[NANCY THEME MUSIC]
TOBIN: What do you think my least favorite class was in high school?
KATHY: Umm ...
TOBIN: It was P.E.
KATHY: Oh! [LAUGHS]
TOBIN: I hated P.E. My body is not built for sports.
TOBIN: I hated P.E. So, I wanted to tell you a story about how, in P.E., in high school, I signed up for weight lifting, which was notoriously the easiest P.E. class you could take.
KATHY: [LAUGHS] Okay.
TOBIN: [LAUGHS] Basically, in weight lifting we would just sit around and the teacher would randomly walk around and make sure you were, like, doing what you were supposed to be doing. So my friend and I, we devised this thing called the "Give Me an 'A' Face" --
KATHY: Oh, god.
TOBIN: -- which meant [LAUGHS] we basically chose weights that were super light and super easy to lift, but if the teacher came around, we would make a face as if it was super hard and we were working super hard. [LAUGHS]
KATHY: Tobin, who do you think you were fooling, though? Were you doing, like, two-pound weights? [BOTH LAUGH] Okay.
TOBIN: But I'm telling you this story because I feel like where I do my "Give Me an 'A' Face" now is anytime I'm standing in front of a piece of modern art that I do not get.
KATHY: Oh, oh, same. Absolutely.
TOBIN: Right? You do, like, the countdown in your head of, like, "Okay, I've been looking at this for 10 seconds" --
TOBIN: "If people saw me, they'd probably think I'd pondered it sufficiently, and I'm moving on now."
KATHY: Mhm. And you've gotten something from it.
KATHY: 'Cause it's supposed to impact you, art, right? That's what it's supposed to do.
TOBIN: Yes? [LAUGHS] If you get it.
KATHY: I don't know!
TOBIN: I don't know either! [KATHY LAUGHS] Which is why, if you've had that feeling, you're gonna love what we have to share today.
KATHY: We have an episode of a delightful new show from WNYC Studios. It's called A Piece of Work, and it's hosted by the hilarious Abbi Jacobson of Broad City who, it turns out, is a very accomplished artist!
TOBIN: And every episode, she's gonna explore some big topic in modern art.
KATHY: And the show's produced in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, as everybody likes to say.
KATHY: And this episode, specifically, is all about performance art. And it features -- who does it feature, Tobin?
TOBIN: It features the incredible RuPaul, and we figured we just had to share it with you.
ABBI: Name one performance artist.
[JEOPARDY-ESQUE MUSIC IN]
ABBI: Maybe you're thinking of Marina Abramovic, the artist who sat at MoMA 8 hours a day for almost 3 months, totally still and anyone could sit in the chair facing her and gaze into her eyes. Good.
ABBI: That was a really good first one.
[MUSIC BACK IN]
ABBI: Now, name another one. Kanye West does not count. Sorry.
[MUSIC STUTTERS OUT]
ABBI: And neither does your eighth grade talent show performance, as much as you'd like to pretend that performing that song from The Music Man was an ironic commentary on consumerism. And -- kudos -- very advanced eighth grade experience.
[THEME MUSIC IN]
ABBI: A lot of people think of performance art as ... kind of a joke.
GUEST 1: I'm not a fan of performance art, personally. [LAUGHS]
GUEST 2: It's not even so much that I'm appalled by it, just ... curious.
ABBI: I'm Abbi Jacobson, and this is A Piece of Work. And today, I'm trying to wrap my head around performance art and to get beyond that feeling of "What the heck is going on here?"
ABBI: So I thought, who better to talk to than a person who's made his entire life into a piece of performance art: RuPaul?
RUPAUL: Kids write to me and say, "Well, what am I gonna do with my life? My parents don't understand me!" I write back and I say, "Listen. Find out what it is you have that makes you unique and special and cultivate that, and then bring that to the party!"
ABBI: RuPaul is unapologetically himself. He refuses to compromise or to let others define him, and on RuPaul's Drag Race, he helps other people express themselves, too.
