‘The Walking Dead’ Star Norman Reedus Leads A Quiet, Zombie-Free Life in Lower Manhattan

Norman Reedus has built a career on playing instantly memorable characters beloved by fans. First there was Murphy McManus in the cult classic The Boondock Saints, memorialized on college dorm room walls from coast to coast as an unimpeachably badass, gun-waving Catholic warrior. But it’s his role as the hotheaded Daryl Dixon—the one with the crossbow—on AMC’s hit zombie show The Walking Dead that has garnered the most attention. Initially introduced as a virulent redneck, Reedus’s Daryl slowly came into his own over the show’s first two seasons, evolving into the type of rough-edged antihero that thrives in a post-apocalyptic world. Though his character was written for the show, Reedus’s portrayal has been so immensely popular that he’s soon to be introduced in the long-running comic book, giving him an even more permanent place in the hearts of zombie-loving fans.

His stomping ground is downtown Manhattan. We catch up with him after his appearance at New York Comic Con, where hundreds of fans turned out to absorb tidbits about the show’s current season. The sweetest part, though, was the moment when those hundreds joined in on a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for his son, Mingus, who had just turned 13. Listening to him proudly talk about his son—he says, “he’s directly on the path of being taller than me, which sucks”—it becomes clear that, in comparison to the brash characters he’s famous for, Reedus is more reserved and congenial—both appreciative and down-to-earth about his success. It’s an attitude that informs this roundup of his favorite shops and restaurants in New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy neighborhoods.

Bread

20 Spring St., New York, NY, 212-334-1015

Reedus has been going to Bread, a chic yet homey bistro, for years. He orders coffee and nothing else. “I’m a creature of habit,” he says. “I go to the same places.” He takes a sharp left to a story about being given a breast implant by a devout Walking Dead fan. “Things have definitely gotten weirder over the last six months,” he dryly notes.

 

Bluebird Sky

121 Baxter St., New York, NY, 212-966-4646

Reedus is greeted warmly by the owner of this 
Little Italy cafe and gladly poses for photos with
the enthusiastic staff, most of whom grab knives in deference to his bloody fictional life. Asked what first drew him here, his answer is simple: “It’s right across the street from my house.”

 

Aqua Star Pet Shop

172 Mulberry St., New York, NY, 212-431-4311

We get a little waylaid in between locations as Reedus gets a shoeshine from a wizened Chinese man, then befriends one of the cats roaming the streets. When we get to this hole-in-the-wall pet store, the first thing we see are crickets, and lots of them. “My son has two bearded dragon lizards, so I buy the crickets for them,” he proudly announces.

 

21 Crosby Deli Grocery

21 Crosby St., New York, NY, 212-966-2020

This pint-sized deli is decidedly unglamorous, but that’s the point: it’s a local grocery, one that Reedus only frequents in order to buy cat food for the black cat he found for his son a number of years ago. “He would only eat the shittiest cat food,” Reedus says with a shrug.

 

Caffe Roma

385 Broome St., New York, NY, 212-226-8413

“Coffee, cats, and cigarettes. That’s all I do.” Indeed, we’re at another low-key Little Italy cafe where he seems to know the entire staff. He even claims to have met some of the directors of his movies here. “I just get coffee, and that’s it,” he says. “Even with the tourists up and down the street it’s very comfortable, you know what I mean?”

Photography by Janira Martinez.

A 31-Year-Old Toast to the Upper Crust

In another instance of creepy royal British memorabilia, a slice of toast from the morning of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding has been served up at a recent auction. The 31-year old piece of bread was snatched by a former servant of the Royal family, who asked not to be named lest her bread-smuggling ways land her straight into Scotland Yard. We kid, we kid. But don’t let us catch you taking our perfectly toasted bread from the table, y’hear? Having said that, toast in itself has become a sort of an Internet celebrity. Here are a few slices we loaf: toasted, never fried. 


If there were ever a better usage of stale bread, then I’d spare the dough to see it! This stop-motion breadamation music video used 215 slices of bread that were “past their sell-by date and rescued from the clutches of certain disposal.” Well, I’d give anything to have been one of those rescued slices… by OK Go, no less. 
 


