An October 2018 DJ appearance at Manhattan’s’ Soho Grand by the city’s clubland legend Richard Boch – who will be joined on the decks by none less than Fab 5 Freddy and Club 57’s Dany Johnson – affords an opportunity to champion one of my favourite books of the year.
“Everything stops when David Bowie gets out of a cab. No bodyguard, no entourage; he’s alone and we head inside. I have a little coke but feel a bit awkward offering just a few lines. I find Hal Ludacer for a dose of moral support, grab Bowie and we escape to the basement. The cocaine disappears quickly.
“Back upstairs an old reel-to-reel projector perched on a shelf flickers out-of-sync images of Motown. Jean-Michel Basquiat stands under the projector, his back to the wall, looking out at the dance floor grinning. Choppy waves of light fly around the room and DJ David has the crowd going Supremes crazy. It’s a trip – a throwback thrown forward. It’s getting late and the place is packed.
“Bowie leaves around 4am. He isn’t alone. Hal’s hanging out on the second floor and I’m sitting on the downstairs bar drinking a beer when the lights come on.
“New York was always a small town: anywhere south of Fourteenth Street, familiar territory. You never knew who you might run into, through working the Mudd Club door surely changed the odds”
– Richard Boch
Boch’s The Mudd Club is a visual and literary orgy of delight, packed full of striking images and tales of glory and excess from the late 70s/early 80s nightclub where he was the kingpin doorman and communed on many levels with the good, the bad, the deviant and the simply deranged of popular culture.
You want to know how David Bowie corralled Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi to back him on Saturday Night Live? Read it here, along with hundred of other yarns to make your hair stand on end.
“January 1979. The Cramps freaked out The Mudd Club with a loud Psychobilly grind that included such hits as “Human Fly” and “Surfin’ Bird.” A few months later, the “big names” started to appear…
“The legendary Sam and Dave got onstage a few weekends later, and it was the first time on my watch that I got to see the real deal. By late summer, Talking Heads took the stage while Marianne Faithful, X, Lene Lovich, and the Brides of Funkenstein waited in the wings.
“There were so many great performances: Scheduled, impromptu, logical and out of left field. The locals and the regulars were the staple and the stable and performed as part of the White Street experience. They included everyone you could imagine and some you never could. John Cale, Chris Spedding, Judy Nylon and Nico, John Lurie and Philip Glass were just a few. Writers and poets such as William S. Burroughs, Max Blagg, Cookie Mueller, and “Teenage Jesus” Lydia Lunch all wound up on the Mudd Club stage. The talent pool was so deep and occasionally dark that even Hollywood Babylon‘s Luciferian auteur Kenneth Anger got Involved.
“Steve’s willingness and generosity along with his guarded enthusiasm offered support to a local community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Together with Diego (Cortez)’ and Anya (Phillip’s) short-lived but “dominating” spirit, the Mudd Club became an instant happening, a free-for-all with No Wave orchestration and very few rules.
Diego described the Mudd Club as “a container, a vessel, but certainly not the only one in town.” What made the place unique was its blank-canvas emptiness. When the space filled up, IT happened and everyone wanted to be a part. A living, breathing work of art, it was beautiful and way off center, a slice of golden time.
“I was lucky, and soaked it all in.”
– Richard Boch (via)
Gossipy and jaw-dropping with a tone which is by turns sardonic and dewy-eyed for times long gone, The Mudd Club is a must-have.