Wednesday, February 12, 2014

[Updated] RIP Maggie Estep


[Photo from October 2013 by Marissa Molnar via Facebook]

Word is spreading that Maggie Estep, the writer-poet-performance artist and all-around cool person who came to some fame while living in the East Village in the early 1990s, has died. She was 50. (She described herself as a "Novelist, occasional poet, dog-lover, handstand enthusiast" on her Facebook page.)

According to friends, she suffered a massive heart attack on Monday.

She published seven novels and two spoken-word CDs. In 1993, she became a familiar presence on MTV, who featured her poetry as well as performances on the network's "Spoken Word Unplugged" program.

From a September 1994 profile in The New York Times:

Success for Ms. Estep hasn't necessarily translated into more material possessions. Her walk-up studio on East Fifth Street looks like the home of a starving artist. The furnishings are spartan. A bookcase crammed with cassettes and novels stands in one corner of the room; a wooden desk crowned with a laptop computer fills the opposite corner, where Ms. Estep spends many an afternoon wrestling with her muse. Other than a loft bed, a couple of beat-up chairs and an electric guitar lying in the middle of the floor, the room is empty.

"I've gotten paranoid now," she said, referring to her recent success. "I think, 'Oh my God, everybody hates me because I get too much attention.'"

She was currently living in Upstate New York and working on a new book.

Estep was born on March 20, 1963, in Summit, N.J.

Here she is in 1994 with "Hey Baby" ...



Updated 12:48 p.m.

Some reaction to news of her death...








Updated 2:40 p.m.
The A.V. Club has a nice essay on Estep this afternoon... some thoughts on her writing:

Estep was also a prolific novelist, writing blackly hilarious books full of screwed-up characters in seedy, smutty surroundings, like the dominatrix’s assistant in Diary Of An Emotional Idiot. She also wrote a trilogy of mystery novels (Hex, Gargantuan, and Flamethrower) centered on Ruby Murphy, a recovering alcoholic who gets inadvertently dragged into some of New York’s oddest crimes, usually involving horse racing.

Her most recent novel, 2009’s Alice Fantastic, also revolved around the racetrack, though there, too, it was just a setting for a much larger menagerie of animals, addicts, estranged lovers, lunatics, and others living on the fringe. She also said she had been working for years on The Angelmakers, a novel about female gangsters that she’d “written seven times and not yet gotten right.”

Updated 8:46 p.m.
The New York Times has filed a feature obituary on Estep here.

Here's a photo of Estep from Friday hugging writer Chloe Caldwell at a reading in Rhinebeck, N.Y.


[Via Facebook]

33 comments:

  1. She was a sweet, funny, talented woman. Fun! So sorry to hear this.

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  2. Oh no. Such sad news.

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  3. Crap.

    Never really knew her personally, but she's part of this place, and I know she had plans.

    There goes that. Terrible news.

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  4. Very sad news. I remember her well. Guess will all will. Condolences to her family.

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  5. I'm in SHOCK-TOTAL shock. This is too sad. What will happen to the dogs?

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  6. So sorry to hear this and so sorry to discover too late how vibrant was her life upstate.

    Deepest condolences to her friends and puppers who she loved so well.

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  7. Soft Maniacs is one of my favorite books, ever. I've read it numerous times. Still haven't gotten around to reading Maggie's other books. I'm sorry to hear the news of her death.

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  8. SHOCKING news. But thank you for sharing.

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  9. So saddened by this - loved her recent writing as well as the earlier work that built her legend. Great sense of humor and all-around pleasure personally. WAY too young for this, RIP.

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  10. Oh! I just saw her give a book reading at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck last Friday.

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  11. Wow. Terribly sad and upsetting. And especially shocking for a woman to have a fatal heart attack at such a young age.

