B train, 1:00am, New York City
Photo of the day: “LET US DIRTY” – 1:10am, Anthony Alonzi fixing his eyeliner after the Cher concert. On the B train, Brooklyn.
Photo of the day: COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL, IT’S EASTER! – Liberate yourself for Easter!
Awesome visual provided by the Third Rail Projects dance group performance of “Yolk”.
Photo of the day: NEW YORK FK’N CITY – In Manhattan’s Little Italy you can say what you want on a t-shirt! Just six for $10.
Photo of the day: IT’S SPRING – BUY A HAT! . . . “does anyone ~still~ wear a hat?
Photo of the day: NEVER TRY TO OUTDO RONALD McDONALD ! – Whilst partaking in the Chinese New Year parade this year in New York I came across this clown wearing red shoes just like mine – his were bigger.
Photo of the day: NOT BAD FOR 58?! –
Hans Von Rittern, born December 21, 1955. Happy Birthday to me!
Photo of the day: HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM BABY DIVINE! – If ever there was a fierce drag queen, it was Divine! Born Harris Glen Milstead, star of cult films like “Pink Flamingos”, “Mondo Trasho”, “Female Trouble”, “Lust in the Dust”, “Multiple Maniacs”, “Polyester” and all time classic “Hairspray”. She has been copied ever since and will never be topped or duplicated. . . until now.
DIVINE in ‘Pink Flamingos’ 1972
I saw this Halloween tribute to her in the window of Two Boots Pizza in Greenwich Village. Tonight’s New York Greenwich Village Halloween parade is the largest in the world – our ‘carnival’. Filled with political satire, sex, gore, sex, humor, sex, and over the top creativity! Over 3 million participants and viewers and broadcast internationally. Only in New York !
Two Boots Pizza – 210 West 11th Street, Greenwich Village
Ladies and gentlemen, Grace Jones . . .
Photo of the day: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – – – GRACE JONES – 1 year ago today, Grace Jones hit New York City with her show called “Hurricane” two days before the most disastrous hurricane ever destroyed parts of New York forever, hurricane Sandy. Eerily now in hindsight, the audience and I screamed and cheered in Grace’s defiance of the oncoming storm. None of us had any idea of what was to come. . . here is my review of that ironic and incredible night at Roseland Ballroom, which it was announced this week – Roseland be torn down, not due to hurricane damage, but torn down by greed:
“Thirty four years after the legendary performance of her 1978 concert at Roseland Ballroom, NYC – Grace Jones returned Saturday night, October 27, 2012 and gave what perhaps will go down as one of her most legendary concerts of her career. She has not changed a bit. At 64 years old she is an astoundingly fit statuesque Amazonian creature as she was then. When she asked “Who was here in 1978?” the roar in response was deafening. (I was there that night in 1978). Last night’s sold out concert crowd recreated the height of the atmosphere of the divine Studio 54 disco days. Extreme outfits were the norm. Glam, glitz, drag, shock and over the top seemed to be the order of the night.
Grace outdid herself for her die hard fans, even the Hammerstein Ballroom concert performance of July, 2009. She was more animated, loose, filled with naughty adlibs (Grace is obviously an oral sex fan). Roseland’s lighting crew was off their game for which Grace retorted with a flurry of quips, zingers and re-starts of her legendary disco and new wave songs. No dubbing, live for almost 2 hours! “Keepin’ it tight!” It was Grace unleashed.
Every move was a camera pose. Every gesture calculated to cause frenzy and cameras to go wild. She is still a fierce, angry, cocky sexual diva. Her legendary toned body is remarkable, her legs are longer than a Barbie doll’s, her ass firmer that a 30 year old. One of her songs was performed while consistently swirling a hula hoop around her waist and then while continually twirling and moving about the stage she introduced the band – constantly twirling! Lady Gaga, Britney, Madonna, Rhianna, Taylor Swift or any of the young acts today do not have the stamina of this remarkable icon. With a hard pounding rock/reggae beat flavored with disco and new wave, her mega hits did not disappoint. Ironically called “The Hurricane Tour”, Grace ended in defiance singing “Hurricane” while huge fans blew her about on stage and whipped the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy leaving euphoria in her wake.”
Photo of the day: STYLISH BAD ASS BIKER GRANNY – I don’t which caught my eye first? The overalls? Wearing sandals on a motorcycle? The ‘big’ bag? The ultra cool vintage colored Vespa bike? The matte black bubble helmet? Being in the middle of treacherous NYC taxi traffic? The determined look? Or the fact that she is probably somebody’s really cool grandmother! God I love New York! GO GIRL !
