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A Scrapbook of Late-night New York

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I am a constant insomniac, so it was assured that I would accomplish New York my home. Alike if I don’t adventure out backward on a acclimatized night, it is a abundant comfort, at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m., to apperceive that I can, that there are others out there on the streets, animate and playing, active and questing for love, drugs, food, sex, or cash, that the streets are bathed in chicken light. Elsewhere, midnight is the end of the night, but in New York, it’s the middle, if not the beginning. For some of us, the achievability junkies, the burghal is far added affable afterwards dark, active and electric, abundant in its abundance of abeyant pleasures. The night is autonomous in a way that the day is not. By day, New York is complete into able ghettos, but at night the boundaries are loosened. The burghal becomes added catholic as the tribes mix; the attorneys broke their ties, and the nocturnal dandies don their makeup. Afterwards a day of drudgery, the appointment intern lies bottomward for a nap and emerges, hours later, accepting metamorphosed into Cinderella.

Not every night is eventful, of course, alike the ones you were best hopeful about. Still, abnormally aback you’re cerebration about nightlife in the accomplished tense, it’s adamantine not to aggrandize what happened, even, or maybe especially, if you weren’t there. I’m apologetic that I absent New York in the ’20s, during Prohibition. (The allurement of the banned is consistently added acute than an engraved invitation. Who wouldn’t rather be an outlaw, really?) But the greatest era of caliginosity in New York is consistently the one that coincides with your own youth. The atramentous never seems so flush in affiance as it does aback you’re in your 20s.

When I acclimatized in the burghal in November 1979 — one of its best mythologized eras, I know, but it was abundance — the afterlife of the disco age had aloof been bankrupt aback Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were broke for tax evasion. And what replaced Flat 54 and Xenon was grittier, added egalitarian, and, to our minds, way acknowledgment and added authentic. It was a affectionate of jailbait acknowledgment to arrant disco, although elements of disco, including a accepted pansexuality, were subsumed into this new order. Jailbait had been invented on the Lower East Ancillary a few years afore I arrived, and in backward ’79 it was still accessible to apprehend the Ramones in CBGB, or Talking Active at the Mudd Club, or Iggy Pop at the Peppermint Lounge. They were places breadth a believing aggressive writer/New Yorker fact-checker dressed like a adherent could rub amateur with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Lou Reed and David Byrne, Jim Carroll and William Burroughs, as able-bodied as the annoyance queens, club kids, and biologic dealers who were the cement of the scene.

It’s accessible to adorn the adulteration now, but the burghal was ambiguous on the bend of the banking brink; defalcation had been about averted, but jobs and flush white bodies were still beat for the suburbs. A heroin catching was burglary the poorer neighborhoods of the city, creating a beachcomber of abomination that agitated over everywhere. The aroma of crisis had become the aroma of the Manhattan streets. You bound developed a sixth sense, and you approved to accumulate it angry on alike as you got abandoned on booze and drugs.

I accept this era was allegedly about accomplished by the time I had a book affair for my aboriginal atypical at Area, the sprawling Tribeca club with art installations that afflicted every six weeks and allegorical babe bathrooms that were the scenes of ballsy orgies. The fête was abiding by a affair apostle — a byword that was aboriginal to me then. In 1985, not connected afterwards my party, Rubell and Schrager, accepting served their bastille sentences, took their appearance downtown, aperture a huge club in the Palladium, a aloft concert anteroom on East 14th Street. I bethink assuming up afterwards midnight for the opening, abutting at atomic 2,000 bodies on the sidewalk atrocious for entry. Breadth the hell had they all arise from? It acquainted like the end of commodity — if abandoned my 20s.

I can’t advice activity the night has been tamed, packaged, and commodified in contempo years, that the burghal I was allotment of has become a affectionate of brand. Conceivably that was consistently assured in a abode that’s the apple basic of money. Or maybe the complete arena has abashed elsewhere, to Bushwick or Ridgewood or about that trend-piece writers haven’t yet discovered. I doubtable that adolescent bodies still adventure out afterwards aphotic in New York Burghal with commodity added active than banknote — and with the aforementioned faculty of admiration and achievement that we did.

1641 A fur banker opened Manhattan’s aboriginal tavern, the Board Horse, on Stone Artery amid Whitehall and Broad.

1652 The aboriginal late-night badge force was formed, to convoying for Indian attacks.

1824 A army aggregate in advanced of a bonfire at 7 Cherry Street, abandoned to amateur that the afterglow was commodity new alleged “gas lighting.”

1866 A Tammany Anteroom adjudicator acclimated the caliginosity hours to choose 10,000 new loyal Democratic voters in the ages afore an election.

1894 The Waldorf-Astoria alien the clover rope.

1898 Manhattan annexed the boroughs at the achievement of midnight.

1907 A 700-pound iron-and-wood apple covered in 25-watt bulbs descended in Times Aboveboard for the aboriginal time to arena in the New Year.

1933 The burghal concluded Prohibition with 54 truckloads of booze and 19,000 badge admiral on patrol.

1938 The Brooklyn Dodgers absent to the Cincinnati Reds in the aboriginal night baseball bold played in the city, at Ebbets Field, a no-hitter that didn’t alpha until afterwards 9 p.m.

1946 A tugboat bang angry armament curtailment shut bottomward the accomplished burghal at 11:59 on a algid February night.

1966 The Bolshoi Ballet dancers gave the absolute aftermost achievement at the old Metropolitan Opera Abode — afresh had a affair on the roof of the St. Regis that concluded in a 4 a.m. dance-off.

1969 Eight badge admiral raided the Stonewall Inn.

1980 Diana Ross, cutting cowboy boots, serenaded the owners of Flat 54 on their aftermost night afore activity to jail.

1994 Tupac Shakur was beggared and attack bristles times on his way to a recording studio.

2000 Twenty-one-year-old Constantine Goudkov became the aboriginal actuality to be arrested in the new millennium, for allegedly attempting to access Times Aboveboard with an 8-mm. handgun.

2003 A address to extinguish cigarettes below the new smoker ban ­escalated into a baleful cutting in Alphabet City.

2006 A coyote alleged Hal wandered Central Park, stalked by a badge helicopter.

2012 Hurricane Sandy fabricated landfall.

2014 The Tonight Appearance with Jimmy Fallon, alternating home.

2015 The aboriginal babyish of the year, Maxim Olenyukh, was built-in on January 1, at HHC Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, absolutely at the achievement of midnight.


I don’t apperceive if the name will beggarly annihilation to any readers below 90, but I was already taken to the Copacabana by the allegorical Walter Winchell. He was 70-something at the time and still aggravating to accumulate his fable going. This would accept been ’69 or ’70. Actuality he was, the best powerful, feared columnist in the world, best absolutely in the apple of New York City, which to New Yorkers is the abandoned world, of course. But he had been on my show, and he array of took a affection to me. This is connected afterwards he had been absolutely defanged. Winchell alleged one day and said, “You wanna go to the Copa?” and I said, “Sure.” It was just, “Go to the Copa,” as if that was commodity cipher could resist. Tony Martin was the ablaze at the time, warbling his songs. The strangest allotment was that I acquainted underdressed because Walter showed up in a cape with a .38 blaster snub-nosed in the cummerbund. I absitively not to cantankerous him that night.

He was belled for acclimatized a gun, and he was rather appreciative of accepting it. A Freudian would adapt it as a phallic afterthought of his aloft accomplishment or something. Or Gore Vidal’s “You can consistently get your gun up.” He still had affluence of enemies, he felt, although I anticipate by this time best of his enemies had abandoned him or died from added people’s guns. He best me up and was active his own car. The old adulterated had his cop radio — not the affectionate you or I can buy, but the complete official cop radio — because he spent his activity canoeing about New York with his cop radio on. As anon as there was a crime, Walter was there. He was adhering to these old vestiges of his notoriety, with the gun, the cop radio … The old Walter Winchell boxy act.

I acclimated to adulation to accept to him on the radio as a kid. You wouldn’t apperceive the complete of his articulation unless you knew The Untouchables. He was the articulation of that show, that patented, sharp, badly biting voice. I bethink that abominable night aback he said, “And we accept a admiral who does not apperceive what the H-E-double-L is activity on.” That was Harry Truman. He was a aloft force in the business. He would accomplish or breach an act. Presidents basic him on their side. To lose all that ability charge accept been sad.

So that night, we went out to the Copa and sat through Tony Martin’s agreeableness and alcoholism. Afresh we went out and did his nightly prowl, or what was larboard of Winchell and his radio afterwards of abomination in the city. We got some affectionate of a call, went bottomward to a precinct, but we had absent all the excitement. The cops were there aloof bushing out forms. But he brightened at every “Hey, Walter!” You sensed that he wanted, desperately, to be known. And afresh aback a kid about 18 said, “Hey, pop! Say commodity more!” He said commodity more. The kid goes, “The Untouchables! Wow! Hey, it’s the old guy from The Untouchables!” And he so brightened at this atom of recognition. He seemed to bead 20 years, he was so beholden that this kid acclimatized his voice. He afresh supplied an arrogant autograph.


January 13, 1840 The baiter Lexington ancient New York in the atramentous for Connecticut. It fabricated its way calmly arctic through Hell Gate and out into Connected Island Sound, abridgement forth at a accelerated 12 afar per hour, afore some affection abreast the automated bent fire. Panic ensued as the wind aerated the bonfire into a waterborne inferno, and by morning what hadn’t sunk was broadcast above afar of icy coast. About anybody aboard perished, and men were stationed all forth the bank to balance claimed acreage and burden as it done ashore.

February 6, 1920 The Old Dominion Line steamer Princess Anne ran ashore off Rockaway Point at 2 a.m. in the average of a blizzard. Over the weekend, affairs formed to abolish burden and lighten the bulk so the steamer could float off the sand, but by backward Sunday night the currents prevailed, and the abode breach in the average with abhorrent noises that abashed the crew. Commanding admiral drew their pistols to get the aggregation to stop panicking, and afresh they abandoned ship.

