Now I'm the Miss Noma Fan Club & Someone Doesn't Like Trashpo (Boise, Idaho, USA)


Debra - 4.9.2016 - 1

Mail art by “Debra” (?) (Boise, Idaho, USA)

April 9, 2016 - Hot on the heels of yet another assault by the Lone Gunman Neoist, I received this excellent but perplexing piece supposedly from “Debra” in Idaho, USA. Note it is addressed to the Miss Noma Fan (Fun) Club via my address. I know there are people who believe I am both Moan Lisa and Miss Noma, but it’s simply not true. Miss Noma is a mystery to me. Many people know all about Moan Lisa. What can I do to prove I am not Miss Noma?

This is a very, very nice piece and essentially a decorated envelope. I assume the reverse side is about Trashpo:

Debra - 4.9.2016 - 2

Of great interest is the note that was enclosed:

Debra - 4.9.2016 - 3

This looks exactly like (and is written in the same style as) letters I have seen that have been attributed to Miss Noma, if Miss Noma actually exists and sends out mail. Yet it is written to Miss Noma. Since I am not Miss Noma, I can only hope to pass it on to Miss Noma by posting it online. No one knows where Miss Noma resides (if Miss Noma actually exists).

I appreciate this mail art a great deal. But I think we have a serious case of mistaken identity. Perhaps Miss Noma will see this and intervene with a reply to “Debra” who is apparently a Miss Noma fan but not a Trashpo fan.

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Comment by Miss Noma 2 on April 11, 2016 at 4:18am

Wow, DVS, thanks for such a helpful response! I’m grateful for your insight into the situation and your suggestions of specific Neoist tropes like the 14 Secret Masters and the Church of Subgenius to research further. I’m glad to know it’s very open territory! I think my potential involvement sounds similar to the Post-Neo impulse you mentioned. Since I don’t want to be directly involved with Neoism, nor to claim Neoism is dead, but rather I’m more interested in extending certain Neoist techniques and concepts into other areas. My hypothetical / nascent project will be influenced by Neoists and perhaps cite or plagiarize some specific Neosit events as having a formative impact.  Perpetuating Neoism while not quite being directly involved in it. The envisioned trajectory is certainly postmodern, but hopefully Neoist techniques and absurd hilarity can be used to escape postmodernism’s tendency to overacademicize.


I’d be interested to read more information about the relation between Ray Johnson & David Zack and Ray Johnson & Neoism in general.  I’d read the rumor about the thug incident, but I just can’t see Johnson initiating any real physical violence. I’ve heard reports of Johnson provoking confusion by being inexplicably rude, even sometimes a huge jerk, but never actual violence (other than Johnson’s involvement with Warhol’s Shot Marilyns by bringing Dorothy Podber to the Factory). But I could be wrong, I never met him. Neoist Apartment Festivals seem related to Johnson’s NYCS meetings in addition to Fluxus events.   And then there are all those fan clubs and surely many other connections. Do you know how aware Johnson was of Neoism and to what extent he corresponded with the Neoists?  I don’t remember seeing any mentions of Neoism in any of the literature about Johnson, so I’m curious to know more.


Many thanks again for your helpful and informative response!


Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 11, 2016 at 2:49am

And of course there is a PS: I have been trying to reconstruct the relation of Ray Johnson to the Neoists. Supposedly, there was antagonism between Zack & Johnson. Zack claims he was beaten in NYC by a thug hired by Ray Johnson.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 11, 2016 at 2:39am

Hi PW, very insightful questions - probably more insightful than my responses. I had the good fortune to be in the network & interact w/ many of the Neoists in the 1980s. The movement fascinated me. But I don't hold a candle to some of the folks here at IUOMA - such as John M. Bennett and tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - who were important contributors to Neoism. I'm just less humble & more verbose.

I don't believe Neoism has yet received the recognition it deserves.

1) Certainly you can use Neoist tropes and never ruffle the feathers of the remaining members. Most of those tropes can be found in DaDa, Fluxus & Postmodernism, among others.

2) I think you have nailed it: Neoism's most original contribution, IMHO, is the multiple user identity. Monty Cantsin, Karen Eliot and Luther Blissett are the three main identities. Neoism explores issues of identity & the artist, a preoccupation of pomo as well.

Apartment Festivals, for example, are unique to Neoism. But I don't think anyone would object if you had an Apartment Festival the same way an Old Fluxus person wouldn't object if you wrote an event score. Ya know? (The MinXus international refrigerator exhibitions in 2012 were a complete rip-off of Apartment Festivals.)

As far as I know, the adoption of Karen Eliot, Monty Cantsin and Luther Blissett is encouraged, especially to those using the monikers for activist purposes. I believe Neoists applaud the perpetuation of the identities in all sorts of contexts. One of the big rifts occurred when one individual (Istvan Kantor) became too closely linked to Monty Cantsin.

