• Born May 21st, 1966.
• Grew up in New Jersey
• “I was begging my parents to move out of New
Jersey since I was 5…I started memorizing the
streets of New York when I was 13, just figuring out
where I was gonna live.”
Early Life (Continued)
• Went to Tisch to study acting
• Role models: Gilda Radner, Carol Burnett
• She met a guy—James St. James,
and together they became
popular in the NYC downtown
• James St. James wrote Disco
Bloodbath, made into a movie,
about the Club Kid scene.
• Named: Lisa E.
Club Kid (Continued)
• She told people she was
an actress, even though
she wasn’t yet, figuring
eventually it would stick
• Bartended at Palladium
• Hosted parties all over, at
Milk Bar, etc.
Queen of Downtown
• Dubbed a “celebutante”
by a New York Times
• Called “Queen of
Downtown” and “Queen
of the Night” by reporters
and old friends
• Acquaintances with
• Nelson Sullivan recorded
her and Patrick
McMullan took photos of
her, and Michael Musto
wrote about her.
Queen of Downtown
• “I was one of those people who was literally famous
for doing nothing . . . I was always a part of the club
scene in New York and eventually was able to
produce my own musical about AIDS ["Positive Me"]
because of the audience and press I received as a
Activism (in the 80’s)
• Wrote one of the first plays
about AIDS, titled “Positive
Me” when she was just 19.
• “It was inspired by my
friends, everybody dying
and there being no
education about the
matter. The president
hadn’t even spoken the
word yet. There was a lot of
confusion, a lot of fear, no
treatment and a lot of
dying…My play was really
about the things that get in
the way of taking care of
ourselves.” –Jewish Woman,
• 1st TV Gig was hosting MTV’s
Awake On The Wild Side for 1
• SAG card in Oliver Stone’s The
Doors (1991), she has no words.
• Mad About You, LA Law, Wings,
and Seinfeld are her first credits
First Jobs (Continued)
• She started off playing very risqué characters
(transgenders, lesbians, hookers,
• In response to a reporter asking her how she
likes playing a “normal” character, (Lisa
Cuddy), she replied “every human being is
normal no matter if they’re a hooker, a
transgender, or a lesbian, or an orthodox Jew”,
this past year.
• She’s sad that many of her friends are not alive
to see her performances, but she wants to
honor them with a dignified portrayal.
• She’s a vegetarian; has too hard a time finding non-
leather shoes to be a vegan. She’s never preachy, just
• She hurt her neck long ago and was told that she would
need spinal fusions. She instead took up yoga and now
practices Mysore style Ashtanga yoga 6 days a week for
2 hours a day, and did not need surgery.
• Politically savvy, attends
conventions. Always wanting
to speak up.
• “I think it's really important for
celebrities to use their power
of money and fame to get
their voices out there. It's
funny to me that we're
expected to keep quiet just
because of who we are. Why
do I lose my right to speak my
mind because I'm famous?
People criticize Michael
Moore, Tim Robbins and Susan
Sarandon for standing up for
what they believe in, but
that's what they do. They
never pretended to be
• She has rescue pets which she
nurses back to health. She used to
have 3 dogs and a cat, since they
passed away she has one dog.
(Sandwich, Bumpa, Wolf-E, Bug,
• Involved with Best Friends Animal
• “There's a lot of things in the world that need
some attention, and animals are one of them,
and if you have the passion for it, then go for it,
but it's just important to do something. About
what means something to you.”
• She is still involved
AIDS and promoting
• Also volunteers for
• Read for “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later”,
a play about the hate crime and murder of a
• During the WGA Strike (2007-2008), she was always
at the picket lines.
Career as an Actor
• “I think if you have another idea about how to make your living you'd
never become an actor.”
• Usually limited to playing Jewish or Greek characters.
• "I used to think my last name was awkward, nerdy, so Jewish. But when I
tried to think of a different one, I realized that I was trying to be
someone else. That didn't sit well with me."