Drugs, Insanity, Death: The World’s Most Bizarre Museums

The Morbid Anatomy Museum

Today, May 18, is International Museum Day—which is really just an excellent reminder that we should make an effort every day to fill our lives with a bit more beauty, peculiarity and enlightenment. But it’s also an opportunity to consider that museums indeed offer so much more than just Damien Hirst, Jackson Pollock and Alexander McQueen. To that end, here are five of the oddest, and perhaps most unsettling of them all. Happy Museum Day:

The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York


Morbid Anatomy Museum 2


This strange and captivating Brooklyn museum’s mission is stated as “Exploring the intersections of death, beauty and that which falls between the cracks.” It has become a meeting point for NYC’s more funereally disposed artistic souls, as well, hosting lectures, screenings and dark-hearted social gatherings. Its current temporary exhibition is The House of Wax: Anatomical, Pathological, and Ethnographical Waxworks from Castan’s Panopticum (Berlin, 1869-1922). Naturally.

Mütter Museum, Philadelphia




Philly’s rather notorious museum of medical oddities, including historical surgical instruments, corrosion specimens, and the Hyrtl Skull Collection, is genuinely not for the squeamish or sensitive. Its current featured exhibition, Vesalius On The Verge: The Book and The Body, focuses on a series of 16th Century books on human dissection. Creepy.

Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent, Belgium


Museum Dr Guislain


Joseph Guislain was a forerunner of Freud, the first to posit that mental illness was indeed treatable and that its sufferers were to be cared for with dignity. This singularly fascinating eponymous museum is located in the rather lugubrious former asylum in which he did his groundbreaking work (in one of our favorite European cities, Ghent), and explores insanity and madness from Antiquity through to modern times. A current exhibition, titled Shame, is fairly self explanatory.

Museo De Enervantes, Mexico City


Museo de Enervantes


What the Renaissance is to Florence, so are drug wars to Mexico City. And indeed, this is a museum dedicated to its notorious and storied narco culture. Alongside an arsenal’s worth of seized firearms in display cases, there is an edifying run through the long history of drug abuse itself, and a plaque which commemorates those who have lost their lives battling the brutal cartels (it’s a lot). The museum is technically not open to the public; but call ahead (52 55 2122 8800) and say it’s for, um, educational purposes.

Collection De L’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland


Art Brut Museum


Renowned French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet first began assembling and collecting the artworks of the insane in 1945, influenced by Hans Prinzhorn’s seminal text Artistry of the Mentally Ill. Now, of course, the art world lumps it all together as “Outsider Art.” But this collection, located in the glorious Swiss city of Lausanne, is surely the most astonishing and, arguably, the most honest.

Sleep-Deprived & Heading To The Love Show’s Send-Off Gala Tonight

I’m sooo tired, my phone number should be 1-800-Mattress. I’m so tired, if I go to an airport they’ll make me check the bags under my eyes. I’ll try to tell you where I’m at but don’t expect too much of me today.

Last night I went to the celebration of Mark Kamins’ life at Santos Party House and saw people I haven’t seen in decades and might never see again. I had the honor to introduce Konk, a band of note that hadn’t performed since 1986. All around me were familiar faces from an era that I enjoyed so much. The late, great Mark Kamins would have been happy. It felt right. The music was wonderful and the love in the hearts of attendees was anchored by his memory.

While "working the room," I was continuously reminded of nights and people lost in time and space. Tall tales were told. Some stories that were horrible at the time were comical when told of again. It was 30 years ago when we all danced together, made love, and knew we were oh-so-cool. We all felt so immortal.

Mark’s passing has seemed to define our mortality as never before. The arc of our lives took us to an alternative universe where we could play with others who also felt the call to the corners. From these corners, world-renowned artists, musicians, and personalities arose and all moved on. The creatures of the night went their separate ways as misspent youths adapted to a world of adult responsibilities. It took Mark Kamins’ passing to bring us back together.

If I wasn’t so exhausted, I’d head off to see the legendary Robin Byrd, who is doing a Q&A thing tonight at 7pm at The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. I personally have a thousand questions I’d love to ask her although I suspect not all of them have answers. I must stumble over to The DL for George Wayne’s Downtown 100 List party.

