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Alone At Last : Slip Into a Booth and Prepare to Be Seduced

(Film still via "Alone at Last", Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong)

(Film still via “Alone at Last”, Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong)

“At that time in New York things were really wild,” Emily Armstrong recalled of the ’70s punk scene. She and her partner, Pat Ivers, are old school East Village types– they truly lived the Downtown era, and lucky for us they documented over 100 shows at CBGBs, filming bands like DNA and unbelievable moments like Iggy Pop covering Frank Sinatra for their weekly TV show, Nightclubbing. After NYU’s Fales Library acquired their archive for the Downtown Collection, thousands of the duo’s film reels were digitized and, for a time, were part of a weekly column at B+B.

Alone at Last emerged out of that archival effort and now, after more than 30 years since the artists last saw them, the 1981 black-and-white vignettes featuring 52 people who were prompted to seduce the viewer, will be shown at Howl! Happening. The video series captures the last breath of the freewheeling ’70s Downtown scene right before AIDS hit. “People who have seen it feel that it’s a very interesting depiction of that culture, that moment, because it was truly a moment. Soon after it was shot, people realized what AIDS was. So having a lot of sex for pleasure was completely redefined: having a lot of open sex was suicide. Things really changed, really fast.”

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This Week at the Newsroom: Screenings of How to Act Bad + Nightclubbing

This week at the Bedford + Bowery Newsroom: bang your head on the punk rock! These two screenings pair some of our favorite documentarians with the outré — and outrageous — musicians they’ve filmed over the years. As always, the events are free — just let us know you’re coming via the Facebook event links below.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 2, 7 P.M.

howtoactbad_longflyer_revised_Angelo(2)How to Act Bad + a q&a with Dima Dubson and Adam Green

Last time we saw Adam Green, the singer-songwriter who co-founded of The Moldy Peaches, he was installing a giant cat sarcophagus in an East Village window and plotting a papier-mâché remake of “Aladdin” starring Macauly Culkin. If that made you wonder what makes the man tick, then you’ll definitely want to catch Wednesday’s screening of “How to Act Bad,” a documentary that follows Green over the course of two years, offering a candid and often comical look into his paintings and sculptures, drug experimentations, filmmaking and romantic dysfunctions. After the screening Green himself, along with filmmaker Dima Dubson, will be on hand to teach you how to act bad.


FRIDAY, OCT. 4, 7 P.M.

NIGHTCLUBBING_edited-1Nightclubbing + a discussion with the filmmakers and musicians
Consider this a killer warm-up to next week’s CBGB Festival. Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong spent the late ‘70s filming performances at places like CBs, Mudd Club and Danceteria, and amassing an archive that’s currently being digitized for the NYU Fales Library’s Downtown Collection. Readers of Bedford + Bowery have seen clips from Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the NYC debut of the Dead Kennedys, and even Iggy Pop covering Sinatra. On Friday, you’ll see rare gems from the Nightclubbing archive like you’ve never seen ’em before — on the big screen, with the sound turned up. After the screening, Ivers and Armstrong will chat with Richard Boch, an artist and writer currently working on a memoir about his nearly two years working the door at Mudd Club, and Pat Irwin, a founding member of The Raybeats and Eight Eyed Spy who later joined The B-52s and currently scores TV shows and movies for Showtime, HBO, and others.

All events at the Bedford + Bowery Newsroom, 155 Grand, off of Bedford Ave.

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Nightclubbing: DNA at Mudd Club, 1979

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong are sifting through their voluminous archive of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at NYU’s Fales Library. This week: a look back at DNA.

“How dare you play your guitar like that! Don’t you know that’s the same instrument that Eric Clapton plays?” Audience members were often quick to share their dissatisfaction with the screeching dissonance that Arto Lindsay wrung from his instrument during a feverish set. So whenever his no wave band DNA finished up, Lindsay was sure to pack up quickly.

