My days changed depending on what show I was putting on, what sort of rehearsal schedule I had and how late I’d been up the night before, though I had a rule for myself: Always be back before sunrise. My primary motive back then was to put on a show, and anything that slowed me down from that had to be curtailed. By 1981, I was no longer the manager at [the East Village performance space] Club 57, but I still helped out and performed there a lot. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Lower East Side — sort of a punk rock version of my mother’s Junior League group, which I started with some other girls from the East Village — hosted several events at the club. We had a prom, a debutante ball, a ladies’ wrestling night. In 1981, I suggested a bacchanal — a night of pagan merriment as spring was coming. So in April we held the Rites of Spring Fertility Bacchanal. We made an altar to a llama, and everyone dressed in kind of Greco-Roman outfits — I wore a toga with sequins. Wendy Wild made magic mushroom punch. We also created a percussive orchestra that was all pots and pans and a lot of racket, and that was the debut of the band Pulsallama. It was really like a combination of living theater and installation art, very communal. That’s what happened at Club 57 a lot: We told people, “This is the theme. Come be a part of it.” The doors would open and things would get going by 10, and by midnight it would be raging. In the mornings, usually around 11 a.m., I’d go to one of the coffee shops around the corner on Avenue A. Odessa was one, and Leshko’s was the other. People divided themselves into camps based on which one they favored — I liked Odessa better, but I’d go to both. That’s where you’d run into people, share breakfast.
Jennifer Beals, actress
When “Flashdance” came out in 1983, Paramount put me up in the Carlyle Hotel to do promotion. It was an incredible contrast from the last time I had lived in New York, when I was 17, during the summer of 1981, in a $500-a-month sublet loft that my boyfriend and I had found paging through our bible, the call to another life — The Village Voice — in his basement in Evanston. I remember I was drawn to the ad for the loft because it was in a place that sounded like “trifecta”; my father had taken me to the track, so that seemed comforting and familiar. (What a loft was, I wasn’t entirely sure.) Being at the Carlyle was amazing, but I was still an undergrad at Yale at the time, and the whole thing felt unreal, as though I was living two lives. One day, I was walking uptown to an appointment just before noon, and coming toward me was Robert Duvall. He recognized me and stopped to congratulate me on the film. It was crazy. He said he was going to lunch with some friends, and did I want to join? I couldn’t, but I did turn around and walk with him for some blocks to the restaurant. It was a brilliantly sunny day, and standing outside was Dustin Hoffman. Bob introduced us, and Dustin congratulated me on the film and told me my acting was “naturalistic.” It dawned on me that there are so many different styles of acting and you don’t have to adhere to just one. I was 19. I didn’t know anything. That completely opened my mind.
David Salle, artist
The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 is sometimes used as a marker of the beginning of the end of the art world as it was then known, as if the two were somehow related, as if an election ushered in some new aesthetic permission, a new vulgarity, which is really a kind of negative magical thinking. I doubt if many artists experienced it that way. Everyone I knew hated Reagan and couldn’t wait for him to get out of office. I remember being in someone’s loft — it might have been [artist] Brian Hunt’s — with a group of friends, watching the inauguration on a little black-and-white television. The silence, as they say, was deafening. No one could believe that this B-actor was about to occupy the White House.
Samuel R. Delany, writer
I got up at anywhere from 3 to 5 in the morning and worked as long as I could. I worked in my office at home, an eight-room walk-up on the Upper West Side. It was a very different kind of neighborhood from the one I grew up in in Harlem — just starting to be gentrified. The apartment was big, but the hall was in very bad repair, or at least looked it. “Mom says that your apartment looks like a crack den,” my daughter told me once. A “crack den” lined with books.
At 11 to 12, I’d had a nine-hour day. I would walk around the neighborhood, go down to 42nd Street and do a lot of movie cruising. I’d go for two, three, four hours and have a fairly good time. There was a theater called the Capri that I went to a lot. There were others: the Venus, and down in the 14th Street area, the Variety Photoplays, a Spanish one called The Jefferson, The Metropol [Metropolitan]. Some of them were open 24 hours a day, or they were closed maybe four hours a day for cleaning. They were relatively small, rundown theaters; they tended to have a fair amount of drug use going on. A lot of it was crack. Before that it had been pot. These places were used largely by working-class men, white, black and Latino, people who thought of themselves as straight and gay, many of whom were amenable to sexual things. They could be stimulated by the heterosexual pornography that was on the screen. This kind of activity is highly socially ordered: You don’t barge in on other people, that’s all part of it. I tended to feel particularly safe in the theaters. AIDS was a very strange situation; starting in ’82 you knew very little about it, and then a few years later you suddenly realized it was the largest killer among your personal friends. It cut down a great number of the people who were out there doing it, but at the same time, the ones who were left were much more intense about it. You weren’t afraid of getting it, you were wondering when are the symptoms going to show up.
Debbie Allen, actress
I held auditions for “Fame,” the TV show, on a Sunday at the New York School of Ballet because that’s where I trained, and Mr. Thomas [ballet dancer Richard Scott Thomas] was happy to give me a studio. I had been starring on Broadway in “West Side Story,” and I had done the movie “Ragtime,” which was also coming out, but dance has always been my heartbeat. So when they talked to me about playing the character Lydia Grant, the dance teacher, I said, “Yes, I would be so interested if I could also be responsible for the choreography.” Because by this time, I had been developing as a choreographer, working with the Henry Street Playhouse and the New York Shakespeare Festival, and I really loved doing it. And they said, “Yeah, you can have that” — they weren’t even thinking about it. They paid me like a tenth of what they paid me to do the acting, and it became my whole life. We were shooting the pilot, and I was trying to find the best dancers I could. They were supposed to be 17 or 18. Some of them were lying about their age and I knew it, but I didn’t care. I said, “To hell with it!” Jasmine Guy auditioned; she wasn’t of age yet. Bronwyn Thomas, she was like happy feet on her toes. She was the ultimate ballerina, and she became that on “Fame.” I was excited that I would be able to introduce this new band of gypsies to the Hollywood scene.
Tom Bianchi, photographer
Columbia Pictures had given me this SX-70 camera at a conference, and I started documenting life in the Fire Island Pines [an area of Long Island known as a haven for gay life], which just seemed very important to me. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, a boy like me didn’t know there was a place for him in the world like that. Very quickly, I realized it had potential to be a book. Two editors at Simon & Schuster thought it was terrific, but they said, “You have to produce this yourself, and we can possibly get you a distribution deal. We can’t put the money out for something this queer.” Then [writer and editor] Bob Colacello saw the project and said, “Andy Warhol has a three-book deal with Houghton Mifflin. He has one book but he doesn’t have the next two. Maybe he could do your book under that contract.” So I went to the Factory and stood at a tall table with Andy and Bob, and Andy went through the dummy. It was almost a surreal experience, because I had the feeling that this person is only vaguely here. As Andy turned the pages, he said things like “Oh, that’s nice,” “Oh, that could be larger,” “Oh … ” At the end of it, he said, “Yes, I think we should do your book. I’ve gotta go to something, Bob will call you.” I took the elevator down to the street and I saw a phone booth and the first thought that came to my mind was, “Do not call any of your friends and tell them Andy Warhol is doing your book because I don’t think that’s for real.” And sure enough, he didn’t.
Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/t-magazine/24-hours-new-york-city-1980s-life.html