Everett Quinton, a mainstay of New York City’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company, has died at the age of 71. The cause and date of death have not been reported.
Quinton was the partner in life and art of Charles Ludlam, the founder of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, who passed away in 1987. Quinton succeeded Ludlam as the artistic director of the company and held that post for 10 years.
The Ridiculous Theatrical Company, a cornerstone of off-off-Broadway, placed a high value on irreverence, comedy, and showmanship. Charles Ludlam and other performers often appeared in drag, and its most famous show was The Mystery of Irma Vep, a parody of gothic tales written by Ludlam and premiered in 1984, with Quinton and Ludlam playing every role. The premiere production was known for its jaw-dropping quick-changes in the high theatrical style the Ridiculous did so well.
Quinton and Ludlam first met in a hookup in 1975, and later became lovers. Quinton joined the troupe as a wardrobe and wig manager, then began acting in Ludlam’s plays. After the company closed in 1997, a victim of high rents and the loss of many theater artists to AIDS, Quinton carried on its traditions elsewhere.
“The Ridiculous is theater of rage,” Quinton told TheaterMania in 2014. “It’s at odds with the world. It comes out fighting against a system that is stultifying.”
Quinton directed and starred in a revival of Irma Vep, and also directed revivals of other Ridiculous shows, such as Conquest of the Universe and The Artificial Jungle. He appeared in other productions as well, including an obscure Tennessee Williams play, Now the Cats With Jewelled Claws, alongside Mink Stole, a star of many John Waters films. He also had several film and TV credits, including Natural Born Killers, Pollock, and last year’s Bros (as Melvin Funk). On television, he acted in episodes of Law & Order, Nurse Jackie, The Louise Log, and more.
Everett Quinton’s influence on generations of queer theater artists (and those with merely queer sensibilities) is incalculable. He will be remembered for his contributions to the world of theater, and for his dedication to the Ridiculous Theatrical Company.