But 2013 has been his best year yet. This summer, he debuted his latest multimedia performance piece, I Am An Opera, a monologue-with-arias (sung in Italian, with funny supertitles) about a mushroom trip gone wrong.
The piece was commissioned by Dixon Place on the Lower East Side, and earned Keckler a feature in The New York Times, a review by the Times‘ opera critic (who attempted to school him in the proper uses of opera), and appeared as a guest on The Nerdist on BBC America.
In October, Keckeler was named “Downtown Performance Artist of the Year” by the Village Voice.
On December 5, Keckler will share a bill with two friends, Kenny Mellman and Erin Markley, at the Holiday Spectacle at Dixon Place,. In the meantime, he’ll be performing in Los Angeles, and preparing to perform I Am An Opera for a run at St. Mark’s Church in the East Village in January.
So it seemed like a good time to sit down with him in a basement rehearsal room at Dixon Place, to talk about where he’s been, what it’s like to be a downtown “best” and his thoughts on the place where opera and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins meet.
I Am An Opera is an hour-long live performance. However, here is a video clip that gives a sense of the show:
And beyond singing, Keckler does a variety of characters:
Finally, the video for “The Ride,” which Keckler discusses during our interview:
For more information on the artist, visit www.josephkeckler.com.
– David Watts Barton