If I could muster up the energy, I might check out Goldbar, where” Live Flamenco” night is happening for the early birds from 9pm to 11pm, after which DJs Jonny "The Lover" Lennon, Louie XIV, and Chino are entertaining. “Future-themed Thursdays” include doo-wop, jazz, and karaoke. As the evening progresses, rock and hip hop will prevail. They seem to be trying to have fun over at Goldbar. A concept lost on so many operators.

Although I am too burnt out to tell you all about it, I must mention that The Love Show is on its way to Tokyo to shock and awe. Tonight they will have a send-off gala at Triskelion Arts, 118 N. 11th St., 3rd floor, between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg. Due to its proximity to my apartment, this I can attend and after sleepwalk my way to my nearby bed. Please everyone say: Goodnight Mr. Lewis.

Honoring Mark Kamins With None Other Than A DJ-Filled Party At Santos

The passing of Mark Kamins was a definite shock and awww (editor Bonnie spelled correctly!) event. His passing in February made us all a bit more mortal, a lot more empty, and had us all thinking back to our misspent youths… well, spent anyway. Mark’s legacy includes names like Madonna, David Byrne, and Ofra Haza, and almost "everybody" of importance in the downtown DJ/music scene. An event called Mark & Cetera – a pow-wow of "everybody" – will celebrate his life. Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette, will host the party on Wednesday, April 17th.

The band Konk will perform for the first time since 1986. Other performances will include Crystal Ark, Nomi Ruiz, Coati Mundi, Strafe, Johnny Dynell, John Robbie with Harmony Trujillo, and the debut of the Pow Wow Band.

DJ sets by Mike Pickering, Jellybean Benitez, Veronika Vasicka, Justin Strauss, Stretch Armstrong, Eric Duncan, Francois K, WorldWarWalter, Jazzy Nice, Bill Bahlman, Mark Elias, Mark Fotiadis, Kip Lavinger, Ivan Ivan, Delphine Blue, Dodo Almaas, Walter Vee, Jody Kurilla, and more will bring us back to the glory days of Danceteria and Area.

A $20 donation to support the Mark Kamins Scholarship Award in electronic music is being collected.

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My Favorite Ed Koch Story

The passing of former mayor Ed Koch has me sad. I adored the man. Sometimes he was a little right of me and sometimes a little left, but he was – as Frank Sinatra and even Sid Vicious said – a man who did it "My Way." I mean, of course, their way. Mayor Koch was around. You could catch him squeezing peaches at Balducci’s or maybe the Jefferson Market. One day at Balducci’s, we ended up standing near Ed Koch himself. A fabulous friend of mine and I decided that if our significant others didn’t get it together, we would marry each other right there by the cheeses. "How would we do that?" she asked, and I replied "We’d get the mayor to do it." I shouted over to Mayor Koch, "Hey, Mayor Koch, will you marry us here a year from now?" and he replied, "I’ll do it," and the usual stuffy foodies applauded. He was big man, but never bigger than human. He had a street-level connection to those on the street level. He was one of us while our current guy is certainly one of them. I’m going to raise a glass tonight to Mayor Ed Koch, and thank him very much. You did great.

My 5,000 Facebook friends have begun to wish me Happy Birthdays. Tomorrow is the big day. This year, I am going to do it my way. I’ll probably do Lit Lounge and then St. Jerome’s. I am very thankful for Facebook. I don’t know what I would do without it; it keeps me close to friends in Germany and Japan and Finland and California and other far away, exotic lands like Astoria, Queens, and Jersey. I don’t have time to stay in the lives of the wonderful folks who have enriched mine, but Facebook allows me to say "hey!" and "how’s the kids?" and "you look great" and "congratulations!" to those I still love. If I don’t see you and you wish me a happy, then let me just say now, "thank you very much." I’ll leave you with my favorite Groucho quote. "You are only as young as the woman you feel."

Four Years Later: Remembering Michael Jackson Tonight and Forever

Yesterday, the streets were filled with people with pride and I was proud to live in a city that has traveled so far since I was a youth. Sure there’s a long road ahead, but yesterday the past I grew up in seemed as long ago as Howdy Doody. I was happy that W.i.P. got reopened for Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s Gay Pride party. It will be interesting to see if W.i.P. stays open. I wish I had made it to the Mermaid and Gay pride parades but, alas, I was torn to many other elsewhere’s and must do’s. I did manage to get to the roof of the Standard with interior design icon Karen Daroff and her son Robert. Although it was dead summer and "the" crowd wasn’t supposed to be around, we found wonder in this wonderful place. I texted the manager Emily Rieman after, thanking her for her and the entire staffs’ brilliant hospitality. I told her Le Bain was an "oasis of classy fun in a world of soccer-hooligan saloons.”

