Poet, performer, actor, and painter Taylor Mead was born in 1924, Grosse Point, Michigan. He has been defying the establishment for over half a century and remains one of the brightest stars of the American underground. A force within the Beat movements in both San Francisco and New York, he began writing and performing his particular brand of raunchy, irreverent, and often hilarious poetry in the early 1950s. Between 1963 and 1969, Mead starred in numerous Andy Warhol films, including Tarzan and Jane Regained … Sort Of (1963); Taylor Mead’s Ass (1964); The Nude Restaurant (1967); Imitation of Christ (1967); and Lonesome Cowboys (1969). He has appeared more recently in Rebecca Horn’s Buster’s Bedroom (1991), Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), and is the subject of William A. Kirkley’s documentary Excavating Taylor Mead (2005). Mead continues to publish poetry and performs weekly at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City, captivating audiences with his wry, dramatically vivid comments on sex, death, genius, and his own unique celebrity.
John Giorno was born in 1936 in Brooklyn and grew up in Roslyn Heights, New York. Giorno graduated from Columbia University in 1958. Four years later, he met Andy Warhol, who became an important influence for Giorno's developments on poetry, performance, and recordings. He famously was the subject of Andy Warhol’s first film, Sleep. He has collaborated with William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, and Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as Rirkirt Tirvanija, Pierre Huyghe, Elizabeth Peyton, and Ugo Rondinone, who is his partner. He is the author of ten books, including You Got to Burn to Shine, Cancer in my Left Ball, Grasping at Emptiness, Suicide Sutra, and has produced 59 LPs, CDs, tapes, cassettes, videopaks, and DVDs for Giorno Poetry Systems. He founded the AIDS Treatment Project and is an important force in the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.