Posts Tagged ‘New York in the 1980s’

The 1980s model slashed by her spurned landlord

February 20, 2012

It was one of those brutal, senseless crimes that rallied all of New York, dominating the media for years.

Marla Hanson was a struggling 24-year-old model who lived at 433 West 34th Street. She’d rented her $600 apartment from Steven Roth, a TV makeup artist who at some point made crude sexual advances toward her—which she spurned.

Apparently upset by the rejection, and the fact that Hanson was moving out and wanted her security deposit back, Roth hired two thugs to cut her face.

On June 5, 1986, while standing outside her building arguing with Roth, the goons approached her. One held her head while the other ran a razor blade over her from cheek to cheek.

“Every corner of her face was slashed; the muscles that controlled her smile were severed, half her nose skinned,” reported People in 1987.

It took 150 stitches to close the wounds, and she was left with an S-shaped scar from her right cheek to the corner of her mouth.

In 1987, Roth and the thugs all got 5 to 15 years in prison for the attack. Her modeling career over, Hanson became a screenwriter and victims’ advocate.

She didn’t have to worry so much about money though. Philanthropist Milton Petrie, touched by Hanson’s ordeal, provided her with $20,000 a year for the rest of her life.

[Top photo: Marla Hanson with then-boyfriend Jay McInerney in 1990; bottom, her apartment building on 34th Street, the scene of the slashing, from]

What happened to the residents of The Whitby?

January 30, 2012

Ex-chorus girls and actresses. Retired jazz musicians. A female impersonator who once worked the vaudeville circuit.

These were some of the characters interviewed in a 1988 New York Times article who lived at the Whitby—a grand 1923 apartment building designed by Emery Roth on 45th Street just west of Eighth Avenue.

The article chronicled a familiar story. The Whitby—once a residential hotel popular with theater people and in the 1980s a rental with rates as low as $221 a month—was going co-op. The retired show folk who lived there feared the change about to hit their eclectic longtime home.

“‘It was a home for actors,” said Jon Richards, an 84-year-old retired Broadway actor who has lived at the Whitby since the 1964 New York World’s Fair. ”We walked in, and we walked in among friends, among family.”’

In the article, a rep for the Whitby’s owner said none of the tenants would be kicked out if they couldn’t afford to buy their apartments.

I wonder what happened to them in the ensuing 24 years—and if the Whitby is now populated by executives and bankers rather than eccentric theater people.

[Top photo: from Bottom: a photo of the Whitby originally from The New York Times, by way of]

Downtown’s now-defunct indie record stores

August 1, 2011

Everyone mourns the passing of an independent bookstore. But fewer tears seem to be shed for the rapid demise of many of New York’s indie record stores—tiny nooks that often had as much coolness cred as the music they sold.

Some are still around—but not these long-gone haunts in Chelsea, the East Village, and the West Village.

In July 1982, 110 St. Marks Place was the location of Saint Mark’s Music Exchange. Today it’s Paprika, an Italian restaurant.

According to a 1991 New York Times rundown of record stores, Vinylmania had three stores. “They say vinyl’s on the way out, but not here,” the article quotes the store owner.

Opened in 1978, the store closed in 2007.

The same New York Times piece says Midnight Records “combines collectors’ items from the 1950s to the present with newer releases from bands like Dimentia 13; it also has magazines like Psychotronic and Bucketfull of Brains.”

Looks like they closed up the store in the 2004, according to this list. Cool Runnin is in the closed category as well, though it doesn’t give the year of its demise. They were in the Reggae music business since 1984.

All ads come from early to mid-1980s issues of the monthly East Village Eye.

The coolest spot for second-hand clothes in 1985

May 20, 2011

Not only did Zoot run very cool ads in downtown publications, this vintage rags emporium had two locations: 1980s cool-kid hot spot Broadway at Astor Place as well as future hipster land Kent Avenue in Williamsburg.

This ad ran in the May 1985 issue of the East Village Eye—with Susan Seidelman of Desperately Seeking Susan and Smithereens fame on the cover!