Earlier in the evening we caught Lady Rizo’s act over at The Darby. It was classic songs sung with intelligence and grace over coffee, dessert, and some Beau Joie Champagne. We glad-handed all the unusual suspects before hoofing it west to Andre Balaz’ anything-but-standard oasis, dodging desperate suburban youth being hustled by bottle hosts at the joints along the way.

Tonight, after BINGO at the Bowery Poetry Club and after the Inked Magazine soiree at Lit Lounge, me and mine will head over to The Darby for The Fourth Annual Remember The Time Michael Jackson Tribute.

On the night of the day Michael Jackson died, we all headed to the clubs for some sort of reconciliation and grasp on the situation. Some use the expression "it will all come clear with the light of day" and I guess for many things light works, but for some concepts only the dark will help. Many tried to find answers by looking at the bottom of newly-emptied shot glasses…others in the eyes or chatter of friends or strangers. I got an education from DJ Cassidy at 1OAK. Tonight he’ll do it again, offering a barrage of Michael and I won’t miss it.

The day after Michael Jackson died I wrote a piece. It may be a little short on the facts we later learned, as it was written in the confusion of the tabloid headlines and lingering grief of the next morning, but it describes my mood and the love of precious life I found at 1OAK the night before.

Blackbook Magazine Goodnight Mr Lewis, June 26, 2009:

Michael Jackson: The Best Club Songs Ever

An autopsy may reveal it was pills or something similar that shut Michael Jackson down, but the heart really gave out because it once was loved by the whole world and wasn’t anymore. My emotions roller-coastered through a day of death and rumor. A great sadness consumed me as allegations and innuendo, tributes and music bombarded me through open windows and closed doors. From beat box radios and every TV in the neighborhood, I was told to remember, condemn, forgive, or just listen. The complexity of understanding the meaning of Michael Jackson’s death personally and on that grander scale became harder by the hour. I was enlightened by Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, Cher, Paul McCartney, and even Celine Dion. Everybody except Elizabeth Taylor was getting into the act — it is an act we and they will find impossible to follow.

From the point of view that I write about – the never neverland of clubs – Michael Jackson’s passing immortalizes the best songs I’ve ever heard on a dance floor. The music will live on as pure and wondrous and as perfect as the man himself was confusing. I won’t dwell on the bawdy stuff; plenty of others will milk that cow. I’ll just say flat out that "Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough" or maybe "Billie Jean" are the best songs I’ve ever heard a DJ offer. To this day they still blow a dance floor up.  Years ago, there were Michael Jackson club rumors. Some claim that he visited from time to time, unrecognizable in prosthetic makeup or with a face wrapped in scarves. The only place I know he went for sure was Studio 54. I asked Carmen D’Alessio about Michael at Studio 54, and she told me, "I of course remember him coming to Studio, 33 years ago. He was a kid releasing his first album. As the VIP hostess, I met everyone my dear, and I do recall clearly a 17-year-old Michael Jackson. He was nice and friendly, and I remember thinking he was very good looking." A quick Wikipedia read finds Michael listed first in a list of Studio 54 attendees. He led over Nureyev, Mick and Bianca, Elton John, Truman Capote, Mae West, Gloria Swanson, Jackie Onassis, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ironically, fair Farrah Fawcett was also listed.

I went to 1OAK, as a tribute was hastily put together with superstar DJ Cassidy only playing M.J. hits to a packed house of the beautiful. O’Neal McKnight danced and lip-synched to tunes, and Robin Thicke sang "Human Nature" in tribute. Cassidy asked over the mic, "Michael, why did we lose you this night?" When I arrived I was skeptical, thinking the idea of this tribute was almost cheesy — and it might have been if not for the sincere efforts by the 1OAK family. We were swept up in Michael’s massive talent as every single impeccably-produced tune held the packed house and dance floor. What other artist could have a catalog of songs that would hold a floor for hours?

I stood with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra surrounded by a stunning and smart crowd. Sparklers announced bottles, and Cassidy offered, "We are here to celebrate the music and the life of Michael." The crowd roared and the waitrons poured, and I became a corny mush. I thought of the immense sadness that must have been consuming him at his end. I wondered if he indeed had just ended it, if he indeed had stopped cause he had enough. I thought of that traffic song, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" — the lyrics, "If you just had one minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish, would you ask for something like another chance? Or something similar as this, don’t worry so much it will happen to you as sure as your sorrows or joys."