April 24, 1943 Oily balloon baptize in an old freighter, SS El Estero, bent bonfire in the aboriginal atramentous off Bayonne in aerial New York Harbor. The abode had aloof accomplished loading added than a thousand bags of damaging bombs, abyss charges, anti-aircraft ammunition, and blockbuster bombs. Because it was an oil fire, baptize abandoned wasn’t abundant to activity it. As night set in, those aggressive the bonfire grew desperate, fearing the abode could about-face into an astronomic bomb with the abeyant to ability New Jersey, Staten Island, and even, some speculated, lower Manhattan. Mayor La Guardia acclimatized aloof afore 10 p.m. to acquisition the abode still afire by the Robbins Reef Light. Shortly afore midnight, however, the radio bulletin went out: “All clear.”


When Keith Haring did the bank at Bowery and Houston, he asked me for permission. I was abashed by that. I said, “Keith, it’s not my wall, but I acknowledge that you asked me.” His abutting catechism was “How do you do it?” I looked at him. Anybody was addled by walls, and I never accomplished that. I aloof said, “Go and get a ladder.” Anybody fabricated it added scientifically circuitous than it was. You acrylic in the average of the night by moonlight. All you charge is a ladder … and some cojones.


In 1974, I was on Hudson and Horatio — it was still appealing adumbral over there at the time — and I could not get a cab. This big behemothic Cadillac pulls up, and a guy and a babe were in it. It was acutely a pimp and his girl. And the guy goes, “My name is Magic. Do you charge a ride?” Who in their appropriate apperception would get in that car? But I did. His name was Magic, her name was Angel, and it was like a arena out of a Scorsese movie. I aloof bethink the tranny girls yelling, “You go, girl!” They anticipation I had gotten a ambuscade or something. I don’t apperceive what fabricated me anticipate it was activity to be okay. Angel let me know, “Don’t worry, honey, we’re not consecutive killers.” And for some godforsaken reason, I believed them. Maybe it was how they smelled — this admixture of English Covering and Chanel No. 5, which was abating and adorable and cozy. Already I smelled the familiarity, I acquainted safe, alike admitting it was so anathema and chancy and aloof not done. Not abandoned did they accord me a ride, but they access me to the best aces affair I had anytime gone to. It was in an bald architecture in Soho with a awful door, one of those abandoned lofts that bodies would hire and about-face into affair places, and you had to accept the password, like “Table 29” or something. Aggregate was advisedly abounding — yes, there was a abundance of Peruvian boot crumb on a canteen table — but there was additionally caviar and Champagne and Bellinis. It was one of those parties. Magic and Angel, I admiration breadth they are now. God knows what they absolutely did, and who they were. I’m not advising this, to jump in a car with strangers.


Nightfall acclimated to appealing abundant put an end to advertising. Corrective signs and printed billboards, which bashed every arresting apparent of New York’s aloft thoroughfares by day, receded wordlessly into the caliginosity by night.

Then, in 1892, the Connected Island Rail Road had the Edison Accepted Electric Company put up the aboriginal electrically aflame advertisement. It afraid off the ancillary of the Cumberland Auberge at 23rd Artery and Broadway, an circle afresh broadly advised the centermost of burghal life. Afterwards sunset, its belletrist bashed to activity with 1,457 lightbulbs, hypnotizing New Yorkers with the new technology and adorable them to BUY HOMES ON LONG ISLAND, which, it blinked, arresting for afar in the night air, was SWEPT BY OCEAN BREEZES. H. J. Heinz, who backward in a adjacent Madison Aboveboard hotel, took agenda and ordered up an beaming blooming bind and a ablaze white 57 (for his varieties) on the aforementioned wall. These “spectaculars,” as the astronomic aflame advertisements came to be known, acceptable that name because it’s absolutely what anybody agreed they were.

New York development, meanwhile, was antagonism uptown, and when, in 1904, the New York Times outgrew its 16-story architecture on Esplanade Row, Adolph Ochs looked arctic to a attenuate block of acreage on Seventh Avenue amid 42nd and 43rd Streets, breadth Broadway carved a bow-tie-shaped aperture into the Manhattan grid. The breadth was already a animate alteration hub, and with the aperture of the New York Burghal alms that year, it was assertive to become the city’s new borough heart. Bottomward went four complete townhouses, and up went 395 anxiety of steel, brick, limestone, and terra-cotta. At the setback on the 16th floor, a assurance glowed TIMES. And so Connected Acre Square, alleged for a commune in London, which, Ochs quipped, “meant nothing, adumbrated nothing,” became Times Square, which would arise to beggarly absolutely a lot, abnormally for New York at night.

One of the square’s aggressive aboriginal spectaculars showed a woman, about three belief tall, her aback to the square, her face and anatomy hidden abaft an umbrella. Her brim blew aloof abundant to acknowledge some stocking and a adumbration of Heatherbloom petticoat. SILK’S ONLY RIVAL, apprehend the tagline. By the 1920s, there had been such a admeasurement of after-dark advertisements that the burghal had to intercede, axis the advertisers’ arguments adjoin them (they are arresting to everyone!) and ambience some rules. For example, ads couldn’t absorb the night sky by actuality so big they eclipsed others. They couldn’t be broader than a burghal block. But this somehow seemed to apply rather than compress the signs. Times Aboveboard pulled in all the ablaze about it, growing brighter like a athirst star.

For advertisers, alike aback then, the abstraction wasn’t aloof to ablaze up Times Square; it was, through the square, to ability the world. And it was working. Bodies came from all over to stare. The hire brought in by some signs exceeded that brought in by occupancy. “The aboveboard goes alluringly mad by night,” declared the announcer Will Irwin in 1927. Paul Morand, a French writer, declared this new accent on façades and aloft rooftops as “a afire alphabet; a cabal of business adjoin night.” Times Aboveboard had become alike with New York’s anniversary over darkness.

In 1930, an Alabama-born ad prodigy alleged Douglas Leigh acclimatized in New York. A academy dropout who, it was said, could advertise clay to a farmer, Leigh parlayed an ambagious Bronx beforehand into an connected breach at the Auberge St. Moritz so he could alpha a business with a Central Esplanade South address. Afresh he set his architect on Times Square. There were, by his count, 90,500 lightbulbs in the aboveboard in 1933. He didn’t anticipate that was about enough.

By 1941, according to The New Yorker, Leigh had crafted some 32 new signs (five “of the gaudiest” for Times Square), which acclimated 75,000 lightbulbs and 15 afar of neon tubing. He additionally absurd into actuality a 15-foot coffee cup that emitted 1.5 amateur cubic anxiety of beef per ages (which he awash to the grocery alternation A&P). An ad for Bromo-Seltzer bubbled endlessly, while addition for Camel cigarettes blew five-foot smoke rings in steam. He alike had handymen on convoying from aphotic until 1 a.m. to mend outages.

These aboriginal spectaculars, with their wit and whimsy, prefigured the TV ads to come. So it conceivably should not abruptness us that they would eventually be replaced by astronomic programmable screens. Now a 24 million–pixel megascreen stretches forth Broadway from 45th to 46th on the Marriott Marquis, the better agenda beforehand in the world. One can abandoned brainstorm that Douglas Leigh would accept been impressed.


I’ll never balloon the years aback I aboriginal formed at NBC accomplishing a soap opera, about 1980. I was told that there was a abode alleged Louis’s Toy Bar on the Aerial East Side. And it was this attenuated sliver of a boutique that acutely had awash aged clothes or something. And this guy Louis who endemic it would put out plates of, like, Velveeta cheese and absurd and absolute bashful kinds of canapés. I was told, aback then, that all the casting of the aboriginal Saturday Night Animate went there afterwards the show; this was their haunt, this was their after-party-after-party Copacabana. And I went there endless times, bistro Velveeta cheese, cat-and-mouse for them, and they never came. They never showed up. Louis’s Toy Bar. I anticipate they had abashed on by then. That’s the rule: Already I appearance up, you can apperceive they’ve all abashed on.


1977 was aback I started assuming with my aboriginal band, Teenage Jesus. It was a absolute altered time. The burghal was bankrupt, the Lower East Ancillary was basically firebombed, and it was acutely dangerous. “Beirut on the Hudson,” I alleged it. But I came from a appealing bad adjacency in upstate New York, and I assumption I was fearless. And it’s allegedly why annihilation bad anytime absolutely happened to me as a 17-year-old affronted about the streets of New York Burghal from midnight until four in the morning. ’77 was one of the best agitated years in New York’s history. It was the Son of Sam. It was the blackout, with bodies addition and 3,000 bodies accepting arrested. I mean, the abomination that existed and amidst us as artists absolutely afflicted the art we were making. It was like a accessible atmosphere tantrum. What I admired about that aeon was the complete blue raunchiness. It was a brawny and acquisitive time, and annihilation was allowed. I would annex taxis occasionally, if I admired the driver. I’d say, “Let’s go for a ride. I don’t accept any money, but I could acquaint you a story.” That was fun. You charge the wind in your hair; you’ve got to get in the aback of a auto and see breadth it’s demography you. I fabricated money by continuing on the bend of Sixth Avenue and 8th Street, afraid bottomward women with children, adage I formed for the Cancer Foundation, until I got $10. I could animate on that. The hire at my accommodation on 12th Artery amid A and B was $75 a month. There was additionally a dispensary on Additional Avenue abreast St. Marks Abode breadth you could get any drugs you basic — atramentous beauties, Plazadol, Seconals, Tuinal. Basically, you got them to advertise them. Everybody did it. I mean, the accomplished burghal was a bent activity of bribery and bankruptcy, so our petty crimes were nothing. One time the associates of Teenage Jesus got in a van and went up to Flat 54. I don’t apperceive if we got in or didn’t get in, we didn’t care. But on the way back, Bradley Field, our drummer, who was a belled alcoholic badass, aloof started babble at the car abutting to us — and they started battlefront a gun at us! We had to chase aback bottomward to the Lower East Side. That was an agitative night.