Vintage ads for downtown clubs from the 1980s

April 15, 2011

They’re long gone, the spaces they once occupied now housing much less cool venues—even a shopping mall.

But in the early and mid-1980s, these were the dance clubs and after-hours spots where the cool kids hung out.

Save the Robots operated at 25 Avenue B—near the corner of Second Street, a notorious heroin cop spot—as a semi-legal underground club. Club kids, drag queens, and bar employees from other establishments finally off work after 4 a.m. were frequent customers.

“In the olden days of a mere two years ago, 8BC had a log cabin ambiance—dirt floor, no heat—and didn’t meet a single licensing requirement,” wrote C. Carr in On Edge: Performance Art at the End of the Twentieth Century, published in the 1980s.

The performance space-slash-club only lasted a few short years, but it hosted artists and bands from Karen Finley to They Might Be Giants, with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat on the walls.

Nightlife king Peter Gatien opened the Limelight in a circa-1845 Chelsea Episcopal church in 1983. Its rise as a goth dance club and club kid drug mecca has been pretty well-documented.

Who would have though that in 2011, it would be the site of the Limelight Marketplace, sort of an upscale mall with boutiques and food stalls?

All ads come from various issues of The East Village Eye.

Second Avenue and St. Marks Place in 1985

January 27, 2011

Not too much in this photo has changed, strangely.

There’s 60-year-old B&H Dairy a bit down the block to the left, and Gem Spa at right, holding court as it has for 70 years on the corner, selling newspapers, magazines, and ice cream.

The photo ran in the May 1985 issue of East Village arts newspaper the East Village Eye. What I’d give to see their entire 1985 East Village map!

The 1980s “art junkies” of Avenue B

November 1, 2010

“East Village galleries are multiplying like white rats,” states an article in the October 1983 edition of the East Village Eye.

That’s just a slight exaggeration. Roughly between 1980 and 1987, hundreds of galleries opened in the neighborhood, making Second Avenue to Avenue B the center of an art scene that drew inspiration from punk, graffiti, and performance art.

This party pic from the East Village Eye suggests that much emphasis was placed on the scene as well as the art itself.

The end of the East Village as a gallery mecca has been attributed to many things: the 1987 stock market crash; AIDS; the death of Andy Warhol in 1987 and protege Jean-Michel Basquiat a year later; and of course, rising rents.

It’s been memorialized in books and museum retrospectives, like this one at the New Museum in 2004.

Downtown diners that have departed New York

September 4, 2010

A nightlife weekly called New York Talk ran a couple of tasty-looking diner ads in their May 8, 1984 issue. 

Both diners were on the rougher Western edges of Soho a little too far north to be part of the new arts neighborhood of Tribeca.

The Moondance started off as the Holland Tunnel diner in the 1930s. After it closed in 2007, the diner and its revolving moon sign were trucked out to Wyoming, where supposedly it’s doing bang-up business.

Could this ad for a Munson diner at the corner of Greenwich and Spring be related to the legendary Munson, on 11th Avenue and 49th Street until 2004?

“At one time, there were five or six Munson Diners in New York City, owned by the same family,” says New York Architectural Images’ Munson Diner page.

A 1987 issue of New York has that the downtown Munson closed before 1987. Today it’s Don Hill’s.

What’s going on at Irving Plaza, July 1984

March 24, 2010

Los Lobos! Ruben Blades! Nona Hendryx! Check out this supercool band lineup.

Best of all is the beach party show sponsored by WLIR 92.7, the station that played all those British synth pop and New Wave records and always picked a Screamer of the Week.

This ad appeared in the July 1984 East Village Eye.

Shopping at Flip in the 1980s

June 3, 2009

Splatter T-shirts! Tank tops! Skirts with geometrical patterns! Flip was early-80s cool clothing headquarters. And the late great Postermat was on the same Village block. 


This ad appeared in the August 1984 issue of the East Village Eye.