RUPAUL: Now remember: If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here?
DRAG QUEENS: Amen!
RUPAUL: Alright, now let the music play!
[DANCE MUSIC PLAYS UP AND OUT]
RUPAUL: Hello, Abs?
RUPAUL: Hey, kiddo.
ABBI: Hey! How are you?
RUPAUL: You know, hoes and bros.
ABBI: Yeah. [LAUGHS]
ABBI: I got to know RuPaul when he guest-starred on the new season of my show, Broad City. When we talked for this podcast, I was in the middle of post-production.
ABBI: I get to look at your face everyday now.
RUPAUL: How's that? Oh, you're editing!
ABBI: We're editing.
ABBI: I wanted to start us off easy, so I asked RuPaul what he thought about performance art in general.
RUPAUL: Well, I gotta tell you, y'know, I moved to New York in the early 80's and performance artists were everywhere. Especially with art, y'know, there are people who are authoritarians who tell you, "Well, this is important." And I grew up thinking, "Y'know, I don't need somebody to tell me what's important. I can use my senses well enough to know if it actually moves me." And then, as I grew older and really understood what was going on, I resented the people from earlier who told me, "Oh, this is important." That wasn't important! That was bull. [ABBI LAUGHS] That was crap. It was -- I thought it was crap then, and I think it's crap now. So I resented all of the people who were saying, [HAUGHTY VOICE] "Oh, this a very, very important piece of artwork." [NORMAL VOICE] Y'know? I think the most important information you should know about should be told with laughter and with, like, [HOO-HOO-HOO SOUND]. [HOO-HOO-HOO SOUND].
ABBI: [LAUGHS] Yeah, I hear you.
RUPAUL: I feel the same way about performance art and [LAUGHS] video art. If it's got naked people and big fat asses, I'm in!
ABBI: Well, that's a great segue into our first video we're gonna watch. So, are you familiar with, um ...
RUPAUL: Sir Mix-A-Lot?
ABBI: Yeah, Sir Mix-A-Lot. We're gonna be serving Sir Mix-A-Lot's Greatest Hits. Or hit. Greatest Hit. 'Cause I literally know -- do not know anything that Sir Mix-A-Lot has created.
RUPAUL: Oh, no, I've gotta send you -- he does have another really, really good song. It may be better than the other one. It's called "Put 'em on the Glass."
RUPAUL: Yeah. And you can imagine what he means by putting "them" on the glass.
ABBI: No, I don't know what you're tal-- what you're referring to.
RUPAUL: Well, he -- I'll tell you! He's talking 'bout them two tig ol' bitties, honey. Them two tig ol' bitties, honey.
ABBI: I gotta say, Sir Mix-A-Lot was very, like -- the lyrics of that song are wonderful, I think.
RUPAUL: They're amazing. Amazing. I think I've quoted them every day since the song came out.
ABBI: Okay, so. I asked RuPaul to watch a couple videos with me, films that document performance art pieces. The first one is from 1964, when performance art and happenings were really getting going. It's by an artist named Carolee Schneemann, and it's called "Meat Joy."
RUPAUL: Wha-- Wait, 'squeeze me?
ABBI: It's called "Meat Joy."
RUPAUL: Oh, "Meat Joy." Mhm.
ABBI: So let's --
RUPAUL: How long is it?
ABBI: It's, like, 10 minutes. But we can talk over it.
[MEAT JOY BEGINS TO PLAY IN THE BACKGROUND]
RUPAUL: I see these people -- they've got panties on, panties and ... bras?
ABBI: So, to paint you a picture of what we're looking at, there's half a dozen or so dancers. Men and women wearing Speedos and bikinis, sort of dancing and smiling and laughing, falling on the floor, writhing around.
RUPAUL: It's almost like a dance piece.
ABBI: Yeah, it's definitely choreographed.
RUPAUL: Okay, well, they're -- yeah, they're in, like, little bathing suits, which I love. Y'know, anything that's got nudity in it, or bodies, I -- I like that.