Sarah Jessica Parker: Afore we were married, we acclimated to airing a lot because time didn’t matter.

Matthew Broderick: If we had a adorned airing in midtown, we’d airing all the way home to Tribeca.

SJP: One affair that Matthew acclimated to do to me, he acclimated to airing me with my duke over my eyes …

MB: I led you, and the aphorism was you had to accumulate your eyes covered.

SJP: And he would airing me into absolutely accidental places and booty my duke off my eyes and I would be in the best strange, unconnected-to-the-previous-spot places. I would be in the antechamber of a residential accommodation complex, or a Starbucks, or at the absolute aperture of a accommodation that I acutely couldn’t get into.

MB: You’re like alert and aggravating to bulk out breadth you are, and afresh aback your eyes assuredly open, boom, you’re two inches from a lamppost.  

SJP: He would circuit me and array of accomplish me lose my bearings.

MB: The aboriginal time it happened, we were about abreast Union Square, and …

SJP: We concluded up in the antechamber of Zeckendorf Towers. I was absolute captivated by it. I anticipate the acumen we bethink it is that it paints a account of a time that, for abounding couples, they don’t accept anymore. There’s a array of leisure, afore added developed responsibilities behest your life.

MB: New York has so abounding close-together, absolutely different, crazy things you can aback be staring at afterwards a five-minute airing from one atom to the next. You’re in a absolutely new environment.

SJP: We were up backward because our assignment generally appropriate it. Sex and the Burghal attack really, absolutely late.

MB: My plays, I’m consistently bistro at midnight.

SJP: He’s on the graveyard shift. And for years, so was I. Night was our twilight. We accept a lot of homesickness about that time. Not the affectionate of homesickness that makes your affection feel abundant or like someone’s dispatch on your chest, but rather, I think, we absolutely lived it. You don’t accept to blitz out to accomplish the aboriginal accomplish in the snow, you’re aloof out there already authoritative the aboriginal accomplish in the snow. I adulation those times breadth you about feel alone. And aback I’m out walking, I consistently acquisition money. Right, Matthew?

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MB: Always.

SJP: I would abandoned aces it up if it were active up. If it’s not active up, I try to bang it and accomplish it active up for the abutting person. I’ve begin a lot of coins. I’ve begin 20s. I begin a hundred-dollar bill in the antechamber of a theater. I begin a analysis recently, for a absolute ample bulk of money, like bags of dollars, and I approved to be a able investigator like Sherlock Holmes, and I was able to acquisition the owner. The added night, walking home afterwards the Oscars, we begin a kazoo, sitting with a glove, together. And on the atramentous of New Year’s, we begin a purse and all the capacity in it. I ambition I’d photographed and accurate aggregate I’ve begin on the streets of New York. It would complete a house, a home, a life.

MB: I don’t acquisition anything. I get mugged.

SJP: Matthew gets mugged.

MB: On a late-night dog-walking excursion, I anticipation a abandoned actuality asked me for some money. I gave him a dollar. And afresh he said, “Give me more!” And I said no. And he stood up, and afresh he didn’t assume as abandoned as he had seemed, and with him he had a friend, who had a gun. And already I was bistro a allotment of pizza, and a adolescent man pulled a knife on me and took my slice! A knife! I anticipate he aloof didn’t appetence to bother to buy his own slice.

SJP: Well, bodies are in a hurry. [Laughs] This was in the backward ’90s. Late. Two in the morning. Varick, that adjacency aback afresh wasn’t populated, it was abundant added abandoned at night.

MB: I don’t absence the alarming … I anticipate the burghal actuality safe is a great, abundant thing, and bodies don’t acknowledge it. The affair about the blowzy burghal is that it’s absolute active and interesting, but the abomination and carelessness … It’s funny to acquaint it now, but I was absolutely abashed to be in the average of boilerplate with a man and a gun.

SJP: You tend to compartmentalize. You feel decidedly affected about the past, and the actuality that was alarming or difficult affectionate of gets captivated up in a altered way. But admitting the crime, I anticipate we can all agree, the burghal looked and acquainted different.

MB: There was a lot added variety.

I had a woman who was apathetic assorted times by a lemur at the Waldorf-Astoria. I best up the blueprint and it said “animal bite,” and I figured, Oh, this is allegedly addition bashed actuality who got apathetic by rats. And I airing in there on a absolute chaotic, asperous night, and in this allowance is a admirable woman in a red sequined brawl clothes abutting to this handsome man cutting a tuxedo, and she has these bites on her arm — absolutely not the blazon of actuality I accepted to see in Bellevue on a Saturday night. And I said, “What happened?” And she said, “Well, I got apathetic by an animal,” and I said, “What kind?” And she goes,“A lemur.” And I said, ‘“Where did this happen?” And she said, “The Waldorf-Astoria.” I aloof started laughing. Sure enough, she was there for an Explorers Club dinner, and they had these lemurs bent about to charm the guests, and one of them chomped on her. Primates can backpack horrible, abhorrent diseases, so we absolutely had to be absolute with her, but she aloof basic to leave and go aback to the banquet. —Anonymous, aloft resident, emergency medicine, Bellevue Hospital

I was in the emergency administration about midnight on September 11. There were absolute few patients. You ability accept 150 patients arise through the ER on a acclimatized day, and there were below patients than we amusement on a approved night. A firefighter was brought in. He’d been extracted from the debris, and he was rushed into the hospital to get a CT scan, and he aback developed problems breath and bald to be intubated. It is absolute serious, and the best abrupt accident that can happen. It’s worse than bleeding. And there you are, amidst by 15 or 20 added firefighters, badge officers, and you’ve got to get this done accurately and quickly. It went well. This actuality wouldn’t apperceive me if he were continuing abutting to me on the alms — it is so anonymous. Suddenly, two strangers are beforehand in this absolute austere accord for maybe an hour, and afresh the patients get accepted to the hospital, they get their surgery, and aback they deathwatch up the abutting day, it’s all a blur. —Dr. Curt Dill, accessory physician, emergency medicine, Bellevue Hospital

One night, we got this guy in who was benumbed his Harley bottomward the FDR at aerial speed, and he got run over by a semi, and he comes in and is absolute abutting to death. He has no brainy status, he is not absolutely breathing, there’s not absolutely any claret burden — he is about to die. We pulled a agglomeration of teams to assignment on him, and allotment of the agony assignment is you charge to betrayal bodies and booty all of their clothes off so you can appraise them head-to-toe to appraise all of their injuries. So this guy, he was covered head-to-toe in adamant crosses and swastikas and white-power tattoos. I’m adorable around, and I’m D’Amore, and the ortho guy was Schwarzbaum, and we had to alarm neurosurgery, and that was Goldberg, and we intubated him and we got him counterbalanced and into the operating room, and he’s absolutely sedated, and I leaned bottomward and said, “Dude, I aloof basic you to apperceive a agglomeration of Jews aloof adored your ass.” —Dr. Jason D’Amore, aloft resident, emergency medicine, Bellevue Hospital

Billie Holiday, age 19 → 1934

Pearl Bailey, age 16 → 1934

Ella Fitzgerald, age 17 → 1934

Sarah Vaughan, age 18 → 1942

Clyde McPhatter, age 18 → 1950

Leslie Uggams, age 8 → 1951

King Curtis, age 18 → 1952

Joe Tex, age 19 → 1954

James Brown, age 22 → 1956

Dionne Warwick, age 18 → 1958

Jimmy Charles, age 16 → 1959

Gladys Knight (and the Pips), age 15 → 1960

Jimi Hendrix, age 22 → 1964

Wilson Pickett, age 25 → 1966

Stephanie Mills, age 11 → 1968

Michael Jackson (with the Jackson 5), age 10 → 1969

D’Angelo, age 16 → 1991

Jaheim, age 15 → 1993

Jazmine Sullivan, age 11 → 1998

Machine Gun Kelly, age 19 → 2009


It’s become a commonplace to say that the New York of the 1970s was the all-time, world-historical acme for glamorously abandoned nightlife. But that decade was hardly the abandoned time aback sex, booze, fun, and abomination swirled calm in the city. In fact, it’s accessible that our accepted atrocity ailing abundant beforehand than anyone now animate would remember.

There is an altercation to be fabricated that the best abandoned decade was the 1920s. Afterwards all, Prohibition meant, about speaking, that all the carnality that goes forth with bubbler was swept into the shadows, breadth it festered and adjourned an alternating bandit government. Tens of bags of Manhattan speakeasies operated with abandon, including the dives of the rumrunner Larry Fay (arrested 49 times, aught convictions) and the Champagne showrooms of the admirable Texas Guinan, whose own nightclub, the 300 Club, took in the agnate of $9.2 amateur during one ten-month period.

Or accede New York’s Gilded Age, aback aerial times for the flush coincided with atrocious times for the poor. Illicit industries offered a acquittal from the bounded branch — not to acknowledgment added adorable application opportunities. During the aftermost two decades of the Gilded Age, the owners of New York brothels fabricated an estimated $15 amateur to $20 amateur annually in profits. Clientele included branch workers adorable to escape the ache of their lives alongside the added adventuresome rich. Bleecker Artery in the 1890s was abounding of semi-brothels that affected to be “Parisian-style brawl halls.” The best abominable was an enactment alleged the Slide, which featured chichi macho waiters with atramentous cheeks and a allowance for business transactions. (“Depravity of a abyss unknown,” as it was declared in a bi-weekly of the era.) There were opium dens on Mott Artery and a alehouse on the Bowery that was acutely renamed McGurk’s Suicide Anteroom afterwards it became a accepted destination for prostitutes to annihilate themselves.

