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Rosa von Praunheim
Having failed to break into professional opera in his native Germany (where, as an usher in West Berlin's Deutsche Oper, he would serenade the staff after the 'real' performances were over) the diminutive Klaus Nomi headed for NYC in 1972. The vibrant New Wave/avant-garde gestalt of the mid/late '70's East Village proved to be fertile ground for the development of his unique talents. Working by day as a high-end pastry chef, Nomi began to stage his outlandish performances, first launching himself upon an unsuspecting public at the New Wave Vaudeville in 1978. The hip and cynical young audience was stunned by this weird combination of falsetto arias, booming classical orchestration, Kraftwerk-style electronica, futuristic costumes and outer space imagery. An odd assortment of artists, choreographers, designers, songwriters and musicians jumped on to the Nomi bandwagon and the phenomenon began to take off - first attracting thousands to South Manhattan events (including performances at ...Written by
Andrew Horn's 'Nomi Song' is not a 'film' as such, but rather an extended television documentary shot on videotape.
The archive footage is a treat and includes unseen home video, rare performance footage and obscure TV appearances. It's fascinating to see videotape as the primary archive source in a documentary of this kind - so crude, so unstable, so immediate. The sourcing of this material is Andrew Horn's principle achievement.
But 'Nomi Song' is crude in other less interesting ways - as though a few more days in the edit might have helped. The interviews are unimaginatively staged and shot and some of the junctions between scenes jar.
The first hand accounts are illuminating, but sometimes petty and it would have been useful to hear some contemporary artists and more objective commentators weigh Klaus's achievement and influence to provide some perspective.
That said, this the only Nomi documentary available and we should be grateful for it. If you're curious to know more about this wonderful artist, this is a good place to start...
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