Putti’s Pudding Public Programme

Cookie Mueller & Vittorio Scarpati

‘Putti’s Pudding’ is a book and ‘final project’ by American writer and actor Cookie Mueller, and her husband, Italian artist Vittorio Scarpati. Published in 1989, the same year both died from complications related to AIDS, it pairs drawings by Scarpati with writing by Mueller.

Reimagined as an exhibition at Studio Voltaire, Putti’s Pudding featured forty–five original felt–tip pen on notepad drawings made by Scarpati when he lost the ability to speak, accompanying texts by Mueller, and a public programme of talks, readings, screenings and performance.

Events Programme:

Martin Myrone on Vittorio Scarpati
Thursday 28 September 2017

Martin Myrone, Lead Curator of British Art to 1800 at Tate Britain, explores the work of Vittorio Scarpati.

In her August 1989 Details column, Scarpati’s wife Cookie Mueller described his work as ‘a visual narrative that told of deep despair, sadness, and pain, but also hope, happiness, and joy […]  a tale of hospital horror, a black comedy’. This is a unique opportunity to hear Myrone discuss Scarpati’s works in relation to his own research, which has centred on British art of the ‘long’ eighteenth century (c.1650–1850). He has a special interest in the work of Henry Fuseli, William Blake and history painting c.1750–1830, with a particular focus on questions of gender and identity and on the emerging exhibition cultures and art worlds of the period.

Listen here:

Writer Linda Yablonsky discusses Cookie Mueller & Vittorio Scarpati
Saturday 30 September 2017

Writer Linda Yablonsky is joined by Paul Pieroni, curator of Putti’s Pudding, to discuss the enduring humour, passion and intensity of Cookie Mueller and Vittorio Scarpati’s works and lives.

Yablonsky and Mueller became close friends as neighbours in the West Village, and the character of Honey in Yablonsky’s novel The Story of Junk is loosely based on Mueller. She additionally contributed a key essay to the exhibition catalogue of the seminal show Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing at Artists Space, NYC (1989), which included one of Scarpati’s drawings from the ‘Putti’s Pudding’ series.

Watch here:

Charlie Fox, Fable
Saturday 14 October 2017

Fox reads his original short story Fable, which was written especially for this event in response to Mueller’s writings, life and the exhibition.

Charlie Fox is a writer who lives in London. His work has appeared in publications including frieze, Cabinet, Sight & Sound, ArtReview, The Wire and The White Review. Fox’s book This Young Monster (Fitzcarraldo Editions) was published in 2017.

David Hoyle, RESPONSE
Wednesday 25 October 2017

Avant–garde cabaret artist David Hoyle presents RESPONSE a new performance in response to Putti’s Pudding and Rainbow Aphorisms. In this new work, Hoyle will create a beyond–verbal space which explores the terrain of illness through healing, sound and ritual.

Read more…

Alice Butler on Cookie Mueller
Thursday 2 November 2017

Writer Alice Butler discusses the work of Cookie Mueller, engaging with the themes of adolescence, personal performance and disease in Mueller’s short stories. Butler’s talk extends from her extensive research into Mueller’s life and work and includes archival materials, a screening of Ira Sach’s Last Address, and a public reading of Mueller’s writing.

Listen here:

Watch Last Address here:

Reading Series:

In a special series of readings held weekly throughout the exhibition, artists, activists, writers, academics and performers shared their chosen passages from Cookie Mueller’s collected writings and short stories, including Dogs I Have Known, Another Boring Day, The One Percent, The Italian Remedy, Go–Going, The Berlin Film Festival, Notes from an American Childhood, The Birth of Max Mueller, Abduction and Rape, John Waters and the Blessed Profession, Sam’s Party, Pink Flamingos and British Columbia.

Mueller penned a self–help medical column for East Village Eye, whilst also writing a regular art diary for Annie Flanders’ Details magazine. Her work was published in magazines and journals including Bomb, City Lights Review and High Times. In addition to Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, the first book in Chris Kraus’ Native Agent imprint for Semiotexte, Mueller published several collections of work, including Fan Mail, Frank Letters and Crank Calls (1988) and Garden of Ashes (1990).

