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Nick Zedd, East Village transgressive filmmaker, dies at 63

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Nick Zedd, a leader of the 1980s East Village underground film scene, died in Mexico City on Feb. 27. He was 63. The cause of death was reportedly complications from cirrhosis of the liver, cancer and hepatitis C.

Sporting a constant scowl, a gaunt look and punk style, Zedd was a central figure in the Cinema of Transgression. Others in the movement — whose name he coined — included Richard Kern and David Wojnarowicz.

Like others in the scene, including Lung Leg, Lydia Lunch, Rockets Redglare and Casandra Stark, his name was made-up. He grew up James Harding in suburban Maryland to conservative, middle-class parents.

A Vice article in 2004 by Avi Davis, “Why Cinema of Transgression Director Nick Zedd Stayed Underground,” is considered a good backgrounder on the edgy filmmaker.

According to Davis, “Zedd’s father worked as a mail-classification specialist, and conservative groups often sent him publications they wanted banned from the postal system due to their ‘subversive’ or ‘pornographic’ nature: everything from pinup calendars and mild S&M to weird stuff featuring women on broomsticks.”

Zedd moved to New York in 1976 to study at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts. According to Davis, “He found his fellow students boring and repressed. Zedd had wanted to be part of New York’s underground art scene — ‘freaks and outcasts like myself’ — ever since reading about Andy Warhol and the New York Dolls back home in Maryland. He started going to CBGB and Max’s Kansas City and found the punk scene ‘a very positive development.’”

Zedd’s film debut was “They Eat Scum” (1979). Among his more than a dozen others were “Police State” (1987), “War Is Menstrual Envy” (1992) and “Why Do You Exist” (1998). In the 2000s Zedd found a new audience by teaming up with Rev Jen (Jen Miller) and other Downtown artists on “Electra Elf,” a public-access series on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. He also acted in his own and friends’ films. He never achieved mainstream success, which he had mixed feelings about, according to Davis’s article.

Cult filmmaker John Waters and Zedd were fans of each others’ work. The “Pink Flamingos” director reportedly said, ““They Eat Scum” is maybe my favorite title in cinema history.” Both favored a campy style, as opposed to the No Wave movement exemplified by director Jim Jarmusch and others.

Zedd also penned two autobiographies, “Bleed” and “Totem of the Depraved.”

Those who knew him remembered Zedd as someone who always stayed true to who he was and his strongly held beliefs — both in his art and in his personal life.

“Nick lived the life of a Lower East Side renegade,” said documentarian Clayton Patterson. “Very interesting filmmaker. He definitely had his own style. He was a pioneer of punk-style cinéma vérité. There was nothing Hollywood about Nick. That was one of his best points.”

Patterson said in the early ’80s Zedd discovered his actors at places like the Pyramid club or art and film events or just wandering through the neighborhood.

“He could spot a good actor, someone who could work well in his films,” he said.

Patterson said the opening of “Police State,” showing Zedd ambling past graffiti-covered, abandoned buildings in Alphabet City, is an iconic scene that captures the era.

“ “Police State,” the intro is as good as any,” he said. “It looks like “Desolation Alley Lower East Side,” Dresden after the war. The cinematography is brilliant, where he’s walking down the street toward the camera, with the boots, the black overcoat, the hair. He defined the style.”

In the movie, Zedd gets his penis cut off by a police interrogator played by Rockets Redglare. Shock value was Zedd’s stock-in-trade.

Casandra Stark was just out of her teens and studying film at the School of Visual Arts when she met Zedd, who was eight years older. She eventually acted in “Go to Hell,” which she co-directed with him.

She had left home in Connecticut in search of a more authentic artistic life in New York City. At the time Zedd was living on Fourth Street off of Avenue B in the same building as Madonna. Stark isn’t sure where they met, maybe at one of his film screenings in the neighborhood.

“I started out helping him, just carrying the projector,” she said. “Then it got more involved. We were in each others’ films and Richard Kern’s, too. I wound up dropping out of film school. To be 21 and part of the film world was pretty interesting and fun. … When I met him, he had already made “They Eat Scum” and “Geek Maggot Bingo.””

Describing the film scene back then, she said, “There was a gravity of misfit artists. We were all in each others’ films. I mean, no one was getting paid. … We would sell our films on VHS at our local video store, Kim’s, and through mail order.

“Nick definitely had a strong personality,” she recalled. “He was definitely into shock value. He could be offensive, but it was all part of what he wanted to project to the world. He would drop his guard, but not often. He was definitely a character — he played it to the end. I was always amazed that some people don’t change their aesthetic from their 20s to their 40s and 50s.”

She said Zedd helped her evolve into her own persona of Casandra.

“Just sort of negate the culture you come from,” she said. “In my case, it was Italian-American Catholicism and I needed another persona to break through that.”

