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About Soup of the Evening by Bill Comstock

Mock Turtle, Gryphon, Alice, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Soup of the Evening, Steve Lott, Bill Comstock

Alice encounters the Mock Turtle with the Gryphon in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Mock Turtle is a very melancholy character, it is thought because he used to be a real turtle. Drawing by John Tenniel, 1865

My friend Sebastian Stuart was directing a new play by Steve Lott called Charlotte In Wonderland opening April 11, 1991 at The Theater for the New City. Steve had been stricken with AIDS, and Sebastian encouraged me to shoot a video about the production. I arrived at Steve’s home expecting to do an interview, and was totally unprepared to find him stark naked in his bathtub playing with Skipper dolls. Skipper was Barbie’s prepubescent little sister introduced by Mattel in 1964. Like Barbie, she was a dress-up doll, but designed to be “cute as a button.” The juxtaposition between Steve and Skipper could not have thrown our shared humanity into any starker relief: his wasted, diseased body; her unresponsiveness to his suffering, and the kindness of those around him. When I got home and looked at the footage, it played more like one of Samuel Beckett’s bleak tragicomedies than it did Faces of Death, and I decided to show it pretty much unedited. The scene in his bath was one of those “incredible happenings,” as Glenn Gould called them, which sometimes occur in the creative process, and that an artist may or may not have been conscious of designing. Soup of the Evening takes its name from a poem by Lewis Carroll called “Beautiful Soup.” It is sung by the Mock Turtle in Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. The video was shown at Internationales Schwullesbisches Filmfestival Berlin in 1995.