Chapter 5: 1999 - 2005

Daniel J. Isengart in Jonathan Sheffer's Townhouse's Kitchen, NYC 1999
"Many people have asked me if I ever witnessed scandalous things going on in the notoriously wicked Sheffer Barley household but as I was usually too busy to pay any attention to activities outside of the kitchen I never truly witnessed anything extraordinary except for the time when their freak friend who was known for running a political non-profit strictly to fund his drug addiction left their townhouse in total disarray after house-sitting it for a week."

Daniel J. Isengart and Moby, 1999
"Poor Moby became a vagabond and was handed from one place to another until he ended up in Kentucky with David, a lovely elder bachelor who dabbled in pottery. David later told us that people in Kentucky often commented on Moby's blasé attitude to which he always replied, of course he is blasé, he was raised by fags in New York City."

Daniel J. Isengart in Drag, 1999 (Photo by Devon Cass)
"The first thing I had to do was create a drag look for myself. Not knowing how to go about it I went to talk to the effeminate sales boys at the Patricia Fields boutique. They were interested in types, they knew that there were elegant queens and mad queens and dramatic queens but neither of them could make up their mind as to what kind of queen I should be. Finally they shook their heads and said, it's a pity, such a pretty boy and now he wants to do drag just like everybody else."

Daniel J. Isengart with Maria and Peter Riva at the Museum of Radio and Television, NYC 2001
"It was the premiere of a new documentary about Marlene Dietrich. My memory of it is very vivid. There was Marlene Dietrich's daughter Maria Riva and the two Dietrich grandsons and a great grandson who was tall with long blond hair like Dietrich's. I performed in black top hat and tails that Kathy Zuckerman had rented for me and Maria Riva looked up and listened carefully as I sang Johnny Wenn Du Geburtstag Hast."

Subway Platform, 86th Street, NYC 2001
"There had always been many homeless in New York but now that Filip Noterdaeme encountered them every day on the subway to and from work, feeling quite miserable himself, the tragedy of homelessness began to weigh on him. This was the beginning of his most revolutionary work, the Homeless Museum."

Daniel J. Isengart at Café Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie, NYC 2001
"I became very fond of performing at the Neue for two reasons, the excellent Linzer torte and the paycheck with the extra digit that made all the difference."

Daniel J. Isengart with Hillary Clinton, East Hampton 2001
"After dinner, there was the customary photo-op with the staff. It was a strange moment. Bill Clinton was more than a little tipsy but like all successful politicians he had perfected the technique of holding a beaming dimpled smile for the cameras. I distinctly saw him lock the corners of his mouth into position. I was asked to stand next to Hillary Clinton who posed with a barely audible sigh and did not look at me once. She appeared to have not had a moment for herself in a very long time."

Filip Noterdaeme's Drawing for Thomas Krens, 2003
"This brings me to the story of the first open letter Filip Noterdaeme wrote as the museum director. It was addressed to Thomas Krens, the director of the Guggenheim Museum. In the letter, he proposed an extraordinary partnership and asked him to let the Homeless Museum establish headquarters on the rooftop of the Guggenheim building on Fifth Avenue."
To read Noterdaeme's "Open Letters", click here.

The HOMU Board of Trustees, Brooklyn 2003
"In the meanwhile Filip Noterdaeme poured himself one whiskey after another to stay awake. We kept filming and restaging things and it went on and on until night turned into day. After a silent vote and a vote count, we ended the board meeting video with Filip Noterdaeme declaring a tie and saying that the meeting had to be adjourned. Then Filip Noterdaeme had to put on a fresh suit and rush to work and I went to bed."
To watch the video, click here

The Barcelona Chair at the Barcelona Pavilion

Floquet De Neu at The Barcelona Zoo

HOMU Life Trustee Floquet de Neu in East Hampton, 2003
"In all those years I had been visiting my parents in Barcelona I had never been to the zoo but Filip Noterdaeme insisted that no one could visit Barcelona without seeing Barcelona's living mascot, Floquet de Neu, Snowflake the albino gorilla. We went and Floquet was there doing everyday things and he was looking at us and we were looking at him. It was a great performance. Naturally we had to buy a plush Floquet de Neu at the souvenir shop and Filip Noterdaeme began thinking of what it would be like if Floquet and the white Barcelona chair were to switch roles for one day. Just imagine, he said, Floquet would do everyday things at the Barcelona Pavillion and meanwhile the white Barcelona Chair would be on display in the gorilla cage. Poor Floquet died of skin cancer not very much later without ever having seen the Barcelona Pavilion or the white chair."

The HOMU Board Members, East Hampton, 2003
"Then it was time for a group photo with the HOMU board members and I once again had to improvise a Madame Butterfly costume. This time I used Eric Ellenbogen's Frette sheets for a kimono, black leather napkin rings and chopsticks from his dining set for a geisha wig and white clown make-up from a drugstore in East Hampton to make up my face."

Daniel J. Isengart and Filip Noterdaeme photographed by Steven Speliotis, 2003
"Later when we looked at the prints we liked the one with my eyes closed and we liked the one with my eyes open but we particularly liked the double portrait Steven Speliotis had taken of me and Filip Noterdaeme at the end of the session as a spontaneous little favor."

The $0 Collection at the Inauguration of the Homeless Museum of Art, Chelsea 2003
"I have hopes that one day Filip Noterdaeme might be doing a $0 arrangement under original artworks in a museum, in other words bring his $0 Collection to a million dollar collection."
To find out more about The $0 Collection, click here.

Filip Noterdaeme and Glenn Lowry at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC 2004
"Filip Noterdaeme and Glenn Lowry had difficulty in talking not having a common language but they talked enough to confront each other. Filip Noterdaeme chided Glenn Lowry for failing the Modern's mission to make art accessible to a wide array of people, concluding that he had expanded the museum physically but shrunk it spiritually."
To read more about the "Penny Campaign", click here.

Filip Noterdaeme with Maurizio Cattelan, The Armory Show, NYC 2005
"The Armory Show opened and Filip Noterdaeme sat at his booth in his Paul Smith suit and wearing the fake beard and thoroughly enjoying talking and listening attentively to one stranger after another and not caring one bit for what they said. The wicked rickety plywood booth stood out among the sleek Armory Show exhibits and many artists and collectors and curators with tired feet sat down on the little kindergarten chair in front of the booth."

The Main Hall at the Homeless Museum, Brooklyn 2005
"We began transforming 172 Clinton Street into a live-in museum. Our friends said, but your apartment doesn't look like a museum. It will, Filip Noterdaeme said."
To find out more about the Homeless Museum in Brooklyn, click here.

Daniel J. Isengart with Meow Meow, Joe's Pub, NYC 2006
"It is very difficult now that everybody is accustomed to everything to give some idea of the kind of uneasiness one felt when seeing Meow Meow perform for the first time, she broke so many boundaries of the cabaret world. It is true that she usually performed in cabarets but she was not really a cabaret entertainer, she was a deconstructivist performance artist disguised as a cabaret diva. It was this additional level and her australian outrageousness that made all the difference and set her apart from everybody else."

To continue to Chapter 6, click here.

The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart is available in local bookstores and on AMAZON.