Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Remembering Performance Artist and Poet Justin Chin

 Irvine -  Over the holiday break came sad news of the passing 24 December 2015 of a powerful gay Asian voice, that of the performance artist and poet Justin Chin.  Born in Malaysia, he grew up in Singapore and subsequently emigrated to the United States.

Justin Chin

In 1999, I interviewed him perhaps when he was already a rising and powerful alternative voice, by phone from San Francisco where he was ultimately based after a detour in Hawaii.  His interview delves into controversial issues (he first had sex when he was 12), Bill Clinton's sexual liaisons and impeachment, oral sex, Asian identity and small press publishing.  The original interview was webcast in January 1999 on KUCI's Subversity Show, in RealAudio (remember that format?).  I've converted it to mp3 and uploaded it to the KUCI server.

Listen and remember him! I shall miss his biting and raw literary voice.  -  Daniel C. Tsang.
To listen to the KUCI Subversity Online reformatted podcast of my 1999 interview with Justin,  click on:

See also:
Lambda Literary remembrance.
Obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle by its book editor.
KQED report on his passing.
SF Weekly earlier account.
Poetry Foundation profile.

The original press release announcing his then-forthcoming show appearance is as follows:

Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 23:44:35 -0800 (PST)

Peformance artist/Author on Subversity webcast

Irvine -- Subversity, a KUCI public affairs radio program, this Tuesday features an interview with gay Asian Justin Chin, the author of "Mongrel," a new book of "essays, diatribes and pranks" from St. Martin's Press. The show airs from 5-6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, 1999, on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, and is also Webcast live at The topic: "Performance artist as writer." Chin is also a performance artist with a long list of achievements. His earlier work was Bite Hard (Manic D Press), a finalist in the Firecracker Alternative Book awards and the Lambda Literary Awards. His writings have also appeared in Queer 13 (Rob Weisbach Books), Best American Gay Fiction 3 (Little, Brown), Flesh And The Word 4 (Plume), and Men On Men 5: New Gay Writing (Plume), among others.
His solo performances, described as "the raw stuff of serious risk taking," (San Francisco Bay Times), include "And Judas Boogied Until His Slippers Wept," "Go, or, The Approximate Infinite Universe of Mrs. Robert Lomax," "Born," "These Nervous Days," "Holy Spook," and "Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms." He has performed his work nationally, including at Highways and East-West Players in L.A; P.S. 122 and Dixon Place in N.Y.; Josie's, Center for the Arts, Intersection for the Arts, the LAB, the Asian Art Musuem, and the SF Art Institute in San Francisco; the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, and the New York International Fringe Festival.
Along with Dan Schott, he wrote and co-directed Downloads, an experimental video documentary that was screened at film festivals in New York, San Francisco, Mexico City, London, and Amsterdam. Other collaborations include Cockfight, a performance work with L.A. performance artist Hung Nguyen.
Chin received fellowships and grants from the California Arts Council, the Djerassi Artist Residency, PEN American Center, and PEN Center USA West, and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art. In 1996, he was awarded a "Goldie" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian in their annual awards honouring local artists. Chin was on the 1995 and 1996 San Francisco National Poetry Slam teams.
Chin will be interviewed by show host Daniel C. Tsang. Listeners can call (949) 824-5824 to chat with Chin during the show, or send us comments or questions via e-mail to

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