A recent viewing of the 1992 movie Single White Female takes us back to Ye Olde Meatpacking District with a trip to the underground Hellfire Club.
Bridget Fonda follows the evil Jennifer Jason Leigh to the Triangle Building. She walks along the trash-strewn sidewalk to the subterranean entryway, through a metal cage in the building's side.
As former Hellfire manager Lenny Waller explained to me in an email, "The street scene was at the location of Hellfire. They even imported the garbage and a wind machine to blow it around. The walk down the stairs is at Hellfire. The rest was re-created on a Hollywood set."
Downstairs, a crowd watches action offscreen, too kinky to be shown, but we can hear the crack of leather whips and their accompanying squeals and moans. Lenny says the real Hellfire crowd would've been dressed in leather and fetish gear, not business suits.
Bridget Fonda, the innocent, backs against a cage--its captive slave paws her shoulder and she hurries away, before catching sight of her tormentor.
At the bar, Jennifer Jason Leigh is enjoying a foot massage from a fetishist in a pinstriped suit. So evil!
As Lenny recalls, the real Hellfire bar was made of wood, not diamond-tufted PVC, and its top featured a spinning "giant Lazy Susan for the barmaid and bartender to play on."
Well, Hollywood took its liberties and so has "MePa." The Triangle Building became the home of upscale Vento Trattoria in 2004. They opened an exclusive club in the basement where Hellfire used to be. Wrote New York: "You’ll enter a luxe, dungeon-like space... But you won’t find any gruff prisoners among the abundance of svelte women and groomed men—just good-looking, well-heeled New Yorkers in their late twenties, happy about how, well, good-looking they are."
That's a far cry from muddy floors and semen-splashed walls, as Lenny Waller once described Hellfire. Anyway, Vento and its celeb-web didn't make it, and closed some months ago. Now it's Dos Caminos, under the same management, and the basement is the 675 Bar, where you can play with a big black horse and lick chocolate bacon on a stick. The more things change?
More Meatpacking and leather stuff:
Pleasure Chest 1972
Men in Leather