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Jason and Shirley Podcast
June 2016

An interview of Jason and Shirley filmmaker Stephen Winter by local artists E.G. Bailey and Harry Waters, Jr.

About the Film: In December 1966, Shirley Clarke, a wealthy Jewish Oscar-winning film director, invited Jason Holliday to her penthouse in the legendary Chelsea Hotel. Jason was a fabulous but downtrodden black, gay, middle-aged hustler and aspiring cabaret performer known throughout New York’s pre-Stonewall jazz world. Shirley filmed him telling wild stories from his turbulent life, determined to find a groundbreaking “truth” in the documentary.

This footage became Portrait of Jason, (1967). Hailed as a masterpiece, Portrait of Jason documented Jason telling stories of racism, homophobia, abuse and prostitution, with Shirley and her partner (the riveting but troubled black actor Carl Lee) seeming to urge Jason toward a tangled emotional breakdown.

But what really happened that day? What was the true nature of Jason’s relationship with Carl? What is the true nature of “truth”? Jason and Shirley is a new film, fictionally revisting of that fateful meeting and blowing the lid off this true story of power, destiny, and "truth."

The Catalyst Series is a platform for transformative, socially engaged new work. Through performing, media, and visual arts, the Catalyst Series sparks lasting dialogue in provocative and visionary ways, showcasing work by today’s emerging and vangaurd artists. The series offers a pathway for traditionally underrepresented artists, emerging local changemakers, and projects that ignite innovation.