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  12. i believe it was a sunday. it might have been a saturday. it was a quiet, sunny, warm day at the Mercury Lounge and Maggie Estep and her band were loading in readying for soundcheck. i can't remember how it started, but me and her drummer were both wearing similar checked nerdy bermuda shorts, which for some reason we both decided to hike up as far up our bodies as possible. Maggie found this hysterical and the whole day progressed in an ever rising series of stories - mostly hers - and doings that made it one of the absolute funniest and most enjoyable days i ever spent in that club. RIP, Maggie Estep. you are a unique spirit. condolences to family and friends.

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  13. so sad, such a young age for that. RIP.

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  14. So sad to hear this. And frankly quite shocked. Maggie was such a sweet and vibrant person. I didn't know her well or for long but she's left a strong impression on me.
    ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
    उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मा ∫ मृतात् ।।

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  15. Maggie RIP... sweet, bitter, bitter, sweet... encouraging, razor sharp, she led the way....

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  16. I'm so sad to hear of Maggie's passing. And quite shocked. She was such a sweet and vibrant person. I didn't know her well or for very long but she touched my life nonetheless.

    ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
    उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मा ∫ मृतात् ।।

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  17. This is so sad & shocking. For those who can make it there will be a memorial at Club Helsinki in Hudson NY on Saturday at 11:00AM.

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  18. Rest in peace. She has a special place in all of our memories. I hope her dogs are okay. It's certainly a loss.

    Charles

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  19. I knew her several years ago, then I stopped seeing her around. When I knew her she was still going to NYU on a scholarship.

    I heard she'd become famous; like I'd hear someone quote her and kind of do a double-take.

    I thought she'd left the city, to tell you the truth. Wish I'd known she was still in NYC; I'm getting sick of all the people who keep dying.

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  20. Oh no. Really sad news - knocked my breath away to hear. RIP Maggie.

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  21. lornalentini@gmail.comFebruary 12, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Maggie, ace handicapper...and the aces.

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  22. The Philosophical ZombieFebruary 12, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    She was my best friend's best friend and I knew her as well. When I was in India, she asked me for help with her beloved dog's illness and we emailed back and forth. A bright spirit, I wish I'd gotten to know her better. Much too young.

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  23. I have Diary of an Emotional Idiot on my shelf here at work. I'm gonna bring it home now. Maggie, you were really far too young ... I can't believe you were even 50 because you'll always be that eternally Gen X icon set in amber. RIP. I'm so sorry.

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  24. "I've gotten paranoid now," she said, referring to her recent success. "I think, 'Oh my God, everybody hates me because I get too much attention.'"

    This comes from living in the East Village.

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  25. I'm shocked. She was too young. I never knew her but I loved her mysteries (Hex, Gargantuan, etc). A unique and great writer; darn it.

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  26. RIP indeed M! Hugs to all our friends!
    All our love, Chris and Johnny

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  27. I'm shocked and saddened, I don't know what to say. Rest in Peace Maggie.

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  28. I can't believe she is gone. She was so healthy and took such good care of herself. I was inspired by her blog posts on being a vegetarian. How could a woman so young and healthy die of a massive heart attack? I can only think heart disease ran in her family. My friend's husband, who was in great shape, died in his 40s of a massive heart attack. His father died the same way.

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  29. We were trying to schedule a play date for her Mickey and our Omar. We live in Catskill, NY. Does anybody know if Miickey is being taken care of?

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  30. Sad news...someone I always wanted to know...RIP bright light.

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  31. This news is so sad - I helped Maggie with Mickey and (that old diabetic cat) when I worked at the Rhinebeck Animal Hospital - it was always such a pleasure to see them - I always wanted to extend the appointment time to a coffee break and chat about everything as well as her pet's health. I only wish I could have said goodbye.

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  32. Further reminder of how the culture and flavor of a place die not just along with always-been-there bars and restaurants, but with its flesh-and-blood assets. When I think of Maggie Estep, I think of the late-'80s poetry scene at ABC No Rio, the "anti-folk" community of poets and songwriters, seeing Estep's band I Love Everybody play, and the time when a friend told me that Maggie had told her that sher thought I was good-looking. Maggie's name also brings to mind a vanishing breed of artists who do what they do because it's what they're here to do.

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