Farewell Charming Old New York

LOL. BTW the Soldiers and Sailor's Monument, on 89th & Riverside Park, set in a bit of land that was full of cul-de-sac pathways and bushy outcroppings & hideways for outdoor sex activities, was also called "The Wedding Cake" by the queens. It's a smaller, more frilly version of Grant's Tomb, hence its nickname.

And yes, these posts are serving as the backbone for one of the chapters in my book I hope. Cool
Merlin got to ride in an old checker cab in a snow storm with James Van Der Zee, from West 125th Street to Grants Tomb for a special showing of Mr. Van der Zee's photographs many years ago. merlin remembers a huge beautiful smiling man in vest and suit, with an amazing portfolio. turned out Mr. Van Der Zee's 'parents' (recall not perfect) were President Grant's personal servants.

Google James Van Der Zee under images, you may find a beautiful 1982 Basquiat portrait (http://mapage.noos.fr/blysse/basquiat/chat.htm) among other amazing photos of a long lost New York City.
daddy, met my first manhattan love of my life in front of the old international stud, it lasted for twenty years, lol. the stud had a back room with porn films showing in black & white over head. always confused it with that Aan Fran bar by the same name.

met a handsome cab driver who was chauvering Holly Woodlawn around town at the trucks one evening, early, honest! we had to get her out of there, take her back to the loft in chelsea and then over to Avenue D and east 7th. turned out we were neighbors, lol.

most of the places you quoted were alive and kicking in 1973 lol.
Some of what kept such clandestine places going through the seventies and a fade-out in the early eighties was the plethora of 'alternative' styles of sexual gratification gay men promoted, and which were a part of what people now call a 'lifestyle', leather and bondage, etc. Particular clubs and sexual trawling zones like park locations were the official outlets for those practices and it is in part due to the wanning of those practices that the locations have faded also. Older gay men I know talk about how in the seventies there was a more varied sex life for them and how it now has become much more homogenized. Part of the 'mainstreaming' Hatches mentions as a consequence of social acceptance, which I think has a lot more to do with the recognition of the economic potential of gay sexuality as a market with far more possibilities than just social gathering spots like bars and clubs. So really the departed charm of New York with respect to this is really the departed scope and scale of sexual innovation that the gay community created.
It is definitely true the sex possibilities were more varied, seven. Everything, that was "forbidden" in the first place, was lumped together into a very heady mixture that was certainly very libertine. Therefore, in Riverdale, where I grew up there was a park-- Van Cortlandt Park, one of the largest and wildest (terrain-wise) in the City. Along the western side ran Broadway, which at that point was more like a six lane highway than the commercial street we are familiar with downtown. This was the gay cruising area-- in cars, on foot, on the polo fields and the golf course, along the disused Putnam Railroad tracks, and even up in the ancient graveyard that contained the vandalized remains of the star-crossed Van Cortlandt Family. It was active at all hours of the day, even while people were walking dogs and children were playing in the playground, but if you were not looking for it, you would not see a thing. The real blatant sexual goings-on occurred, though, after the sun went down.
There were a great many "regulars" in this place, and some of the freakier ones after midnight included:
-- Jim, who wanted you to pee on him, and who had, oddly enough, a yellow car.
-- Charles, who wanted to take you back to his place for some give-and-take spanking.
-- A guy we used to call "The Wrestler" who would bring a spare singlet for his partner.
-- A seminary student who would hand you his belt and beg for a thrashing.
-- The businessman who had a complete set of feminine undergarments under his suit.
-- A guy who would hide all his clothing in the bushes and walk around butt-assed naked.
This, and all the "normal" sucking and fucking one might expect.
This area was also the place that we would take our girlfriends to have sex with them.
And so this was the unique education I received. And all before I graduated from high school! Little wonder I never fit into the mainstream!

Merlin, I lived just near Grant's Tomb for a summer, on Claremont Avenue, in a 12 room apartment. One room had floor-to-ceiling windows with billowing white curtains and a piano, and I would sit all day drinking coffee, playing the piano and watching the curtains blow around.
Very Laura Nyro. I was taking care of a friend's dog and would walk her by The Tomb which was in such a state of decomposition with weeds growing waist-high around it. The dog got ticks from those weeds and I learned how to pick them off, using burnt-out matches to entice the ticks to pull out their heads. I then would throw them out the window.
The originial Limelight was also the first disco I went to regularly. Probably because of the Latin flava, Daddy. But the first disco I ever went to, and only once, was Le Jardin. This was maybe 1974.