This one is for the birds: Laura Hadland, an “English toast artist” (those exist?), used 10,080 innocent slices of bread along with dark and milk chocolate to create a massive rendition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Hadland appropriately traveled to Matera, Italy’s “City Of Bread,” to embread herself in working on the carbalicious 9 x 11.2 meter portrait, proving art is more than just food for the soul. 

 

TOAST DRESS
We don’t know if we prefer this or the challah bread dress, but either way, they both look wonder-bread-ful. Created by Maurice Bennett, an artist from New Zealand who uses toast has his primary artistic medium, the dress is fashioned from a combination of whole baguettes, burned and regular toast. Let’s hope it attracts men just as good as it does pigeons. 

 


Leave it to the Japanese to completely cover a wall with toast. The mural was constructed as part of a “bakery food theme park” named Tokyo Bakery Street that opened in 2005, further proof that Asians can eat as many carbs as they like and still fit into sizes smaller than an American size 0. Hey, nobody said life was a cakewalk. 

Beers, Breads, and Buns at Landbrot, German Bakery and Bar

Sometimes a restaurant opens in New York that makes you wonder, “How did this not exist before? How did we live without it?” It’s a rare, divine occurrence, and the first dining experience at this kind of place is filled with a lot of head-scratching, unfinished sentences (“I just… I don’t know… where do I… begin?”), and cleaned plates. If this is something you have yet to experience, then stop into Landbrot, the new German bar and bakery in the West Village and LES. With one bite of their just-baked salted pretzel, a sip of Hoss Holzar beer, and a scoop of German chocolate cake, you’ll realize Landbrot is that kind of place, and there’s no living without it.

Let us remind you that Landbrot (German for “country bread”) is a German bakery and bar, meaning that they offer – in one place – most of what makes life so wonderful: fresh and fluffy breads and pretzels; rare German beers on tap; smoked salmon, ham, and cheese sandwiches; and warm apple strudel.
 
Eating and drinking is welcomed at the bar or a table, where you get an unbeatable floor-to-ceiling windowed view of all the curious passersby who are admiring your herring sandwich from afar. The brats, sausages, and “frankfurters” are equally as enviable.
 
At Landbrot, it’s hard to name what dish is the star of the show, as this spot satisfies all-day needs, from a cup of drip coffee and a sweet bun or muffin, to a salad, jelly doughnut, and a pint. And with the 185 Orchard St. location staying open until 4am, six days a week, skip the decision-making process and just go all day and night. Or why not sleep there? With all of the freshly baked goods delivered via glass dumbwaiter at the West Village shop, perhaps you can just crawl right into the tray and no one will see.

Industry Insiders: Rogerio Cavalcante, Hair Therapist

Hairstylists often do double time as therapists. Some stylists and their clients even become BFFs. Think Jessica Simpson and Ken Paves. Or my stylist, the in-the-know, talented Rogerio Cavalcante of Maria Bonita Salon & Spa in SoHo, who’s revealed some of his fascinating life story to me when I can stop yapping about my own latest drama.

Point of Origin I am from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I have a large family, and 12 of my relatives are hairstylists. My first job was in my uncle’s salon when I was 13. I swept the floor and washed hair. And by the way, he did not pay me well (laughs). My career began when I was 22 and I started working at my cousin’s salon with some of the best stylists in Sao Paulo. I was so eager to learn that I gave up part of my commission to be taught by the top stylist, Marcelo. He taught me to mix colors and highlight techniques. I continued working, and took classes with Vidal Sassoon, Toni & Guy, Nick Arrojo, L’Oreal, Redken, and Wella.

Why do you enjoy doing hair? I just love it—it is the best job in the world! I look forward to seeing the excitement on my client’s face when I finish their hair.

What are your favorite things to do as a stylist? I love cutting and coloring hair, but please don’t tell anyone that I have the most fun when I am cutting. And of course, like all stylists on the planet, I love big changes.

What are you known for as a stylist? I am a “precisionist.” I like to do precise and sharp hair cuts. My haircuts can take up to two hours because I want to make sure that the style works well with the client’s features and it is exactly what they want.

The ambiance in Maria Bonita is really fun and relaxed—why do you think that is? First of all, the clients make the salon very special. We love to see our clients from everywhere in the world. They come in and we help them relax while we make them beautiful with our exclusive Brazilian treatments. Also, the staff at Maria Bonita is always in a good mood— and we have fun making people look their best!

