Thursday, January 12, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part XCIV

The subway downtown, May 17, 1967.
Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Max's Kansas City was becoming addictive!


I was afraid that if I missed an evening I'd miss an event! Uptown, Elaine loved writers; and downtown, at Max's, artists were favored. There was always something unexpected going on there. People were either performers or voyeurs!

"Events" would later come to be called 'Showtime!" Drugs that I'd never even heard of appeared to be standard fare. The person "performing" at this event was Eric Emerson, who occasionally worked at the door and was a self proclaimed singer and actor having performed for Andy Warhol. He was described by some as a "golden, curly haired man-child." In this perverse alternate universe he bore the closest but misleading resemblance to an "All American Boy!"
It was known and talked about that he used the telephone booth as a nightly rendezvous for sexual encounters. The bathroom was also a "romantic" destination causing such inconvenience that if Emerson were not busy in the telephone booth, people used it (and teacups) to relieve themselves in an emergency. People commented about the dampness!

Along with drugs, sex, Warhol, transvestites, superstars, musicians and artists, Max's was also becoming a center of fashion interest. VOGUE had called Max's "a cradle of chic." Boutiques were opening downtown in the East Village on East 9th Street and many of Max's regular customers were either the owners or patrons of the shops. Two young ladies, Colette and Stella had a marvelous store at 321 East 9th Street for the fringe and leathers. They were designers for the Jimi Hendryx, the Allman Brothers, Miles Davis and many others.

People dressed to make a big entrance to come to Max's. See-thru crocheted dresses and bright gaudy colored shirts for men, scarves tied onto every body part and sometimes just nudity were the norm and, in the back room, expected! There was also a lot of thrift shop grunge!

Tiger Morse was one designer who was a regular.
Tiger Morse (right) with Warhol performer Brigid Polk (Berlin) whose father Richard was the head of Hearst Publications.
Tiger had been a married uptown society-ish woman, became infatuated and seduced by the "Youth Quake" trends and opened a boutique uptown on Madison Avenue, the interior of which she covered entirely in aluminum foil. She dyed fur coats with day-glo colors, arrived at Max's wearing her enormous glasses, carrying a lunch box filled with drugs, frequently on roller skates and designed clothes using unusual materials to go with this new liberated youth oriented lifestyle!

Before there was Mylar she even tried to make clothing out of aluminum foil!
Tiger Morse (Reel 14 of ***). 1967. USA. Directed by Andy Warhol. © 2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.
She showed slides accompanied by lighting effects and music in her loft on West 16th Street inspired by Bobb Goldsteinn's earlier Lightworks creation and a few years later, persuaded Mickey Ruskin, the owner/proprietor of Max's, to let her do it a floor above the restaurant which had been transformed into a discotheque. Tiger, who had previously been a respected high fashion designer for prominent society women including Jackie Kennedy became an amphetamine pill freak, fell on hard times and died early.

Betsey Johnson has even said that she'd been inspired and encouraged by Tiger's early success as were other designers.

You didn't want to miss a late evening after midnight at Max's! And I didn't!
My life uptown was a contrast. Bobby (Roberta) and Richard (Dick) Waddell lived in a spacious duplex on the Upper East Side and Dick had an art gallery nearby. They were generous hosts, entertaining artists, patrons, and friends.
They had two young daughters, Sandy and Karen.
Bobby was younger than Dick and loved the discotheque Arthur and some of the new happenings. They were also both interested and involved with liberal political events — Dick's grandfather was Charles Evans Hughes.
After the guests had gone, Dick went to bed and Bobby and I got in a cab and went straight downtown to Max's!
We didn't want to miss anything!
Contact Bob here.
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