Up till now, our footage of DNA at the Mudd Club was as close as you were going to get to reliving a night at the legendary Tribeca club frequented by Warhol, Haring, Lou Reed, David Byrne, Lydia Lunch and pretty much everyone else who was anyone in downtown New York between 1978 and 1983. But on Nov. 19, you’ll have a chance to experience something close to it.
“Dr. Mudd” himself, Steve Mass, is putting together a “rummage sale” of items donated by Sting, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, and others who frequented his club. The glamorous garage sale will go down at The Roxy Hotel, just a few blocks from where a plaque marks the club’s original location at 77 White Street.
The event’s host committee is star-studded, to say the least. On it are former doorkeepers Richard Boch (who shared some Mudd Club stories with us a couple of years ago), Robert Molnar (now a designer and stylist) and Debi Mazar (now an actress); Eric Goode, who did the club’s design before moving on to Area; Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovitz, who covered the club for the Soho News before they founded Paper; and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, who once described the Mudd Club as a place where “people really intermingled and you could be this weird noise band playing before people who had no idea what they were listening to, but they were there because that club was cool.” In addition to the old-timers, the hosts also include some relative newbs who’ve kept the freewheeling, sexy, creative spirit of the club alive today, including Lola Montes Schnabel and the design collective threeASFOUR.
In the early 2000s, Mass moved to Berlin, where he opened and later sold another iteration of Mudd Club. He came up with the idea for the fundraiser while he was back in New York, staying in Tribeca. Having it be a benefit for the Bowery Mission made sense, since, in the days of Mudd Club and Pearl Paint, Tribeca wasn’t so distinct from the Lower East Side. “If you were on Canal, there was all this interaction between the Lower East Side and the artists who lived in Tribeca— you could run into all sorts of people who were cross-pollinating the two areas,” Mass said. He noted that East Village poets like Allen Ginbserg and William Burroughs read at Mudd. “We just didn’t think of it as Tribeca, the way it was today – the most expensive zip club in the world.”
At $200 [Update: tickets are now $100, including food and drink, until Wednesday at 3 p.m.], tickets aren’t exactly priced for starving artists—but remember that proceeds go to the Bowery Mission Women’s Center, which will be keeping actual starving people clothed and warm this winter. And Mass assures us that, rather than being a Sotheby’s-style auction, the rummage sale will be “like we had it in the old days,” with $50 dollar trinkets casually laid out next to more expensive items. “If Marc Jacobs donates a dress from that period and it’s $4,000 or $5,000, it might be next to a pair of shoes of someone who lost them in the Mudd Club in 1980.”
That pastiche, Mass said, was true to the club’s sensibility. “We were merging all these disciplines, which hadn’t been done before in a club,” said Mass, citing the presence of filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, writers like Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney, photographers like Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin (both of whom are hosts), and fashion designers like Anna Sui (another host) and Marc Jacobs, both of whom had early shows there.
“Basquiat practically lived at the Mudd Club” at certain times, Mass said. It remains to be seen whether any Basquiat work will be on offer. So far, some 50 to 100 items– donated by host committee members like Deborah Harry and others in Mass’s Rolodex– are in the mix, including some items donated by Maripol, who was a stylist for Madonna at the time.
Performances at the Rummage Sale have yet to be announced, but expect some throwback surprises [Update: Performers include Kate Pierson and Pat Irwin of the B-52’s and Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith Group]. DJs will include Paul Sevigny, Glenn O’Brien, and other fixtures (sadly, one expected DJ, Anita Sarko, died last month).
Given that Mass has revived the Mudd Club before, could all of this portend a New York City comeback? Don’t hold your breath. “Because of this [real estate] boom situation and this incredible inflationary explosion,” Mass said, “The only people who can afford to do clubs and get through the bureaucracy of the community board are in hotels, big hotels.”
So enjoy this one-night only affair while it lasts.
Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct the spelling of Richard Boch’s name.