The legendary Mario Montez, one of the most well-known and beloved figures of New York's underground film and theater scene of the 1960s and 1970s, will make a very rare personal appearance at Museum of the Moving Image, on Sunday, November 13, at 6:30 p.m., as part of the day-long program "Mario Montez, Superstar." Montez will be joined onstage by Agosto Machado, another star of the New York experimental theater scene. The discussion will take place following screenings of two of Montez's greatest performances-in Andy Warhol's Screen Test #2 and Jose Rodrigues-Soltero's Lupe.
The Puerto Rico-born performer Rene Rivera adopted the name of Mario Montez as a tribute to his favorite Latina movie star, Maria Montez, because "she does everything with fire-nothing is pretended." Mario Montez first appeared in director Jack Smith's underground classic Flaming Creatures in 1962 and later became Andy Warhol's first drag superstar, starring in twelve of Warhol's films. Montez was also a favorite of the queer theater underground, appearing in plays by Charles Ludlam and John Vaccaro of the Play-House of the Ridiculous.
"Mario Montez was a compelling screen presence with an uncanny blend of playful self-awareness and genuine vulnerability, as well as humor and endless charisma," said David Schwartz, the Museum's Chief Curator.
On November 13, Museum of the Moving Image will show one of Maria Montez's most memorable films, Arabian Nights, at 4:00 p.m. Arabian Nights is Universal's first all-color feature and one of the studio's six exotic vehicles for Maria Montez. She was known as a "queen of Technicolor" and, though lacking great acting talent, she was, according to Jack Smith, "a great personality [who] believed completely in her roles." Both Smith and Mario Montez were inspired by her glamorous presence and diva personality.
Andy Warhol's Screen Test #2 and Jose Rodrigues-Soltero's Lupe (both 1966) are two classics of the 1960s underground film scene. Screen Test #2, supposedly a screen test for a version by Robert Tavel of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is an experiment in humiliation and vulnerability between director and actor. Lupe is a visually stunning depiction of the life and death of Mexican-born actress Lupe Velez. Montez's love for glamour and spectacle is apparent in this film, as he designed his own costumes and clearly took pleasure in his portrayal of the tragic star.
In addition to the screenings at Museum of the Moving Image, Mario Montez will introduce a screening of a newly restored print of Flaming Creatures at The Museum of Modern Art at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 13, as part of a Jack Smith retrospective.
SCHEDULE FOR ‘Mario Montez, SUPERSTAR'
All programs take place at Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street), Astoria, and are included with Museum admission. Museum members may reserve advance tickets by calling 718 777 6800. This program is also available online at http://www.movingimage.us/films/2011/11/13/detail/mario-montez-superstar/