive cultural transformation.”

Power Malu urged people to remember the plight of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

“This award means more to me than any other, because my life is avant-garde theater,” noted Melba LaRose.

Trigger, former owner of the late, lamented Continental bar, reminisced about his friend Joey Ramone’s last show, which took place at his club. An Acker Award “honors the past, present and future,” he remarked.

Musician Jesse Malin related how he “found my tribe on St. Mark’s Place.”

Clayton Patterson had a few words for Trigger, one of this year’s honorees.

Power Malu began his turn at the mic with a tribute to Patterson and ended with an impassioned spoken-word piece about the plight of post-hurricane Puerto Rico. Community activist Lila Mejia also had Puerto Rico on her mind, as she offered T-shirts for sale to raise money for the island.

Tattoo artist Tommy Houlihan thanked his mother, who bought him his first tattoo machine.

Ivan Galietti , who received the Jack Smith Film Award, was adorned by Phoebe Legere with a sash made by the late Jack Smith.

Patterson, who spoke only sporadically during the ceremony, summed up the reasons for the Ackers’ existence.

“If we don’t save our own history, who will?” he asked. Explaining his desire to recognize local talent, he explained, “A lot of the time, the real heroes are the ones you don’t know about until years later. The real geniuses are in the background.

“These are people who inspire the community,” he added. “I’m not trying for a crew, I’m going for a community.”

Lilah Mejia, of the group Why Not Care, was also honored with an Acker Award for her work helping Puerto Rico’s recovery.

3 Responses to Ackers honor avant-garde’s ‘real heroes’

  1. Clayton should be recognized for all of his hard work in creating this event, the energy that goes into it.

  2. Linus Coraggio here. I prepared a shortish acceptance speech which I shelved because Clayton made some opening comment that he didn't want honorees yapping too long (if at all) because of time constraint. So the crowd was not warmed up for the first 1/2 hour of the ceremony.
    So Phoebe was hustling artists through who were acting meek and quiet like they were in catholic school (nothing
    against Phoebe,she's a long time friend-i wanted to get a kiss from her and say I was kissing Phoebe the amazing
    performance artist not the ex-playboy bunny). She gave me a nice heartfelt and rousing introduction but
    when i came up I had to ask to get the mike and awkwardly walk 15 feet over to Phoebe to get it. That made me
    feel un-into being the one to change up the vibe .So I just said a few words feeling like I was shortchanging myself
    and the audience.

    As a NYC native I want to thank myself for not getting killed in any number of ways like fighting back getting mugged or bicycling in NYC or playing whats now called parkour on rooftops,public statues and subway trains (hey,am I not getting the Acker for my years of ''original school'' skateboarding in the 1960's and 70's??).
    I'd like not to thank the various past and present landlords for the numerous eviction attempts.
    I'd like to publicly shame the NYC public art fund and the lower manhattan cultural council for never helping me
    (or any artists i know personally) do any public sculpture projects in this town.
    And to other creatives here tonight and around NYC who are deserving or more deserving than me of getting an Acker-
    I can tell you there is no prioritized rating system(otherwise how could I be getting one and someone like Al Diaz has
    still not got one?-I gotta nominate him for next year).So to those folks I say hang in there,your time will come!

    Finally I give a shoutout to all artists of every rank,disipline and age to break rules, impose their autonomy on society and reject censorship to effect everlasting positive cultural transformation,.
    So viva Rivington School,street art and graffiti! And everybody is invited to my 1-man show in September
    at HOWL gallery. See you there motherfuckers!!!

    (thats what I meant to say that night)

  3. this was a stunning event that astonishes every year

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