I wondered what Michael would have done with another chance. What would he have changed? What did he want that he, with all the fame and riches, never got? "We Wanna Be Starting Something" whipped the beautiful crowd into a frenzy, and the scope of our loss drove me to leave and find some summer air. It’s impossible to measure the wattage of the light that went out yesterday.

I remember watching James Brown’s funeral on TV and seeing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton manipulate a frail Michael to the mic for a speech that was brilliant and eye-opening. He eloquently spoke of the soul icon’s love, contributions, and forgiveness as the Brown estate vultures loomed all around. The world that seemed to be tearing him apart will now fight for his bones, and it won’t be short or pretty. None of them will stop until they get enough, yet Michael Jackson’s life and much-talked about excesses leave us with a great lesson.

Is there ever enough? Can you ever stop? Is it human nature not to be happy with what you have and to keep pushing and fighting till the heart eventually bursts? If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that all you have can be torn from you in an instant.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

Unedited: Celebrating Arthur Weinstein Four Years Later

Four years ago today, nightlife lost a legend, a family lost a father, husband, son…friends lost a dear friend. The loss seemed immeasurable at the time, and four years hasn’t eased the pain. Arthur Weinstein had more faults than most, but he also had more heart and soul and more of an ability to see what’s hidden behind the green curtain than anyone I have met. Toward the end of his life he found work doing lighting for those who saw him as a light. This morning, Greg Brier called me to remind me.

Many refer to my era of nightlife as "the good ol’ days," but compared to the generation before me, it was… amateurish, mundane. Clubs like Save The Robots, Paradise Garage, Area, The Continental, The Mudd Club, Nells, Berlin, Studio 54, Nickel Bag, Stickball, The Nursery, Danceteria and such preceded my reign of terror. I became relevant when I operated The World for Arthur, Peter Frank, and some other guys. Arthur was a mad genius who understood that it was heart that pumped up the volume and love that ran through the veins and cool that ran the thought process. Nowadays, for better or worse, most joints run with little heart, cash for blood, and with lots of educated but not-so-creative brains running the action. Self-interest has replaced the art of it. Arthur would be in Brooklyn now looking for, latching onto, and educating the next big thing.

Below is a lost article I wrote just after his death. It can’t be found online anymore but I found the unedited copy I sent in for edit the day after I heard the sad news.

"Art passed yesterday after a courageous fight with cancer. Known to everyone with clout in the nightclub industry Art was a familiar face for a few decades. He owned and operated some of the best clubs in history. The World, Hurrah, The Continental, The Jefferson provided thousands of extraordinary nights for thousands of hipsters long before the word was unfortunately coined. Everybody loved and respected him, even those who were over him.  Even years after he had operated anything he could still get Calvin or Ian or Grace on the phone. Grace Jones paid a visit to him recently as he lay dying in his Chelsea hotel apartment. He told me of hanging with Ian Schrager and David Bowie who he called the "White Knight" and he never ceased to amaze me with stories of life in the fastest lane. It wasn’t the drugs or the booze that killed the beast it was, as Carl Denham once said, it was beauty that killed him. He was trapped by the drug called clubs, its kaleidoscope like enchantment, its vision and pitfalls and by his camera and his art, the pitfalls were ignored as Arthur only saw the possibilities.

Arthur’s world was light and magic and imparting wisdom on those of us who had less than he, and that just about covers everyone, Arthurs eyes saw through the hype and saw the souls of those around him, once when at the door of one of his clubs I was hustling the celebrity du jour inside when Arthur chided me, “why do you give a fuck about him? get these kids in!” and it was a posse of skaters and then he went inside to share some Stoli with them. Art never gave a damn about the hype. You were either cool or you weren’t and no amount of tabloid success made you cool but a hat tilted at the right angle made you a pal. He loved the Yankees and he would call me and take me to a game and we would roll up and I’d ask where we were sitting and he’d say “shud up!,don’t worry about it” and we’d walk right in with a wave and no tickets and we’d sit downstairs in the good seats and move around a lot because he could not sit still. He could never sit still. He didn’t have a lot of patience, especially for assholes. Often I’d like someone and Art would say “that asshole” and my head would tilt , I’d look a little closer and I’d get over the dudes rap or rep and find no reason anymore to hang with him. Art was right , he was always right about assholes. But then he’d latch on to some loser and find the glory in him and reveal to us why this underestimated denizen of the deep was worthy of our precious time. Again I was wrong, confused, snobby or just dumb, the fool was me and not the denizen.

