Created and performed by Chazz Dean and James Siena

The Pyramid Club, NYC     September 1985

Additional performances*:
December 1985 – The Pyramid Club, NYC
January 1986 – The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, NYC
April 1986 – Franklin Furnace, NYC
May 1986 – Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
October 1986 – The Cat Club, NYC
January 1987 – The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, NYC
March 1987 – The Bottom Line, NYC
May 1987 – boygirlboygirl, Palladium, NYC
September 1987 – Fringe Festival, Oranges/Sardines, Los Angeles, CA
January 1988 – The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, NYC
Date unknown:
1986 – No Entiendes, Danceteria, NYC
1986 – Downtown Dukes and Divas, Limelight, NYC
1986 – No Entiendes, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
1986 – No Entiendes, Limelight, London
1986 – No Entiendes, Heaven, London
1987 – No Entiendes, Palladium, NYC
1987 – No Entiendes, Tunnel, NYC
1987 – No Entiendes, Area, NYC
1987 – The Dangerous Film Club, Cinemax Cable Network

stiq
Created and performed by Chazz Dean, Melanie Monios, Iris Rose, and James Siena

The Kitchen, NYC      February 1986




Additional performances*:
May 1986 – Darinka, NYC
April 1986 – The Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
June 1986 – Avant-Garde-Arama, PS 122, NYC
July July 1986 – Full Moon Show, PS 122, NYC
July 1986 – PepsiCo Summerfare, State University of New York at Purchase, NY
July 1986 – Watchface’s Greatest Hits, Gates of Dawn, NYC
September 1986 – Watchface’s Greatest Hit, Darinka, NYC
October 1986 – One Nite Stands, La MaMa, NYC
October 1986 – The Bottom Line, NYC
March 1987 – The Bottom Line, NYC
March 1987 – The Village Gate, NYC
Date unknown:
1986 – Limelight, NYC
1987 – No Entiendes, Danceteria, NYC

Stereotype
Dads
Police and Thieves
Fags
Art Types
Bridge and Tunnel
Modification of the Cartoon
Introductions
Service
Religion

Stereotype in Quad
Bridge and Tunnel
Fags
Fag Hags
Performers
Art Types
Service
Moms and Dads
Religion

The 1983 show 1984: The Future Repeats Itself was an hour and a half long and contained 27
sections, but one of the most memorable was a brief, rhythmic section called A Mind is a
Terrible Thing to Waste
. Chazz Dean and James Siena created a humorous movement
routine, energetically performed to a 4/4 beat, that was made up of Emblems (for detailed
descriptions of the techniques in green, see METHOD) based on a discussion of ways that
smart but undereducated people make use of their intelligence. These included Raising a
Large Family on a Budget, Music, Bible Study, Getting Things for Free, Cheap Entertainment,
and Repairing Machinery.

After Iris Rose directed 1984: The Future Repeats Itself and House of Jahnke, which employed
all of the eventual members of Watchface, she announced her decision to create a piece
based on the novel Little Women, using only the female members of the group. James and
Chazz, who wanted to continue performing, decided to create their own complementary
two-man piece called Boys Will Be Men. Inspired by, and taking its name from, a quaint
book of etiquette for boys written in 1942, it had sections devoted to many aspects of
masculinity, including fatherhood. For that section, they used stereotypical statements
made by fathers for the text and rhythmic Emblems, which they renamed Remblems, to
provide the movement. With the creation of Dads, Chazz and James established what
became their signature performance style. Since only one technique was used, the structure
of their pieces came from the way in which the Remblems were combined. They were
usually repeated, sometimes in unison; at other times, two different ones were performed
simultaneously. A Remblem performed once and not repeated was often used for
beginnings, endings, or punctuation between longer, repetitive portions.

Dads, like A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste, was very popular with audiences, so Chazz and
James decided to create a show called Stereotype in which all the sections would be
manufactured by this same process. They came up with just three sections to start but with
the intention of making additions or subtractions at will and using the show to take
advantage of the abundant short performance opportunities in the city at the time,
especially at fundraising benefits and club shows. In terms of its mobility and direct
engagement with the audience, Chazz has described Stereotype as feeling more like a
band than a play or performance. And like a band, they occasionally added new numbers
but also kept bringing back the hits for the fans. The shows were an energetic ten minutes or
less; they were over “before they had time to wear out their welcome,” as Chazz described it,
though they also may have seemed longer than ten minutes to some audience members
because they were so densely packed with constant action.

