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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Make Me Famous

SVA Theatre—School of Visual Arts / New York / Film & TV

Emerging from the squalor, rubble, and rotting floorboards of a pre-gentrified, danger-zone East Village, the 1980s downtown art scene produced a raft of hotshots who went on to fame, fortune, lavish critical attention, and, in some cases, posthumous glory. Edward Brezinski was not one of these liftoff artists. But he so wanted to be. A painter, stencil artist, and low-rent impresario who toughed it out in a six-floor walkup, Brezinski was in the forefront of East Village Expressionism until he found himself lagging and left behind. The spectacle of Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Mark Kostabi, David Wojnarowicz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and, grrr, Jeff Koons becoming sensations while he was still handing out flyers for his latest ramshackle show could only grate. Make Me Famous, a new documentary directed by Brian Vincent about the life and times of a notorious also-ran, manages to make a marginal figure—”one of the art world’s oddballs,” as an interviewee puts it—into a poignant, compelling, and haunting apparition of lost bohemia. That it does this without undue sentimentalizing or nostalgifying is an adept accomplishment. And, as an additional hook, there is the mystery of Brezinski’s death in 2007, the possibility that he may not have died at all but has been playing possum all these years. You just never know with these artist types. —James Wolcott

Make Me Famous premieres at NewFest’s 33rd Annual New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival on October 17 and is available for streaming October 15 to 26

SVA Theatre—School of Visual Arts 333 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011, United States
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