William “Bill” Levy
New York, 10 January 1939 – Amsterdam, 22 April 2019
writer, poet, gentleman-provocateur
aka Dr. Doowop
“Life is but a dream,
it’s what you make it.”
William Levy (b. 1939) is a gentleman poete maudit, salacious writer of tales, seditious foreign correspondent, bespoke publisher, extreme radioist, slum landlord, and “known as the Talmudic Wizard of Amsterdam.” Recognized as a “provocative, lustful, funny, impassioned” author and/or editor of a number of scorching cult classics of the book variety. The Virgin Sperm Dancer, Wet Dreams, Souvenir Programme for the Official Lynching of Michael Abdul Malik (w/ John Mitchell), The Invisible Language series, Voicings and Transmissions, Radio Art and Radio Art Guide (w/ Willem de Ridder).
In the sixties and seventies, he was a founder and the chief-editor of magazines at the cutting-edge of the zeitgeist, such as The Insect Trust Gazette; International Times; Suck, the first European Sexpaper; The Fanatic. As well as the spontaneous site-specific journals: Sunday Paper and Poets Paper. More recently, served as European editor for American glossy fanzines High Times and Penthouse. And locally as an associate editor on Amsterdam stylezines Het Gewicht; Ins & Outs; La Linea; Virus; Atom Club; and also as literary advisor to Cold Turkey Press and Uitgeverij Bert Bakker.
His own writings have been translated into seven languages. Five books have been published in German. In 1997, his collected poems were published in Lithuanian — Kas pavoge vistyti? [Who Stole the Chicken?]. Anthologized on two continents in, among others, Stiffest of the Corpse; Cassette Mythos; The Ecstatic Moment; Coming Up: The World’s Best Erotic Writing; Chick for a Day; Highdelberg; Droge Leben; and Thus Spake the Corpse, vols. 1 & 2. He is co-translator of a number of belletristic works and art texts from the Dutch, as well as solitary items from Hungarian and Hebrew. Many of his own works have been exhibited in group-shows of remarkable printed matter. For example, in September 2006 at the Trolley Gallery, London, where it was favorably reviewed in The Times by artist Grayson Perry, winner of the Turner Prize.
Since 1987 produced and presented the exceedingly well liked Dr. Doo-Wop Show. “One of the most eccentric and stimulating radio shows anywhere, Sartre, De Sade, Doo-Wop and music from the gonads.” Heard weekly for many years in Amsterdam on Radio 100, now on Radio Patapoe, 88.3 FM. His prophetic meditation play Europe in Flames inaugurated the Festival of New Radio in New York.
Director and male lead of X-rated videos No Assholes and the litiginous When Extremes Meet. The bio-pic William Levy: Beyond Criticism, produced and directed by Malcolm Hart, premiered at the Portobello Film Festival, London, in August 2006. In addition, the docu-film Dr. DooWop: The Man Behind the Voice, directed by Michael Brongers (2008), has been screened in London, Nijmegen, Hull, Amsterdam and Hamburg art houses.
Received a coveted Erotic Oscar for “Writer of the Year 1998” awarded at the Sex Maniac’s Ball in London. During the summer of 2000 accepted appointment as Ambassador to Amsterdam for the Independent Republic of Uzupis, a Baltic microstate. Moreover, in 2006 received an Erotic Award for Lifetime Achievement as “an intellectual of hard core tenderness.”
Impossible: The Otto Muehl Story (New York: Barany Artists, 2001), was published to synchronize with the Muehl exposition at the Musée du Louvre. A long-time AA Commune member acclaimed: “A fantastic biography with a touch of poesy. You understand what Otto’s philosophy and art is about.” Other releases are a buffet of pamphlets. Unmodern Observations: An Occasional Broadcast, is a transmission from the 100,000 Antennes Vrije Radio Festatie. Excess for All: Poetry & Pensees, the broadside from crazy spoken word lecture at the Sexual Freedom Coalition Conference in London. Requiem for Christian Loidl, a text document from threnody event in Vienna. And, A Fortnight in the Life: On the Job in Swinging London, a diary from that time. All published by The International Community (Amsterdam) in 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006 respectively. Besides, in 2006, the texts from A Vilna Legend, much mutated, were published in a volume called Vibrato Light as Transactions of the Invisible Language Society no. 11 3/4. A special hymnography edition in the Invisible Language Society series, Dr. Doo-Wop in America: The Quest for Ecstatic Utterance, appeared in May 2007.