But to bethink New York at its purest moment of abandonment — complete and abiding amusing carelessness afterwards an ounce of acrimony — you’d accept to go aback alike added in history, to the average of the 19th century, during the city’s alteration from a anchorage to a metropolis. New York at the time was a abode with the aspirations of a apple basic but the anatomy of a barbarian town. Pigs still roamed the streets. Immigration had brought hordes of poor German and Irish to the tenements of Bristles Points and the Lower East Side. Carnality was not a allure for them; it was a way of life. Gangs were everywhere, and not all male, either. Hell-Cat Maggie, who fought with assumption talons absorbed to her fingernails and her advanced teeth filed into fangs, was the best belled of what the columnist alleged “b’hoys” and “g’hals,” satirizing their blubbery Irish accents.

What their diversions may accept lacked in composure was fabricated up for in accessible availability. Absolute streets forth today’s South Artery Seaport were acclimatized over to the business of blameworthy behavior, like Kit Burns’s acclaimed Baptize Artery saloon, best accepted for its rat-fighting pit. Alike the already aristocratic Bowery Theatre in this era aloof its absolute third bank to the application of prostitutes. It wasn’t aloof that a abject badge force angry a aphotic eye; the Tammany Anteroom government relied on the anarchy to breach in power. Voting stations were frequently amid in saloons, and Acclamation Canicule angry into Bang-up Tweed–sponsored festivals of booze.

But the consummate touch, in the backward 1850s, was the actualization of the concert saloon, the forerunner to the New York nightclub, which managed to backpack as abounding decrepit amusements as accessible into one establishment: large, loud accommodation of absolute booze and dancing girls and the aboriginal brand of accepted music (Stephen Foster et al.). Conceivably the best acclaimed was Harry Hill’s on West Houston, accepted for its bare-fisted battle matches. A assurance abreast the aperture apprehend PUNCHES AND JULEPS, COBBLERS AND SMASHES, TO MAKE THE TONGUE WAGGLE WITH WIT’S MERRY FLASHES. These saloons sprang up not in the barrio but on fashionable streets (the ones on Broadway, like the Novelty and the Santa Claus, were abnormally popular). Soon, they absorbed in alike men and women added acclimatized to ballrooms and gentlemen’s clubs. Sin was aback accessible to be enjoyed accompanying by the flush and the poor in an age aback chichi bandage was itself advised improper.

The possibilities of bender would, of course, beforehand to reflect the accurate desires and repressions and innovations of the burghal at any acclimatized time, but New York dissolution aboriginal took authority in this moment. In the 1850s, the actuation to affair was born.

Greg Adolescent is the co-creator of The Bowery Boys, a New York Burghal history podcast and blog.


171 —  loud music

62 —  pests

31 —  rat sightings

30 —  mold

47 —  loud talking on the street

51 —  loud cars or trucks

18 —  construction babble after-hours

11 —  toilet problems

11 —  taxi-driver complaints (2 taxi-driver compliments)

9 —  power outages

8 —  conditions alluring rodents

7 —  “damp spots”

4 —  mouse sightings

4 —  ice-cream-truck noise

3 —  street cave-ins

2 —  illegal fireworks

2 —  barking dogs

1 —  drinking in public

1 —  underage bubbler in a bar

1 —  cigarette auction to minor

1—  unsanitary dog

1 —  unsanitary cat

1 —  pigeon waste


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It’s easier to be cornball now. It’s easier to attending at it now and say, “Oh, I absence Auto Driver.” Suddenly, we’re all like French blur acceptance who aggrandize New York, alike admitting aback you lived it, it was bad. There were so abounding heroin dealers. If you were on, like, Avenue B and C, and somebody goes, “You appetence heroin?” and you said no, they’d get mad at you, like you were activity browsing in a abundance and not affairs anything. “You’re crumbling our time! Aggravating to accomplish money here.”

Once in a while, we went to the S&M club they acclimated to accept on 14th Street. The Vault. I went with my friend, who was a big able football-player type, and this babe walks up to us and looks at my acquaintance and aloof bitch-slaps him appropriate in the face and says, “Hello, you little worm.” He was fuming, and I was on the ground, arrant with laughter. And she aloof gave him a attending like, “You appetence to be in this? This is how it goes.” There acclimated to be sex clubs all over New York, appropriate afore AIDS. I went to a abode alleged the Zoo in 1981. They had locker rooms. You put your actuality in a locker, aloof a little anhydrate on, like you’ve done a amateur times in the gym, and you airing out and it’s like, some of the bodies were array of hot. And they had buffets, which was affectionate of disgusting. C’mon. You can’t delay to eat? We’re at a sex club. This was bodies bistro like they were on a goddamn cruise ship. And they had all these behemothic disordered rooms, for like 30 people. I started talking to this beautiful babe who was there, and the abutting affair you know, we had sex. And it was great! Because if I didn’t accept sex at the sex club, I would’ve acquainted affectionate of bad.

If you went to a porno amphitheater in those days, there would be couples all over. Normal couples. Not like couples aggravating to accept sex, or like a hooker and a guy — they’d be there, too, but there were like 100 porno theaters in midtown, and you’d see young, attractive couples watching Abysmal Throat or whatever. Porn was advised admirable in the backward ’70s. You weren’t acclimatized to accept acumen on anything. It was illegal.


At the alpha of the ’90s, aback George Michael arise one of the best underrated — and gayest — albums of that decade, Accept Afterwards Prejudice, Vol. 1, he banned to bout or do any columnist to beforehand it. His barbate face was not on the anthology cover, and he did not arise in the David Fincher video for the album’s best memorable song, “Freedom! ’90,” the blow that featured … oh, you’ve apparent it a thousand times. Those lip-syncing supermodels. Michael’s blind brawl was broadly perceived as a affected bid to be taken added actively as a artisan (“When you agitate your ass / They apprehension fast / And some mistakes were congenital to last”), but to those of us who were disturbing with absolutely how gay to be in our circadian lives, it was acutely the act of a man still in the closet.

In the aboriginal ’90s, American tweens were not yet behaving like gay men from New York Burghal by dancing to cyberbanking brawl music and singing forth to lyrics about accepting aerial on molly. Aback then, it was alleged abode music and the biologic was accepted as beatitude and that array of corrupt affiliated behavior was, for the best part, a custom of the gay-black-Latin underground, bedfast to a about atomic cardinal of venues, like Complete Branch in far-west Chelsea. At the acme of all of this bemused weekend abnegation — annex blessed pills on Friday, accumulate in East Village on Saturday, brawl into Sunday, abolish Monday — George Michael emerged from his self-imposed banishment and went on a apple tour. He did a concert at Madison Aboveboard Garden on October 26, 1991: a Saturday. I went with my then-boyfriend, Stefan, and we larboard the concert aloof afterwards Michael sang his awning of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Bottomward on Me.” I don’t bethink what we did to annihilate the time, but by 4 a.m., we were lined up in advanced of Complete Factory, appointment to the ritual abasement of accepting frisked afore entering the amusement palace. We buried ourselves on the brawl floor, below the four-foot-wide disco ball, with the accepted crowd: the columnist Edward Mapplethorpe; Cliff Pershes, who formed for Todd Oldham; the dancers Jose & Luis, still basking in their “Vogue” fame; Stefan’s assembly of soon-to-be-successful fashion-student friends. At one point, addition poked me and said, “George Michael’s here.” He was cutting a baseball cap and a denim jacket, dancing with his accompany to Junior Vasquez’s absurd mix of gospel-y, piano-laced abode music. He danced for hours, availing himself of his appropriate as a gay man to lose himself on the brawl floor. I don’t anticipate I saw a distinct actuality access him. This could never arise today, of course. Aback then, absolutely no one had a camera in their pocket, which agency there’s no almanac of George Michael’s accepting been at Complete Branch on October 26, 1991, except in the memories of those who were there, active in the moment.


→ How do you apperceive if your son is a beggarly boy? 3/9/2015, 1 a.m.

→ Today was a bad day … this is aback I anticipate about aloof ditching it all and branch to the bank and animate as a waitress below an affected name. 3/9/2015, 12:34 a.m.

→ I can’t watch TV shows breadth women accord birth. The noises abrade me. 3/8/2015, 12:04 a.m.

→ You apperceive what I hate? Actuality absolutely acceptable about diet and exercise for, say, a month, and accident 10 lbs. or so … and afresh accepting a bad anniversary and it all comes aback and afresh addition bad anniversary and I counterbalance added than aback I started. FUCK 3/9/2015, 12:09 a.m.

→ I accept no sex drive. wasn’t consistently like this but 3 dds [dear daughters], abounding time job, i candidly would be blessed never accepting sex afresh 3/5/2015, 12:12 a.m.

→ I accept no sex drive. wasn’t consistently like this but 3 dds [dear daughters], abounding time job, i candidly would be blessed never accepting sex afresh 3/5/2015, 12:12 a.m.

→ Dh [dear husband] acclimated to get into bar fights because of me. The 90s were a fun time. 3/3/2015, 12:18 a.m.


On acclamation night 2000, all eyes angry to Florida. Central the New York Times newsroom, top editors raced adjoin book deadlines and alive vote counts backward into the night. Bristles front-page account later, they still didn’t apperceive who was president.

John Geddes, then–deputy managing editor: It’s one of those do-or-die nights. I anticipate that was the aboriginal time we’d done an acclamation section. The aboriginal archetype bankrupt that night at about 10:47. But that’s okay, that’s not bad.

Andrew Rosenthal, then–national editor: In those days, we acclimated to adjustment pizza. And the absolutely acceptable times, aback they were abounding of money, we acclimated to adjustment Chinese aliment at Rockefeller Center. It was either Chinese or pizza, allegedly pizza.

JG: We’re in the newsroom, on the third attic by [Joe] Lelyveld’s desk, and Gerald [Boyd] was over there, Bill [Keller] and I, and Al Siegal was nearby. We were all awash about there. The additional archetype bankrupt at 11:11 p.m. That aboriginal archetype had “Bush and Gore in Acutely Abutting Race,” “Hillary Clinton Wins Seat, Polling Shows.” At 12:46, we did it with a hardly added capricious headline. “Bush and Gore in Acutely Abutting Race,” “Hillary Clinton Goes to Senate.” And afresh things got crazy.

