Photography: © Marcia Resnick from her new book, “Punks, Poets and Provocateurs”
This Thursday, everybody who’s anybody will gather at the new Roxy Hotel, 2 Avenue of the Americas, to relive the Mudd Club experience. The event, put together by former Mudd Club owner Steve Mass, will benefit the Bowery Mission Women’s Center and feature co-hosts Glenn O’brien, Maripol and my pal Paul Sevigny.
Paul, who’s Paul’s Baby Grand is the best joint in town, no comparison, no debate, usually avoids the spotlight, but he enthusiastically told me all about this event. I asked him why he was involved and he spoke to me in his usual “one hundred words per second with an in-between chuckle” manner. He said something like this: “Everybody knows the Mudd Club was the best place ever. Even Donald Trump would say that. Everybody says it. My father went there and told me all about it.He said it was the best place ever.”
Maybe it was. When nightlife writers offer those “best clubs ever” lists, the Mudd is always top tier. The host committee includes Victoria Bartlett, Richard Boch, Jeffery Deitch, Eric Goode, Kim Gordon, Deborah Harry, Kim Hastreiter, David Herskovitz, Darryl Kerrigan, Humberton Leon, Debbi Mazar, Patrick McMullan, Robert Molnar, Lisa Rosen, Lola Montes Schnabel, Kate Simon, Anna Sui, threeASFOUR and Linda Yablonsky. There will be live performances by Kate Pierson and Pat Irwin of the B-52’s and Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group. Special unannounced guests are also promised and I think its going to be historical. Tickets are $200 and can be purchased here.
I shouldn’t have ever been allowed into the Mudd Club—I was’t that cool, but my friend’s drug dealer was there and we had to meet him; he got us in and I’d never seen anything like it. I worked every angle and every connection to be part of it, until suddenly, I was. I don’t know why I was chosen, but the door people saw something in me that I wasn’t aware of and years later when I was at the doors of my clubs I looked at the unlikely with more forgiving eyes.
The music from David Azark, Anita Sarko, Johnny Dynell and Justin Strauss was everything I ever needed and little that I had ever expected. Steve Mass and his cohorts curator Diego Cortez and no wave scenester Anya Philips were always changing the game—the look, the feel, the sound. It was an era when you didn’t need to know what was going on. You came for the club and crow—not the famed DJ of the moment.
The girls were all “it” girls and the dudes cooler than any I knew back in Queens. I’d say “hi” to Keith Haring; I’d chat up a distraught Jonny Lydon in the bathroom, I watched a stadium level rock star have sex, not in a corner, but right there in the light of night; I scored with women way out of my league; I’d leave and come back, rinse and repeat. I was always confused whether I was cool and therefore allowed into the nightclub or cool simply because I got into the nightclub.
I never slept again; I had most meals within walking distance of the White Street joint. I slept with a different person every night. It destroyed me; it made me. Suddenly, I had to get upstairs, since that was where everyone in my world clamored to be. Chi Chi Valenti womened the ropes and my best clothes didn’t work. I couldn’t sneak in with a more worthy person, so I dressed the way I dressed normally: ripped jeans, Keds and a Ramones tee. I brought a perfect red rose and bowed my head as I acknowledged the goddess Chi Chi, and I was hooked in nightlife forever. That was the moment when I became Steve Lewis and Chi Chi always laughs when I remind her.
Richard Boch, one of the door persons who let me in, described the Mudd to me: “I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the ‘scene of the crime’—always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended, the day before never happened and the day after—a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle.”
Richard and all the other door people were curators of a mixed bag of nuts that included a sprinkling of celebrities: Bowie, Lauren Hutten, Basquiet, Debbie Harry, Alan Ginsbug—you get the idea. The fashion designers were there, the rockstars, the hookers, the druggies and the pretty ones. The door people had to be ruthless; for every person that got in, three or four did not, yet when you got to know them they were the sweetest of souls. If I close my eyes I can see Marianne Faithfull singing through Laryngitis, while I balanced another rock star who was standing on my shoulders and hanging onto a pole.
The Mudd Club experience is also a Rummage Sale, featuring the coolest downtown things all donated by the coolest of downtown royalty to help the Bowery Mission. I think it’s going to be the downtown event of the year and that’s saying a lot. The generation that made Mudd and Danceteria and Area don’t gather en masse very often, but when they do watch out. They know how to party like it’s 1979.
Some fortune cookie once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, photographer Marcia Resnick has been snapping thousands of pictures for a minute or so, and offered us these words: “The Mudd Club years were enchanted, endangered and unrepeatable.”