She and Zedd were in a relationship for nearly two years but it wasn’t easy.

“He was so moody,” she said. “He’d get angry and banish me to the roof and I’d have to sleep there. On and off…it was pretty volatile.”

Today Stark is a high school English teacher in Florida. Feeling that Zedd influenced her to go too far in the direction of shock value, she has since edited out the raunchy ending of her movie “Wrecked on Cannibal Island.” It originally ended with her boyfriend making up with her after a fight by performing a sex act on her on an East Village rooftop. Both versions can be found on the Internet, though.

Casandra Stark, a former collaborator and girlfriend, said Nick Zedd never dropped his personal aesthetic.

Rev Jen also was in a relationship with Zedd, who was 16 years older than her, but it, too, flamed out.

Davis wrote that Miller told him Zedd was “dictatorial” and a “sociopath” to work with, adding, “Their romantic relationship was just as rocky. Jen never trusted Zedd after finding journal entries in which he described making out with Italian horror-flick babe Asia Argento.”

As an outsider artist, Zedd never enjoyed commercial success with his films. Among the various jobs he did to earn cash was driving a cab. Peter LeVasseur, a former East Village squatter, recalled the sight of a wasted-looking Zedd trying to cut it as a hack in the mid-’80s. Like many Downtown creatives back then, Zedd did his share of drugs. As LeVasseur spoke, he frequently burst out into guffaws at the memory.

“There was a taxi garage, Ann Garage, on W. 21st Street that all the East Village radicals, artists, musicians and misfits would go to for work,” he said. “And he stood out as the most disoriented of the whole bunch, with his pallor, sunken cheeks and complete disorientation from drugs, and the multicolored hair — it was faded purple, green, reddish, blended.”

“He would show up for work, obviously shouldn’t have been driving the vehicle. He would come in a few hours early for what they called ‘shape-up,’ when they would figure out what cab you would get — and he was never in shape. You could spend a few hours in shape-up and come off drugs.”

The assumption is that Zedd got hep C from using heroin. Others who dabbled with smack during that period also succumbed to liver cancer, like well-known East Village squatter Michael Shenker. But some, like performance artist Penny Arcade, for one, who have taken a regimen of prescribed treatment, have beaten the disease.

“It had to be from intravenous drug use,” LeVasseur said of Zedd. “He seemed to be on heroin and coke — both were fashionable at the time, the combo. This was when he was at his deepest, worst part. The pallor, his eyes and sunken cheeks. If you got in his car you’d be afraid.”

The first page of Nick Zedd’s piece in the book “Captured.”

More insight about Zedd comes from a chapter he wrote about himself in the 2005 book “Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side,” edited by Clayton Patterson, Paul Bartlett and Urania Mylonas.

“The idea that you have to tell a story is nonsense,” Zedd writes. “A movie can be anything you want it to be. It can be a diary. It can be an assault. It can be a prayer. A story can be hidden.

“Much of what we learn has to be unlearned,” he writes at another point. “Absolute certainties crumble with time. Hierarchies try to retain the illusion of certainty. To transgress is to resist, to question and escape the confines of capitalism.

“Film can overthrow the powers that be only by making no concessions to the general public or the dominant ideas of our epoch,” he declares. “This means insurrection. I’m here to berate anyone who needs to be inspired.”

In addition to fighting the powers that be, Zedd was also known to lash out at people in bars.

“A committed group of plotters toe the line in excluding me and others from inclusion in Jack’s existence,” he writes in “Captured.” “They remind me of the drama queens who have blackballed me from showing movies in nightclubs, due to a bottle I threw at the head of a malignant clown begging to be silenced.”

Jack is a reference to Jack Smith, the Lower East Side underground film pioneer.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, given his confrontational, antiauthoritarian nature, Zedd was an ardent COVID anti-vaxxer. John Penley, a former East Villager now living in Las Vegas, stays connected to his friends from his years in the neighborhood, and is incensed at the vaccine deniers among them. Penley said Zedd was all about being “in your face,” so he could appreciate the following criticism being leveled at him, even in an obituary.

“I just heard that Nick Zedd died of hep C and other things caused by hep C,” he said. “There are good treatments for hep C that have completely cured many people. But I doubt that he tried this since he also was a COVID denier at a time when bodies were stacking up in Mexico City, where Zedd lived. So many bodies, they had to do mass burials and cremations, where thick clouds of black smoke were making the area where they did it unsafe to go outside. Too bad he did not trust medical professionals; if he did he might still be alive. Moral of this sad story is get tested for hep C because it can go for years, and by the time it shows up, it is too late for treatment. But if you get treated it can be completely cured.”

After meeting his partner, Monica Casanova, who is from Mexico, Zedd moved to Mexico City 15 years ago to live with her.

