Icon of perversion Jack Smith, Club 57 DJ Dany Johnson and Ann Magnuson at a party on Crosby Street, 1980. Photo by Ande Whyland.
In anticipation of the opening this weekend of Ann Magnuson and Kenny Scharf’s big East Village West exhibit at the Royal/T gallery in Los Angeles, original Club 57 D.J. Dany Johnson has made an exclusive two-hour musical mix for Dangerous Minds readers:
Club 57 was a magical little club in the basement of a Polish church at 57 St. Marks Place. This mix is like a mixed salad of all the kinds of stuff I played. I spent many nights digging through my old suitcase full of the 45s I had picked up at neighborhood thrift shops, mixing them with records by my contemporary favorites such as ESG, Bush Tetras, Tom Tom Club and the like. This mix may be a little more mixed up than a typical set I would have played, but not by much. There might be some places where I waited too long for the next record or put one on too soon, just like the old days. The only way it could be more authentic is if I spilled a gin and tonic on it.
The block quoted text below is a slightly edited email that Dangerous Minds pal Ann Magnuson sent me this morning regarding an amazing sounding art exhibit that she and artist Kenny Scharf are curating at the quirky Royal/T gallery in Los Angeles. Titled “East Village West” (in official partnership with “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980”) the show aims to link the fabled New York neo-Dada art scene of the late 70s/early 80s that coalesced around Magnuson’s Club 57 nightclub with its campy Hollywood influences. In the words of the curators “Walt Disney, Russ Meyer, Roger Corman, The Beverly Hillbillies, Sonny & Cher, The Partridge Family, Hanna-Barbera, Ed Wood, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, Sid and Marty Krofft, The Monkees, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, The Mamas & The Papas, the cast of Rowan & Martin’s LAUGH-IN, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, Rodney Bingenheimer and his glam rock English Disco and every Shindig-lovin’, hullabaloo-ing teenager who ever rioted on the Sunset Strip.”
This is a museum-quality show, another art world score for Royal/T.
The exhibit is primarily art and ephemera from the collections and archives of Kenny and myself. Funny enough, I was finally sorting through all my East Village memorabilia when Kenny called me and asked if I’d take on the lions share of this curating job as he has a big show coming up and is painting night and day. It’s become massive! We have paintings, sculpture, fashions, video, photographs, ephemera….it is really a museum quality show! We focus primarily on Club 57 but there are many other elements as well…
We have art by Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat (one real and two of my fakes), Tseng Kwong Chi, John Sex, Kitty Brophy showing art she’s never shown before, Bruno Schmidt, Kenny Scharf, Ann Magnuson, Vincent Gallo, Frank Holliday, Scott Covert, Stefano Castronova, Nancy A. Kintisch, Greer Lankton’s Terri Toye doll, Paul Monroe, Plasticgod and Randy Focazio; photographs by Robert Carrithers, Harvey Wang, Ande Whyland, Lina Bertucci, Joseph Szkodzinski; video by Barry Shils, Steve Brown, Andy Rees, Tom Rubnitz, and others; fashions by Natasha Adonzio (Natasha N.Y.C.) and Katy K; special ‘vintage’ DJ mix by original Club 57 DJ Dany Johnson in the “Porta Party” installation pod; PLUS cool ephemera and rare video provided by original Club 57 members like Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman, Kristian Hoffman, Howie Pyro, Naomi Regelson, Jerry Beck and so many more! PLUS excerpts from THE NOMI SONG (directed by Andrew Horn) and ARIAS WITH A TWIST (directed by Bobby Sheehan)!
We are showing a lot of John Sex’s art that has never been exhibited. He made these gorgeous silkscreens and several feature Klaus Nomi. We also have many of the beautiful large silkscreen posters he did for events at Club 57.
Joey Arias is sending us several of Klaus Nomi’ costumes. The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Postmodernism show is currently showing two of Klaus’ costumes. They wanted the vinyl coat that we will be exhibiting (a very early costume of Klaus’ that he had made based on the Sixties plastic raincoat Howie Pyro stole out of his mother’s closet so Klaus could use it to create his Nomi character that he debuted at the New Wave Vaudeville show). Joey couldn’t find it when he was gathering items for the V&A but he finally did find it and he sent it to us! (Howie is also DJ at the opening).