“It was the music I liked to play,” Lindsay says. “I thought the more far out you were, the more likely you were to be hailed as the next Jimi Hendrix. I just wanted to see what music would do to people. “
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Nightclubbing | Strange Party, 1980

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong are sifting through their voluminous archive of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

Described by the Soho Weekly News as “New York’s best party band,” Strange Party was a witty, stylish group serving up a fizzy cocktail of performance art with a dash of Latin-infused new wave. They were a huge outfit with six backup musicians and four vocalists upfront. And what vocalists! Led by downtown art star Joey Arias, the quartet was rounded out by Tony Frere, Paige Wood, and Janus Budde. They were eccentric and compelling — their guitarist George Elliot once described the band as “a little like heavy metal Ricky Ricardo.” Joey suggested they were just trying to turn art into fun.
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Nightclubbing | John Cale Band, 1979

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

John Cale on the road. (Photo: Robert Medici)

Five Favorite Facts about John Cale:

  • He studied musicology at London’s Goldsmiths College in the early 1960s, where his teachers dubbed him “Most Hateful Student” before awarding him a prestigious Leonard Bernstein scholarship to study with the Boston University Orchestra.
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Nightclubbing | Student Teachers, 1979

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

(Photo: Steve Lombardi)

It’s that time of year again: Spring break! While college students are streaming like lemmings to the usual spots — Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean — there’s been an uptick of revelers heading for New York this year. You can see them — earbuds in, texting and stumbling around the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, updating their absent pals. We hope they’re enjoying themselves.
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Nightclubbing | Richard Hell and The Voidoids, 1979

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library

(Photo: Nicole Batchelor Regne)

Well, it is officially Richard Hell month. His newly published book, “I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp,” has enjoyed a glowing review in The New York Times. There has been a flurry of personal appearances in bookstores and a string of interviews in print outlets and on the radio.

It has probably reminded this self-deprecating and essentially very private man why he dropped from the public eye to begin with. The tension between his introversion and the will to perform has always been Hell’s biggest conundrum. And what better way to help relive that dichotomy than a book tour? Maybe it’s a form of therapy. We have the feeling he would rather chew glass.
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Nightclubbing | Human Sexual Response, 1980

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

It is hard to overstate the giddy hedonism of the early ’80s. Riding the tide of the ’70s sexual revolution, when feminism and gay power met the “if it feels good do it” ethos of the era, it was a great time to be young and on the prowl.
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Nightclubbing | Lounge Lizards, 1979

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

Lounge Lizards (Photo: Pat Ivers)

We finally shot the Lounge Lizards at CBGBs in the spring of 1979, just a few months before we bought our first color camera. Good thing, too. They just looked better in black and white.

Some called what they played fake jazz but we loved their sinuous stew of no wave, be-bop and cinematic soundscape that Robert Palmer of The New York Times famously described as “somewhere west of Charles Mingus and east of Bernard Hermann.”
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Nightclubbing | The Offs

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

LP cover.

Looking back at the cover of the L.P. that The Offs released in 1984, we didn’t remember that Jean-Michel Basquiat had designed it. But the image of their lead singer, Don Vinyl, face down, his bicep glistening with the tattoo of a .45 pistol — that we had not forgotten.

We recall Don coming to our apartment the day he got the ink, his arm still red and a little bloody. “Paul Simonon is getting the same one!” he told us, excitedly. It was the summer of 1981 and everyone in the East Village was getting tats, even The Clash. Bob Roberts, The Offs’ saxophonist — and also a tattooist — had done the work for both.
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Nightclubbing | Ballistic Kisses

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

(Photo: Emily Armstrong)

In 1980, Ronald Reagan ushered in a long cold winter of conservatism in America. But a little bit of heat was generating on the Lower East Side. Over on the Bowery, the Ballistic Kisses were in their loft, practicing. With a sound that combined post-punk and politics, they brought something new to the downtown club scene.

Michael Shore, rock critic for The Soho Weekly News recalls, “In those days we did not even have a name for electropop, synth or what they were doing. And their lead singer, Mike Parker was very intense. They were the first NYC band with genuine, serious political thought, but with an interesting difference from the Sex Pistols — they seemed to be more street level. The Ballistic Kisses had an honest, urgent, sincere political thing going on.” Keep Reading »

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Nightclubbing | Helen Wheels, 1979

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

Poster for Helen Wheels show (Armen Kachaturian)

“I could describe her to you in details, but those are just facts. She was unforgettable, and everybody who knew her, loved her.”

That was Scott Kempner of The Dictators and the Del-Lords describing Helen Wheels, a woman who to the mainstream may seem like a punk rock history footnote, but who to CBGB veterans was a beloved icon. Keep Reading »