I think this might be a job for Bob Egan, `cos I'm throwing in the towel!
Inspired by my recent trip around Gramercy Park with my kids to replicate various old timey rock pics, regular reader and fellow blogger MJG196 (who leaves comments on my blog under the nom-de-plume GG Allin) posed an interesting challenge for me, daring me to divine the precise location of the photograph above. Snapped by one David Gahr, this shot finds -- once again -- former New York Doll David Johansen, in the throes of his comparatively clean-cut "Funky But Chic" era, holding court in a NYC doorway. "Hey, Flaming Pablum blog," MJG wrote, "this one's going to be a toughie."
I scoffed. How tough could it be? The building number's actually cited on the door Dave's loitering in front of! It'll be a piece o' cake.
In typical fashion, I was wrong, and I'm stumped.
Peggy and the kids departed today to visit my mother-in-law in Texas, leaving me with an open schedule for the holiday weekend. As such, I grabbed my camera and set off to find the spot this photograph was taken. And lemme tellya, there was no cake involved.
The doorway behind Jonhansen clearly spells out the address 116. The signage the erstwhile Doll is semi-obstructing suggests the establishment was called the "Gramercy Room: Home of Champions." Being that I've seen evidence of Johansen twice photographed in the Gramercy Park/Irving Place neighborhood (see both here), and the fact that this `hood is also the former home of his old stomping grounds, Max's Kansas City, it makes sense that this particular spot is also somewhere in that area.
Well, truthfully, I checked out every conceivable instance of 116 in the Gramercy area -- between Broadway and Third Avenue, from East 14th to East 23rd -- and came up empty. Of course, it's very possible, if not probable, that in the THIRTY-FIVE YEARS (!!) since this photograph was taken, the building in question no longer looks like it did in 1978, if it even still exists at all. If it does, I certainly did not recognize it.
Today, there is a venture called The Gramercy Room, although it's situated at 915 Broadway at East 21st street (which, technically, I don't believe credibly counts as Gramercy -- but I'll let the real estate agents quibble about that). In any case, this Gramercy Room doesn't seem like the "Home of Champions" behind our David.
So, yeah, I'm still stuck on this one. But I did get some confirmation that my initial hunches are correct.
In doing some research, I stumbled upon what looks to be a shot from the same photo session of Gahr's. From guitarist Gary Lucas' homepage, here's a shot of David in the same clothes, hanging with Lucas (a virtuoso string-bender who's played with everyone from Captain Beefheart to Jeff Buckley) and two other dudes I can only assume were band members of David's. Here it is below...
Sure enough, in my search for the 116 photo, I believe I spotted the actual location of the shot with Lucas, that being just off the northwest corner of East 16th and Irving Place (the building in question being the Gramery Arts High School), directly across from my favorite Chinese restaurant, The Cottage.
Just a few steps to the west of the Cottage, there is a 116, but the facade of that entrance is entirely different from the one I'm searching for.
So, yeah.... I'm stumped. Bob Egan of PopSpots....I'm tossing this one your way. Have at it, sir.