Linda J. Albertano is “a musician, a storyteller, a displayer of props, a comically-generated presence, a model of complex speaking methods, and a performance artist whose work has been presented in Europe as well as America.”
— Benjamin Weissman, Beyond Baroque
Albertano graduated from UCLA film school before studying performance with cultural icon Rachel Rosenthal and plunging headlong into inter-media performance. This she unleashed in such major venues as The LA Theater Center,UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, The John Anson Ford Theater, Barnsdall Gallery, as well as San Francisco’s New Langton Arts and San Diego’s Sushi Gallery (among others). During the same period, she often found herself reading her bare text in the company of poets. She’s been featured frequently at Beyond Baroque, SPARC, LACE, Highways, and other literary/spoken word meccas. She’s read her work at literally hundreds of events, appearing in such diverse contexts as Sunday Services at The Church in Ocean Park, MTV’s The Cutting Edge, LA’s Blue-Line rapid-transit, various colleges and universities (including the U. of C. at Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Irvine) and an assortment of serious venues like Galeria Ocaso and The Lhasa Club, or rowdy rock’n’roll palaces like The Knitting Factory (LA and NY) and Club Lingerie. She’s delivered her text at the LA Poetry Festival, South by Southwest, Lollapalooza, WORD LA and ALLEN GINSBERG’S AMERICA (his memorial celebration), as well as places in Europe like London’s October Gallery and Edinburgh’s Edge. She was among five poets who represented Los Angeles in Amsterdam’s One World Poetry Festival, a ten-day multinational bash underwritten by the Dutch Government.
“A genuine avant-garde café style… a riveting performance of monologues.” — Harold Norse, Poetry Flash
While published in several anthologies including The LAICA Journal, Beyond Baroque’s Truth, Etc. and Invocation LA, as a spoken-word artist, Albertano can be heard on more than a dozen compilation albums documenting LA’x streetspeak. Radio Tokyo, English As A Second Language, Hollyword and the sizzling Disclosure with its wild variety of female voices number among them. She’s authored several full-length projects for radio and CD. Spanish is the Loving Tongue (KCRW), Goldminers, an iconoclastic neo-feminist comedy (KPFK) and Greatest Hits (High Performance). She was also commissioned by New America Radio with three other poets to develop a 90-minute piece,Redefining Democracy in America. Her spoken CD, Skin, recorded for New Alliance Records, was reviewed in the UK.
“Lush language and carefully chosen aural bites cultivate texture in a world seeping with heat and saturated with history…A commentary that entertains and educates as it inquires.” — Juile Taraska, The Wire
Albertano played a part in Alice Cooper’s revived tour The Nightmare Returns in the US, Canada, and Great Britain. By night she was his Evil Nurse and Executioner. But by day, she read poetry in her own Radio Tour of America in Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, and other US hotspots. She was recognized as “Best Female Performer Poet” by the LA Weekly (1989). Works include Pointed Sweethearts and Mercenary Children (1984), I ? Your Boyfriend (1984) andLinda J. Albertano Sells Out (1986). which were well reviewed by The LA Times, The LA Weekly, Artweek and High Performance Magazine.
The LA Theater Center selected her to write, direct, and perform an original, full-length inter-media and spoken-word piece, Joan of Compton, Joan of Arcadia — de facto apartheid in Los Angeles (1986), complete with a cast of poets and artists as well as a 30-member marching band she discovered in South-Central LA. Then on a public beach for the Santa Monica Arts Council, she wrote, directed and performed in Calisaladia — a condensed history of California (1990) with a large multi-cultural cast. In the 90’s, she ran a poetry series at Van Go’s Ear in Venice and read with groups like Word Women, LA Woman, and Divas 3. With Suzanna Lummis and Laurel Ann Bogen, she founded Nearly Fatal Women who have toured both coasts, returning often to their home at Beyond Baroque.
In the new millennium, Albertano renewed her love of world music and traveled twice to Conakry in Guinea, West Africa to study kora, bolon and n’goni (stringed calabash instruments) with the masters of ancient musical traditions, Prince Diabate, Djelimuso, Koyate and Amadou Bolon. Prince Diabate has been recognized as one of the greatest living virtuosos of the kora (West African harp). As a member of his band, Albertano has been seen in LA’s Sacred Music Festival atRoyce Hall and The Madrid Theater as well as at The Getty Museum and in Global Strings at The California Plaza. Mean-while, she’s continued to read at familiar haunts and festivals and in new places like the Queen Mary and Angel’s Gate. In 2005 she was awarded a City of Los Angeles Certificate of Recognition as a Venice Poetry Diva. Currently, she reads annually for the Aquarium of the Pacific Poetry Cruise (an environmental tour of Long Beach Harbor) and cares for her elderly mother, who lives with her in a small apartment in Venice.
Linda Albertano (1952-2022) and Jean-Luc Godard
Poet, actress, and performance poet Linda Albertano died today. For well over 40 years, she worked the stages of Los Angeles as an exemplary spoken word artist whose recitals left audiences buoyant about their immediate prospects, no matter how grim they might have felt walking into the theater.
I first heard her perform at the Powerhouse Theater as part of a set of presentations connected with the Olympic Arts Festival. IN the years afterwards, she was a central member of NEARLY FATAL WOMEN, a troupe of women who performed their poetry with subtle layers of theatrical cadences. The other members of the ensemble included Suzanne Lummis and Laurel Ann Bogen.
Today, Jean-Luc Godard also died, and the director of such classics as “Breathless” and “Contempt” (my personal favorite) certainly deserves to have his lifetime of work acknowledged for its extraordinary impact.
But grief is ultimately about proximity.
And Linda Albertano, it the is image of the final time I saw you performing at Beyond Baroque that flickers on the screen of memory right now. Granted, your fortitude in reading at the L.A. public library just a couple week ago, as weak as you were, also plays alongside in a double screen, but you were someone that Godard should have made a film in which you were given the most memorable scene, which no doubt might have been startlingly brief. A tiny moment of time was all it ever took for someone to remember you the rest of their lives.
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022
NEARLY FATALWOMEN — featuring Linda Albertano
(thank you, Phil Taggart, who says. he recorded this in Oxnard around 20 years ago)