I don’t know how to continue without Art. He was my biggest critic yet my biggest supporter. Sometimes the press the public and everyone around me would be all up my ass congratulating me on some job well done and Art would point out my flaws and show me a better way. Sometimes I’d be down on myself, designer blocked and he’d tell me “I was on to something. It was really good “and I’d pull it off." He was the wisest of the wise guys and those who met him always knew they had met someone. Once when I was working for him it rained real hard and the crowd was small and he walked in and I made a rain excuse about the numbers. He said “shud up! never blame the rain” and looked around the room “what a great crowd everybodies having fun, get in there with a smile on that puss of yours” and so I did and it was great and I had learned , one lesson of a thousand lessons.

You can’t tell a man’s life in a thousand words and as I write this I’m hard pressed to stop as if when I do he’ll actually be… really gone, I’ve cried for hours and I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried and I remember the last time I saw him so thin, so weak with tubes draining fluids and that tachometry hole and I had been warned by Greg Brier( Arthur and my dearest friend) that it would be shocking. In a few short weeks he had lost his body following the loss of his ability to speak a few months before. I walked in and said “hey art I got 2 tickets to the Yankee game… lets go!” and he opened his mouth wide in a huge silent laugh and I saw my poor friend with his best rings on and knew the fight would soon be over. Colleen and Dahlia, his wife and daughter, will be part of my family forever and I will do my best to be there for them. With his death Arthur has given me new life and commitment to try to live up to the standards he set for me. That he considered me his friend is the greatest validation ive ever had, Im gonna have to stop now as I cant see my words any longer."

A Day & a Life to Remember: Harold Hunter Day

Harold Hunter, who passed over six years ago, left an enigmatic legacy. He was a breakthrough artist with his skateboard and his lifestyle. He was sweet-as-pie until he wasn’t. He was always good for a laugh or maybe a cry. He inspired. He was disappointing. He was human. Most of all, he was human. He was way up and way down. His life was like a pass in a half-pipe, soar or crash, but always pushing the limits. He was as comfortable in a club as he was on the street skateboarding and wherever the kids gathered for a game. He was going to be a star. He was a star. I saw him in the movies where he was a reality star before we even had reality programming.

In honor of his life and character, Harold Hunter Day has been created. Alex Corporan, a good friend of Harold, tells us all about it.

Harold Hunter Day is an annual skate jam celebrating the life of Harold Hunter. Over a thousand skateboards, spectators, pros, legends and friends of Harold have attended every year. Started by the Harold Hunter Foundation, director Jessica Forsyth was pretty much a sister to him; she wanted to do H.H. Day to honor Harold as a remarkable individual and a unique skateboarder. To me, Harold made the world go round; he made kids, men, and women feel good about skateboarding and being themselves. Harold was full of life, and he had plenty to give. 

This is why H.H. Day is so amazing; Harold’s energy is still there and will continue to be. This year marked the 6th annual Harold Hunter Day, and it just keeps growing. The H.H. Foundation now raises money by doing several events throughout the year which raise money to send kids to Camp Woodward Skateboarding, where Harold spend many joyful summers. Sending H.H. Foundation kids to Woodward was a natural place to start.

The Woodward and Element scholarship program is just the beginning of what we hope will be many initiatives to expand NYC kids’ horizons, help them to experience the world, and make connections through skateboarding.

Harold Hunter Day continues every year so look out for it because it only gets better…..

Legendary DJ & Producer Mark Kamins Has Passed Away

The rumor mill has it that legendary DJ/producer Mark Kamins has passed. A massive coronary in Guadalajara, Mexico where he (pictured, last on the left) apparently was teaching was cited. He was having heart problems for a few months and about three days ago went to see a cardiologist. Yesterday he wasn’t feeling well and went to a hospital and passed away. Facebook, often the fastest bearer of good and bad news, has it being true. A number of close mutual friends are sadly confirming that this club/music legend has moved on. Mark was best known for helping sign a young Madonna to Seymour Steins’ Sire Records and producing her hit "Everybody." That was back in 1982. 

