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CONNIE GIRL FLEMING

Illustrator, Stylist, & Performer

[Life in New York City in the ‘80s was] a happy time. But it was difficult because of AIDS and what it was doing to the community. Everybody stepped up, though. David and I were literally doing benefit after benefit after benefit after benefit... just doling out love. Because it needed to happen. There was no kind of way around it. We couldn't be like, "Oh, I'll do that tomorrow..." No. You had to do it now. You have to do it today. Because there was no tomorrow for a lot of people.

I remember we were performing somewhere, so we got half dressed. Matthew [Kasten] took us to... it wasn't Bellevue, but there's another hospital down the road from there. He snuck us in, and we finished getting dressed in the elevator. Then we got off the elevator, did our finishing touches in the hallway, and walked into this patient’s room and performed. The nurses and orderlies heard and saw us, and they were like "Oh, can you come to the room down the hall?  They would really love you.” And we had to say no, because we had to go and perform at the Palladium that night.

So, it was constant, and you had to step up. Because it was literally life-or-death. And that was daunting. But we had to keep moving because it wasn't only for us. It was for the community as a whole that we had to keep on moving.