Mondays on Memory Lane: EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN, REMEMBERING 1970’s SHOE STORES – Just as the young women of today are teetering on their nine inch platforms, the exact same shoes were the rage in the early to mid 1970’s. In the disco era it wasn’t only women teetering about, it was men also. I was about six inches taller in those disco days.
There were many “cool” in vogue streets to buy your shoes in those days. One was, believe it or not, today’s staid East 59th Street between Third and Second Avenues, right behind Bloomingdale’s. Right around the corner on 58th Street and Lexington Avenue was Arrowsmith Shoes (advertised in the above 1975 ad). The other of course was West Eighth Street – shoe mecca.
The coolest pair I ever bought, which I am missing and lamenting to this day that I didn’t keep, were bought at 227 East 59th Street in a store called “Jumping Jack Flash” they specialized in ‘Galm Wear’ glitter suits, outrageous platform shoes and accessories. I afforded myself one $75 (or about $100) pair there – they were navy blue with wooden platform and heel. On each toe was a silver leather star and on the outer side of each shoe was a silver shooting star. I wore those shoes to every “in” event till the shoes finally fell apart. I also had 3″ high buffalo sandals, rubber wedgies, black velvet Herman Munster-like ‘evening’ shoes I would wear to formal events to the consternation of my mother.
1974 Off to London wearing my Jumping Jacket Flash shoes (covered by the bell bottoms.)
West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village was shoe mecca. Literally one shoe store after another, 3 blocks of wedgies, heels and platforms, not to forget outrageous boots. It was a common thing to spend your night in “shoe alley.” You got dressed as funky as you could and would start at Sixth Avenue and walk up one side of the street, in and out of every single shoe store, upstairs and downstairs, admiring the hip disco funky clothes, jewelry and wide belts. Passing legendary Electric Lady Recording Studios, the head shops and the 8th Street Playhouse, then a revival movie house soon to become famous for showing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” You stayed the longest in the stores which had the best disco music blaring. The shoes were made of every material possible: wet look vinyl, leather, plastic, wood, cloth – you name it. Then when you reached Broadway you would cross the street and peruse every single store on your way back down the street, finishing with grabbing a hot dog at Gray’s Papaya at Sixth Avenue and then head onto Christopher Street to join the evenings ‘parade’. God I miss those days! It’s all gone now. The shoe styles have returned but the fun of the era is but a memory. Both streets have lost their flavor and soul. East 59th Street is now mainly cabinet shops and furniture stores. On West Eighth Street, one third of the stores are empty due to Mayor Bloomberg/Councilwoman Quinn and landlord greed.
Empty West 8th Street 2013, Greenwich Village
But – I have one outrageous pair left! (See top left main photo). They were even a bit too outrageous for the times then, so I didn’t wear them as much, and so they have survived. Aqua marine perforated leather, with orange leather lace-up, brown heel and toe and clunky wooden platform and heel. My treasured memento of dancing a little happier, knowing how to balance myself as I walked and being always at least three inches taller.
Mondays on Memory Lane: THE PALLADIUM DISCO “EVERY DAY IS GAY PRIDE DAY” – June is world wide Gay Pride month. One of the last great dance palaces of the disco era was the grand Palladium which every Sunday catered to an almost all gay audience. Owned and operated by the former Studio 54 masterminds Ian Shrager and Steve Rubell. It was one of the last clubs I attended around 1986 before “it just wasn’t fun anymore.”
The Palladium was converted from a movie theater to a music venue and then into a nightclub. The famous duo hired Danceteria DJ Richard Sweret, who saw the possibility of a much larger audience for a downtown New Wave, Euro and house music-oriented club. From its celebrity-studded opening in May 1985, through the end of the 1980’s, it was one of the major features on a vibrant New York club scene. The club was a mainstay on the New York club scene until it was bought out in 1997 by the voracious appetite of New York University (NYU) and demolished for a sterile campus housing project. They have continued to destroy New York ever since.
Junior Vasquez’s Arena party, held Saturday nights and all day Sundays at Palladium between September 1996 and September 1997, was one of the most popular parties in the New York club scene at the time. Although the promoters billed Arena as “The Gay Man’s Pleasure Dome”, the party drew an eclectic mix of gay and straight from Manhattan and far beyond. 14th Street in those days was still seedy and therefore the attraction to gain entrance into the club as you bypassed the bums in the adjoining urine stenched doorways was ‘chic’ and daring.
