Nightlife supports a diverse group of characters. I’ve yet to meet one that isn’t flawed or deviant. Some may pretend to be businessmen or artists, but if you see past the eyes, ignore most of the words, and look for what lays deep within, you’ll discover the force that drives them to the night. I was taught this many years ago by a man people saw as a giant, though he was actually quite little. He said “to find these ‘faults’ was to find the key to controlling the man.” The “faults” are defined by society, or, more importantly, by the creature of the night themselves. They often live in both the spotlight and the shadows of the night, because of a secret that made them obsessed with the drug called nightclubbing. So many are drawn to its addictive charms that lives are constructed around it, careers made from it. It really should be taught in schools, as there are many people doing it and lots of loot to be made.
Personally, I’ve been majorly attracted to the faults and deviancies of these characters. (The masks are usually so mundane.) Often, it’s the only reason to associate with some folks. The tough guys that I could see were bottom queens I simply adored. The club barons, who could barely spell their names or calculate a proper tip at dinner, were oh-so-cute. The drunks that could have been lawyers or statesmen if not for the drink were always charming. There were those shy mid-western girls pretending to be sex sirens. The hotties that came to NYC to be models only to become waitresses or mistresses, finding joy and “suck-sess” in the lie. The promoters were always the cutest. Macho men pretending they came from somewhere swell, or that their parents were proud of them, or that they were really educated or truly cultured, creating one-act characters to lure all the babes to the bars. Whether their A.D.D., a coke habit, or lack of anything more than a pretty face and a few funny jokes kept them out of the real business world is as irrelevant as a diploma—which they rarely had.
Nightlife’s common thread is that we are all comfortable with the uncommon. The music, booze, and other distractions are such good smoke screens for what they all might have been. Hanging with celebrities and accomplished folk over over-priced bottles doesn’t actually mean you have accomplished much of anything. Today I’ll introduce you to a lady that really needs no introduction to the downtown scene. She is in the business and on a personal journey to expose herself, discover herself and in the process, and entertain us all.
Heather Litteer is an actress, singer, and performance artist. Originally a Georgia Peach, she burst onto the club scene with her wild, fiery mane—and hasn’t stopped, from dancing in the Limelight cages to being the daughter of the now legendary Jackie Factory, where she performed weekly as Jessica Rabbit. Jessica Rabbit was the go-go girl swaying in the background at the downtown Penny Arcade spoken word/performance art showcase. She can be a singer, an actress, or a doorperson at a fabulous soiree. She comes off as a girl who can do anything—and might, if you ask right. I’ve know her an impossibly long time, and every time I see her I need to pause and figure out whether I’m meeting Jessica Rabbit, or Heather Litter herself. I always get the feeling that it’s just shy of a ‘United States of Tara’ situation, but since I adore all her personas it really doesn’t matter much.
In past years, she’s toured internationally with a theater company called Big Art Group and performed in an array of theater and film productions, including Requiem for a Dream, The Ballad of Bettie Page, In the Cut, and The New Twenty. She’s in the independent film Orphans and will be doing a horror movie this summer.
On July 11th, she is curating and producing a reading series at the Wild Project along side Jo Welson called W.O.(e).R.D., which stands for Women Of Experience Read Downtown, and she’ll be making a special appearance at BES on Sunday, June 27th for gay pride.
Where does Jessica Rabbit begin and Heather end? Or visa-versa? Jessica and Heather are the same person! Oh, ok: Jessica Rabbit can do anything she wants to; Rabbit is like a character that I could take with me anywhere I wanted to. She is like a super hero. She could say anything she wanted, dance any way she wanted, pretty much do anything she wanted. She was wild on every account and made no excuses for anything—an absolute deviant, giving me power outside of myself and an excuse. I would say things like, “That wasn’t me that was Rabbit!” People even say from time-to-time that I am getting Rabbitty! Heather is the real me, the sweet and creamy center who’s a lot more soft! Heather is a sweet girl with a real NYC edge, but the heart of a steel magnolia. I love to love and be loved, and Jessica is my fiery party girl! I can rely on both to get me where I need to go.
Tell me about the Jackie/Mother experience and your role/relationship with Johnny (Dynell) and Chi Chi (Valenti). I basically grew up on the Jackie Stage! Chi Chi and Johnny are my NYC Mommy and Daddy and I am their daughter. Chi Chi and Johnny taught me so much about performance and how to do a wickedly fierce show with style and grace. Their attitude towards performance is like no other, they are so supportive and giving in every way. Jackie gave me the freedom to express (and boy did I express), the freedom of living out fantasy. It was a haven for the artist to just be and be appreciated within the confines of a supportive NYC nightlife family. I will always hold those times close to my heart. They groomed me to be the artist I am today!
What drives you to be this performance/sex kitten character? I was born a sex kitten, I think I came out of the womb wearing stilettos. I was sent home in the 3rd grade for wearing my mothers high heels, and in High school, for my mini skirts. I really identify with my sexuality. I have a really high libido and am in love with being in love! This comes out in my performance so easily—its just an innate part of me. The fiery dance, the voice, the walk: I just came packaged like this. I don’t know any other way, which also makes it very hard for relationships.
Having relationships is difficult for a gal in this biz. It takes a really strong man to be able handle me and my stage persona. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like a strong man and one that is supportive enough to love for me and who ever I choose to be on any particular day. I’m the kind of person that will give back tenfold.
What role do clubs play in your artistic goals? Clubs have been essential to my growth as an artist. They give you a stage, a light, and a bevy of supportive audience members. Here in NYC, it’s where you can get your start. You can own the stage and do just about whatever your heart desires. You do things on your own terms and can be free of the regular constraints, the mundane. In clubs you own it and nobody owns you!
You have seen it all. What have you seen that has shocked you? Actually, you are right, nothing really shocks me any more. I just love NYC. It’s my symphony and I want to play every part. But the aftermath of the Black Party, when it had a Mexican Wrestling theme, did really have a lasting effect on my senses. There was hay everywhere.
Anything you would like to add? I know there’s little bit of Rabbit around every corner. Hip, hop, and a wiggle! Photo: Aaron Cobbett