the secret city’s carnival of love

For the past three years, I’ve regularly attended The Secret City. I’ve written about the good this arts organization does, and this February 14th, they’re throwing their annual fundraiser at The Gym at Judson Memorial Church.

“For this year’s benefit, we wanted to offer folks an artistic and adult version of a carnival as a fun alternative to the highest pressure date night of the year,” said The Secret City’s artistic director, Chris Wells. “Each of The Secret City services are centered around a different theme, so it made sense to create a playful and one-of-a-kind experience for which we are known.”

Called the Carnival of Love, the event will feature gourmet carnival food, a kissing booth, photo opps with Cupid, a mix and mingle in Cuddle Corner, and Love Tarot readings. Against this backdrop will be live music, champagne, chocolate truffles, and a marvelous silent auction featuring original works of art by Secret City members and unique love themed prizes – an erotic photo shoot, custom made lingerie, hotel getaways and more. For this raucous but sweet evening, we’re asking people to dress in Valentine’s attire.

The New York Times called The Secret City “Sort of a Salon, Sort of a Church… From its origins as a kind of fortifying ritual for beleaguered theater artists, [it] has grown into a half-irreverent, half-earnest blend of revival meeting and group meditation session.”

I highly recommend checking out what will surely be a fantastically fun time.

Carnival of Love, a Valentine’s Day Benefit for The Secret City
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Tuesday, February 14th
The Gym @ Judson Memorial Church
243 Thompson Street at Washington Square South
$25 before the event, $35 at the door
For advance tickets, go to:

About The Secret City
Part tent-revival, part-cabaret, and part ceremony, the Obie Award-winning Secret City is a place where people come to connect with the creative community of New York, and artists come to reconnect to their calling. The Secret City occupies a unique place in the heart of New York’s artistic community. Chris Wells, executive director, said he created The Secret City, “to make a special place to focus on the arts, and for everyone and anybody to connect and feel inspired.” The Secret City typically meets the last Sunday of the month at 11:30am, at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St. between Rivington and Delancey.

what i do

Yesterday, I was hanging out with my friend, Gayla, and her 18 month-old daughter, Zaeda. We had dinner yesterday after I babysat Zaeda, who is a dream.

At one point, Gayla said, “I can’t wait until she’s old enough for me to start taking her to see what our friends do. I want to be able to show her what you do and say, ‘Uncle JD makes it possible for other artists to create and present their work.'”

I was very humbled by this. It is what I do, but how often do we look at producers, curators or presenters as artists? Of course, I am a dramatist, too, so many people do see me as an artist; however, I do wonder how often presenters are viewed as being artists. Usually, when producers retain the title of ‘artist’ they are ‘artistic directors’ of not-for-profit companies. But bookers and producers often don’t fall under this definition.

Gayla reinforced what I’ve been blogging about recently. Creating community and presenting performers who generate energy that nurtures artists is a wonderfully specific art form. I enjoy doing it immensely.

Here are a few artists who curate and produce. I highly recommend all:

Shawn Randall (Symphonics)
Vallejo Ganter (PS122 & Speigletent)
Tamilla Woodard & Kibibi Dillon (LAUNCH)
Mark Russell (Under the Radar)