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Reply to "Area"

Culture Club
by Glenn O'Brien
New York Times

Area's opening-night theme was "Night," and there was a masked welder in the middle of the darkened dance floor showering everyone with sparks. The dancers loved it. At "Surrealism," the anteroom where you paid your admission had been transformed into a restroom complete with toilets and urinals in homage to Duchamp. "Gnarly" featured skulls, monster trucks, a drag racer, a skateboard ramp with live skaters, a strobe-lighted electric chair and a speedboat in the swimming pool with a giant gargoyle driving it. I remember watching Matt Dillon watching a pack of real outlaw bikers swarming around a completely nude biker chick, maybe calculating his odds of moving in. There was a film loop of the exploding-head scenes from "Scanners" that night, too, and in the bathroom a scale model of a bowling alley and a beauty parlor populated by real cockroaches. Then there was the night one of the waitresses, Karen Finley, did this nude act with canned yams.

Area was a nightclub that was like art. Andy Warhol often talked about business art being the next big thing, and this seemed like it, though Area's creators would never say that their elaborate installations had that intent. Yet Area was unprecedented in ambition, invention and fabulosity. It was riotously successful yet insanely oblivious to profit, and then suddenly it was gone "” from a 13,000-square-foot nightclub with three bars, a swimming pool and a tank full of live sharks to a pile of pictures of a lost dream. The club is now history, and so is the world that inspired it.

Clockwise from left: a ˜˜Fashion'' night; Matt Dillon; Area's impresario, Eric Goode,right, with Alan Rish.


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