Interviewed by Adam Hyman
Oral History Recorded: June 5, 2010
Jeffery Perkins is an experimental filmmaker and Fluxus artist. Perkins was born in New York and attended high school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Perkins met Yoko Ono when stationed in Tokyo as an Air Force medic and temporarily lived with her when he returned to New York in 1966, a period when he also became actively involved in New York's Fluxus community. He collaborated with Tony Cox on the film SHOUT (Fluxus Film # 22) and shot Yoko Ono's film BOTTOMS (Fluxus Film # 4). In the late 1960s he moved to Los Angeles with SKI PARTY star Bobbi Shaw and got a job as a projectionist at the Cinematheque 16 on the Sunset Strip where he met Peter Mays. He performed in Mays' film SISTER MIDNIGHT and collaborated with Mays, David Lebrun, Michael Scroggins and Larry Janss on Single Wing Turquoise Bird, a popular psychedelic light show. His more recent works include a series of taxicab recordings called FILMS FOR THE BLIND and the film THE PAINTER SAM FRANCIS.
00:00:31 ADAM HYMAN
The date is June 5, 2010. This is tape one. And, for the transcriber, can you please say and spell your name.
00:00:40 JEFFREY PERKINS
Jeffrey Perkins, J-E-F-F-R-E-Y P-E-R-K-I-N-S.
00:00:54 ADAM HYMAN
Excellent. All right, can you start out by just telling me about your family, where and when you were born, who your parents were, what they did, any siblings that you have.
00:01:07 JEFFREY PERKINS
I was born in New York City in 1941 at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on June 7.
00:01:12 ADAM HYMAN
00:01:15 JEFFREY PERKINS
My parents lived in the South Bronx at the time, which was, at that time, primarily a Jewish neighborhood, a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood.
00:01:29 ADAM HYMAN
What sort of work did they do?
00:01:30 JEFFREY PERKINS
My father was, had various jobs in New York City. My mother was a waitress and also worked as a beautician in a mob funeral parlor. She was friends with Dutch Schultz's wife, no, not Dutch Schultz but Mad Vincent Coll's wife, whose name was Lottie Coll. Mad Vincent Coll was a freelance gangster who was murdered by Dutch Schultz with machine gun fire in a telephone booth.
00:02:10 ADAM HYMAN
So did you ever have any mob contacts yourself? When you were young?
00:02:17 JEFFREY PERKINS
I'm trying to think. No, not made men, no, but my best friend turned out to be a criminal, my best friend at high school. His name was Alan Sugarman who was an intellectual and an existentialist American who... just got wild. Quite wild.
00:02:55 ADAM HYMAN
Were you investigating existentialism with him at that time?
00:02:58 JEFFREY PERKINS
He turned me on to existentialism. He, we were in high school when I met him and he was reading Sartre and Camus and Heideger and Kierkegaard and I think the first philosophical book I read was by Soren Kierkegaard. And I was an avid reader at that time and I had just started making paintings as well. And meeting Alan was... was something. He had come home from school one day, my early years of high school, and found his father hanging by his neck dead in the basement of
00:03:53 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Their house, and that made a big impression on his psyche. And from then on in, he took great risks in life. And we met at different times in the future up until a certain period when he was killed in a gun fight in our home town. But he was basically operating in, with, selling dope, heroin, LSD, whatever, and was somehow connected to Mafioso, maybe just by, I don't know, really. So that's, was my... yeah, we were friends.
00:04:47 ADAM HYMAN
What were the names of your parents, please?
00:04:48 JEFFREY PERKINS
My father's name was Russell, my mother's name is Rose.
00:04:55 ADAM HYMAN
And did you have, do you have siblings?
00:04:57 JEFFREY PERKINS
Do I have children, you mean?
00:04:59 ADAM HYMAN
Siblings. Brothers and sisters.
00:05:00 JEFFREY PERKINS
Oh, no. No, no, I was an only child.
00:05:04 ADAM HYMAN
And what high school did you go to?
00:05:08 JEFFREY PERKINS
I went to Cathedral High and then Tech High.
00:05:11 ADAM HYMAN
00:05:12 PETER MAYS
00:05:12 JEFFREY PERKINS
In Springfield, Massachusetts.
00:05:14 ADAM HYMAN
Ah, so when did you move to Mass?
00:05:16 JEFFREY PERKINS
Uh, I think I was two.
00:05:19 ADAM HYMAN
What move, what took your family to move to Massachusetts?
00:05:22 JEFFREY PERKINS
My parents were both from the Springfield, Massachusetts area and they met by chance at Roseland Ballroom in New York on a blind date, a double date. And when I was born, my father felt that Springfield would be a better place for me to grow up. My mother didn't want to leave New York, however, he finally persuaded her to move to Springfield. Yeah, which was where I grew up.
00:06:00 ADAM HYMAN
At what point along the way did you start finding a, we'll call it an artistic consciousness?
00:06:08 JEFFREY PERKINS
My father was a talented artist and I observed this when I was quite young and I had a couple of assignments at school to make drawings and he made a very complex rendering that would, that showed the talent to drawing. He could draw. He could draw anything. And I guess I was inspired and also, when I was young, very young, I used to go to the museum in Springfield and I discovered Greek and Roman sculpture and New England painting and this was when I was really a child. And my affinity to reading, the
00:07:07 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Library was in a quadrangle of museums and so I would go to the library and find interesting books and then migrate over to the museum and go through the museum's, there was a museum of natural history, museum of art, museum of ancient art and more contemporary art. So this was in, I guess, from the, whenever I could go out by myself, you know, I guess that would have been at age 13 and 14, however, I didn't really start producing or making art, paintings, for example, I think I was 16 or 17, and I started to make paintings.
00:08:02 ADAM HYMAN
00:08:04 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:08:04 ADAM HYMAN
Why? What inspired you?
00:08:07 JEFFREY PERKINS
Partly... I'm not really sure, or directly, I think it probably was because I admired my father's talent. That probably was the inspiration. Yeah. And I was beginning to notice painting, I mean, I admired European painting, modern painting, Van Gogh, I loved Van Gogh's painting and I quickly assimilated abstract expressionist painting. So, I also was aware of FILM CULTURE magazine. I'd seen issues of FILM CULTURE magazine. And I met a woman who was later to become one of the three major collectors of Fluxus,
00:09:16 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
And her name is Jean Brown. I knew her son and I was invited to come over and meet her, and when I walked into their house I saw a Franz Klein on the wall and I knew what that was. And it was a color Klein, and I had never seen a colored Klein but I knew it was a Franz Klein painting. So I was impressed. And, actually, there was only one meeting, oh, no, there were two meetings. She asked me to bring my painting over, so I
00:09:51 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Brought her a painting and she just saw that I was making paintings as a kid and encouraged me to do that. Years later, when I returned to Springfield, before I found out that she was a Fluxus collector, I was reading, at the time, Tristan Tzara's manifestos and writings, and I noticed in a book at this same library in Springfield there was a collection of letters that was owned by the, a male name and Brown in Springfield, Mass. It may have been Jean Brown, so I called information and I got a secretary who said that
00:10:41 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
She was not living in, she was living outside of the city in Great Barrington, Mass., actually, and she gave me her number and I called her and I said, are you Jean Brown, Bobbi Brown's mother? Yes. And I said, well, I'm Jeff Perkins, and I met you when I was a kid. And she said, oh, very good, etcetera, whatever, and nothing came of that. And then, later I discovered that she was a Fluxus collector and a friend and supporter of George Maciunas. Yeah. So it was just around that age, 16, 17, that I decided to be interested in art. Yeah.
00:11:27 ADAM HYMAN
Was there anybody else in town who could encourage you in such things or...
00:11:30 JEFFREY PERKINS
I had a friend who was a black guy, his name was Lewis Stovall, and I used to go over to his house, he lived in, near downtown Springfield, and we would listen to, he liked the Modern Jazz Quartet, so we'd listen to the MJQ and smoke pot and he was making kind of cubist paintings at the time. As for artists, I don't think I knew another artist in Springfield then.
00:12:09 ADAM HYMAN
And what other art work were you seeing going on in the world, like, this is what, late '50s, that most turned you on?
00:12:16 JEFFREY PERKINS
I think that I mostly had an affinity to abstract expressionist painting. That was a quick study for me. I got it. Yeah. And European films. I remember seeing THE VIRGIN SPRING and that was mysterious and very interesting. And I also started smoking pot around that time. So my intuition was in bloom, so to speak.
00:12:45 ADAM HYMAN
Do you remember any other key early film viewing experiences?
00:12:48 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yes, I remember going to New York with a friend of mine from Holyoke, Mass., Cy Hurley, who was a writer, and we saw VINYL by Andy Warhol. And Cy was completely disgusted with this thing but I thought it was very interesting. Wow, this was really cool. And...
00:13:23 ADAM HYMAN
What was cool about it?
00:13:25 JEFFREY PERKINS
It was dark and rebellious and there was chains and masks and things. I mean, I, it was really underground. It was really the first underground film that I saw, underground meaning occult in the sense that it was really apart from anything that I'd ever seen before, so it made a good impression on my unconscious. Bobbi Brown, Jean Brown's son, also ended up working for FILM CULTURE magazine while he was a student, I think, at Columbia, and I remember going to see a film by Von Sternberg called Anatahan. Is that Von Sternberg? Or Von Stroheim?
00:14:17 PETER MAYS
00:14:19 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:14:19 PETER MAYS
Yeah. That’s his last name.
00:14:20 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yes, which was presented way downtown in a small obscure theater near the Brooklyn Bridge by the famous critic for THE VILLAGE VOICE...
00:14:36 PETER MAYS
00:14:37 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:14:40 ADAM HYMAN
00:14:43 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:14:44 PETER MAYS
Jonas was ...
00:14:45 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:14:46 PETER MAYS
[overlapping] [unintelligible] was with the other one.
00:14:48 JEFFREY PERKINS
I forget, no. What?
00:14:51 ADAM HYMAN
00:14:52 JEFFREY PERKINS
Andrew Sarris. Yes, who gave a little lecture before the film. And I was sitting next to Harry Smith.
00:14:59 ADAM HYMAN
00:15:00 JEFFREY PERKINS
Who was continually through the movie doing these mudras which were string…
00:15:06 PETER MAYS
Cat's cradle, yeah.
00:15:09 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:15:10 ADAM HYMAN
His cat's cradle work.
00:15:10 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yeah. I didn't know who he was. Pretty strange, I thought, because he kept doing it throughout the whole movie. The year of that experience, I'm not really sure if it was in the '50s or... in the early '60s. So, anyway, I feel like I'm branching too far off your stream.
00:15:36 PETER MAYS
No. You're not. It's...
00:15:37 ADAM HYMAN
It's an oral history so... fill in with specifics of different things, because VINYL is '62 or '63.
00:15:47 JEFFREY PERKINS
Okay. Then, all right, then it was, it was in a basement theater on Lafayette Street near Cooper's Square. [Perkins note: This is where I saw VINYL by Warhol.]
00:15:57 ADAM HYMAN
So by then you would have been, like, 22.
00:15:59 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:16:00 ADAM HYMAN
00:16:00 JEFFREY PERKINS
That's exactly right. Yeah.
00:16:02 ADAM HYMAN
So what happened between, like, 16 and 17 and 22?
00:16:05 JEFFREY PERKINS
Oh, well, this, okay. There's a lot of adventure there. After high school, I graduated high school in '59 and Alan and I parted company and I was encouraged to join the Army Reserves, and so I had to go to the Army Reserves for six months active duty at Fort Dix in New Jersey. So I went there and did my stint there. I met a very young Elliott Gould who was a part of this. At that time his name was Elliott Gold. I'm pretty sure that this guy
00:16:46 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Was Elliott, who is now Elliott Gould. And it's a funny little story but we kind of met up one night on guard duty in the winter in the woods and I found him standing in a grove of trees smoking a joint, and this guy was a very weird guy, he was somebody who just could not get into the military. He was always forgetting things, he couldn't walk straight, he was considered a kind of idiot savant among these other people who wanted to be, look like soldiers. He had no interest in being, looking like a soldier or acting like a
00:17:26 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Soldier, he was the opposite to that. And because of that, he was treated like an idiot but they couldn't deal with it, the controllers just couldn't handle him. So I saw him in this grove of trees at midnight smoking a joint and I sidled up to him and we became kind of quick friends and we remained friends during that six month period. One time we had a pass and we went to New York and he, or maybe this was after when I ran into him later, but I bumped into him and he took me into Brooklyn to meet his father who was
00:18:03 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
This very hermetic kind of Jewish man sitting in a darkened room in Brooklyn. I mean, I was brought into the room and Elliott said, respectfully, this is my hermetic father. He was probably some kind of a cabbalist or something, I had never really met a really out there Jew, and, but I couldn't disturb him, it was like, and the last time I saw him was at, I forget the year, but it was around Washington Square, he was, like,
00:18:42 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Really a cool guy. He was very hip and we just bumped into each other and we exchanged, you know, like friendly chat and then was off and I never saw him again. And when I saw Elliott Gold, Elliott Gould, I thought, this is Elliott Gould, Elliott Gold. And I found, in fact, looking up his history, that in fact Elliott Gould's former name was Gold. So I believe I'm right about that, I could be wrong, but I think I'm right. So I did these six months
00:19:20 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
In the military, then I came out and decided to go to art school in New York. So I moved to New York and moved into the YMCA on 63rd Street and enrolled in a very stupid school on 60, on Lexington Avenue and 30th Street. It was the New York Phoenix School Of Design, and it was the most boring experience so I was actually working to support myself then by being a display artist, and I worked for Macy's and I worked for various companies as a freelance display artist. And I used to go to The Village all the time and
00:19:59 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Hang out in The Village and this is, oh, like '61, '60, and I hung in a bar on 6th Avenue and I met a friend, a black guy, his name is Tony Watkins, and he was from Detroit, he was going through The Art Students League, and Tony had an afro, he was a light skinned black guy with Oriental kind of eyes and a kind of an afro, not like really big but that kind of hair. So we used to stand there by the juke box in this bar and just listen to music and...
00:20:43 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Remember one evening this guy, his name was Andy, came in and he, Andy was a dealer and, drug dealer, and he approached us with a pocket full of sugar cubes and asked us if we wanted to get really high. And we said, yes, of course, and so he gave us some sugar cubes and we quickly ingested the sugar cubes and within 20 minutes the bar was in psychedelic, that was extremely interesting. And Andy kind of stoned the whole joint, I think, and
00:21:21 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
It was winter time and I remember we went out it was snowing, we went out to Washington Square Park and we stayed up all night and walking in the vacant streets of New York high on LSD. And this was when LSD first hit the streets in New York and it was pretty much always free and completely unknown, the police had no idea what it was. So I knew a group of people. So I was going to art school basically and... while living in the Y I met this guy who was a male prostitute, his name was Eric Brun, and Eric and I
00:22:01 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
used to get high together and walk around the city. We'd go to Saint Thomas Church, we'd go to The Museum Of Modern Art, we'd get high and do things like that, high on grass, and... Eric was friend with an actor named Rufus Collins, a black guy, and, of course, Eric was a male prostitute, a gay man. Very elegant guy. Always, beautiful dresser, you know, short coats and leather jackets and beautiful shoes and very kind of
00:22:51 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Austere and elegant. And funny. And one night there was a snow storm, actually, a big snow storm in New York and Eric invited to, me to join him and Rufus in an apartment in the West Village and we're on the second floor in this one room apartment and got high and suddenly we were standing in this trio in the center of this darkened room and there was this moment and I said to myself, oh, my god, this is going to be an orgy, and I'm not gay. [laugh]
00:23:32 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So I said, excuse me, guys, I'm leaving. So I kind of, I got frightened, really, and I just, I've always kind of had a standoffish attitude to gay life although I've known gay people all my life, and so I left and it.... The last time I saw Eric was, well, I had a, I was going to art school, I didn't really attend very many classes, mostly working and going to museums. I like MoMA, I used to go to MoMA all the time, and the Jewish Museum. I like
00:24:18 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
the Jewish Museum as well. I think it was Ad Reinhardt's premier of the black paintings, may have been then or after I got out of the military but, my second stint in the military, in any case, I did see that show, the black paintings by Ad Reinhardt, very impressive show. However, I, mostly I spent time in the MoMA and, where I first discovered Sam Francis's painting Big Red. It was displayed on the staircase as you went up to the second floor galleries and you would have to pass under it to get to the galleries. And...
