SWELTERING AUGUST MAGIC
is: 8th STREET PLAYHOUSE
Only a native could've written the following:
"Hot time summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and
gritty. Been down isn't it a pity, doesn't seem to be a shadow in the
city. All around, people looking half dead, walking on the sidewalk hotter
than a match head. But at night it's a different world. Go out and find
a girl. C'mon c'mon and dance all night. Despite the heat it'll be alright.
Cause babe, don't you know it's a pity that the days can't be like the
nights in the summer in the city."
John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful, from Greenwich Village. John Sebastian
is also responsible for the theme to "Welcome Back Kotter."
Close your eyes and imagine what life would be like without those two
Now imagine what this existence would be without the 8th Street Playhouse
and Rocky Horror Picture Snow. The 8th Street Playhouse, on 8th between
5th and 6th Avenues, was a neighborhood theater that in the 70s began
playing independent films and revivals (not the religious kind) and was
supposedly the first theater to screen a midnight show seven days a week.
The Rocky Horror show made its midnight film debut at the Waverly Theater
on 6th Avenue on April Fool's Day 1976, replacing "Night of the Living
Dead" as the midnight show. In June 2005, the Waverly became the
IFC Theater, showing documentaries, classics, and independents. I'm happy
that this stretch of 6th Avenue is still very nicely sleazy and retains
a feel of the grit we long for. Soon after, Rocky Horror moved to the
8th Street Playhouse, which is where it became famous for playing every
Friday and Saturday night for 15 years. I was a Rocky Horror "virgin"
until one nervous night in 1985, and left the theater with rice stuck
The 8th Street Playhouse is now home to TLA Video - Theater of the Living
Arts, which is a company founded by Andre Gregory of the 1981 film "My
Dinner with Andre." This film has amazing footage of NYC in the opening
sequences. It also stars native New Yorker Wallace Shawn ("Princess
Bride," "Heaven Help Us," 100,000 other movies). It's quite
interesting. The adjacent space and basement is Jimi Hendrix's Electric
Ladyland Studios. Jimi lived nearby and in 1968 dished out $50,000 to
buy the space and turn it into a nightclub. Years earlier it was the Village
Barn, a Big Band hall said to have been owned in part by Rudy Vallee.
By the 1940s it was New York's best-known country music room, attracting
a host of country stars. By the 1960s it had become the Generation Club,
which featured rock artists including Hendrix. Upon realizing that he
didn't have enough money to turn it into a nightclub, and that it cost
so much to block time at other recording studios, he converted the space
into a studio where he could record for free and make money renting the
rest of the time to others. Hendrix became the first major artist to own
and operate his own recording studio, which gave him creative freedom
far beyond what was possible in those days with the record-company owned
studios. Some of the musicians that recorded there include the Rolling
Stones, Stevie Wonder, and the Clash. It's still there, and you can go
record anything you want. Anything.
Okay, now imagine what life would be like without CBGB, which is under
threat to close by August 31 when its lease expires and may not get renewed.
If you don't already know about the bands that got their start at CBGBs,
I will quickly list a mere few: the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Television.
Bless CBGB for allowing entry to 16 years olds. But what is so humorous
is that 16 year olds don't have I.D. So what did we do? We brought our
"program card" from school, which said what grade we were in
and listed our classes. The bouncer would ask for I.D., we'd hand him
our tattered program card and he'd test us on what we had 3rd period.
There weren't even photos on these pieces of paper, but it worked, and
I spent much of junior year of high school at the front of the stage.
If someone in the group didn't have money, s/he would lick someone's stamp
and put her/his hand on the saliva-y ink and try to make an imprint. I
can't remember if it worked. Ah, youth. Ah, spit.
CBGB OMFUG (full name) stands for Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music
for Uplifting Gormandizers.
Check out the exhibit at CBGB Gallery (313 Bowery), formerly the CBGB
Record Canteen: Addressing the Shadow & Making Friends with Wild Dogs:
Remodernism - an international group exhibition featuring prints by Terry
Marks (City As) from August 3rd-29th, 2005. Opening reception is Wednesday,
August 3 from 6-8pm. Terry is also a tattoo artist - check out her site:
At the same time that CBGB was making history, Club 57, in the basement
of the Holy Cross Polish National Church on St. Mark's Place, was doing
it's own thing. Ondine, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Lypsinka, John
Sex, Wendy Wild, Klaus Nomi, and many others were regulars there. There
is currently an exhibit, CLUB 57 WHERE ARE YOU?
Harvey Wang's Photographs of the Legendary East Village Club 1979-1983
and I now quote native New Yorker and co-curator of the exhibit Kai Eric:
"New York in the late 70's and early eighties was economically depressed
and crime ridden. Times Square was full of Junkies, Prostitutes and sex
shops. However rents were very affordable. Although the east
side was littered with abandoned buildings and ruins, one could take over
a storefront and overnight it would become a gallery or a rehearsal space.
It seems in retrospect that people had more free time and could survive
working just one or two days a week. Perhaps because the city had
served as a backdrop for so many poignant films (i.e. "Midnight Cowboy"
and "Taxi Driver"), there existed a romantic allure and dark
poetic notion of NYC at the time. In the same way that certain artists
are curious about heroin and drag queens are attracted to tinsel, the
city became a magnet for art students, runaways and lost personalities.
The circumstances all came together in a rare mix where the creative and
their inspirations could live side by side in dark dramatic splendor."
New York just ain't the same. Read the full interview at: http://www.harveywang.com/club57kai.htm.The
exhibit goes until July 31 at the Riviera Gallery in Williamsburg. 103
Metropolitan Avenue. Gallery Hours: Thursdays, Saturdays, &
Sundays from 12-6 pm. 718-599-5589. There
will be a performance at 8pm on July 28, featuring a number of artists
including Alice Texas
New York of the 70s and 80s, where are you? At the MAGIC GARDEN, silly.
Come by the next party, listen to excellent music and drink refreshingly
cool sangria for $3.
The August "BE NICE CAMPAIGN" honors the The
National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), the leading ovarian cancer
public information and education organization in the U.S. NOCC initiated
the first toll free ovarian cancer info line (1-888-OVARIAN), maintains
the most comprehensive website for ovarian cancer support and has built
a network of divisions across the U.S., including one in New York City.
Ovarian cancer has the highest death rate of gynecologic cancers. Almost
70% of cases are diagnosed at a late stage where the five-year survival
rate is only 15-20%. The five year survival rate for patients diagnosed
at earlier stages increases dramatically, ranging between 70-90%. With
greater awareness, women and their loved ones can work towards prevention.
Lori Robinson (Flushing High, 1988) has been a volunteer for the past
year, trying to get the word out and help more women take charge of their
Come, donate, feel good about helping and feel great about being a New