Studio Voltaire would like to thank all the contributors to the Cookie Mueller readings series:

Oliver Basciano
Juliette Blightman
Alice Butler
Bonnie Camplin
Adam Christensen
Paul Flynn
Charlie Fox
Aurelia Guo
Martin Hargreaves
Juliet Jacques
Allison Katz
Ian Law
Huw Lemmey
Lucy Mercer
Sophie Robinson
Erica Scourti
Edward Thomasson
and Isabel Waidner

Listen here:

Screening Series:

A weekly series of screenings throughout the exhibition introduced rarely seen experimental films from queer cinema, documentary works covering both personal loss and responses to the AIDS crisis, and classic John Waters’ cult movies starring Cookie Mueller.

Female Trouble (1974) Directed by John Waters
John Waters’ classic trash extravaganza Female Trouble tells the life story of murderous anti–heroine Dawn Davenport, from schoolgirl dropout through to her notorious end in the electric chair. Alongside fellow Dreamlanders Divine, Mink Stole and Edith Massey, Cookie takes on one of her most memorable roles as Concetta, Davenport’s equally riotous accomplice.

Lightning Over Water (1980) Directed by Nicholas Ray and Wim Wenders
Lightning Over Water is a collaborative documentary film by Wim Wenders and Nicholas Ray. Filmed in 1979, the work follows Ray during the final stages of terminal cancer. Balancing universal themes of life and death, Wenders’ loving admiration of Ray is clearly evident in this poignant portrayal of his last days.

Bonnie Camplin & Jo Spence
This special double screening featured two intergenerational practices that explore the cultural and socio–political conditions of health, sickness and end of life care.

Bonnie Camplin, Cancer (2004)
“In Cancer (2004) we see an unknown professor presenting the facts of cancer and stem cell theory in deadpan manner. Suddenly the image distorts, rips at the seams, and his skull disappears, leaving only floating eyeballs as hundreds of pixelated figures pour down the screen in a visual mimesis of the impact of cancer cells within the body. Bone, brain, breast, thyroid, lymphoma, metastases and sarcomas: perhaps cancer in all its stubbornly enduring biological fact is the true villain of the piece.” Dan Fox, frieze June 2004.

Arena: Putting Ourselves in the Picture – the Work of Jo Spence (London: BBC, 1987) Directed by Ian Potts 
First produced as part of the BBC’s influential Arena series, this documentary looks at the life and work of Jo Spence following her diagnosis with breast cancer in 1982. Spence held the firm belief that photography has an empowering capacity when applied to complex issues of class, power, gender, health and the body.

Watch here:

Multiple Maniacs (1970) Directed by John Waters
John Waters’ darkly comic second feature film is awash with depravity and anarchy, starring Divine in perhaps her most unforgettable role. Produced in Waters’ native Baltimore on a shoe–string budget, ‘Dreamlanders’ including Cookie Mueller, feature as a misfit troupe of circus performers – the Cavalcade of Perversion.

United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012) Selected by Sarah Schulman:
UNITED IN ANGER: A HISTORY OF ACT UP is a unique feature-length documentary that combines startling archival footage and insightful interviews from the ACT UP Oral History Project to explore ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) from a grassroots perspective.

This film was selected for screening by Sarah Schulman, a writer and social activist whose influential works include Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America (1998) and The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (2012).

This screening included an introduction by Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt [EM] from ACT UP London.

Watch here:

IXE (1980) & La Marche Gaie (1980) Lionel Soukaz
Following the censorship of his 1979 film RACE D’EP, Soukaz rebelled more strongly than ever against any efforts to exert control over his art, or any aspect of his life. Cinematically, his immediate response was IXE. A powerful manifesto proclaiming the freedom to live, and a direct provocation to the censors, IXE encompasses depictions of nearly every imaginable taboo within French society at that time. IXE forms an audiovisual explosion of rage, beautifully summed up by philosopher René Schérer as “hopeless vitality.” In October 1979, Soukaz visited New York along with Guy Hocquenghem to present RACE D’EP. Their visit coincided with the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, and he decided to document it, resulting in his film LA MARCHE GAIE.