Although Zedd had never made much money, he was able to sell his collection of letters, artwork and “retro porn” to New York University’s Fales Library.

“Fales offered him more money for his collection than Zedd had ever made before,” Davis writes in the Vice article. “I asked Zedd if he found it ironic that he had sold his collection to N.Y.U., which many people see as a primary force in Downtown Manhattan’s gentrification. ‘I figured if they were forcing me to move out of New York, at least I could get them to pay me for it,’ he said.”

Zedd is survived by his partner, Monica Casanova, as well as a son and a step-daughter.


  1. Monica Casanova Monica Casanova June 2, 2022

    Im Nick Zedd wife and really this is the worst article about him, he got hepatitis C from Cassandra that purposly push him to cut her name with the same blade she cut his name to, then she laught and say you just got hepatitis C form me, Nick didnt believe some human would do something like this, but is true he got it and unfortunally he had heart cirgury in NYC when he was allready my boy friend at that time, I took care of him then as well for his recovering, then doctors say the virus of hepatitis C was sleeping and that we as humans we have many viruses and not all the time awake, that he was going to be fine and might die of something else, everything happen so fast, he saw the best doctors here, the top ones!!!! The director of a museum here friend of mine that did a solo show of Nick here got him right a way to the best doctor but because his heart cirgury his heart wouldnt resist tests at the hospital and eather the hepatitis C treatment, to mention about the vax in this article is vicious to call him anti vaxx becuase actually Nick investigate and find out what is the call vax, is better than do an statement about Nick or any one else about this to investigate and get facts, like the website of Robert Kennedy or get in telegram where is not censure and get the information with Naomi Wolf as well there is the facts of everything, is interviews of doctors that actually got novel prizes that explain what is the call vax… Nick like many others had the right to doubt and question and investigate, because is good to doubt… well the ones that have brains and don’t follow what the media say…. as Nick as an artist, he live forever with his multidisciplinary art his new paintings, new films, new sculptures, sketches, his writing etc I can say I feel proud to be part of his life during his last 15 years of his life, be the mother of our child Zerak, they did film together, did paintings and drawing together and I feel a lot of honor to be his must important muse, his wife, his best friend, his lover and his partner in crime, we colaborate in so many things he did here in Mexico city the real surreal city of the world where exist real freedom is an honor to be the one that he chose to keep his legacy, his rights and his personal archive and the people that we love him we know who they are, the haters as well they know who they are and they are just no life jealous people of who he is, as a woman he treat me always with so much respect because for him Im his magical aztec goddess an he will be always the magical wizard for me. you smear Nick and is ugly to talk about some one that just die when they cant defend them selves, Im glad exist great articles here in Mexico and others as well in America that are great because at the end is what Nick is and always will a true artist, a real person that is sincere in everything he does and that he illuminate so many brains , we got so many loving and moving messages while he was alive hundreds and hundreds of private messages of people and how he change the life of all this people for just a conversation they had with him or just to watch his films, he got this messages in all social media and influence so many artists as well like Tarantino and he say it now, Nick is a visionary, his influence is more important than all those sale out people, and he had a really amazing life, and if some one didn’t like it is for jealousy and self hate… sorry not every one is special like Nick Zedd or me…

    • Serge Monsoon Serge Monsoon September 16, 2022

      He did the great work here, and now he’s passed on to do great work elsewhere. Bless you and your family

  2. Jimi "Fish" Pike Jimi "Fish" Pike May 8, 2022

    I only knew him fleetingly around the LES in the early-mid-’90s. I lived in Jack’s building, so he’d talk about him when I’d see him on the street. He was always nice, polite and gracious to me as just a mere fan.
    His films always shocked me in a good way. Just like John Waters’s early films! Oh how they STILL shock me; which is a good thing! Keeps us on our toes!
    That all said, it’s kinda funny seeing the comments here about vaxxing and Covid! I don’t blame anyone for not getting vaccinated; but if you don’t understand the science, simply state that. Don’t be embarrassed! But don’t spew nonsense you don’t understand. Just because you heard the same “fact” on the Internet, Fox News and from some friend doesn’t make it a FACT. Know your shit before you speak. It’s your health, but there’s just as many loons leading us ALL on all sides of the fence.
    Gonna miss Zedd making new art! RIP

  3. Brent Brent March 12, 2022

    They focus on the edgy, but they miss out on how personable and kind Nick was, really. He was a talented writer, oil painter, maker of portraits and so on, as well as being a filmmaker. He was also deeply committed to all of these different pursuits in a serious way. Sure, he had a scowl, but there is humor in some of his films, too. Actually, a great guy.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 13, 2022

