(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 1/19.)
I never called her anything but "Mama." I remember being startled the first time I actually heard someone address her as "Ellen." Strangers, to be courteous, might say, "Ms. Stewart," but if they lingered a few hours, they were soon calling her "Mama" like everybody else. Their courtesy came naturally: Ellen Stewart—our Mama, the creator and the lifeblood of La MaMa E.T.C.—was courteous to all visitors. She called intimates, myself occasionally included, "honey" or "baby," but most often, during my 40 years of visits to her theater, I called her "Mama" and she called me "Mr. Feingold"—four gently enunciated syllables, nestled in a soft Cajun accent.