A Walk Down Hotel Chelsea’s Lane

What started out as a super hush-hush “for those in the know” affair is turning into something much more. Tonight, Jayne County and Kymara Happenings invite you to a “Modernist Party and a Happening.” This event will be the first use of the Ballroom at the Chelsea Hotel, 222 West 23rd street. To understand what I’m talking about, we have to start at the beginning, and since this is my column, it will start where I got on. I used to basically live at Max’s Kansas City. The bartenders knew my drink and the waitresses knew what I ate. I saw the same bands over and over again, and witnessed new ones that blew the socks off the New York scene.

Among the performers was Wayne County, with various backup musicians and in bands with various names. Wayne was legendary in the subculture that I was trying to infiltrate. She was all “Warhol-ed up,” and hung with people like Patti Smith and Jackie Curtis. She performed in hip plays at the ultra-hip La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, like Warhol’s “Pork,” and then in London. She got signed to Bowie’s record label. Some say that “Rebel, Rebel” was taken off one of her tracks. Although nothing was ever released on Bowie’s Mainman label, they did spend a couple hundred grand filming “Wayne at the Trucks,” which was never released. In 1976, she appeared in Amos Poe and Ivan Kral’s film “Blank Generation” just as punk started to really take form.

I didn’t know Wayne then. I didn’t travel in those circles. I was a “pay to get in” kind of guy. It was then that Wayne became known as Jayne, and my head tilted and I concluded “Why not?” That led to a thousand other questions that were also answered in “Why Nots?” I also blame—and thank—Joey Arias, Klaus Nomi, Chi Chi, and all sorts of creatures of the night who “corrected” my middle Queens way of looking at things. Of course, the opening up of my feeble, cloistered mind led to tons of fun, and tons of trouble. It was Max’s to CBGBs, and then to some deep dark rooms with girls with hair that could hurt me. Rinse and repeat. There are no regrets, except maybe Jeannie Lavullo, but that’s a story for another time. As I got deep into clubs I would often find myself in the same room as Jayne, and the scenesters that were the wheat in my club Wonderbread years.

In later years, when I was calling shots, she DJ’d for me, and she was always awesome. Professional, talented, well mannered, and above all, fun. Jayne County inspired me. There was a time, when I was first working the rooms, that I was preparing for an evening with the thought that my joint had to be able to impress Andy Warhol if he happened to show up. On the occasions that he did, I think I may have, possibly, in a little way, succeeded enough to be proud. Warhol and his art of living was a great goal for the artistic set that used to control the night. Jayne is royalty in that world.

Tonight Jayne will not be on hand, as she has suffered an injury that will keep her elsewhere. She will recover, but can’t put on dancing shoes for tonight’s event. Friends and fellow icons like Walter Steding, Donna Destry, and Joy Ryder will step up and perform along with Isis Vermouth.

The Ballroom at the Chelsea Hotel is located in what was Richard Bernstein’s—our dear, departed friend and former cover artist for Interview Magazine—old room. For those who don’t know: you make a left at the front desk. It’s a magnificent room with wood-carved crown moldings and paneling. They’ve borrowed a bit of the office behind the front desk, and have blown through some arch to make it larger. There will be an exhibit of Jayne’s art, which is for sale. I caught up with Kymara Happenings who, along with Milo Rock and Fernando Carpaneda, is presenting the affair. Kymara has been hosting “happenings” for over 25 years. Fernando is also showing his sculptures. Their last party at the venerable Hotel was in the old Bait and Tackle shop, which they gussied up with street art by Alex Kaminski. Once they did the whole thing in foil—a la the Silver Factory. Kymara told me how important it is to do “What we could have done back in the day.” I personally can’t do that, but will attend in force. She says “it’s important to support,” and I agree.



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