Fireside Chat

Ann Magnuson

60 minsFirst aired 10 Oct 2017Next Fireside Chat Sun at 12:00pm EDT
Austin Young

From radical performances in New York clubland to decades on the silver screen, this star performer has tons of tales to tell.

Ann Magnuson is a singer, musician, DJ and actor who moved to New York in the late ’70s and became a performer at two key venues in the city’s revolutionary post-disco scene: Mudd Club and Club 57. She created characters for the stage, using humor, sex and pop-culture pastiche in a style that landed her a role in the Madonna-led 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, and saw her cross over from the club scene to the silver screen. A star in dozens of film and television shows since the ’80s, including Tequila Sunrise, Panic Room, Frasier and Modern Family, Magnuson’s tales of Hollywood stardom and radical performance make her a unique underground figure.


Magnuson’s influences include Bluegrass pioneer Hazel Dickens and outsider artist and unwitting punk hero Hasil Adkins.


The now-defunct East Village neo-Dada cabaret space spearheaded by Ann Magnuson, Susan Hannaford, and Tom Scully is chronicled in the 2017 MoMa retrospective Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978-1983.


Far before Spinal Tap existed, Magnuson co-fronted heavy metal satire band Vulcan Death Grip alongside The Fuzztones vocalist Rudi Protrudi.


In this 2016 MoMa panel, Magnuson divulges tales of 1980s downtown New York – including a particularly cringe-worthy story about Jean Michel Basquiat, a refrigerator and a jealous ex-boyfriend.


Interview by Mark “Frosty” McNeill
Written and engineered by Frank Westerkamp
Produced by Carmen Hofmann

More Fireside Chat You Might Also Like Tune In Now