THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DANIEL J. ISENGART by Filip Noterdaeme
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
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
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
To continue to Chapter 6, click here.
The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart is available in local bookstores and on AMAZON.