Interview with Zoe on Andy Warhol's Pulled Pork, Leee Black Childers, etc.


Above: Zoe Hansen reading Pulled Pork, Andy Warhol’s only play, at Prince Street Project Space, at the opening reception for Pulled Pork: Unseen Images from Warhol’s Only Play, an exhibition of photographs by the late Leee Black Childers. September 13th, 2013, at 127-B Prince Street, NYC. (Curated by Kymara Lonergan and Oliver Klaassen. Presented by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in association with The Kymara Gallery.)


“Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Marlowe B. West and I am your Ring Leader. I am about to bring you all into the world of a most extraordinary woman; her name is Zoe Hansen.

Once upon a time as I was busily attending to my never-ending venture into my quest of taking over Manhattan. Natasha Adonzio invited me to a reading of Pulled Pork which is the only play Andy Warhol ever wrote. Along with this reading there was to be a visual gallery of never before publicly seen photographs of the original production of Andy Warhol's solitary stage presentation. These spectacular photographs were taken by the late great Leee Childers (who has just recently, since, gone on to eternity, God rest his awesome soul). I was actually doing back flips in my head, like a kid, to have been invited to such an exclusive, avante garde event.

At the far wall there was a small and simple stage, set up with chairs for the reading of Andy’s play. On one of those chairs sat an amazing looking character, Zoe Hansen. She was hard to figure out, but undoubtedly a knockout. Her two-toned layered hair was the most unique hair style I’d ever seen. Not even Lady Gaga could come near my initial description of Zoe Hansen. There she sat shocking my ears with crackling abandon, reading in character the utmost graphically hilarious dialog imaginable.

Zoe Hansen, I am delighted to finally have you as my special guest here in Steel Notes magazine. Would you be so kind as to telling our readers about Andy Warhol’s play, Pulled Pork, your role and your personal insight into this rather peculiar gathering ???”

ZH: “Leee asked me to read, from Bridget's rant in the play and I did. Tony Zanetta who’s such a delight (and whose gallery it was) joined me on stage, so I would be talking to him on the telephone. He somehow dropped the phone at a moment in the play where its gets a little hot — sexually descriptive. Tony leaned in towards me as I thoroughly over-acted the part for the sake of a few cheap laughs, and the telephone dropped off the small table in which it was perched, and a roar from the audience broke out. It was comic genius timing. Thank you Tony Zanetta.

Leee Childers and I were very close friends and he’d often come to my readings at the Bowery Poetry Club or Happy Endings, places where I was curating events profiling sex workers and their writing. I fondly recall our time together over the years — to be so fortunate as to be in a room with Lee Childers and be a first hand witness to his glorious story telling. He’s met everyone and been everywhere. He lived life with such ease — tales of arrest and ending up lost in London, which would cause me a huge panic attack, was simply an excuse to, ‘Darling so I asked where the nearest fag bar was and went to Earl’s court until someone found me…’ … Oh how I loved Leee—excluding Danny Fields he’s probably the best story teller I’ve ever been so fortunate to know. I think he found me fun to hang out with because I always included him in the parade of wonderful people I’d invite to where ever I was going. I spent some years getting comfortable on stage. I read on New Years Day at Saint Mark’s Church two years ago, and had a monthly reading series called ‘Sex Workers Literati.’ I still get a little nervous, but that’s ok, it only means I’m alive, and I care.”

MBW: “You have this intriguing look and aura about you but what’s more is the way you carry yourself—your demeanor comes off as cool and confident. How did you achieve that awesome attitude?”

ZH: “Well thank you Marlowe. I am confident. Years spent living on the fringes taught me how low I could go and how shitty life had become. It took many years to rebirth, and find myself, I’m self taught. I worked in the sex industry for seventeen years. I also owned five successful Manhattan brothels. It taught me a lot about who I was and gave me my confidence. I’ve worked very hard to understand who I am. I think I’ve a fair understanding of human nature, although I’m still obviously learning. I also attended English boarding school, a time when you were instructed how to walk into a room and conduct yourself with dignity. All my years scouring the Lower East Side in the 1980s for drugs never changed the fact that I am an upper-class English women, and I guess I just want to treat people with the same respect I’d like to be met with.”