1986 Palladium party invitation
The Palladium represented architect Arata Isozaki’s transformation of a vacant and rundown theater, originally built in 1927 as the Academy of Music, into an extraordinary interior that can only be described as a sleek new structure, the equivalent of a seven-story building using more than 200 tons of steel, within the restored grandeur of the original shell. After the conversion from a venue to a club, the main dance floor of the Palladium was a huge space which used to hold the theater and seating. One interesting feature of the club was the large banks of TV monitors in grid formations that were used to display music vidoes. Each monitor could operate separately, or one large picture could be shown across the grid – we had never seen such technology before and it was mesmerizing to us at the time.
The entire gigantic cavernous club was big enough to hold different areas, the equivalent of three or four clubs! Besides the pounding main dance floor area there was a multicolored basement, and the famous upstairs “VIP room”, The Michael Todd Room. Murals were created for this space by the well known New York artists of the 1980s Jean-Michel Basquit, Francesco Clemente, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring – these treasures are gone.
The video links below will show you the 1980’s grandeur it once was.
A rare visual tour into the past of The Palladium: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5_NI2MSmp8
MTV music video A. Snap – The Power B. Technotronic – This beat is Technotronic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUdbX4B-74s
Photo of the day: INHALING – Beth’s gloves are socks with the toes cut off. Her shawl is the cut off bottom of a dress. The 1970’s denim jacket was found in the trash and made a great vest once the sleeves were cut off. “New York has cool crap you can find, but you gotta look at night,” Beth explained as she took a break from putting her New York wardrobe together.
XENA, IMPECCABLE NEW YORK STYLE: There is self expression. There is a sense of fashion. There is a sense of style.
Xena has perfected all three of them. I was photographing the people in Union Square, and it was the usual assemblage of punk rockers, NYU students, locals and 9-5ers. I was preparing to leave when I saw Xena leaning against the black cast iron railing and I stopped dead in my tracks. She was perfection!
The jadeite green French twist hair contrasting with the faded violet colored dress showed off her beautiful alabaster skin, cat eye makeup and glasses to match. Retro, punk, chic all in one – done with style. Xena is New York !
Mondays on Memory Lane – STARBUCKS USED TO BE A NEW YORK DISCO! – At the height of the disco craze, when there was a disco every few blocks in New York City, themes became the thing to separate a club from the crowd. There were circuses, mermaids, big band swing orchestras, human pin ball fists, ice skating, drag, dancing water fountains, roller skating featured in places such as planetariums, warehouses, garages, factories and even a deserted subway station.
The life span of a club was as follows:
1. Invite the gays and hope it turns into another Studio 54.
2. The straight chic crowd discovers it from their gay friends.
3. The gays leave because it isn’t “in” anymore.
4. The ‘bridge and tunnel crowd’ arrives aka Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and (god forbid) ‘Jersey’.
5. The death knell “Tito Puente Night”
On Thursday evening, March 26th, 1981, in a (then) deserted section of the city, at 151 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues – STARBUCKS Disco opened with great fanfare. In order to attract a gay crowd while not wanting to put off and also attract the straight crowd from the beginning, a theme was needed, so rather than leather, glitz or drag – a cowboy theme was chosen, hopefully equally appealing to both gay and straight. Opening night was a mad house.
The old Danny’s Hideaway (above)
The location itself used to be Danny’s Hideaway bar and restaurant containing four floors where newspapermen, cartoonists and magazine editors used to hang out. The new renovation turned the space into a multi-leveled disco with an identity crisis. There was a working fireplace which remained from the old bar still on the first floor. Since they were desperate to attract all crowds, there was a different atmosphere and music on four floors. A slide connected the floors so that you could fly down the chutes from floor to floor. There was a dance floor on every floor—two of which were disco (one of the dance floors was lighted from underneath ala ‘Saturday Night Fever’), one rock and the top floor was country western complete with a mechanical bull! There was DJ Jim Maxwell on the first floor and DJ Dan (pooch) Pucciarelli on the third floor. With no Studio 54 elitist door policy in place, they pretty much let anybody in since they needed to fill such a big space. $15 got you in the door with free drinks all night…yes, free drinks served in tiny plastic cups which completely littered the floor. It was also one of the very few discos that advertised on local TV stations.
