Unlike some other quizzes, the challenge to divine the spot wherein the action takes place in Lou Reed’s “My Red Joystick” video from 1985 (first introduced here) has proven to be a an especially slippery one. Some even doubt that the location actually exists, suggesting instead that it’s a “Hollywood set.”
I remain on the fence.
Just for laughs, here’s that video once again….
Here’s what some have said.
Over on Facebook, tireless photo sleuth Chung Wong wrote…..
I am leaning towards this being a set too (or the street sign got moved off 6th ave)...the possibilities of a triangular building across another triangular block on 6th Ave are very limited...if the subway station is accurately by the triangular building on 6th Ave...that is even more limited in options...i kept on looking at 6th Ave and Van Dam by Spring Street Station wondering if the layout was once different. The triangular Father Fagan Park is there but i am not sure it fits.
I also wondered about 6th Ave and Grand (right side is Sullivan)...by Canal Station. But it seems too wide on the right.
Here is the background brightened up....the intersection with the most similar street sign and park bench layout is 6th Ave and broome but there is no subway station there and the background isnt the same.
Meanwhile, Bob Egan from Popspots also weighed in….
IT looks a lot like this intesection to me, although I know it isn.’t…
Here's the view from the other direction. Note the street sign in this versus the other. In real life the 6th Ave sign would never be where it is in the overhead shot. Also, interesting, it looks like you can see all the filming equipment at the top of the picture where 6th Ave would be. (Of course the city is a funny place, something like a circus or a sewer. And people have peculiar tastes...especially all the Jim-Jim's in this town)
Then Chung chimed back in….
This park or square at 6th Ave and Broome sure looks like the spot but only a subway vent is across the street (and the block across is triangular)
This is the other side of 6th Ave and Broome...but there was a car wash here before and the background building on the side street doesnt match. There is also only a subway vent (no station). Everythiing else though fits. Could it be possible the building isnt real and subway station is a prop…
Back here on Flaming Pablum, Bob expounded…
On first glance it looks like a Hollywood set, although it does seem that the subway stairs go down underground -- you can see the light at the bottom of the stairs.
It also looks like the corner of Bleecker and Minetta Street, with the action taking place on Minetta Street, though I know it isn't.
The main thing that makes it seem like a Hollywood set is that there's a rather prominent sign reading "6th Avenue - Avenue of the Americas." next to the apartment building, but the street it's on is only as wide as Minetta Street.
I just looked on Google Street view - there is a 6th Ave/Ave/America sign at that corner, but it's 20 feet away -- on 6th Avenue. I'm glad Lou finally got the joystick. (You would think he would want the Atari game machine that came with it, too)
Regular reader James Taylor also threw in his two cents…
Might it be the area around Sixth & Spring/Broome? Lots of small triangular parks and a few vacant lots if I'm not mistaken. Subway would be the A-C-E.
Lastly, a reader named Jim added:
It's a Hollywood set. It's way too narrow to 6th ave and def not MinettaLANE. Also vid was shot by a Polish director who was living in LA in 1984 at the time of Red Joystick release.
Not sure I agree with Jim here. I’m not exactly sure who directed “My Red Joystick,” but if Jim’s referring to fabled Polish director Zbigniew Rybczynski (who also directed the video for Lou’s “Original Wrapper,” along with clips by Mr. Mister, Belfegore, the Art of Noise, Yoko Ono, Circus of Power and many others), it should be noted that regardless of where Zbigniew was living, several of his clips (all of those cited above, basically) were shot in Manhattan.
Personally speaking, I'm inclined to think it's the spot on the west side of Sixth Avenue at Grand Street that Chung mentioned above (across from what had been the Moondance Diner). The building in question that would have played host to the action in this video is long gone, but I seem to remember it. I want to say it was a steak house at some stage.
Anyway, that's my guess.