The Dirty Ones, because Williamsburg has always been chic.
1979’s The Warriors became a cult classic by creating a fantastically dystopian world of lawlessness roamed by stylized gangs of the Romantic variety, but the reality of 1970’s NYC gangs was… well, actually… not that much different from their epic, fictionalized versions onscreen. In fact, the fear of gang violence at the time was so fevered, the film was actually blamed for crimes committed against people who were coincidentally coming from or going to the movie. This map from The New York Times is dated August 1, 1974, and the names of the gangs are so dramatic, it’s easy to see how fact and fiction could blur in the eyes of a terrified populace.
The folks over at The Bowery Boys blog even dug up a few details on the “activities” of some of the gangs listed, including The Young Barons (an altercation that ended in one death and the slicing off of someone’s nose, 1972), a battle between the Devils Rebels and the Screaming Phantoms (two rebels were killed, 1973), and the 1974 extortion dealings of the Outlaws, the Tomahawks, the Jolly Stompers and B’Nai Zaken. If that last one threw you for a loop, B’Nai Zaken is a phrase largely associated with Ethiopian Jews, and not (as I had hoped), a bunch of Hassidim with nunchucks.
There was a even a 1973 report that a few local gangs had been cast in an autobiographical gang film,The Education of Sonny Carson, perhaps paving the way for Walter Hill to later do the same thing with The Warriors
Via The Bowery Boys