Here you can find everything you need to know about Stephen Petronio’s 1990 sexual anthem MiddleSexGorge, as we gear up for its 25th anniversary on the Joyce stage, March 8 – 13, 2016. Every week we will post new stories…stay tuned!
Read about its inspiration, the collaborators, and what people in the community are saying, then and now. Join the conversation by leaving comments and by posting on social media using the hashtag #petronioco.
The story…it’s 1990
Sex is in the middle of everything at the moment – and I find that gorgeous.
– Stephen Petronio
Hello world, Sasha here hailing from the Petronio headquarters in the Village, off of St. Marks Place, the mecca for outsiders who want to be heard.
Working on this street I am always reminded of an eclectic slice of NYC history that was joyous and dark, strange and mysterious, and kind of naughty, so I was really excited to dive into the #spcarchive for this work of Stephen’s. So here’s what I’ve gathered about the impetus for MSG
MiddleSexGorge was made in 89-90, during the middle of the AIDS crisis when the mayor at the time, good ol’ Ed Koch, was pretending there was no gay population and the NY Health Department was in fearful denial about the AIDS epidemic. As a way to speak out, Stephen joined ACT UP (Aids Coalition to Unleash Power), practicing civil disobedience and public arrests.
During a protest at city hall, Stephen was arrested and carried through a sea of people, lifted up in the air, by the police, as the crowd was chanting. This moment of hostility, rage, power, inspired him to create a work speaking to gender and sexuality, and address issues of power play, passive and aggressive, and who’s really in control. Premiering in 1990, in Lyon, France, and in 1991 at The Joyce Theater, MiddleSexGorge became Stephen’s sexual anthem to the world.
“For me, as a dancer, to be doing an act of civil disobedience and letting my body go into the hands of these cops for something I really believed in was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. I thought, Well, if I can’t make this next dance have some sort of connection to that power in my real life, I’m just going to give up and do activism.”
Photo Credits: Protest (March 1987), Eugene Gordon/The New York Historical Society/Getty Images, Silence = Death, Act Up New York, Read my Lips (1988), Gran Fury