00:25:10 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Let's see. In '61 my father died, so I had to go back to Springfield for the funeral and, in fact, I teamed up again with Alan Sugarman who my father really liked, they had an affinity to each other. And Alan was a short, kind of pock marked kind of ugly redheaded Jew, and he was, he was wild, he was kind of wild, but very smart, very intellectual. And destined to die, I mean, he was, I don't know how to describe that but he was, he did eventually
00:26:00 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
get killed. So, yes, he was at my father's wake and we had a few, emotional moments together around that as kids and I discovered that, while I was there, there was a letter from my commander, my reserve commander, that said that I had neglected to go to meetings, reserve meetings, which I was supposed to go every week or something and I didn't go to any. So the letter was saying you must come and see me. So my cousin
00:26:45 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
at the time who was a career military guy was at the funeral and he was in special forces and he advised me to ask my commanding officer if I can enlist in the Air Force and that way I would avoid going to Vietnam and get killed. This is 1961, now, late '61. So he was, since I admired Bernard, this cousin, I took his advice and I went to the commanding officer and he said, yeah, you can do this. So I immediately went down to the U.S. Air Force
00:27:26 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
and enlisted. So I went into training and I managed to navigate the training thing, actually, I remember I was in Texas, the first training I was in San Antonio and my, this was basic training in the Air Force, and the first pass I got I noticed in the base newspaper there was an exhibition of Sam Francis in Houston, so I had a weekend so I took a bus trip to Houston and I saw and exhibition of, which was a one-man show, of Francis. I was still a
00:28:10 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Secret artist. And eventually I got, by my own navigating techniques, I got stationed to Tokyo. And this is when I met Yoko Ono and Tony Cox. And they, of course, were very well placed in the avant-garde Tokyo art scene and it was during this period that I actually met Sam Francis, not to meet him, however, we were in the same places at the same times, in exhibitions, and I was invited by Yoko to join in her performance at Sogetsu Kaikan, her farewell to Tokyo performance, which I performed in with her
00:29:12 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
husband, Tony Cox, at, and Sam Francis was there and, in fact, he had painted a mural for the lobby of the Sogetsu, or the flower arrangement school there. A beautiful painting, the Tokyo mural. So I would see him occasionally, I remember going to an exhibition of the High Red Center group at the Naiqua Gallery, N-A-I-Q-U-A, and Naiqua Gallery was owned by a doctor, or a lawyer, who had a favor for avant-garde art.
00:29:55 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
They had, and this show, I remember going to a show, by this group called High Red Center. And High Red Center was really the coolest avant-garde group in Tokyo at the time. They were extremely unique in what they were doing.
00:30:21 ADAM HYMAN
What were they doing?
00:30:24 JEFFREY PERKINS
They would, they did a piece, like, they took one, but, no, in the Ginsa they decided to clean a sidewalk with, like, toothbrushes and things like that. You know, absurd performance things. What's his name, the, one of the main people... his name is escaping me now but it'll come back to me. He had created a drawing of a 10 thousand yen note, an exhibitor did, and was arrested for forgery and was put on trial and High Red Center generated a
00:31:21 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
protest around the court building. They did street performances. The performance that I went to, I was with Jed Curtis and Dan Richter. Jed Curtis had performed in the Wiesbaden concerts of Fluxus in '62, and Dan Richter ended up being, he was a mime, they were both traveling and they came from India and ended up in Japan, and looked up Yoko Ono because Jed knew of her from Wiesbaden and the Fluxus connections there, and that's how I met them, and we were hanging out together in Tokyo at the time.
00:32:08 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So Yoko told us of this exhibition by High Red Center at Naiqua and we went and we arrived and the door was closed and was boarded up with, in English and Japanese, show cancelled, go away, you know, verboten, you can't get in there. So we decided to go have some dinner and get high. So I said, well, let's go back and we'll just double check now, so we went back and the room was, the door was open, it was full of people. The room was only
00:32:45 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
about as big as this room here. And in the center of the room, I mean, there was, like, a hundred people in the room, in the center of the room there was an easy chair and sitting in the easy chair was Sam Francis, and standing next to him was Jasper Johns. So, was, wow, there's Sam Francis and... later, I was invited by this scholar who was at the University of Hawaii at the east-west center, his name is Fred Lieberman who was a friend of John Cage and
00:33:20 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Yoko had kind of got me invited. No, actually, I had a pass and so I was able to go to Hawaii and Fred was producing a Fluxus festival, and so I was to perform in this festival and I brought with me compositions by other artists in Japan to perform in the festival, and Cage was actually, this was for the opening of a new performance hall in Honolulu which was dedicated to John F. Kennedy who had just been murdered, actually, and they named this new hall the John F. Kennedy Hall or whatever. Auditorium. And Cage, I
00:34:10 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
assisted Cage in the piece that he was preparing. I basically was just kind of rehearsing with him and being an assistant. And also the Fluxus festival went on and we did some performances and Sam Francis was there, too, with Jasper Johns. I don't know why, but they were. So, well, you might want to interject, well, I have a good story, though.
00:34:43 ADAM HYMAN
Go for that now and go back and do some filler questions.
00:34:46 JEFFREY PERKINS
Okay. Well, this is a unique story, and a good one. When I first met Tony and Yoko, Yoko was pregnant, and so the child was born, Kyoko, and they came out one day to buy baby food because it was cheap at the PX at Tachikawa. So they came out, it was winter time, and they came out and Yoko was dressed in her, she used to always wear these long black muumuus with her hair long and you're getting the complete story here. [laugh]
00:35:22 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Not complete but a lot of it. And so we, they bought a bunch of baby food and cameras, and so after that we went to the PX to have some tea and we were sitting at the table, I'm sure they looked completely weird to the military people, very bohemian, very beatnik, the image was... And Tony was wearing a very interesting raincoat and I was staring at the raincoat and Tony said, why are you looking at my coat? And I said, this is a familiar coat, I've seen this coat before. And he said, oh, really? Where'd you see it?
00:36:04 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
I said, this is virtually impossible but my friend, Eric Brun in New York, used to have a coat like that, and Tony said, this is that coat. And I said, Tony, how did you get this coat? And he said, well, funny thing, Eric was a male prostitute and he was, became completely depressed and was depressed about having to be a male prostitute and was always talking about killing himself. Eric was a very neat guy, everything about him was
00:36:41 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Neat and elegant, and, also, Eric was a thief, a professional thief. He even bragged to me that he had stolen a painting from MoMA. Well, there was a fire at MoMA at a certain point and he said that they, the guards at MoMA asked people to take paintings off the wall and bring them downstairs where they would leave them safely. And so he took, he said he took a Renoir and just kept going. I don't know if it was true but he did brag that he could steal shoes.
00:37:14 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
He could go into a shoe store and leave with a new pair of shoes. Apparently, this quite a, quite an accomplishment. And he stole all kinds of stuff. And so Tony said, yes, that Eric was a friend of his, too, and he was always talking about killing himself. He was staying in the Earl Hotel, which is now the Washington Square Hotel, and one day he went out to the hardware store and bought a big galvanized bathtub kind of
00:37:47 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
thing and took it to his room and covered his bed with towels and the floor with towels, laid across the bed and opened up his throat and emptied his blood into the tub so that he wouldn't mess up the room. This is the Tony story. And Tony told me when all of his friends found out that he had done this, they all converged on the room to get his stuff. And Tony said, I got the coat. So eventually, Tony and Yoko, Yoko became, I was working
00:38:26 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
as, in the hospital at the time in the Tachikawa Base. I worked nights, usually.
00:38:32 ADAM HYMAN
00:38:34 JEFFREY PERKINS
I was a psychiatric ward tech. I basically hung out with people who were on thorazine and different drugs.
00:38:41 ADAM HYMAN
So you weren't flying planes.
00:38:43 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:38:44 ADAM HYMAN
00:38:45 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:38:46 ADAM HYMAN
I was going to ask, that was one of my questions was what was your task in the Air Force.
00:38:50 JEFFREY PERKINS
No, I was a medic. I was a medic in psychiatric, which is what I chose to do. Yeah, I wanted to do that. So, I, Yoko kind of was feeding me things to read. I mean, basically, I went from a regressive art school, how to draw, from the live female model or male model or basket of fruit to avant-garde land, to Duchamp and John Cage and Merce Cunningham and, Dada. And the coolest thing going, at the time, really, Fluxus was
00:39:37 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
just being born. So Yoko was, George Maciunas was sending Yoko in Tokyo publications and books and so she never held onto things, she just would, she would get things and give them to me. She gave me an Anthology, her copy of an Anthology, and just passed it right along. And also informed me about what was cool to read, turned me on to the I-Ching, the book SILENCE by John Cage, and Anthology which was impressive and, so these nights, by
00:40:19 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Working, I would read these things. SILENCE, I read the I-Ching twice, I wrote a paper for myself on the I-Ching and all the symbolism of the I-Ching and stuff, because I had a lot of time on my hands so I could do that.
00:40:33 ADAM HYMAN
We're going to stop, tape stop.
end of tape 1
TAPE 2: JEFF PERKINS
00:40:42 JEFFREY PERKINS
So this was, let me just continue, I want to comment that this was kind of like a revelation to me, I mean, as soon as I got a look at Yoko Ono one strange night when I first met them, I knew that I was dealing with somebody extraordinary. And Yoko always made that very, very clear in her mysterious way, so I felt this involvement, although it was very casual in way, we just met offhanded out of the context of any pretense, was unique and very creative and I was, like, ready for that. I was completely receptive to Whatever that was going to be. I mean...
00:01:26 ADAM HYMAN
Specifically, how did you meet them?
00:01:28 JEFFREY PERKINS
I was, when I first went to the, Tokyo, I went immediately into Tokyo from the Air base which is, like, 40 minutes outside of Tokyo by train, and I found this area of Tokyo called Shinjiku where there are lots of bars and coffee shops, and these bars were, they were playing lots of jazz music. The Japanese had a real hunger for all kinds of different music, and especially jazz. So I was hanging out in this one particular place which was a jazz coffee shop and one evening there was an American woman, a reporter there from
00:02:14 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
New York, and we got to chatting and I asked her if she knew anybody who had any LSD or psychedelics, and she said, yes, as a matter of fact, she knew a guy who was married to a famous Japanese dancer and this was his phone number. So I called him and the person who became Tony Cox, Yoko's husband, answered the phone and we had a quick chat and he was, like, oh, wow, you're from New York, that's great, come out and visit us.
00:02:44 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So that night, I took a very long journey in the city of Tokyo to find them and it was at night, and then I walked, they had, were living in a gated house then, very beautiful, gated Western style house. And I went into the living room and Tony greeted me and we were sitting talking, getting acquainted and there was a stairway going up to the second floor and in a while this woman came walking on the staircase, also wearing a black muumuu and pregnant, very pregnant, and she would just walk across the room in back of us, went
00:03:30 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
into the kitchen and hung out there for a while and in a while she came out and went back upstairs. That was Yoko Ono. The next time I saw them was the child had been born and I was invited over to see the child. They were now living in a different place. So that's basically how I met them. They eventually moved to a high rise apartment in Shibuya where Yoko... was finishing up the book GRAPEFRUIT and... yeah.
00:04:10 ADAM HYMAN
On these ventures into Tokyo, would you be in uniform? I'm curious.
00:04:14 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. No, no. In Tokyo?
00:04:15 ADAM HYMAN
00:04:16 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. No, no.
00:04:17 ADAM HYMAN
So my, I'm curious about, like, their reception of you as an Air Force person, or did that matter in any way?
00:04:25 JEFFREY PERKINS
No, the Air Force had nothing to do with it.
00:04:29 PETER MAYS
Did they know that you were in the Air Force?
00:04:31 JEFFREY PERKINS
Tony and Yoko?
00:04:32 PETER MAYS
00:04:33 JEFFREY PERKINS
Oh, yeah. Sure. They came out shopping at the air base. Yeah.
00:04:38 ADAM HYMAN
But, and was there anybody else in the Air Force at that time who had any sort of these artistic [unintelligible]…
00:04:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:04:43 ADAM HYMAN
00:04:44 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. Oh, wait a minute. No, I don't think so.
00:04:51 ADAM HYMAN
How long were you stationed in Japan?
00:04:53 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:04:55 ADAM HYMAN
Did you ever learn Japanese?
00:04:56 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:04:59 ADAM HYMAN
And so the two years in question are, what, the '62, '63.
00:05:02 JEFFREY PERKINS
'63 and '64.
00:05:04 ADAM HYMAN
Okay. So the screening of Vinyl, was it after that or before that?
00:05:13 JEFFREY PERKINS
I'd, yeah, I've always been kind of uncertain about that.
00:05:20 ADAM HYMAN
Double check the date of Vinyl, unless you happen to remember off hand when Warhol's VINYL was? Might have been '65...
00:05:25 JEFFREY PERKINS
I don't, I think it, would know, well, maybe, maybe.
00:05:29 ADAM HYMAN
'64 was like the peak year of the...
00:05:33 JEFFREY PERKINS
But I was, no, but I was always, already in, I was in Tokyo. It might have happened, because I went from Tokyo to Washington, D.C., my last duty station at Andrews Air Force Base, so it could have happened then. It's possible.
00:05:51 ADAM HYMAN
How long were you at Andrews?
00:05:52 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:05:54 ADAM HYMAN
And then when that finished did you, where did you go?
00:05:58 JEFFREY PERKINS
I moved to New York, I moved in with Tony and Yoko at One West 100 Street, they had a spare room and it was available to me, so I moved in with them.
00:06:09 ADAM HYMAN
So going back a couple of steps, when you said, like, you helped, a performance with John Cage in Hawaii...
00:06:14 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:06:15 ADAM HYMAN
What would be the nature of your component of the performance?
00:06:18 JEFFREY PERKINS
I was playing music from a various 78 and 33 rpm records for him from a control booth while he was preparing the piano on stage for this big concert. That's what I did.
00:06:34 ADAM HYMAN
And performances in Japan, what sort of things would you do?
00:06:38 JEFFREY PERKINS
The performance in Japan, I was a part of an event that Yoko did called Fly, which was also at the Naiqua Gallery, and she simply invited three or four people to come and the performance was really more of a lecture by her, which wasn't really a lecture, it was simply that she asked us to demonstrate or explain about Fly. That was a very simple and minimal kind of instruction. Show us how you fly, either in your imagination or by your words or dreams or physically. You know, like prove it, how to fly. So I
00:07:31 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Propped up a ladder and jumped off a ladder. Yeah. She also said that when, the phone would ring intermittently, and that when that phone rang, we would know that Nam June Paik was present. That Paik would attend by ringing the telephone. The other event that I remember, she, Paik did a performance in her apartment in Shibuya in which he presented two very rare Zen books, very expensive, very rare Zen books. And it turned out that they were two very large books, leather bound, that must have been,
00:08:28 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Like four feet by three feet and by one foot thick. Both, they were twin books, and that this was by invitation, no, not by, by appointment only that people could come and visit these books, and they were laid in, they had, their apartment at the time in Shibuya was one large room with a small kitchen and a doorway and a small bathroom with a bath in it. And you went to the door and came into the kitchen and then there was a shoji and then there was
00:09:01 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
the large room with a wall-to-wall windows. And the books were, and it a tatami floor, and so the books were placed in the room next to each other. And you could, basically, you would show up at a certain time, you're given this time, you could do whatever you want in the room by visiting these two Zen books. And I remember Shigeko Cubota, who later married Nam June Paik, came to visit the books, and Tony and Yoko and I were sitting in the kitchen while she was in the room. And we just, she would go in
00:09:42 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
the room, we'd close the shoji screen and wait. And it went for like about an hour, we didn't hear a thing. So finally we opened the screen and looked in and she had opened both books and was sleeping on the books. Now, the contents of these books were nothing but white pages. These were empty books. Years later, I found out, when I asked Paik about these books he said that he had bought them from some American in Tokyo who had them and was selling them. It was just some kind of really odd thing. So Paik was in
00:10:17 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Tokyo at that time and, but I didn't actually even see him in Tokyo. So that was the closest, those two events, the telephone event and the event at Yoko's apartment, Yoko and Tony's apartment, were the two intercessions with him. So the other performance, beside that, was the Farewell Tokyo concert, Yoko's Farewell Tokyo concert at Sogetsu in which Tony and I, it was really Tony's piece. Tony and I were tied back to back bound up with ropes that were wound around our bodies so our legs were kind of together and off of
00:11:08 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
these ropes were hanging bottles and cans and different objects, and Yoko made an announcement to an audience, to the audience which was a full audience, Sam Francis was there, that she had set free two snakes in the audience and that they could light a match to see if they could see the snakes and what Tony and I were supposed to do, and we did, was back to back, shuffle across the stage from one side to the other and then back again with these bottles and cans hanging off of ropes, and we did that. And it was terrifying.
