the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

Posts In Memory

Helga Davis | Featured Performer


Oh, we’ve got a great treat this weekend. For our final service of the NYC season – this Sunday, May 31st at Dixon Place – our featured musical guest will be the wonderful Helga Davis, a supernova vocalist and all around fabulous presence. I’ve been wanting to have Helga in our midst for some time now and this is the moment. It’s going to be a lovely thing. See Helga’s bio below – she’ll be accompanied by Adam Klipple on piano, Mr. Klipple’s bio is below, too.

Helga Davis is currently starring in the 25th anniversary remount of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s seminal work Einstein on the Beach. In addition she is also featured in works by Shara Worden (You Us We All), Paola Prestini (Oceanic Verses), Missy Mazzolli_(Elsewhere), Ann Hamilton (The Event of a Thread), Peter Greenaway (The Blue Planet). She starred in The Temptation of t. Anthony, also by Robert Wilson with libretto by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (Sweet Honey in the Rock). She is the recipient of the BRIC Media Arts Fireworks grant and presented her evening-length work, Cassandra, in April 2014. She is also a host on Q2 Music, and has conducted special live interviews with Judd Greenstein, Krzysztof Penderecki, The Kronos Quartet and John Luther Adams. She was awarded an ASCAP Multimedia Award for hosting 24:33: twenty-four hours and thirty-three minutes of the playful and playable John Cage.

Adam Klipple (piano, keyboards, MD) In addition to performing, Adam Klipple is also a composer, producer and arranger. He recently worked on Ghostface Killah’s latest, 36 Seasons. Adam has been involved in stage and recording projects with Lauryn Hill, Craig Harris, Graham Haynes, Joseph Bowie and Defunkt, Ron Affif, Vinny Valentino, Jason Marshall, and Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe. His credits also include performances with the Sun Ra Arkestra, Sekou Sundiata, Marc Ribot, John Medeski, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Carla Cook, Dave Fiuczynski, David Gilmore, Josh Roseman, Vincent Gardner, Peter Apfelbaum, Groove Collective, and Smokey Robinson.



photo credit: Hatnim Lee


From our Grand Poobah | MEMORY, FETISHES & CAMP

Bobby and I just got back from Maine! We took part in an informal artist retreat with some pals on a beautiful island in Penobscot Bay then we had a couple of days just adventuring along the coast. We left the morning after our benefit auction closed. Good timing! The setting was idyllic and the time away was crucial for recovering and rest and preparing for these next two months.

The 2014/2015 season is starting to come to a close. But it’s gonna be a big finish! Starting with our final NYC service of the year, this Sunday, May 31st at Dixon Place – the theme is MEMORY then our final LA service of the year will be Sunday, June 14th at Bootleg Theater, the theme will be FETISHES. We’ll wrap it all up in Wodostock on Sunday, July 26th at the Byrdcliffe Theater where the theme will be CAMP! In between all of these services we’ll also be presenting a couple of evenings of stories and music. We’re embarking on recording the stories so we can begin podcasting – which I’m very excited about. The first of these evenings will be Thursday, June 4th at Dixon Place. STORIES FROM THE SECRET CITY – I’ll read some stories and Jeremy will be along, too, playing music. The next evening will be July 10th and 11th at Franklin Stage Company in the Catskills – really excited to be performer there this summer.

It’s been a big, beautiful year of art and community – we’ve grown in lots of ways, many of which have been behind the scenes with our new board, new staff and lots of infrastructure. It’s been a season of stabilizing. Our recent benefit was an example of that – a beautiful night of support for the organization. Now, these final two months of the season feel jam packed and exciting.

I’m excited to share these final events with lots of wonderful folks – to experience the work and craft and joy of so many fantastic artists and performers. It gives life meaning and depth, to experience these things – and sharing them is one of the best parts of being alive.

See you at The Secret City.


Jamie Brickhouse | Featured Artist


Our reading this month comes from the charming and outrageous Jamie Brickhouse, longtime friend and former board chair of The Secret City. Jamie’s recent memoir, Dangerous When Wet, was published by St. Martin’s Press and he’s been traveling the country making appearances promoting the book. I’m delighted he’s going to share a bit of the magic with us on Sunday, May 31st for MEMORY.


