Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NYC c. 1985

Clampart gallery in Chelsea is currently showing an exhibition of photographs entitled NYC, c. 1985 The group show includes work by Amy Arbus, Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Mark Morrisroe, and many more, all featuring images of the city in the mid-1980s.

I talked with artist Linda Simpson about her photographs and she shared them with us here.

All photos by Les Simpson (a.k.a. Linda Simpson)

"My slideshow is all in color. It's a collection of very random snapshots that I took throughout the decade--all for fun and shot with basic point-and-shoot cameras. The photos are of friends of mine, after-dark events, celebrities that I shot at various encounters (including Liz Taylor!), ACT UP protests, Wigstock in Tompkins Square Park, etc.

My photo credit is 'Les Simpson,' since almost all the pictures were taken before Linda was born (in the late 1980s)."

"I was in NYC for practically the entire 1980s, and for me the decade was about finding myself. As the photos reflect, I didn't have a game plan. I was mostly just bouncing around, absorbing and observing the city. Near the end of the decade I began to find my niche, which was the East Village gay and drag scene.

My photos bring back a lot of great memories, and it's been an opportunity to reach out to some people I've lost contact with over the years. But I can't deny that there is some melancholy. It makes me realize even more that my youthful years are long gone. A lot of the people in the photos are dead. The slideshow is a tribute to them."

"I think what's important to remember about that time in the city's history is that it was extremely creative time. There were a lot of urban ills, but also it was time of much originality and imagination—in art, music, the nightlife, etc. New York had a very unique flavor back then.

When I moved into the East Village in 1987, the neighborhood was shabby and had an unsafe reputation. You rarely walked a straight route to get from Point A to Point B. Instead you zig-zagged to avoid blocks that were rough and only for drug dealers and addicts. Now the East Village is so much more tidy, and, of course, the rents are astronomical compared to when I moved in. My apartment on East 13th Street was originally under $400—and I never even had to put down a deposit! I moved out of the neighborhood in 2005. It was a great place to 'grow up' and I enjoy visiting. It's not the bohemian stronghold that I once knew, but it's still pretty lively."

"If I was young and moving to the city now, I'm sure my destination would be Brooklyn. There's an interesting drag scene in Bushwick that sounds right up my alley—avant-garde and DIY and pushing the boundaries of gender expression!"


chummy's mum said...

Oh I feel exactly the same way! These are amazing; they capture the spirit that embodied a very special time in NYC. It feels now as if life in NYC exists a complete 180ยบ from what once was.

I said not long ago to a friend who I recently reconnected with from that time - I can't believe we are still alive, so many are not...

Looking forward to that show. Love Nan Goldin's work too. Cheers Jeremiah, keep writing.

Grade "A" Fancy said...

We were all so young & sweaty.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Came to the East Village in '84from England, in my twenties. Wish I could time travel!

crumbum said...

I am an old displaced former New Yorker from the 70s and 80s. There used to be a dive bar on Canal St west of Broadway, I think, called the Rose Bar. It had a fabulous neon sign of a Red an Green rose out front. ANY chance it's still there? Used to stop in on the way to club AM/PM.

Robertangelo Coppola said...

If I could turn back time....says Miss Cher....Just before the Aids crisis hit and we were poor party gays dancing at The Underground and The Saint...Just before the bottom fell out..Oh what a time...innocent blindly going forward into the light of the Gay movement...The City was our Disney World...yes it was...hugs

BabyDave said...

Crumbum -- I think it was called Three Roses. Great place. It moved to Church Street a bit south of Canal, then closed by the early 1990's.

BabyDave said...

Crumbum -- I think it was called Three Roses. Great place. It moved to Church Street a bit south of Canal, then closed by the early 1990's.