00:11:51 ADAM HYMAN
So why do you think, I mean, how did you end up just really being such good friends with them as well?
00:11:55 JEFFREY PERKINS
They just liked me. They just thought I was a, an impressionable, cool person, you know.
00:12:05 ADAM HYMAN
Were you creating anything else as well in that period?
00:12:07 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yes, I was making collages and, yeah, this meeting and the exposure to this new art was inspiring. And, yes, I was doing collage works and different, creating little objects and things like that. I wasn't doing paintings, I, no, wait a minute. I was briefly friends with this artist from Holland named Daniel Van Golden and Daniel was creating some nice works then, but I didn't really have a studio, you know. I kind of shared an apartment with Dan Richter and Jed Curtis. Now, Dan Richter, it turned, Dan was this charismatic guy
00:12:47 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Who was traveling with Jed. Jed claimed that he was enlightened, that he had met him under the bodi tree and that Dan was a realized master. And Dan had gift of gab, he was just really a cool person, and Yoko and Tony loved him and they stayed awake with him one full night and recorded his rap. And the last night before Dan moved back to New York I spent with him, I was writing a very long poem on a roll of paper, which is a repetitious kind of structural poem. He sat there and I think we had taken some
00:13:27 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
asmadore which was, supposedly, is some kind of hallucinogenic, didn't really work at all, but we did stay awake all night and I was typing all night while Dan talked to me. Then he was just rapping, I was writing this, the same poem with slight permutations over and over and over again. And he ended up his rap by saying that he had done everything, that he was enlightened, now he was going back to New York and become a junkie. That was going to be his next move. And he did leave and later on, when I got back
00:14:00 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
to New York in '66, I was working as a waiter in a bar in the East Village and I asked around because I'd met a couple of junkies and, yes, Dan had passed through there and, yes, he was a junkie but he was now in London. So it turned out that... well, I might be jumping ahead so why don't you ask me some more questions but we can return to Dan because it's important. Yeah.
00:14:33 ADAM HYMAN
Well, what other things that, were you taking in most from Yoko and Tony in terms of, like, Fluxus? I mean [unintelligible]
00:14:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, yes. Both Tony and Yoko were telling me about the art scene in Tokyo. You know, Yoko bragged to me that she, her loft concerts at 112 Chamber Street were seminal avant-garde concerts and Fluxus. At that time, she was taking credit for them and I later found out, and she's admitted as well, that, in fact, they were curated by La Monte Young at her loft and Yoko was definitely a part of it, but this was a, this, the program of the invited artists and composers, that was, that was
00:15:25 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
programmed by La Monte. So, and, that she, she had made a little impression in New York, certainly not famous, however, she had made an impression, she met Maciunas, she had met John Cage because her husband, before Tony, was Toshi Ichiyanagi who was a student of Cage, and Yoko was a student at Sarah Lawrence and she was an intellectual and already a poet. Tony told me that Yoko was famous in Japan as a child and she was known as the haiku child. Years later, I asked Yoko this
00:16:13 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
question, it's not too long ago, dear Yoko, I've always wanted to know if this is really true. Were you known as the haiku child? And she answered back, yes, forget it. So... she, yeah, and Tony, Tony also was a part of the scene. He knew La Monte and he knew all of these other kind of cowboy artists, and he was an artist. In fact, he told me that the reason why he was in Tokyo was because he was dealing in New
00:17:02 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
York and got busted, and when they offered him the deal to connect his connection, he gave them La Monte Young, and they arrested La Monte Young and La Monte did go to jail and was bailed out by Betty Friedman of, I'm telling you some really inside shit. This, these stories have not been told, as far as I know, in public. And I...
00:17:32 PETER MAYS
Betty Friedman was in New York?
00:17:33 ADAM HYMAN
The late Betty Friedman?
00:17:34 JEFFREY PERKINS
The late Betty Friedman, yes, of Beverly Hills, yes. Was one of her first acts in avant-garde life, so to speak, I think. I don't know how she was connected to him. In any case, that's the story I heard, I was told that. So, yeah, Tony told me he had to flee New York because his name was shit having turned in La Monte. And La Monte was released from jail and was on probation and he had to cut his hair and look straight because he had to go to his probation
00:18:15 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Officer, and continued to be a vital force in avant-garde life in New York. I mean, La Monte was to overcome Cage, that was his goal. That was, he was going to be more important, more influential than John Cage.
00:18:37 ADAM HYMAN
Wait, chronologically, have you reached New York yet at this point?
00:18:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:18:41 ADAM HYMAN
00:18:42 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, I don't know where we're talking about. We're talking about when I met them in Tokyo.
00:18:48 ADAM HYMAN
00:18:49 JEFFREY PERKINS
But, so Tony, Yoko was drawn back to Japan on a ruse by her parents because they didn't approve of the way she was living. She had left Toshi and she was, you know, now an artist in her own right, and the parents, who were almost noble, I mean, her mother, I think, they are noble connections in her family line and Yoko had a very privileged life as a child, and so they kept a close eye on that, you know. I mean, they didn't even approve of her marriage to Toshi Ichiyanagi. I mean, she was to marry somebody
00:19:33 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Important, like an important person, and Toshi was not that important, although, now he's very famous. So they apparently drew her back to Tokyo and she was so upset that she attempted suicide and so they had her committed to a hospital. And Tony somehow heard about this and made his way to Tokyo and discovered her in the hospital and fell in love with her and persuaded the doctor of the hospital to release her in his care or he would expose this as a fraud, or some kind of a cruel thing, to the
00:20:16 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Newspapers. And so she was released to his care and she became pregnant and the rest, you know, of that story, yeah.
00:20:27 ADAM HYMAN
So, in terms of all that exposure to the various Fluxus people, what elements of it were you drawing... from or how's it altering your perceptions of the world?
00:20:34 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well... AN ANTHOLOGY was completely unique and so was THE SILENCE, John Cage's book. I mean, I was a good reader and I read good things, however, this was art, and it was presented as art or classical, I mean, I didn't really even know about classical music at that time in my life. I knew about jazz, I had an affinity to jazz up to that time, and really, Fluxus wasn't classical music but it was a kind of an evolution of classical music in a way.
00:21:16 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Most of their, quote, composers were from the branches of a classical music tree, including La Monte and Christian Wolf and Cage and all of it. So the writings in AN ANTHOLOGY were very influential. The ones that I remember, in particular, were Jackson Mac Low’s A GREATER SORROW, there were two essays in that book, which were extraordinary, imaginative essays, and Henry Flynt's CONCEPT ART, which is an essay. And a few of the things, compositions by Walter De Maria, A BEACH CRAWL, MEANINGLESS WORK, these essays, and
00:22:03 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
AN ANTHOLOGY was present as avant-garde compositions, and so artists were considered to be composers, and yet compositions could be, like, just one word, George Brecht's EXIT. And so I was exposed to this very influential and stimulating intellectual stuff, that I, I got it, you know, I was impressed by it and I felt like, well, this is very interesting. And Cage's writing was diaristic writing that was presented in a certain kind of contextual way that was completely also unique to me as far as my reading
00:22:52 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Anything, reading books. I had never read a book that had that kind of structure, you know. So all of that was, as I said, I went from an undergraduate, moky, art school, to suddenly, I'm working on a master’s degree under the influence of Yoko Ono. But not direct, I mean, Yoko was always very kind of offhanded about her, well, “go to the Noh Theater, don't go to the Kabuki. Kabuki is for the, you know, common folks, you really want to see the Noh. That's the real deal. That's Zen.”
00:23:30 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Well, and I did. I did go see the Noh theater and I wrote about it and thought about it and read about it and stuff and the, so she was, and she knew, I mean, she was, I remember, well, she did a piece which was filmed by Tony Cox with my camera, my Bolex, in which she did some performances in Tokyo, and a primary and influential performance, which had a resonance later in her life, was a piece in '63 or '4, when she was dressed in her
00:24:13 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Bohemian way, and on the street, on the Ginza, with a bouquet of flowers and was approaching people trying to give flowers away. The people, they thought she was a ghost or a witch or whatever, and was avoiding her. The next scene in the film is her... in the Shibuya apartment sitting on a window seat plucking the petals off of a flower and next to her are the galleys of grapefruit on the, next to the window, dressed in white with her long hair. And the next scene is her laying on a bed in that same muumuu and her body's
00:25:00 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Covered with these flower petals. Right? So, that's just something I'll mention. Now...
00:25:08 ADAM HYMAN
Which film is this?
00:25:10 JEFFREY PERKINS
It was never published, but I ended up with the scene of her plucking the flowers. Tony shot this but I ended up owning it, coming into the possession of it, and a couple of years ago I gave it to her. The other two scenes somehow got left in the cauldron or whatever, they're just gone. So, yes, I was being primed for further adventures. Yeah.
00:25:52 ADAM HYMAN
Why did you have a Bolex camera?
00:25:54 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well... Peter said you were a good interviewer and you are. Because, basically, I think that I had been exposed to FILM CULTURE magazine before I went into the military and I was shooting, like, little diaristic things and black and white 16 millimeter, trees and different places, just things. No real stories or anything. And I didn't really consider myself a filmmaker, you know. I thought filmmakers were important and I was not up there with the, that kind of important person.
00:26:40 ADAM HYMAN
And at that point, before you went to New York in '66, so I want to conclude, sort of, that pre '66. What other exposure were you having to any other films that were of interest to you? Who were the important filmmakers?
00:26:56 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:26:58 PETER MAYS
[unintelligible] In the world?
00:26:59 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:27:01 ADAM HYMAN
In the world, so...
00:27:03 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:27:03 ADAM HYMAN
Were you being exposed to experimental films yet...
00:27:05 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:27:05 ADAM HYMAN
Or were you working in other, looking at other stuff?
00:27:09 JEFFREY PERKINS
I don't think I had really seen an experimental film. No. I can't remember now. I don't think so, though. I just saw, popular movies like anybody else. Yeah.
00:27:29 ADAM HYMAN
So what other, are there any other key points, do you think, just in your development as an artist prior to the move in 66 and 69 that were, haven't touched on yet?
00:27:42 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, these are things that... this would have to do with my psyche and my deeper history and I don't know if you need to know about this right now. Why I am who I am, why I [overlapping]
00:27:58 ADAM HYMAN
That's not answerable so, you know.
00:28:01 JEFFREY PERKINS
Certainly they're answerable. I mean, I know why. I don't know if they fit the moment, that's all, that's some, I mean... probably Peter Mays knows more about me in that regard than I'd be willing to say right now.
00:28:14 PETER MAYS
[overlapping] [unintelligible] telepathy.
00:28:16 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:28:18 PETER MAYS
You have to leave to the [unintelligible]
00:28:20 ADAM HYMAN
So when you chose to move back to New York, then, and then you stayed with Tony and Yoko, then what, how did you, what scene did you dive into or what else did you start working on?
00:28:29 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, I kind of joined the Tony-Yoko band, basically. You know, and Yoko was very ambitious. I mean, she, Yoko was... from her break with her parents, she had made a personal commitment to her life course that was uncompromising. She was not going to turn back. She was going to be Yoko Ono. And so everything that she did was directed towards her importance as a woman artist, a unique poet, and avant-garde artist, and somebody that you must know about. And...
00:29:26 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
We, she was, she hit the ground running and, when they moved back. They moved back to New York in late '64 or '65. I'm not sure who left, we both left Japan around the same time. They may have left a couple of months before me but... in '65, I think it was, and they moved to New York and immediately contacted George Maciunas and her other connections and started getting involved, you know, George mostly. Maciunas was producing Fluxus festivals and publishing, his, the
00:30:14 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Fluxus, the Fluxus act was in full blossom, that was going strong, George was doing a lot of things. And Yoko plugged into that immediately and we stayed in touch, she came up to Washington once with her husband and she made friends with this artist who I knew in Washington, Royce Dendler, and... then, so I was, we did a, I was invited to join in an installation piece at the Judson Church Gallery that Tony was designing. It was called The Stone. And, basically, it was a paper room inside of a gallery that... all the
00:31:18 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
walls of the room were paper. The floor was white and the ceiling was white and the walls were white paper, one, like photograph, these big rolls of photographic paper and like just this, a full plane of white paper. And on one of the walls I projected a movie, a loop which said, “From here, to be continued tomorrow.” And the next day a second loop was projected which said, “To here, to be continued tomorrow.” So that was my contribution to this installation. There was a kind of a soundtrack for it that was electronic soundtrack.
00:32:17 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Yoko's participation was that the people who came to enter this room had to put on a black bag, and this black bag could be, if you, while you were in it you could see out of it but you couldn't see into it. So participants were just invited to put the black bag on and go in and sit in the room. There was also a catalog for the show in which Yoko, I created an essay in the catalog and instructions are basically a display on how I created the film and, along with an essay, and Yoko created a Q and A, true and false, oh, no, multiple choice
00:33:06 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
questionnaire at the end of it and that was a really very beautiful and imaginative questionnaire. That piece was called The Stone, it ran for a month at the Judson Church Gallery, we got a review in THE VILLAGE VOICE, John Wilcox reviewed it, and then they were so pumped by this thing that they wanted to produce it as a fucking play, a Broadway play or something, I mean, they were very, at this point, Tony was Yoko's manager, basically, and he was kind of running the show, so to speak. And Tony was
00:33:48 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
very charismatic and very much of a con man as well and he was charming and could persuade you to believe in whatever. So, in any case, the, they eventually got the show installed at the Paradox Restaurant on East 6th Street, which was a Zen macrobiotic restaurant, and I remember I met Eve Babbits there, and Yoko was a waitress, actually, at the Paradox, we were all on Zen macrobiotic diet. In the meantime, I had moved out of One West 100 Street and took an apartment on East 11th Street and Yoko wrote a
00:34:30 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
piece for that, piece called “Until The Room Turns Blue,” or “Blue Room Event,” and while I was a waiter at the Annex on Avenue B between 10th and 11th Street where I met Bobbi Shaw and, he was the person who drew me to Los Angeles, and then Tony got a loft building on 2nd Avenue at 99 2nd Avenue, got three floors of a building, and they invited me to move back in with them. So at this point, I was getting involved with Fluxus. Actually, while we were living at One West 100 Street, George Maciunas proposed the first Fluxus
00:35:21 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Film festival and commissioned various people to make movies, so I was invited to make a film. So I made a film called SHOUT, or FLUXUS FILM NUMBER 22, which is basically performed by Tony Cox and I, and the idea was that, basically, that we were going to have a very violent argument and it would be filmed in profile. The film is credited, I think I credited camera by Yoko Ono but, actually, we were turning my Bolex on and off and shouting at each other, and yet it was silent, there was no sound. And also the film NUMBER 4,
00:36:06 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
or the BOTTOMS movie by Yoko Ono, was created and filmed in that same apartment and I shot that film with my Bolex. And you know what that film is, right? Okay. So, then George put up...
00:36:25 ADAM HYMAN
Tell us briefly about the making of BOTTOMS.
00:36:29 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, very simply, the, Yoko and Tony invited various people to come and participate in this movie and what they were required to do was to take their pants off and walk from one end of the room to the other while I was pushed along in a, what do you call that, like a dolly. It’s a…anyway, it was pushed along in back of the person walking and I framed the picture so that all you could see was this person's ass. So that's, was basically the script of the movie, so we did that.
00:37:12 ADAM HYMAN
Who cut it? Or was it on camera?
00:37:18 JEFFREY PERKINS
I'm not sure, I, it could have been me. I'm not sure who did cut it. That's a good question, also. Nobody was eliminated. We, basically, it was, it was a four minute film. I think we just shot one roll.
00:37:38 ADAM HYMAN
[unintelligible] I’m thinking of something else that’s longer.
00:37:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
Maybe it's longer. That's a good question.
00:37:45 ADAM HYMAN
How about FLUXUS FILM 22? Was that edited or is that in-camera editing?
00:37:49 JEFFREY PERKINS
No, it was just, it was never edited. Well, in a way it was edited because I put on titles, so I did edit rolls, yeah.
00:38:00 ADAM HYMAN
How long is that film? Haven't seen it.