ABBI: Yeah, there's actually a really hairy leg coming up. [BEAT] This guy's really hairy.
RUPAUL: I like that, actually. [BEAT] Are you -- do you like ... hairiness?
ABBI: Do I like hairiness? I guess -- I don't dislike it. I guess it really depends.
RUPAUL: Oh, okay. So, is she wearing a meat bikini? It's sort of -- no, is it ...
ABBI: Oh, I never noticed this. They look like kind of furry bikinis.
ABBI: Oh my gosh, maybe they are meat bikinis!
RUPAUL: Yeah, that's like the Lady Gaga thing. I bet that's where Lady Gaga got the -- Lady Guhguhguhguh got the idea.
ABBI: And, you know what? No one would ever know that, because it seems like a new, fresh idea.
RUPAUL: How 'bout that. Yeah.
ABBI: See, look at that leg! Do you see how hairy that one leg is?
RUPAUL: Yes. Yes. Very hairy.
ABBI: That's a hairy leg!
RUPAUL: It's one of the hairiest legs I've ever seen.
[SOFT MUSIC IN]
ABBI: [LAUGHS] This is all I've been talking about when I watch this video with people. I can just -- oh, wait, here! Now these animals are getting, like, served up.
ABBI: So, this is when things start getting weird. Somebody brings out some whole raw chickens and fish and sausages like you could get at the grocery store, and the dancers start dancing with the chickens and biting them.
RUPAUL: Okay. They're throwing fish and meat -- meat products on top of the dancers who are lying on their back.
ABBI: Yes. And they're sort of, like, rubbing around with them.
RUPAUL: Yeah. I'm not sure what the message is yet, other than, um, "Meat is sexy in groups of people in bikinis."
ABBI: Yeah. Um ...
RUPAUL: Oh, she's got a fish between her legs there. There's chickens ...
ABBI: It's interesting. Yeah. I try to be of the mindset of, like, I -- because often when I watch stuff like this, I'm like, I don't know if I'm getting exactly what they were putting down.
ABBI: But I'm sort of like, "Maybe I'm just supposed to interpret it however I'm interpreting it."
RUPAUL: No, you're absolutely right. So, I'm thinking what I'm getting from this is that it's decadence. It's -- it's -- uh, humans being free enough to explore themselves.
ABBI: And now, they're, like, ripping the chicken apart.
RUPAUL: That, I'm not so crazy about. [LAUGHS]
ABBI: Me neither. I'm not so crazy about that either.
RUPAUL: It -- I -- I -- See, it's hard for me to equate sexuality with ripping a chicken apart, y'know?
ABBI: It is interesting -- all these people are in their underwear and I don't really find it sexy.
ABBI: 'Cause of all the food. Or -- it's not even food, really. They're, like, just animals.
RUPAUL: Yeah, it's carcasses.
ABBI: It seemed like the people in "Meat Joy" were having fun. But what were we supposed to feel? Watching people writhe around with dead chickens and fish looked kinda gross. Was there a joke involved? Was there a deeper meaning or message that we're supposed to completely understand? What's going on? So I went to MoMA to talk with one of their curators, Thomas Lax.
THOMAS: Is that the leg you were talking about?
ABBI: Yes! Right?
THOMAS: Kinda like it.
ABBI: I don't like it either!
THOMAS: No, I do like it!
ABBI: Oh, you do! I don't like it.
THOMAS: Yeah. It's just very bodily.
ABBI: Yeah. [BEAT] But -- I feel like, I don't know why, I feel like now they would just be naked.
THOMAS: Yeah, well --
ABBI: That's, like, the only thing, maybe, right?
THOMAS: And, y'know, there's ... A few years later, another performer, Anna Halperin, made a work where she was naked -- 1967 at Hunter -- and the police came in and, y'know, stopped the performance and brought the performers to jail. So I think, yeah, there is a way that nudity meant something slightly different then than it does now.
