Wednesday, September 10, 2014

La Bamba

Back in February I did a post about Slugger Ann's, a long-lost bar owned by a fascinating woman. In the comments, a number of readers mentioned La Bamba, the bar that Slugger Ann's became after Slugger passed away in 1980.

Recently, a rare image of La Bamba surfaced at the Facebook group "Manhattan Before 1990." The poster, Ruben Iglesias, credits the photo--and the street drawing--to David Wojnarowicz in 1982.

In Cynthia Carr's biography of Wojnarowicz, Fire in the Belly, she recalls how the artist would spray-paint "friendly cows" on the intersection of E. 12th St. and 2nd Ave., so photographer Peter Hujar could see them from his apartment window above the Village East Cinema. (I wonder if Hujar might have taken the photo, clearly shot from the cinema.)

Wojnarowicz wrote about this television-dreaming cow in a short piece called "For Sophie," in which he talks about cruising Stuyvesant Park, and then walking down the avenue to: "the telly cow head seven feet tall and some boy outside La Bamba screaming at me to grow up and get some crayons...and don't fuck up the street...I walked at him like I was gonna spray-paint a cow on his forehead and he split."

In the comments on the Slugger Ann post, reader Poep Sa Frank Jude wrote:

"Yeah, it was La Bamba, a drag-queen and punk spot where I worked for about two years or so. VERY colorful. The stories I could tell! Even wrote a song about the place, begins:

Paris and Laverne, were sitting at the bar
when Donna walked in, she called Paris a whore.
It was 4 AM, closing time for a fight.
I should have known 'cause it happened most every night.
There was no time to think; I jumped across the bar;
Put myself between 'em, took a left hook to my jaw.
My head was reeling; my ass, it hit the floor.
Just a lesson they taught me, one of many more.

These women were men, and I was just a boy..."

Read more about the history of that corner bar here


Anonymous said...

Wasn't there another incarnation just before Dick's? I remember going there in the afternoon several times in 1988. [Bad year for me] It wasn't a gay bar exactly ...maybe a people on the fringes bar? I think it was called Carousel-?

Anonymous said...

Before it was Dick's, it was a place called The Dragon, where I spent a great deal of time in the first couple years of the 90s. The interior was dark, spraypainted, with a pool table in the back and an excellent "45 jukebox. Definitely a fringe crowd of E. Village and LES artists, musicians, heads, drug addicts, etc. I think it closed in early '92. It's amazing how many different bars have existed in that location.

Scuba Diva said...

I'm not sure when, but I remember a radio-statio-themed bar at that location called WGAF (Who Gives A F*ck.)

I vaguely remember it being there in the late 80s, but I never drank there so I really don't know. (Even if I had drank there I probably wouldn't know!)

Anonymous said...

Slugger Ann was Jackie Curtis's grandmother. Jackie was a member of Warhol's factory group.