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I never went to Le Jardin. (some things actually were before my time) but Chi Chi and I worked with John Addison (the owner of Le Jardin and Xenon) later on. What a character!

The music was so happy back then.
I was listening to Larry Levan recorded at The Paradise Garage the other day and I was really surprised by how hopeful the music was. Everything was so new that anything seemed possible. (of course being 17 doesn't hurt either) When I go hear "Big Room" DJs now the music seems so dark.

quote:
Le Jardin
address: 110 West 43rd Street
New York City
(in basement of Hotel Diplomat)

active years:
June 13, 1973- ???

DeeJays:
Bobby "DJ" Guttadaro (photo)
Steve D'Aquisto
Bacho Mangual

information:
"” owner John Addison
"” Le Jardin was first called "L'Oubliette" which is the french word for a small dungeon where they would drop you to forget you
"” two separate floors, the penthouse and the basement
"” Le Jardin was essentially gay with a smallish quota of beautiful women and fashionable straights
"” it was stylish, with bowls of fruit and cheese on tables
"” in March 3, 1975 the coronation of Gloria Gaynor as the Queen of Disco took place here
"” had waiters on rollerskates
"” Diplomat hotel... the palm room was the first gigs for David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) and his pre-punk group "New York Dolls" in may 1972
"” the Diplomat today is home to many of the north african/senegalese

Playlist May 1975
DJ: Bobby "DJ" Guttadaro
BAD LUCK - Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes
EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD - Consumer Rapport
FOOT STOMPIN MUSIC - Hamilton Bohannon
FREE MAN - South Shore Commission
LOVE DO ME RIGHT - Rockin' Horse
SURVIVAL - The O'Jays
SWEARIN' TO GOD - Frankie Valli
THREE STEPS FROM TRUE LOVE - The Reflections
TORNADO - The Wiz Original Cast album
WHERE IS THE LOVE - Betty Wright

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I like that site too. I sent the guy some of my reminiscences, and it's funny to see them down as 'history'!
(See "The Anvil")
I loved the Limelight. It was around the corner from my apartment on Jones Street and I was there constantly (1973-4). David Bowie was hot & new, everyone was doing boy-girl, poppers... blue lipstick from Biba and divinely decadent green nail polish.

The guy should add "The Duchess" .. it was right down the street frm the Limelight where
there is now either a coffee shop or a Starbucks on Sheridan Square. It was the best dyke club in NY, complete with big fat Mafia guys acting as bouncers.
The hotel diplomat must be the hotel I stayed when the first time I visited NY in 1989. It was my first travel abroad, I was alone, the first time to experience 0 degree temperature, spoke very little English... so it was big help everyone worked in the hotel was so much nice to me Roll Eyes
ah yeah, the fun drag acts at the Limelight, and the biggest mix of people you eva wanted to meet. used to order ameretto and cokes there.

and we've got to get ourselves back to...... Le Jardin (sp), merlin's favorite dance floor in the early/mid seventies and the roof top deco garden space. before the flamingo, before 12 west.

for at least one summer in the mid seventies there was this empty two story building in the west village, it was an after hours bar. a big trucked parked outfront to hide the entrance from the street, it looked abandoned. if you knew where you were going you could find it. to get in, you had to move the rusty gates, when you did, there were a couple of hundred guys in this abandoned building with a bar, no real lights and on two floors to wander around and thru.
this place was a deserted store front with a door to the back hall that paul found and took me too after the bars were shut, you had to know where it was or it looked deserted on the outside. the down stairs was and old store and up the stairs had a big front room with pealing paint and a whole lotta inventoring with hands goin' on.....

bobby, tried to go the the mind shaft once, with my boyfriend at the time, and he, well we, looked so preppy (no colon just the outfit), before you restyled me so many years ago, the 'receptionist' wouldn't let him/us in even while accompanied by a regular lol.

now, those were the day!
Ah Merlin, I remember that storefront, though not its name.
And the club that was an entire empty loft building, completely unfinished, called the Toilet. I mean they just set up a bar on an old table and opened the doors of an abandoned building!
And what was the bar on 17th & Tenth that had a long row of heavy clanking chains that separated the bar area from the backroom? I can never remember the name.

