Adele Bertei Presents Twist: An American Girl, in conversation with Nan Goldin

March 23rd

McNally Jackson Seaport

"The mystery is how I managed to survive, and whether or not Maddie Twist remains alive and well and living like Brel in Paris, or beyond."

"One of the most original, amazing stories I've ever read" — Mary Gaitskill

Through the eyes of her alter ego Maddie Twist, Adele Bertei threads together the tapestry of an extraordinary, troubled childhood in the 60s and 70s. It begins with her beautiful mother, whose delusions of grandeur bring both wonders and horrors to the Bertei home.

It is her undiagnosed schizophrenia that eventually leads to the removal of her children, and the beginning of young Maddie's wild journey. By her middle school years, Maddie Twist has moved through several foster homes and reformatories. With each new posting, she discovers sanctuary amongst her peers--outcast girls--while gaining belief in her identity, and unwavering trust in her own voice.

As she ages out of the system and finds herself navigating the world alone, Maddie's only constant is a ribbon of music that weaves itself around her heart. She can sing, and she is certain it will be the beacon that guides her towards another life.

In frank prose without an ounce of self-pity, Twist is an episodic survival of the fittest, navigating the crooked rivers of poverty, race, sexuality, and gender. It is a world of little girl gangsters, drag queen solidarity, wild roller-skating, and magical thinking. With Twist, Bertei gives us a story of violence and madness, of heartbreak and perseverance, and, ultimately, redemption.


We recommend that guests wear masks on the night. 


Pre-signed copy of Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency will be available on the night



ADELE BERTEI began playing music in Cleveland with Pere Ubu’s legendary Peter Laughner, and as an original member of the Contortions, produced by Brian Eno on No New York. She was lead singer of the first out, queer, all-women rock band, the Bloods. Her singing and songwriting career includes record - ing, performing live, and writing for such diverse acts as Thomas Dolby, Tears for Fears, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Scritti Politti, Sheena Easton, Jellybean Benitez, Lydia Lunch, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, the Pointer Sisters, and John Lurie. Bertei played a lead role in Lizzie Borden’s seminal feminist sci-fi film Born in Flames. She is the author of two previous books: Peter and the Wolves, and Why Labelle Matters, a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards. Twist is the story of how it all started.


NAN GOLDIN is an American photographer and activist. Her work often explores LGBT subcultures, moments of intimacy, the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the opioid epidemic. Her work and life was most recently documented in the film All The Beauty and the Bloodshed (2022) and her most notable work is The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1985).










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