Towering over his audiences even before he put on his trademark stiletto heels and skyscraper wig, Ethyl Eichelberger had a breathless Downtown career, creating nearly forty plays that often explored the struggles of strong women in history, literature and myth - from Medea to Mary Todd Lincoln. Often performing with his beloved accordion, Eichelberger described himself as a storyteller who specialized in classics, but these were always drastically re-imagined with a deep love of the ridiculous. A legendary performer in clubs like The Pyramid, King Tut's Wah Wah Club and 8 B.C., Eichelberger gained critical acclaim, a loyal audience, and a mythic reputation. In 1990, at the age of 45, he committed suicide in the Staten Island home of his friend John Brockmeyer, by slashing his wrists in a bathtub. Some claim PS122 is gently haunted by his spirit.

Isis knows it hasn't been easy! / It's a lot of hard work being a queen! / And there are factions out there who don't like what I represent! / Tough noogies! I have a right to be here! – Ethyl Eichelberger, from his play Nefertiti
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