Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SWF at Hellfire

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:
Meatpacking 1997
Eagle's Nest
Pleasure Chest 1972
Men in Leather

12 comments:

ish said...

LOL for your last sentence.

What was the name of the gay sex club that shared space with Hellfire for awhile, ca. 1993 or 4? I met a great guy there who I am still friends with.

Jeremiah Moss said...

the Vault and the Manhole were also in that space.

EV Grieve said...

Speaking of Vanishing... Whatever happened to Bridget Fonda?

I think she's married to Danny Elfman.

Anonymous said...

The name of the gay sex club was Jay's.

Lenny Waller said...

Thank you Jeremiah for another Great Article. Ish Man-Hole was downstairs. Before Manhole it was Cell Block 28. The other side of the building on Hudson Street was J's Hangout, & The Annex.
The Days when Men could still Dare to Be Men & Boys (over 18) Were Toys.
In leather & Pride,
Lenny Waller
Wishing Everyone a Happy & Blessed Holiday Season.

Melanie said...

In The EV there was a great transvstite bar Club 82. Hanging out in Washington Sq. Park I met some of the performers there. They were cool andthis Club was in existence way before before the Pyramid Club. Anyone remember this Club??
Congrats on your Blog Award!!!! I love your blog.Your blog was the first one I ever read.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Melanie! glad to see you're sticking it out, no matter what the weather. i don't know that club--but i wish i did.

Anonymous said...

Melanie,
Wasn't Club 82 (82 East 4th) the gay sex club? I'm talking mid to late 90's.

Melanie said...

@ anon-Yes,it was on East 4th Street but was in existence way before the 90's..I'm thinking the 60's and then it must have gone through some changes along the way.

NoblenBrite said...

You can check out a funny re-make of a scene i did from SWF here....

http://www.vimeo.com/17617176

Anonymous said...

Just re-watched The Warriors this weekend. Some great NYC shots (especially when they're at the "96th Street" Subway when they're actually at 72nd on the outside). Ah, what happened to that bar on the corner that is now a deli? Caaaaaaaaaaan youuuu ddiiiiiiiiigittt?

Lenny Waller said...

Hi Melaine,
I spent many estatic nights into mornings at the 82 Club. Lets not the Queens working the block too.
The Anvill Years ago had Drag Shows,
Don't Forget Sally's Hide Away, The Grape Vine & Guilded Grape.
As for the 82 Club a brief History Courtousy of Google.
This basement space set very discreetly behind a simple, unmarked door has quite a history with New York's gay community. From 1958 until 1978, Club 82 (82 E. 4th St.) was a beloved drag cabaret and glam-rock venue made famous by the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Harvey Fierstein, Blondie, and the New York Dolls - in this sense, it's one of the more important sites of gay history in the East Village, and it even has its own fan site, which celebrates its colorful past. It then became an indie-film theater, and in the early 1990s, the dark, underground (figuratively and literally - it's in a basement) space became a quite popular gay adult theater and sex club called the Bijou Cinema (although still known by many as Club 82). More recently, it's been closed at different times, but it was spruced up at one point and now continues to be a gay sex club
Lenny Waller