O n a freezing night in Februaryconnoisseurs of advanced music thronged to a small concert hall beneath the Wurlitzer Building in New York to hear — also, assuredly, to get an eyeful of — the cellist Charlotte Moorman. Among them were half-a-dozen conspicuous squares whom everybody pegged immediately as plainclothes policemen.
Moorman took the stage wearing an electrified, flashing bikini.
Nude girl with a cello.
She played her cello pussy rapidshare a violin in place of a bow, and then a playing of flowers. It was only when she neared the third aria — to cello executed in football helmet and jersey, but nothing below — that the police rushed naked stage and bundled Moorman through the snow to a night in the cells and a charge of indecent exposure.
Moorman had already performed topless or naked in Europe, to little fuss. Photographs from Germany and Scandinavia show audiences of bourgeois concertgoers and adepts of the New Music: By the mids she was well established in New York as an interpreter of John Cageand as the energetic if unreliable organiser of a festival of experimental art and music.
Cello with her playing Moorman broached the mainstream.
Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman by Joan Rothfuss – review
The case made her name, but arguably unmade her in the eyes of the avant-garde. She became a chat-show staple, a novelty act. Her brief, dazzling fame, her extravagance, temerity and wit — these, absurdly, are the main reasons you naked not have heard of Charlotte Moorman.