MBW: “On a number of occasions, as a passenger in other people's vehicles, I was alerted, ‘There's Zoe's place!’ ‘There's Manitoba's!’

I just heard they filmed a TV reality show there. What would you like to tell us about Manitoba’s?”

ZH: “Manitoba’s bar is the last standing real homage to the 1970s music scene from New York to London, England. We have museum quality photographs covering the walls from Bob Gruen to Mick Rock, who’ve kindly donated their beautiful photos to Manitoba’s. It’s my husband’s joint. I basically run it because he’s too busy and would rather walk around talking to people, hosting, which he does well. I love my staff. I expect them to be honest and loyal and treat our customers well. We have DJ’s, and different nights according to the bartender. Each bartender has their own vibe and brings a crowd accordingly. It’s not easy running a mom and pop business in these years of major corporate America and we’ve been tested lately. The reality show Barmageddon filmed an episode with us, and it’s been aired over half a dozen times because it was the best episode. Richard Manitoba is an excellent performer and was extremely good. We’ve had interest in our own show since. He’s still singing with The Dictators NYC after 35 years and is going on a West Coast tour today. I’ll be holding down the fort.”

MBW: “How about giving us the rundown on your writings and books?”

ZH: “I write daily and am in the process of completing a ‘Chick Lit’ novel lightly based on my life. I’ve had multiple stories published in many very well-received anthologies. The last was The Heroin Chronicles by Akashic Books, edited by the great Jerry Stahl. It was such an honor because Stahl is my favorite living writer. To read at St. Mark’s books with him was a moment I shall not forget easily.”

MBW: “What’s it like being Zoe Hansen?”

ZH: “My daily life is hectic. I am gathering my scattered energies and marketing myself as one entity. I’m putting together a design firm — clothes I’ve been sewing for some years now and would like to launch a label. I write, and run Manitoba’s bar, and look after my incredible twelve year old son Richard and I have together. I’m a rock wife extraordinaire. I do all I do with a Zoe flair. Come down to Avenue B and say hi. I always love people who’ve seen me on TV or read my work and want to meet me. I appreciate my exciting life and the beautiful people I’ve collected and call family. I guess being given a second chance, and I say no not as much as I should.”

MBW: “You are anything but ordinary. Even if there could ever be a stereotype or typical New York City girl, I am quite sure you would obliterate such a title. Out of sheer curiosity, whereabouts do you live in our faire haven called Manhattan???”

ZH: “We continue to live in the East Village.”

MBW: “I must warn you, Zoe even though I already know you are fearless that I have taken your advice and Googled you on the computer. You are such an incredibly easy interview not to be confused with simple because you and your far from mainstream life are brimming with interest and curiosity. Your list of interests and topics render rector scale proportions You are bottomless. So in taking all necessary precautions, I would like to play a little word game with you, my dear Zoe I know you are ready I will give you a topic and you will fill in the blanks with Zoe-isms. Here is where we let go:

Writing ...”

ZH: “I live to write because to write is to imagine and make up a different world and put myself there. I study people. I watch them and create characters from the people I enjoy or don’t enjoy, it’s life.”

MBW: “Reading raw memoirs...”

ZH: “I am a very narrow-minded individual as far as my reading interests. I have always been interested in real life. If it isn’t real it won’t hold my interest. So raw memoirs mean anything written by anyone that’s about their life, their struggles, enjoyment is at the bottom of the list. I enjoy ‘dark,’ ghetto druggy underworld life, therefore those are the tales I wish to relax to, Herbert Huncke is my hero, among others.”

MBW: “Writing the never ending story. Life In NYC.”

ZH: “I guess it ends when I take my last breath. I’ve died before—one time in the Hotel Chelsea, in the late '80s I was twenty-one years old or so, I OD’ed in the old room 100. I traveled down that tunnel people talk about and I came back. It wasn’t time. My life shall be never ending, I can’t die.”

MBW: “Forensic science...”

ZH: “If I could be two people, and I am a few, I’d like to be a forensic detective. Actually I like anything forensic. That’s a word that has endless possibilities.”

MBW: “Serial killers...”

ZH: “Ah yes, serial killers. Interested I am, I am also repulsed and terrified by the grotesqueness of the perversities they commit. I am not fascinated with serial killers. Occasionally one pops up that grabs my attention and I read a book on them but that’s about it.”