He worked with David Byrne, Ofra Haza, Karen Finley, and UB40 and Sinead. He had a heart of gold and a million friends. I just got this news about an hour ago and I am a bit shaken and not stirred to write anything. I will say that when I spoke to him a number of months ago, he seemed pressured. Some are saying he needed a heart bypass and didn’t have the means. Word came to me that his ex has confirmed. I’m not sure how this will become official … move from rumor to fact. That’s all I know except that Mark was beyond a legend. He was exceedingly human. He was vulnerable but sure, brilliant yet lost, a good friend but often very much a loner. I DJ’d with him at subMercer a couple years back and it was just about the most fun I’ve had at that game. Justin Strauss was whispering the names of obscure tracks Mark was spinning, and I’d go to the booth and say "hey, I was going to play that" and he was incredulous and amused. Mark tried to help me DJ but of course that was impossible. He was a titan and I a mouse. He was just grand. 

Here is an interview I did with Mark in the mag back in December 2008. Rest in Peace, old friend.

Legend has it that Mark Kamins was bugging Sire Record’s Seymour Stein for a producing gig, and Stein told him to get his own act. That act turned out to be Kamins’ ex-girlfriend Madonna. Stein was so anxious to sign the material girl that she was rushed to his hospital bed to get it done. Mark’s production of her first single “Everybody” still bangs dance floors today. Kamins’ production career includes work with the Talking Heads, Sinead O’Connor, the Beastie Boys, and my old friend and Danceteria bartender turned performance artist Karen Finley. When I was going through my wonderbread years in the nightclub world, I looked up to Mark and always felt privileged to have a few minutes of his time. I caught up with him via Skype as he is now living in Europe, and we chatted about the music and the rise of the International DJ.

Where are you now? I’m in Paris, then I’m going to Moscow, and then Tokyo for a month.

You’ve made a life for yourself as a traveling DJ. Well, now I’m like Barbara Streisand — I’m on my retirement tour, then I’ll come back out of retirement next year.

Can a person like you retire? I don’t think so. DJs will play till they die.

Years ago before I was in the nightlife business, I looked up to you like you were a god. You were one of the people on the scene who was not just making music but was also leading the way, taking everybody to a place they hadn’t been before. Where was your beginning in this business? I was always just a guy who played records at parties, from when I was ten years old on.

You DJed at places like the Mudd Club, Danceteria, and Peppermint Lounge. My first gig was at Trax, which was the rock club on 72nd and Columbus. And that’s when Jim Fouratt and Rudolph heard me and Sean Cassette play, and they decided to put both of us together in the booth at Danceteria.

What are your memories of Danceteria? There were at least three Danceterias; the first one was on 38th Street, and it was an illegal Mafia club with no liquor license, but we sold drink tickets. Jim Fourrat had this concept of bringing the bands, and Rudolph had this concept of image, and we were the first club to have video. The magic of the first Danceteria was Jim and Rudolph taking Sean Cassette from Hurrah (which was Arthur Weinstein’s first club) and then taking me from Trax, where I played Motown and hardcore R&B, and putting us together in the booth at Danceteria. We opened at 8 p.m. and played till 8 a.m., which was the first time two DJs played together for 12 hours. Sean would go into punk, and I would go into James Brown and beyond, and that was the magic of it. This was around the beginning of the new wave era, with the coming out of the Sex Pistols. Those were the original seeds of new wave.

New wave to me was one of the most fun music genres. I guess now that music is going that way, the electronic music is happier. Do you see that in Europe also? What’s going on in Europe right now is amazing; it’s a very 80s feel, but its very electro. A lot of bands want to sound retro; they don’t want to sound fresh from all the new technology. They want to record on tape, they don’t want to record on the computer. So it’s really exciting when I listen to these kids, even my son’s band, The Young Lords … it’s amazing, that these young kids can take the new music and do that again.

In the 50s we had jazz, the 60s rock, 70s disco etc., and somewhere around the 90s and 2000, there wasn’t much new music being made. Now it seems that there’s a new type of music or a new energy coming. Can the mash-up be considered a genre? No. I’m a DJ, and every DJ has the same record — it’s how you play that record, that’s what makes a difference. So what’s happening now is that new kids want to hear live music, and its killing old school guys like myself and Frankie and Jellybean. Rock bands are doing DJ sets, which is now the hippest thing in Paris, and one of the hippest things in New York. So, in a funny way we’ve gone the full circle — we killed live music and bands in the 80s, and now they’re killing the DJs.