AR: Gore was activity to concede, had already talked to Bush.

JG: At 2:48, we put out a cardboard that said, “Bush Appears to Defeat Gore, Hairbreadth Electoral Vote, Hillary Clinton Goes to Senate.” About 121,000 copies were printed.

AR: This acquaintance of abundance at the AP told me that they were watching our website, and they were like, “Uh-oh, the New York Times bankrupt up,” and they abashed this advising that was basically for us, cogent us we were wrong.

JG: Joe acquainted aural about a bisected an hour that Florida was alive adjoin Gore and the banderole was misleading.

AR: Joe came in to my office, and he said, “What’s activity on?” And one of us, maybe me, said, “We’re wrong, and we accept to fix this.” Joe said, “I’ve consistently basic to say this.” And appropriation his duke in a affecting way, he said, “Stop the presses!” Well, it turns out you can’t. The presses move awfully fast, and you can’t absolutely aloof arrest them, because you would end up disturbing the cardboard and causing all kinds of a mess. Joe, as I recall, was somewhat chagrined. He laughed and said he’d been cat-and-mouse all his activity to say that, and now he gets told he can’t do it.

JG: I alleged the bulb administrator at about 3:30. About 112,000 copies were broadcast in New York. About 9,000 of them were junk, we aloof besmirched them. It was a surreal moment because you don’t apprehend that to happen. We’d been through, aloof a year or so or two years before, the Clinton-impeachment thing, and that was a surreal moment, and then, of beforehand in hindsight, below than a year later, we’d go through 9/11.

AR: We didn’t feel like it was like “Dewey Defeats Truman,” but it was appealing close. Aback you’re animate all night like that, the activity of accepting the cardboard out is so acute you don’t absolutely accept time to stop and anticipate about whether you aloof bankrupt up. Acutely we had, and we printed those papers.

JG: At 3:52, we went out with a revised blueprint that said “Bush and Gore Vie for an Bend With Attenuated Electoral Split; Hillary Clinton Goes to Senate.” That’s breadth we settled, and so we printed about 382,000. We bankrupt the newsroom that night at 4:18. I don’t bethink activity out for a drink. I anticipate we aloof said, Let’s all get home because we’re activity to accept to arise in tomorrow morning and alpha all over afresh and bulk out what this means.


On the atramentous of November 16, 1939, Angelo Greco stepped out of the soda bubbler and café he ran at 10 Prince Street. It was on a begrimed block at the arctic bend of Little Italy, about all tenements, their windows accessible to air out the abiding summer stink. Greco was out on bandage for some bearding bush abomination — allegedly bookmaking. A cop afterwards declared his acreage as one “where money is fabricated added calmly than by administration a shovel.” Two barter were central the café. As Greco lit a cigarette, four shots were fired. Two hit him in the head, and he was asleep moments afterwards he hit the ground. The shooter, or shooters, vanished.

Police address was aloof a few blocks away, on Centre Street, so the cops allegedly showed up fast, but there wasn’t abundant for them to go on. One of the two barter had anchored the moment the shots were fired; the added had ashore about to accomplishment his drink, but he claimed that he hadn’t apparent what happened. Abutting aperture at 12 Prince, Pauline Cosenza (age 49) and her nine accouchement (ages 7 through 25) watched from the windows of their $28-a-month apartment.

One of the aboriginal cameras on the arena was captivated by Arthur Fellig, who was acceptable acclaimed as a columnist columnist (and columnist hound) below the name Weegee. He lived nearby, over a gun boutique abaft badge headquarters, and aback the account of the Prince Artery assassination came over the radio, he had aloof formed out of bed and into his ’38 Chevy, planning to, as he put it, “take a nice little ride and assignment up an appetite.”

What bent his absorption aback he acclimatized was not the anatomy in a aperture but the surrounding animal drama, abnormally the accommodation families upstairs. He’d already been one of those kids himself, aloof a few blocks from here, and he knew that they saw it like a cops-and-robbers movie, or maybe a barbaric opera. He stepped aback — “about a hundred feet,” he said — and set off a blinding access of beam powder, an anachronous way of authoritative a account but the abandoned one that would ablaze up bisected the block. He’d abstruse how to do this 20 years before, as an amateur flat photographer, aback aback there was no such affair as a flashbulb.

Weegee blue-blooded the account Balcony Seats at a Murder, and the abutting day it ran in the Post. Afresh he awash it to Life, where, the afterwards week, it ran forth with addition photo he’d shot. He kept a archetype of the analysis butt he got from Time Inc., which apprehend TWO MURDERS: $35.00.

The cops never begin out who asleep Greco, and those men milling about in the photo accept connected aback abutting him in the abundant beyond. But Vito Cosenza, who was admiral at 12 Prince, was 7 then, and he’s 82 now, active in New Jersey. He doesn’t bethink abundant about that night; he was young, and his ancestors are mostly gone, so there’s cipher to ask. But he remembers actuality in Life. “There’s a little face on the third floor, adorable out,” he says. “That’s me.”


My sister and I, we were advancing out of this bistro on the Lower East Ancillary alleged the World. At that time, Alphabet Burghal was absolutely scary, but we were from Bushwick, so we were like, “We’ll aloof be aware.” It was about three or four in the morning, and we were dressed aloof in these spandex pants and boots with fringe, and tiny, tiny tops. But afresh a algid advanced hit New York, and we don’t accept coats, and we didn’t accept any money to get on the train. “It’s not that bad, we’ll aloof airing over the bridge.” And all these guys are blockage us out and we were affectionate of naïve. We thought, They’ll leave us abandoned if we act like lesbians. We weren’t slobbering on anniversary added or activity anniversary added up. Aloof walking arm-in-arm, shivering. But we were accepting all this exceptionable attention, and we were terrified. Aback we hit Third, we see these two white guys arise out, and one is dressed in this ratted-tatted leopard-fur coat, and they attending aerial as hell. They’re like, “Hi, girls. Whatcha doing? You should be accurate on these streets, two girls like that.” And I go, “But we’re acting like lesbians.” And they started bedlam at us, and they go, “Okay, well, we’re two queens. It’s perfect, let’s airing together.” And I attending bottomward at the guy’s hand, and he has a able vial, a able aqueduct in his hand. My sister thinks fast. She says, “I would pay annihilation for a covering appropriate now.” And the guy in the fur covering says, “Really? How abundant do you accept on you?” “Five dollars.” “It’s yours.” And he took off his fur covering and gave it to my sister. “Lovely chatting with you ladies. Bye!” We were arise up, but we had a coat. She took one arm, I took the other, and we absolved home over the arch with it.


When I was 18, in 1892 … I begin employment, at what at the time was admired as a absolute acceptable salary, in the Fulton Angle Market. I acclimatized $12 a week. I arise for assignment at four o’clock in the morning and at three o’clock in the morning on Friday … The acute agency merchant was the man who had a ability in beforehand of either a balance or a scarcity. Allotment of my job was the use of a brace of able abyssal glasses from the roof of the angle bazaar in adjustment to aces out the fishing smacks of the agile operated by my administration as they angry out of Buttermilk Channel into the lower East River. A low abstract was a big catch. Benumbed aerial on the acme of the beachcomber meant failure, and as it was accepted to the owners of the business breadth anniversary accurate accurately was operating, so additionally was the burden known. — from Up to Now: An Autobiography, by Alfred E. Smith


I acclimated to be a New York Burghal badge officer, for 15 years. I formed in Hell’s Kitchen in the ’90s during the 6 p.m.–to–early morning shift. One night, a guy approved to accomplish suicide by jumping from his fifth-floor window. I was on patrol, and I saw it in my rearview window. I heard the thud, and I was like, “Oh my God!” I alarm the ambulance, I go over to the guy, and he gets up! And I’m like, “Stay down!” And he’s like, “No, no, I can’t be here,” and he starts to airing away. I had to breach with him all night long. I abstruse that he was a professor, and he had aloof gotten a terminal-illness analysis that day, and his wife larboard him, and he absent his job — all on the aforementioned day! So he absitively that was too much. He approved to booty pills, but he anesthetized out, and he woke up throwing them up. He approved to cut his wrists, but allegedly he didn’t go abysmal enough, and he aloof anesthetized out again. He was adorable for a gun, but his wife took it aback she larboard him. So he jumped. The acceptable account is, ten years later, I ran into him on the train, and he told me he’s fine.

Darkness gives awning to those complex in actionable activities — and to the cops and prosecutors aggravating to bolt them. As the avant-garde badge force developed at the about-face of the 20th century, the NYPD adopted “midnight raid” tactics: accommodating assaults that attack to bolt ample numbers of high-profile perps off guard, in the act, and aloof in time to accomplish the affidavit the abutting morning. Below, a sampling of the city’s best amazing and abominable midnight raids.

1902The Canfield Raid

December 1, 1902, was “a night of amazing activity in the Bohemian activity of the city,” arise the Times. D.A. William Travers Jerome abashed adjoin Richard Canfield, “King of Gamblers,” at his acclaimed bank collective at 5 East 44th Street. As badge bashed their way into Canfield’s silk-walled alcazar with axes, barter at adjacent Delmonico’s leapt from their tables to attestant the excitement. Canfield greeted the badge graciously, cogent them, “I do not absolutely appetence the address in which you come, but I shall extend every address the abode affords.” His amenities ran out aback admiral fabricated their way to a fourth-floor closet abounding with roulette auto and poker tables.

1919Palmer Raids

On November 7, 1919, 24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover masterminded a night of raids on doubtable adopted radicals. The epicenter was the Russian People’s House, at 133 East 15th Street. Cops abounding the building, arresting an English chichi and arresting 200 people. Law administration additionally bedeviled several trucks abounding of antipathetic literature, affirmation of what Hoover and his DoJ boss, A. Mitchell Palmer, claimed was a cabal to abolish the U.S. government. Palmer’s abode had been austere the antecedent June, and, aloof three weeks above-mentioned to the raid, leaflets calling for “bloody revolution” had blanketed the East Village.

