Howl! Presents “Brian Butterick (Hattie Hathaway) and all they loved”, June 15 – July 30
New York, NY, (May 23, 2023) Howl! Arts / Howl! Archive (HAHA) is pleased to present Brian Butterick (Hattie Hathaway) and all they loved – the first exhibition celebrating the life of Brian Butterick (1956 – 2019), also popularly known as Hattie Hathaway, his performance drag persona. Drawn from Butterick’s personal archives in Howl’s collection, on view will be documents, images, and writings by Brian as well as artists and performers in his orbit, including many never seen before objects. A publication with additional content will be published later in the year alongside a Brian Butterick / Hattie Hathaway portal on www.howlarts.org.
Butterick first became well known in the 1980s for booking and later managing the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge, a venue that melded the performing arts with music and drag, and which helped define the East Village drag, gay, punk, and art scenes in the 80s. It was at the Pyramid, where Brian developed his Hattie Hathaway alter ego. A name both derived from his grandmother Hattie, whose name he found embroidered on an old suitcase after her death, and for Nancy Kulp’s Miss Jane Hathaway character on the 1960s CBS sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.
Brian / Hattie expanded his work both as a producer and a performer throughout the 80s and 90s, and was a founding member of the inventive musician/artists’ band 3 Teens Kill Four (3TK4), an early Pyramid mainstay that most often featured Brian, Jesse Hultberg, Julie Hair, Doug Bressler, and, in their early years, David Wojnarowicz. The group performed in the 1980s, and then again in the 2010s. He also joined the Blacklips Performance Cult after inviting the group to perform at the Pyramid. In the 90s, Brian co-produced Jackie 60, a legendary Tuesday night party held weekly at the Meatpacking District dive club Mother. Following Mother’s closure in 2000, Brian continued his lifelong love of the written word, music, and performance through the following decades at venues including Rapture Café, the Three Penny Opera revival at Studio 54, Club Cumming, and the annual Howl! Festival.
Brian Butterick (Hattie Hathaway) and all they loved chronologically traces Butterick’s life, beginning with a showcase of their 1970s poetry and a portrayal of early friendships with writers in New York City and Provincetown. Among the most significant of these relationships was Brian’s deep romance and creative collaboration with the artist David Wojnarowicz, which continued from the late ‘70s into the early 1980s.
Using photographs, graphics, flyers, video, posters, press, and a curated soundtrack, The Pyramid Years are represented in the main gallery of Howl! Arts / Howl! Archive. The era is presented in two sections, with 1981 – 1986 outlined in a traditional step pyramid shape, and 1987 – 1995 defined by the triangular pyramid shape which was adopted by the Pyramid during those years. Loretta, his first drag persona is featured. The two sections are split by a showcase of 3 Teens Kill 4. Throughout this gallery, a projection of photos and videos will be displayed, including interviews and videos of Brian with 3TK4, Blacklips, Jackie 60, and the Gay-B-C’s series, footage of the Pyramid, and excerpts from various films. The chronological ‘slide shows’ shared at Brian’s memorial will be on rotation.
In the rear gallery, Brian’s 1990s participation with Blacklips Performance Cult and Jackie 60 is illustrated via printed enlargements, invitations, posters, photos, and clothing. Vitrines showcase open diaries, letters, and rare publications from Brian’s personal collection, and an accompanying soundtrack projects Butterick’s words and related music. Our “Wall of Hattie”, is composed of dozens of eye-popping, wig-raising, and colorful photos of Hattie Hathaway at countless events throughout their life.
Loosely re-imagining Brian’s living space in the second half of the back gallery is The Apartment. Here, a large monitor projects journal entries and archival imagery ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s, and a nearby metal file cabinet replicates the one in which Butterick kept his trove of nightlife and personal papers. At HAHA, this cabinet includes folders containing copies of selected writings, articles, interviews and scripts that visitors can peruse.
Throughout his life, Brian saw openings, found possibilities, and created opportunities for countless artists. His generosity, coupled with his keen economy of words, wry humor, and humble intellect sustain his legacy as a fierce creative force in the East Village community. Brian Butterick (Hattie Hathaway) – and all they loved serves to celebrate this legacy, and everything that this artist, provocateur, and magnet for connection represents.