His most current works include the vinyl LP Popular Teen Shot in Face by First Love. One reviewer described the album “as full of throbbing industrial style electronics and disturbing themes of the apocalypse, as well as some regarding sexual acts…one of my favorites of 2016…you will want to flip the record and listen again.” And in March 2019, Moloko+ put out The Fortunate Traveller, a collection of erotic travel stories written and published over the years, with illustrations by Michael Blümel.
An American from Baltimore, Bill lived invisibly in The Kingdom of Netherlands assuming the stylite stance, until his death in April 2019. He was married to literary translator Susan Janssen, had one daughter, Swaan, and two grandchildren. A good cook, a shy populist. He adored dancing. Had been sighted along the canals talking to himself, making wild gestures, while cycling in a snowstorm
Before leaving the U.S. in the autumn of 1966 aboard the R.M.S Queen Mary, Mr. Levy attended the University of Maryland and Temple University and taught in the literature department at Shippensburg State College, in Pennsylvania. In the sixties and seventies, he was founder and chief-editor of many magazines such as: The Insect Trust Gazette, International Times, Suck, and The Fanatic. Recently, he served as European Editor for American glossy fanzines High Times and Penthouse magazine and as an associate editor of Amsterdam zines Het Gewicht, Ins & Outs, La Linea and Atom Club. Mr. Levy has been a regular contributor to Andrei Codrescu‘s Exquisite Corpse and Libido, and additionally published his own Transactions of the Invisible Language Society series. His meditation play Europe in Flames was also featured at the Festival of New Radio in New York. In 1998, Mr. Levy was awarded the Erotic Oscar for writing at London’s Sex Maniac’s Ball. Until his recent retirement from radio and for 20 years non-stop, Mr. Levy’s alter-ego, Dr. Doo Wop, could be heard weekly spinning groovy music across Amsterdam’s airwaves.
Until his death following a long illness, Levy lived in Amsterdam with his wife, the literary translator Susan Janssen (translator of many works of Charles Bukowski and of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby).
[…] William Levy. RIP […]Pingback by William Levy (1939-2019) | literarydc on 29 April, 2019 at 10:14 pm
I was blessed to have known Bill and to have visited him in Amsterdam in recent years.
He was the most wonderful person imaginable.No time spent with him was ever predictable; conversations and memories could spin off every which way to arrive at some unexpected destination before moving on again with another unpredictable trajectory.
His thought processes were among the richest, most imaginative I have had the chance to be drawn into; always questioning, then always provoking fresh questions.
This weekend the Erotic Film Society (17-19 May) has been part of Uncensored Festival here in London: I think it reflected what Bill, Susan, Jim, Heathcote and all the other attendees created with the Wet Dreams festivals in 1970 and 1971. I think he would have loved it and the great team who created it.
EFS hopes to arrange a tribute to Bill – celebrating his time in London and in Amsterdam plus some Baltimore memories – in the next few months. If there’s anybody reading this who would like to be involved, please email me ( info AT eroticfilmsociety DOT org ).
The world is a lesser place with Bill’s passing – but those of us who walk here can adopt a greater consciousness if we choose to open ourselves to what he and the other members of the underground / alternative society set in motion half a century ago.
Bill, I hope you’re entertaining them all in whatever afterlife there might be with classic doo wop wax, dear friend.Comment by JJ Marsh on 19 May, 2019 at 1:43 pm
A great man. Thanks for the comments J.J . Please keep us updated on the tribute and any other good things. With best wishes. xxxComment by Editor on 20 May, 2019 at 7:34 am
I was in Amsterdam in Nov 2018! I planned a visit to his place there! But he was so ill! He did not take visitors or anybody ! To bad! I regrett not see him early in my life! But i got a 80 year birthday picture from him I very glad for that! R.I.P Bill levy
founder of Wet Dreams Festival and ”Suck magazine” He vill be missed! I will soon make ha youtube clip about my trip to him and when a look in the suck magazineComment by Jerk Nilsson on 3 August, 2019 at 1:35 pm