ABBI: But I wonder now, what -- it's so interesting, where's it's like ... She was arrested and taken away, and it's like, "For doing ...? For just being ...?"
ABBI: Was it on the street?
THOMAS: No, it was in a theater.
ABBI: Yeah, it's like, they couldn't do that now.
ABBI: No. [LAUGHS]
THOMAS: And now it's also like a -- because of people like Carolee Schneemann, it's almost a cliche to do that, because it feels like, "Oh, just take off your clothes and you'll, like, be in this, y'know, legacy." And so to do the more radical thing is maybe to, like, cover yourself up in specific kinds of ways.
ABBI: Wearing tons of layers.
THOMAS: Exactly. Radical!
ABBI: Right, because it is interesting that a cliche of performance art is just to be naked. [BOTH LAUGH]
THOMAS: Yeah, totally, yeah. One other thing I just wanted to mention about her is that, before she made this work, she had made some, y'know, self-portraits where she was naked, and she was at Bard College at the time, and was asked to take a leave of absence for making naked self-portraits. Even though there were men who were painters at the time who were portraying her naked. In terms of the moment in which she was making this, obviously misogyny is real, alive, and well today, but maybe works in slightly different ways, so I think part of what, like, prompted her to make this was just the reality of patriarchy at the time for women artists.
ABBI: Yeah, it's like if you could just have the painting on the wall and she were to say that a man did it of her, it'd be fine. But it's just, "No, I did it." "You're outta here."
THOMAS: Exactly, exactly.
ABBI: That's fucking bullshit.
ABBI: "Meat Joy" was revolutionary in the 1960s. And, actually, it still feels that way now. It's a female artist making this statement about female bodies and how they were allowed to be portrayed. That's what I see. But I wanted to find out from the artist.
CAROLEE: Abbi? [LAUGHS]
ABBI: Hi! It's so nice to meet you and talk to you.
CAROLEE: I know! We have a virtual meeting here.
ABBI: It's been more than 50 years since Carolee Schneemann made "Meat Joy." She lives in upstate New York, and she's still making groundbreaking work. She recently had a show in London of photos and videos about war, disaster, and suffering.
CAROLEE: It just is an anguish for me. I think we need to look at it, but where does it take us?
ABBI: Carolee is one of the icons of feminist and performance art. But it turns out, even she isn't the biggest performance art fan.
CAROLEE: There's some very interesting feminist work, but most of all, it's not so great.
[ABBI AND CAROLEE LAUGH]
ABBI: She did a bunch of really bold work in the 1960s and 70's. There's this video of Carolee and her husband having sex from the perspective of their cat. And there's a performance in which she read from a scroll as she pulled it from her vagina. It was all about being a woman in charge of your own body, and your own sexuality. So I asked her, what was it like to stage "Meat Joy" in 1964?
[MUSIC FADES OUT]
CAROLEE: In 1964, it was so radicalizing for sort of attending to so many normal taboos: taboos about touch, about smell. It comes from a very special moment when there was a sense of pervasive erotic suppression. And certainly there was no dynamic of young women depicting their own pleasure, or activating it.
ABBI: Right. So I'm 33, and I know that over, like, just my adult life -- or not even my adult life -- y'know, my body's changing, and I notice the changes in my body. And, I dunno ... Over the course of your work and your life, because that is sort of like one of your main mediums is your own body, how do you feel about -- like, it's almost like it becomes a new thing as you get older, as well.
CAROLEE: As you get older, the new thing becomes an old thing! [ABBI LAUGHS] It's not reliable or offering the same dynamic. But I haven't worked with the explicit body since 1975. So my culture is obsessed and insistent that I don't grow up. They want me running around naked even though I'm 76.
ABBI: That's all anyone wants in any medium, is naked bodies! [CAROLEE LAUGHS]
CAROLEE: Let's see the old people running around! I just had a choreographer from Sweden ask, "Could we recreate 'Meat Joy'? And would any of the original participants participate?" And that was so adorable, since most of them have died, or are on dialysis, or kidney failure, or ...
