Composer Remembers 32 Victims of 1973 New Orleans Gay Bar Arson Fire: VIDEO

Self

Gay playwright and composer Wayne Self is mounting a musical tribute to the 32 victims of the 1973 arson fire at the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans. In 2010 I wrote about Skylar Fein's art installation memorializing the fire. Check out my photo essay here to get a better idea of the incident.

Upstairs1Writes Self: "As gay playwright and composer from Louisiana, I've had a deeply personal interest in telling the story of the fire's victims, in bringing their voices to life in a way that only theatre can. I've finally begun to realize this longstanding dream. My research has revealed so many tales of love, courage, and tragedy. It's uncovered powerful questions about forgiveness, religion, faith, love, and history. It's truly a story worth telling. UPSTAIRS is the product of extensive research, years of writing, and the loving efforts of a great cast and crew. A low-budget version of the play is being staged in San Francisco, February 12-14."

He hopes to bring his production to New Orleans and L.A.

Watch Self's Kickstarter video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Upstairs

This was the only national news coverage of the fire:

Feed This post's comment feed

Comments

  1. Going to donate. I hope he reaches his goals.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Jan 29, 2013 10:49:43 AM


  2. Ghosthunters actually recorded an episode there. And went over the whole story of the bar and it's fire. I think I remember that Adam Berry kind of came out on that episode.

    Posted by: TonkaManOR | Jan 29, 2013 11:37:37 AM


  3. In a project with great potential in other ways, until we can see any new evidence, we hope he's not going to perpetuate the popular but false narrative that this was a fire set by a straight homophobe to kill gays when:

    “The cause of the fire was never officially determined, but ask anyone who is familiar with the incident and they will tell you it was arson. They will even tell you the name of who set the blaze. The number one suspect, and really only suspect, was a hustler and troublemaker who had been tossed out of the bar earlier in the evening. Using some lighter fluid he bought from Walgreens he doused the steps and lit them on fire. He would later brag about it when drunk. However, he was never charged and eventually killed himself.” - Out And About newspaper, 11-1-07.

    There is no dispute, however, about the outrageous indifference in the way most of the straight community reacted, including churches which wouldn’t hold memorial services and public officials.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 29, 2013 12:40:26 PM


  4. In a project with great potential in other ways, until we can see any new evidence, we hope he's not going to perpetuate the popular but false narrative that this was a fire set by a straight homophobe to kill gays when:

    “The cause of the fire was never officially determined, but ask anyone who is familiar with the incident and they will tell you it was arson. They will even tell you the name of who set the blaze. The number one suspect, and really only suspect, was a hustler and troublemaker who had been tossed out of the bar earlier in the evening. Using some lighter fluid he bought from Walgreens he doused the steps and lit them on fire. He would later brag about it when drunk. However, he was never charged and eventually killed himself.” - Out And About newspaper, 11-1-07.

    There is no dispute, however, about the outrageous indifference in the way most of the straight community reacted, including churches which wouldn’t hold memorial services and public officials.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 29, 2013 12:40:27 PM


  5. Michael,

    The play is based on the most scholarly research I could find and does NOT perpetuate the myth you describe. In fact, it debunks it.

    I think it could be said that homophobia was one of the causes of the fire, but homophobes aren't always straight or overtly political.

    -Wayne

    Posted by: Wayne | Jan 29, 2013 1:01:55 PM


  6. Christian terorrism has long ugly roots in America

    Posted by: rjp3 | Jan 29, 2013 5:59:01 PM


  7. Wayne, I wish you much success in telling a story that needs to be heard. And the music, from what I've heard, is gorgeous! I applaud you.

    Posted by: Marc | Jan 30, 2013 5:03:59 AM


Post a comment







Trending


« «'New York' Magazine Profiles Christine Quinn« «