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Stephen Capozzoli a.k.a. Frankie Neptune
Part One

Above: Stephen Capozzoli, A.I.R.-Artist in Residence, silver print, 1975, this would be stenciled on the outside of buildings to alert the police and fire department that someone was living in the otherwise illegal living spaces. (right) poster for the Kitchen in 1979
In my over 30 years as an artist, Stephen Capozzoli is the only artist I have ever known of who was also a New York City Police Officer. In 1979, on a lark and as a possible break from his job in academia, he took the test to become a cop. He passed it with flying colors, took the job, thought it was fun, found out if he did it for 20 years he would get a pension; so he did. Capozzoli was part of the NYPD and worked in the precincts which covered the East Village, Greenwich Village, Gramercy Park, and Chelsea during the 1980s and 90s. He was on the job right through some of the wildest and most dangerous times in that area and up to and including 9/11.
Both before and after taking this job, Capozzoli was immersed in the downtown Manhattan art scene. He made videos with Paul Tschinkel which were part of the Inner Tube Series shown on the public access channel, where they interviewed the hot punk rockers of the late 1970s and early ‘80s and filmed their performances. There is an especially funny one of Capozzoli interviewing Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys, which devolves into somewhat deadpan and very un-politically correct chatter. In 1979, these videos were shown at the Kitchen in Soho, the legendary downtown alternative art space. Tschinkel also made videos of interviews with the artists coming of age at that time along with a funky one made in 1975 of Capozzoli playing with artist Kiki Smith’s hair and face. He lived with his foot in the door of two quite different worlds.
Stephen Capozzoli,, Street Fighting Man
(L-R): Frankie Neptune: North Moore Street and Shy Hot Dog Vendor, 1974

The wild and possibly dangerous world of being a New York City cop and then the much lighter, safer world of the Manhattan art and music scene. Certainly, a somewhat unique and interesting intersection. Beginning in the late ‘60s, while in college and working a job as a cab driver, Capozzoli began making photographs of his travels throughout the city. His images, often of Times Square and Soho capture the now somewhat nostalgic grit of the city in those quickly changing times and were shown at both the Soho Photo Gallery and 55 Mercer St. Gallery in 1979.
Stephen Capozzoli, Taxi in the Rain, 1978  
In 2016, Capozzoli created a character named Frankie Neptune to be the protagonist for his novel NYPD, The Way Things Were (available on Amazon) which followed Neptune through his day to day life as a New York City cop. The novel was based loosely on Capozzoli’s experiences. Originally, the Neptune character was a composite of several people, however in time, Frankie Neptune became one and the same with Capozzoli.
Stephen Capozzoli-Frankie Neptune at a book signing, Greenport Book Store. 2018 

Those who know Stephen Capozzoli cannot help but calling him Frankie. In some ways, the name is more fitting for Capozzoli than his real one. There is more than one of us who know Frankie, that have questioned whether or not his whole life has been one long performance art piece. There is a wildness, courage, really fearless quality in Capozzoli that has led him to have pretty extraordinary experiences, which are often told in quite absurdly humorous stories. These stories would probably be a bit too lurid to include here. And, the jokes, Frankie has never been afraid of a bad joke - I have suggested that he do some stand up to which he has declined. For some of these tales see his book. Other stories taken from his life and experiences have been published on the internet in such places as And, more can be found on

Adam Straus is known for contemporary landscape paintings which often deal with man’s effect on and presence in the natural world. His work is represented by Nohra Haime Gallery in New York City. More on Straus can be seen at or He considers himself a friend of Frankie Neptune. They differ a great deal politically and almost constantly argue without convincing each other of anything. They will very possibly continue to do this until one of them dies.
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