      Totally!!!-thank you so much for your coment that is the reality

  4. Rev Jen Rev Jen March 12, 2022

    No one asked me for an interview or even a comment and I gotta say, reducing our relationship to a shitty boyfriend/girlfriend situation is absurd. We were a lot more than a dysfunctional romance, and to me, he was a lot more than just an ex-boyfriend. I loved Nick Zedd with all my heart. It is possible to love someone who you wildly disagree with on almost everything. We worked together for years after we broke up, most recently in 2014 when he directed a scene for “Werewolf Bitches From Outer Space.” We also made “Lord of the Cockrings,” “I was a Quality of Life Violation” and from 2002 to 2005, “Electra Elf and Fluffer,” a cable-access show. Before he left for Mexico, we collaborated on a version of “Puss ‘n’ Boots” for the children’s theater in Tompkins Square Park, which I wrote and he directed. We put so much love, time and creative energy into those projects, especially the 22 episodes of “Electra Elf,” it is sort of shocking that they weren’t mentioned. Of course, it’s a lot easier to slam someone (gee…what a shock, he wasn’t a great boyfriend) than to ask me directly about our relationship, which at its core was a creative one.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 12, 2022

      The art you guys did where fantastic. people here are not focusing on the best things he did and your guys colaboration was unique and brilliant!!! We all know from the heart to our minds what a great things you guys did. Im going troughh his archive right now and is one of the best things he did, Jen, and one of the best things he loved doing it. Im glad we met and yeeesss colaborate with him was great. I catch up with you several times and Im glad the Electra Elf box set came out. I did the cover photo. Was nice as well do the costumes for that play myself and all this people that comment about him without knowing him are just parasites of atention. You were part of his life, C. Negro as well, the rest are just parasites of attention, really pathetic.

  5. Alan W Moore Alan W Moore March 5, 2022

    Yes, a bit garbled and gossipy, but the NY Times is not about to do this remembrance (although Artforum did). I wrote about him for my blog “Art Gangs,” since I knew Nick through the MWF Video Club project of Colab. Although he was surely “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” as was said of Lord Byron, he was unquestionably an important artist and will be treated as such in time. There is now surprisingly little serious criticism of his work — but there will be. Lord Byron was a wealthy aristocrat; Nick Zedd was working-class, which makes his achievements all the more extraordinary. The “cancel culture” that prevails in the USA now is a passing thing. It’s important to call out the powerful men who exploit artists and other workers, but artists IMHO have the right to be weird. Nick was a “monstre sacre” who, unlike say Rimbaud, was never venerated.

  6. Fiona Helmsley Fiona Helmsley March 3, 2022

    Nick Zedd never had the kind of job that provided him with medical insurance. That’s why he didn’t get medical treatment for hepatitis C. Without insurance the cost of treatment was way out of his reach. (I know. I did it. The cost is close to $100,000.) I find the implication that his own stubbornness led to his death to be incredibly crass. Yes, he was anti-vax. He had a profound distrust of anyone wielding power and always questioned their true intentions. But it wasn’t some anti-medical stance that killed him. It was poverty.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 12, 2022

      You dont know nothing. here is hepatitis C treatments for free and Nick got atended in one of the best hospitals here. but what was in his way was that he had heart cirgury 12 years ago and if he would do the treatment he would have even die sooner. No one knows the real medical story of Zedd besides me, his wife. so all of you don’t even have a right to make a comment. because no one here besides C. Negro knew Nick how we did. the rest is just gossip.

  7. Cuauhtemoc Negro Cuauhtemoc Negro March 3, 2022

    I am not surprised that 1) as of this writing, no mainstream newspaper has reported on the death of Nick Zedd and 2) a sack-of-shit propagandist broadsheet was tasked with writing this hit piece masquerading as an obituary, just to make double certain that the bottom-of-the-bell-curve gringos who read this rag don’t get any notions that Nick Zedd was a person to be admired.
    Particularly repulsive were the two entire paragraphs dedicated to defaming Nick as an “anti-vaxxxer,” accomplished by way of the time-honored technique of quoting an impartial third party: in this case, some sock puppet living in Las Vegas called “John Penley,” who, we are advised, “stays connected to his friends from his years in the neighborhood, and is incensed at the vaccine deniers among them.” Who the fuck is this guy? Was Nick one of his “friends? The article doesn’t say so explicitly, so I seriously doubt it.

    Besides warning the reader that Nick was a dreaded “anti-vaxxxer” (hence, secretly alt-right, a QAnoner, or whatever), this “John Penley” (or, really, the author of this “obituary”) felt the need to explain that in Mexico City, there were, during the pandemic, “so many bodies, they had to do mass burials and cremations, where thick clouds of black smoke were making the area where they did it unsafe to go outside.” This is, without qualification, A TOTAL FUCKING LIE.

    I live in Mexico City and I can tell you absolutely nothing of the sort took place there: On the contrary, the city made Ivermectin available gratis in all hospitals to anyone diagnosed with Covid, and as a result, there was a significant drop in Covid illnesses and fatalities.

