Annie Lanzillotto

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Annie Lanzillotto
Annie Lanzillotto.jpg
Born June 1, 1963 (1963-06) (age 53)
Bronx, New York, United States
Occupation Author, performance artist, poet, song writer, teacher
Ethnicity Italian American
Period 1990s ---
Notable works Grandma Nunzio in Tony n' Tina's Wedding Times Square (2013). *[4] David Gonzalez "A Role That Blurs the Lines Between Drama and Reality". The New York Times, May 25, 2014. L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir,[1] Schistsong,[2] a'Schapett at The Arthur Avenue Retail Market, How To Wake Up a Marine in a Foxhole,[3] and The Flat Earth: Wheredafffhuck Did New York Go?[4]

Annie Lanzillotto (born June 1, 1963 in Bronx, New York) is an American author, poet, songwriter, director, actor, performance artist, of Italian descent. Her book, L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir was published by State University of New York Press[1] 2013. Her book of poetry, Schistsong was published by Bordighera Press.[5][6] She has been interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders.[7][8] She is a member of Actors' Equity,[9] Pen America,[10] Malìa: a Collective of Italian American Women,[11] The Italian American Writers Association (IAWA),[12] a blogger for[13] and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Hedgebrook,[14] Santa Fe Art Institute[15] and New Jersey City University. Lanzillotto has shared her history for the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College's Documenting Lesbian Lives Oral History Project.[16] She has taught Solo-Theater at The Actor's Theatre of Louisville.

Early years[edit]

Annie Lanzillotto was born in the Bronx, New York. Lanzillotto is the fourth of four children. She is a third generation Italian American whose grandparents came from the Bari province of Italy; Acquaviva delle Fonti, Cassano delle Murge, and Bitetto. Her father, Joseph Rocco Lanzillotto was an iceman, boiler repairman, and U.S. Marine who fought in World War II in the Battle of Okinawa. Her mother, Rachel Claire Petruzzelli Lanzillotto was a hairdresser and manicurist. Her father suffered from PTSD. After her parents' vicious divorce when she was twelve, Lanzillotto's mother raised her alone on welfare.

Lanzillotto and her mother moved to Yonkers, New York, where Sister Raymond Aloysis trained and coached her into becoming an oratorical champion.[17] She won the National Catholic Forensic League's New York State Championship in 1977. Lanzillotto attended Roosevelt High School in Yonkers where she began to create performance art during her pledges to sorority Sigma Phi Nu. She can be heard on iTunes[18] talking about her early years, through StoryCorps.

Lanzillotto was influenced by punk rock and Joan Jett. She graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Medical Anthropology. As a freshman at Brown University in 1981, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease and in 1982, created the Group Independent Study Project,[19] "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Cancer But Were Afraid To Ask." This project was funded with "Odyssey Grants" in education for three years. Lanzillotto developed the curriculum with Dr. Stephanie LaFarge[20][21] and Dr. James Crowley of Rhode Island Hospital.

Lanzillotto studied at The American University in Cairo, Egypt, where she cross-dressed in order to complete her fieldwork of Schistosomiasis unfettered. In 1986, Lanzillotto received the Eva A. Mooar Award for the graduating Brown University female senior who had the most impact on the community.[22] During her university years, Lanzillotto took flying lessons and earned a private pilot's licence.

Lanzillotto studied writing in New York City with her mentor Denya Cascio. She continued her studies at Sarah Lawrence College where Lanzillotto studied fiction writing with Joseph Papaleo, poetry with Joan Larkin and theater with Shirley Kaplan. Lanzillotto taught at Sing Sing, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, and Bayview Correctional Facilities through Mercy College Extension Programs, and in Harlem and Brooklyn through The New York City Ballet Education Department. She graduated with a Master's of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 1990 and delivered the commencement speech, taking on the character of Sarah Lawrence herself.


She moved to New York City in 1987 and was heavily influenced by the downtown performance art scene, particularly by the solo artists Mark Ameen and Penny Arcade. Lanzillotto was a member of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP). In 1993, she developed a literacy program at Housing Works, where she met theater director Victoria MacElwayne who directed Lanzillotto's first solo show, Confessions of a Bronx Tomboy: My Throwing Arm (This Useless Expertise) which debuted at Manhattan Class Company MCC Theater's Performance Mix and Under One Roof Theater.

She created "Action Writing," a term Lanzillotto coined for her public performances of writing on oversized scrolls of paper, on which Lanzillotto would write to live music and perform recitations of the text. She performed poetry and one-woman shows at downtown art houses: Pyramid Club, Dixon Place, The Kitchen, Performance Space 122 Avant-Garde-Arama, The Knitting Factory, Smalls Jazz Club, Revolution Books, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Worker's United 99th and 100th Triangle Fire Memorial, Remember the Triangle Factory Fire Coalition's 99th memorial at Judson Memorial Church. Lanzillotto's vision of 146 Shirtwaist-Kites became a community art project memorializing the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.[23][24]