00:38:02 JEFFREY PERKINS
Couple minutes. Yeah. And George wanted to do a two minute film festival at this point. So, also, I mean, you, one thing that they did is they, George and Peter Moore found a, this camera, this technical camera, I think, called a Fast TAX, that could film 30 thousand frames a second, and they filmed normal things like somebody smiling and Joe Jones letting cigarette smoke come out of his mouth and then, these kinds of things, so...
00:38:40 ADAM HYMAN
Where are those films?
00:38:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:38:41 ADAM HYMAN
Where are those films?
00:38:43 JEFFREY PERKINS
These are the Fluxus films, they're certainly available, you can see them on YouTube, I think.
00:38:47 ADAM HYMAN
Oh, is the ANTHOLOGY in print, do you know?
00:38:52 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:38:52 PETER MAYS
00:38:53 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah. Is it in print?
00:38:53 JEFFREY PERKINS
I believe we were talking about AN ANTHOLOGY the magazine No. There's, there was two issues. There was an original, actually, there was three. I have the very first one. Then there was the second one which was known as the first one. The very first one included a page by Tony Cox but La Monte removed the page, La Monte was the publisher of that book, so after Tony messed with his life, La Monte pulled back the issue and removed that page, but that was the issue that Yoko had which she gave to me, so in a way, that issue is very rare.
00:39:33 ADAM HYMAN
How many copies might there be?
00:39:35 JEFFREY PERKINS
I don't know. I've never seen another.
00:39:39 ADAM HYMAN
We have, like, one minute on this tape, so any other thoughts on FLUXUS FILM 22? What were your, what were you, what was your intention?
00:39:48 JEFFREY PERKINS
The intention, basically, because Tony and Yoko were always yelling with each other, arguing, all the time, so I would often be in the, this small room that I was renting and hearing it. So I decided just to replicate the argument but I would play the part of Yoko. That was the idea. And to frame it in a very kind of structured, minimalist kind of way with two men in profile in the frame shouting at each other. But...
00:40:20 ADAM HYMAN
Did they get it?
00:40:20 JEFFREY PERKINS
No sound. Did they get it? Well, I never thought the film had any value but recently people who've seen, people who see it seem to get it and think it's funny. It wasn't intended to be funny. It was intended to be, in a way, meaningless or unique or arty. Different than, one step removed from reality because there would be no sound, there would be just the grimaces and the expressions of these two people yelling.
end of tape 2
TAPE 3: JEFF PERKINS
00:04:15 ADAM HYMAN
So, I guess the, why did you come, why did you come to Los Angeles? When, first when and then why?
00:04:20 JEFFREY PERKINS
Oh, basically, Tony and Yoko left for England... I'm going to be careful about this part of the story. They went to England and, for one reason or another, which I won't talk about. I decided to go to Los Angeles. Basically, I was inspired to do that because when I was working as a waiter in a bar in the Annex on Avenue B one night this blonde came in and stopped the bar. She was just so killer great looking that people, wow. [laugh] And she sat at a table and I was the waiter at her table. And there was a little bit
00:05:14 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
of flirting going on but nothing really happened and then, she came in with two men and left with those two men. This bar was owned by the guy who owned Max's Kan City, Kansas City. Damn, I always forget his name. So I stayed awake that, all night, that night, and the next day I wanted to see a Walter De Maria show at Cordier and Extrom up at 75th and Madison. It was Walter De Maria's first exhibition of his metal sculptures. So I went up there and looked at the show, it was like 10 in the morning or 11, they had
00:05:54 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
just opened, and I came out, I was bleary eyed and I walked, I was standing on the corner and I looked across the street and there she was on the other side of the street. Her arms opened wide, wearing a fur coat and very short dress. This is a gorgeous blonde, okay. And she was... like this and I was, [laugh] it can't be me. But there was nobody else there. So I crossed the street and said to her, hey, nice to see you again. Let's have a drink.
00:06:34 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So we went into a nearby place, I had a cognac and she, I said, gee, I'm exhausted. So she said, well, why don't you come to my place and get some rest, and so I went with her and she put me in the bed, actually, and didn't get in bed with me. I slept on the couch and I told her I have to wake up at four to go to work and I, so she woke me up and I went to work and she said, call me. So I called her and she said, come over after work.
00:07:07 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
I said, get off work at four in the morning. She said, that's okay, come. So I went, I knocked on the door, she opened the door, she was wearing shorty pajamas, these see-through pajamas, and glowing like a candle, and there, in fact, there was candles on the floor of the apartment and there was a full banquet with wine, steak, potatoes, really, a full meal. And this is for you. And so I enjoyed the meal and then we had sex for the next...
00:07:45 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Well, several days and weeks, in fact. And she was an actress, she does, she has an acting school now in the Valley, her name is Bobbi Shaw. And so I basically got evicted from my loft, 99 2nd Avenue, and I put all of Yoko's stuff in storage in the East Village and basically got a drive away car and drove out to L.A. She said, don't come. Don't, don't, don't, but I'm comin'. So...
00:08:27 PETER MAYS
That's because she was working with Buster Crab, Buster Keaton.
00:08:29 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, she had been a couple of Corman films, these Beach Blanket films with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon and Buster Keaton. And anyway, I drove across the country and, after one adventure or another, arrived in L.A., she was living in Laurel Canyon near The Country Store, right in back of The Country Store, so I kind of moved in. And about three days she said, look, I want to introduce you to somebody. I said, fine, so we got in her car and drove up to Topanga to the Corral. It was on Sunday. And we went in
00:09:18 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
And there was hardly anybody there except one table and there was Wally Berman, Russ Tamblyn, Dean Stockwell and the drummer from The Spirit. And she just sort of presented me. Wally, this is Jeff Perkins, he just came from New York, blah, blah, blah, etcetera. So that was the first artist I met. Next thing, I had to get a job so I got a job, she got me a job as a waiter at The Old World on Sunset, and then, basically, she kicked me out. I didn't want to go.
00:09:57 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Please. [laugh] It's so good. No, darling, I'm busy. So I moved into a house up on, what was the name of that?
00:10:10 PETER MAYS
00:10:11 JEFFREY PERKINS
Kirkland. And I was, I got a job as a projectionist at the Cinematheque 16 Theater, was managed by Lewis Teague at the time, and David Lebrun was the other projectionist, in fact. And in short time Lewis wanted to leave, he was, it was beneath his dignity to do this work and the job was manager, programmer was passed on to me. And this is when I met Peter Mays. And, basically, the Cinematheque 16 was a kind of locus of experimental film and the only, certainly the only commercial one in L.A. We were
00:11:03 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
getting films from the Filmmakers Co-op in New York and also the Canyon. I guess it was before it was Canyon it was something else, in Berkeley. Bob Nelson, Ben Van Meter, Bruce Connor... Bruce Bailey. I don't remember having Brakhage then and, actually, my first program was a retrospective of Kenneth Anger's work. I had known that Kenneth Anger had retired from filmmaking and published an obituary as a filmmaker in THE VILLAGE VOICE, and so the Filmmakers Co-op announced that a new film was available which was INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER. So I thought,
00:12:01 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Great, and let's, I'll book a retrospective and that's what I did. At the same time, other programs were going on. Now, Peter says that a Burt Gershfield had made a film called NOW THAT THE BUFFALO HAVE GONE [Editor’s note: NOW THAT THE BUFFALO’S GONE (1965)] and at this time, you know, it was kind of a social scene. Peter Mays, Burt Gershfield, John Stehura, Pat O'Neill were coming around and it was like a little scene there. We'd go to Barney's Beanery after work and blow our, hang out in back and chat, etcetera, and suddenly my life got, I was in the, I was involved,
00:12:43 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
I was doing things, and... Peter and I talked about this the other night, that Burt, Burt's film, NOW THAT THE BUFFALO HAVE GONE, we did a multi-media show, basically, around that film. In fact, there was a contingent of American Indians that were invited to this. And I made a piece, actually, was to show the sign language of the, just basically sign language. It wasn't necessarily Indian sign language, but I just found this kind of stock footage of sign language and I remember putting that up. And did we also find Scott Hardy?
00:13:31 PETER MAYS
00:13:33 JEFFREY PERKINS
As an overhead, Peter found Scott Hardy, who was expert in overhead projection.
00:13:37 JEFFREY PERKINS
Liquid light projection, yes. So this was like the first multi-media show, I believe, at the Cinematheque 16, and it didn't really have a run, maybe it was only for a couple of nights or maybe even been one night. In any case, it was something.
00:13:59 ADAM HYMAN
Are we talking late '66 or early '67? Are we into '67 here?
00:14:03 JEFFREY PERKINS
This is '67.
00:14:06 ADAM HYMAN
So prior to getting with that evolution, I want to go back, get a few...
00:14:11 JEFFREY PERKINS
It was early '67 because I left New York in the winter, and I think January winter... of '67. So I was really only in New York for a year. I got out of the military in '66, January, and left New York January '67. So my stint, that stint in New York was kind of short.
00:14:40 ADAM HYMAN
Can you describe just in a basic sentence, describe the Cinematheque 16, where was it, what was it like physically...
00:14:48 JEFFREY PERKINS
It was at 8816 ½ Sunset Boulevard across the street from where Tower Records was, next to The Old World, and the theater was a former funeral parlor, I was told, and you had to enter it from a very narrow alley from Sunset. And it was, it had a Norelco projector with 2,000 foot reels, I think, big aluminum 2,000 foot reels and a xenon light source. The projection booth was like a thrown up, it was a structure, but it didn't even have a door, it had a little curtain that came across and the audience kind of had to pass near by
00:15:43 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
The projector to get to this very narrow theater. It must have been no more than 30 feet wide but the, even the seats couldn't have been more than 15 feet wide, but it was kind of deep and I think it was about 60 seats, and a relatively small screen so it was a long, narrow space with one wall and the other was a curtain, a long curtain. There was a bar behind the curtain which was never used, really. And a small box office. And... yeah, I, the, oh, okay, all right, then. The Kenneth Anger retrospective was a success.
00:16:29 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Basically, it ran for quite a while. I think it ran for six months and we kept doing business with it.
00:16:35 ADAM HYMAN
Would it be running, like, once a week or every night [unintelligible]
00:16:37 JEFFREY PERKINS
No, every night. We were running every night. Seven nights. As far as I remember. Didn't have a night, a dark night. And it was always, we always had an audience, people were always coming.
00:16:51 ADAM HYMAN
So is that including everything up to but not including INVOCATION?
00:16:55 JEFFREY PERKINS
I think the only thing that wasn't in there was PUCE MOMENT. I don't remember PUCE MOMENT being in it but FIREWORKS, KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS, RABBIT'S MOON, EAUX D'ARTIFICE... SCORPIO RISING and INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER.
00:17:19 ADAM HYMAN
Or INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME.
00:17:20 JEFFREY PERKINS
INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME.
00:17:23 ADAM HYMAN
So one question I have, was this a, and this come up for you, I mean, this is only three years after the LAPD busted Mike Getz at the Cinema Theater for screening SCORPIO RISING and there was a censorship trial that revolved around it and, obviously, you weren't in L.A. at that time. Did that even come up remote as an issue anymore [unintelligible]?
00:17:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. No. One thing that I can say is that when, immediately, when I arrived in L.A., there was a riot on Sunset Strip at Crescent Heights and Laurel Canyon Boulevard around this place called Pandora's Box, and there was a street riot, I mean, there were masses of people in that little intersection there. I remember, it was like the second day I was there. And so there was really a lot of street life going on on Sunset at that time. I mean, it had already been going for, I guess, a couple of years before I was arrived. Yeah.
00:18:22 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So there was plenty of, there was a moment. I remember the Mark Sivero put together the exhibition up at the end of La Cienega at Sunset. They built an art tower, a big, big tower which was a big assemblage. I forget what that was called. So during this period, we also were showing, as I said, films from San Francisco and the multi-media. Pat O'Neill had not yet made 7362 was the name of it.
00:19:07 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah, 7362, that's from 1967.
00:19:09 JEFFREY PERKINS
Right. And Stehura’s film was not yet made. They were both using the contact printer at UCLA, and Peter and I had been sharing a house up at the end of Laurel Canyon. And, you remember that, Peter?
00:19:28 PETER MAYS
It's later, though. That's like six months later.
00:19:31 JEFFREY PERKINS
Okay. Well, I want to kind of get to our light show.
00:19:37 PETER MAYS
00:19:38 ADAM HYMAN
I want to do a couple more things on the Cinematheque 16 because that's important to us as well.
00:19:41 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:19:42 ADAM HYMAN
And then we'll go thoroughly through the light show as well. But, and who was attending the shows at the Cinema 16 and were there, like, any significant other artists or filmmakers coming as well?
00:19:53 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, I'm sure there were all kinds of other artists and filmmakers, I didn't really know very many of them, or any of them outside of the people I mentioned.
00:20:06 ADAM HYMAN
Did the Topanga Canyon group come frequently?
00:20:14 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. I never saw Wally Berman there.
00:20:21 ADAM HYMAN
And how much did you socialize with them, with Berman and Stockwell and...
00:20:26 JEFFREY PERKINS
I visited Berman twice, Berman twice at his house later, so it wasn't like we were hanging out. I wasn't really in his circle. I met him, I visited there twice on my own and we had friendly chats, they were kind of formal in a way. I mean, he showed me around, you know, he showed, this is my studio, I'm doing work here, I'm, he brought me into the bramble of chaparral in back of his studio and there was a tripod with binoculars on the tripod. And he showed
00:21:12 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Me that, he said to me that he was laying on the ground at night and by moonlight watching, or observing, this wall across the canyon which he was going to make a mural on. And he said to me that the coyotes were coming and smelling him as, when he was doing this. And I had visited him another time, I remember I arrived and he came out to greet me. He was always very personal, personable, you know, like you were old friends, and yet formal as well. I mean, for him. I remember I arrived and we're standing
00:21:54 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Chatting and suddenly I saw this kid run from house to house naked, he streaked from door to door, I remember, and that mush have been Tosh, you see, so, but that was about it, and then he visited the light show one afternoon when we were in Sam Francis's Ashland studio with Ed Jance, and they came in before the light show, it was during the afternoon. We were just kind of setting up after Sam had given us the studio, and then comes in Ed Jance with Wally, and they just walked through the room, and kind of, and
00:22:34 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Then out. That was it. I mean, I was there, I saw it but they didn't say anything. You know who Ed Jance is? Okay.
00:22:48 ADAM HYMAN
A well to do realtor, or developer.
00:22:51 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:22:53 ADAM HYMAN
Father of Larry.
00:22:54 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:22:57 ADAM HYMAN
Did you interact much with Lewis Teague and can you describe him?
00:23:05 JEFFREY PERKINS
Oh, yeah, Lewis and I were buddies, friends. In fact, he, when I was shooting the Sam Francis film, he came over one day, he was making a film about this girlfriend of his and shot a little bit of the film in the Sam Francis studio, in fact. And we've met since then on occasion. Yeah.
00:23:31 ADAM HYMAN
So what was, I mean, what was he like, as well, at that time?
00:23:34 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yeah. Friendly. You know, enthusiastic. New York. He showed me his film, which got him a contract with Universal, the Jesus film with the crucifix on a motor scooter.
00:23:54 ADAM HYMAN
00:23:55 JEFFREY PERKINS
And he... he liked Bobbi, Bobbi Shaw, the reason I got the job because Bobbi and he were friends, so, and he was also friends with another woman who I was involved with later, Bonnie Kozek, who was kind of an editor. Yeah.
00:24:22 ADAM HYMAN
And why, what was your understanding of why Lewis started the Cinematheque 16?
00:24:27 JEFFREY PERKINS
I don't think he started it. I think that Frank Woods, the owner who worked for Bob Lippert, who was a theater owner. He probably, Lippert maybe got the idea to have an underground, because I think Frank Woods who was my boss, was one of Lippert's captains, one of Lippert's theater manager people. Or friend or something, you know, because Frank Woods brought me up to meet Bob Lippert once and I hung out in Bob's office and, you know, chatted and he was a very nice guy, very friendly. And they were
00:25:19 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Kind of priming me to run things, in a way, and they kind of moved me from the Cinematheque 16 to San Francisco and then to Pasadena.
00:25:32 ADAM HYMAN
To which theater?
00:25:33 JEFFREY PERKINS
The Cinematheque 16 in San Francisco was in the Haight Ashbury on Haight Street, it was in back of a bookstore. And we never really were able to run films because we couldn't get a second egress through the bookstore. So I ran a poetry symposium instead with Angus McClise.
