Today I am in New York Magazine. There is an incredibly “high def” photo of me where I look quite a bit like a gelfling though I also look kind of tragic and high. I also did a short interview with them about the Lower East Side, but they only printed two questions so, for your entertainment, I’m posting it here:
What do you do? I am an Art Star, open mike host and author. My book is called Live Nude Elf. It’s a filthy book with a lot of heart. I also live in a Troll Museum though I haven’t bee taking visitors lately.
Why do you do it? Because I can’t do anything else.
How did you get started doing that? My mother induced labor by riding the teacups at the Enchanted Forest Amusement Park outside of Baltimore and I think I’ve been a little odd ever since. My father taught me to draw and the tabloids my mother brought home from the grocery store inspired me to write. I started my first zine when I was 11. It was called “Jen Magazine.”
When did you start? At birth. How long have you been doing it? Forever. How old are you (if you don’t mind that question.) 37 in human years, but I am probably 3,700 in elf years.
You wear elf ears a lot – why do you do that? I’m not sure the exact reason why I first started wearing them. It was 1992, I was in art school and I think it had something to do with wanting to counteract all of the conformist nonconformity I saw there. Plus, elves are pretty.
When did you start? How did that start? Oh yeah, I have another theory that maybe I was possessed by an elf who put me in a trance and sent me to the store to buy them.
You want to be an elf? Why? What is it about elves that you like? As mentioned above, elves are pretty. When getting dressed, I ask myself: Is this pretty? If the answer is yes, I put it on.
What neighborhood do you live in? The Lower East Side.
What neighborhood do you hang out in? The Lower East Side.
What do you like about it? Not much but I can’t afford to move to Bushwick. I do love the fact that on the Lower East Side, it’s possible to obtain a psychic reading, a vibrator and a falafel all within a two-block radius and I also love Bowery Poetry Club where I put on my shows. Mostly though, I stay home and throw parties where folk bands play in the bathtub that’s in a closet in my kitchen. I’m kind of like the Great Gatsby if he had no money and wore elf ears.
What makes a great neighborhood? Cheap but good food, dive bars, artists, places to make art, bodegas where you can still get stuff like Tropical Fantasy soda and forties of King Cobra, 99-cent stores and rent-stabilization laws that prevent said great neighborhoods from becoming cesspools for normals. Most importantly, a great neighborhood should have a colorful mix of people of all ages, races, religions, ethnicities, beliefs and ear-shapes.
Are you sort of a neighborhood fixture? Yes. No one down here even asks me about my elf ears anymore. I talk to everyone and Reverend Jen Junior, my Chihuahua, barks at everyone. My neighbors are incredibly friendly especially the people who work on Orchard Street. They always notice when Reverend Jen Junior has a new outfit on or if I go away for a while, they ask me about it. When my appendix ruptured, the pizza guy, Sal Rosario sent me a card. There’s a lot of love in this hood despite the “Dark Towers of Mordor” being built everywhere.
Do people notice you on the street? Yep. When tourists do, I think they feel a sense of satisfaction that they got to see a real New York City freak.
Do they react to you? In what ways? They take a quick glance but most people are too shy to talk to me unless they are wasted and then, I don’t really wanna talk to them. Sometimes people recognize me from my cable access show, The Adventures of Electra Elf or from my book, but no one ever asks me for my autograph, which is a shame.