From November 1995 until November 1997, Annie Lanzillotto created a site-specific community-based performance-art project, "a'Schapett!" at The Arthur Avenue Retail Market Project, in a once thriving Italian neighborhood in the Bronx.[25] This was a site-specific community-based performance project where Lanzillotto brought artists into the market during business hours. She directed live scenarios both scripted and improvised, with local senior citizens, merchants and a variety of visiting opera singers, trapeze artists, musicians, dancers, and performance artists. The project came out of Annie's obsession of the vocality of pushcart peddlers. The project was commissioned by Dancing in the Streets,[26] funded by Rockefeller Foundation Multi Arts Production Grant. Lanzillotto has since written about this work in New Village Press's Works of HeART.[27][28] was created to bridge the downtown avant-garde performance scene of New York City with the working class labor of butchers and bakers.[29] Her community-based performance work at Arthur Avenue is featured in Molly O'Neill's film: New York: A Taste of the City.

Seminal to her political development was the Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Program[30] in which she was a fellow in 2000.

In 2008, she wrote and performed in The Flat Earth: "WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go?"[31][32][33][34]

Lanzillotto performed songs and stories at the first Gay Pride event at Hoboken Public Library.[35]

In 2013, her site-specific "Blue Mailbox Book Crawl" took the audience on a processional walk around the East Village where Lanzillotto sat atop blue corner mailboxes and told stories from her book L is for Lion. This work was supported by Franklin Furnace and City Lore. Later that year Lanzillotto played Grandma Nunzio in Tony n' Tina's Wedding in Times Square, directed by Tony Lauria, and produced by Joe Corcoran. Lanzillotto's approach of performance was described as "She's not acting. She's living.",[36]

Personal life[edit]

Lanzillotto is a lesbian who had a 16-year relationship with choreographer/artist Audrey Kindred, then Lanzillotto became a full-time caregiver to her hairdresser/manicurist mother Rachel Lanzillotto. Annie Lanzillotto survived Hodgkin's Lymphoma and thyroid cancer and has been a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City since she was 18 years old. She is interviewed about being a young adult cancer survivor on Stupid Cancer's website.[37]

Awards, grants, and honors[edit]


  • New York Times profile[29] by David Gonzalez A Role That Blurs the Lines Between Drama and Reality, May 25, 2014.
  • TV interview[44] by Fred Gardaphé, on L is for Lion on ITALICS City University of New York CUNY TV April 5, 2013.[45]
  • Radio Interview[46] by Thorne Dreyer, on L is for Lion, Rag Radio, KOOP, Austin, Texas, March 29, 2013.
  • Radio Interview[47] by Mark Helpsmeet, on songwriting and spirituality. Northern Spirit Radio's Song of the Soul. September 13, 2013.
  • Radio Interview[48] by Merry Gangemi, on L is for Lion, Women Stirred Radio WGDR Goddard College Community Radio, February 28, 2013
  • Radio Interview[49] by Dan Johnson on L is for Lion. KBOO Community Radio Out Loud February 12, 2013.
  • Radio Interview[50] by Cyrus Webb on L is for Lion, Midday Conversations, January 31, 2013.
  • Radio Interview[51] by Jean Feraca on L is for Lion, Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, March 26, 2012.
  • Oral History[52] by Caitlin DuBois, Documenting Lesbian Lives Oral History Project, Smith College. Northampton, MA, April 3, 2011.
  • Film Interview[53] by director Matt Levy, on her early tomboy years in the Bronx, featured in the film New York Street Games 2010.
  • Radio Interview[54] by Jean Feraca on Street Cries, Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, May 21, 2008.
  • Radio Interview[55] by Jean Feraca on food performance. Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, November 16, 2007.
  • Film Interview[56] by Molly O'Neill on a'Schappett! in Molly O'Neill's New York: A Taste of the City, Thirteen WNET 1998
  • New York Times profile[57]Where Hearts Are Worn on the Sleeve, February 15, 1997.


  • L is For Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, SUNY Albany Press, 2013.[58]
  • Schistsong, Bordighera Press, poetry 2013.[5]
Creative non-fiction essays
Scholarship about Annie Lanzillotto
  • Uncovering and Performing Italian American Stories by Stefania Taviano, in Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture, edited by Edvige Giunta and Kathleen Zamboni McCormick Modern Language Association 2010.[62]
  • A Lived History Under Scrutiny: Italian American Performance Art by Joseph Sciorra in Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture, edited by Edvige Giunta and Kathleen Zamboni McCormick Modern Language Association 2010.[62]
  • Playing to the Senses: Food as Performance Medium by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett in Performance Research 4, 1, pp 1–30. 1999.[25][63]
  • Live from the Nebulizer: Annie Lanzillotto and Eviction Survival by Hillary Miller in Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association Issue VI, 2015.[64]


  • Carry My Coffee, with Lori Goldston on cello. 2011.[65]
  • Blue Pill, Annie Lanzillotto Band, StreetCry Productions, recorded at The Loft, Bronxville, NY, 2010.[66]
  • Eleven Recitations, StreetCry Productions, 2009.[67]