    Incidentally, a routine search engine query reveals that our trusted author, Lincoln Anderson, seems to be quite the hand at scribbling mockingbird propaganda: In addition to the above calumny, he has of late also found time to scrawl something in the “Pray for Ukraine” genre viz. In fact, “Lincoln Anderson” seems so adept at misinformation that one wonders if he studied journalism at Langley.

    Nick Zedd was a revolutionary filmmaker and artist extraordinaire, a fierce, unflinching opponent of the Empire of Death. I had the honor of collaborating with Nick on his final project, “The Reckoning,” which we finished in 2019 and which bears witness to the rage he felt against the war crimes of his homeland, and the reckoning which will soon come.

    • Dottie Wilson Dottie Wilson March 3, 2022

      Understood. 100%. Thanks for standing.

    • Chris Flash Chris Flash March 3, 2022

      Thank you for responding to this hatchet job, WITH THE FACTS, Cuauhtenoc.

      Lincoln didn’t even interview John Penley for those nasty remarks — he simply lifted a post that Penley made on FaceBook. NO NEED to PROVE the statement about “so many bodies” although, if true, it would have NOTHING to do with Nick or Nick’s life and should NOT have been part of the obit. Lincoln clearly wanted to smear Nick Zedd with anything NEGATIVE he could scrape up from those he interviewed.

      Aside from Casandra’s memories (and I do NOT excuse Nick for any mistreatment on his part toward her), Lincoln never bothered to interview ANYone else who had a close or working relationship with him, though PLENTY of them are right here on the Lower East Side, including Richard Kern and Rachel Amodio, with whom Nick made films. What a piss-poor excuse for “journalism.”

      I really DESPISE those who seem to enjoy ATTACKING people who have played important roles in our scene after they are dead and are therefore unable to respond. This goes for media desperate for content to justify getting ad income, as well as those who provide them with their negative content.

      • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | March 4, 2022

        Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. The intent of the obituary was not to smear Nick Zedd. But John Penley, who pitched the story to The Village Sun, did feel it was worthwhile and newsworthy for the piece to mention Zedd’s position on COVID, and as Peter LeVasseur also told me, that aspect of Zedd probably did seem to mesh with his worldview and character. Penley just now sent some links to back up what he said about bodies piling up and being burned in Mexico, etc., and those links have now been inserted into the obituary. I actually did interview Penley. I spoke to him when he pitched the story to me. However, he subsequently sent me the quote that appears in the obituary and told me to use it. So no, it was not lifted by me from Facebook. P.S., I also reached out to you by e-mail to ask you if you wanted to be interviewed for this obituary but I did not hear back from you. — Lincoln

        • Chris Flash Chris Flash March 8, 2022

          Lincoln: You did not request an interview – you asked if I had something to say about Nick. I sent you what I ended up posted on this thread, as you chose to use none of what I sent you.

          Whether or not you interviewed Penley, the quote you attribute to him in your obit is IDENTICAL, word for word, to a post he made on FaceBook about Nick. THAT is why I pointed it out.

          My response to Penley’s FaceBook post that was repeated in your obit about being in denial is that such a statement could be made about a person who smokes cigarettes for 30+ years and then complains about having a heart condition, mild strokes, poor circulation and shortness of breath.

          If you really wanted to write about Nick’s life in a positive manner, you had PLENTY of people aside from the two I mentioned who are still here in NYC to get anecdotes and/or tell readers more about Nick’s life., but you seem to enjoy dishing the dirt on the departed, Lincoln.

          I DARE you to show us the PERFECT PERSON, one who lived his or her life without a single character flaw or misstep and who did EVERYTHING right and NOTHING wrong in their lifetime.

          Such a person does not exist, so WHY cover Nick Zedd’s death AT ALL if you chose to present negativity over his positive accomplishments? As we ALL know, this is NOT the first time you’ve done something like this.

          WHAT do you think will be said about YOU, after YOU pass, Lincoln????

          • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | March 8, 2022

            Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. I did ask you if you had a comment about Nick Zedd or if you wanted to share any memories about him. I did not hear back from you. Admittedly, I just discovered that there was an “anti-spam filter” that a former a server / hosting company had put on some of my e-mail addresses that was blocking e-mails that I should have been seeing.

            That said, I know you and others really loathe that comment by Penley, but that’s what he requested be run in the obituary. He said to use that and nothing else.

            Penley’s health is his own concern and I wish him well. I think he’s trying to take better care of himself now.