For the first performance of Stereotype at the Pyramid Club in September 1985, Chazz and
James repeated Dads from Boys Will Be Men and created two new sections: Police and
Thieves
(occasionally referred to as Justice and Crime) and Fags. Chazz chose the latter
because, as a gay man, he was especially familiar with the stereotypes associated with
homosexuality. Since a majority of the Pyramid Club audience was also gay, he believed
they would appreciate, and be amused by, the references. One of the sections added later,
Art Types, represented James’ turn as a painter to represent – and mock – his “own people.”

The title, Stereotype, had a double meaning. Each section mined the cultural associations of
its chosen subject, positive and negative, true and false. The humor often came from the
audience’s familiarity with the representations of each “type.” But the title also referred to
the fact that the two men were performing in stereo, executing the same words and actions
at the same time, or contrasting words and actions side-by-side. The consistent beat meant
that each unit took the same length of time to execute, which made them interchangeable,
like building blocks. For James, the rhythm was a big part of Stereotype’s appeal to the
audience and the performers. “I just liked doing things to a beat,” James remembers.

The usual Stereotype costume was a combination of male and female – often an
unglamorous form of female clothing, like housedresses or Catholic school uniforms – worn
with white socks and heavy, black men’s shoes. It wasn’t drag per se; they wore no wigs or
makeup, and sometimes the top half was literally masculine – a suit jacket or a “wife beater”
undershirt. They decided to wear skirts for ease of movement, to create an androgynous
signature look, and as an ironic, low-key nod to the over-the-top drag for which the Pyramid
Club was known. Later variations included performing bare-chested with big flouncy skirts or
wearing women’s slips, but always with the big black shoes.

Following the first of three annual New Year’s Day performances at the St. Mark’s Poetry
Project, James and Chazz were asked to perform as part of No Entiendes (”you don’t
understand” in Spanish), a regularly scheduled cabaret night at the nightclub Danceteria
and the brainchild of the club’s doorman, Haoui Montaug. Instead of using the name
Stereotype, Haoui and his cohost Anita Sarko usually introduced Chazz and James as “The
Dancing Poets.” They became a regular part of the No Entiendes lineup, which also
included John Sex, Dean and the Weenies (with Dean Johnson), Frieda, The Me Generation
(a group of Haoui’s close friends, whose elaborate production numbers closed most shows),
and Karen Finley. There was a looseness to the style of much of the cabaret performance of
that era, and audiences seemed to appreciate the well rehearsed and sharply timed style of
“The Dancing Poets,” who remained with the show even when it eventually moved to other
nightclubs including Tunnel, Area, and the Palladium.

Haoui was asked by the Institute of Contemporary Arts to bring the No Entiendes cabaret to
London. In keeping with its club origins, he also booked the show at the London branch of
the Limelight chain of nightclubs and at the famous London disco Heaven. James
commented at the time that they were doing shows in both Heaven and Hell, since
Limelight was a notorious club in a former church. Besides the usual performers that made
up the shows at Danceteria, the London lineup included David Cale, whose witty, sincere
monologues and subtle acting were an odd fit for the raucous cabaret show.

After the first performance at ICA, the British authorities banned Karen Finley from performing
her controversial work, so she returned to America ahead of schedule. A recording of her
piece, however, was played every night of the run, with a lone spotlight illuminating an
empty stool center stage. David Cale decided his work was out of place, and he returned
home as well. The remaining participants continued on for the rest of the run, which
included one show in which John Sex performed fellatio briefly on two audience members
who came up on stage, an act that somehow escaped the notice of the British authorities.
No Entiendes set list for London
Palladium mailer

Other memorable Stereotype bookings included performing at New York City’s own
Limelight as part of Gabriel Rotello’s Downtown Dukes and Divas; in the Palladium’s Mike
Todd Room for Dean Johnson’s boygirlboygirl show; Details magazine mention in a glass case at
Tribeca nightclub Area; for students at Sarah Lawrence College; as the opening act for the
Del Fuego’s at the Bottom Line music venue; and at the Cat Club as part of a fundraiser for
the club 8BC, which had recently been closed by the authorities. Stereotype also appeared
in a performance series called The Glorious Dream of Wisdom that Chazz originated and
curated at one of the restaurants where he worked, Bandito Ditto. Others who participated in
the series included They Might Be Giants, Syd Straw, David McDermott, chanteuse Edwidge,
and Kim X Knowlton and Maggie Siena’s Twins.

James was generally the contact person for those wishing to book Stereotype. Once a new
gig was scheduled, Chazz and James would discuss which sections they wanted to perform
and whether they would create a new one for the occasion. Despite their high energy level,
the pair performed fairly close together within a small area, traveling only slightly in one
direction or another but always returning back to the starting position. The limited rehearsal
space available to them – Iris and James’ living room – was therefore sufficient. When
James and Chazz did decide to create a new piece, they would take a night to plan it out
and come up with the rhythmic phrases, then separate to work out Remblems and memorize
their particular parts. Finally, they would get back together to rehearse until the new section
was ready for an audience. Stereotype sections that were later added included
Introductions, Modification of the Cartoon, and Bridge and Tunnel.

