The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

(for the upcoming conference on Kathy Acker - might be of interest. -

The Blue Tape

I was still married to Beth and heard Kathy read and Kathy came and Beth
moved in with Ed and Bernadette had moved out or moved out then and Beth
and I had been together four and a half years more or less. Kathy and I
began writing each other; she placed me in the position of her father; I
thought she was my soulmate. Ed had a copy of her diary; I pasted the
letters in it. Later I gave it to Tom who passed it on to Chris. I don't
know where it is now. Kathy came one night when Beth left and the next day
and next few days were terrible; we made the tapes - there were more than
one - in the midst of the terror. Emily, who had been my student at
R.I.S.D., filmed the materials on an EIAJ black-and-white Sony deck, I
think 3600. They were filmed at my apartment, which Ed's brother Tom, I
think, had found us, on 16h or 17th street; perhaps it was his.

I had been working in video and writing; Kathy had been writing; I sugges-
ted we do a tape to pay for her coming out from the coast. We got a bit of
advance booking. Everything fell apart between us. She had worked in Times
Square; I suggested we explore sexuality on the tapes and she agreed. I'd
been working on and off in a messy narrative style, which I still do.
There was no editing beyond starting and stopping the camera. At least one
of the other tapes was an inverse of the one we showed.

We pushed things as far as we could. I felt needy. I hated myself.

I remember Kathy being suicidal, accidently locked out of the flat when
Emily and I took a break; she'd wanted to be alone. Neither of us were in
great shape. I forget whether we made the tapes all that day or over a
couple of days. I forget the sequence.

We showed the tapes at St. Mark's and there was dead silence afterward.
Vito was there. I think it was then that Jackson was there as well. Kathy
said You've had your fun, children, now go home. or something to that
effect. People were upset. Jackson said it was a very brave thing you
did. We showed the tape at Yale and everyone laughed. We showed the tape
at R.I.S.D. and everyone cried. At R.I.S.D. we went to an opening and
someone came on to me who had been a student and I wasn't used to that and
she came to the flat on 16th or 17th street and we had a short affair, but
that led to another story. I showed the tape at San Diego, or maybe it was
Cal Arts, or maybe both. I don't remember.

I'd never been able to watch the tape; it was too painful. It still is.
After the California showing, I said I didn't want to show it again, and
Kathy thought that was ok. (We agreed only to show the tape with mutual
consent.) I didn't for years, until it was revived and shown in various
places and I'd moved on and so had she.

I was teaching at Hartford Art School and asked David to take it in for a
grant application; he ran 'the dirty parts' for his students and swore
them to secrecy. One of the students told me, crying hysterically, at the
end of the year.

Kathy thought I was crazy and I thought she was crazy. Sometimes I'd hear
a hello from her later on. We did, back at that time, a complex electronic
piece for WBAI, again about love, control, etc., the usual subjects. It
went well but I don't think it was broadcast, but then I don't know.

I don't know where "The Blue Tape" title came from; I don't think we'd
given it/them titles, but I'm not sure.

What else? I'm glad the tape's out there and being seen again. There was a
recent article on it on the net; I thought most of it was wrong or slanted
but that's to be expected. Every time it comes up, those days come back to

And those days are long gone. Bernadette didn't speak to me again. I was
with her sister for a while. Vito and I stopped speaking. Around 1977 I
moved out of New York and around 1990 I moved back. A lot has happened
since then.

Alan Sondheim,

Work at
Trace Projects at

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