Endowed with a high IQ, Fierstein failed two grades and attended the High School of Art and Design in east Midtown, which has a smoking terrace for students: “Hello, 1965!” When author Anaïs Nin visited Fierstein’s English class, an elegant harbinger of what would be many celebrity encounters, he read her tarot cards. Undiagnosed dyslexia enticed him to play the scenarios: series of texts, which meant speaking out loud. It’s no surprise that some of the most interesting parts of this book are the dialogues that are memorized. (“You are Madeline Kahn!” A ticket seller protested as the nearly 40-year-old comedian brandished his NYU ID and demanded a student discount on “Torch Song.” “So much more to learn,” Kahn replied).
Andy Warhol also said. Little Harvey admired the shoe illustrations the artist had done for Bloomingdale’s ads; While a sophomore at Pratt, where he made ceramics with genitals called Bad Boy Jugs, Fierstein got the role of an asthmatic lesbian maid wearing a red wig in “Andy” Warhol’s Pork” at La MaMa, the temple of Off Off Broadway. He mingles with the underground in Max’s Kansas City (to pay the check, the Factory sends a picture), though not without what becomes a trademark contraption. “I could never understand what Candy Darling was talking about, and when I did, it wasn’t worth the effort,” he said of one member of Warhol’s entourage.
The author’s parents, despite their apprehensions about the weird, must have done something right, because during his lifetime, Fierstein (he pronounces it FIRE-stein, even though he does pronounce it FIRE-stein) his brother pronounces it FEER-stein) is both fiery and intense. “My goodness, but what a joy it was to be a teenager left in the middle of a revolution!” he wrote about his first activity. Plays like “A Taste of Honey” and “The Boys in the Band” made it difficult for him because they were his material. loneliness and self-loathing, prompted him to write about his gay life more emphatically, more assertively.
It should be recalled that in late 1973, a male cultural writer for The Village Voice was arrested for holding another man’s hand as they crossed the street in Greenwich Village. Fierstein’s interview with Barbara Walters in 1983, during the first successful run of “La Cage Aux Folles”, in which she “asked me as if I were an interstellar alien” from Planet Homosexuality, is a big call for acceptance and still echoes today, on YouTube. “Standards,” he realized, “mean nothing but the masses.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/books/review-harvey-fierstein-i-was-better-last-night-memoir.html Harvey Fierstein sings his own song on ‘I Was Better Last Night’