Why isn’t Lena Dunham picking an unknown local opening act for her NYC book tour appearances?

lena dunham not that kind of girl

Why not give a fellow New Yorker a shot to wind up here?

You’d think that after the bitey incident with her dog and her perplexing recent appearance on Seth Meyers, Lena Dunham might be laying low. Nope! The wunderkind’s at it again, with a soon-to-be bestselling memoir titled: Not That Kind of Girl (with knowing subtitle, “A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’”). Before we get into all the feels we have about this, let’s cut to the book tour.

Lena is touring the country’s most progressive cities to promote the book, sitting down along the way to participate in conversations with high-profile artistes like Miranda July (Pasadena) and Carrie Brownstein (Portland). New York City gets her twice, first at the Union Square Barnes and Noble (with Amy Schumer) and then our very own borough receives her glittery presence again on October 21 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (along with Jemima Kirke, Zadie Smith and Bleachers). And in a strange twist on the traditional author’s book-signing format, the Dunham franchise is calling for opening acts to preface each city’s event. Sounds like a great opportunity. That is, as long as you don’t live in New York, where the chance to be an opening act isn’t offered for either of her appearances here.
One can only imagine what kind of performances the open call for submissions will draw: fire-breathers? Scathing beat-poet manifestos to former lovers? Live-action candids of Anna Nicole Smith? Any way you slice it, there’s bound to be an onslaught of applications from around the country—provided they can showcase their talents in five minutes or less.

But neither the Manhattan date nor the Brooklyn one offers a link to submit talent. We called and emailed Random House to ask about it, and heard from a BAM representative that the decision was on Dunham’s side, but have otherwise not heard anything. And since the openers have to live within a 75-mile radius of the event, there’s no hope for anyone from the five boroughs, with the closest city on the list being Boston, 200 miles away. And to think, that those among us who have consistently empathized with Hannah Horvath’s barista ennui (because we’re actually living it), we who first snapped our approving fingers when Season 4 was announced, and even those of us who have spent our time being Lena Dunham—all are shunned, leaving the better part of Brooklyn’s arts community—if possible—even more disenfranchised than we already were.

But this snafu goes beyond the pale: Lena Dunham has built an empire out of recognizing the changing landscape of New York’s creatives, from her deeply distressing and poignant film about post-graduate delirium (Tiny Furniture) to her entire television series cataloguing the impossibly fickle climate of millennial ambition. Last year, Lena expressed a fear that we might lose this generation’s Patti Smith to Tampa due to New York City’s nightmarish housing market.

Yet, while BAM’s upcoming Dunham event will make space for a synth-pop performance by boyfriend Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers and some apathetic British hijinks by BFF Jemima Kirke—each of them wonderful and well-deserving of attention for their talents – it ignores the thousands (yes, thousands) of broke, obscure next Patti Smiths dragging their feet in this city, primed for any spotlight that might highlight the sheer dynamism of their talent and give them the opportunity to rise up and out of the general assembly—much like the trailblazing women we all look up to in the arts.

Brooklyn isn’t the only locale that got the shutout: Los Angeles and Iowa City residents are also strangely ineligible for the chance to be an opening acts. That said, Lena was born here. The woman makes work that seems to spring from the very quintessence of her NYC origins. So this particular oversight feels, shall we say, personal.

Follow Sam’s struggles to be the next Patti Smith at @ahoysamantha

2 Comment

  • Pick up a telephone and call the publisher. Her media contact is probably easy to get in touch with. Ask her those questions.