Watch La Marche Gaie here:

Cookie Mueller Online Resources:

BOMB magazine archive

The Simplest Thing, July 1988
The Mystery of Tap Water, July 1983
Theatre, January 1982
A True Story About Two People: Easter 1964, April 1981
Baltimore 1969, October 1982
Brenda Losing/Valerie Losing 2, January 1982
My Bio: Notes on an American Childhood, 1949–1959, January 1985
The Head Gargoyle, April 1983

East Village Eye archive

January 1983
June 1983
March 1985
June 1984

Online Video Clips

Sylvia Miles, Ronee Blakley, Cookie Mueller at The Chelsea Hotel

Cookie Mueller reads Secrets of the Skinny live

Films Online

Subway Riders, 1981


Smithereens, 1982

Fales Library and Special Collections online resource

Serpent’s Tail/High Risk Archives contains manuscripts, newspaper and magazine publications, and drafts of Cookie Mueller’s writings. It also contains personal photographs, drawings, and other materials belonging to Cookie Mueller.

Additional related materials are held at the Fales Library in the following collections:

Richard Hell Papers
Amos Poe Papers
Ira Silverberg Papers
Dennis Cooper Papers
Ron Kolm Papers
Frank Moore Papers
David Wojnarowicz Papers
“Not Only This, But New Language Beckons Us” Exhibition Archive
Sylvere Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive

Please contact the archive here for further details.

Cookie Mueller & Vittorio Scarpati Elsewhere

Artists Space, NYC
Between Bridges, Berlin
Mission356 No Credit, Cash Only: Cookie in Film + Video is a visual lecture of images and clips. Presented by Dirty Looks NYC’s Bradford Nordeen.
VISUAL AIDS 5th Annual Last Address Tribute Walk, Bette Gordon Tribute to Cookie Mueller
Kathe Burhart on Cookie Mueller as part of the exhibition Not only this, but New language beckons us at Fales Library and Special Collections, 2013.

Books about Cookie Mueller:

Edgewise – a Picture of Cookie Mueller

Art direction & design concept: Chloé Griffin and Gwenaël Rattke.
Publisher: b_books Verlag in Berlin, Germany
Distributor: ARTBOOK | D.A.P. (Distributed Art Publishers)

“Quite possibly the best history of New York’s much-reprised ‘last avant-garde’ of the 1980s, Edgewise reinvents the inspired amateurism of Mueller’s work, and also creates unforgettable portraits of John Waters’s Baltimore and Provincetown in the 1970s, ‘when the water was still clean.’” Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick and Summer of Hate.

Edgewise tells the story of Cookie’s life in the form of an oral history assembled from more than 80 interviews with the people who knew her, including John Waters, Mink Stole, Gary Indiana, Sharon Niesp, Max Mueller, Linda Yablonsky, Richard Hell, Amos Poe and Raymond Foye. The contributors take us from the late-1960s artist communes of Baltimore to 1970s Provincetown and New York, through 1980s Berlin and Positano.

This book marks the first time Cookie’s full story has been told in any form—whether print, film or online.


Books by Cookie Mueller

How To Get Rid of Pimples. New York: Top Stories, 1984.
Fan Mail, Frank Letters, and Crank Calls. New York: Hanuman Books (no. 15), 1988.
Putti’s Pudding. With illustrations by Vittorio Scarpati. Kyoto: Kyoto Shoin International, 1989.
Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black. New York: Semiotext(e), 1990.
Garden of Ashes. New York: Hanuman Books (no. 34), 1990.
Ask Dr. Mueller. Edited by Amy Scholder. New York: High Risk Books, 1997.
DRUGS. Cookie Mueller and Glenn O’Brien. The Kingsboro Press and For The Common Good, 2016.

Other Publications

Baltimore 1964: A True Story About Two People and Provincetown, Massachusetts: A True Story, 1970. In Ferro-Botanica no. 3. NJ: Steel Garden Press, 1982.

Route 95 South-Baltimore to Orlando. In Just Another Asshole #6. Edited by Barbara Ess and Glenn Franca. New York: JAA, 1983.

Baltimore, 1964: A True Story about Two People and Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1970 and British Columbia, 1972 and Andrew: Secrets of the Skinny and Randy Eros, the Sexiest Kid in Town and The Story of Frank the Dog and Frieda Ann the Third. In Wild History. Edited by Richard Prince. New York: Tanarn Press, 1985.

The Truth About the End of the World. In Angle of Repose. Edited by Nancy Peskin. Buffalo, NYI Hallwalls, 1986. [A collection of stories presented during the 1983-84 Fiction-Diction reading series at Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo, NY]

An Object Too Long Pondered. In Thought Objects: Just Another Asshole #7. Edited by Barbara Ess and Glenn Branca. Buffalo, NY.: CEPA; New York: JAA Press, 1987.

