See Michael Holman’s ‘Confessions of a Subculturalist’ at Southampton Arts Center

Portrait of Michael Holman in the living room by Rob Northway
Portrait of Michael Holman in the living room by Rob Northway, Courtesy Southampton Arts Center

This Friday, March 24, artist, filmmaker, writer and musician Michael Holman is bringing his spoken word performance Confessions of a Subculturalist, which recalls his personal experiences as an artist in New York City as well as his archives and their collective importance to world culture, to the Southampton Arts Center stage.

Holman’s 90-minute performance, featuring short storytelling augmented by film, video and projected photographs, takes the audience on an exploratory journey into contemporary, American pop and underground urban culture. His story includes creating the world’s first nationally syndicated hip hop TV show, Graffiti Rock, in 1984 with internationally celebrated dance crew The New York City Breakers, rapper Kool Moe Dee and the first ever televised appearance of Run DMC.

The spoken word piece also recounts the 1982 formation of The New York City Breakers, who performed for President Ronald Reagan, Prince Andrew of Great Britain, the King and Queen of Norway, and with artists and celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra, Ben Vereen, Meryl Streep, Muhammad Ali, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Prince and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.

Holman also talks about founding the art/noise band Gray with artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1979. The band—which later boasted Vincent Gallo, Justin Thyme (Wayne Clifford), Shannon Dawson and, now, Nick Taylor as members—performed at all the infamous New York venues of the era, including The Mudd Club, Max’s Kansas City, Hurrah’s and CBGB’s. At this time, the artist also caroused about town with art world luminaries such as William S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring, designer Norma Kamali and others.

Finally, Holman shares his encounter with British punk rock godfather and creator of The Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, in 1981. The meeting gave him an opportunity to bring hip hop culture to the Manhattan nightclub Negril where pioneers of the genre Afrika Bambaataa, Fab 5 Freddy, The Cold Crush Brothers, Phase II, Rammellzee, Futura, and father of hip hop DJ Kool Herc first performed for the Downtown/East Village crowd.

By the end of his spoken word performance and recollection of a golden age in New York history, it will be evident that Michael Holman is one of the most important influencers, having helped shape NYC subculture and, as a result, world culture as we know it.

Michael Holman’s Confessions of a Subculturalist begins at 7 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center (25 Jobs Lane) on Friday, March 24. Tickets are $10 and may be reserved at

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