There is a beautiful slide show featuring work from 5 different photographers on the scene. LOADS of video including live footage from Club 57 never shown. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (who won the Tony for HAIRSPRAY) did some of their first musicals at Club 57 and we have a clip from one of them. Clip from THE NOMI SONG about the New Wave Vaudeville show and clips from ARIAS WITH A TWIST to give the youngin’s a quick East Village history lesson.
Kenny Scharf videos (very Warholian if Warhol was a complete goofball), my MADE FOR TV, the video of the Ladies Auxilliary LADY WRESTLING night…
A compilation of our California influences that were transmitted into our still forming noggins via TV edited by Jonathon Stearns that I KNOW you are gonna love.
A special display for the Monster Movie Club (Howie Pyro lending us his MMC t-shirt).
Young members of the ‘new generation’ carrying on the tradition of Club 57 will be performing. Fresh off last seasons AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, Prince Poppycock will sing The Mumps song THAT FATAL CHARM to a track he is recording with Kristian Hoffman (who wrote the song). Another Hoffman hit is one originally sung by Klaus Nomi and sung by Timur of the Dime Museum who is simple astounding! Drag King Mo B. Dick is ‘coming out of retirement’ to do John Sex (John Waters says she is his favorite Drag King, she was featured in PECKER) , and more! (Everyone is listed in text below).
Austin Young is doing an on site art installation called CALIFORNIA NEW WAVE creating New Wave makeovers, Austin Young style.
Dany Johnson made a 4-hour DJ mix of her Club 57 favorites.
The list goes on! As you can see, the show and the opening in particular is going to be a bona fide old skool ART HAPPENING!
We encourage everyone to pull their pointy toed shoes and ripped fishnets out of mothballs and come on down!
We hope to inspire and encourage the young kids how to have fun and be wildly creative with no money! We did it during the first great recession, it can be done during the second!
The details: Royal/T presents East Village West, curated by Ann Magnuson and Kenny Scharf. From October 1, 2011 until January 10, 2012. Opening reception Saturday, October 1, 8-11pm
DJ Howie Pyro and performances by Prince Poppycock, Timur of The Dime Museum, Drag King “Mo B. Dick” as John Sex (along with “his” Bodacious Ta-Tas), Stacy Dawson Stearns, Gregory Barnett, and Meg Wolfe are The Psych-Out Dada Go-Go Family and of course Ann Magnuson and Kenny Scharf.
Plus video from Club 57 never before shown in public. Doughnuts are promised.
Below, a slideshow of some of Harvey Wang’s great photos of Club 57:
Club 57’s entertainment, much of it rooted in punk rock and an ironic take on campy TV re-run culture, had the same kind of “let’s get up and put on a show” spirit as a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney musical, but against a much more decadent backdrop. It’s fascinating to see how this era is being defined by contemporary art historians, as well as first rate digital fare like this unique portfolio.
From photographer Robert Carrither’s statement:
I lived in New York during the early ‘80s, a very special unique time of creativity in New York. I was a regular at a place called Club 57 in the basement of a Polish church on St. Marks in the East Village. It was a creative laboratory that would change night after night with themes and happenings. One night there would be an art opening and then another night there would be bands, films or a crazed theme party. Many talented and fun people developed their art at Club 57 throughout this time. The following photographs capture some of these memorable people through portraits or at the various events.
Each of these photos has its own story. Please read them and you can understand each one better.
Carrithers: “Ann Magnuson was one of the founders and the first creative manager of Club 57. She developed her performance skills night after night going from one incredible character into the next. From Soviet lounge singer to country and western to heavy metal. She went from performance artist in the downtown 80’s New York to the thirteen all-girl band Pulsallama (and was the lead singer and lyricist for the band Bongwater and in the fun heavy metal band Vulcan Death Grip). She went on to Hollywood films and TV. A charming, talented chameleon performer. There really is way too much to write about her. It is best to go to and see for yourself: www.annmagnuson.com.”
Carrithers: “I guess I do not need to write too much about Keith. He was a regular at Club 57 and had his first shows there. He took off as an artist not so long after. An inspiring person and artist of the early 80’s in New York. I photographed him at one of his first shows outside of Club 57 somewhere on the west side of New York City.”