What doesn’t work is to mix cowboy boot wearing, plaid shirted country music lovers with platform shoed, bell-bottomed glittery disco dancers and leather clad rockers. It was a disaster. Each floor’s music blasted the music so loud that it thumped through your chest. Imagine hearing Donna Summer, Duran Duran and Alabama blasting in one building at the same time – insane! The gays/chic Manhattan crowd wrote off the club opening night and the disco life cycle was rapidly overnight sped up to step #4 – ‘bridge & tunnel’. Eventually it turned into an after work hangout for the working class and weekends it was dead. The disco/dance crowd wanted to get dressed up and shine on the weekends, not mix with the working stiffs they were trying not to be, inevitably by 1984 Starbucks Disco closed. Today the name Starbucks is synonymous with the world wide caffeine giant it has become with over 20,891+ locations world wide, 13,280+ in the USA and 172 locations in Manhattan…so necessary for their public bathrooms we have come to seek out.
The invitation reads as follows: “STARBUCKS is a multilevel new western restaurant, disco and cabaret. Designed by Renny Reynolds and lighting by Brian Thompson. Complete with Bucky Bronco, haylofts, hay slides, barbecue pit, waterfall, glass elevator, screening room, wood burning fireplaces, skylighted dance floors and an array of futuristic surprises.”
Invitation design by Greg Porto. Artwork by Dain Marcus
“In your Easter bonnet,
with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest ‘lady’ in the Easter parade.
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.
On the avenue, Fifth avenue,
the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the guy I’m taking to the Easter parade.”
There are certain people that are just “so New York” – this is one of them. “Ms.” Columbia.
Nothing but sheer unmitigated joy streams from him/her and people absolutely light up when she appears. The gall, nerve, insanity, craziness, devil-may-care attitude with a broad grin is absolutely infectious. The delight of living in New York, is you never know where she, the parrot on her head and her dyed-to-match-poodle are going to show up! Saks Fifth Avenue, parades, Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Broadway, Chelsea or on the Queens number 7 train heading for her own Easter parade 🙂
STAIRWAY TO PARADISE: In a year where we have suffered a great amount of closings of iconic landmark stores, restaurants and shops in New York City due to the voracious greed of the landlords, there is one thing we can still count on…the clickety clack of the wonderful wooden escalator at Macy*s.
Macy*s is paying tribute to those glorious wooden moving stairs in their main Christmas window this year, featuring fashions of the past fifty decades. The escalators will take women to the largest ladies shoe department in the world – shoegasm!
The Otis (as in elevator) escalator has been lifting shoppers to all heights since 1927. My favorite memory: in the 1960’s when women wore those thin stiletto heels they would always get caught between the wide slats of the escalator. One day mom and I were ascending to the second floor – mom got off the escalator – her shoes didn’t…that almost became routine. Women had to stand on their tippy toes as to not get caught. Since the stilettos were made of a primitive plastic, they would either break off or get sliced off by the notorious escalators. Limping women was a common sight in 1960’s. “Clickety clack, clickety clack buy another pair off the rack!”
ENJOYING THE LAST WARM DAYS OF WINTER WITH VERA: Yesterday was one of those last early warm December days you could find a comfortable chair in the park and close your eyes and drift back to summer memories of years gone by.
I took advantage of the warmth and made myself comfortable, as I did, I was intrigued by the woman sitting nearby, I sensed she has a bright spirit by the accessories she was wearing. A purple crinkle fabric handbag and a classic Vera scarf to go with her elegant black velvet jacket. Remember Vera deigns? How chic they were in the 1960’s with the little lady bug logo? Bright splashes of bold colors on bold flowers and bold waves of the paint brush swirled delicately about. Marilyn Monroe was a fan of Vera scarves.
I had to photograph her. What resulted . . . is this picture of peaceful elegant serenity. Beautiful expressive scarf, beautiful expressive hands, beautiful expressive face. Ageing gracefully has always been an art.
YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO . . . : Wear a mini skirt, fish net stockings, black leather knee high boots and to try to figure out how to use your iPhone !
MODEL SEARCH: While this model in Soho searches to make sure she has all her last minute accessories, the great model search in Manhattan is done for the moment. All the models for tonight’s ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ have been booked. Walking around New York City the last few days is like walking through a music video set. Everywhere you see picture perfect models who have arrived here for the big event tonight that turns Manhattan into a madhouse fashion festival!