Here’s his bio:

Jamie Brickhouse is the author of Dangerous When Wet (St. Martin’s Press), a darkly comic memoir about booze, sex, and his mother Mama Jean. Mary Karr calls it “blisteringly funny;” Paul Rudnick says it’s “intoxicating;” and Wally Lamb declares:
“Move over Augusten Burroughs. You’ve got company.” The book has been lauded by Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, Out, and Entertainment Weekly (“glamorously tragic and howlingly funny” A-). It was also named a Best Book of May 2015 by Amazon. Brickhouse has been published in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Lambda Literary Review, Publishers Weekly, and is a guest blogger for the Huffington Post. He is at work on a second book, a memoir about his relationship with his father Earl. You can visit him at, on Facebook, or follow on Twitter @jamiebrickhouse.


Kai Margarida-Ramirez | Featured Artist


I’m thrilled to announce that our featured visual artist this month is Kai Margarida-Ramirez. We’ve shown Kai’s work before and it’s always a delight to see on the walls and to hear her speak about her process and technique. Working in cut paper, Kai plays with memory using traditional materials in new and surprising ways, often exploring her own family lore.

Here’s her bio:

Kai Margarida-Ramirez is a mixed-media and mixed-heritage artist. Drawing from her Puerto Rican and New Mexican roots, she has been showing nationally since 2009. Her work is in the permanent collection of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in New Mexico, where she returned in 2014 for the exhibition Papel! Pico, Rico y Chico. In 2011 her work was exhibited alongside Pepón Osorio and Amalia Mesa-Bains in Latino/a Imaginary: Intersection of Word and Image at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque. That same year, Kai attended Emerging Indigenous Voices: A New Generation of Artists, an artist residency in San Francisco. In 2014, Kai was an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum, in partnership with the Galería de la Raza, for Paper and Blade: Storytelling Under the Knife. Other recent exhibitions include Before at The Kitchen in New York, I’ll Show You Mine: Contemporary Artists Explore Family Portraiture at the Palo Alto Art Center, Borderlands at the University of South Dakota Art Gallery, Art Not Without___ at Amos Eno Gallery in Brooklyn, Radiant Geometries at Skylight Gallery in New York, and New Work New York, the 1st biennial survey of work by New York City MFA students and recent graduates. Kai received her MFA in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design in 2014 and is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Kai Margarida-Ramirez | Featured Artist


India Kotis | Immigrating to the Promised Land

India Kotis is a junior at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Art in NYC. She’s a filmmaker and shared her recent short film at our service on THE FOOL, back in April. The film is here for your enjoyment: Immigrating to the Promised Land.


The Cultural Calendar | 5.18.14

cultural calandar

Today is Sunday, May 18th, 2014. It is the 138th day of the year. There are 227 days remaining until the end of the year. We are in the sign of Taurus – there’s a fine line between homebody and hoarder.


Today is World AIDS Vaccine Day



1830, Edwin Budding of England signed an agreement for manufacture of his invention, the lawn mower. Weekends will never be the same.

In 1926, Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished in Venice. California She showed up a month later and said she had been kidnapped.

In 1960, Jean Genet’s, “The Balcony,” premiered in Paris.

In 1965, Gene Roddenberry suggested 16 names for the role of the captain in Star Trek. Kirk was one of them.

And, in 1974, “The Streak” by Ray Stevens hit #1 on the charts.



Director Frank Capra in 1897. Meredith Willson, who wrote The Music Man, in 1902. Blues man Big Joe Turner in 1911. Perry Como in 1912. Ballerina Margot Fonteyn in 1919. Actor Choy Yun Fat in 1955. The great Tina Fey in 1950. And, singer/songwriter Jack Johnson was born on this day in 1975.

Gustav Mahler in 1911. Playwright William Saroyan in 1981. And, Elizabeth Montgomery, from Bewitched, died on this day in 1993.