            In terms of positive quotes about Nick in the obit, I think Clayton was very positive, very much so. And Clayton commented that he liked the obituary. Casandra also had positive things to say about how Nick introduced her to the film scene and that it was exhilirating to be a part of it. Yes, she admitted, dating him was not always easy. Yet, she even credits their rocky relationship — and her wanting to get out of it — to having compelled her to find an affordable, rent-regulated place that she lived in happily for many years. So, she even put a positive spin on that. She texted to tell me she liked the obituary, saying, “You did a nice job on the article.”

            Yes, Peter LeVasseur did describe how Nick regularly showed up for his taxi-driving day job looking pretty wasted from having done drugs. But, as Peter noted, that was pretty much the norm for many creative people in the East Village back then — though, he said, among the stoned cabbies, Nick stood out as “the most disoriented of the whole bunch.” Just a real-life observation, and it gives the flavor of the times. Not a judgement.

            I pulled liberally from an article in Vice written by Avi Davis in 2004 that multiple people said was one of the best sources about Nick Zedd. Davis was living in Mexico City at the time and bumped into Zedd at a local bar by chance, formed a relationship and interviewed him extensively. Davis quotes Rev Jen, who dated Nick and who, again, said the relationship was not easy, both professionally and personally. But the Vice article was not a negative article, mainly factual background.

            I also quoted Nick Zedd in his own words from “Captured,” the book on LES film and video, edited by Clayton Patterson, Paul Bartlett and Urania Mylonas.

            The article also includes the YouTube of Nick Zedd’s “Police State” in its entirety, which Clayton praises as having an iconic intro that summed up the feeling of the ’80s East Village. Seems like a positive thing to me.

            No one is perfect, so true. Casandra, when I asked her something about Nick at one point, said it was an obituary, so that kind of info probably shouldn’t be in it. I was asking her something that one source quoted in the obituary had told me I should ask her — about how she felt about Nick’s treatment of women in his movies. Because Casandra asked me not to get into that, at least not coming from her, I didn’t.

            Chris, I know that you were a friend of Nick’s and also that you have strong views about COVID — about vaccine and mask mandates, as Nick did. So that’s partly coloring your response. I get it. There are more than a few Village Sun readers who feel the same way.

            Penley, for one, is very concerned about anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, etc., especially about those that he knows. He feels, as so many others do, that the pandemic has been splitting apart friends.

            Chris, I know you were one of the most angry at the articles I did on Adam Purple about seven years ago. After I ran his obituary, his oldest biological daugther called me and said, “You know…there’s more to the story.” Eventually, I spoke to not only her, but her younger sister and two other women who were the children of Purple’s wife when he lived in Australia. It turned out Purple was a child abuser, for which he served two years in jail in Australia, after which he was deported to San Francisco — that is all documented — then made his way to the Lower East Side where he began over again, created the Garden of Eden and became known as the “LES Gardens Godfather.” But it’s a fact that he had a dark past. One local journalist who I bumped into at an Adam Purple memorial event told me — after I told him what the oldest daughter had told me about her father — “You’re going to bury that, right?” Meaning, maybe not run it or really minimize it. No, I ran it. Some would have preferred it be kept hidden. Some liked those articles and said it was a good job — some people REALLY liked them, especially women. As Paul Garrin, the D.I.Y. Internet pioneer, told me after the articles ran, “That’s why I never mythologize people.”

            Adam Purple’s obituary was a straight obit — but then it was followed by articles exposing that dark past.

            As for me, I don’t know man. I hope a few people have a kind word or two for me when that time comes. If they want to spit on my grave, God bless ’em.

            — Lincoln

        • Steve T Steve T October 1, 2022

          It was definitely worth mentioning. Your connecting Nick Zedd’s anti-medicine rants to his ultimate demise by hepatitis C was the best part of this piece, in my opinion.

          On Facebook, Zedd led the anti-vaxxer charge. It wasn’t one or two posts; I saw it constantly, multiple posts per week. Before vaccines, he was telling his fans, who were in their 50s, 60s, 70s and in NYC, to go outside and break quarantine. Then when vaccines were available he fought those as well.

          Myself and others argued with him about this directly and his hardcore fans (the ones you are seeing right here and now) always defended him, unquestioningly. Most of these people are Internet trolls.

          It is very unfortunate that someone close to them passed away. He was a cult icon and important for Film History. But for them to expect an unblemished obituary from such a hostile force is unreasonable.

          I remember Bowie passing and seeing people attack him that very same day for much lesser allegations. Zedd was an absolute menace during the pandemic and I guarantee he got some people extremely sick if not killed. Just to go along with his edgelord persona… there was absolutely no excuse.