The Hotel Diplomat... I was friendly with the desk clerk and took many johns there, though it was a fully operational normal hotel (as Maki can attest.) There was even a fully operational coffee shop that included that archaic NYC phenomenon-- the soda jerk-- who made fierce cherry-lime rickies and egg creams. People would come from all over the city for them. Further downtown there was another place, The Broadway Central Luncheonette that had a soda jerk and great egg creams and milkshakes. Today, who even knows what an egg cream or cherry-lime ricky is? I doubt the syrup used in them is even manufactured any more. At one time, every New York neighborhood had a soda fountain serving up this fare, as well as burgers and grilled cheese made with a weight on it, so it was as flat as a pancake. BTW, for those who don't know, an egg cream doesn't even have an egg in it. Remembering this really dates me I suppose. More filet of dragon, Grandpa?

The Diplomat also housed Xenon and Le Jardin in one or another of its renovated lobbies or ballrooms. And right next door was the Park-Miller Theatre, a venerable old movie palace that showed only gay porno. There were balconies galore with musty rotting red velvet curtains and lounges galore on many levels with crumbling greek statuary and fountains filled with stagnant water and cigarette butts. One of the lounges had a peeling Jane Russell poster from, I would suppose, the last legit movie showing on those premises.
I worked around the corner in a bookstore that sold old comics, remaindered textbooks and gay porno of all kinds. The window display included all the wares available in the store including huge posters of naked boys with only a small price tag barely obscuring the model's genitals. The owners of this fine establishment, an old, cigar chomping jew named Bob Brown and his overweight son, Rory owned the company that produced these glorious items and tried to convince me and a co-worker Papo to "model" for their company. For some odd reason we both turned them down, much to my later regret. I was 18. I mean who wouldn't want to have a 4 color lifesize poster of themselves bareass 30+ years later? Papo and I used to have sex in the basement after the store closed at 10 at night. Usually spreading out some clean broken-down carboard boxes on the filthy floor. He was married and lived in the Bronx and totally hot.
Upstairs in the the building which had about 12 stories and no elevator, there was a gypsy who would sit outside on a 3 legged stool and try to drag unsuspecting customers upstairs to have their fortunes told. She would come into the store sometimes in the evening, drinking tea from a cracked tea cup and keep us company. Papo and I would always try to get her to leave so we could close a bit early and go down into the basement.
Just recently, when working in that area, I discovered that the whole block, straight through to 43rd was leveled by the wrecker's ball, with only a small sliver of The Miller's facade left standing. This, I think, made me sadder than anything else I have seen in modern New York. I mean that little slice is all that is left of my youth!
Was the Park Miller where someone threw the SLEAZE PARTY, in the mid 70's?

Merlin came to town as a Member of the Everyman Players. We were doing John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in medeival ensemble style, at the Rockafella Church on 125th Street and Riverside Drive. It was the first such performance in the main naive of the sanctuary.

While staying at the Picadilli Hotel on West 44th Street and fresh to the city, Merlin enjoyed the great location. Just up the block to Jack Demsi's where the drinks were mixed at the table; the Roxy Theatre was still across the street; and the Ed Sullivan Theatre was still famous for just that. Them days, times square & down along 42nd Street was like a big dangerous smorgasboard of luscious music from opened doored leather seated Cadillacs; the bright lights of the old multi bulb theatre facades always looked more Coney Island than Manhatta; the noisey sounds of boys playing pin ball in what seemed like every store; and those just leaning against the store fronts watching everyone pass by the corner cigarette shop on the north west corner of 42nd street. Merlin felt if someone even unknowingly insulted a someone on a walk thru the neighborhood, that someone could hire another someone down the black to slit your someone throat for nothing.
Hatches/ All of that is so familair to me. I arrivied in 1973 to live here but I started visiting on my own in 1969. I remember 42nd Street between Times Square and 8th Ave had male hustlers between the ages of 12 and 50 with their meat shoved down their tight jeans ( in those days tight jeans were the way to go) on both sides of 42nd st. As I walked by at 15 they'd make offers for me to "work" for them.
I didn't know what they were talking about. Work? I was on a weekend trip to the big apple, I wasn't looking for work. Little did I know.

