From the Author:
I wish I could paint it from memory and drop you right down into it, but memory lies and as usual I wasn’t paying all that much attention.
Rat City, 1990.
David Dinkins is in charge and the city is going down. AIDS is killing everyone, you watch your friends turn Biafran overnight and two weeks later they’re gone. Crack is everywhere and unlike every other drug plague, this one turns every user into a psychotic zombie. They’re out of it but they’re fucking aggressive, so crime is like the weather, it’s a fact, a thing you accept.
Nancy’s working Off-Broadway and doing some soap opera work, I’m writing crazy shit no one wants to produce and auditioning for roles I don’t want in shows that suck and getting a few callbacks but no gigs. Nancy recognizes the larger implications and says,
“Let’s do it ourselves. Let’s just put up these shows. Why not?”
We’d hooked up with two brilliant producer/hipsters from Boston and they called themselves House of Borax. In Boston, or so the legend went, you’d staplegun an empty box of Borax or Tide or some other detergent onto a warehouse door and that was the signal that Wild Theater was going to go down on the other side. They were trying to bring this theater rave scene to Gotham and Nancy and I climbed aboard the train.
The Boraxians had made a deal with a dealer named Cam who oversaw a place called The Piano Store on Ludlow. Cam was running an illegal after-hours club and he had it set up nice with a bar and hash brownies on the counter and a real sound system. He wanted some kind of entertainment to happen around 10:30, some kind of faintly legitimate beard for those few authorities who might be paying attention. The plan was we’d do a show at 10:30, we’d be down by midnight, people would hang out afterwards and then come 2:00, 2:30 the real crowd would roll in.
And thanks to the guerilla producing genius of the Boraxians and our hustling every friend we knew to come down, it was a success. We played through the summer of ’91, a different show every weekend and the place was packed. Aaron Beall was starting his empire across the street and we didn’t even know.
Like all too many good things it ended badly. I didn’t think their stuff was as good as ours and said so. Tried to make a deal where the Boraxians would produce and we’d be in charge of the artistic side. After an epic twelve hour conversation/argument around my aunt’s dining room table in Gramercy Park we parted ways.
Thank you, David and Karen. You threw us into the deep end and you knew how to swim.