Marley Gotterer Brings Her Censored Memes to Stage

Marley Gotterer Brings Her Censored Memes to Stage

By Tobias HessMar 28, 2024

Comedian, actress and general agent of chaos Marley Gotterer can’t be silenced. Well, technically she can, but it may require some planning. “You can't censor me. You’ll have to come and assassinate me,” she says over coffee. “And this is not an invitation. But if you do, you can only assassinate me with a dildo sword, like a double-sided dildo sword. That's the only way.”

After having her popular absurdist, disturbingly beautiful meme page, Marley’s Mind, inexplicably banned from Instagram, she’s feeling notably defiant. She has to be. It’s not the first time the rising Brooklyn-based performer has had her growing digital footprint diminished by the algorithmic powers that be. But despite the machinations of transphobic and uninspired moderators, a mind like Marley’s can't be contained.

Gotterer is bringing the thrilling and bizarre pace of her now-deleted meme page to a weekly show, happening every Tuesday, at 7 PM at Baker Falls in the Lower East Side. The show, which is aptly titled “Marley’s Mind,” is a convening of the city’s best and strangest performers, all united by a shared frenetic frequency that Marley would describe as “grotesque” and “world-making.” Gotterer is on hosting duties, and is thus bringing her signature comedic style which combines the chutzpah of a pop star with the creeping horror of an all night Reddit binge. And though it may feel sick and twisted to be stuck inside of Marley’s mind, I’m certainly thankful that I can step inside the spiral.

The day after her inaugural weekly show, PAPER chatted about censorship, resilience and the poetics of the internet.

Dress: Outlier by Willie Norris

What’s the relationship between your now-deleted meme page and the show?

My meme page was called “Marley's Mind” and it basically was a page that explored the most disturbingly gorgeous things on TikTok that I [would then post] to Instagram. I would have my own content on it as well, which felt like it’s from that same world. I was addicted to TikTok right when it came out. My last papers at college were queer theory essays about how TikTok was world-making for people like the furry community and “littles,” adult men who are like, “I am emotionally and physically three years old and I'm going to be shitting in my diaper.” I was like, I love this. I felt like this was the first medium where I was like, Oh, this is for the people. This is queer humor. My meme page became me trying to spread that buffoonery and perspective. And that could look like sharing a TikTok of a guy juggling Twinkies and eating a bite of each one, or like, Iceland: gorgeous, gorgeous Iceland.

Is this show the first time you're translating that chaotic digital world onto the stage?

It was kind of the other way around. My content has always been absurd. When I was 10, I made a YouTube series called “How to Be an Idiot” where I interviewed my friends like it was a late night show. The parents in my neighborhood found out and they made me take it down, because I was fake-smoking weed. I was 10 years old. I was like, I don't know what that means.

So you’ve been censored for years?

Literally since day one. I would have had millions of followers on YouTube, I would have been Vine-famous if I wasn't censored. But with TikTok and Instagram, I gained access to this media that could document what's going on with me right now. I loved making these carousels of 10 videos where you didn’t know what’s going to happen. You could be crying laughing at one point and you could actually be like, “I'm so disturbed, I feel sick to my stomach,” in just one finger swipe. And the captions will be like, “I just got double penetrated in a gas station parking lot by two old men and that's the truth.”

Is it?

I mean, I just said it. It was a Craigslist, anonymous gloryhole type thing. You can quote me on that. [Laughs]

Your meme page got deleted. Do you know what happened?

I've gotten many accounts deleted over the years. When I was 18 years old, my Facebook profile picture was my full as. So I've been definitely pushing the boundaries of what the algorithm will accept. My meme account has been taken down three times. The first time it got taken down, I had 10k followers, and I was so distraught. And then I had this time like, Okay, like, I've lost this, I feel so powerless. But other things were happening, and I decided to change my name and I was going through my transition, so then when I came back, I started “Marley's Mind.” It was a new name, a new beginning for me, and I decided people were just gonna have to find me. I got to around 15 K followers and I worked it back up, and then it was just deleted.

And you don't know what post was reported or what happened?

I have no idea what was reported. The page was a mix of my own content and random shit that I found [so it could have been reported for either]. My personal account got deleted two different times as well. And that hurt, because I was like, This is my brand. I have been working with musicians, brands and pop stars on their social media. I'm making these viral trends for these people. I'm getting paid. And at the end of the day, what do I get? I get my accounts deleted. So it's like, Okay, I have to be resilient. I think there's a mix of algorithm transphobia. I know a lot of trans people, Black people and trans people of color who are like, “Where are my views?” The algorithm shadow bans. And I've always been shadow banned. But I think I've created a community where the vibes are always good. Even if these things are deleted, there's some legacy that still lives on. And so I think with this solo show, I'm like, “You can't censor me with a mic. Try. You’ll have to come and assassinate me. And this is not an invitation. But if you do, you can only assassinate me with a dildo sword, like a double- sided dildo sword. That's the only way.” And with my stand up shows there's that vibe, where I'm like, “Oh, anything can happen. Right?” And with my meme page and posts it's the same, you literally don't know what's going to occur.

Do you feel dependent on these platforms? You now have a more fluid relationship with losing your followings and gaining it back, but it still sucks.

It is super painful. Each time it happens, I have a lot of grief. And I have a lot of guilt about that. But it's like, This is my personhood, my brand, my career, my survival in a lot of ways. And I thought it would get better as the accounts get deleted, and I got more used to it. But it’s just a form of resilience, where it's like, I have to lift my head up and keep going, because there are these moments where I opened my phone and it's all of a sudden gone. I sit down and move through all this anger, grief, frustration, shame, guilt, sadness, and then freedom and happiness. And then I come back to reality. And it's like, “Whoa, I need this for work. I get booked through this application called Instagram dot com sponsored by Meta.” And I'm an actor as well. I was just in a short in Sundance. I want to be in more roles and the way you get seen is on social media. And this institutional platform has never listened to me. So I guess I gotta go to Mark Zuckerberg's house, take off his shirt, look him right in his blue eyes, give him a kiss on the cheek, sit him down and say, “Markey, listen... Buddy, I love you. You're seen. You’re heard. I know you have a fetish for trans people. And I know you're working that into the algorithm, so you can be more DL to silence those voices, but you have to free us. You have to let us free.”


They call me Marley-Moses. Well, Moses is actually my brother's middle name... They call me Marley.

You can get your tickets to Marley’s Mind at Baker Falls every Wednesday at 7 PM here.

Photography: An Pham
Hair: Thomas Cook