Some events are so overwhelming that you can’t really take them in. Weddings, big birthdays, graduations and seeing so many old pals at once you want to stop time. Halloween was like that for me this year attending the Club 57 exhibit opening at the Museum of Modern Art. So many parts of your life crashing together at once that even a seasoned pro like JLo just might have been whelmed over.
I’ll back up and tell you a little about Club 57 and consequently, me. To be honest, the place was nothing special, it was in a church basement on St. Marks Place in the East Village. You would have walked right by. It was the kids who showed up to play that made it memorable and worthy of a museum show.
I have a confession, I think I went there twice. Once for Monster Movie Club (I forget the film) and another night when I ran into Keith Haring, a club regular before he was famous, who was handing out copies of Valerie Solanis‘s book, The S.C.U.M. Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men) She shot Andy Warhol, remember? I still have the copy.
Anyway, I was not a regular, The Pyramid was my Club 57. It was just around the corner and had a different vibe and more drag. But I know most all of those guys, then and even now, we’re friends –the ones that are still on the planet, anyway.
Some you might know are Ann Magnuson, Kenny Scharf, Tseng Kwong Chi, Haring, Klaus Nomi, Joey Arias, John Sex, Patti Astor, Katy K, Fab Five Freddy, Jean Michel Basquiat and the late Richard Hambleton (for whom I just posted an #RIP for here.). The ones you might not have heard of (not because they aren’t famous or accomplished) are Min & Oliver Sanchez, Scott Covert, Jody Morlock, April Palmieri, Wendy Wild, Haruko, Shawn McQuate, Drew Straub, Animal X, Dany Johnson, Bruno Schmidt, Frank Holliday, Susan Hannaford and on and on and on…
Club 57 was a playhouse, funhouse, theater, dance floor, runway, bar, film school, and art gallery all rolled into one. The amount of crazy enthusiasm and sheer creativity didn’t seem that big of a deal at the time because it was everywhere downtown, but in retrospect, ESPECIALLY in a museum setting, it seems like lightening was captured in a bottle.
I’m not going to take you through it all, if you’re REALLY interested you can get the book and if you’re in NYC before next April 1st (yes, it opened on Halloween and closes April Fool’s Day) you can check out Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983 for yourself. (Here’s the film schedule through the end of February…)
In the meantime, here are pics of my pals all so excited to see each other, it felt like our high school reunion. It kind of was.
(Photos by Jackie Rudin, April Palmieri, Trey Speegle and others)