1927‘Sex’: The Play

After finishing a achievement of her comedy Sex on the atramentous of February 9, 1927, Mae West, forth with her casting and crew, was arrested and answerable with obscenity. The play, about a prostitute angling for a flush husband, had already completed added than 300 performances, apparent by an estimated 325,000 people. According to acknowledged documents, one acumen for the arrest was that she casting absolute gay men instead of the accepted amphitheater “female impersonators.” West knew a photo befalling aback she saw one: She acclimatized in a white limo to serve her ten-day book and afterwards claimed she’d beat silks in jail.

1930Hip-Flask Raid

During Prohibition, New Yorkers became acclimatized to badge busting bottomward doors of speakeasies. But bodies were afraid on April 25, 1930, aback Prohibition admiral went so far as to arrest assemblage — in atramentous clothes! — during a arrest of the Hollywood on Broadway and 48th Street. The Hollywood wasn’t a speakeasy but a club breadth barter could accompany their own liquor, appropriately the name “hip-flask raid.” Eleven were arrested, including a stockbroker, three allowance men, two bandage brokers, and an engineer. Several protested that the badge had broke their dates. An administrator testified that he’d accepted whom to arrest by addition their drinks — admitting he took “just a sip.”

1936The Arrest That Brought Bottomward Lucky Luciano

The atrophy of the belled bandit began with a massive arrest on Brooklyn and Manhattan brothels organized by prosecutor and approaching governor Thomas Dewey. On the night of February 2, 1936, badge broke 200 houses that were believed to apply up to 2,000 women and gross as abundant as $24 amateur a year. It was an amazing operation, bristles months in the making. To abstain leaks, admiral were abandoned told of the affairs that day, and were beatific to accomplish arrests in groups, with warrants kept bankrupt until they arrived. The 87 arrested were captivated with almighty aerial bandage in an accomplishment to get them to affirm adjoin their employer.

1981Gotham Discothèque

There was no hotter club in the summer of 1981 than Gotham, at 226 East 54th Street. That may accept had commodity to do with the actuality that, as badge said, it was “a biologic supermarket.” Aback cops broke in appropriate afore midnight on November 4, they saw, in the words of one reporter, “a blast of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and hundreds of pills hit the brawl floor.” Three hundred and seventy-five assemblage and some staff, including several teens, were arrested for low-level misdemeanors. It was the acme of one of the ancient campaigns adjoin “quality of life” crimes.


In the summer of 2001, I absitively to airing home every night, no bulk what time it was or what shoes I was wearing. Best of my accompany lived in lower Manhattan — some in Williamsburg and Esplanade Slope — but no one lived abreast me, on the Aerial West Side. The Brooklynites teased me for actuality adorned aback their own neighborhoods were starting to breach out in bespoke condos hewn from abashed goji berries. It’s not like I was active in Panic in Needle Esplanade myself, but at atomic my amplitude of Columbus featured a bodega (now a kids’ shoe store), a Thai abode (now a Magnolia Bakery), and a controllable able aficionado who sometimes slept in my antechamber (a Winnie-the-Pooh T-shirt pulled over her knees). It was a acceptable neighborhood. Or acceptable enough. Best every Manhattan adjacency in 2001 was acceptable enough.

Maybe it was the abridgement and maybe it was the anatomical airs of a 23-year-old, but I acquainted somehow taken affliction of by the city. Safe. I would airing in the dark, axis over the night’s events, advantageous myself with a allotment at Big Nick’s at 4 a.m. My greatest abhorrence was that my poor faculty of administration would become so affronted by alcohol, I’d wind up four avenues out of my way and accept to pay for a auto home.

Walking up from the East Village presented no botheration — one filigree gives way to another. The West Side, meanwhile, was abounding of markers: If you can see the river, you’ve gone too far; if you can see the neon assurance for Florent, you’re on the appropriate track; if you can see stilettoed women benumbed over cobblestones, laugh. Walking from Chinatown was tricky. I’d abstain troughs of amber and jackfruit, actuality loaded in or loaded out depending on the time. By Houston, I’d accept my bearings. I’d canyon below connected stretches of flush bodies sleeping in Soho, comatose in acceptance at my adolescent nightcrawlers — mostly drunks and insomniacs.

Finally, I’d hit Central Esplanade South: the aperture to home. The Time Warner Centermost hadn’t been congenital yet, so the caliginosity citizenry was different: men in apparel advancing from CNN, ladies in pajama pants walking their dogs, teenagers active into the park. Aback the pads of my anxiety burned, I would airing barefoot forth the park, bent on the hexagonal pavement. Alike from a antibody perspective, I didn’t anticipate annihilation bad was activity to happen.

And afresh commodity bad happened. During which my walking became an impossibility. Burghal was about quarantined, and alike if it hadn’t been, I didn’t appetence to see the burghal in this blazon of dark. I shut my window to accumulate out the acerbic smell. How did the aroma get all the way up here? I took a tiny abundance in picturing the wind alarming up the island, academic the paths it could take. All those blocks were still there. If it could get up, I could go aback down.


I was bed-making my own clothes at a absolute aboriginal age, and I acclimated to sew these things and get into Flat 54. I additionally knew one of the allotment owners, so if I didn’t get in on my own strength, I would aloof say to the doorman, this attractive albino guy at the door, who was a pseudo-celebrity himself, “Hey, could you alarm Jack Dushey?” and abnormal afterwards they would let me in. But I usually got in because I was outlandishly dressed. I was 15. And aback you’re 15, you’re omnipotent. Like nothing’s activity to annihilate you. Somehow, if you had the aplomb to aloof airing up to the door, you’d get in. And I looked abundant earlier than I was, because for one thing, I was cutting all these crazy clothes and architecture and stuff, and you would never accept estimated that I was a teenager. I was the baron of the group, because I had this behemothic amber Cadillac the admeasurement of a tank. And one night, this would be 1977, I was active my accompany home at like four in the morning, cloudburst rain, and I had assuredly abandoned everybody off, and I was authoritative a appropriate on the West Ancillary Highway in the 70s. And the car aloof stopped, dead. I didn’t alike anticipate about it. I aloof got out of the car, bankrupt the door, hailed a taxi, took a cab home, and went to sleep. Because I was like, “Well, what the hell am I declared to do about this?” I woke up the abutting day, and I went aback there with my uncle to jump it, and the car was still there, absolutely intact, not alike a admission on it. It was shocking. Like today, you’d allegedly be befuddled in bastille or something.


El Topo, Alejandro Jodorowsky


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Un Chien Andalou, Luis Buñuel

Freaks, Tod Browning

Targets, Peter Bogdanovich

Night of the Active Dead, George A. Romero

Blood Feast, Herschell Gordon Lewis


Pink Flamingos, John Waters

Barbarella, Roger Vadim

Putney Swope, Robert Downey Sr.

Just Afore Nightfall, Claude Chabrol

Bananas, Woody Allen

Everything You Consistently Basic to Apperceive About Sex* (But Were Afraid to Ask), Woody Allen

Gimme Shelter, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin

A Thousand Clowns, Fred Coe

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Norman Jewison

Casablanca, Michael Curtiz

The Maltese Falcon, John Huston

Little Caesar, Mervyn Leroy

Play It Again, Sam, Woody Allen

What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, Woody Allen

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Stanley Kramer

The Cocoanuts, Robert Florey, Joseph Santley

Horse Feathers, Norman Z. McLeod

Duck Soup, Leo McCarey

Monkey Business, Howard Hawks


The Betty Boop Scandals of 1974, Fleischer Studios


Phantom of the Paradise, Brian De Palma

The Harder They Come, Perry Henzell

Space Is the Place, John Coney

Caged Heat, Jonathan Demme


Gums, Robert J. Kaplan

Eraserhead, David Lynch

Reefer Madness, Louis J. Gasnier

The Rocky Horror Account Show, Jim Sharman


We’d hit the clubs, and I’d be the plant. The accord was that he’d insult some women. And he’d say commodity like, “If there’s a woman who has a botheration with this, afresh she should aloof arise up here, and I’ll account her if she wrestles me down!” So that was my cue to battle him bottomward to the ground. I was so afraid about this because he would absolutely activity me. He didn’t accept in pretending, so he airtight me around. It was allotment of a bit, but it was real. Andy wasn’t strong, but I had to accept two whiskeys afore we did this. Oh, I aloof admired Andy so much.


All-nighters are allotment of animate on Bank Artery — anybody from the greenest analysts to the top admiral has to cull them from time to time. But for across traders, it’s a way of life. Eight p.m. actuality is the aperture alarm in Tokyo, and London opens at 3 a.m. New York time, a agenda that’s abnormally difficult in a crisis. In September 1992, the batter plunged adjoin the dollar. “The aeon started in the average of the night,” remembers Robert Johnson, afresh a managing administrator at George Soros’s barrier fund. “At 3 a.m., London opened. Afresh you battery and go to the appointment at 5:30 a.m., and breach through 4:15 p.m., aback the barter closes. You allocution on the buzz to Australia and New Zealand in the car aback out to Connecticut, afresh you sit and watch Tokyo until their lunchtime,” or 11 p.m. here.

This went on for days. Backward at night, Johnson would abbey himself in his appointment at his abode in Connecticut, amidst by a Reuters terminal, a Bloomberg terminal, a fax machine, assorted landlines, a treadmill, and a mini-gym. “You get these fight-or-flight moments watching the market,” Johnson said. “You had to bake off some of that activity or abroad your arrangement would go haywire.” So he would get on his bike and watch the currencies move. He would lift weights cat-and-mouse for a buzz call. But he wouldn’t booze booze to booty the bend off. “Alcohol is absolute adamantine on your system, not aloof because of how it distorts your judgment, but because of the inflammation,” he said. “Experienced traders accomplished me to consistently booze lots of water, because you get acerbic in the abdomen from the stress.”

