Michael Wiener is an actor-performer-writer-man-about-town. He began his career in 1995-96 as an actor-writer in many of the noted downtown theater venues, often playing a variation on a seductive drifter. He has also been a wired sociopath, (Jessica Goldberg’s The Hologram Theory as part of Primary Stages’ reading series); manic knife salesman, (Naomi Iizuka’s Skin at Soho Rep); heartbroken gangster, (Ensemble Studio Theater Youngbloods series); conflicted homeboy, (Chuck Mee’s, The Constitutional Convention, The Sequel at HERE); vigilante inbred, (New York Theater Workshop reading series); smartass mirror, (Dance Theater Workshop Hit and Run series) and so on. In summer 1997, his tragicomic autobiographical montage, Middle Class Girls Love Oasis, a response to Rent was performed at Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and Soho Rep. In 1998-2001, Michael has continued to channel his stage energy by a means of volatile sketches and movement pieces at P.S. 122, Knitting Factory, Context Hall, Life Sullivan Street Lounge, CBGB’s Gallery, Mother, for the club’s Fashion Week closing event, the Dumbo Art Under the Bridge festival, as host, spoken word artist and town crier in successive years, the Danish New Wave festival, for which he interpreted Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling, Tate Gallery with Liquid Theater, Chashama Theater, for a public performance at 42nd and Broadway, the New York International Fringe Festival Al Fresco at La Plaza Cultural, The Lucy Show, an Easthampton gallery show benefit for the Humane Society hosted by Chevy Chase, for which he transformed from stray dog into noble breed, and various other venues.
Michael is co-curator and a featured guest (premiering his one-man play “I Had a Dream…”) of Live From the Living Room at the Gershwin Hotel, a solo performance series produced by Warhol era legend, visual-performance artist Neke Carson, for the encore 2001-2002 season. Guests include Patrick Mangina Bucklew, Penny Arcade, Glenn O’Brien, James Chance, Joey Arias, Gary Lucas, Todd Oldham, Anthony Haden-Guest, Coati Mundi, Jussara Lee, Victor Bockris, Edgar Oliver and others. Michael also performed with Edgar in Men, an eerie take on The Odd Couple, at Dixon Place in December 2000, and with Edgar and other guests in My Boys Frighten Me, an evening of short theatrical studies in melancholic revelation, at La Mama, and was a resident artist in the Little Theater series at Tonic in November 2000. He has also begun performing in his hometown of Washington D.C. in 2000-2001, appearing at the gallery happening Signal 66, rock club Black Cat with Washington Area Music Award winner 555 for a Crohn’s Foundation benefit and District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC) in fall 2001.
Michael played demented clown in student Academy Award short film candidate Susan McIntosh’s debut feature, Circus Lives (1996), thwarted flirt in On the Train (1997), a short film he wrote, directed by 1998 New Line Cinema Award for Best Director, Amy Talkington, which screened as part of Williamsburg’s Rooftop Films series in August 2000, and art porn director, Bruce LaBruce among other parts in the 1998 New York Women’s Film Festival featured screenplay reading, Surf. He was a nuclear holocaust mutant in Matthew Kohn’s Sea Level Inferno, a concert video for drummer, William Hooker’s performance at the 1998 Texaco/New York Jazz Festival, also screened as part of the New Filmmakers series at Anthology Film Archives in September 1999, the Slamdunk festival in January 2000 and the 2000 New York Underground Film Festival, accompanied by Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller. Matthew directed Michael’s short The Dentist’s Office, in which Michael also co-stars, in October 2000. Recent parts include lead roles in a short from Keith Knight (Assistant Director, The Hurricane), as a possessed homeless man (August 2000) and in an experimental feature by Meat (Best Film, London International Short Film Festival, Featured Short, Slamdance) director Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt, Where’s Jacob, playing the sole character, a digital age Eraserhead, shot December 1999. In September 2000, Michael appeared as a noirish nightclub performance artist in downtown theater director Michael Laurence’s first feature, The Escape Artist, with Josh Hamilton and Anna Thomson. He was a tweaked tattoo artist in a digital feature from producer Cinque Lee (Screenwriter, Crooklyn), shot July 2001.
Michael’s controversies have brought him to serious talk shows, including appearances on Donahue, CNN and Fox News in 1995 with photographer Spencer Tunick to discuss the pair’s landmark freedom of expression case (with representation by Ron Kuby and William Kunstler) after their arrest during a photo shoot at dawn on December 31, 1994. Sprawled naked atop an oversized ornamental Christmas ball at Rockefeller Center, Wiener was Tunick’s Fallen Angel. The two were spotted and jailed for the morning. After a court battle that lasted well into the summer, the case was dismissed, setting an important precedent. Michael was featured on E!’s, Wild on the Big Apple special on performance-nightlife in the city, which aired October 1998, and has performed on The Maury Povich Show and Michael Moore Live from the Colonies.
Michael’s flamboyant life was the inspiration for an East Village group gallery show in 1995, an homage to a fictional murdered local rock star. He was songwriter and vocalist for the soundtrack that accompanied the opening. In August 1999, Michael cowrote the artist’s statement and performed in a closing night piece interpreting the themes of a French painter’s show at Gershwin Gallery. He appeared in a number of music videos from 1994-97 (Boy George, Groove Collective) and is now making his way into the fashion arena, having been photographed in 1997-1999 by Terry Richardson for Arena, by Torkil Gudnason for Paper and by award-winning documentary photographer Joseph Rodriguez for Maxim, amongst others. Michael made his runway debut in Jussara Lee’s show for fall Fashion Week 2000.
Michael also writes critical and feature pieces for magazines (Interview, Village Voice, Sidewalk, CondeNet, Time Out, Swing, Bikini, Glue, Night, MTV Online/SonicNet), including 1995’s much-discussed interactive Lollapalooza soap opera for Spin Online.