Light Industry is proud to present an evening with Donna Kerness, legendary star of some of greatest experimental films of the 1960s.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Kerness met George and Mike Kuchar while still in high school, and went on to feature in their early 8mm productions—inspired, dime-store pastiches like Tootsies in Autumn, The Naked and the Nude, and Pussy on a Hot Tin Roof. After performing as a modern dancer at the Henry Street Playhouse, she soon became an underground celebrity for her movie roles, praised by Jonas Mekas in the Village Voice as one of the top ten “luminaries” of the growing scene in 1964. Two of her most indelible appearances were in the twins’ first solo efforts, George’s Hold Me While I’m Naked, where she plays a buxom starlet entangled with a hapless director, and Mike’s sci-fi featurette Sins of the Fleshapoids, in which Kerness appears as Princess Vivianna. In addition to modeling for sculptor George Segal’s body-cast sculptures, dancing at the Electric Circus, working at Frederick’s of Hollywood and staffing the box office at Mekas’s Film-Makers Cinemathque, she would go on to grace the screen in many other films by George and Mike, as well as appearing in works by Takahito Iimura, Bob Cowan, and Jack Smith, among others. Kerness was even an inspiration to the young John Waters, who for years hung a photo of the actress, clipped from Film Culture, in his apartment.
In her later years Kerness relocated to San Antonio, where she pursues painting and has been working on her memoirs. This evening, we welcome her back to Brooklyn to talk about her illustrious and colorful career. “Donna Kerness continues to fascinate the cultivated cineaste with her undying exuberance and alluring persona,” wrote George in 2009, “whether on a silver screen or a hung-up bed sheet.”
To be screened:
- Moddle Toddle, Bob Cowan, 1967, 16mm, 5 mins
“Why is it that just when you start getting into something you really like, that woman comes along with all her gyrating and sexy outfits; she's so irresistable you just can't go on... or can you?” – BC
- Hold Me While I’m Naked, George Kuchar, 1966, 16mm, 16 mins
“A color bath of sparkling sensuality surrounded by the frigid porcelain of white virginity unable to break free because of drain cloggage. It foams with heady lather of truth completely un-rinsed by mineralized morality in non-breakable plastic tubes that never leave an unsightly bathtub ring. Zesty color that makes you nice to be near, helps to elevate this flowing film to the level of liquid consciousness that is so poignant it floats.” – GK
- Sins of the Fleshapoids, Mike Kuchar, 1965, 16mm, 43 mins
“My most movie movie. It is a monument assembled to glorify Hollywood and the ‘star’ image... to me Donna Kerness has reached the peak of her ‘Movie Goddess’ image, an image that, in this film, makes her a caricature, a Debra Paget or Dorothy Lamour, that borders on the grotesque, but yet still retains romantic atmosphere… The script deals with science-fiction while the sets display a sort of mythologic or Arabian Nights flavor. To sum up, Sins of the Fleshapoids is my most dearest dedication to commercial American movies, or, to put it another way, it is a joke that cost me a thousand dollars.” - MK
Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.