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Donovan Howard

first performed on October 5, 2011
14th Street, New York, NY
performed 13 times in 2011


Jamaica, WI / New York, NY


Inspired by Thomas Dartmouth Rice, born on the Lower East Side of New York City and considered the father of American minstrel theater in the 1830’s. Thomas, more popularly known as “Jim Crow Rice” appeared in his sketch on a Cincinnati stage, where he was insistently encored until a small voice from the wings whimpered, “Gimme bak mah clothes,” voiced by the Black critic Sterling Brown.

From this departure I reinterpreted the notion of restoring and allowing Queer and people of color the true meaning of our own experiences. The performance included liturgical actions of sprinkling rice on the path of 14th street (the Lower East Side), in memory of “Jim Crow Rice” and his legacy with specific rituals of cleansing and blessing, including lime, powder, rum, cinnamon, etc. while welcoming a new day with the shouts of “Gimme Bak Mah Clothes.”

This performance-done in the nude in New York City wearing a zebra skull– was quite challenging; the cops were everywhere on 14th Street, but after they discovered what I was doing they left me alone. As I appeared the crowd gathered and created a sensation. The weather was also a factor: while standing I was bitten by mosquitoes, it rained, and the temperature dropped too low for me to be in the nude on one day. The wind blew the props in different directions, people took pictures of all the parts I did not want them to take of my body, but the intervention was well received and I would do it again!

Performed at Art in Odd Places, MoCADA, and El Museo del Barrio.