Since I’ve been largely devoting my posts to the fallout of the election of late, I thought I’d give certain readers a bit of a relief, and get back to this blog’s familiar territory for a moment.
I’ve spoken about the Pyramid Club on Avenue A here a number of times (most recently here). Below is a little mini-documentary I spied on YouTube about what the place was like between `83 and `88. I don’t think I personally set foot in the place until 1989 (I was there to see Fractured Cylinder, Rats of Unusual Size and the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black). The picture above of skinheads at the Pyramid was snapped by Q. Sakamaki, which I'm borrowing from The Villager.
The Pyramid is still there, of course -- although it's a very different scene from what's detailed below (as it the entire neighborhood, for that matter, but you probably know that).
Here’s the official description of the clip below…ENJOY!
Between 1983 and 1988, I shot bands, performance art, art, and other related events at the Pyramid club, in addition to showing my own early video art and computer animation there. I’ve held on to the original videos for decades now, and in 2011 I put together this short Video for a Pyramid event at Howl Festival, where it was originally screened. It was shown again at Howl gallery during the Pyramid show in 2015.
At some point in 1985, Brian Butterick the manager of the Pyramid and I decided to interview patrons for an Anniversary of the Club. The interviewers also included Performance Artist John Kelly and Marlene Mennard. Working with the interview footage from the 1980s, I edited other videos I had of the Pyramid ranging from the Transgendered artist lady Bunny’s disco band, to seminal punk and hard core bands like Butthole Surfers, Gwar and False Profits, and experimental musicians such as Elliott Sharp. Additionally there is footage of performance art pieces and even music videos and a cyber punk science fiction film that I shot there. The line Drag Queens and Skinheads was from Raybies of NYC hardcore band Warzone, who alongside Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law, attempted to describe what made the Pyramid special. The interviewees included the likes of jazz singer Stephanie Crawford and Sound Man Craig Overbay (who went on to produce Nirvana and other Grunge bands), to East Village icons like Wendy Wild.
The Pyramid’s unique inclusivity across all cultural lines, mixing gay and straight, disco and punk, high art and pop culture foreshadowed the social justice, LBGT and trasgendered civil rights movement in America by decades. As many people point out throughout these interviews from 1985, it was rare for all the tribes of the underground in NYC of the 1980s to mingle so seamlessly together. But mostly it was exactly as Wendy Wild said, “there has never been anything like the Pyramid”, and I agree. I still live in NYC and unlike more than half the people in this video, I’m still alive, and can attest that Wendy was right. After the credits I have created a tribute to all the people who appear in this video who passed away from AIDS, drug overdoses, accidents and cancer/disease, sadly, its many. It’s always hard for me to even look at this, and it was harder to edit it, these were people I loved very much and miss dearly.
I have all the original videos on VHS, and most of the art pieces and the Cyber Punk Science Fiction film (which featured many of the people in this video) as ¾” video. I’ve done my best to keep them in good shape, and will continue to as long as I can. At one point I had all these tapes on shelves in my Canal Street floor through squat, and when people would ask in the late 1990s what are these tapes which I kept separate from tapes of my own artwork, I would say, these are all my dead friends and I have to keep these for them. This is for all of them.
Technical note: all the footage is kept as is, with no stabilization, image or color correction, in attempt to preserve the video’s media and historic authenticity.
In order of Appearance: Brian Butterick, Alan Mace (Sister Dimension), Michael Ullman (aka Kittie), stephanie crawford, Shazork, Lady Bunny, Dimitri, Gordon Spaeth, Butthole Surfers, Craig OVerbay, Dean Johnson, Rat At Rat R, David Rat, Sonda, Ethyl Eicheberger, Happi Phace, Stephen Tashjian (Taboo), Bunny Manhattan (aka Richard Lieberman), Pyramid Float Gay Pride 1986, John Kelly, Marlene Mennard, Bush Tetras, Marjan Moghaddam, Iris Rose, Joshua Fried, Julie Hair, Grace, Natalie Gestapo, Gwar, Raybies, Jimmy Gestapo, Bernard Zette, Tobine Cradle, Bobby Bradley, Keith Streng, Wendy Wild, They Might Be Giants, Margaret Ann Outhred aka Hali Fields, Jesse Hultberg, 3 Teens Kill Four, Doug Bressler, Lefferts Brown, Masters of Reality, John Sex, Animal X and the Amazons, Chris Clements, Jim Fouratt, Joey Arias, Nick Cave, Liquid Liquid, Phillip Overbay, David Crocker, Sapho, Tanya Ransom, Edgar Carson Oliver, Helen Carson Oliver, Anne Craig, Disturbed Form, Bill Milhizer, False Profits, The Archies, Richard Baran,
Also: Barabra Buryak, Bernell Crawford, Brian Damage, Stephen Ielpi, Andrea Poole, Lucille Reader, Winston C Robinson Jr, Rolf Rombschick, Larry Shox, Greg Smith, Louis Williams,
Special Thanks to the following for their help: Jonny Sender, Diane D Streiker, Geordie Gillespie, Sonda Andersson Pappan, Daniel Durning, Nick Zedd