It isn’t until halfway through this experimental film clip that we encounter the formidable Nico face to face. It’s 1982 and she’s well into the heroin addiction that made her performances unpredictable and often sad affairs. In this case though, the chanteuse, the song and the smack seem to meld into something quite perfect in its world-weary and haunting way.
The clip is from Mr. Dead And Mrs. Free, a production of Chelsea’s store-front performance space The Squat Theater. Many artists and musicians, from Andy Warhol to Sun Ra and The Lounge Lizards, found the Squat a friendly environment for their experiments.
In his review of the play, critic David Sterritt wrote:
Their most recent show, Mr. Dead And Mrs. Free, also includes long film sequences, which eventually give way to a bizarre cabaret act, a battlefield scene, and an inscrutable sculpture in the shape of a giant baby with TV sets for eyes.
For many of us who tramped through the city’s darker nights of the soul, the lyrics in “New York, New York” cut a little deeper. Nico brings the kind of spin to the tune that speaks to the mad side of Manhattan.
“These vagabond shoes
They are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York”