The great porn palaces of the sixties and seventies were still alive and packed full at any time of day or night.

Years later after a night at Xenon I remember an old hustler still on the deuce asking me for a ciggerette and ending up telling me about his having spent the last 30 years hustling on the street. He even pulled out his huge uncut wrinkled cock right there in a doorway and offered it to me on the spot in exchange for another couple of smokes. I gave it a squeeze and him the smokes and headed back uptown to the upper eastside where I lived at the time.

Oh where have all the old timers gone.
I'm here Bobby
I know what you mean about the old queens, they were such a joy on the street...
(Taylor's here too.)

I can't get over we are the same age and came to NY the same year. What if we had met the same first month?
I'm boggled. What year did we meet? Could it have been 1978.

haches that block of west 43rd Street is a psychic disaster zone. Once Chi gave me a tome on the sexual history of NY, where the hot zones were, from colonial times. That block's been full of whorehouses since white man first dropped down here. So never fear, trade is in play as we speak at the heinous Westin. Dare I mention the Shack once held residence there for eleven months just shy of the wrecker's ball.
You sickie! I wrote 1878 too.

Dunkie was very cute! awwww

More pics of Anya! I don't have one of us together, though we took alot of each other.
She is quintessential Farewell Charming Old NY though Chi apprises me of a whole new generation of gorgeous young stripper/dancer/clotheshorse/domme/darlings of Asian persuasion.

Stan
S'tan you were sporting a very Vincent Millay look back then! Or perhaps Karen Blixen on the coffee plantation...
Anya in the Kamali or is it her own?
Duncan of course I was frightened of, though he was gorge. John Tucker, the first Pyramid barkeep, would speak of him in glowing terms constantly.
Bobby, your archives are a treasure trove!
S'tan I have seen that book, and the maps of the whorehouses always amazed me because they were located exactly where our present day hotspots were. Ah, the ghosts of Olde New York!

Another odd thing that I am remembering is that there were periods when absolutely everyone new you met had moved here from a specific place, as if it had been a planned migration. At one point in the Seventies, it was Israel. Then later it was San Francisco. Much later, in the 1980s, L.A., South Africa and then, later still, London and Seattle. I wonder if that mass migration of people just having enough of their cities and moving to NYC happens today. Probably not, as our rents approach those of Tokyo.

Ah, tight jeans, Bobby! I can also remember a period when it was impossible to buy jeans that were not floppy bell bottoms. We had to have them "pegged" before we could wear 'em!
What's wrong with my computer, I don't see an Anya picture?

Hatches that was my no makeup look... I know what you mean about the migrations. E.g.. Duncan came to NY with about 10 friends and no, they didn't all live in the same apartment together,
like you'd probably have to now. Everyone got their OWN place, but would hang out together.

You did used to meet whole groups of artists/performers/writers, who from their home town decided en masse to move here together. This inspired those left back home to come here and give it a go, adding to the artist-bank, and an individual support system.

I'm wondering about those kind of demographics now. Can you imagine a gaggle of trust-fund kiddies coming here together, each getting their own place, paying on the average a $2K monthly rent? What would be the incentive? The fabulous kinky night-life? The burgeoning art scene?

I don't mean to sound cranky though. I went to a party last night at "Shore" and it was packed with cute young things all wearing wild Rites of Spring costumes and horns. The spirit lives on. But I guess we would have to admit it's no longer a wide open town.
Hat/ Oh yes hons, I recall those hideous floppy bell bottoms waaayyyy after we had already worn them and were ready to redefine a new style...I pegged many a bell bottom in my day dear. And now here we go again.. Bell bottoms anyone?

