Cultural Legend John Vaccaro Founder of Playhouse of the Ridiculous Dies at 86

Master of the avant-garde troupe Playhouse of the Ridiculous, and Godfather of the glitterati has died at the age of 86. Vaccaro is responsible for the off-off Broadway movement that we know today however much toned down. Vaccaro’s work was the anarchic reaction to conventional theatre.

A legend herself, Ms. Penny Arcade (who often uses the term Cultural Amnesia) said of Vaccaro’s influence on culture,

Without knowing his name, much of what you admire most in queer, punk, rock and roll theatre was spawned by Vaccaro’s genius & madness… Hair, Rocky Horror, even David Bowie would have never gone that far out… Bowie would have never glammed like that or glittered… even Jack Smith would not had the context without Vaccaro. “

In the video, Vaccaro is interviewed by Penny Arcade, where John “speaks on sex, drugs, food and the art scene when his loft was at the border between Greenwich Village and the East Village. Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Timothy Leary … and so much more.”

John Vaccaro Biographical Notes from Please Kill Me, the Uncensored Oral History of Punk

Partial List of Productions (as director)

“Life of Juanita Castro” by Ronald Tavel (1965)

“Shower” by Ronald Tavel (1965)

“The Life of Lady Godiva” by Ronald Tavel (1966)

“Screen Test”/”Indira Gandhi’s Daring Device” both by Ronald Tavel (1966)

“Big Hotel” by Charles Ludlam (1967)

“Conquest of the Universe” by Charles Ludlam (1967)

“The Moke Eater” by Kenneth Bernard (1968)

“Monkeys of the Organ Grinder” by Kenneth Bernard (1969)

“Cock Strong” by Tom Murrin (1969)

“Heaven Grand In Amber Orbit” by Jackie Curtis (1969)

“Son of Cock Strong” by Tom Murrin (1970)

“Night Club” by Kenneth Bernard (1970)

“XXXXX” by William M. HOffman (1970)

“Life of Lady Godiva” by Ronald Tavel (1971)

“The Life of Juanita Castro” by Ronald Tavel (1971)

“Persia, A Desert Cheapie” by Bernard Roth & Vaccaro (1972)

“Sissy” by Seth Allen (1972)

“Satyricon” by Paul Foster (1973)

“Elegy for a Down Queen” by Leslie Lee (1973)

“Body Indian” by Hanay Getgoman (1973-1974)

“The Magic Show of Dr. Magico” by Kenneth Bernard (1973-1974)

“La Bohemia” by Vaccaro (1974)

“Workshop of Y.M.C.A.” by Gerome Ragni & James Rado (1975-1976)

“The Sixty Minute Queer Show” by Kenneth Bernard (1977)

“Juba” by Lawrence Holder (1978)

“Gulliver’s Travels” by William M. Hoffman (1978)

“The Book of Etiquette” by William M. Hoffman (1979)

“The Writer’s Opera” by Rosalyn Drexler (1979)

“Derby” by Barry Arnold (1979)

“Vulgar Lives” by Rosalyn Drexler (1979)

“Graven Image” by Rosalyn Drexler (1980)

“Flop” by Seth Allen (1980)

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare (1980)

“Starburn” by Rosalyn Drexler (1983)

“La Fin du Cirque” by Kenneth Bernard (1984)

“Transients Welcome” by Rosalyn Drexler (1984-1985)

“Goatman” by Raymond Schanz (1986)

“The Heart That Eats Itself” by Rosalyn Drexler (1987)

“Cara Pina” by Rosalyn Drexler (1992)


Cover Photo Credit: Jack Mitchell
author avatar

Writer, creative and critical thinker, art and cultural journalist. Founder of The Architecture of Tomorrow.