Annie Lanzillotto

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Annie Lanzillotto
BornJune 1, 1963 (1963-06) (age 55)
Bronx, New York, United States
OccupationAuthor, performance artist, poet, song writer, teacher
Period1990s ---
Notable worksGrandma Nunzio in Tony n' Tina's Wedding Times Square (2013).[1] L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir,[2] Schistsong,[3] a'Schapett at The Arthur Avenue Retail Market, How To Wake Up a Marine in a Foxhole,[4] and The Flat Earth: Wheredafffhuck Did New York Go?[5]

Annie Lanzillotto (born June 1, 1963) is an American author, poet, songwriter, director, actor, and performance artist.

Her book, L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir was published by State University of New York Press.[2] 2013. Her book of poetry, Schistsong was published by Bordighera Press.[6]

She is a member of Actors' Equity,[7] PEN America,[8] Malìa: a Collective of Italian American Women,[9] The Italian American Writers Association (IAWA),[10] a blogger for,[11] and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Hedgebrook,[12] Santa Fe Art Institute[13] 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.[14] She has taught Solo-Theater at The Actor's Theatre of Louisville.

Early years[edit]

Annie Lanzillotto was born in the Bronx, New York. She 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.[15] 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[16] 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,[17] "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[18][19] and Dr. James Crowley of Rhode Island Hospital.

She 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.[20] 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.


Lanzillotto 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.[21][22]

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.[23] 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,[24] funded by Rockefeller Foundation Multi Arts Production Grant. Lanzillotto has since written about this work in New Village Press's Works of HeART.[25][26] was created to bridge the downtown avant-garde performance scene of New York City with the working class labor of butchers and bakers.[27] Her community-based performance work at Arthur Avenue is featured in Molly O'Neill's film New York: A Taste of the City.[28]

Seminal to her political development was the Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Program[29] in which she was a fellow in 2000.

In 2008, she wrote and performed in The Flat Earth: "WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go?"[30][31][32][33]

Lanzillotto performed songs and stories at the first Gay Pride event at Hoboken Public Library.[34]

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.",[35]

Personal life[edit]

Lanzillotto is a lesbian who had a 16-year relationship with choreographer/artist Audrey Kindred, then 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.

Awards, grants, and honors[edit]



  • Schistsong, Bordighera Press, 2013. Poetry[6]
  • L is For Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, SUNY Albany Press, 2013.[42]



  • Eleven Recitations, StreetCry Productions, 2009.[46]
  • Blue Pill, Annie Lanzillotto Band, StreetCry Productions, recorded at The Loft, Bronxville, NY, 2010.[47]
  • Carry My Coffee, with Lori Goldston on cello. 2011.[48]
  • Swampjuice: Yankee With a Southern Peasant Soul, Annie Lanzillotto and Washbucket Blues, with Al Hemberger on guitars and bass, JT Lewis on drums, Rose Imperato on Tenor Sax and Flute, Bobby LaSardo on Blues Harp and Tenor Sax. Recorded at The Loft, Bronxville, New York 2016. [4]</ref>
  • Never Argue With a Jackass, Annie Lanzillotto, with Al Hemberger on guitars and bass, Pasquale Cangiano on Pocket Trumpet, Annie Lanzillotto on Dulcimer an Keyboard. Recorded at The Loft, Bronxville, New York 2017. [5]</ref>



  1. ^ [1] David Gonzalez "A Role That Blurs the Lines Between Drama and Reality". The New York Times, May 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Annie Lanzillotto, L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, SUNY Press: Archived June 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Excelsior Editions, (2013).
  3. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, Schistsong, [2] Bordighera Press, Via Folios, (2013).
  4. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, How To Wake Up a Marine in a Foxhole Archived April 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., One Woman Show.
  5. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, The Flat Earth: Wheredafffhuck Did New York Go? Archived May 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Performance.
  6. ^ a b Annie Lanzillotto, Schistsong, 2013.
  7. ^ Actors' Equity Archived September 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Malìa: a Collective of Italian American Women
  10. ^ Italian American Writers Association
  11. ^ blogger,
  12. ^ Hedgebrook
  13. ^ Santa Fe Art Institute
  14. ^ Interviewed by Caitlin DuBois, Annie Rachele Lanzillotto. Documenting Lesbian Lives Oral History Project, Sophia Smith College, Smith College. Northampton, MA, April 3, 2011.
  15. ^ National Catholic Forensic League's Competition Events
  16. ^ Annie Lanzillotto.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Group Independent Study Project, Brown University.
  18. ^ Stephanie LaFarge is Senior Director of Counseling Services at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Smartest People.
  19. ^ Stephanie LaFarge, of Project Nim.
  20. ^ Annie Lanzillotto receives Eva A. Mooar Award Archived April 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine..
  21. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory: and The Work of Remembering, March 22, 2008.
  22. ^ Steven Greenhouse, "In a Tragedy, a Mission to Remember" The New York Times, March 19, 2011.
  23. ^ Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Playing to the Senses: Food as a Performance Medium. Performance Research 4, 1 (1999): 1–30.
  24. ^ Dancing in the Streets
  25. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, 'a'Schapetti!' Final report [Arthur Avenue Retail Market Project], 1997.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ David Gonzalez
  28. ^
  29. ^ 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
  30. ^ Ruth McCann, "The Flat Earth Glows: Masochistically marrying New York" The Village Voice. Wednesday, July 2, 2008.
  31. ^ Martin Denton, The Flat Earth: WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go? review, June 19, 2008.
  32. ^ Dan Bacalzo, The Flat Earth: WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go? Theater Mania, June 24, 2008.
  33. ^ Stefano's Network, The Flat Earth: WheredaFFFhuck Did New York Go? June 20, 2008 Friday.
  34. ^ Lana Rose Diaz, "Out and About" The Hudson Reporter, July 1, 2011.
  35. ^ "A Role That Blurs the Lines Between Drama and Reality" David Gonzalez The New York Times, May 25, 2014.
  36. ^ NYFA FELLOWS 1999
  37. ^ Puffin Foundation
  38. ^ Dancing In The Streets, Inc.
  39. ^ Ann Rachele Lanzillotto, Marquis Who's Who: Biographies, when you need them, Copyright © 2012 Marquis Who's Who LLC.
  40. ^ Philadelphia Poets Archived August 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  41. ^ NYFA FELLOWS 2014
  42. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, L is For Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, Archived June 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. 2013.
  43. ^ New Village Press
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch, eds. Gastropolis: Food and New York City Archived February 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., 2007.
  46. ^ Annie Lanzillotto, Eleven Recitations.
  47. ^ Annie Lanzillotto Band, Blue Pill. Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  48. ^ Annie Lanzillotto and Lori Goldston, Carry My Coffee.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]