Dear Shaded Viewers,
A year ago, Ann Magnuson performed at MoMA with a show that combined live music (Bongwater, Bowie and songs from her latest album Dream Girl) with her films and videos —including a montage of dream sequences from some of her favorite movies—oh, and she sang “The Porpoise Song” from The Monkees film Head!
She also announced that in just a little over a year—on Halloween, in fact—MoMA would open an exhibition dedicated to Club 57 (where she was a manager, party host, DJ and performer), and I was over the moon….but it seemed like such a looooooong time away! After much anticipation, the night finally, FINALLY arrived—and what a night it was!
Truth be told, I was too young to have attended Club 57, which ran from 1978–1983, but I was a regular at many clubs that were influenced by 57, from 1985 onward: The Pyramid Club, King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut, Danceteria, The World, Siberia, Palladium, Boy Bar, Tunnel, Mars and Jackie 60.
The exhibition catalogue for Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983 describes the scene thusly: “New York’s East Village was alive with artistic activity in the 1970s and ’80s, fueled by low rents, resistance to the Reagan presidency, and the desire to experiment with new modes of art, performance, fashion, music, and exhibition. Club 57, located in the basement of a Polish church at 57 St. Marks Place, began as a no-budget venue for music and film exhibitions and quickly became a center of the neighborhood’s constellation of countercultural venues, with artists such as Keith Haring, Ann Magnuson, Klaus Nomi, Tseng Kwong Chi, John Sex, Fab 5 Freddy, John “Lypsinka” Eppperson, and Lisa Baumgardner.”
Club 57 ringleader, the amazing Ann Magnuson and Animal X with Klaus Nomi stage costume by Natasha.
Theodora Richards, daughter of Keith Richards and Patty Hansen
Club 57 founder Stanley Zbigniew Strychacki (center)
John “Lypsinka” Epperson and friend. John is a guest curator of the exhibition’s terrific film series Your Are Now One of Us: Film at Club 57 (organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, and Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film). John introduced the first night of the series when Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was screened. It was a hoot seeing one of my favorite films of all time on a big screen again and such a gas to hear how the audience responded to certain moments that I’ve watched hundreds of times—they laughed at things that I’ve always regarded with earnest seriousness!
Jef Bretschneider’s Shifting Borders, 1978 (Christmas lights, chicken wire, plaster gauze, drywall, gesso) “hung over the bar at Club 57 in the fall of 1980 and was created as commentary on the national debate over the dangers of nuclear power. With Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency that year, the work took on new meaning, serving as a reflection of the country’s increasingly divided electorate.”
Frank Holliday’s The Lingerie Family, 1983 features a creepy, watchful moving video eye!
Self portrait by Stephen Tashjian aka TABBOO!
I saw the Alien Comic perform many times at Dixon Place and PS122.
Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983 is on view at MoMA through April 1, 2018.