Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer
Counter-cultural legend preaches sin and subversion
This article is from 2015.
Penny Arcade is a counter-cultural legend. Unlike the false rebels of rock'n'roll, like Patti Smith, who are willing to relax into nostalgia and revisit their glorious past, Arcade is still raging. Having been in Warhol's Factory, and part of the New York alternative art scene for nearly 50 years, Arcade is not ready to be sentimental. With only a live DJ mix for support, she takes on what she sees as the triumph of advertising and the gentrification of the mind.
Far from a cosy chat about her magical moments, Arcade wants to remind the youth that age is nothing to fear and that their supposed sophistication is just an ugly commodification of culture. Using New York as a model, she encourages sin, subversion and resistance against capitalism, which she sees as colonising the minds and selves of the younger generation.
She is angry – she dismisses every decade as a failure, including the 1960s and the current one – and enthusiastic. She dances, she pouts, she rounds on the audience. She recalls a preacher, shouting to the wilderness. It is a bracing hour, a sermon stripped of theatricality but those who have ears will hear.
Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug (not 24), 8.50pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).