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St. Reverend Jen


by The Corporate Mofo Webstaff



To know Saint Reverend Jen Miller is to love her. After all, the world needs more elf-eared, poetry-slamming, movie-starring, book-and-play-writing, former-art-school-punk-band-playing pixies. We first discovered her reading the introduction to her latest book, "Rev Jen's Really Cool Neighborhood" at Surf Reality last fall, and her writing's just brilliant. When we saw her troll museum featured in the Village Voice, we knew we had to do some sort of story on her. We lured her to Crif Dogs on St. Mark's Place with the promise of tater tots, and the following, only slightly fictionalized, conversation ensued.

CM: OK, for the record, what's your full name?

SRJM: Saint Reverend Jen Lynn Miller. You can guess which part I made up.

CM: Place of origin?

SRJM: Silver Spring, Maryland. Sniperland.

CM: I'd like to note for the record that you're wearing elf ears.

SRJM: Yeah, I was possessed by an elf at about 4 years old.

CM: OK, you're one of the most creative people on all of the Lower East Side. What was it like growing up down there in Maryland?

SRJM: Hellishly boring, but I tried never to be bored by becoming a workaholic at a young age. . . I started my own magazine when I was 12. I used to go out in the woods a lot and talk to squirrels and such.

CM: So, let me try to remember all the projects that you're involved with [ticks off on fingers] painting, the Surfing Collective theater, the anti-poetry slams Wednesday at Collective Unconscious, the Dance Liberation Front, selling elf panties, the Troll Museum. . . What are you up to now?

SRJM: Well, Nick and I are finishing up a movie called Wheatpaste Terror. I play a 75-year-old woman that loses her dog and goes around putting up posters and has the worst day of her life. She winds up getting beat up and thrown in jail. I'm also working on a superhero movie called Electra, Elven Fluffer. I get tied up and fight a lot—

CM: Hold on, I'm running out of room on this piece of paper. Hey, wait, I can flip the page! Think about that! So you were saying?

SRJM: So I get tied up fighting villains. With my Chihuahua.

CM: How do you spell ch. . . chih. . . Hey, wait a minute, they have a "Chihuahua" hot dog here [peers over at the Crif Dogs menu] C-H-I-H-U-A-H-U-A.

SRJM: The poetry slams are Wednesday nights. This Wednesday is the seven-year anniversary. And I should have my new book, Rev Jen's Really Cool Neighborhood, on the shelves by February. And I finished another book, Dungeons and Drag Queens. It's porn. Oh, and I started my career as a wrestler this past spring, so I've been a wrestler for a year. I had a great birthday party with wrestling and a band and cake at Collective.

CM: I should note that you're about five feel tall and weigh approximately 80 pounds, even after hot dogs and tater tots.

SRJM: I like to do things it seems I'll be really bad at. And I'm really bad at wrestling, but I'm really good at getting the crowd riled up.

Oh, and I'm making these other videos. They're based on the essays in Rev Jen's Really Cool Neighborhood. Like Mr. Rogers, but edgier.

CM: The Troll Museum was featured in the Village Voice lately. It seems to be getting a lot of attention.

SRJM: Yeah, it was featured in the Voice and a bunch of other places. I'd love to be able to schedule it myself, have it in a storefront. I'm thinking about incorporating it. Hey, you want some of these tater tots?

CM: Sure! [With mouth full of tater tots] OK, what is art? I mean, I know you went to art school. . .

SRJM: I actually stayed in art school all four years, and I have a degree. Art school is supposed to be a microcosm of the art world, so it taught me to rebel against it.

CM: And you had a punk band in art school? What happened to it?

SRJM: Julia [Reverend Jen's partner] moved to Ithaca and had a kid with a jazz musician. . .

CM: [Shudders] . . .I can think of no worse fate. . .

SRJM: And she was kind of crazy anyhow. Already my tolerance for mental illness was low. . .

CM: So, do you have a day job?

SRJM: I work at a museum three days a week. It's right across the street from my apartment. . .

CM: The Tenement Museum?

SRJM: Yeah.

CM: Of course, you could say that in New York, we all live in tenement museums, anyhow. . . Any other projects?

SRJM: I did a cable access show for a year. I dressed up as Doo Doo the Fifth Teletubby. The TV on my belly only showed scrambled porn. I went to FAO Schwartz and signed autographs and told people how management had screwed me until I got kicked out. Then I went to Toys R Us and rolled around on the ground until they kicked me out, too.

CM: That's a brilliant bit of culture jamming.

SRJM: I also did a character called Whitney LeBlanc the NYU Prostitute. Nick and I used a hidden camera. I dressed up like a prostitute with an NYU T-shirt and '80s crack-whore makeup. I used to proposition people on the street corner, like "I'm just trying to pay off my $18,000 in student loans!" I went into the Financial Aid office and asked if I could borrow $20, and followed tour groups around until they kicked me out of the dorms. Some of the students were, like, really mean.

CM: It seems all your characters have something tragic about them. . . 75-year-old women getting beat up and thrown in jail, alcoholic Teletubbies, NYU prostitutes. . .

SRJM: I think I'm a misanthrope. I'm trying to create powerful satire, and I think the way to do it is to throw myself in the middle of things. It's an experiment. But it's a certain madness throwing yourself into the middle of things-it's an experiment.


For more information on the Reverend Jen's madcap adventures, check out her infrequently-updated Web site!

Posted June 1, 2004 5:30 AM






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