S'tan email me with your current e addy and I'll send you some pics of you and Anya.
kisses xxx
I'm wondering if any young people are moving here at all. I attended a so called 'fetish party' the other night. Totally populated by middle-agers mostly fronting in their expensive off the rack fashions. I counted only one pair of partiers in their twenties in the whole place. It was quite tame. Nothing rough around the edges or actually edgy at all about it. I think we all need to move to Kiev.
surprised to hear all this seven, as it would appear in print photo magazines that 'fetish' is the 'new' sex. like foam and underwear parties used to be. you can play all day (whatever that means) and not get......... tintilized to death?

we were all spoiled by the mix that happened at Click+Drag and nothing has replaced it. so those pretending-to-be-serious is all that is left? and please don't be surprised that the rich ones dress the best, it's like the ugliest ones are always the most naked at the japanese bath in santa fe too.

Merlin can't seem to see past the mtv/britney spears logger jam of current trends. cause everything is barrowed for two seconds and discarded as used while never being explored.
That is a poem Merlin. "cause everything is barrowed for two seconds and discarded as used while never being explored."

I guess fetish parties in NYC are the new Disco.

S'tan, I'm not sure, but I think I meant Kiev, Ukrain. Which oddly still doesn't quite get across that I mean, like, former Soviet Union, because that troika of diners has such monumental presence still. I guess when those stalwart high carb depots get replaced by McSchnitzels and BlintzKing it will truely be time for us to whip out the passport and depart. Michael O'Brien better have his half way house ready for us.
Merly, we were totally spoiled by that sophisticated mix at Click+Drag...
Even then though the blatant fetish exhibitions were a little boring to me! Not to mention getting 'mugged' by insistent (& broke) subs. I loved getting dressed up all gorgey with F-Major, and standing in line along the wall in the Versailles Room. We used to call it "being at court."

After years there was a certain 'pecking order' which added to the ideal of "The Court" as well.
The new parties are just brawls, ROUTS! in comparison.

I am not going anywhere seven.
Anyhow Paris has no "halfway house" for the likes of me.
Perhaps you have an engraved invitation?
lol, funny to hear what you were thinking standing there all these years later stan. always thought you were dreaming of poetry.

Click+Drag was a photographers wet dream. actually haven't looked through any photos from Click+Drag in years. you and seven know more about fetish than merlin. so the understated exotic implications of those nights was as important as anything that happened. it was all just a little too straight for merlin at times.

yes, fetish seems to be moving into mud wrestling these days at 'disco' events seven for sure.
Thanks for the advisory Hatches. I figured after they closed to redecorate something of a downgrade was going to be on the offing. And it was the lesser of the East Block eateries to begin with. I haven't been to Polonia on 1st Ave. since they also cleaned up their facade. The food there used to be serviceable and the wait staff authentic but I am assumeing the face lift means another notch up in the bland spectrum for the fare. When I want some juicy poppy seed roll or a nice smoked herring I hit the little grocery across from Polonia, it is about the size of a small hallway and doesn't seem to have a name.

S'tan and Merlin, Click worked for me though I seem to remember splitting time there with the Bank, unless my mind can't sort these things out too well today. I really got in to Rob's work at Click and was impressed how much he kept it up (impute what you want to that phrase) even after the party moved way downtown where the crowd lost its focuss. I remember Garrett and Rob putting on several totally wet go-go stints at the downtown edition.

S'tan, I do have an engraved invitation, its right on my tongue. I'll show it to you sometime.
Above the Trendy, the Down and Out
By ALAN FEUER
NY Times April 7, 2005

Knock at Room 18 on the fourth floor of 559 West 22nd Street and an old man in a watch cap stumbles to the door.

"What am I doing here?" he asks, answering the question with a question. "I'm dying here," he says.

His name is George Ullrich and, according to his own account, he has been dying here for almost 30 years. He lives in a small room, 10 feet deep by 10 feet wide, and in rooms all down the hallway, a piece of the city's history is slowly dying with him, one old man at a time.

There is Bob Zillard, on the third floor, whose chosen company these days is a six pack of beer. There is Dennis Bolger, around the corner, who, because of hernia problems, can rarely get off the couch.

There is Mr. Ullrich himself, who spends his days reading books on hieroglyphics and ancient Greek. And then there is Kevin - none of his neighbors know his last name - who roams the streets in a baseball cap and white beard half as long as his arm.

These men are the last remaining tenants in No. 559, a building that, like the neighborhood itself, has been swept by major change. West 22nd Street, from 11th Avenue to the West Side Highway, has been transformed from warehouse space to art galleries, from auto body shops to coffee bars. Where once there were stevedores, there are now Italian tourists. Well-heeled women walk expensive-looking dogs.

