Venice Beat Generation history and cultural significance will be celebrated and revisited at an upcoming staged reading of a play, A Night With the Holy Barbarians, by Venice Canals resident and Beat culture revivalist Grace Godlin, at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 26th, at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice. Tickets are $10.
Together with Eric Vollmer, Godlin has produced an event that will feature readings of important Venice Beat works by poets including Stuart Perkoff and Tony Scibella, along with a musical performance by singer/ songwriter Kathy Leonardo, and a reading by poet Philomene Long, who had a strong connection to the original Venice Beatnik literary scene and was the wife of the late legendary Beat poet John Thomas.
Godlin’s play dramatizes a memorable reading from the height of the Beatnik era in 1956, which included Allen Ginsburg teaming up with the Venice Beat poets for a reading in Hollywood. The reading was documented in the diary of famed author Ana‘s Nin, who attended the reading as a friend of Ginsburg. During the reading, Ginsburg stripped down naked during a reading of his famed Howl and other poems, shocking the 1950s audience.
Godlin, who was a school teacher with Los Angeles Unified School District for 37 years, says she was attracted by the original Venice Beat scene as a young college student in the 1950s and attended readings at local Beat hangouts the Venice West Cafe (currently Sponto Gallery) and the Gas House in Venice.
“I was drawn to the Beat movement because they seemed to be going against the grain, going against the conformist society I had grown up in,” Godlin says. “But I also felt hesitant about fully throwing myself into it. It was too risky, too unknown.
“The Beats would rather spend their days creating their works of sculpture and poetry and didn’t worry about making a living. They would do the minimum amount of work it took to survive and to be able to create what they were passionate about.
“I did not know what I was witnessing. I was too young and naive to even realize it was a movement.
“It’s now part of the literature curriculum of most schools.”
Though the Venice Beats, names like Stuart Perkoff, along with literary mentor Lawrence Lipton, Frank Rios, John Thomas and Tony Scibella are not as famous as their contemporaries from New York and San Francisco like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac or William Burroughs, Godlin believes that the Venice Beats are worthy of being remembered.
“The Beats in New York and San Francisco were really good at self-promotion. The Beats in Venice truly turned their backs on pop culture.”
Godlin hopes to create a “renewed interest in Venice Beat history” through the upcoming staged reading and future events, she says.
Information, (310) 822-3006.