In February 1986, James and Chazz were asked to present a longer Stereotype show for a
series at The Kitchen, 8BC Nights curated by Cornelius Conboy and Dennis Gattra of 8BC.
Kitchen mailer They asked Melanie Monios and Iris to help them and renamed the show
Stereotype in Quad. To expand the material, they decided to perform all the sections they
had created to date, teaching the female team members the Remblems for Bridge and
Tunnel
and having them create counterparts to two existing sections: Moms, to be integrated
into Dads, and Fag Hags, as a compliment to Fags. Kitchen program Rather than change the
uniform, both the men and the women simply wore coordinated dresses with similar chunky
black shoes.

All four performers also worked together on two larger-scale sections whose subjects were
Service and Religion. With the addition of Iris and Melanie, the possibilities for different
combinations in organizing the Remblems increased exponentially. The four performers
could execute the same Remblem in unison, two pairs perform two different Remblems,
each of the four do their own individual Remblem, or one member take a solo while the
other three performed as a chorus.
Service Remblem list
Service script

They later presented this new four-person incarnation of Stereotype at the Johnson Museum
at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and opened for They Might Be Giants at Darinka in
the East Village. At PS 122, Stereotype in Quad appeared at both Avant-Garde-Arama
Avant-Garde-Arama mailer and the Full Moon Show. Full Moon Show postcard

The four performers were asked to perform Stereotype in Quad as last-minute replacements
on a program entitled “New Voices in Dance” at the PepsiCo Summerfare festival on the
State University of New York at Purchase campus. Summerfare mailer cover This higher-profile,
more lucrative gig led to an important turning point; those handling promotion for the festival
insisted that the group have a name. Up to this point, all publicity had simply listed the
names of the performers, but they could see how having a name would not only make
promotion easier, it would solidify the group identity. Chazz, Kurt Fulton, Kim X Knowlton,
Melanie, Iris, James, and Maggie Siena convened a meeting to officially commit themselves
as members of a group and come up with a suitable name for this new entity. They threw
out ideas, went their separate ways and compiled lists, reconvened to read their lists aloud
and narrowed them down to a few favorites. They took a few more days to mull over the
final decision, with the option of bringing in fresh ideas. When they finally met to settle on the
name, Melanie’s new suggestion of Watchface was the unanimous winner. Their first
performance as Watchface was a collection of their favorite sections from the shows they
had already done. They called it Watchface’s Greatest Hits and among the hits was the
recently created Service from Stereotype in Quad. Gates of Dawn postcard

The Summerfare show was notable for another reason – it was the first time a Watchface
performance excited controversy. Summerfare thank you card Removed from its insular
downtown environment, where largely gay audiences watching Fags were in on the joke,
the section’s stereotyping of gay men was shocking. One man stopped James and Chazz
after the performance. “I happen to be gay,” he said, “and what you did was despicable.”

“Well, I happen to be gay, too,” responded Chazz. The three of them talked for a while and
the performers encouraged the man to attend some of their performances in the city. He did
and was later won over, becoming a Watchface fan.

Stereotype in Quad, on a double bill with Kim X Knowlton and Maggie Siena’s Ralph and
Louie’s Bad Habits
, inaugurated La MaMa’s One Nite Stands series in their new “club”
converted from a storage space in their basement. One Nite Stands program Stereotype in
Quad
also opened for They Might Be Giants again at a much bigger venue, The Village
Gate, and for both Jonathan Richman and The Lounge Lizards at the Bottom Line.
Village Gate flyer

In April 1987, as part of the Spring ’87 Collection at La MaMa, Watchface created a piece
called Septaphonic, which included all seven members of the group and included
Stereotype-inspired sections. Later in 1987, HBO approached Chazz and James about
filming various Stereotypes to include in a new Cinemax show called The Dangerous Film
Club
, a collection of short films, cartoons, old educational filmstrips, and other oddities,
hosted by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. Other than the host, James and Chazz were
the only ones recorded specifically for the program, and they appeared on each episode.
Though the show was short-lived, the experience was very positive and brought the
Watchface style, or at least the Remblem, to a national audience.

For James and Chazz, this led to a related job, writing and performing a series of promotional
advertisements for Cinemax. One, in which they stood amidst towers of cardboard boxes
energetically reenacting lines from classic films, won a Clio award and was included on
several later TV specials celebrating classic commercials.
 
 
* Stereotype and Stereotype in Quad were performed many times in many venues. The list
of additional performances above represents only those that were most memorable or
well-documented.