As for the "Lone Gunman Neoist," I believe this is someone I know who is involved in some obscure prank or game, so my response is very situational. Jim Leftwich is involved in a Post-Neoist group in Virginia and we spent some time speculating about the Lone Gunman. But there is some context for this person and that influences my reaction. I do receive material from Karen Eliots especially, and I am more distanced about it.

I have posted the work by the Lone Gunman in a Neoist group (w/original members) on FB and no one will admit to knowing this person. But it is a good point. People can become Neoists in isolation for sure, but I think ultimately you want to connect with a larger group.

3) As to your questions about creating paradoxical fictions: No, I don't think it would be considered Neoism unless you appropriated its symbols & narratives such as the 14 Secret Masters of the World (one of my faves) or all that quasi-Masonic stuff Stewart Home got into. Otherwise, you're basically talking about Postmodernism. And, again, perpetuating that Neoist discourse would probably be appreciated. Remember, the Plagiarism movement was part of or immediately after (?) Neoism, so the idea of ownership is not very strong.

But here is where we are now, as far as I can see. You have many of the original Neoists carrying on with what they always did. Some say, of course, "It's dead."

But a Post-Neo impulse is acknowledged. Some of the most interesting work I am seeing is by people who consider themselves Post-Neo. They're taking the Neoist concepts and extending them. We are starting to see the emergence of new identities beyond Monty and Karen. Probably Moan Lisa is one. We're seeing experiments with irrationalism.

Here is an example very close to home. The Church of the Subgenius was not a creation of Neoism, but a lot of Neoists were involved. It was an incredibly successful fake religion. tENT was named a saint in the Church of the Subgenius, for instance. Now we have DKult. DKult is a fake religion and (big surprise) it's basically modeled on the Church of the SubGenius. So it's Post-Neo. So we're not appropriating "Bob" Dobbs but we are creating a fake religion via the m-a network. I think this is more the kind of application you can use for the old Neoism.

Look, you know the later British wing of the thing with Stewart Home was relatively organized and intellectual. My view is that the Canadian/American wing w. David Zack, Blaster Al, etc. they were marginals and any of them left wouldn't really care what you did. They sent out pamphlets for fake churches to try to sucker people into sending them money for beer. That's literally how it started. But there were also some very smart people (for the pain in the ass that he must have been, Zack has some brilliant ideas) who saw the potential of the network in ways I don't think Ray Johnson imagined.

Anyway, I've rambled too long.

Comment by Miss Noma 2 on April 11, 2016 at 12:41am

DVS (& others?): I’ve enjoyed seeing the tributes to Miss Noma that you posted recently. All great work! These and other postings about or by  “imposter” / “lone gunman” Neoists prompted a few questions related to Neoism and I though I’d ask you since you seem to be one of the resident Neoism experts here on IUOMA. Is it possible and permissible to use techniques associated with Neoism (i.e. shared pseudonyms, contradicting definitions, labyrinthine networks, etc.) for projects without any connection to the “original” Neoists?

Example: If I were publish a zine unrelated to Neoism under the name “Karen Eliot” would the “real” “original” Neoists have a problem with my use of the name for a decidedly un-Neosit publication? Would I be accused of being a “lone gunman Neoist” even though I never claimed to be a Neoist in the first place, just wanted a convenient nom-de-plum? What about if I used a different shared pseudonym? Are ALL shared pseudonyms interpreted as Neoist?

Example 2: If I were to create some labyrinthine website or project full of contradictions and rabbit holes about a made up art movement or fake persons or something else, would it automatically be labeled Neoist because it employs paradoxical fictions?  

These questions are just hypotheticals and might not have clear answers. Neoism is still relatively new to me, still learning about it.  Thanks for your thoughts!  -PW

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 10, 2016 at 3:51pm

Thanks, Bob.

I notice Miss Noma has "liked" the blog, so the message has been received by at least one iteration of Miss Noma.

Comment by Bob Jones on April 10, 2016 at 3:20pm
"Not wanting to repeat myself but there is more than one person using the miss noma moniker=pseudonym=non du plume ..."
Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 10, 2016 at 2:06pm

Excuse the typo - Mulnick.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 10, 2016 at 2:05pm

Thank you, Ruud, for the information and the confirmation I am not Miss Noma.

Then there is, in fact, an IUOMA member named Debra Mulnick in Idaho, USA. Her listed address matches the address on the envelope.

So it seems likely that Debra Melnick created this excellent Miss Noma fake. The quality of the fake is what had me puzzled.

Unless further information is disclosed, Debra Melnick deserves thanks for this m-a.

Comment by Ruud Janssen on April 10, 2016 at 6:41am

Miss Noma resides in Liverpool and uses UK postage.

Also her typewriter is older and leaves another trace, so the USA postage reveales you have a real good fake.

And I know you aren't Miss Noma. You are De Villo Sloan.

with best wishes,

Ruud Janssen



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