  • Leah Coloff, who plays cello with The Secret City Band, will be appearing at Spectrum on the Lower East Side, celebrating the release of her new record, ThisTree, songs of love, family and connection. Saturday, May 24th at 9pm. Info:
  • The Red Gloves Performance Group, created by Billy Schultz and Geneviève Leloup, creates a living comic strip that combines the rigor of dance, the expression of theater and a powerful sense of humor that pulls no punches. With live music from pianist and composer Amir Khosrowpour. May 28 & 29 at 8PM at Irondale Center in Brooklyn – tickets available through brownpaper tickets, for info visit their facebook page – the red gloves.
  • Summerworks, the annual new works festival from Clubbed Thumb, will run from May 30th to July 5th at Wild Project. There are 3 great new plays with a fabulous line-up of actors. Visit for details.
  • Showgasm, a raucous variety show with performances ranging from hilarious to titillating to utterly inappropriate. At Ars Nova, Thursday, June 5th at 9pm. With Drew Droege, Kim Katzberg and additional fabulous performers to be announced. Press release says: “WARNING: May lead to spontaneous singing, dancing and/or an unexpected climax.” All this for only $5, visit for tickets.
  • Sandra Bargman’s new cabaret show, The Edge of Everyday, explores the territory where resistance collides with inevitability in a musical ritual of covers and original songs. Saturday, June 7th at 7pm at the Duplex. Visit for information.
  • June 11 is the 1st Anniversary show of Dead Darlings at Judson Memorial Church!  An all-star lineup of writers, performers and musicians, perform their cut, rejected, or otherwise dead-on-the-desktop material.  Music and wine at 7:30, show at 8. It’s FREE. See Raquel Cion or check out the facebook page “Dead Darlings.”
  • Encore Encore a new play about the private life of Dorothy Parker runs June 12-15 at Gallery Players in Brooklyn. Visit or see Paula for details.
  • The great cartoonist and author Lynda Barry has a show of her work running at Adam Baumgold Gallery on the Upper West Side, featuring drawings, comics, watercolors and mixed media collages from the past 35 years, the show runs until July 11th.
  • And the benefit for The Secret City rescheduled from the winter, will take place here at Dixon Place, Monday, June 30th. Watch your emails for details.


From Our Grand Poobah | Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio!


Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio! A little acting gig fell in my lap this week – I’m working on a new play by Heidi Schreck, directed by Kip Fagan. It’s part of a new works festival here at Cleveland Playhouse which is a really amazing place – a regional theater that will celebrate in 100th anniversary next year. Anyway, I flew in on Tuesday and we’ve been working in the rehearsal room – doing table work – one of my all-time favorite things to do. There will be a staged reading on Saturday and then, bam, fly back home on Sunday.

It’s been years since I’ve worked on a play – the thing I dedicated so much of my life to. When I started The Secret City, I put that part of my life on hold, I guess, and dedicated myself to building the organization and planning and producing our monthly events. It feels great to be back in the room with actors and theater folk – to be in the midst of a company. And, to play a character – I’ve been playing the Chris Wells character pretty exclusively for several years now and it’s fun to slip back into someone else. And, it’s a great part – an erudite homeless man and recovering addict named Frog, who visits this soup kitchen in the Bronx, where the play is set. It’s called GRAND CONCOURSE.

Other highlights of the week will be a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art tomorrow night and, two other shows here at the festival, compliments of the Playhouse: Grounded by George Brant and Informed Consent by Deborah Zoe Laufer.

I skipped going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – admission is $22…I don’t know, I really wanted to check it out but, I’m on a budget! And 22 bucks seems steep to me…

I still can change my mind, here till Sunday. If anyone out there thinks I should just go for it, let me know. Would be nice to supplement the theater and fine art with some ROCK AND ROLL energy. It’s just that rock n roll has gotten expensive…

Ok, off to rehearsal. I love saying those words.

Then it’s back to NY and prepping for our next service on May 18th, our annual celebration of MEMORY, what life is full of all the time, swirling all around.


Clayton Dean Smith | Cultural Calendar

Clayton Dean Smith

Delighted to present Clayton Dean Smith, who’ll be reading the Cultural Calendar for us this month. Clayton is an actor, writer and advocate in New York City, by way of Kansas City and San Francisco. He serves as Chair of the Parks Committee and 2nd Vice Chair of Manhattan’s Community Board Five. He lives on the Lower East Side and believes in booze as a culinary ingredient.

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