In the way of these things, the first floor of No. 559 will soon become a glass-and-brushed-steel bar and lounge called Opus 22 where fancy liquor will be served to the cocktail set. The second floor is an art gallery named the Proposition where the current exhibition is titled "Systems Appearances Dogma Taboo."

"Art's not my thing," said Mr. Ullrich, who is 71 years old. "Places change, but people don't. People just get old."

Mr. Ullrich and his fellow tenants recall a different sort of neighborhood, a place of corner bars and broken windows, a place where the rents were so cheap that sailors could pay for six months upfront and then head off to sea.

There are more important matters in the world than the four old men living out their lives in a building that has changed around them. Their story does not concern the war or the economy, but here it is nonetheless.

Their building went up in 1889 as a rooming house for longshoremen who once plied the docks a short block to the west. It overlooks Pier 63 and sits around the corner from the old headquarters of the International Longshoremen's Association, whose onetime president, Joseph P. Ryan, was a model for the labor boss of "On the Waterfront."

There is not much interaction between the old men and the art on the second floor. It would seem that a chair made out of tape measures or a video installation of a young woman doing push-ups in a miniskirt are not much to their taste.

Ronald Sosinski, the gallery's director, said he saw the old men in "a coming-and-going sort of way" on the stairs and found them harmless, often full of humor. He opened the gallery in 2000 at a time, he said, that "everybody had to come to Chelsea; it was just not a question anymore."

Still, he seems to recognize the uniqueness of a building where the art he sells can cost 10 times what the tenants pay in rent.

"It's probably the only building like this around anymore," Mr. Sosinski said. "And it may be in its last moments, too."

The landlord is Alan Frank, who says he is content to have the men around. Mr. Frank presents himself as a lover of the old ways and charges his tenants the generous rate of $300 a month.

As landlords go, he is the sensitive sort.

"The cruel twist is that these guys were left here living among the yuppies and the galleries," he said. "All their haunts have disappeared. The coffee shop. The old Mexican restaurant. The little drugstore. I have a certain amount of sympathy for them living in an area that's not familiar to them anymore."

"In two or three more years, with attrition, they'll probably be gone," he says, adding that he has no plans to toss them out. "If I have nothing to do with it, I'll be happy."

As for the old ways, he, too, remembers the old bar on the first floor, a place named Catch 22 or Slavo's or Joey's, depending on whom you ask. Its nickname was "the Bucket of Blood," said Mr. Frank, suggesting that the stevedores and sailors who used to gather there often got out of hand.

The first time he set foot in the place, a sign on the bar reminded the patrons: "Management is not responsible for women left overnight." From the former owners, Mr. Frank said, there were tales of Thanksgiving dinners served to the salts upstairs at little or no cost.

It should be said that Mr. Ullrich, Mr. Zillard, Mr. Bolger, 62, and the elusive Kevin never worked on the docks. They are, respectively, two retired Teamsters, a firefighter and a military veteran, all lucky enough to have found cheap lodgings in rooms they secure with padlocks whenever they go out.

The rooms themselves are much as one might imagine, or worse. The furniture is spartan. The paint peels off the wall in continent-shaped flakes. An odor of cat urine hovers in the hall.

Each of the men arrived in his own way. Mr. Bolger's former home burned down. Mr. Zillard was a bachelor. Mr. Ullrich was drawn by the cheap rent. As for Kevin, his neighbors say he could not survive anywhere else.

Loneliness is often an old man's native state, and the halls here are filled with artificial voices: from the radio, the turntable, the television set. A decade ago, there were 20 tenants. Some moved out, some were asked to leave. Death has claimed the rest.

Mr. Zillard, 74, attributes his own longevity to drinking beer, never whiskey. He has outlived two generations of bartenders at his favorite haunt, Peter McManus Cafe, at 19th Street and Seventh Avenue.

As for the family life, he says he missed the boat. Thirty years ago he met a girl on the subway. Her name was Kathleen Clark. He got her name but not her address. He has been looking for her ever since.

"I got an icebox there I put my six packs in," he said. "That keeps me company enough."

"I'll probably die here," he went on, "waiting for them to paint."

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