BY BOB KRASNER | On April 1, Hattie Hathaway received a memorial so wonderful that it was possible to be jealous of a dead man.
More than 200 friends and colleagues of the recently deceased Brian Butterick a.k.a. Hattie danced and twirled their parasols behind a New Orleans-style marching band. They wended their way from Tompkins Square Park to the La MaMa Theatre, on E. Fourth St., stopping traffic and onlookers along the way.
Dressed in funeral drag ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, the group’s joyous march was a most-fitting tribute to a well-loved member of the community.
The evening was organized by the Howl! Happening gallery, where Hattie was a member of the board and a longtime friend. Jane Friedman, Howl! founder and executive director, said the idea was to have a large-scale participatory memorial, and that Butterick merited it.
“He was a very important figure in the community, especially in theater arts,”
she said. “We wanted to give everyone a chance to participate in his memorial — to show up and show off and be fabulous! What better way to do it than a parade?”
Miss Debra Raffles Trizzini, a friend for more than a decade, marveled at the “magnitude of people, the love and the fervent respect for our amazing wild Hattie!”
“I was overwhelmed with joy, sadness, honor and grief,” she said. “It was all so beautiful and perfect.”
Once inside La MaMa, Chi Chi Valenti took the role of emcee, presenting a mix of reminiscence, poetry, music and performance art to a packed house in celebration of what she called “an incredible life.”
Howl! Director Ted Riederer started the evening off, by noting that Hattie “had a rare and special gift for making art and music out of chaos.”
“Howl! will never be the same,” he declared.
When it was all over, he looked around and summed up the event perfectly: “That,” he declared, “was epic.”
Tabboo performed a tribute accompanied by Agosto Machado and Gail Thacker. Penny Arcade, Kestutis Nakas and Jennifer Blowdryer shared their memories to rousing applause.
Doug Bressler and Julie Hair, two of the remaining members of the band 3 Teens Kill 4 — founded by Hattie and David Wojnarowicz — performed a heartbreakingly beautiful version of a song titled “Alchohol,” with a chorus that went, simply, “When I lost you, I lost everything.”
During a break, a slide show put together by Aldo Hernandez played. Afterward, Paul Alexander took over as host to present Flloyd, Hapi Phace, Eileen Dover and the band NYOBS (Peter Cramer, Jack Waters, John Swartz and Mike Cacciatore). Together, they brought back the spirit of the Pyramid, when Hattie was the Avenue A club’s manager.
Friend and wig designer Torin imagined Hattie in the afterlife.
“Hattie is in heaven, hanging out with his favorite celebs and taking down the ‘No Smoking’ signs from the celestial rest stops,” he mused.
A longtime neighbor, Marjan Moghaddam, remarked of the fabulous parade, “Leave it to Hattie to disrupt traffic in the middle of the gentrified East Village!”
Poison Eve of Blacklips ended the memorial’s part two with a striking performance.
Opening the last section, Heather Litteer — the artist formerly known as Jessica Rabbit Domination — read her tribute from the back of a loaf of challah.
“Hattie taught me to tape my lines to a piece of bread, so that I wouldn’t have to study my lines so much,” she said. The deceased was, she remarked, “family, friend and father” to her.
Memories shared by Needles Jones, Wendy Kaplan and a song performed by Rafael and Eddie Sanchez rounded out the evening. Tennessee, speaking last, recited a “Top 10” list of the best things about Hattie, which included his fearlessness, knowledge of history, great creativity and the time Hattie kicked David Lee Roth off the stage.
Before DJ Johnny Dynell cued up the exit music, there were several attempts to run a clip of Hattie performing a death scene. When the clip refused to play for the third or fourth time someone yelled, “Hattie will never die!” They got that right.