But it’s not aloof crises that accumulate traders up all hours; it’s opportunity. “There are times during the approved banal aback the bazaar is absolutely thin,” Johnson said, because during a New York trader’s afternoon, the European traders are all offline. “London hours were absolute aqueous admitting — in London, you could activity ample positions added easily,” because the Brits (and the Germans and the French and the Swiss …) are all at assignment at the aforementioned time. “Being a bill banker in Arctic America is absolutely affectionate of a affliction in the ass.”

But it pays off, or at atomic it did for Johnson. On September 16, 1992, aback the batter devalued, Soros’s armamentarium abundantly fabricated added than a billion in a distinct day, or night, as it were.


The hand-delivered allure was a velvet-wrapped VHS tape. Bristles account and 42 abnormal long, the video had Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Ananda Lewis, Todd Oldham, Veronica Webb, Ben Stiller, Pauly Shore, Derek Jeter, and dozens of added ’90s luminaries hyping Puff Daddy’s 29th-birthday affair on November 4, 1998. Chris Rock said to leave your aggregation at home, Magic Johnson instructed guests to access at 10 p.m. on the dot, and Will Smith directed bodies to a 212 cardinal in adjustment to RSVP for the abstruse location. “It’s gonna be all that,” cooed Tyra Banks.

Not surprisingly, chat got out. (In fact, this annual printed the RSVP number.) And on the night of the party, bags of ambitious crashers aggregate (and chanted “We shall overcome!”) abaft badge barricades alfresco Cipriani Bank Street, while Peggy Siegal and Paul Wilmot captivated bottomward the door. Inside, anybody danced on the $50,000 Lucite brawl attic to tunes from DJs Kid Capri and Mark Ronson, as the brand “PD” were projected assimilate the walls. The accounted $600,000 fin de siècle blast was outrageous, but it additionally adumbrated the acme of so abounding abolitionist shifts: a reorientation of New York association about abundance and celebrity, the abounding mainstreaming of hip-hop culture, the desegregation of nightlife, a anniversary of balance that would breach with us until the banking crisis. Puffy was authoritative a account — that a rapper built-in in a apartment activity in Harlem could bandy a affair as abundant as annihilation Mrs. Vanderbilt could accept put together, and that Minnie Disciplinarian and Mark Wahlberg ability accept to delay alfresco in the algid to get in.

At about 2 a.m., afterwards a affecting access by Muhammad Ali and his entourage, the DJ austere the brawl floor, and Puff Daddy acclimatized cutting a light-gray three-piece clothing and shouting to the crowd: “All the columnist off the brawl floor. Leave my bodies alone.” By his people, he meant Martha Stewart and Missy Elliott; Serena Boardman and Ron Perelman and Timbaland and Derek Jeter and Donald Trump and Ma$e; Francis Ford Coppola and Lil’ Kim and Sarah Ferguson and Henry Winkler and Donna Karan and Jay Z, all partying together.   


Everything in K-Town is accessible all night. I’ve had abounding nights breadth I had one too abounding drinks, stumbled around, had abundant aliment at four in the morning, and absolutely went for a spa analysis afterward. If you airing bottomward 32nd Street, you’ll see ads for spas, and they’re not that … they’re for real. You can get a facial, sauna, beef room, the accomplished nine. It’s never happened on purpose, by design. It’s consistently four in the morning, and you’re like, “Now what? Let’s go in the bath for a while.”


An extract from “The Passing of Brooklyn,” a composition apprehend by Will Carleton aloft the midnight break of Manhattan’s addition of the boroughs on the accomplish of what had absolute afresh been Brooklyn’s Burghal Hall.

When Father Time, the white grave

garments bringing,

Sharpens his scythe with twelve strokes

loudly ringing,

“You with me charge die!”

Then will the maid, with her azure

eyes seeming,

Not with dismay, but with

wonderment gleaming

Ask the apple “Why?

“Is it that far from ascetic Commerce’s molling

I accept congenital homes for the weary and toiling?

Windows accept fabricated breadth the

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welcome-lamp glistened,

Music, for which the affection agilely listened?

Pleasures whose anamnesis aperitive existence,

E’en in yon burghal that frowned in the distance?

Homes that let application footfall to measures

of lightness,

Hearths that fabricated night accompany a vision

of ­brightness,

E’en bottomward from the sky?

If afresh the benefaction with such casework mated,

Is it but to cost the homes I created,

If as accolade for in home-craft excelling,

I charge be proffered the tomb for thy dwelling,

Then, sadly, I die! […]

This is not death, but a additional creation;

Greater New York is your new incarnation;

You are no corse, fit for tears or for pity;

You are the anatomy of the abundant advancing city;

Higher than anytime shall flash your position—

Greater and above than over your mission!

Rich with the gems of your

home-crested highlands,

You shall accomplish august this array of islands

Crowned with a burghal of toilers and sages

Greater than anytime was accepted to accomplished ages;


“This unremarkable-looking architecture … a black, metal door, and the words ‘Private Club — Associates Only’ … This was the aperture that afar you from the demands and preoccupations that fabricated up your life, for aback you entered the Mineshaft, you larboard the apple behind,” wrote Leo Cardini in Mineshaft Nights, a accumulating of belief about the coiled gay sex club founded by a aloft amphitheater date administrator alleged Wally Wallace in 1976 (and backed by the Genovese abomination family). It active a architecture at 835 Washington Artery until it bankrupt bottomward in 1985. “It was a fable of the 1970s,” says Michael Kester, an amateur and aloft bartender. Al Pacino came in one night to analysis his role in Cruising; Rock Hudson abandoned by; Rudolph Nureyev already was banned access because he wouldn’t coat-check his fur. “It was the best abominable gay sex club of its time — the fastest, hardest and, cartel I say, best desperate.”

Michael Denneny, book editor: In ’69, the Stonewall insurgence hit us like a bomb. Suddenly, our animal appetence was ravenous. Adorable for sex wasn’t commodity you did occasionally — it was a way to be in this new gay burghal we were creating alongside to the “real” city.

Mayo Roe, aloft buyer of the Paris Commune restaurant: I accept goose bumps appropriate now from memories of the abundant accompany I met there, the boys I fucked, pissed on, slapped around, and took home.

At the top of the stairs, there was a assurance that apprehend “Mineshaft Dress Code: Approved Are Aeon and Western Gear, Levis, T-Shirts, Uniforms, Jock Straps, Plaid and Plain Shirts, Club Patches, Overlays and Sweat NO Cologne or Perfume or Designer Sweaters; NO Suits, Ties, Dress Pants or Jackets; NO Rugby Styled Shirts or Disco Drag; NO Coats in the Playground; NO Lacost[e] Alligator Shirts.”

Kester: I was finishing my bulk in amphitheater at Burghal Academy and basic to assignment in the best abandoned covering bar in the city. I started on the coat, or clothes, check, and afresh I was animate the door. On the weekends, there were hundreds of guys, ten or 15 on the stairs, cat-and-mouse to get in. If addition showed up who you anticipation was absolutely hot, you could acquaint him to booty all his clothes off so you could see him naked, alike if he was dressed correctly. Hardly anyone refused.

Edmund White, novelist: In the backward ’70s, it was chichi to be gay. A lot of beeline men were claiming to be bi. A acquaintance who was in with the Andy Warhol army told me that Andy acclimated to go to the Mineshaft on the evenings aback there was a bottom club. Andy admired to lick guys’ feet.

Kester: One night Mick Jagger showed up with Jerry Anteroom in tow, but I couldn’t let them in because women weren’t allowed. I told him absolute quietly, “Oh my God, I would do annihilation for you, but I can’t let you in because of her!” I alleged a bartender at the Eagle [a adjacent covering bar] and told him they basic to analysis out the gay covering scene. He said, “Send them over. They can sit at the bar and booze for an hour.” Robert Mapplethorpe was a regular, consistently in abounding leather. He wasn’t acclaimed yet. He met a lot of the leather-men he photographed at the Mineshaft.

Upstairs there was a Western-style bar in the capital room. The walls were corrective black, the windows were boarded up, the red lighting was dim. There was a basin table off the bar area, with stools for sitting and posts for aptitude — “Western” style.

Kester: Wally played disco, Broadway musicals, and opera. A lot of guys in abounding covering would angle about up there talking about who they heard at the Met aftermost night and what affectionate of quiche they fabricated while all these attractive guys were accepting sex.

Keith McDermott, actor: I was consistently chiefly aflame to get in the door, aflame and scared. My absolute anatomy would be trembling. I would accept anticipation about it all day, bathrobe for it and planning what appearance I was activity to be. I consistently affected to be a altered sex persona, and I consistently gave my name as Pete Marshall.

Kester: A alleyway led to the aback allowance — “the Playground” — which had slings for fisting and plywood cubicles with celebrity holes. I was on drugs about every night I was working: mostly grass, coke, alike mescaline or LSD. I would say 90 percent of the guys were on drugs. Everybody had their own thing. It depended on what affectionate of sex you basic to have.

White: I bethink one night actuality in the aback allowance and seeing a naked man cutting a collar who absurd he was a dog. He would arise out from this aphotic bend that was his “doghouse” and chaw bodies on the ankle, and afresh his buyer would whip him aback into the corner. In the average of the Playground were the stairs bottomward to the basement — the “shaft” to the “mine.”

Kester: There was a allowance in the basement covered in tiles and with a cesspool in the floor. Aback the architecture was acclimated for meatpacking, I assumption it was breadth they afraid up the carcasses and let the claret out. That was breadth the bathtub was — guys would get into it to get pissed on. Aback you formed there, if you had to pee, you aloof went over there and peed on someone. It wasn’t applied to go admiral to the bathroom, which was begrimed anyway.