Bring me back to a time with the Beastie Boys, with Madonna and seeing a type of music, seeing a person like that — the talent of the Beastie Boys coming up through the nightclubs. First of all, I think Danceteria was a magical space like Andy Warhol’s Factory or Max’s Kansas City or CBGBs. Jim Fouratt and Rudolph had this amazing finesse to hire people that they believed in. Why were the Beastie Boys the sweepers at Danceteria? Why was Madonna one of the dancers? Why Sade was the bartender at Danceteria? That’s crazy shit man. So you’re talking about a magical moment, a magical space, and a magical time where it was the beginning of something. Even Karen Finley was the bartender, and LL Cool J was a busboy. Rick Rubin, who is now one of the greatest producers in the music business, his first gig was playing with the Beastie Boys on the second floor of Danceteria because I had to go to a gig in Europe. I have a Polaroid picture of that night.

How did you help to launch Madonna’s career? I produced Madonna’s first record, “Everybody”. I discovered her and brought her to Seymour Stein. At that time, I was working for Chris Blackwell at Island Records, but I was the DJ for the Talking Heads so I knew Seymour. I brought Madonna to see him, and he gave me a singles deal, and then we did it. That was probably her best record, the only one she made with a live drummer.

You went on to work at other clubs like Mars, Tunnel, Palladium, and at one point decided to take your show on the road and you ended up in Russia, Japan, and Brazil. Every time I spoke to you, you were coming from someplace like that. A lot of club promoters and club owners came to see me, and they would come up to the booth and say, “Forget about what’s happening here, would you come and play in my club?” And I became the first DJ that was booked to travel and play in all these other countries.

That was unheard of, and I remember you bringing back world beats, stuff from Greece, Spain, Africa, that people had never heard of. And Belgium and Japan also … there was one record shop in Japan called Wave that actually had every record from every country in the world.

There was a time when DJs didn’t travel internationally, and the beginning of it was with you, Mr. Mark Kamins. I opened the doors for a lot of guys, especially in Japan. We opened the first real nightclub in Japan called Turia, and then a few years later we opened Gold, and that was the first club where every two weeks I would bring in a DJ from New York. I loved it. It was the first time David Morales, Little Louie Vega, Dimitri, and all those guys left New York City.

Bowery Bingo Legend & Andy Warhol Star Taylor Mead Has Passed

On Wednesday, bad news came as it does these days, via tweets and facebook. Taylor Meadan Andy Warhol "superstar," has passed. Other publications will get into the details of his life and death. They’ll list the underground movies he was in and repeat notable poems he wrote which were much more notable when he recited him. Those other periodicals and blogspots will tell of his long-running run-in with his landlord who finally bought him out. 

He was in Colorado when he left us. He was visiting a niece when a stroke stopped his heart. I won’t get into the details, but they are out there for you if you care. 

What can be said about him that Taylor didn’t say about himself before on the street, in a bar, or one of the countless Bowery Poetry Club readings I attended? I’ll just say this…when I heard the news, all I could think of was the people who loved him. I could see their faces weeping from the loss.

Taylor was wonderful. He was brilliant. He was a lovable monster. He was a definer of the downtown altar that I worship. Decades ago, a friend and I would seek him out in the East Village bars that he haunted. We’d buy him drinks in exchange for tales of life within the candle. He told us of Andy Warhol and the coolest peeps on earth. Sometimes he would hate them all, sometimes he would love them all. Sometimes he would love himself, and sometimes he would hate himself. I always felt that his love/hate for Andy’s gang was because they could appreciate him on a level far above us all. Taylor was a player with the most "in" of the "In-Crowd."

A year or so ago, I was playing Bingo religiously at the Bowery Poetry Club. It usually sold out, so I got there early to reserve seats for my crew. Taylor would read poems he randomly chose from a satchel bursting with them, and in between, he’d tell tall-tales while playing classical music or Charlie Mingus tunes on a small beatbox. 

There were times he would yell at the early Bingo aficionados for talking while he was enlightening. Once, he yelled "Bingo" when he didn’t have it, just to disturb the later event to get even. 

I went every week. Sometimes I’d hear the same story a dozen weeks in a row. Sometimes something new and bold sprang up. When Bowery Poetry closed to give way to Duane Park, no one made room for Taylor. On his last night, I thought I’d never see him again. And so it goes.