“Magnuson is like a six-armed Shiva, each hand holds a different aspect; enchanting song-bird, pop-culture critic, wise-cracking comedienne, camera-ready actress, sassy
temptress, and an extremely poignant, emotionally provocative performance
artist. She is a one-woman mandala of brilliance. And she has the wardrobe to
match!” – Ben McCoy
Ann Magnuson is a writer/ actress/ singer/ musician/ performer whose eclectic resume traverses the entertainment landscape like few others. She has acted in Hollywood blockbusters, Off-Broadway plays, TV sitcoms and indie films, fronted various bands, written for numerous publications and has presented her original performance art pieces at the Whitney Museum (performing a 5-hour “Tribute to Muzak” in the museum elevator), The Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, BAM, LACMA, The Hammer Museum, REDCAT, The Walker Art Center, The Andy Warhol Museum and in places as far flung as Tokyo’s Sogetsu Hall and Sweden’s Ice Hotel in the Arctic Circle.
Current projects include co-starring with Christopher Walken and Amber Heard in the new film “One More Time”; releasing a new music-and-spoken-word CD ‘Dream Girl”, premiering the pilot episode of a new web series “Ann Magnuson’s DREAM PUPPET THEATER” and co-organizing a gallery show about Club 57 at the Museum of Modern Art (opening Spring 2017).
Ann Magnuson currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, architect John Bertram.
Born and raised in Charleston, WV, Ann received a BFA in Theater & Cinema from Denison University and studied theater in London at the British and European Studies Group. She came to New York City in 1978 as an intern at The Ensemble Studio Theater and soon became part of the seminal art, music and performance scene that exploded in downtown New York City in the late 1970s and throughout the1980s. There she ran the now-infamous neo-Dada cabaret space Club 57, was president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Lower East Side and started the all-girl percussive ‘orchestra’ Pulsallama. She performed regularly in downtown theaters, galleries and clubs including the The Mudd Club, Danceteria, The Pyramid Club and CBGB. In addition to her many bands and solo work, Ann collaborated with performers Eric Bogosian, Kestutis Nakas, John Sex and Joey Arias in numerous shows. She also directed the New Wave Vaudeville show that launched the career of New Wave operatic icon Klaus Nomi.
As a singer and songwriter, she has been in several bands including the sardonic folk trio Bleaker Street Incident, her heavy metal band Vulcan Death Grip and the psycho-psychedelic band Bongwater, with whom she released five albums and gained an international cult following that remains rabid today. Magnuson has also released two solo albums, “The Luv Show” released (Geffen 1995) and “Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories” (Asphodel 2007). Her EP, “The Jobriath Medley”, (financed via a successful Kickstarter campaign) was released in 2012. She deconstructed the concepts of success and failure through the stories and songs of glam rockers Jobriath and David Bowie at SFMOMA in 2011 in a musical theater piece titled, “The Rock Star as Witch Doctor, Myth-Maker and Ritual Sacrifice” . In 2012, she performed portions of that show as well as all of The Jobriath Medley at REDCAT as part of the OUTFEST Platinum series and was asked to create a special “Mudd Club Cabaret” for the Cindy Sherman opening in July 2012 at SFMOMA. Her new music-and-spoke-word CD, “Dream Girl” will be released in May 2016.
As a film actress, Magnuson has been ravished by David Bowie in the classic vampire film “The Hunger”, had her neck broken by a suave Cuban drug dealer in the Harrison Ford thriller “Clear and Present Danger”, romanced robot John Malkovich in “Making Mr. Right”, played Jodie Foster’s uppity real estate agent in “Panic Room”, told off Meryl Streep in “Before and After”, seduced River Phoenix in “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon” and gave Samuel L. Jackson his first love scene EVER in “The Caveman’s Valentine”. Other memorable cinematic roles include the sly cigarette girl who is sassy pals with Madonna in “Desperately Seeking Susan”, the sexy, blue-skinned and multi-armed goddess who deflowers Chris Elliot in “Cabin Boy” and the manic Patrick-Nagel-styled publicist in Mariah Carey’s now-classic “Glitter”. She has acted in many independent films including “The United States of Leland”, “Still Breathing”, “Ghostlight”, Beth and Scott B’s “Vortex” and Sara Driver’s “Sleepwalk”. VARIETY recently said of her tour-de-force dramatic performance as a home-shopping-club TV hostess having a nervous breakdown in Brian Pera’s “Woman’s Picture’, “Fassbinder meets Sirk…Miriam is a showcase for Ann Magnuson (at the top of her game).” She co-stars Christopher Walken’s wife in the new film, “One More Time” and appears as the punk-rock-hippie-survivalist mom in the upcoming indie film “First Jerk on Mars.”
Magnuson was the first ‘devil who wore Prada’ magazine editor character in the early 1990s ABC-TV sitcom “Anything But Love” (opposite Jaimie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis) and has appeared in numerous TV shows including “Frasier”, “CSI:Miami” and “The Drew Carey Show”, “The John Larroquette Show”, “Caroline in the City”, the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon” and “Our House” (opposite Doris Roberts for the Hallmark Channel) among others. Off Broadway credits include “The Vagina Monologues”, John Patrick Shanley’s “Four Days and a Bone” as well as her own one-woman show “You Could Be Home Now”. Magnuson also starred in the LA premiere of Amy and David Sedaris’ play “The Book of Liz” and her show “Rave Mom” played P.S.122 in 2001.
Magnuson also co-wrote and starred in Vandemonium (1987), a surreally comic special for Cinemax. Her short art-video, “Made for TV”, (where she portrays every character on every channel during a regular broadcast day) was a collaboration with video artist Tom Rubnitz and premiered in 1984 on the PBS show “Alive From Off Center”. The video has also been featured in exhibits about the East Village at the New Museum and New York University’s Grey Art Gallery as well as in the 2008 exhibition “Punk: No One is Innocent” at the Kunstahalle in Vienna and EAST VILLAGE WEST, a retrospective of art from that era she curated with artist Kenny Scharf at Royal-T in Los Angeles in 2011.
Ann has appeared as a guest vocalist on The Tindersticks album Curtains (singing with Stuart Staples in the duet “Buried Bones). She has also appeared as an actress in music videos, most notably as the crazed Annie in the Redd Kross video “Annie’s Gone” and as the mysterious Goth chick tormenting Alice in Chain’s Jerry Cantrell in his video for “My Song”. (Both can be seen on YouTube.)
She has written for ArtForum, BUST, VOGUE, and Conde Nast TRAVELER as well as many other magazines and for eight years wrote a monthly column, L.A. Woman, for PAPER magazine. She divides her time between L.A. and Joshua Tree where she makes and shows visual art.