McDermott: Aback you basic to explain the Mineshaft, you would say, “It has this bathtub and addition is consistently in it and guys piss on them.” And bodies would say, “Oh my God! That absolutely is a avant-garde place.” If the Mineshaft had a logo, it would accept been the bathtub.

Kester: The club backward accessible at atomic till 6 a.m. Aback the lights came on, you consistently begin shoes, hats, erect rings, gloves, alike pairs of pants. Bodies would aloof bits on the floor, mostly in corners breadth you wouldn’t footfall in it. The Mineshaft was absolutely a disease-ridden abode … I larboard in 1979 because I got hepatitis B. AIDS came a abbreviate time later, but it didn’t bore in for a year or two, and the activity was still heavy. My aboriginal acquaintance died in ’79. Absolute quickly, one acquaintance afterwards addition started accepting sick. It seemed like the fisting guys were the aboriginal ones — they had been the best extreme. But all the guys in the covering arena went in one allotment in the ’80s … What adored me is that I abandoned fabricated it with guys 20 years earlier than me. If you didn’t accept a aberrant sex affair like that, or like actuality alone a top, you got aids and died. All of my abutting accompany died, I mean, all of them.

The anniversary afterwards his reelection in 1985, Mayor Ed Koch appear a crackdown on the city’s bartering gay sex venues, starting with the Mineshaft. The New York Post awning apprehend AIDS DEN DISCOVERED.

McDermott: If there had been no AIDS, all that Mineshaft agitation would accept ailing and afresh things would accept acclimatized down. I don’t anticipate we would accept kept activity until the accomplished planet was fisting!


I started out in the heyday of hip-hop, so I’ve run out of added clubs from battery and fights than anybody in the world, I think. I’ve additionally run out of clubs because actuality articulate like gunfire. A firecracker. Somebody’s knee could accept popped and I would accept ran out of there. It doesn’t accept to be battery — I’ve apparent bodies get hit in the arch with Champagne bottles. Bodies are gonna run out of there if there’s a fight. Girls will aloof run. Shoes on the floor. Some of the clubs are so big that the fights will aloof happen, and afresh it’ll be over and bodies will accumulate dancing. Meeting women, accepting a abundant time, accepting buzz numbers. That was our thing. Aback we took the alternation back, we would analyze how abounding numbers we got. And we were aggravating to get numbers while our girls were active out of the club. We didn’t care! We calmed them down, “It’s okay, it’s okay! What’s your buzz number? It’s gonna be okay, it’s okay, this happens all the time. Don’t anguish about it. What’s your buzz number? You can adhere out with me and my friends.”


I came out in 1963. I was 17. I had aloof accelerating from Convent of the Sacred Heart. I basic to attending like Audrey Hepburn — absolute simple. Instead, I got a dress from Gone With the Wind. But at atomic I got my way with my escort. I met him at a affair my aunt was giving in the courtyard at Barbetta. There were lots of these types of parties, afore the balls. Because the girls didn’t apperceive a lot of boys. We absolutely went from knee socks to a brawl gown. I asked Carty Saunders. Carlton Earl Saunders the Third. His mother was on the committee. And he was cute. He had gone to co-ed school, so he was with it.

Toward the end of dinner, they’d arise and assemblage us to a allowance for the presentation. The spotlight goes on you, and they comedy a little song: “New York, New York” or “Sidewalks of New York.” And they say: “Ms. Margaret Stewart, babe of the backward Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Stewart. New York, New York.” And afresh you accomplish your bow. And afresh the spotlight hits the abutting girl.

They had cherries ceremony at my advancing out. The bonfire commissioners won’t acquiesce that anymore. They came out with their chef’s hats on, at ambrosia time. And they fabricated a big alarum with all these ablaze abrading dishes. I’d never apparent cherries ceremony before. It was array of like — this is what happens aback you abound up.

Then, you brawl till dawn. And then, in the wee hours of the morning, you’d accept a breakfast that some of the parents abiding — eggs and sausage and bagels, appropriate there in the Astor. They’d comedy what we alleged disco — “The Twist,” songs like that. Aback I was up in the allowance afterward, in the Astor, accepting accessible to go to bed with Mama, I bethink adorable bottomward on Times Square. I saw some poor souls walking around, and I bethink activity sad because we’d had such fun.


I was with this guy, and it was two in the morning or something, and we were walking bottomward Fifth Avenue, the big advanced artery absolutely empty. In the ambit we see two added people, a man and a woman walking, and we were a little stoned. And, with no words at all, the woman advancing this way and I affective anniversary other’s hands, spun around, and afresh connected walking on our way.


Miles Davis lived at 279 for a cardinal of years. One of the aboriginal nights afterwards he’d abashed in, he came home rather late. He was appealing old, so I absolutely had to advice him out of the limo. I authority the architecture aperture accessible for him, and as anon as he comes in he aloof starts blame at my shins. I’m thinking, What could I accept done to accomplish him so mad? I was so confused. I said, “Sir, can I advice you with something?” He kept blame at my shins, but appealing slowly. “Do you charge something, sir?” I asked. With the raspiest voice, he asked, “Where’d ya get your shoes?” I absolutely do affliction about fashion; I’ve consistently been the best dressed in my building. I told him, “Saks.” Afresh he said, “Size 11 and a half, will ya get me a pair?”


When my mother was addition up in the city, in the 1940s and ’50s, summers took abode on tar beach. She and the added kids from the adjacency would absorb as abundant time as they could up on the roof of their accommodation on West 80th Street, breadth the blacktop got hot abundant to bake their bald feet. Sometimes they would booty lemonade for a makeshift barbecue in the adumbration of the baptize tower.

Water towers, aboriginal congenital in the 1880s as the burghal yearned angular adjoin its accepted proportions, accept consistently been appetizing propositions for kids. According to the 1903–5 address of the Accommodation Abode Administration of the Burghal of New York, the architecture were “liable to be broken, acceptance the access of dirt, refuse, and alike adolescent swimmers in the summer time.” My mother remembers them as “scary and cool,” and kids from the gangs would blow about pond in them. Her block was bedeviled by the Irish Cavaliers, who would booty over a rooftop to ambuscade their rivals from 84th Street. Her accessory Kenny, below behind than accident-prone, was acclaimed in the ancestors for falling from one of the architecture and breaking his arm.

I anticipation of Kenny recently, on a frigid February night at 10 p.m. aback I was waiting, at a mid-Manhattan breadth I can’t disclose, to accompany a accumulation of strangers for commodity alleged “Operation Birdbath,” created by the artisan N. D. Austin. At a little accomplished the appointed time, 20 bodies followed a adolescent women in a red fur covering and analogous crushed-velvet boots into a narrow, characterless appointment building, breadth we were instructed to move bound and abide quiet. There was a discharge aback the elevator chock-full — “Office aperture accessible on two,” our adviser abreast anxiously into her angle — but we connected afterwards adventure to the eighth floor, breadth we got out and absolved the four actual flights to the roof. A ladder had been placed adjoin the parapet, the razor wire shoved aside, and we climbed over to the adjoining roof, breadth a brace of baptize architecture adequate on 25-foot stilts. One was aphotic and quiet, but the added gave off an orange glow, forth with the aside strains of Bessie Smith’s “Back Baptize Blues.” A all-a-quiver addendum ladder led to a trapdoor in the tower’s base, accessory with icicles.

Inside, Austin and his aggregation had angry the anachronistic belfry into a Jacuzzi, with the advice of some abundant artificial sheeting, a sump pump, and a heater. Beef rose from the tub; votive candles guttered on bootleg board shelves; and a bird-cage candelabra active by a blimp accuser affected overhead, decrepit wax on the guests. The band, a violinist and bass amateur dressed in what looked like 19th-century aching apparel (the actor bass had been brought in through the roof), played Tom Waits covers from a alarmingly tiny stage. Champagne was served — a amphibian affliction amalgamation additionally independent a auto martini in a canteen bottle, a light-up elastic avoid and a brace of baptize wings — but there was a little hesitation. It was adamantine to feel air-conditioned abundant for the space. An agent explained his Ellsworth Kelly tattoo, while a affable emergency-room doctor confided the name of a celebrity he’d afresh arresting dead. A arresting adolescent woman in a altered bikini alien herself: “I’m a artery artist! I acrylic vaginas!”

Austin disputes the abstraction that the burghal has become brusque to artists. In fact, the bulk of absentee buying is allotment of what makes his assignment possible. “Everyone says New York is over,” he told me. “I absolutely don’t anticipate that’s the case. It’s still accessible to do this actuality in the average of New York City.” Austin doesn’t anticipate of breach as capital to his work, but it’s absolutely a allotment of the appeal. His email allurement advertised the accessible dangers: “This acquaintance may accommodate coarse actuality like asbestos, icy stairwells, absolute alpine ladders … adventitious of arrest. You apperceive the drill; this is risky.”

It would accept been the accident — afresh as now — that absorbed my mother’s accessory up the ladder. What did it feel like to grab assimilate a rung, abrasive with flakes of blight and pigeon splat, booty a fistful of the burghal and cull yourself up? What if the abandoned accessories to almanac your “experience” (which no one, surely, would accept referred to in that way) were the lungs of the kids below you? Ken-ny. Ken-ny. Ken-ny. What was a burst arm, compared with that?

Interviews of Matthew Broderick, Bebe Buell, Dick Cavett, Daniel Dae Kim, Lydia Lunch, Isaac Mizrahi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Perez, Colin Quinn, J.B. Smoove, and David Zayas by Jennifer Vineyard. Laurie Anderson interviewed by Jamie Sharpe; Alec Baldwin interviewed by Bennett Marcus; Lee Quinones interviewed by Matt Giles; and Sarah Silverman interviewed by Adrienne Gaffney.

Additional advertisement by Matthew Giles, Jennifer Kirby, Alex Ronan, Katy Schneider, and Katie Van Syckle.

*This commodity appears in the March 23, 2015 affair of New York Magazine.

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