Some years ago, on the southwest corner of 14th St. and 3rd Ave., above Disco Donut, there was a place called Carmelita's Reception House.
Walter Grutchfield at 14to42 writes, "I'm not sure what it was, but Carmelita's Reception House dates from the late 1970s and derived from Carmelita for Bridal, Corp., (bridal gowns and such?) from the mid-1960s."
Lori Horvitz recalls in her non-fiction story "The Last Days of Disco Donut," "I thought Carmelita's was a massage parlor that doubled as a house of prostitution. Only years later did I find out it was a legitimate bar that frequently held parties for gay women."
Filling out the mystery, reader Yvonne B. sent in the above ad for "Girl + Girl" at Carmelita's, and we got an informative comment to my post on 14th and 3rd from "SF," who writes:
"If anyone cares to read more about Lite Lounge at Carmelita's contact me. I rented Carmelita's Reception House at 150 E.14th St., NYC from 1988-c. 1990 with my dear friend Miss A. We founded Lite Lounge together and made parties for our downtown friends with 'lite' music like Bacharach, Beatles muzak, and our 45's collections to heighten the crazy sensation of cocktails & dancing, mirrors and Christmas lights beneath a whipped cream ceiling. One claim to fame of LL@Carmelita's was that 1,000 people on a Monday night could walk through those doors and have a blast. Yes, it was a watering hole for Mr. Forbes, but he drank club soda, nothing else. I know the correct answer to bordello rumors, which celebrities came there, and how the night became a huge success. Including tidbits like James White came out of his remote/quiet phase to perform there twice, and opening night was attended by the Beastie Boys and Alan Vega. It was truly fun for all and came together because of many friends' input and camaraderie. The club received a ton of press and was first covered by WWD, then Paper Magazine, which remains a huge support for all things 'Downtown.' -SF"
SF has not responded to follow-up comments, and I hope she does. I have to assume that she is Stacy Fine, co-founder of Lite Lounge, held in what New York magazine called the velvet-and-mirrors room of Carmelita's.
At Sabotage Times, James Brown recalls with Bret Easton Ellis:
"J:...We met in Carmelita’s, in the light lounge (Bret laughs loudly), and it was my first night in New York, I was 22 and I went to interview Sonic Youth for the NME.
B: You’re telling me about that dive… but it was a cool dive. Up the stairs. Christmas lights all over the place.You had to know people to get in I think. My house was around the corner, it still is, I still have that apartment."
The New York article describes a scene featuring Rockets Redglare, along with Jay McInerney. Very 1980s Downtown, indeed.
If anyone else has memories or photos of Carmelita's to share, please leave a comment or email me at jeremoss[at]yahoo[dot]com. Thank you.