What is Maria Bonita known for? What is requested most often? Maria Bonita is known for being the only full-service Brazilian salon to offer hair, nail, and waxing services, as well as facials and massages. People request Brazilian blow-outs (straightening) and color treatments most often.

What’s the difference between how South Americans approach hairstyle and care vs. Americans? Volume! My beginning here in New York wasn’t easy. In Brazil, girls want pin-straight hair. I was used to taking the volume out of their hair. Here, I have to add it—a lot of it!

What are some hair trends you really hate? That’s hard. I think it’s better to keep my mouth shut here: No Habla Ingles!

What are some Spring hair trends you are loving? Definitely middle-length hair. I like the modern choppy bob, with the ends lighted by a technique we call ombré.

Name 5 beauty and hair products that no girl should be without. 1. Envix 20 in 1 hair mask 2. Pomade/wax for the spring/summer messy look 3. Bianco breeze dry shampoo 4. Redken shiny gloss 5. Moroccanoil light oil treatment

What are your favorite places to eat and drink in the city? The places I like for food are Cachacaria Boteco (they have feijoada and caipirinhas), Café Habana and Bread.

The places I like for fun are Goldbar, SubMercer and Bourgeois Pig.

Michael Houghton’s ‘Smoking Series’ Shows Rockers Having a Puff

After lording over the Don Hill’s scene as the frontman for the late, lamented Bender, sharing a stage with everyone from Andy Hilfiger to Earl Slick, and clothing the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Jane’s Addiction, and Duran Duran with his deHoghton and Rock Punk Couture clothing lines, it’s hardly a wonder to find Michael Houghton (known to Downtown’s denizens as Michael H) paying homage on canvas to some of rock & roll’s most magnificent bad boys.

Houghton’s “Smoking Series,” now on display at Nolita hipster magnet Bread, is a collection of stunningly painted photo images of the likes of Bowie, Hendrix, Keith Richards, The Clash, and — best of all — Motorhead’s Lemmy, all caught in the act of taking a drag on a fag. Of course, the very idea of celebrating smoking in a city now militantly against it seems an act of glorious defiance. All that aside, the pictures just, well, rock. For those without art-collecting budgets, t-shirts of the images are also available.

These Are the Good Ol’ Days

Michael H walks, talks, acts and totally looks like a rock star. He is the lead singer of an all-star band that played last night at Greenhouse and Michael is also killing it with a clothing line. It’s so reminiscent of my glory days at Max’s Kansas City that I wish I weighed 135 pounds again and was dating Jeannie Luvullo from Irvington, New Jersey. Greenhouse on Monday is my new Snitch Monday. When that party died a year ago, I simply didn’t have a place to get up for, but now I won’t miss this. I visited Michael Alig up in the big house yesterday with my assistant Nadeska. I told Michael that the scene is as vibrant now as it ever was, but he was doubtful. I told him it’s true, but with a big difference — it isn’t organized under one flag.

Back in the day when I was cutting my teeth and he was — well, you fill in the blank — the scene was dominated by the four Peter Gatien mega-clubs: Palladium, Limelight, Tunnel, and USA. Sure there were other eras; 1981, for instance, was the best year I remember, but I don’t really remember 1979, so it’s possible that it was grand also. But the peak of it all (which ended in murder and indictments) was 1994 or 1995, when anything seemed possible and everyone was fabulous. Back then, the crowds waiting outside could number in high hundreds, and everyone needed a schtick to get past the doorman at giant clubs that held 5,000 people. Sure, there were way fewer clubs then, way more drugs, way less regulation, and certainly a great many more creative people at the helms, but my view of the scene today is that although it’s hit or miss, the hits are getting way more frequent.

The “3 as Four” party at the Bowery the other night, the “Trash” party at Webster Hall on Fridays, and even Southside on Sundays. I see fabulous people dressing creatively and a new generation of non drug-crazed club kids. There is a new vibrancy in music as hip-hop mash-up DJs bring in electro and other genres, adjusting to the public’s needs for positive re-enforcement from music programming. There is no club czar like Peter Gatien controlling the scene, sucking it into his monopoly. The new scene is spread out, chill, and comes together in hundreds of small, vibrant venues as well as late-night restaurants and a big club or two.