MBW: “Harm reduction...”

ZH: “Harm reduction means meeting the person at where they are. We’ve been fighting the war on drugs from the wrong end. Too much money to be made and too many people rely on drug manufacturing to support their families. We need to reverse our way of thinking. Educate the youth about the horrors of drug addiction. If an addict is using and won't or cannot stop, I say give them cheap state manufactured drugs, clean needles and leave them alone. That will bring down the crime rate, rid the black market and crime-ridden neighborhoods of illegal drugs, and reduce infection spread by dirty unobtainable needles. Narcan or Naloxone needs to be readily available on pharmacy shelves to combat opiate overdose. It costs pennies to save lives. People don’t care about the shadow people. I do though, because I was a shadow.”

MBW: “Sex trafficking activist...”

ZH: “Sex Trafficking doesn’t just happen in India or Mexico. Suburban middle class children are being trafficked right from under our nose. It’s not discussed until it’s an epidemic because it could cause the rulers of this land some embarrassment. Sex trafficking is a billion dollar industry supported in some by American businessmen on business trips overseas. They can pay two dollars to have an underage girl have sex with them. Americans, Yes! It happens all the time. Doctors. Lawyers. So-called educated men have been caught in illegal brothels holding dozens of women hostage, often underage. Sex slaves, held for years in a tiny room the size of a bathroom. Men are sent in one after another to do as they please with this women & or male. They know this isn’t something the person is willing to do. They know they are being held. It’s perverse and not enough attention is paid to human traffickers.”

MBW: “Rock and roll...”

ZH: “I grew up on Punk music from the 1970s, the Sex Pistols, the Slits. I love The Bad Brains and HRs voice. My roots began there and spread. I go through fazes. I’m really into Dave Grohl’s lyrics and Jack White’s brains & killer guitar right now.”

MBW: “Tough guitars...”

ZH: “That means Keith Richards, Joan Jett, Jimmy Page, Chuck Berry, Paul Simon, Dr. Know, Keith Levine, Ron Ashton, Jack White, Lemmy, Dave Grohl, Johnny Thunders, Roger Waters David Gilmore, oh there’s too many I could never fill a list or do it justice. I have good friends who kill on a guitar. You get the idea.”

MBW: “Loud bass...”

ZH: “Public Image limited, reggae and Dub for my bass.”

MBW: “1970's NYC music…”

ZH: “Sex Pistols, The Heartbreakers, Patti Smith, early NYC rap. Bob Marley, Dub, The Cramps, The Dead Boys, Blondie, Richard Hell, Jim Carroll, etc. It’s impossible to list. My brain went blank, too many great ones too.”

MBW: “Astral projection...”

ZH: “Means being able to be physically in one place and mentally in another. You’re actually able to see what’s going on below you as you travel around the world. Not easy and I only obtained that talent once. Astral projection is an interpretation of an out-of-body experience.”

MBW: “Talking to the dead...”

ZH: “I see dead people all the time. I feel them, see them, talk to them, and cry with them.”

MBW: “Opiate specialist...”

ZH: “Ah yes, that I be. I was a heroin connoisseur, ex-opiate addict extraordinaire, lover of the poppy, dreamer searching for the nod.”

MBW: “Ex-Madam...”

ZH: “I was. I owned, by myself, five different NYC in house brothels.”

MBW: “Style...”

ZH: “It’s something you're born with. You can’t fake it. My son has style. It’s swagger, it’s attitude, it’s a certain coolness few can obtain, it’s not taught, it’s not bought, it just is.”

MBW: “I love that. Let's try on tattoos...”

ZH: “Only on my arms and hands.. Oh I have a Charles Bukowski signature on my tramp stamp area on my back. On men I like jailhouse gang styled ink all over. Necks and facial ink does it for me lately, but that changes, either all or none. Never one or two, of anything.”

MBW: “Truth...”

ZH: “I live by it and only tell it. Why not? Truth is beauty.”

MBW: “I love that too. You’re so real. How about Criminal Law?”

ZH: “I’m going to split those words up. I’ve been a criminal most of my life. I’ve lived an illegal lifestyle up until I had my son 12 years ago. I don’t care for the law, it’s bogus and I’ve been screwed by ‘the law’. It’s necessary though, because without it, we’d have anarchy or NYC in the 1970s, and no one want’s that (sarcasm!).”

