I had never been to Club 57 before. It was at 57 St. Marks Place, ergo the creative name. It was a dark, non-descript, East Village step down. At least it seemed so at the time: In a positive step towards cool I was instructed to not wear my glasses, so nothing was really clear. Seeing clearly is obviously un-cool and unnecessary. The blurry faces have all revealed themselves in time. Artists Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf were regulars and probably there. Performance artist and actress Ann Magnuson was the DJ. And someone named John Sex…well, how do you describe John Sex? John was like something out of a John Waters’ film. Part performance artist, part tongue in cheek stripper and part snake handler. He also had a blond quiff that reached for the stars. That thing must have been at least a foot tall. Size was important to John.
Someone hands me a beer. I take a big sip of foam which gets stuck in my throat causing me to cough all over Priscilla. She sarcastically thanks me in a voice with no emotion followed by an eye-roll. She had seen it all and I still had one foot in the suburbs. It was somewhere about this time that I realized I was REALLY going to have to get on that stage…in front of people…without a drum set in front of me. Another swig of beer would help settle my frayed nerves. This time I avoided the foam and just chugged.
There were prizes that night too. Win, place or show, there was something for everybody. 3rd place was a drink ticket. 2nd place was a copy of ‘Elvis’ Greatest Hits’, which, being a record store geek, I already owned. 1st place was a cheesy velvet Elvis rug purchased on 14th street. Most people wanted the drink ticket. Priscilla cooed with delight at the rug. I wanted the LP, knowing I could re-sell it and buy something I didn’t own. I was obviously the most practical one in the crowd, something which has always stood in my path in the noble pursuit of cool.
© Curt Weiss 2014