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‘Make Me Famous’: The Rise and Fall of the East Village Art Scene
Episode 23910th October 2023 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 00:57:10

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Does the name Keith Haring ring any bells? How about Jean-Michel Basquiat? In the 1980s, New York was home to some of the art world’s biggest celebrities. But what does this iconic era look like from the perspective of someone who never “made it”?

On today’s podcast episode, host and NOT REAL ART founder Scott “Sourdough” Power sits down with Brian Vincent and Heather Spore to discuss the duo’s latest documentary, Make Me Famous. Directed and edited by Brian and produced by Heather, the film follows the rise and fall of the East Village art scene from the unlikely perspective of Edward Brezinski, a decidedly un-famous neo-expressionist painter who worked alongside Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat but never quite reached the same levels of success.

“[There] was a duality that [artists like Edward Brezinski] had,” says Brian. “They both wanted to be famous and they also didn’t want to look like they were selling out.” 

“We live in a world where money is so lifted up,” adds Heather. “You’re successful because you have money. We think there’s heroism in just giving your all to your art. We think that the world needs a little more of that right now. I think there’s inspiration in looking at a creative moment in American history, in New York City, in the ’80s, in the East Village, with this group of punk, angsty youth just trying to do something with their lives.”

In today’s episode, Brian and Heather open up about their project, unpacking why such a well-connected artist never became widely known. They also discuss the commodification of fame, the instrumental role that rare archival footage plays in Make Me Famous, and how the film creates a window into a pivotal moment in art history.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The kind of famous Edward Brezinski would be in today’s social media age.
  • Fame as a commodity that artists could use to get more work.
  • The Make Me Famous timeline and what it was like to work with artists rather than actors.
  • How the concept for the film evolved (and how it was originally conceived of as a play).
  • A look at the veritable treasure trove of archival footage that makes the film what it is.
  • Some pivotal moments and surprising milestones in the making of Make Me Famous.
  • From actors to filmmakers: a glimpse into Brian and Heather’s personal journeys.
  • The punk do-it-yourself spirit of 1980s New York that the film encapsulates.
  • How the story developed in multiple directions before zeroing in on Brezinski.
  • Challenges that accompanied working with Brezinski’s close acquaintances.
  • Some light-hearted speculation about what Brezinski would think of this film.
  • Why the best advice Heather could have given her younger self is no advice.
  • Making art history fun: the best compliment our guests received about the film.
  • The inspiration that even non-art-lovers will take from Make Me Famous.

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