ABBI: Oh my gosh. It'd be a very different -- a very different piece.
ABBI: So Carolee isn't going to restage "Meat Joy" anytime soon. But the problems -- the misogyny and the repression she was criticizing in that piece -- are still around.
CAROLEE: The taboos have shifted, but they're still there. There're more prohibitions than I've ever felt before.
ABBI: And we're also, like, going back in time in terms of civil liberties, and respect, and things are just feeling, like, very out of control, and then I often wonder, "Oh, well, is this what it felt like 30 years ago, but I just wasn't around?"
CAROLEE: No, it's different. This feels like a slow, dark tsunami rising over everything that we've made that had an aspect of civility, humanity ...
ABBI: Carolee, no! You're supposed to say, "No, it was always fucked up, and it's just like that. This is just happening again!"
CAROLEE: Well, it was always fucked up.
ABBI: Yes, my fear. It does feel more fucked up now. It is.
CAROLEE: This is more grotesque and deforming the things that we've already struggled to put in place for a more just culture.
ABBI: Yeah. Y'know, I do comedy for a living, and I often get asked, y'know, what it's like to be writing comedy right now.
ABBI: And with it being so dire, it's actually -- there's more to, like, need -- like, the need to talk about things. And there's, like, almost more of a need for art as well right now. People need to be expressing what's happening.
CAROLEE: I'll tell you, Key and Peele have made me feel [ABBI LAUGHS] some hope for America.
ABBI: Right? They're incredible.
[KEY AND PEELE CLIP] "OBAMA": Good evening, my fellow Americans. The country has voted for a new President.
ANGER TRANSLATOR: How did this happen, man? [IN-SCENE APPLAUSE IN BACKGROUND] You get the f*cking -- don't you understand? This is how The Hunger Games starts!
ABBI: Coming up, an artist casts herself as the star of her performance piece, then invites the audience to cut off her clothes.
YOKO: There was a long silence between one person coming up, and this next person coming up. And I thought, "That's fantastic, beautiful music," y'know? [MAKES FOOTSTEP SOUNDS, THEN CUTTING SOUND, THEN REPEATS] Beautiful poetry, actually.
ABBI: That's Yoko Ono, and she's up next. This is A Piece of Work.
ABBI: This episode is all about the most intimidating and sometimes annoying form of contemporary art: performance art. In "Meat Joy," we saw people dancing around, seemingly pretty happy about their bodies. But in this next piece, made in the very same year, the artist sits perfectly still and lets other people do things to her.
YOKO: Don't fight. Let it happen. By not fighting, we show them that there's a whole world which could exist by being peaceful.
ABBI: That's the voice of Yoko Ono. She's talking about a performance artwork she debuted in 1964 called "Cut Piece." You can find a video of it online.
RUPAUL: Yoko Ono, of course, wife of John Lennon. The one who was accused of breaking up The Beatles.
ABBI: I know! And -- I have a piece of paper here that says that she's best known for that.
ABBI: And I'm like, "Okay, that sucks."
RUPAUL: That does suck.
ABBI: This is me with RuPaul again.
RUPAUL: Now, are you a Beatles fan?
ABBI: I am a Beatles fan.
RUPAUL: Y'know, I like -- I like the Beatles songs when other people do them. I think they do a fine job, but when other people do them and interpret them, I go, "Oh my god, that's really -- that's deep." Like, when Tina -- Tinta Turnter does "Help," she --
ABBI: [TEASINGLY] Tinta Turnter?
RUPAUL: -- Yes. She turns it out. She turns it out.
ABBI: I mean, she can kinda do anything.
RUPAUL: Yeah. But she does it as a ballad that's, like, a gospel ballad that's just brilliant. Y'know, because when they do it, they go, [SWINGING RHYTHM] "Help me when you can, I'm feelin'" like a teeny-bopper thing.
ABBI: It's a little more poppy, yeah.