00:25:54 ADAM HYMAN
When was that then?
00:25:57 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:25:59 ADAM HYMAN
Okay. We'll get to that in a minute. And then... so the owners of it were really Frank and Bobby of Cinematheque 16
00:26:09 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:26:12 ADAM HYMAN
Prior to you starting work there, had you ever been a projectionist?
00:26:14 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. No, no. That wasn't a very complicated deal, you, to thread that Norelco was very easy and there were these two big, and there was a, rewinds in back.
00:26:26 ADAM HYMAN
And there was just one projector [unintelligible]
00:26:28 JEFFREY PERKINS
One projector with a big, big reel, so we could run a long program without a need to reel change.
00:26:36 ADAM HYMAN
And then when you got to the managing position, how else were you picking films to program?
00:26:43 JEFFREY PERKINS
I was basically getting offers from the distributors, from Filmmakers Co-op and the, I'm not sure what the name of it was in San Francisco.
00:26:57 ADAM HYMAN
It became Canyon right around then, but I forget the exact time.
00:26:59 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yeah. Around that time it became Canyon, too, yeah.
00:27:03 ADAM HYMAN
00:27:04 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:27:06 PETER MAYS
Yeah. Well, Tom was at PFA and I forget his involvement.
00:27:09 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah, I know what you're talking about, I can’t remember.
00:27:11 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:27:11 ADAM HYMAN
Do you remember? Okay. And how long would you run films for when you booked them?
00:27:19 JEFFREY PERKINS
As long as they made money. But the, you know, the San Francisco program would be a couple of weeks, you know. But the Kenneth Anger was a money maker and so was Lenny Bruce. There was a Lenny Bruce Live. That wasn't the Dustin Hoffman one, it was Lenny Bruce performing on stage. I remember Burt Lancaster came one night.
00:27:45 ADAM HYMAN
And how many shows would you have a night, how many screenings were there a night?
00:27:49 JEFFREY PERKINS
Just one show, usually. Or maybe there would be two programs. No, there would be two programs because we would rewind. Yeah. Must have been two programs, yeah.
00:28:01 ADAM HYMAN
And who else worked there besides, you mentioned David, anybody else that we would know? Ticket sellers or anything?
00:28:08 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yeah, some guy who would eventually replace me as a manager. I don't remember his name, even.
00:28:21 ADAM HYMAN
So how long did you remain a manager?
00:28:23 JEFFREY PERKINS
Must have been about a year. Something like that.
00:28:28 ADAM HYMAN
Was, were your films reviewed? What were the critics like in L.A. at that time?
00:28:34 JEFFREY PERKINS
Mm-hm. Yes. I think Kevin Thomas was my go-to guy. I think that's who it was. Yeah, Bob, Frank Woods. You know, call a critic, Kevin Thomas, get him down here, get him to look at it. So I'd do that. He'd come and review it. Gene Youngblood, I think, was reviewing then. I can't remember any others.
00:29:06 ADAM HYMAN
Was the coverage decent?
00:29:08 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:29:12 ADAM HYMAN
What press or, and what press do you remember?
00:29:14 JEFFREY PERKINS
THE FREE PRESS and the NEW YORK, L.A. TIMES, I think. Yeah, because Kevin Thomas was for the L.A. TIMES, I believe.
00:29:23 ADAM HYMAN
And then any notes that you might have on terms of like the economics of it, payment to filmmakers, rentals, how much were you being paid? Do you remember?
00:29:31 JEFFREY PERKINS
No. I don't remember. It was whatever.
00:29:37 ADAM HYMAN
And, okay, Cinematheque 16, your interest, you have any other questions on it?
Oh, no, you're, we're good. No.
00:29:45 ADAM HYMAN
All right, great.
00:29:46 PETER MAYS
Can I add one thing?
00:29:47 ADAM HYMAN
00:29:47 PETER MAYS
Because it was a very important screening to me. CHELSEA GIRLS.
00:29:52 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yes, THE CHELSEA GIRLS. That was long. It ran for quite a while. Yeah, the hits were THE CHELSEA GIRLS, Lenny Bruce and Kenneth Anger. And Kenneth was there and so was Marjorie Cameron. And Sampson DeBrier. Sampson would come three times a week just to hang out and chat and have dinner at Elaine Baker's restaurant.
00:30:21 ADAM HYMAN
Which was that?
00:30:22 JEFFREY PERKINS
I think it was called Elaine's.
00:30:24 ADAM HYMAN
Where was that, on Sunset then?
00:30:25 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yeah, it was like three or four doors up the street.
00:30:30 ADAM HYMAN
And, so how often would Kenneth come?
00:30:33 JEFFREY PERKINS
Kenneth just showed up at the opening and so was Marjorie Cameron came to the opening and, of course, Sampson and, as others. It was well, it was a good showing, and Sampson gave me a bunch of pictures which I used as a display in the lobby, still photographs from the production. You know, and some personal things as well.
00:31:02 ADAM HYMAN
Did you ever have any significant future interaction with Sampson or Cameron?
00:31:08 JEFFREY PERKINS
Not with Cameron but Sampson, yes.
00:31:11 ADAM HYMAN
In what ways?
00:31:12 JEFFREY PERKINS
What was it?
00:31:13 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah, what sort of interaction?
00:31:15 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, we, I visited his house and I later got him a job as an actor in a film by Joseph Bogdanovich.
00:31:28 ADAM HYMAN
00:31:29 JEFFREY PERKINS
It was called THE SATIN WORLD OF WHITE LILACS AND PINK CHAMPAGNE.
00:31:34 ADAM HYMAN
How are you able to get him that film? How were you able to get him that gig?
00:31:38 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, after I met Joseph Bogdanovich he wanted to know who was interesting in town. It seemed like I was the guy to go to to find out who was interesting. The process people had the same interest in me.
00:31:52 ADAM HYMAN
The who people?
00:31:53 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:31:55 ADAM HYMAN
Which would, which includes who?
00:31:57 JEFFREY PERKINS
I don't know who they were personally, Aaron Tunal-Cain was the only poet whose name I knew, and then there was a guy name Mikael. These were, this was the Church of the Final Judgment. They were a branch of... a branch of Scientology and they were Satanists. They were evangelizing Satan. Just like the Jesus people are evangelizing, they were evangelizing Satan on Sunset Strip. I met them in San Francisco within my poetry symposium. Not mine, but Angus’s, it was Angus's. I facilitated the poetry symposium. Yeah.
00:32:45 ADAM HYMAN
So just in terms of '67 or –ish, do you remember anything, so should we start to get into the light show here then?
00:32:54 JEFFREY PERKINS
If you like?
00:32:54 PETER MAYS
If you're missing a movie, you are in a movie.
00:32:58 ADAM HYMAN
Should we discuss SISTER MIDNIGHT as well in here?
00:33:01 JEFFREY PERKINS
As a matter of fact, yes. I met this filmmaker, Peter Mays, who was a frequenter, I think, yes, and we were showing Peter Mays's film, DEATH OF A GORILLA, which had a run. It, I think it was in, it was in a program of other films, I...
00:33:20 PETER MAYS
It's actually THE STAR CURTAIN.
00:33:23 JEFFREY PERKINS
Oh, THE STAR CURTAIN TANTRA, which was also good. And because of that, Peter and I became familiar friends and he was producing a feature and he asked me to be in the film and he also wanted Bobbi Shaw to be in the film, although by that time Bobbi and I had split up. However, I had met, I had done some performances at UCLA which were within programs curated and organized by Joe Byrd, Joseph Byrd who was a composer. These were experimental music or Fluxus like performances. Not Fluxus. However, they
00:34:13 JEFFREY PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Were, quote, “experimental music”, and I had met a woman named Victoria Bond who admired Yoko. She knew about Yoko Ono. And we became friends and I invited her to be in the film that Peter Mays was proposing to make. And the production began and I was one of the primary actors and we shot that film in Peter's apartment and the house of Peter Alexander and it was, the movie is called SISTER MIDNIGHT. I don't know who my characters was but, anyway, it was fun. Kind of fun. Lance Richberg was in it, Kirsten and Susan Atkins.
00:35:22 ADAM HYMAN
So what did you do in the film?
00:35:24 JEFFREY PERKINS
What did I do in the film?
00:35:26 ADAM HYMAN
00:35:27 JEFFREY PERKINS
I played a, I played a wandering poet. I was, my scenes were basically, I think I was Sister Midnight's lover, Vickie Bond was Sister Midnight, I think, and I was her lover. And I was also the lover of Kirsten. So basically, my scenes were primarily sex scenes. [interviewer laughs] Am I missing something?
00:35:57 PETER MAYS
No, you got it right.
00:35:58 JEFFREY PERKINS
00:36:00 ADAM HYMAN
How do you like how the film turned out?
00:36:03 JEFFREY PERKINS
I love it. I think I've, I continue to respect the film as a great, unique, adventurous, breakthrough film for what it was, for what it is. It continues to amuse people. It's shown twice in New York in these past few years. Every time people see it, they love it. My gallerist, Emily Harvey, just was crazy about because she liked to see me making love to women and naked, half naked, and so, anyway.
00:36:47 ADAM HYMAN
And do you remember anything about, well, was it originally screened in Los Angeles as well in that period?
00:36:54 JEFFREY PERKINS
Yes, of course. Of course, it was premiered here. I think the first time I saw it was, it may have been at BBS Productions in their theater, in their screening room. But I may be mistaken. Peter Mays would be the person to know about that.
00:37:11 ADAM HYMAN
What was BBS Productions?
00:37:12 JEFFREY PERKINS
Bert, Bob and Steve. It's Bert Schneider, Bob Rafelson and Steve Blouner. They produced EASY RIDER.
00:37:21 ADAM HYMAN
00:37:23 JEFFREY PERKINS
And HEAD. And THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. And DRIVE, HE SAID. And...FIVE EASY PIECES.
00:37:37 ADAM HYMAN
Where is their office?
00:37:38 JEFFREY PERKINS
It was on La Brea between... Melrose and Santa Monica.
00:37:47 ADAM HYMAN
Now would they ever come to Cinematheque 16?
00:37:49 JEFFREY PERKINS
No, not that I ever knew of, no.
00:37:53 ADAM HYMAN
You know, with Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Ferus Gallery folks.
00:37:55 JEFFREY PERKINS
Fred Engelberg, Fred Engelberg worked there, Fred Engelberg made a movie that, called it EPISTOMOLOGY [EDITOR’S NOTE: EPISIOTOMY is the film he referred to], which showed, I booked at the Cinematheque 16, and Fred was a kind of an intimate advisor to Bert Schneider. I mean, he used to say that Bert Schneider didn't know how to think, so he was a kind of a confidante of Bert Schneider, and Bert allowed him to edit EPISTOMOLOGY which he made...
00:38:29 PETER MAYS
00:38:30 JEFFREY PERKINS
EPISIOTOMY, right. EPISTEMOLOGY is another movie. And Henry Flynt complained, there's no school of Epistemology at Harvard. Can you imagine?
00:38:45 ADAM HYMAN
Any other thoughts about Fred Engelberg? Since he's come up.
00:38:53 JEFFREY PERKINS
Well, Fred was, Barney's Beanery at the time was a very popular hangout, lots of artists, you know, Dennis Hopper, I guess, Burt, everybody. I guess, I guess, God, what's his name? Can I imagine forgetting this guy's name.
00:39:14 PETER MAYS
00:39:15 ADAM HYMAN
Well, Stan Kaye was just telling me about they hung out there.
00:39:18 JEFFREY PERKINS
Stanton was around. Sure. I remember Stanton Kaye. Actually, I remember Stanton Kaye in New York before I moved out of New York, Stanton was running, in the Anthology Film Archives building, that was previously an experimental movie project. Warhol shot part of a film in the basement there where there were jail cells because it was a court and jail, and it had an experimental or contemporary, well, independent movie thing, and Stanton was the first director of it, Stanton Kaye. That was before I moved to New York. I was living on 2nd Street, actually, where my friend Alan Sugarman showed up mysteriously before he was killed.
00:40:10 ADAM HYMAN
Okay, so time to change tapes.
end of tape 3
TAPE 4: JEFF PERKINS
00:00:29 ADAM HYMAN
Tell me about Fred Engelberg.
00:00:30 JEFF PERKINS
Engelberg. So Fred Engelberg was a kind of came from Beat New York, Village scene, and one of the things he did I think when he first got to LA is the recitation of Howl at this famous club on Sunset strip, where Larry Bell was a bouncer, and Lenny Bruce performed. I forget the name of the club now, but it was a very hip...
00:00:58 PETER MAYS
00:00:59 JEFF PERKINS
00:01:00 PETER MAYS
00:00:59 JEFF PERKINS
No, no, there was a very hip club in the you know mid-60s. And Larry, Larry Bell told me he was a bouncer there. So Fred was you know he was a large guy, dark hair, black hair man. Dark complexion, beard, black beard, typical Beatnik. The San Francisco kind of beatnik, you know sandals, and beard. That kind of beatnik, and very friendly, really cool guy. Very knowledgeable, pontifical, I mean he was, had been around, and fraternal, uh he was a friend of mine. He liked me, and he was like really in with the, he had a friend who was the dealer of the strip, I remember, I forget this guy's name but he was a famous dealer, pot dealer. There was a certain kind of hierarchy on the Sunset Strip life then, I mean there was lots of tourist life, and people walking the strip, I remember seeing Clint Eastwood one night. Very tall guy. So Fred was on the scene and he was somebody to be reckoned with, you know and he was a poet basically. And a filmmaker. He made his film.
00:02:34 PETER MAYS
00:02:34 JEFF PERKINS
EPISIOTOMY from existing footage that he got from like, it was probably Bert Snider that facilitated this because he got it from like one of the major TV networks, which included Vietnam War footage, and other stuff. So he was an operator and a bohemian, a quintessential bohemian guy. And I think he's ended up living in Joshua Tree, that's the last I heard of it.
00:03:06 JEFF PERKINS
But I worked for him, I was an assistant editor, I was assistant to Peter Mays in fact.
00:03:12 ADAM HYMAN
When, on what?
00:03:16 JEFF PERKINS
On the Yogi Bhajan movie, GOD'S WILL.
00:03:22 PETER MAYS
00:03:22 JEFF PERKINS
Gio Dius. GOD'S WILL. Which was a, it was a documentary about Yogi Bhajan's group, the people who were learning Kundalini yoga with him. It's 4H, you know you still see them, they wear white turbans and they are, they are sihks. They are, and Yogi Bhajan was very popular with the California hippies, the evolved ones, god what was the famous actor's brother's name. Tom, was with the Hog Farm too. Tom, he was in BARBARELLA. The, not Tom but his brother, he was the angel in BARBARELLA.
00:04:14 ADAM HYMAN
I don't remember that.
00:04:13 JEFF PERKINS
Whatever BARBARELLA was starring, it was by Roger Vadim, and.
00:04:20 ADAM HYMAN
Roger Vadim. With Jane.
00:04:21 JEFF PERKINS
With Jane Fonda yes. So anyway, damn, did I get off the track with Fred or?
00:04:32 ADAM HYMAN
Well when was that film made, this film with Yogi Bhajan.
00:04:34 JEFF PERKINS
The Yogi Bhajan film, good question, it must have been 68.
00:04:38 ADAM HYMAN
00:04:38 PETER MAYS
00:04:39 JEFF PERKINS
00:04:42 PETER MAYS
And Lewis Teague shot it.
00:04:43 JEFF PERKINS
And Lewis Teague shot it?
00:04:43 ADAM HYMAN
00:04:45 JEFF PERKINS
Lewis and Peter Smokler I think was the sound guy.
00:04:49 PETER MAYS
I don't remember the guy's name, was [unintelligible].
00:04:50 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah Peter Smokler was the one. They went on tour with all these, Yogi Bhajan brought all his disciples to India to meet his guru and Indira Gandhi, and it turned out that Indira Gandhi denied him, called him a, a nark. And his guru, his guru wouldn't even meet with him, so who is this guy, I don't even know him. [laugh] It was amazing. And the whole group kind of went crazy, some of them went nutty, they come, a couple of them really went insane, they went down to Goa, and the whole thing got kind of crazy. I don't know, we never finished. But I remember Dennis Hopper was finishing THE LAST MOVIE. We actually, we were invited to the screening at Universal of THE LAST MOVIE, Peter and I, because they were screening it at BBS and I remember hearing it. We were in the editing room next to the screening room, I went in and there it was, so the screening. Dennis was in the projection booth, so he said, yeah come and watch it.
