THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DANIEL J. ISENGART by Filip Noterdaeme
Chapter 7: On the Street 2008 - 2010
Daniel J. Isengart Performing at MoMA, NYC 2008
"The next thing that happened was Sara Bodinson
calling and saying, I have told everyone at the Modern
about Foreign Affairs and they want you to put together
a cabaret night for the current exhibit, Kirchner and the
Berlin Street. Naturally I was all for it. I created a cabaret
named The Boulevard of Berlin Dreams, and it was
To watch a video of the event, click here.
Filip Noterdaeme's Mission on the Bowery, NYC 2008
"The Sunshine Hotel was on the New Museum's right and the
Bowery Mission on its left. Filip Noterdaeme set up his
booth between the New Museum and the Bowery Mission
and began his long apprenticeship of sitting on the
chair of solitude and listening to strangers. The street performance, his first of that kind, became known as Mission
on the Bowery and it was the beginning of the Homeless
Museum changing from being a museum for insiders to
being a museum for outsiders. It was not much later that
it became a museum for everybody."
To read The New York Times' article about Mission on the Bowery, click here.
Filip Noterdaeme and Penny Arcade, 2009
"Filip Noterdaeme delighted in Penny Arcade. The
two talked a great deal during the bus ride and when Filip
Noterdaeme told Penny that he had been feeling very
self-absorbed lately she said, oh Filip an artist can never
be self-absorbed enough. She then told him of something
Quentin Crisp used to say to her and which she loved to
quote in Quentin Crisp's voice, Miss Arcade, time is kind to us nonconformists."
Promotional Shot for Foreign Affairs at the Night Hotel featuring Daniel J. Isengart and Lady Rizo, NYC 2009
"Not wanting to host the show by myself again
I asked Lady Rizo to be my co-hostess. It was going to be
her first New York residency and she was excited, evidently
even more excited and amused than I. It was for
this occasion that Liz Liguori shot the very fine double
portrait of the two of us on the white leather sofa. Lady
Rizo leaned over me and asked solemnly, do you like my
mascara. I hesitated, why yes, I am wearing the same."
Filip Noterdaeme, Meow Meow and Tommy Tune at Foreign Affairs at the Night Hotel, NYC 2009
"Tommy Tune came to the new Foreign Affairs. He
sat next to Filip Noterdaeme and leaning over whispered
to him, I have just been named a New York Landmark."
Filip Noterdaeme at Marie-Puck Broodthaers's Galerie, Brussels, 2009
"She showed us around the gallery on the ground floor and Filip Noterdaeme immediately
recognized La Souris Écrit Rat, a print by her
father showing a shadowgraph of a cat. Marie-Puck went
upstairs to pour some prosecco for us. Suddenly a little
black cat appeared and leaned against Filip Noterdaeme's
leg. Without delay he picked her up and posed with her
in front of the print in perfect imitation of the shadowgraph."
Filip Noterdaeme at the Waldorf Astoria, NYC 2009
"After a long day of doing more mindless things and
having been served stale sandwiches from the Waldorf
Astoria kitchen we were finally released to our hotel room
and there Filip Noterdaeme and I had a serious talk. I
have not, he said, survived in New York for 20 years to
become a human signpost. We discussed for a long time
all the different angles of the situation, the rent to be paid
and the dignity to be saved, and in the end we decided the
only thing left for us to do was to simply leave. When, I
said. Now, said he, I am ready. By that time it was three
o'clock in the morning and we had to escape the Waldorf
Astoria through the back door like thieves."
Daniel J. Isengart Performing at Foreign Affairs, The Night Hotel, NYC, 2009
"It was only a few weeks later that I fell off the little
Foreign Affairs stage while singing a Grace Jones song,
I'm Not Perfect. Something happened and I lost my footing
and fell dangerously, landing painfully on my back.
Naturally I instantly jumped up again and went on with
the show. (...) After Lady Rizo and I closed the show as usual with Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side we all stood around in the locker room downstairs and I said, I believe I broke a rib. No darling you have not, Amber Martin said to me
sweetly, all you need is a nice hot bath and some herbal
tea. It was an interesting case of the kind of denial one can
observe in America where optimism all too often has to
stand in for a health insurance. Sweetheart, I said, what I
need is not a hot bath, what I need is an x-ray."
Filip Noterdaeme and Marina Abramovic at a Kreemart Event at Haunch of Venison, NYC 2009
"Filip Noterdaeme never wished Marina Abramovic
away. Once when he and Sara Bodinson were talking
about Marina's retrospective at the Modern he said, yes,
Abramovic and Sarah Palin, they are the incomprehensibles
whom anybody can understand. He also said that the
Museum of Modern Art could be renamed the Museum
of Marina Abramovic and still be MoMA, that way there
would be a wax museum on 42nd Street and a quack museum on 53rd Street."
Filip Noterdaeme and the New HOMU Booth under the High Line, NYC 2010
"He had returned to the street because he wished to
live deliberately and front the essence of the other. More
than anything he wanted to find out what people meant by
what they said. He used to be interested in what they were,
he was now interested in what they said, he said. Having
Florence at his side helped him a great deal. He used to
say, she is the one who listens and I am the one who does
all the talking. Hello, he would say into his microphone
to no one in particular, my name is Filip Noterdaeme and
I am legendary, and he said it with that inscrutable air he
sometimes had that let one guess whether he expressed
sarcasm or ecstasy, or parody of one or the other."
To read The Huffington Post's article about HOMU on the High Line, click here.
Promotional Shot of Daniel J. Isengart's one man show, The Importance of Being Elvis (Photo by Holly Daggers), NYC 2010
"Filip Noterdaeme said, do something that
nobody would expect you to do. Why don't you, he said,
sing Elvis Presley songs. I thought about it and the more
I thought it and the more I liked it more. Finally I said,
I'll do it, and I will call the show The Importance of Being
Elvis. It was a sincerely insincere title. I used my distorted
interpretation of Rock 'n' Roll simply as irony had
been used in Weimar Cabaret."
Daniel J. Isengart at Joe's Pub, NYC 2010
"In the front row sat an elegant
petite blonde woman in a black jacket anxiously
looking up at me. It was after the fourth song that she suddenly
jumped up and grabbing my arm called out, what
about Heartbreak Hotel. Lady, I said, the show is not
over yet. But will you sing it already, she lamented, I have
come from far away to see this show and I am the founding
president of the very first Elvis Presley fan club. Everybody
laughed and cheered. I kissed the woman's hand
and she sat down and then I sang Heartbreak Hotel. I say
I sang it but I sang it in german. For years I had translated
foreign songs into english for my american audiences and
now I was making the most known american song foreign
for them so they could once again hear it as if for the first
The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart is available in local bookstores and on AMAZON.