Gregg Barrios, a playwright, poet, and journalist from San Antonio, died last week at the age of 80. Barrios, a native of Victoria, Texas, created plays that were staged across the country, including I-DJ, which premiered to critical acclaim in San Antonio in 2012 before moving to Manhattan’s East Village.
His 2008 play Rancho Pancho investigated Tennessee Williams’ connection with lover Pancho Rodriguez, who is thought to be the inspiration for Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Gregg Barrios had plenty of tales to tell. The Victoria Advocate, his local paper, hired him to write book reviews when he was 16 years old, and he went on to work for the San Antonio Express-News, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Film Quarterly, among other publications.
He served in the Vietnam War, taught in small Texas towns, organized an influential film society at the University of Texas at Austin, and worked at Andy Warhol’s legendary Factory in New York.
Barrios’ nonfiction has appeared in the Current, Out in SA, the New York Times, Film Quarterly, and the Express-News, where he formerly served as a book editor. In a 2016 interview with Out in SA, Barrios discussed the differences between writing for the stage and writing for the paper.
He said that “I get to play all the characters [in a play] when I write it”. “I spent a long time as a reporter, so it is very nice how the tables have turned and now people are writing about me. I have always had so many stories that I wanted to tell and theater offers me an audience for that. A live performance in front of an audience is much more satisfying for me than someone just reading something in a book.”
According to the daily, Barrios died after a heart attack last Tuesday. Barrios’ other claims to fame include spending quality time in Andy Warhol’s famed New York studio The Factory. He was also a member of the National Book Critics Circle’s board of directors and apparently worked on a book with actor James Franco.
According to the Express-News, one of the projects Barrios was working on at the time of his death was a play on Texas burlesque performer Candy Barr.