Reverend Jens Last Slam
By Rachel Fershleiser
We were greeted by a topless woman, a man sporting stick-on satan horns, and a Chihuahua just an ordinary Wednesday night at Mo Pitkins, though not for long.
Tonight, October 17th, is the final installment of Reverend Jens Anti-Slam, the twelve-year-old open mike event hosted by the Lower East Sides favorite performance artist, writer, painter, public access star, elf, and troll-museum proprietor. Rev. Jen started the weekly performance as an alternative to hip, pretentious poetry slams where performances were judged and graded. Here every artstar gets a perfect score.
The penultimate Anti-Slam was attended by about fifty performers and fans, mostly white men over fifty. It could almost have been an Elks club meeting, if it werent for the content. Instead, this Elfs meeting provided a forum for filthy pornographic stories, traditional chants accompanying nude body-drawing, and beatboxed Led Zepplin.
George Culter, 69, of Great Neck, has been trekking into the city weekly to see Rev. Jen for eleven years, since the early days on Ludlow Street. Its community for all the performers, he says. I do comedy, poetry, sketches, magic, whatever.
His friend, Reverend Francis McNerd, 71, comes all the way from Philadelphia. Ive missed maybe one or two in all these years, he admits, but not more than that, I dont think. McNerd, who prefers to perform barefoot, values the anti-slam because not one person here is normal. We dont even want to be normal.
When Reverend Jen took the stage, with pointy ears poking through her hair and canine Jen Junior straining at the leash, the mood was enthusiastic but melancholy.
In case you havent picked up a newspaper in several months, she opened, Mo Pitkins is closing October 21st.
She reminisced about the events history, from four attendees at the first to recent packed rooms, and some of the acts. Ill never say Ive seen everything, though, she vowed. Because just when I do, someone gets up here and drinks douche. No, really.
There were some performers in this vein, but most wanted to speak about Reverend Jen and what the anti-slam has meant.
Robert Pritchard, formerly of Surf Reality, who now runs a venue in Queens (a hipster-free, douche-free zone, Jen says), was especially eloquent. The reason I wanted to come to the stage tonight is to thank the Rev for filling the crevices with love and art and freedom, he said. Now its coming to an end because we did such a great job creating a community that other people wanted in. Right now, this is history: art stars are dispersing.
And despite a history of relocating, it seems that this time the Anti-Slam will truly come to a close. Reverend Jen is focusing on new things and only considering a possible monthly show.
Next week is the end of an era, so try to prepare something anti-slam specific, she instructed her loyal listeners. Or at least give me a backrub.