    • laura laura March 10, 2022

      thank you for posting your comment. there were many lies about Guadalajara. its amazing to me how rumors become truth. mass graves etc.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova June 2, 2022

      Thanks for your comment but is sad that you didn’t like Nick Zedd editing of one of your short film you hired him to do…. you got in to an argument with him because you try to put him down that he didn’t edit it good, you disrespect his work and if you needed to be in an ego trip you should hired just a camera man and do it your self…not Nick Zedd that know what he is doing, Nick Zedd vision is great!!! is fantastic Cuauhtemoc Negro and you didn’t accept his work how he end up your video, is sad I saw his version the other day and let me tell you you miss the point… is the true…

  8. Chris Flash Chris Flash March 2, 2022

    When I heard that our friend, artist and underground filmmaker Nick Zedd died on January 27 (he would have been 64 on May 8). I had no idea that he had been sick and ailing.

    Though I’ve known him for more than 30 years, Nick and I became tighter during the past two years of covid panic, snapping on compliant fools on FaceBook attempting to enforce state mandates on the rest of us. Nick was always viciously passionate and articulate in his heavy responses to those justifying a social-control police state “for our safety” and I loved him for it.

    You have some GALL trashing Nick for following the path of a SANE person, refusing to be terrorized into submission as a lab rat, unlike so many of our “friends” who are old enough to know and who OUGHT TO know better.

    I guess that it didn’t occur to you or to those you quoted here who seem to be gloating over his death that Nick had NO MONEY to get needed medical treatment. He was NOT “in denial” over what was killing him — he was BROKE.

    Unfortunately, bad lifestyle choices in his past came back to attack him presently, but it sure as hell wasn’t “covid” that did him in. (Unlike the U.S., in Mexico, they don’t monetize reported cases of “covid” — if he had died here, without a doubt, Nick’s death certificate would have said “covid-related.”)

    I met Nick shortly after The SHADOW began publishing in 1989. I had seen his short film “POLICE STATE” (1987) and wanted to review it. Nick gave me copies of his other films, all displaying a RAW Lower East Side, hardly recognizable today, populated by extreme characters in dingy apartments and various bombed-out locations, all in glorious black + white. Nick also acted in underground films for fellow underground filmmakers, including Casandra Stark, Richard Kern and Rachel Amodeo.

    I last saw Nick at the 100th birthday celebration of Beat writer and poet William S. Burroughs at the St. Marx Church in 2014. At that point, he was living full time in Mexico because, he told me, he could no longer afford to live here. Who could blame him?

    Many of us are still mourning the death of our beloved Al “Hammerbrain” Landess just two weeks ago and now Nick Zedd is gone as well. Both played important roles in the countercultural renaissance on the Lower East Side, from the late 1970s through the late 1980s, when this place was given up for lost and neglected by the city that withheld essential services in an effort to accomplish what was termed “spatial deconcentration” and “planned shrinkage” and resuscitated by the creative community that rehabbed abandoned buildings, created performance spaces, made and displayed art, wrote and performed music, shot and projected underground films.

    Back then, this really WAS the “city that never sleeps,” with venues open all night long till dawn, populated by plenty of talented people and audiences that appreciated them. Rent was low, food was cheap, with abundant portions served at restaurants that never closed, and there was excitement and danger in the air. A GREAT time to be alive in your teens and twenties! As I heard a guy in a documentary about California’s Z Channel say: “You never know when you’re living in a golden age.”

    We certainly WERE.

    And Al Landess and Nick Zedd were a BIG part of that.

    • laura laura March 10, 2022

      would love to know what a covid vax has to do w/hepC? some of your LES friends are bigpharm pimps. working for “the man” as we used to say in the “60’s. they have no idea that pharm & bill gates pay MSM. they think all vaccinations are the same as polio. these days if you are anti globalist libertarian, you are called Qanon, right wing. the neo liberals are out for blood. nick & i “knew” each other from social networks, were in sync most of the time. MEXICO: decent medical insurance is very expensive. the alternative is pay out of pocket. the insurance here for mexicans who have jobs (teachers public/private city workers etc) is useless. IMSS & the free care for visa holders is also useless, or to be honest a death trap. you might as well die @ home as i am, like the poor locals. MX city had a covid epidemic for a while as NYC did. as for bodies piling up, not so sure. the propaganda here is also off the charts! one thing i do know is that most of mexico inflates the death count. for the last 2 years almost all death certificates (in my area) were/are marked as covid. (regardless the patient died WITH covid or OF covid). many more people died prior to 2020 of pnemonia, normal flu, other lung diseases. perhaps masks have played a role in lower death & hospitalizations. “cases” are also counted if someone is asymptomatic. i have lived in mexico much longer than nick, full time 20 yrs. my parents moved here late 1980’s.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 12, 2022

      5 stars for this coment, and also whatever he investigate about covid he had as well the facts. The only ones that say the true is Robert Kennedy Jr. and Naomi Wolf, both just through their websites and Telegram because are not part from social media because they say the true.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 13, 2022

      Thank you!!!

