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With poetry, rock and roll, Butoh, drag queens, burlesque, healthcare info booths, a whole section devoted to kids and art that stretched around most of the park, the 10th annual HOWL! Festival indeed had something for everyone.
The weekend-long event at Tompkins Square Park began with a group reading of erstwhile East Village resident Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” — for which the fest is named — by a cast of performers that included Lydia Lunch.
Riki Colon’s “Men in Skirts” featured disco diva Jacqueline Dupree and a crowd-pleasing dance show on Saturday night. Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell once again produced the finale on Sunday, “Bowery Bombshells,” a burlesque tribute to women of the Lower East Side, featuring Bridget Everett and Justin Vivian Bond.
The kids carnival kept the families busy with inflatable bouncing houses, slides, miniature golf and arts and crafts, while live music ranged from the surf-and-twang of the Bakersfield Breakers to the serious goofiness of the TriBattery Pops.
Wrapped around the park was an 8-foot-by-900-foot canvas that was decorated by more than 140 artists, who ranged from young to old and had varying levels of artistic experience. Add to all of that a dose of perfect weather and you’ve got the consummate East Village celebration.
– Bob Krasner