kottke.org posts about socialclimbers

"Where's Andy Warhol?"Jan 14 2008

In 1984, Maureen Dowd, now an op-ed columnist, was a reporter on the "Metropolitan staff" of the New York Times. This excerpt (from a 5112-word piece) ran in the Times magazine on November 4, 1984, with the headline "9PM TO 5AM." (It's behind the paywall here.)

On Monday nights, Area offers ''obsession'' nights—with fixations such as sex, pets and body oddities. At a recent ''sex evening,'' nude jugglers and whip dancers moved in and out of the crowd while an ex-nun heard sexual confessions in the ladies' room and an old man played with inflatable dolls in a pool.

This evening, the theme is ''confinement,'' and the club is decorated with dolls in pajamas chained under water, a caged rabbit and go-go dancers armed with guns and dressed in Army fatigues.

''Where's Andy Warhol?'' asks a young punk, dragging on a joint and scanning the crowd. ''I want to get a good look at him.''

''I think he went to Limelight,'' says his friend. At Limelight, a church- turned-club on the Avenue of the Americas at 20th Street, halolike arcs of light stream from stained-glass windows.

''We should go there,'' says someone else.

''We should go there immediately,'' says another.

They scurry off to Limelight, unaware that their quarry, wearing corduroys and a backpack, is standing unobtrusively at the bar.

''This is the best bar in town,'' Andy Warhol says. ''You could take everything out and put it in a gallery.''

Matt Dillon, Vincent Spano and Mickey Rourke, each confident in his role as a teen idol, make their separate ways through the crowd, as young girls reach out to touch their arms, backs, anything. Director Francis Ford Coppola is talking to the actress Diane Lane.

Nearby, Don Marino, an up-and-coming actor, is talking to Brian Jones, an up-and-coming director. ''L.A. is a whole different world,'' the actor says. ''You go to the A party, the B party and you are home in bed by 11 for your 5 o' clock call the next morning. In New York, you've got to be seen at night, you've got to get around.''

The young director scans the room. ''I know people Coppola knows,'' he says. ''I wonder if I could go say hi.''

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