Cookie Mueller — Underground Movie Star

Portrait photograph of underground movie actress Cookie MuellerCookie Mueller was an amazingly complex person.  She was a daring and fearless artist.  She was always on the fringe, and always broke, but was always dedicated and hopeful.

I saw Cookie a lot in New York City because we lived in the same downtown neighborhood and hung out in the same places.  But she was much more in tune with the riskier side of New York’s downtown scene in the 1980s than I was.  She was extremely witty, and even though she had a big following and was one of the queens of the underground, she still warm and encouraging with me, as one of the handful of Baltimoreans who dove into the NYC underground hoping to hit the big time.

In that atmosphere, a lot of jealousy and backstabbing goes on, but not with Cookie.  A good break for you was a huge break for her.  It seemed that every week she had a new idea going:  writing stories, poetry and magazine articles, performing monologues, and being in nearly every single downtown underground film.

When Cookie was diagnosed with AIDS in the late ‘80s I saw less of her.  To die at 40 at that time was inconceivable, and I heard from friends that her reaction to the fatal illness was she was not scared or depressed, but “really pissed off” that she wouldn’t be able to pursue her work anymore.  She’d worked really hard being on the fringe and doing things her way, and was just about to make it big.  So unfair.  I really understand the “pissed off” thing.

Read more about Robert Maier’s fifteen years working with John Waters in the new book “Low Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters.”  Available on Amazon.com and other booksellers around the world.

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