    • Steve T Steve T October 1, 2022

      Sorry for your loss. This really is an awful part about getting older. Everyone eventually goes, but it’s the friends with quirks and faults who sometimes go earlier than expected. Those issues which catch up with them are what made them endearing in the first place.

      I don’t think Zedd had harmful intentions but he carried out a lot of harm. Until I quit Facebook I was very caught up with Zedd. He was literally telling people to go outside and break quarantine even in the early parts of Covid before vaccines. His fans are in their 50s, 60s, 70s in NYC… he didn’t care.

      He was broke… yeah he would post pictures of teeth he pulled out to farm donations. He had a wife and kids but would just fight about landlords and rent rather than get a stable job to support them. By the way, I am very sorry for their loss. I agree he had principles, but they got in the way of his survival. And his principles weren’t even that great to begin with. He wasn’t a monk… no need to say any more since he deserves better. But the author of this piece wasn’t wrong either. It needed to be said.

  9. Al Bourla's Bull Baiter Al Bourla's Bull Baiter March 2, 2022

    couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Nick Zedd over his (completely sane & rational) views on being forcibly administered an experimental pharmaceutical compound, eh? this man had more talent in his pinkie toenail than this writer has in their entire being. shame they feel compelled to take it out on Zedd. he was a true artist & he will be missed.

    • Jane Doe Jane Doe March 3, 2022

      He was a white gringo living in Mexico City who imported his QAnon conspiracy BS there and tried to push it on Mexicans. Zedd was a true Yankee cultural imperialist who tried to impose his American views on others, like so many before him. Not only that but check out his terrible treatment of women, which was common back in his moviemaking days but would not be tolerated today.

      • laura rubin laura rubin March 11, 2022

        jane doe, nick’s views & mine align w/ most of the mexicans when it comes to “the vax.” how do you know how most mexicans think? most people here w/little formal education have better instincts than you. they know something’s “off.” nick & i are the opposite of the “typical white gingo,” as you mention. those folks come down here w/delusions that they are the great white hope. the locals can’t stand them. nick’s treatment of women has little to do with this. have you checked out what men sometimes do to women in the azteca barrios?

      • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 12, 2022

        He was a lovely husband, an amazing father, best friend, funny, and he loved living in Mexico where he was till the end. He die in peace next to me. The people that really love him and know what a sincere and nice person he was, we will treassure all our moments we spent together. He reborn himself in Mexico and the films he did here is a treasure and all his new Mexican talented muses as well he film is a really nice archive of his reborn here till his last days.

      • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 13, 2022

        Calling someone a white gringo is racist, you are racist. How easy for you talk about someone death when he cannot defend him self. You didnt even know him. He treat me like a queen in our personal relationship. He treat woman amazing unless they were stocking him and harrasing him, had to put his bounderies and say to them go away. So many female fans were obssess with him and frustrated to try to get to be part of his personal life!!! He never came to Mexico imposing American views, because he never liked American views!!! You live in a dream world, check your meds, you are completily lost in who is Nick Zedd… You must have no life to try to call attention here with no facts at all about his wonderful life.

      • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova June 2, 2022

        lier!!! he treat me like queen for 15 years, he never say besides the true and facts… and you a n name jajajaja he never impose cultural imperialist you just dnt knw anything jajajajaja living in a dream world…. just a troll

      • Sergio Farr Sergio Farr September 16, 2022

        Jane Doe, you don’t even have overies to come out from behind a fake name. Also he wasn’t “White,” you ignorant robot.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova March 13, 2022


  10. clayton patterson clayton patterson March 2, 2022

    Solid piece on Zedd.  He was a true original. The LES is losing all its characters, those who gave the community character. Nick was the classic LES Punk Filmmaker. I will miss him for sure. I placed his talent where I could… His is an actor in film Shadows in the City, dir Ari Roussimoff. I was art director.  Film is now in MoMA. He is a NY ACKER award recipient. He has a chapter in “Captured, film and video history of Lower East Side” book. He is one of my MNN programs. Got to get my archives in place,  Nick is one of the special people in the collection — photos and videos and books and ephemera. It is important to save this history. Nick Zedd was one of the special ones. He enriched my life. 

    Even his last battles in Mexico City were the fights of legendary status. He won his part of this battle.  

    “An East Village filmmaker who moved to Mexico City six years ago is fighting eviction by one of the world’s wealthiest men, Carlos Slim. Nick Zedd, director of “They Eat Scum” and “Geek Maggot Bingo,” is the last holdout in the Hotel Virreyes, which is being renovated to reopen next year for “digital nomads, perpetual travelers or occasional escapists,” according to its new management. While Slim owns the hotel, the Selina hotel and hostel chain is refurbishing it and operating it.” — from a Nick Zedd e-mail.

    • Monica Casanova Monica Casanova June 2, 2022

      Exactilly!!!! everything you say is true, and he loves you and always consider you a friend

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