Friday’s “Half of Justice” GBH party coupled with “Trash” was the single best night I’ve seen in clubbing in five years or more. Sure, the crowd was young, but they were fabulous. A bartender introducing me to a hot party-promo type gal was shocked that she didn’t know me — I told her that she didn’t have to know me. New nightlife will define itself and will not be defined by me or a back-in-the-day mentality. It will not be defined by the last five years of blasé bottle boites. It is loose as a goose, and I’m not talking about the bottle of that pop that used to be sold to frat boys in clone suits at tables in boring clubs everywhere. I think that if a few bucks can circulate in our scene — not many, just a few — then 2009 will be super.

Check out my interview with Michael H, an old-school rocker, still doing this thing in 2009.

What’s the best way to describe you Michael — that you’re a rocker? Oh yeah, we rock!

And you also design clothing for rock ‘n roll society. What’s the name of your brand? Right now I have a collection called the Evil Eye, and it’s been formed from my old collections, revamped and reincarnated into more of a spiritual sort of edgy line. We just put it together over the last six months, and it consists of leather and denim, tees, knits, even some bags.

If I go see a Bloody Social show with hot rock ‘n roll chicks, a lot of them are wearing your clothes. Yeah, we just dressed a couple of models … we want everyone sporting the gear in their own way, and it’s always beautiful to see.

Your band played at Greenhouse last night — tell me about the band. This one is called Michael H and Friends. I have another band called Michael H & the Bashers, but members in that band are actually in Guns N’ Roses, and they’re starting to rehearse right now for their big tour. So this band, Michael H & Friends, consists of two members from David Bowie (Sterling Campbell on drums and Earl Slick on guitar) and two members from New York Dolls (Steve Conte and then Sammy Opera rocks on bass). It’s a really cool, edgy band … we’ve never played together before, it was just one rehearsal.

Your name now is Michael H — is it Michael Hilfiger, or Horton? Well, Michael H stands for two names: Horton, which I was adopted into, and then the Hilfiger, which was eventually adopted by me. So it’s always been a mystery who I was and where I came from, but I like that … it kind of just formed it’s own shape. I’ve always been introduced as a Hilfiger, but I was adopted into the beautiful Horton family, and I’ve always been happy about both, so “H” was kind of just a medium, and it stuck. And it stands for “hazardous” as well.

Where does Michael H hang out these days? I tend not to really go out and socialize in the drug and alcohol atmosphere anymore. Even though I do go to lounges sometimes where people are sipping and chatting, and snorting whatever, I’m doing my own thing, and that’s just being more social. I tend to stay out no later than 1 a.m. nowadays, but I love going to Rose Bar. I’m more of a lounge lizard. I also like hotels, like The Bowery Hotel, to meet and chat. Right now I’m at Bread, and that’s my friend’s restaurant in Soho, which is very relaxing. You always see Terry Richardson, Josh Hartnett, and those kinds of people here. It’s always a pleasure. But I like to relax, let my hair down. I also go to Don Hill’s, ol’ faithful Don, and I go to Greenhouse with Scott.

How far back do you go in New York City rock clubs? I’ve been coming here since about 1976 with my big brother Tommy. He introduced us to the punk scene near St. Mark’s. I remember as a kid going to Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs back when the Ramones were hanging out front and just smoking.

I always talk about how accessible that scene was and how much more fun it was. Yeah, and like Malcolm McLaren said, the punk rock music really started in New York down in Bowery, from just seeing Bowery boys just torn up, with holes in their clothes and being the real deal. And I remember St. Mark’s, back in the day when it was just Vietnam vets and the heroin addicts, and it was scary to walk down, and now it’s Starbucks and whatever.

So you hinted at it before that you got straight, and is it a great feeling to be straight now? Yeah, I’ve been drinking and hanging and doing the party scene for years. I’m going to be 47 in March, and I love being a kid man, I would never change a thing, just the diet and the drugs. It doesn’t pay to do drugs kids, I promise you.

What are you doing for Fashion Week? I’m doing a spread of events, I’m going to see the family show — Hilfiger of course — and we’re going to be doing the trunk show this week. It’s called Customs, down on 180 Front Street. It’s a chopper place, similar to the Von Dutch custom motorcycle, and then high-end apparel like your top names. I’m launching my private collection there. So it’s a trunk show/launch for the Evil Eye collection, and then I’m performing on the 16th with the Bowie members. So we’ve got a packed week.