Born in New York in 1951. He had been passionate about cinema since high school, when he made super-8 movies in partnership with writers Nicholas St. John and John McIntyre. His first feature films, Driller Killer (1979) and Ms. 45 (1981), transformed him into a cult figure. He directed, among others, King of New York (1990), The Addiction (1995), The Blackout (1997), New Rose Hotel (1998) and Pasolini (2014). The features Bad Lieutenant (1992), Mary (2005), Go Go Tales (2007) and The Projectionist (2019) were exhibited at the Mostra. In 2011, he received the Leopard of Honor at the Locarno Film Festival.