RUPAUL: Yes. But she goes [WITH SOUL, SLOWLY] "Help me if you can, I'm feelin' down." She goes there.
ABBI: She belts it. I gotta listen to this.
ABBI: Woah, wait, how did we get to talking about Tina Turner? Back to Yoko Ono. And I should say that this performance was made before she married John Lennon, by the way. So we're watching a video documenting "Cut Piece" and it starts out innocently enough. She's sitting on the floor in a long-sleeve black dress. Then, one by one, people start coming up from the audience, taking a big pair of scissors and cutting off pieces of her dress. The audience members are women and men all dressed very nicely, because this is happening in a performance space at Carnegie Hall.
RUPAUL: Are they taking the garment? No, they're just cutting it. They're not cutting in pieces --
ABBI: They're just cutting it, and the scissors are put back on the floor. And it looks like it's different people every time, coming in and cutting, like, sort of a random -- what seems to be a random piece of her dress off.
RUPAUL: Yeah, right.
ABBI: It's a long-sleeve, sort of conservative-looking dress.
RUPAUL: Yes. Now, I think immediately I'm getting what the message of this is, which is, people are taking pieces of her and she is unmoved. That's what I'm getting from it.
ABBI: Yeah. And they're also cutting very, like -- I mean, I would as well, if someone, if this was, like, the prompt. I would cut, like, a very small piece that wasn't revealing much. Everyone's being very mo--
RUPAUL: Right, to be -- to be polite.
ABBI: Yes. Be polite when cutting off other people's clothes.
RUPAUL: Yeah, exactly.
ABBI: It goes along like this for a while.
RUPAUL: Now, Yoko is still just sitting here, in a very contemplative stance, sitting on the floor ...
ABBI: And her slip is now exposed.
RUPAUL: Yep, yep.
ABBI: Lemme get -- I'm gonna get deep with this. Because I'm thinking, y'know ... Y'know, I'm not as public of a person as you are, but I'm getting, like, the sense of when you put yourself on stage and in front of people and sort of, like, out to the public, they take pieces of you. I mean, that's, like, what this is saying, right? What you were saying it's saying?
ABBI: Do you feel -- like, just to talk more about that personally, like, do you feel that way? Do you --
RUPAUL: I -- I do. I do. Y'know, because I am literally an introvert who's masquerading as an extrovert. I know how to do it, but I -- afterwards, I have to go and recharge my battery by myself, like the cat who goes under the house to have babies.
ABBI: Yeah. Wait, and you know what? You said something to me when we were shooting, and it, like, threw me, kind of. You were like, "I didn't know you were an introvert."
ABBI: And I was like, it made me, like ... I thought about that all night.
[CONVERSATION LEVEL COMES DOWN]
ABBI: So, RuPaul and I are chatting, watching the video, and this guy comes up to Yoko, and then ...
[CONVERSATION BACK IN]
RUPAUL: Oh my god! He just cut her bra straps!
ABBI: He fucking cuts her bra straps!
RUPAUL: She's covering herself. Who is this guy?
ABBI: She's covering herself now, with her hands, which is not --
RUPAUL: He cut a lot of her clothes off! And she's actually, she's affected by it. She's trying to act like she's not affected by it, but she is affected by it.
ABBI: Yeah, her eyes are moving around a lot and won't make contact with the audience anymore.
RUPAUL: Now, actually, I think this piece is very effective. I felt very moved by it. Especially when she put her hands up to keep her bra straps -- which he cut -- from falling down, exposing herself.
ABBI: Because he -- no one needed to cut her bra off yet.
RUPAUL: No, no, there was plenty of --
ABBI: There was more dress.
RUPAUL: Yes! And did you see the way he did it? He approached -- he was kind of aggressive with it.
ABBI: Yeah, it was, like, a dick move.
RUPAUL: It was a dick move, and he did it in a way -- because ... [SIGHS] First, he cut away most of her slip that was under her garment, and then, as his -- his, sort of, grand finale, he cut the bra straps. It's like saying, y'know, "Put 'em on the glass, Yoko. Put 'em on the glass."