  1. ^ a b Annie Lanzillotto, L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, SUNY Press: Excelsior Editions, (2013).
  2. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, Schistsong, [1] Bordighera Press, Via Folios, (2013).
  3. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, How To Wake Up a Marine in a Foxhole, One Woman Show.
  4. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, The Flat Earth: Wheredafffhuck Did New York Go? Performance.
  5. ^ a b Annie Lanzillotto, Schistsong, 2013.
  6. ^ 2013. Her performance work has been profiled by David Gonzalez in The New York Times.[2]
  7. ^ Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders
  8. ^ Jean Feraca, Annie Lanzillotto on Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders, March 26, 2012 at 3 pm
  9. ^ Actors' Equity
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ Malìa: a Collective of Italian American Women
  12. ^ Italian American Writers Association
  13. ^ blogger,
  14. ^ Hedgebrook
  15. ^ Santa Fe Art Institute
  16. ^ Interviewed by Caitlin DuBois, Annie Rachele Lanzillotto. Documenting Lesbian Lives Oral History Project, Sophia Smith College, Smith College. Northampton, MA, April 3, 2011.
  17. ^ National Catholic Forensic League's Competition Events
  18. ^ Annie Lanzillotto.
  19. ^ Group Independent Study Project, Brown University.
  20. ^ Stephanie LaFarge is Senior Director of Counseling Services at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Smartest People.
  21. ^ Stephanie LaFarge, of Project Nim.
  22. ^ Annie Lanzillotto receives Eva A. Mooar Award.
  23. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory: and The Work of Remembering, March 22, 2008.
  24. ^ Steven Greenhouse, "In a Tragedy, a Mission to Remember" The New York Times, March 19, 2011.
  25. ^ a b Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Playing to the Senses: Food as a Performance Medium. Performance Research 4, 1 (1999): 1–30.
  26. ^ Dancing in the Streets
  27. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, 'a'Schapetti!' Final report [Arthur Avenue Retail Market Project], 1997.
  28. ^ Lanzillotto's performance, How to Cook a Heart, described by David Gonzalez as a "Valentine to the Italian-American community of her youth" ."Where Hearts Are Worn On The Sleeve" The New York Times February 15, 1997.
  29. ^ a b David Gonzalez
  30. ^ Elizabeth Canner, Kathie deNobriga, Timothea Howard, Annie Lanzillotto, Pam McMichael & Cara Page Art, Creative, Practice, Action, and Leadership: A Next Generation Leadership Alumni Network Cooperative Inquiry
  31. ^ Ruth McCann, "The Flat Earth Glows: Masochistically marrying New York" The Village Voice. Wednesday, July 2, 2008.
  32. ^ Martin Denton, The Flat Earth: WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go? review, June 19, 2008.
  33. ^ Dan Bacalzo, The Flat Earth: WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go? Theater Mania, June 24, 2008.
  34. ^ Stefano's Network, The Flat Earth: WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go? June 20, 2008 Friday.
  35. ^ Lana Rose Diaz, "Out and About" The Hudson Reporter, July 1, 2011.
  36. ^ "A Role That Blurs the Lines Between Drama and Reality" David Gonzalez The New York Times, May 25, 2014.
  37. ^ SPOTLIGHT: Annie Lanzillotto, Young Adult Survivor, Hodgkin's + Thyroid Cancer, November 10, 2008.
  38. ^ NYFA FELLOWS 2014
  39. ^ Philadelphia Poets
  40. ^ Ann Rachele Lanzillotto, Marquis Who's Who: Biographies, when you need them, Copyright © 2012 Marquis Who's Who LLC.
  41. ^ Dancing In The Streets, Inc.
  42. ^ Puffin Foundation
  43. ^ NYFA FELLOWS 1999
  44. ^ TV interview 1: Annie Lanzillotto
  45. ^ ITALICS
  46. ^ Radio Interview 8: Annie Lanzillotto
  47. ^ Radio Interview 7: Annie Lanzillotto
  48. ^ Radio Interview 6: Annie Lanzillotto
  49. ^ Radio interview 5: Annie Lanzillotto
  50. ^ Radio interview 4: Annie Lanzillotto
  51. ^ Radio interview 3: Annie Lanzillotto
  52. ^ Oral History 1: Annie Lanzillotto
  53. ^ Film interview 2: Annie Lanzillotto
  54. ^ Radio interview 2: Annie Lanzillotto
  55. ^ Radio interview 1: Annie Lanzillotto
  56. ^ Film Interview 1: Annie Lanzillotto
  57. ^ David Gonzalez
  58. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, L is For Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, 2013.
  59. ^ Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch, eds. Gastropolis: Food and New York City, 2007.
  60. ^ Wallid Walla Bint, in Politics of Water: A Confluence of Women's Voices, Issue 9.4, Guest Editor: Paola Corso, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Centre for International and Security Studies, Toronto Ontario, Canada, York University, 2007.
  61. ^ New Village Press
  62. ^ a b Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture, Edited by Edvige Giunta and Kathleen Zamboni McCormick, Modern Language Association, 2010 Website.
  63. ^ Performance Research
  64. ^
  65. ^ Annie Lanzillotto and Lori Goldston, Carry My Coffee.
  66. ^ Annie Lanzillotto Band, Blue Pill.
  67. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, Eleven Recitations.

External links[edit]