00:05:57 ADAM HYMAN
What do you remember about that?
00:05:59 JEFF PERKINS
Well we watched the movie and I remember, we were sitting in back of this row of pinstriped suits. With Lew Wassermann, and his executives. And it was over, they got up and left in the group, and then I got up and was leaving, and Dennis was standing at the door, and I said, well how did they like it. And he said, they want to kill me, that was what he said. And they sure did, they, they squashed that film.
00:06:26 ADAM HYMAN
How did you like it?
00:06:27 JEFF PERKINS
I loved it, I thought it was a really great film actually, uh I thought it had a lot of content and freestyle creativity, and the whole, the theme of Christ, and the whole idea that these Peruvians recreated the movie with bamboo and took him as the star, and would crucify him. These were great ideas, I felt. I don't know if they are really important great ideas, however they reflect a really, a vital kind of creativity that Dennis Hopper was capable of doing. He was a great improviser I believe.
00:07:15 ADAM HYMAN
Did you have any interactions with Dennis?
00:07:16 JEFF PERKINS
With the movie?
00:07:18 ADAM HYMAN
With Dennis Hopper.
00:07:20 JEFF PERKINS
Oh years later I interviewed him for the San Francis film offhanded. Larry Jansen was interviewing him to promote a theatre that he was opening in Thousand Oaks, and Dennis was in a way indebted to Larry because I think Larry's father bailed Dennis out of debt by loaning him some money. Dennis used his art collection as collateral. But Ed loaned him some significant money. So I was along and I was shooting that interview, and I wanted to interview him about San Francis as well, so I. After the questions about Dennis' history, and his recommendations about Larry's theatre ended, I was allowed to ask him a couple of question, which he commented on knowledgeable, and then he gave us a tour of his collection in the, in his house there on Indiana Street, yeah.
00:08:31 ADAM HYMAN
So let's go back to Fred briefly, there is a, there is a Roger Corman film, what is it, FUCK OR FLOOD or something. It's the one with the, like there is a, you know Beat scene and then there's the guy who turns into like a murderer but who covers up the killing, the killed bodies with clay and gets hailed as a great artist for a while, does that ring a bell to either of you?
00:08:54 JEFF PERKINS
No, go on.
00:08:54 ADAM HYMAN
Because like there's the lead impresario of this coffee house where they hang out is like a large bearded poet fellow, I’m wondering if you [unintelligible].
00:09:05 PETER MAYS
There were a number of them. Fred went out of his way to disappear. He didn't.
00:09:16 JEFF PERKINS
I never saw it, don't know.
00:09:17 ADAM HYMAN
Alright so let us continue on then with your insipient involvement in the Lightshow.
00:09:26 JEFF PERKINS
Okay the Lightshow began when Charlie Lippincott approached me as the manager of the Cinematheque and told me that he was involved with a group of people that were producing rock concerts called Pinnacle Productions, and they were looking for a new light show. They had a lightshow, but they weren't satisfied with them. Charlie was intimately friends with all of these people who part, some of them were from USC. John Van Hamersveld, Sepp Donahower and maybe one other. Mark Chase. And so I said you know we were doing these multimedia shows, I guess Charlie may have been there. So Peter and I, and Burt Gershfield and Terry Forgett, and Bruce Lane were living in a place above Sunset on Cresthill Road. And so I called a meeting in my bedroom of various people to meet with Charlie and the pinnacle people, I believe it was just John Van Hamersveld.
00:10:44 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
As I recall, Burt was there, Peter was there. I think, David Lebrun was there, Helena Lebrun was there. Jon Green was there, Terry Forgett was there, Pat O'Neill was there. And I think John Stehura was there. So we were, we were all sitting in our bedroom discussing whatever, a lightshow, we were going to do a lightshow. Or form a group.
00:11:15 ADAM HYMAN
How many of those people had been involved in the multimedia, the couple of shows that you had done Cinematheque 16?
00:11:22 JEFF PERKINS
00:11:29 ADAM HYMAN
And the follow up question is then how did you know the others. And obviously you knew David, Peter...
00:11:36 JEFF PERKINS
Well David. I’m not really sure, David was it, David wasn't at USC.
00:11:48 PETER MAYS
He was at UCLA.
00:11:49 JEFF PERKINS
He was at UCLA. So David was at UCLA.
00:11:54 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah. [unintelligible] Gershfield’s film.
00:11:58 JEFF PERKINS
Oh that's right, okay. Okay so there was David, Burt Gershfield, that was UCLA, so John Stehura was doing a master’s program in computer science, no filmmaking. And I remember going to the basement in the art building and the contact printer was there. And I met Pat O'Neill and Peter Olson with Pat O'Neill and Pat O'Neill at his studio on Pico Boulevard near Lincoln with Carl Chang, and they were making sculpture and filmmaking. This was real multimedia, this is the time of multimedia. Yeah. Intermedia, Dick Keggenson invented the term. So as far as the connection between the show that Burt did and the light show, I don’t know who else was involved. Scott Hardy. And Scott might have been at that meeting too, but I don’t remember his face there. So basically we were hired by Pinnacle to do a lightshow for the Jimi Hendrix concert at the Shrine, and apparently this was the first show of Jimi Hendrix after Monterey Pop.
00:13:18 JEFF PERKINS
In fact I had met Jimi Hendrix in New York just after he was discovered by Chaz Chandler who was also sleeping with Bobbi Shaw, and there was a going away party for Jimi at this highrise on 59th and 2nd Ave that Chaz threw before they launched to London to record the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And what was the name of that first album?
00:13:50 ADAM HYMAN
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED.
00:13:51 JEFF PERKINS
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED, yes, so I remember seeing Jimi Hendrix there, and by the time I got to LA and was driving on PCH, I was listening to “Purple Haze.” And so yeah. Intermedia. [laugh] So we were supposed to do this concert and we went for a sound check, and I met Jimi backstage actually at that supposed sound check. And in fact we were not allowed to do a lightshow because we could not project from the audience because it was in the Shrine hall or the Shrine Auditorium and we could not project, real project. We couldn't project because there wasn't enough room, so basically we just watched Jimi Hendrix and Blue Cheer perform in a concert from stagefront. And our actually first concert was with Cream. The Cream in which the Process people showed up. The Process also showed up at Crystal House one day.
00:15:01 ADAM HYMAN
What does that mean when the Process people show up, what happens?
00:15:04 PETER MAYS
They wanted to take Jeff off. [laugh]They viewed him as a Christ.
00:15:08 JEFF PERKINS
They, They, I mean I had met one of them in San Francisco at the poetry reading, and actually one of my employees at the, at the straight and on Haight Street became a member of the Process. Most of the Process people were British, so just one day our doorbell rang at Cresthill house, I opened the door and there were three guys standing there in monk's robes. With big German Shepherds and crosses upside down and long hair. And they were like, one of the guys was a former employee of mine in San Francisco, I do not really know how he found me. And their words were like, okay well we are here and we want to know who to contact. They came to me for, and because basically I said, well, you are here like, what do you want with me. I mean I don’t know. But they wanted connections. So I gave them Samson DeBrier in fact, I just said his name. You might be interested in meeting Samson DeBrier because I thought Samson was some kind of a magus.
00:16:34 ADAM HYMAN
So Samson was dead, no?
00:16:37 JEFF PERKINS
Yes he died.
00:16:38 ADAM HYMAN
But we wanted to do Kenneth Anger's oral history in Samson DeBrier's apartment where he shot INAUGURATION.
00:16:44 JEFF PERKINS
00:16:45 ADAM HYMAN
But Kenneth has apparently declined to do an oral history, but that is where we would do it, we have access to the apartment.
00:16:52 JEFF PERKINS
00:16:54 ADAM HYMAN
00:16:53 JEFF PERKINS
Who owns that?
00:16:55 ADAM HYMAN
I can't remember the name, it was through Alice Hutchinson who wrote the best book on Kenneth currently.
00:17:00 JEFF PERKINS
Right yeah. So we did this concert with Cream, we rear projected it, and one of the Process people Mihael was this friendly, good looking guy, and the hog farm was involved with that. And then I think we did one more show after that with the hog farm, and we were doing a kind of environmental piece in the Shrine Hall, not the auditorium. Which was an open span place with a balcony and three sides, so we had geodesic domes in there and there was all kinds of strobe lights and things going on. Then the hog farm went on the road, then we might have done three concerts with the hog farm. And then they, they went on the road. David left. And our group condensed down to Helena, Mike, Alan Keesling, with the slides. Was Scott Hardy, maybe Scott was there. And Mike Scroggins was a kind of understudy to Helena and Scott, and Charlie, we had three movie projectors. Three Zenon movie projectors, portable Zenon projectors, and we were running a film through three projectors, the same film. And me, and…
00:18:38 ADAM HYMAN
What were your contributions?
00:18:38 JEFF PERKINS
Funny, I was kind of selecting films in libraries, and also I had created a film loop of a black leader in which I just used a hole punch and I punched holes in this black leader. And it was, it failed, it was stupid, it did not work. It was just basically you would see this dot, dot, dot, dot, dot on the screen. Well this later evolved into something else, which took on a whole other, whole other manifestation. Shall I continue talking about the light show or?
00:19:25 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah tell me more about your involvement element.
00:19:28 JEFF PERKINS
My evolution in the light show.
00:19:31 ADAM HYMAN
00:19:31 JEFF PERKINS
Okay well that occurred when John Green, our glue of of the light show was storing equipment in a lithograph studio in Venice called Joe Funks, a lithograph studio. And in fact it was a concert when we were projecting and I think it might have been the night that Peter and I did a black and white set to the Velvet Underground maybe. Anyway we were projecting on a scaffolding, and this one night we were working, and I turned around and there was San Francis standing on the, on the scaffolding with this critic. Or actually no the gallerist was from Tokyo, Shimizu, and I recognized them. And I said, holy shit, what was Sam Francis doing here. You know well it turned out that he was making a suite of lithographs at Joe Funk's and John apparently told him that we were, invited him. So that's how he got on the scaffolding, he was invited by John Green. So after a series of concerts, the Pinnacle went broke, and we as a condensed group. Alan Kiesling, Mike, John Green, Peter, myself decided to continue doing lightshows because we had developed this language with machines.
00:21:11 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So we set up our machines in the Joe Funk's studio in our very small room, and started doing shows. And I had nothing to work with, so I was kind of fussing around with the slide projector, we had six slide projectors, carousels. And I didn't know what to do really. So in fact , my contribution had only been these loops with holes punched in there. And we tried that, or I tried that and it looked just as stupid as it did in the other place, so I, I guess I started putting holes in cards, and I created a set of holes. More holes. And we were basically using music like Pink Floyd and maybe some Velvet Underground, Sister Ray and one afternoon I was in Westwood, and I found, I was in a record shop, and I saw a record by Terry Riley, and I knew that Terry Riley was a collaborator with La Monte Young, so I thought wow this is cool. Unprecedented. So I bought the record, it was a record called IN C. And I brought it back and we played it and started performing.
00:22:36 JEFF PERKINS
And I started using these cards and created this thing which was basically circles superimposed on each other, using a, two shutter wheels, serving each set of projectors, and focused, soft focused it. And you know I was aware of the, of the, the LA finish fetish art at the time. And really Jim Turrell [James Turrell] was working, Larry Bell who I worked for, along with Guy De Cointet [Perkins note: delete Guy De Cointet, include Craig Valentine] and what's his name.
00:23:30 PETER MAYS
00:23:31 JEFF PERKINS
No Bankston was not a finish fetish artist, no but.
00:23:36 ADAM HYMAN
Craig Cotton [Perkins note: it was Craig Valentine.]
00:23:38 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah Craig was but I’m thinking of the minimalist artist who lives in San Diego.
00:23:43 PETER MAYS
00:23:44 JEFF PERKINS
Bob, Robert Irwin. So in a way, I felt an affinity to the Robert Irwin disk piece that I was doing with projected light and it was animated. And it was compelling I mean it was, especially with IN C, which was a repetitious piece with a great deal of resonance, and so that's what the circle piece was. A very focused and hypnotic visual experience that had also resonance.
00:24:16 ADAM HYMAN
Were the circles all white?
00:24:18 JEFF PERKINS
Yes they were white, yes and I could also put gels, and Sam Francis saw this stuff and was, wow, he was like really into it. And we were using at the time electric drills as shutter wheel motors. And would like, so there would be, the way it would work is they would just turn on the drills, and they would go, turn on and turn off fast. So they would start up but then you'd turn it off and then they'd slow down, and at a certain interval, the animation would have a certain dimension and offsetting, fucking with your perception you see. Affecting your perception. And Sam was saying okay that's it. Hold that, hold that sequence, hold that interval. And I would say, well there's no way to do that, I have to be able to control the intervals, and he said, well how do you do that. So I found motors and speed controls that would do that. And he said buy them, I’ll pay for them, so I did. And I bought a set for myself and a set for the overheads.
00:25:41 JEFF PERKINS
And the circle pieces sort of took over the slide department, and Alan who was projecting colored glass projections, which were similar to what John Green was into saw the power in a way of the circle piece of these, these strobe pieces. Minimalist strobe work, and it kind of looked like high art, it was sort of approaching high art. However I thought it was, it was a kind of bastard form of it, because high art really just sort of sits there and waits for you to believe in it. And this stuff was like coming at you, it was like, it was intense in a way as far as your, it was an ocular experience. I was an avant garde in this situation and that was unprecedented. And Sam Francis bought into this dream, and totally backed it up. He gave us studios. He catered events in which we were featured, it was only us. He got a show at a Santa Barbara museum, he brought critics, he brought people. Anias Ninn, Henry Miller, Jean Youngblood. What's his name the, the Princeton professor there.
00:27:11 ADAM HYMAN
P. Adams Sitney?
00:27:11 JEFF PERKINS
P. Adams Sitney.
00:27:13 PETER MAYS
Richard Whitehall has to be.
00:27:14 JEFF PERKINS
00:27:16 PETER MAYS
00:27:18 JEFF PERKINS
Feynman was often around. Jim Turrell would occasionally pay us a visit, a wink, yes I forgot to mention Richard Whitehall in the context of the 16, Cinematheque 16. Richard one day simply showed up and asked for an interview with me, and he interviewed me at the Old World, in fact. And he knew all about Yoko Ono, which was very interesting, he knew about the fluxes film that I did with Yoko. And he was very impressive guy, and he proposed to do a program at the Cinematheque 16, which was a great program, in which he invited filmmakers to come and present their films and be in person, and he invited Sam Peckinpah, who came with RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY. Vincent Minelli, who brought THE PIRATE. Fritz Lang, who came, and showed FURY I think. And Elsa Lanchester who came and presented REMBRANDT, which Charles Laughten had directed. No Charles Laughten acted in, and she met Laughten in that film.
00:28:43 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So it was, and all these people spoke.
00:28:50 ADAM HYMAN
In the 60 seat, Tech 16?.
00:28:52 JEFF PERKINS
00:28:53 JEFF PERKINS
Yes, Fritz Lang talked about the studios in Germany, Peckinpah, I forget what Peckinpah talked about. But Minnelli got up and talked about the musicals that he directed and how they were done, how they were like 150 points on the floor that they would have to make, the game would be a continuous shot with dancers and singers. And Elsa talked about her meetings and her affair with her marriage with Laughten. It was incredible, it was great. I mean I met Fritz Lang then, and Minnelli too.
00:29:30 ADAM HYMAN
These are all in Cinematheque 16 in '67?
00:29:32 JEFF PERKINS
That's right, that's right, it was an unforgettable program actually. So to go ahead again now, so the lightshow under Sam Francis, under the patronage of Sam Francis, took on a special significance, and in fact I think it was because of Sam Francis that we were hired by the director of THE BABYMAKER.
00:30:03 PETER MAYS
00:30:03 JEFF PERKINS
Jim Bridges to do a special effects segment in his film, THE BABYMAKER. The reason was because Jim Bridges’ lover who was, what's his name, who was Superman's newsboy. Whatever he was Jim's lover.
00:30:24 ADAM HYMAN
00:30:27 JEFF PERKINS
Right, a really nice guy, very, very cool guy.
00:30:30 ADAM HYMAN
I know I’m doing a show in DC Comics now.
