Anthology Film Archives is hosting a series of Abel Ferrara films from January 7 - 18. Camera in the Sun talked with Ferrara and he had some things to say about Mulberry Street, the Chelsea Hotel, and New York City. Here are some excerpts.
photo: Derin Thorpe for Paper
On Mulberry St:
"It’s a street I was living on. It’s a street that I knew. It’s something I wanted to capture. And it’s a place now that’s different than when I shot that film, but still it’s a traditional Italian neighborhood that’s becoming a commercial restaurant district crossed with the yuppie very-wealthy downtown New York vibe. You know, super-high rents, super-successful people. All these apartments and cold water flats from the turn-of-the-century — they’re right now high-priced pads, and every square inch is battled over. And it’s basically a block within a Chinese neighborhood."
On the Chelsea Hotel:
"I grew up outside the city, so we used to come to Greenwich Village to get ripped off in pot deals. We never went to the Chelsea Hotel. I remember the first time I was there, but then, you know, it’s funny--some people, from Janis Joplin on down, these guys, they would just come and sit in the lobby. I mean, I don’t know what they expected to get out of it."
On the changes to Manhattan in recent years:
"The difference is that every square inch is taken. Every square inch is fought over. Every square inch, everyone is sucking the life out of anybody who’s renting and taking whatever. New York, it’s been kind of the mecca of the world, but now it’s super-duper mecca. And that’s where it’s at. I mean, I came to seek my fortune in Manhattan. You can only come to Manhattan if you have a fortune, or you’ve got some kind of hustle where you’ve got a rent-controlled apartment or you’re living with your mother. You’re not gonna come to Manhattan and start from scratch. It ain’t happening. It was more possible in 1975. I think it was all gone by the early ’90s. But it’s definitely long-gone now. I mean if you’re living in Manhattan, you’d better have a job, ’cause you’re definitely paying rent."