Filip Noterdaeme

I was born in Munich, Germany and grew up in Paris, France. I have in consequence always preferred living in a moderate climate but it is difficult, in America or even on the continent of Europe, to find a moderate climate and live in it. My mother’s father was a professor, he came to Bavaria in ‘39, he married my grandmother who was very fond of literature. She was the daughter of a fur merchant. My mother was and is a charismatic ambitious woman named Ulla. 

My father came of germanic czech stock. His german father was a romantic and artistic but his family convinced him to pursue a military career. His czech wife, my grandmother, left him shortly after giving birth to my father and his younger sister when he began to sympathize with the Nazis and raised her two children by herself, but the war being over, she was expelled from her home country for having been married to a german and sent to Bavaria where she remarried and led the life of a conservative well-to-do garment retailer.

I myself have had no linking for violence and have always enjoyed the pleasures of singing and cooking. I am fond of kitchenware, desserts, books, scarves, cardigans and even cologne and lip balm. I like a man’s suit but I like it worn by a woman

The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart

As I was saying I was living by myself but there was in my mind a growing desire for change. Harry Heissmann’s return from a trip to New York followed by his suggestion that perhaps I belong there made the difference.

Harry Heissmann brought me several gifts from New York, an invitation card for a party at the Roxy, a Wet Paint sign and a subway token, the first New York things I owned. He also told me many stories of life in New York. My parents were very disturbed by this, after all there had been at that time a great deal of talk about New York being a very dangerous city. Within a few months I dissolved my household in Munich and moved to New York. It was only a few years later when I got to perform at Bar d’O with Joey Arias who had reinvented the art of cabaret and there I met Filip Noterdaeme. I was impressed by his tight white T-shirt and the word Dreamer printed across the chest. I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say that in neither of the three cases was it ever necessary for anybody else to tell me so as I recognized the quality in each of them instantly and on my own. The three people of whom I wish to speak are Filip Noterdaeme, Joey Arias and Meow Meow. I have met many talented people, I have met some brilliant people but I have only known three first class geniuses and in each case on sight within me something rang. In no one of the three cases have I been mistaken. In this way my new full life began.


This book is published by Outpost19 and is available for purchase here.

Background illustration by Marcela Gutiérrez