00:30:34 JEFF PERKINS
Not Parsons, it's not Parsons.
00:30:37 ADAM HYMAN
No it's uh.
00:30:37 JEFF PERKINS
Jack Parsons is a car...
00:30:40 ADAM HYMAN
It begines with an E.
00:30:43 JEFF PERKINS
E? in any case.
00:30:44 ADAM HYMAN
00:30:44 JEFF PERKINS
We may remember it. So I think it was because of that social milieu. But anyway, I mean there was a whole scene in Santa Monica Canyon that Sam was a principle in, I mean Sam was, Sam Francis, he was the, the painter. And knew Bridges apparently, so we were hired to do this Hollywood thing. And Peter Mays created it.
00:31:15 PETER MAYS
No, I edited it but we already...
00:31:20 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah, well you replicated the lightshow with editing, yeah, great show. So all that was issued from the involvement with Francis. And well I don’t know if you want to know about the history of the light show, but.
00:31:38 ADAM HYMAN
00:31:40 JEFF PERKINS
Okay eventually we, Sam Francis gave us his studio on Ashland Street and Main and we did a sequence of concerts there that were very beautiful. We projected on large canvas that he was to paint edge painting on, and they were great concerts. And he was, had really gotten this commission to do this large painting called “Berlin Red,” which I filmed. Which is in my movie, THE PAINTER SAM FRANCIS, and he asked me, well which studio do you want. Do you want this studio or he was going to rent a very big ballroom in the Santa Monica Hotel down on the beach next to the pier. So we went and looked at the Santa Monica Hotel ballroom, it was huge. With chandeliers. And we decided to take that room, so Sam did the painting “Berlin Red” in the Ashland Street studio and we took the Santa Monica Hotel.
00:32:36 PETER MAYS
I didn't know that wow.
00:32:38 JEFF PERKINS
00:32:39 PETER MAYS
If we've taken Ashland Street, he would've painted in it.
00:32:43 JEFF PERKINS
00:32:44 PETER MAYS
00:32:43 JEFF PERKINS
I discovered that Ashland Street Studio and you know it was Kirsten who told me about the availability of the space. And I told Sam, or somebody that was working for him, I think it was Sam.
00:33:00 ADAM HYMAN
What was nice about that space?
00:33:01 JEFF PERKINS
Well the second floor was just one big room with windows on two sides, it had beautiful light, one of the windows, sets of windows was towards the ocean. The other was with south, so the, the light, the sunset was, was amazing. I mean I filmed it a lot, I did many light studies of the light in that room.
00:33:23 ADAM HYMAN
When did you start filming Sam Francis?
00:33:26 JEFF PERKINS
'68 I think. Yeah. '68. Why? Oh, okay. Well when he was involved with the light show, when we were in Joe Funk's, he also said to me that he had received a commission to do the largest painting that he would ever made. I think he has made larger ones after that, and he was kind of bragging about it, and I said well, why don’t I film you doing that painting. And so he said, “Well you know I’ve never even allowed, allowed a dog in my studio while I painted. But if you think you can handle it, let's do it.” So that's how my film with him began. And I filmed him making that painting and his edge paintings, and litho studio, and further, my interview with him in '73, and then I filmed him painting again in '77. All on 16mm color, 7252 I think. Very good film that film is still fresh, it hasn't vinegared. So we took the studio at the Santa Monica Hotel, and we were to you know expand and stuff, and I ended up living there with my girlfriend Christine. And people were invited, Rauschenberg came, Feynman came. Sam continued to be generous with us, he paid all the bills and we were just basically itinerant artists.
00:35:10 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Under their patronage. He never did anything in the light show, never, never suggested it anything.
00:35:18 ADAM HYMAN
What do you think he was getting from it?
00:35:20 JEFF PERKINS
Well Warhol had the EXPLODING PLASTIC INEVITABLE. And the Velvet Underground, so Sam I guess felt he had to have his patronage.
00:35:33 ADAM HYMAN
Was he the most successful artist in LA at the time?
00:35:35 JEFF PERKINS
Yes. Yes he was, he was the senior artist, yes.
00:35:42 JEFF PERKINS
He was the link to the 50s. The famous link.
00:35:46 ADAM HYMAN
When did he became big? When did he start becoming big?
00:35:50 JEFF PERKINS
He became big in like '52 or '53.
00:35:56 ADAM HYMAN
Okay so continue with the notion of link to the 50s.
00:35:59 JEFF PERKINS
Well, that was important as far as the evolution of contemporary art in Los Angeles is concerned. You know he came on with the modern image, in a way he was like Matisse' influence on New York, you know Matisse brought modernism to. Sam brought abstract expressionism in a lyric way which was perfect for Los Angeles. Dream town you know it's like, he was Mr. Dream back in, so yeah that was perfect for him. His mother died in Los Angeles on a vacation. He had a very strong connection here. So all that you know he was friends with Brian Giesen in Paris, and Giesen was all about the stuff that we were doing in the lightshow, especially the hypnotic stuff that I was doing. So Sam was ready, he recognized that. He said when he saw our work at the beginning he said, no this is the Bauhaus. This is like Bauhaus. I mean I don’t see any resemblance between Bauhaus and this, but there may have been things in Bauhaus that he saw, maybe cinema. That reminded him.
00:37:24 ADAM HYMAN
Yeah I’m not familiar with what aspects of Bauhaus would link.
00:37:29 JEFF PERKINS
Well maybe that...
00:37:31 ADAM HYMAN
I know of it as an architectural movement right or...
00:37:33 JEFF PERKINS
Oh no, the Bauhaus had lots of graphic manifestations. So painting and minimalism in a way, Mondrian in a way came out of Bauhaus. So maybe that's, he wanted to elevate us, you know his patronage was an influence and once we were patronaged by Sam Francis, we knew, that we were suddenly you know to be respected. We were important artists you know to be noticed, and Gene Youngblood noticed us, and wrote that big article and then the book, EXPANDED CINEMA. We have a place in that, so suddenly we were a special lightshow, you know we were a special lightshow, I mean. We weren't just some hippie group, we were to be taken seriously in the history of art. And now it's come to be.
00:38:39 ADAM HYMAN
And how did you see the work in the Single Wing. Tell me about the discovery of the name Single Wing.
00:38:55 JEFF PERKINS
We were going in a car to John Van Hamersveld’s studio where he was creating the poster for the first show. The Cream show, I was sitting in the back seat and we needed a name. Nobody had a name for this show, this was the very beginning of the show. I had a book with me which was a book of Vedic hymns, and I opened the book and thumbed through the pages, and I found a line which said, “The single winged turquoise bird.” And I said how about this. And that's what we did.
00:39:31 ADAM HYMAN
That's fine, okay.
00:39:33 JEFF PERKINS
It was from a Vedic hymn.
[TAPE FOUR ENDS]
TAPE 5: JEFF PERKINS
00:00:31 JEFF PERKINS
The next step for the light show, we were basically evicted from the Santa Monica Hotel because I was living there, supposedly, that was the reason. And we moved to the Fox Venice Theatre, above the marquee there was a room up there. And we moved the light show in there. And we met Kim Jorgensen, the manager of the theatre, who became friendly with us. And there was quickly, the friendship grew to an active partnership which was involving Larry Jance, and Rol Murrow, who bought the lease to the Fox Venice. And Kim Jorgensen started programming the Fox Venice with double bills of B-movies, of second run films. Very hip films.
00:01:37 PETER MAYS
There was a three year period where we were performing before Kim Jorgensen joined us.
00:01:46 JEFF PERKINS
For three years?
00:01:47 IPETER MAYS
Yeah '70 through '73.
00:01:50 JEFF PERKINS
Oh then okay. Well then, it was during this period we were doing the light shows up there, in fact that's when THE BABY MAKER occurred.
00:01:59 PETER MAYS
00:02:01 JEFF PERKINS
The scene from THE BABY MAKER was filmed there. At the same time, I happened to one day be out at Cal Arts, Cal Arts had moved to Valencia. And I had a friend and several friends out at Cal Arts from New York actually, there was a whole contingency of artists.
00:02:22 ADAM HYMAN
Who else because I know Michael Scroggins and Pat O'Neill were there in the first teaching…
00:02:27 JEFF PERKINS
Well Paul Brach from, Paul Brach was hired by Halderman who was the chief of Cal Arts, who-- Paul Brach brought out the New York avant garde. He brought out Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Emmett Williams. Simone Forti, Herbert Marcuse was almost brought up from San Diego, but they found out who he was and they wouldn't let him come. Nam June Paik was brought up and Nam June made his video synthesizer at Cal Arts and Mike was his premier student in fact. I don't know about premier but Mike created the first student made video synthesizer under Paik and Shue Abe. They, so there was this whole coterie of New Yorkers, I thought wow this is amazing. They're moving out here. I didn't really have a lot to do with them because I was establishing my own path by then here. And I didn't particularly, didn't feel an affinity with Dick Higgens in particular or Alison. But I did hang out with Joe Bogdanovich and I saw Nam June on occasion. And one day at Cal Arts I was there, and the filmmaker, Taka Imura was there. I knew Taka from Tokyo.
00:04:01 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
That in fact was the last time that I’d seen him, we got drunk one night and Suche, whatever, that very strong sake. So Imura, Imura had made a film called AI, which Yoko did the soundtrack for.
I had a retrospective of Imura last year in LA that I put together. Had him here and we did eight shows with him.
00:04:27 JEFF PERKINS
In fact I saw him because I, I was to do a show at the Hammer and I saw Imura at the Hammer one evening when I was going to see the Bruce Conner show in fact, there were films of Bruce Conner there, so I bumped into Imura. So I saw him on the grounds of Cal Arts and Imura said, “Oh Jeff, boy I haven't seen you in a long time. Yoko's been asking for you.” Now I had only had written communication with Yoko after they moved to London. There was a few letters back and forth. And so he said, well Yoko's living in London now with John Lennon. And now living in New York, and oh Yoko's been asking for you. She's in New York, here's her phone number. So I called Yoko. And she answered the phone, “Jeff oh Jeff, I heard you were dead, I heard you OD’d in San Francisco.” And I said, “No Yoko, I’m alive and I don't do heroin.”, and she you know blah blah blah. And she said, “Oh you know some really interesting things are going on in New York, would you like to come and visit us.”
00:05:44 JEFF PERKINS
And I said, “Well sure you know I’d love that.” So I actually I was a student at that time at LA City College studying Communications, and I was going to get a job in TV or something. And suddenly I just dropped everything and so she said, well just go to LAX anytime you feel like coming, and there'll be a ticket for you. You know so I said, well it'll take a couple of days, she said, just go to the desk and there'll be a ticket there.
00:06:13 ADAM HYMAN
00:06:15 JEFF PERKINS
United. And so I went to United in a couple of days, yes your name, here. Next flight, you're on. It was first class. I’d never flown first class before or since, and I arrived at JFK, and there was, I walked down the hall and there was a guy waiting and he was. Perkins? I said, yeah. He said come with me. He was suited and a limo driver, drove me into New York, I checked into the Fifth Avenue Hotel at fifth and ninth street. I read THE WILD BOYS on the plane, in fact I was checking in and William Burroughs showed up. And I was, after checking in my room, I went down to Feathers the restaurant, was having my eggs Benedict, and Burroughs was being interviewed at the bar. And he kept kind of checking me out, and when he was leaving, he stopped at my table and looked down and say, dadadada. And he, and I was like, okay Mr. Burroughs. All I could do was acknowledge that I knew who he was, and he moved on. So I waited the customary four days and then there are details in the waiting that I’ll skip, and then was called and told I could come over to 104 ½ Bank Street, the basement apartment.
00:07:50 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Went over, rang the bell and the door was opened by John Lennon in his bathrobe. I go, holy shit. And he started laughing and said, don’t worry it's just me, I’m just John. So I went in with him into the back room and they were in bed with a TV on and the radio on, no sound on the TV and the radio just at a pop station. So they basically had a plan for me, and the plan was that I was to find Kyoko who had been kidnapped by her husband Tony, and the last time, last place they saw him was in Houston, Texas. And Tony had become a member of a radical Christian group, a born again Christian group called The Walk, which in fact I believe began, like Hermosa Beach or something. I recently found this out. So I thought wow, this is interesting, I’m a detective. You know and so it was just like go to Houston, I didn't know anybody in Houston. Just go there, you'll magnetize him, he'll be drawn to you.
00:09:10 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
So I was given 500 bucks and told you know I had free passage or whenever I wanted to fly, and I said to Yoko, look I have to go back to LA because I have a couple of issues that are still hanging that I need to resolve before I continue in this mad adventure, which I know will be compelling and very involving but I, there's a couple of things I left unfinished there. One of them was the, I had, my car was being repaired, the engine was put in, everything was being renovated, it was actually Larry Jance's car who gave it to me, but the engine was blown so I had to put a new engine in it, which I did, and it was finished, I had to go and get it out of the garage. Get some clothes, get ready for the adventure. And to meet with Joseph Bogdanovich, who would propose that I be the principle actor in a film that he was making called CRIPPLED DESTINY. [interviewer laughs] That's significant. So Yoko said, “No this is not a good idea, I want you go to Houston. I don't feel good about this.” And I said, “Sorry Yoko, I really feel I have to take care of this.”
00:10:23 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
She said okay, well go do your thing and then immediately go from LA to Houston. I said, okay. Flew back to LA, went to my girlfriend's house, Jan Wolf, bless her soul. And picked up the car, and drove the car, the van out to Cal Arts where Joseph was living with, out in Piru. Met with Joseph, went out to Piru, smoked a joint, drove back to Cal Arts, the evening the sun had just gone down and the last thing I remember was Simone Van Riper, Simone Forti, Alison Knowles and Peter Van Riper sitting behind a campfire at Cal Arts. I woke up six days later in the LA County hospital. My mother was there, Peter Mays was there, David Lebrun was there. There was a bunch of people, I had been in a very serious automobile accident. Got hit by a 16 wheel truck close to Cal Arts. Both Joseph and I were nearly killed. So very soon in the room, you know in the room comes an army of florists. There's 12 huge baskets of flowers. 13 actually. John and Yoko sent 12. I mean these big, big baskets, these 250 dollar baskets
00:11:53 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
into the room and one from Sam Francis. So I survived basically and spent six weeks in the hospital and then was dispatched to go home and to Jan's apartment, my and Jan's apartment, where I recovered for another six weeks. And during that time Yoko called me, they were in San Francisco, and they asked me to come up to San Francisco to continue working with them, which I did. And went up there for a few weeks, and then flew back to New York once and then back here. And then back to New York again, and then back here. And they kept sending out their emissary to bring me, they wanted me to move to New York and become their assistant, I was to replace Dan Richter actually I think, I don't know. But I was going to be brought into their intimate fold and Peter Bendry was working for them at the time, and Peter just was living with them. He was like always with them and he was like, their bagman basically. He got whatever they needed.
00:13:16 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
And so that was going to I guess be my job. And I looked at that and Peter kept coming out here and saying how difficult it was for him personally, although it was-- you know, he was living with celebrities, and living in the celebrity life with all the benefits of that. And yet that he didn’t have a life of his own because they were always like Peter, no, no, 24 hours a day. They had a hotel room, Peter's was next door. So I refused basically, and I said I’ll work for you, but I have to stay in L.A. So anyway, it eventually just, and I was still kind of trying to draw Tony in, and it kind of worked. He showed up around Christmas that year, and called Yoko and proposed a trade for some rights to film footage that he had of John and Yoko, and he would let Kyoko come and visit over Christmas. So they were waiting on Christmas Eve for Kyoko, and she just never showed. And he went underground again, which that continued until the 80s sometime when Kyoko surfaced, and there was a photograph of her and Yoko. And apparently they worked, after John was killed, they worked out some kind of agreement about Kyoko.
00:14:54 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
Who now lives in Boulder, Colorado, and she's married to some other as well. And Tony is, Tony made a movie of basically his biography, autobiography. And.
00:15:10 ADAM HYMAN
When was your accident?
00:15:15 JEFF PERKINS
Whenever IMAGINE came out. IMAGINE had just been released.
00:15:20 ADAM HYMAN
00:15:22 JEFF PERKINS
Alright then that's when it was.
00:15:23 ADAM HYMAN
I don't know, is that about right?
00:15:25 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah sounds right.
00:15:26 ADAM HYMAN
So even in their recovery stage, what was going on for the lightshow. Were those still happening just without you, the lightshows.