My Bio: Notes on an American Childhood. In Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writings by Contemporary Artists. Edited by Brian Wallis. New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art; Cambridge, MA; MIT Press, 1987.

It Happened on the Haight. In Pandemonium 2. Edited by Jack Stevenson. Cambridge, MA Living Color Productions, 1987.

Pink Flamingos. In Spunky International: Translux. Edited by Billy Miller. Independently produced artist book, 1988.

Superior Beings. In Your House is Mine-A Collection of Images and Texts Concerning the Broad and Essential Issue of Housing on the Lower East Side. Edited by Andrew Castrucci and Nadia Corn in conjunction with ACT UP and Bulletspace. New York: Bulletspace, 1989-1991. [Limited edition artist book (150 portfolio copies); a newspaper edition of 10,000 copies based on the artists book was issued in 1993.]

Sam’s Party. In A Day in The Lift: Tales From The Lower East: An Anthology of Writings from the Lower East Side, 1940-1990. Edited by Alan Moore and Josh Gosciak. New York: Evil Eye Book. and Autonomedia, 1990.

Which Came First? In Out World in Anthology of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project 1966-1991, Edited by Anne Waldman. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1st Edition, 1991. New York Crown Publishing Group, 1991.

The One Percent. In High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings. Edited by Amy Scholder and Ira Silverberg. New York Plume, 1991. Reprint: Serpents Tail, 1991. Hardcover Edition: Dutton Books, 1991. [Translated into Italian: Ad alto rischio. Antologla di seritti proibiti. Translators: M. Garuti and S. Migx. Shake, 1997.]

Goda and other selections from How To Get Rid of Pimples. In Top Top Stories. Edited by Anne Turyn. New York: City Lights Publishers, 1991.

The Italian Remedy–1982 and Ask Dr. Mueller–Brief Tips from Italy (September 1983). In Ten Years After: Naples, 1986-1996. Nan Goldin. Zurich: Scalp Verlag, 1998.

Keep a Few Things in Mind and At the Hour Before Dawn and Those Days and Life Among the Alert of Europe, in collaboration with Richard Hell and H. M. Koutoukas. In Hot and Cold. Richard Hell. New York: powerHouse Books, 2001.

The Birth of Max Mueller. In The Devil’s Playground. Nan Goldin. London: Phaidon Press, 2003.

Excerpt of Art and About from Details magazine (November 1988). In so80’s: A Photographic Diary of a Decade. Edited by Patrick McMullan. New York: powerHouse Books, 2003.

It Happened in the Haight. In The High Times Reader. Edited by Annie Nocenti and Ruth Baldwin. New York: Nation Books, 2004.

Go–Going–New York & New Jersey–1978–79. In Up Is Up, But So Is Down. New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. Edited by Brandon Stosuy. New York: NYU Press, 2006.

Fleeting Happiness. In The Reader. Edited by Ali Smith. London: Constable, 2006. [Later printed under the title The Book Lover. New York: Anchor Books, 2008.]

Magazines and Journals

A quarterly arts and culture magazine

“A True Story about Two People, Easter 1964.” Bomb, Spring (1981)
“Theatre,” Bomb, Winter (1981–1982)
“Baltimore 1969.” Bomb, Fall (1982)
“The Head Gargoyle.” Bomb, Spring (1983)
“The Mystery of Tap Water.” Bomb, Summer (1983)
“My Bio: Notes on an American Childhood, 1949–1959.” Bomb, Winter (1985)
“The Simplest Thing.’ Bomb, Summer (1988)

City Lights Review
Literary Journal published by City Lights bookstore, edited by Amy Scholder

“A Last Letter.” City Lights Review no. 2 (1988)

Published by St Mark’s Poetry Project

“Go–Going.”, Cuz no. 1 (1988)
“Keep a Few Things in Mind.” Cuz no. 3 (1989)

Monthly magazine

“Art and About” and ‘Travel Guide Details (August/September 1982– September 1989)

East Village Eye
Monthly magazine of popular and avant garde culture
Cookie worked as contributing editor (1983–1985)

“Ask Dr. Mueller.” East Village Eye (October 1982–June 1985)
“Alphaville.” East Village Eye, July (1982)
“Video & Self Image.” East Village Eye, August (1982)
“Film: Geek Maggot Bingo.” East Village Eye, April (1983)

The Gargoyle
Literary magazine of Catonsville High School, Baltimore, MD.