[MUSIC SOFTLY IN]
ABBI: Yeah. [LAUGHS] Oh, it's Sir Mix-A-Lot.
RUPAUL: Yeah! Yeah.
ABBI: He Sir Mix-A-Lot'ed her.
RUPAUL: Full circle.
ABBI: But it is like -- I mean, my thought on that is sort of like, "When you put yourself out there, you're gonna get that shit, too." Like, you are asking for --
RUPAUL: You are gonna get that.
ABBI: You're gonna get that dick, as well.
THOMAS: It's a very vulnerable gesture.
ABBI: I talked with the curator Thomas Lax about the moment at the end with this guy. This fucker.
ABBI: [CHUCKLES] I hate this -- yeah, but it's also ...
THOMAS: I mean, it's like, we all know this guy. Do you know what I mean? It's like, we went to school with him ...
ABBI: And I think she knew this would happen. I think she's like, "I want you to see what could happen in this --" Is it -- ? It is an experiment. So I think, even though she's uncomfortable, I think she's like ... [CLAPS SOFTLY]
THOMAS: It, like, takes how people act in their everyday lives and puts it up on a stage. So, in some ways, that kind of reveals his, y'know, his terror. That [UNCLEAR] he just brings wherever he goes with him.
ABBI: Yeah. This is -- seems like a very hard thing to do to someone. I'm like, I would be very nervous to, like, participate. And then, part of it is like, "Well, they're going up, they're doing it. Like, I guess I'll do it." It's like this weird, like, peer pressure, too.
THOMAS: Or, like, psychological experiment. What are you gonna do?
ABBI: I know! But then it's also -- she has, like, she's told them to ... so it's like ... Go ahead, what were you gonna say?
THOMAS: No, it's exactly that! Yeah, the line of, like, consent/coercion is really thin. The thing I was gonna say is that there's like two versions of her instructions for this, one of which says that she gets to decide -- or the performer gets to decide when it's over. The other one says that the audience gets to decide when it's over, which feel like very different in terms of what you've gonna say.
ABBI: Very different. Yeah, I would almost be scared about the audience getting ... Like, it almost feels like if this went on too long, the audience would, like, lose control. Like, inviting ... Like, it feels like inviting this kind of thing is, like, so terrifying in a way. Like, you do not know what could happen.
[CREDITS MUSIC IN]
ABBI: I gotta say ... "Cut Piece" gets under my skin. There's something beautiful about it, but also incredibly painful. Even though it was made more than 50 years ago, it hits me in the gut every time I see it. And to me, that's the definition of great art.
That's it for this episode of A Piece of Work. I'm Abbi Jacobson. Special thanks to Thomas Lax, RuPaul, and Carolee Schneemann.
You can see pictures of the stuff we talked about today on our website, apieceofworkpodcast.org. This show is a co-production of WNYC Studios and MoMA. Thanks for listening.
ABBI: You like creating charades based off already-existing titles and making them dirty.
RUPAUL: Exactly. Where you just replace one word of an existing title, uh, without changing the syllables --
ABBI: Like, Manchester by the Titty? Is that close? [BOTH CRACK UP] People are like, "What is -- I thought I was coming to ..." People are like, "What is this podcast about?" But this is a better podcast than what I'm doing.
RUPAUL: No, no, no. But see, you got it wrong. You changed the syllable. It would be Manchester by the Pee.
ABBI: Oh, it'd be Manchester by the Pee. I added the syllable.
RUPAUL: Yes. Exactly.
ABBI: Okay, okay.
RUPAUL: Right, right.
[NANCY CREDITS MUSIC STARTS]
KATHY: That was A Piece of Work. Find it at apieceofworkpodcast.org or wherever you get your podcasts.
TOBIN: I'm Tobin Low.
KATHY: I'm Kathy Tu.
TOBIN: And Nancy is a production of WNYC Studios.
[CREDITS MUSIC OUT]