00:15:33 JEFF PERKINS
No, I think that Mike Scroggins had gone to Cal Arts, John Green moved to San Francisco, kind of the light show sort of dissipated.
00:15:44 PETER MAYS
'73. Actually it sort of lasted till '73.
00:15:48 JEFF PERKINS
00:15:51 PETER MAYS
And then Kim Jorginson came in. [Perkins note: He didn’t actually ever work in the light show, he was a visitor to the studio at times.]
00:15:57 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah so well Kim was booking the theatres.
00:16:05 PETER MAYS
00:16:07 JEFF PERKINS
And then they kind of pushed him out. Larry pushed him out, Rol and Larry conspired against Kim, calling him crazy and there was.
00:16:18 PETER MAYS
Well I think he after, after.
00:16:19 JEFF PERKINS
I mean that's.
00:16:20 PETER MAYS
00:16:20 JEFF PERKINS
That was such a stupid attitude to have, and they pushed me out too.
00:16:25 ADAM HYMAN
What were you doing there besides the light show?
00:16:26 JEFF PERKINS
I was doing, I was a graphic designer for the programs, and I was living around there, I was basically living the hippie life.
00:16:37 ADAM HYMAN
What other things were you doing around that period. What are some?
00:16:40 JEFF PERKINS
00:16:41 ADAM HYMAN
You went to LACC, how did that come about?
00:16:44 JEFF PERKINS
No I just felt well I had to go to school and get a profession to be able to support myself. I thought and actually Charlie Lippincott, and introduced me to Taylor Hackford who was working at KCET then. And I was offered a job there, I went actually, met Taylor and he showed me around the place and he said, “Well you can have a job in, in the mailroom.” So I said, “What the fuck, mailroom? I’m a fucking star are you talking about mailroom. I’m, I want to be the director. You know.” But so I didn't understand really how that all worked, I should've accepted the mailroom of course, and... Get friends with...
00:17:29 ADAM HYMAN
In six months start moving up.
00:17:31 JEFF PERKINS
Exactly yeah, so I didn't understand how that worked. So but anyway, I was still living the dream,so…
00:17:39 ADAM HYMAN
Can you describe John Green for me please.
00:17:43 JEFF PERKINS
John is a very serious dark guy. Sullen, moody, liked to drink beer and smoke his pipe, very much like Joe Funk in a way, they had a good affinity. Sweet guy, he was from Boston, played the clarinet. He played with the Boston Philharmonic. He was a romantic guy, and he went through his evolution in the 60s, and in a way the light show was his visionary path. And he continued following that, that was to be his artist path. The lightshow. And he continued that in San Francisco, and then made a name for himself up there, and you know in the underground so to speak. He created his lightshow when Project Artaud, and maybe in another place. So he continued on, I mean the, after the light, the Single Wing light show that his light show work was his life. And his work was always dark and mysterious. I think Peter and he had his share a kind of the vision somewhat.
00:19:17 ADAM HYMAN
And how about you, then. So how, let's go back a step, through this period, I know you're filming things of Sam Francis, were you filming other things? Were you making other films?
00:19:28 JEFF PERKINS
Films. No I eventually, after the accident, I took a storefront studio on Main Street in Ocean Park. And in this storefront studio, I was creating artwork, basically graphic work. Yeah graphic installation works, so I kind of reverted, I mean the light show came a part, so then I had this opportunity to have a singular vocation in a way. So that's what I was doing, I was in the studio, I acted in Joseph Bogdanovich's film, THE SATIN WORLD OF WHITE LILACS AND PINK CHAMPAGNE. And I advised him and I created some special effects in that, and I brought people into that, and Josef referred to me for recommendations. I introduced him to Samson DeBrier. And Josef's brother, in fact Bob Bogdanovich had a sound company. In fact, the sound company of his brother was the sound company that we worked with at the Shrine. And that continued to later evolutions that he did tour sounds. He did a tour with Bowie, he did a tour with the Rolling Stones, he did, was a major, it was a major, sound company, I forget the name of it.
00:21:10 PETER MAYS
00:21:10 JEFF PERKINS
Tyko Brea, yeah.
00:21:13 ADAM HYMAN
And what was your role in that film, in Bogdanovich’s film.
00:21:19 JEFF PERKINS
I was a strange character.
00:21:23 ADAM HYMAN
I haven't seen that film so I don't know what it's like at all.
00:21:26 JEFF PERKINS
I had a little speaking role with Re Stiles, who was in the Tubes, remember the band The Tubes. Okay well the female role, Re Stiles and I did a little funny scene. And then I would appear in different scenes, and I brought Guy De Cointet into it to, he had a little amusing friendship with Joseph and, that guy.
00:21:59 ADAM HYMAN
Back to the your projections as they evolved in the light show, and I know that's also evolved into a continuing practice of yours. What would you sort of like state as sort of your intent or desire in your, in those projections.
00:22:17 JEFF PERKINS
I only knew that I was creating a very compelling ocular device. And it, it worked for that, and it created certain sublime image and, and effect on your mind, and that in itself was the motivation for it, and so all further explications of this idea or intent were basically focused on that. And when in fact I restarted this work, like three or four years ago with Taketo Shimada in New York in the Emily Harvey Gallery, I hadn't done it in years. You know and so he Taketo, you know invited me to do a lightshow with his trance music group in an art gallery, so I basically found projectors on the internet and bought a, bought a shutter system. I invested 500 bucks in it really, and I put it together and we did one night, and I didn't think, I didn't think anybody would buy it really. And I just kind of improvised and people were juiced, they, they really liked it, so I was, I kept getting invited to other, other places and things. And there's various reason why contemporary audience likes it, however this, the basic reason is the same reason that people like it in the past.
00:24:07 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
And I was afraid that it would be dated as an image so to speak, however it hasn't been regarded in that way. So the, my regard for it continues to this day, I mean it's now an instrument that I can activate whenever I want.
00:24:31 ADAM HYMAN
Why do you think people respond to it?
00:24:35 JEFF PERKINS
I think people basically share the same brain, we have the same physiology, we have the same eyes, we’re animals, and we're affected by things, I mean moths are affected by, by candlelight. A moth will jump on the edge of a candle and be fascinated and then suddenly leap into the flame. [interviewer laughs] I've seen that. On a camping trip in Big Sur. [laugh] So I think that this kind of primal fascination in a way, effect I mean, has a value to people somehow. Well what it does, it I think basically the effect of the, of the strobe or the on and off at certain intervals has a very calming effect, although it seems agitated, it, it has a calming effect. Like I remember in the 60’s, Turrell was involved with alpha and practicing it, a kind of meditative exercise that would activate the alpha perception of alpha rhythm, whatever I don't know how it's done. Not really, and in fact at that first show “Brain Damage on Broadway,” that was the title of the show with Taketo Shimada and I, Taketo Shimada in messages, which his partner's name is Tre and myself.
00:26:33 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
And I just kind of, I didn't really know how people were buying it, so I’m just, I’m going for it, and I projected for like an hour and a half of this, and I’m just like trying to please myself basically. And the audience is still there, they were not moving. I mean there was a full room, there was like 40, 50 people all sitting there, and I’m thinking are they buying it? Well what the fuck, I’m just going to try to do the best I can. And at a certain point, Taketo approached me and said, oh you can stop now, it's okay. And you know and afterwards, I said well how did you take this, I mean was it alright? He said oh yeah it was really calm I felt very calm. Really? Okay. So I did a show at the Evan Holloway studio which Peter saw. Evan Holloway is a sculpture who's here in LA. And by that point, this was like the third or fourth performance of this machine. And it is a machine. I’d, I had found it, I had found the intervals, and this happened with Sam Francis too, where I would find a certain intervallic between these four projectors with a very simple composition that would be sublime. And I would, feel ridiculous, I would just have to step back and say I don't have to do anything anymore.
00:28:06 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
And Sam would say that too, okay that's it. You can just let this run, and, and I was—I was encouraged to create installation pieces for this work also which I, in the 60s which I never did. And I could, I, I love to do it now, I mean I could. I really could. The, I mean I don't think it would appear dated, I think it would function well enough as what do you call this, animated art. Animation as art. So maybe that's the Bauhaus idea. That this kind, and basically because I’m working with minimal forms, see there's circles and squares, there's crosses or triangles, or lines, very simple forms. And trying to stay away from known images, although we did a little lightshow at Larry Jance’s studio, and which in the end of this lightshow, I was working with two images, one which is a picture of Christ and the other was a, a photograph by Man Ray, of a very hypnotic woman. Straight up. And maybe a cross. And there was a girl who I was working with. And it was very chaotic. And it was also very compelling and interesting. So it can work with pictures of things.
00:29:43 JEFF PERKINS (CONTINUED)
However what I’ve realized is basically what this thing is an instrument that requires tuning as performance anyway. It could work as an installation, I’m, I’m certain of it. Basically an art, usually an art piece is, you go into a room, you look at it, you either buy it or you don't. And if you do buy it, you'll look at it for maybe five, six minutes. Some people will go in and sit there with the water lilies for 30 minutes and look around in it, so this work could stand there in, going through various intervals and permutations of these intervals drifting for, well, a long time. By the time, I haven't, I don't have a studio anymore. So I can't really do that. But anyway now I am a filmmaker so I’m concentrated on making films now.
00:30:50 ADAM HYMAN
What do you think is the legacy of Single Wing?
00:30:51 JEFF PERKINS
Well I hope that it will have, it's now apparently been seen favorably by young artists who are working in digital imagery that has seem to have a nostalgia for analog image, image projection. So it has a kind of, it's achieved a kind of dignity as far as art is concerned and the history of art is concerned, and it's place in art. And it has a singular place in art, I mean there's only like one other light show in America that I can think of, that has a name, which is Joshua. And so as far as I’m concerned, it's a tool, and it can, it can be advanced, it can be advanced as a medium, like painting or sculpture or any other medium to create art, to create the effect of art. So I think it can have a future, and in fact I’m trying to do something to make sure that that will happen. And it's something actual and real.
00:32:26 ADAM HYMAN
What else are you doing for the remainder of the 70s in Los Angeles?
00:32:30 JEFF PERKINS
As I said, I had a studio, and in, I was doing work in the studio and I had shows. I was an artist in residence during the, during the Jimmy Carter administration. I was an artist in residence at the VA hospital in Westwood, and I created graphic work during that period. And I had shows, I had a show at the LIACA, I had a show at, there's a gallery downtown. I had a show at the gallery called a The New Gallery in Santa Monica on Second Street, an installation piece. I was continually making work in the studio of various kinds and writing. I was writing bad poetry, and living the life of a professional visionary dreamer.
00:33:31 ADAM HYMAN
How are you earning a living, which of the things?
00:33:33 JEFF PERKINS
Various odd jobs, whatever, my rent was like $125 a month, I didn't have to work much.
00:33:41 ADAM HYMAN
Any film work of any sort?
00:33:43 JEFF PERKINS
My own films you mean? Or working on other people's films?
00:33:50 ADAM HYMAN
Both, but let’s do yours, answer though your...
00:33:52 JEFF PERKINS
No, not actually nothing of mine, nothing that I know of. That I think of. I was in Josef's film THE SATIN WORLD, I also collaborated with Josef's feature film called BOX OFFICE, he consulted with me about certain things and I suggested things and he did these things. I wasn't, I don't think I was in that movie, and my friendship with Josef well we, we after the accident, we went to Vegas and created a film script. We stayed in Vegas for like three months in a hotel room. And which basically was a, Josef’s ego kind of fucked it up I think. But he being rich, he paid for the, paid for the hotel and bought all the booze that we drank, and we did drink quite a bit.
00:35:00 ADAM HYMAN
What other artists who were, and filmmakers, and allies in that period were you also hanging with?
00:35:08 JEFF PERKINS
Well Peter and I were doing the lightshows for the punk thing.
00:35:13 ADAM HYMAN
What were those?
00:35:14 JEFF PERKINS
We worked for CD Productions, David…
00:35:19 PETER MAYS
00:35:19 JEFF PERKINS
Ferguson was producing the first LA punk scenes. And we did work with X, in the early stages of X.
00:35:38 PETER MAYS
00:35:39 JEFF PERKINS
Well the yeah later, The Germs were a late, late show.
00:35:45 ADAM HYMAN
What were the nature of your projections for those shows, And how many, was it just the two of you?
00:35:47 JEFF PERKINS
Well just Peter and I.
00:35:50 ADAM HYMAN
And what things were you projecting. What media were you using?
00:35:51 JEFF PERKINS
We were using, like we did a show at a school, in fact we, we projected SCORPIO RISING I think. And so we were basically working, like improvising, like we did with the lightshow, and I think I was using the slide projectors, wasn't I, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah because we did a, we did a, you and I did a show in Venice. That I did slide projection with. So my relationship with Peter Mays endured and we continued to do collaborations in the punk scene, and basically in improvised ways, visual projections, yeah.
00:36:39 ADAM HYMAN
So those were 16mm film and slide projectors, no liquid at all.
00:36:44 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah, yeah and also there was a, I created an imaginative set for the X premier show at this roller rink in Sunset Boulevard or Hollywood Boulevard.
00:36:59 PETER MAYS
00:36:58 JEFF PERKINS
Sunset Boulevard yeah.
00:36:59 ADAM HYMAN
When was that?
00:37:02 PETER MAYS
New Year’s Eve, 1980.
00:37:07 JEFF PERKINS
Yeah it was a breakout show for X. And then X had a show at the Whiskey when we didn't do any projection there, but Exene, Exene's sister was in town with her husband with a movie called something Stigmatic, Stigmata, something or other. And on the way to the Whiskey gig, they got in an automobile accident and Exene's sister was killed, and so Exene heard about it between sets and I remember there was chaos backstage on whether they will do a second set and so there was a lot of drinking of Jack Daniels. And they come out and did a kind of lame second set. And then afterwards, there was a little commemorative show, they projected the film at this little theatre on Santa Monica and Peter projected it. Remember that Peter?
00:38:14 PETER MAYS
Yeah it was like seeing, X actually talked to me once.
00:38:20 ADAM HYMAN
What was the fate of the Cinematheque 16?
00:38:23 JEFF PERKINS
Well it eventually just kind of petered out. I was to open a theatre in Pasadena, and I went there and was developing it, it was going to be a really nice theatre. Angus’ [MacLise] wife Hetty was going to do a big mural. And I had good plans for it, I was going to open the theatre with NORMAL LOVE by Jack Smith. We were in negotiation and Jack was going to do that. So it was, it was ongoing but Frank Woods took on a partner who was a lawyer, who was a fascist. I mean the guy was really a creep. He called Martin Luther King the most dangerous man in America and should be killed. It was like, I’m sitting in his office and I had an office. And his office it was like disgusting, it was stupid. And one day I was doing the renovation of the, of the theatre, it was all of a sonic hall.[?] It was a beautiful place really.
00:39:20 ADAM HYMAN
00:39:20 JEFF PERKINS
00:39:22 ADAM HYMAN
Where? Where, do you remember?
00:39:22 JEFF PERKINS
I think it was on Fair Oaks.
00:39:27 ADAM HYMAN
I'll have to look into that, anyway.
00:39:29 JEFF PERKINS
And I was in there one day, and the Process people showed up there. There was Frank Woods and this lawyer guy were standing there, and here came the Process people with their dogs and robes and shit. They came to meet me. And the fucking lawyer looked at one, look at this, it was like, what are you? And so that, I was fired, I was summarily fired that day. And I just thought fuck you, I don't want to be around you anyway. So actually I went out to the lightshow, the lightshow was streaming at that point.
00:40:02 ADAM HYMAN
And why did you leave LA and move to New York?
00:40:08 JEFF PERKINS
Basically I was involved with a woman and we brought into this world a baby boy. In my studio on Main Street in Santa Monica, Ocean Park and we moved to a house in Venice, at Cabrillo and Market. And she got involved with a younger guy, and continued her adventure in life by moving to New York with him and my son. And at that point I was like, alright, well, do what you must. And although I still felt the love for both of them, and she kept in touch with me and invited me to come to New York to see my son. And so as an experiment, I came to New York to visit them. And the house we were living in was being sold so I started looking around New York for a studio. And I found a loft. And so the guy who owned, had the lease on the building said I could rent the place. So I came back to LA, I put everything in storage and I took one bag, went back to New York, tried to get a job with Yoko, John was dead, she had a new lover. So I was no longer an interesting party. And I had to get a job driving a cab. I started my long career as a cab driver in New York and built my studio and developed a building in fact.
end of tape 5