Short stories and poetry, late ’60s

High Times
Monthly magazine Worked as contributing editor (1985–1986)

“High Advisor.” High Times (February 1985–March 1986)
“It Happened in the Haight.” High Times, May (1986)
“Reagan.” 1111th Times, June (1986)
“It Happened in the Haight.” High Times. [Reprint] March (1990)

Long Shot
Literary magazine edited by Danny Shot
Long Shot Productions

“Ed’s Party—Lower East Side, NYC, 1979.” Long Shot, vol. 5 (1987)

Lo Spazio Umano: Rivista Internationale di Sri–enze Umane, Arte e Letteratura
Quarterly arts magazine edited by Enrico R. Comi

“I Hear America Sinking or A Suburban Girl Who is Naïve and Stupid Finds Her Reward” Lo Spazio Umano: Rivista Internationale di Sneeze Umane, Arte e Letteratura, no. 11, April–June (1984)
“The Mystery of Tap Water.” Lo Spazio Umano: Rivista Internationale di Seienze Umane, Arte e Letteratura, no. 12, July–September (1984)

Saturday Review of Literature
Weekly magazine
Worked as contributing editor (May 1985–June 1986)

“New York City’s 6 Best, Most Undiscovered Artists.” Saturday Review of Literature, July/ August (1985)
“Larger Than Life: The World of Robert Longo.” Saturday Review of Literature, November/December (1985)

Soho Weekly News
Weekly magazine

“Champagne & Cocaine.” Soho Weekly News, May (1981)

Soldes Magazine
A Brussels “tabloid New Wave graphique international”
Edited by Anne Frere, Marc Borgers, Michel Renard, Jean–Louis Sbille

All You Need is Love issue no, 8/9 (January 1981)
John Waters interviewed by Cookie Mueller

The World No. 34, 1981
The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church literary magazine
Edited by Ann Rower

“The Third Twin” and “San Francisco, 1967: Near Easter, All True.” The World, No. 34 (1981)

Verbal Abuse
A literary quarterly “Life Among the Alert of Europe,” in collaboration with Richard Hell. Verbal Abuse, no. 1 (1993)


“A Last Letter.” In Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing. AIDS exhibition curated by Nan Goldin at Artists Space (16 Nov. 1989–6 Jan. 1990)
Jedd Garet Text for catalogue New York: Totah–Stelling Art, 1985

Credit: Edgewise – a Picture of Cookie Mueller.



Multiple Maniacs,  Cookie Divine/Cavalcade patron/Jesus follower
Pink Flamingos, Cookie
Female Trouble, Concetta
Desperate Living, Flipper
Final Reward, Veronica
Seduction of Patrick
Underground U.S.A, Betty (a barmaid)
Downtown 81 (a.k.a. New York Beat Movie), 2nd Go-Go Dancer
Subway Riders, Penelope Trasher
Polyester, Betty Lalinski
Smithereens, Karen in Horror Movie Sequence
Variety, Woman in bar

Recommended Reading

Dodie Bellamy, When the Sick Rule the World, L.A.: Semiotext(e), 2015
Max Blagg, Licking the fun up, London: Aloes Books, 1991
Stella Bolaki, Illness as Many Narratives: Arts, Medicine and Culture, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016
Alice Butler, Cookie Mueller’s life in stories, Cabinet Magazine Issue 62, “Milk,” 2017
Charlie Fox, This Young Monster, London: Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017
Gary Indiana, Last Seen Entering the Baltimore, L.A.: Semiotext(e), 2010
Juliet Jacques, Trans A Memoir, London: Verso, 2016
Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012
Jo Spence, Putting Myself In The Picture, London: Camden Press, 1986
Up Is Up, But So Is Down New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974–1992, Edited by Brandon Stosuy with an afterword by Dennis Cooper and Eileen Myles, New York: NYU Press, 2006
Isabel Waidner, Gaudy Bauble: Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017
David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration, New York: Vintage, 1991
Linda Yablonksy, JUNK, New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1997

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