Saturday, January 14, 2017

Frank M. Tedesco writes

I met Jill Johnston at the opening party of Yoko Ono's performance art The Stone at the famous Judson Gallery of the Judson Memorial Church on Thompson Street, Washington Square, Greenwich Village, NYC in the fall, 1963. I went home with her to her second floor apartment on Houston Street that night. We coupled on a mattress in the dining room she dragged out of her two children's bedroom. She was 34 then and "very heterosexual". She thought I was in my twenties but I was actually only 17 and a freshman at NYU. It must have been my cute goatee and the weed I was smoking in a corncob pipe. The party was crowded with notables like Allen Ginsberg and others whose names I can't remember. Allen was quite amused by my affair with Jill who wrote an innovative dance column for the Village Voice for years. I visited her often. Not for conversation but pure unmitigated lust. One day she called me to report she was pregnant and demanded I pay for an abortion. Well, I was a poor student on a scholarship with an allowance from my hard-working parents who lived on Long Island. They would have :died: if they knew of my fling! A few weeks later Jill called to tell me she had a natural miscarriage. Blood poured down her legs one morning while she was brushing her teeth. No need for money now. No need to see me again, either. End of story. She wrote Lesbian Nation a few years later in which she claimed that she had had many pregnancies, got impregnated very easily and easily miscarried, too. Our child must have been one of them.

"Love is the form of murder humans devised when they outlawed cannibalism."  -- Jill Johnston

Image result for jill johnston
Jill Johnston -- Diane Davis

1 comment:

  1. "the real feminism that nobody knows about yet is not known because it’s being invented. then when it’s invented we still won’t know what it is because it will continue in a state of invention. as soon as you call it something so far as i’m concerned it’s a male institution."

    Jill Johnston was a longtime (1958-1981) dance and culture critic for "The Village Voice," the weekly downtown New York newspaper, and the author of "Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution" in 1973, in which she argued for lesbian separatism from men and from male-dominated capitalist institutions, and "Gullibles Travels" in 1974. In 1963 Andy Warhol made a 4 1/2-minute silent black-and-white film, "Jill," about her. In 1971 she participated in a "Dialogue on Women's Liberation" at the Town Hall in New York, which included literary critic Diana Trilling and the National Organization for Women's New York chapter president Jacqueline Ceballos; D. A. Pennebaker released "Town Bloody Hall" in 1979, a documentary film of the event which focused on the verbal war between misogynistic author Norman Mailer, who had just published "The Prisoner of Sex," and Germaine Greer, whose recent book "The Female Eunuch" had argued that women were forced to assume submissive roles in society to fulfill male fantasies of what being a woman entails, garnered the most attention, Johnston's participation was the most controversial: she read a short poem (“All women are lesbians except those who don’t know it yet”) followed by hugging and kissing two women friends on the stage. “Come on Jill,” said an exasperated Mailer, “be a lady.” Her performance was an example of her "east west flower child beat hip psychedelic paradise now love peace do your own thing approach to the revolution." She justified her often-outrageous public behavior by saying, "It's necessary in order to attract attention, to dazzle at all costs, to be disapproved of by serious people, and quoted by the foolish.”


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