MBW: “Men...”

ZH: “I love men, all men; fascinating sexy wonderful creatures.”

MBW: “Living, learning, never listening...”

ZH: “Well Marlowe, you just said it all, that’s my sentence. So you have been paying attention! I like that, I do not listen to instruction or orders well. I’ve been told.”

MBW: “Lover of life...”

ZH: “Again one of mine. I truly love life. I’m excited by every day. I guess it’s because I’m happy. I love my family, I love my friends. My slot in life is exciting. I pump my life full of brilliant people who share their fascinating days with me. We all roll together. I've never calmed down. I only get more energized and want to create and build constantly. It’s about movement. But love is key. Without love you have nothing. I surround myself with lots of love and I've got plenty to spare.”

MBW: “Adrenaline junkie...”

ZH: “Yup that be me. It comes with loving life. I say ‘Yes,’ then think afterwards. I need excitement. I need to enjoy and laugh, that buzz of adrenaline is my habit.”

MBW: “Addiction specialist...”

ZH: “I know about addictions because I am an addict. You don’t have to be using drugs to still be an addict. I’ve switched to other things that I’ve commented on. But I know all about that subject. It’s a vast topic.”

MBW: “Great friend...”

ZH: “I’m a loyal friend. Loyal till the end of time. You got me, you’ve got the best friend you will ever have.”

MBW: “Old souls...”

ZH: “I surround myself with old souls. I’m drawn to people with a past. Be it a past life or an older person. I like old. I can smell a new soul. It just doesn’t interest me as much.”

MBW: “Animal lover...”

ZH: “I love all living creatures. I don’t eat them, I love them.”

MBW: “Insect hater...”

ZH: “Ewww... can’t stand them, ew ew ew, nooo way.”

MBW: “Damn, Zoe that was an over-the-edge, rocking roller coaster ride. Why don’t we leave our freaked-out-of-their-wits readers, and riders, flailing and hanging on for dear life as you tell us what form of enlightenment do you share in your books?”

ZH: “People tell me my stories have helped them in many ways. I find women admire my openness about the sex industry. My life as a heroin addict. Living in New York City during the 1980s. My stories are true. I write about love, and men and my knowledge regarding these subjects. I so enjoy helping someone who reaches out to me with questions or advice.

I believe Amazon books has a series of anthologies where my short stories are listed. I’m sure that any of them can be ordered in a bookstore. My web site should be helpful also. Yay! www.zoehansen.net is my web page with all new work . Answering sex/life questions in the Ask Zoe section has taken off tremendously well. I’d like to throw my branders web site out www.bloomingtwig.com, a team that has helped me gather my scattered energies and help focus on branding.”

MBW: “Let me ask you, who might your favorite writers be?”

ZH: “Herbert Huncke has hugely influenced me, for his unschooled raw beautiful approach to writing. He captures imagery and a scene like no other. Burroughs for his vastly different almost poetic words. He was ground breaking. I love the beat writers. Then theres Dostoyevsky obviously . But to me the big king of poetry and short tales, Mr. Charles Bukowski. I live and breath Bukowski. Post Office changed my life. Dinosauria, We, Blue Bird, aghh! I get chills thinking about him. I loved Jim Carroll's Forced Entries. Jerry Stahl is my favorite living author. Permanent Midnight is a work from a genius. He's such a cleaver hilarious writer. So self-deprecating and is really wonderful in person. I was honored when he asked me to contribute to The Heroin Chronicles. Henry Miller again I could go on and on. I have over a thousand books. My apartment is filled with gorgeous new & old books. They are my life. Books tell you who the person is. Thank you, Marlowe B West. It’s been a pleasure. Live loud!”

MBW: “The pleasure is all mine, Zoe, love, and all you beautiful people out there can learn more about and reach Zoe Hansen on her website www.zoehansen.net . Cheers. Zoe, one more thing, how could I forget my favorite question, if I could grant you three wishes, what would they be?”

ZH: “One — I could live forever. Two — I could fall in love endlessly. Three — I wish for three more wishes."


Steel Notes Interview with Zoe Hansen

More about Pulled Pork...

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