While wandering from gallery to gallery yesterday in the Lower East Side, soaking up a pair of museum-like nostalgia exhibitions focusing on at least one part if not all of a few-decades long span from Warhol’s Factory days through the ’90s club kid scene, I started thinking about a conversation I’d had with one JJ Brine, Satanic gallerist extraordinaire. Before JJ took off for Vanuatu (btw according to his Facebook page, he made it just fine), he explained he was departing indefinitely because he was frustrated with what he understood as New York City’s unusual fixation on the past at the expense of devoting energy to the future. I couldn’t have agreed more, but somehow The Last Party and Michael Alig’s appropriately-titled solo exhibition, Inside / Out succeed in drawing a line, however crooked, between the past and the present and making this nostalgia part of current existence. How? Well, I felt as though I could almost see myself in some of the blurry old party photos and even the creepy clown-like painted odes to various poisons of choice.
Some of the city’s most colorful characters flocked to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center last night to celebrate the completion of a $9.2 million renovation project. A sparkling rainbow ribbon was cut by Edie Windsor, who famously caused the Supreme Court to change its exclusively heterosexual interpretation of marriage through a civil rights case that is now a historical milestone for the LGBT community. Cheers resounded as it fell to the floor.
All week, we’re bringing you a series of deep dives into the surprising histories of storied addresses. Back to our usual after the New Year.
As soon as Michelangelo Alasa heard that the theater on the second floor of 62 East 4th Street was up for rent, he grabbed a crowbar and moved toward the stairs. He swung open wooden doors on his way; his feet hit cracked, uneven white tile that on other occasions he’d stopped to admire. He made it to the stairs and began a slow, certain descent to the next floor. The marble stairway walls had been painted over since before his time, a murky indefinite color offensive mainly due to what it covered. It was 1996, and the time had come to liberate the remnants of the storied century-old theater and reclaim its striking heritage.
Police say a man using the names David Horowitz and Michael Bryant offered an apartment at 321 East Sixth Street on Craigslist and managed to trick nine women into giving him cash deposits of $2,200 each.
If (like most living, breathing human beings) you’re a fan of Andy Warhol, set your homepage to Rob Pruitt’s eBay Store. The post-pop artist is commemorating the 27-year anniversary of the pop art founder’s death (on Feb. 22) by featuring various Warhol memorabilia on the Rob Pruitt Flea Market all week long (today’s item is an Esquire magazine from 1969 featuring Warhol drowning in a Campbell’s soup can on its cover). All items come from Pruitt’s personal stock of nicknacks and oddities.
Will John Waters finally be able to cross “Andy Warhol’s old prescription bottle for Obetrol diet pills” off of his wish list? Don’t let him down, Rob!
The fate of six acres of vacant land at the corner of Delancey and Essex was finally revealed today. City officials and developers have dubbed the massive new multi-purpose development Essex Crossing, which, let’s be honest, kind of sounds like a mall in Ohio. Though it has a slightly more pleasant ring to it than SPURA (the Seward Park Urban Renewal Project), or the larger development project. Essex Crossing is the result of a in the battle between neighborhood residents and politicians over what to do with this gray patch of grit in the LES cityscape.
Few nightclubs exemplified the excesses of the drug-fueled ‘60s like the Electric Circus. Trapeze artists, mimes and jugglers illuminated by pulsating strobe and black lights created a psychedelic atmosphere; predictably, the Circus became the club of choice to smoke pot and drop acid. But the Electric Circus also presented a powerhouse array of rock bands, many of who would become superstars: Sly and the Family Stone, Dr. John, Deep Purple and the Allman Brothers Band all played the Circus early in their careers.
Tomorrow, as part of the CBGB Festival, Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong will discuss the Downtown Collection’s recent acquisition of their Nightclubbing archive of punk-era concert footage. In this week’s installment of their column for The Local, they speak with Tish and Snooky Bellomo, who will be playing with the Sic F*cks tonight at Bowery Electric and tomorrow at Fontana’s. That band was hardly the only one the Bellomo sisters had a hand in.
In the beginning, there was the Stillettos: Debbie Harry, Elda Stilletto and Roseanne Ross. As flashy and trashy as glam bands got, they played CBGBs so early in the game that the Ramones opened for them. By 1975, Debbie Harry had gone on to form Blondie. Elda transformed the Stillettos into the Stilletto Fads, with Tish and Snooky Bellomo as back up singers.
The Bellomos were no strangers to the CBGB scene. “We used to come down to the city from Riverdale,” said Tish. “We would hide our ‘subway’ shoes in some hedges outside of Max’s and CBGB and change into our cool stilettos and rock-and-roll wear before we went in, then change back on the train on our way back to the Bronx so we wouldn’t scare the neighbors.” Their fashion sense paid off: realizing how hard it was for New Yorkers to get the cool tight black pants that English kids wore, they used $500 to open Manic Panic on St. Marks Place in 1977. “Sometimes, we only made a $2.50 sale all day,” recalled Snooky, “but everyone would drop by, so you almost didn’t care. It was a while before we started making any money.”
Meanwhile, they sang with the Sic F*cks – at CBGBs, Max’s, Mudd Club theme nights, and wherever fun was to be had – and with the Stilletto Fads. More →