Jack Kerouac with Al Cohn & Zoot Simms - American Haikus
A William Burroughs Reader.
Barbara Rubin - Christmas on Earth (1963)
Barbara Rubin’s 29-minute Christmas on Earth is the filmic record of an orgy staged in a New York City apartment in 1963. This double projection of overlapping images of nude men and women clowning around and making love is one of the first sexually explicit works in the American postwar avant-garde. Today Christmas on Earth generates a small but passionate discourse in avant-garde film circles. Many consider it to be an essential document of queer and feminist cinema, though others dismiss it as the worthless effort of a naive amateur. It is still largely unknown to art history. Christmas on Earth in fact deserves to be located within a larger esthetic discourse on contemporary art forms such as Happenings, expanded cinema, and installation. Rubin “was one of the first people to get multimedia interest going around New York,” Andy Warhol said. Further, Rubin’s filmmaking practices were a type of performance and sexual agitprop that foreshadowed the emergence of critical body art at the end of the 1960s. An investigation into the little-known history of Barbara Rubin and her singular work Christmas on Earth deepens our understanding of a period when artists pushed self-determined and guiltless sexuality into the public sphere to catalyze social revolution.
“Ginsberg with Barbara Rubin, Allen’s 39th birthday party, Barry Miles’ apartment, London, June 3, 1965. Miles had organised the party, since Allen was staying at his place already. As the story goes John Lennon and George Harrison stopped by round midnight to find a naked Ginsberg with a do-not-disturb sign tied to his penis.”
William Burroughs with David Hockney. Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado
In the 1950s, Swiss photographer Robert Frank snapped a photo of a Miami Beach elevator girl gazing upward, lost in thought, which was included in his 1958 photographic road-trip journal “The Americans.”
In the book’s introduction, Jack Kerouac wondered about her, writing, “That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what’s her name & address?”
Kerouac never found out, because Sharon Collins only recognized herself as the girl in the photo  years ago, when “The Americans” was being exhibited in San Francisco. [She stated,] “I stood in front of this particular photograph for probably a full five minutes, not knowing why I was staring at it. And then it really dawned on me that the girl in the picture was me.”
This makes me think of the following line from On the Road:
“A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”