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Lisa Persky's Biography

Member Info

Los Angeles
Jul 2009

A founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books (February 2010-December 2012), I grew up in Greenwich Village, N Y C and have led the expected, colorful life of an actor, writer, artist, photographer, and step-child. When I was very small, I attended classes at The Museum of Modern Art where, for reasons that have never revealed themselves, I painted a particular owl over and over again. I went to P.S. 41, I.S. 70, H. S. of Art and Design, and have continued my art education at Otis College in Los Angeles.
My first exhibition was at the age of fourteen at the Jefferson Market Library (only one owl made it into this grouping). Within a week of graduating from high school, I ran into Ferro-Grumley Award winner H.M. Koutoukas on Christopher Street. He told me that he’d written a play for me, that I was to be at La Mama E.T.C. for rehearsal the following Sunday at noon and the pay was $25 a week. It was the exciting promise of cold hard cash that led to my ongoing career as an actress but not before a stint (also thanks to H.M.K.) as an assistant to the unconventional couturier Charles James. Working in his rooms at The Chelsea Hotel, I collated his archives for the Smithsonian Institute, pounded out letters to Halston and walked Sputnik the dog. Mr. James delighted in dubbing me “eccentric.”
Largely due to proximity, I was a teenage patient zero at CBGB’s where I read poetry with hobos on open-mic nights just prior to the punk/pop/new wave explosion. The Blondie song “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear” was written for me by rocker-turned-author Gary Valentine. My writing and photographs were first published by Alan Betrock in New York Rocker, of which I was a founding member. My first short story was featured in an early issue of BOMB magazine. More recently my fiction has been anthologized in Eclectica Magazine: Best Fiction Volume One.
After my acting debut as Cordelia Wells, The World’s Most Perfect Teenager in H.M.K.’s play, I was Mary Eleanor The Innocent Raped by The System in Tom Eyen’s Women Behind Bars. The matron was played by the exceptionally warm and funny Divine who, after raping me 8 shows a week for over a year, decided I was ready for my first Hollywood agent¬¬--and helped get me one. My film debut was as Robert Duvall’s daughter in "The Great Santini". I’ve had the thrill of co-starring--in the nude--on Broadway in a “legitimate” theatrical production (“Steaming” by Nell Dunn) followed by the traditional party at Sardi’s, followed by the traditional killing of the show by Frank Rich. Many unions are pleased that he has found better target for his criticism. I’ve had good parts in some good films and teevee (look ‘em up: www.imdb.com) but I consider my first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson prior to his retirement the fulfillment of my only real showbiz dream.
As a photographer and editorial collage artist I have worked for numerous international publications, including The Los Angeles Times, Q, UNCUT and MOJO. My work is in the permanent collection of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I’m a recipient of Print Magazine’s Award for Design Excellence. I’ve created a series of collages that tell the unique stories of particular people and/or families who commissioned them; these are for private collectors and are not on public view.
In 2008 I collaborated with Aardvark Letterpress as co-curator of an edition of L.A. themed 13x19” Loteria Cards. Los Angeles Loteria; An Exploration of Identity is a fine art edition that includes the work of 18 L.A. Artists. It had its second public exhibition beginning in November at Los Angeles City Hall. All costs were recouped the first week of the offering. Check it out. It's smart, affordable fine art. I also play the kazoo, radio, and records.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for visiting.


Oscar Levant.

Upcoming Works

Coming of age (in the Age of Aquarius) in Greenwich Village, NYC. (Fiction)
My CBGB's Year (with pictures 1975-76) (Non-fiction)

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