Recap: Friday Night Farewell at Billy’s Antiques on the Bowery

Posted on: March 13th, 2012 at 11:25 am by

The end is here. If Saturday afternoon was the funeral for Billy’s Antiques at 76 East Houston, then Friday night was the grand eulogy. The following recap of the festivities was written by the newest Bowery Boogie contributor, Nahal Nazer.

Friday night marked the penultimate farewell gathering for Billy’s Antiques and Props, as one of the last standing landmarks of old New York prepared to dismantle its tent the next day. Shop owner extraordinaire Billy Leroy, former proprietor Tony Goldman, and the filmmakers behind Dirty Old Town put on the event as a tip of the hat to one of NYC’s most eccentric establishments. Patrons and friends crowded the vacant tent to enjoy a final night beneath its mystical tarps, with a full bill of local musicians and speakers. And of course, kegs of brew.

Emblematic of feelings surrounding the establishment’s final breath, the evening made for a bittersweet celebration. The lineup presented a diverse mix of sounds, including performances by Kelley Swindall, The Naked Heroes, and headlining band The Virgins. But it was during Lorraine Leckie and Her Demons that raw emotions in response to the shop’s closing came to light. Leckie, Billy’s wife and shop matriarch, began by jeering the audience to “go shop at Crate-and-Barrel,” a gibe aimed at the neighborhood’s increasing reliance on chain stores and high-end boutiques. Following a set of dark and quirky tunes, the songstreess tenderly choked up amidst her final song, a ballad dedicated to Billy and their love that blossomed in the very streets where their shop once stood.

Between the music, speakers chronicled the Bowery legacy with tales of vanished flophouses and gritty characters, reveling nostalgically in the neighborhood’s colorful past. During a mini Q&A, Billy even shared secrets such as the number of people who had died inside the shop over its notorious 25-year residency: a conceivable two. The intimacy of the evening dissolved as the night progressed and the kegs tapped, but not all sentimentality was lost as guests bid farewell to Leroy’s past and welcomed his future as star of a new Travel Channel series.

Walking home through downtown, it occurred to me how common a tale akin to Leroy’s has become; steadfast members of the community finding themselves marginalized as the neighborhood strays from its roots. One can only hope that the greats of this community who relied so heavily on the history of these streets can evolve with them into the future, as Leroy has.

Recent Stories

nurse-jackie-filming
Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie’ is Filming Its Final Season in Hell Square Today

Showtime announced last week that it’s pulling the plug on the popular Nurse Jackie franchise after the upcoming seventh season. But not without some local filming activities first. In the meantime, production for the final episodes will be full swing in Hell Square today. The “no parking” laminates line the bounds of Allen/Essex/East Houston/Delancey. Plan […]

clinton-lineup-traffic-1
The DOT is Happy with the Changes It Made to Help Alleviate the Congestion at Grand and Clinton

The westbound intersection of Clinton and Grand Streets is fixed, the Department of Transportation proclaims. Agency engineer Rich Carmona took a pseudo victory lap last week at the Community Board 3 transportation subcommittee meeting by extolling the progress made in the last couple years. You’ll recall that the traffic patterns around the Williamsburg Bridge shifted […]

rickys-md-spring-street
Ricky’s Opens ‘Urgent Beauty Care’ Pop-Up at the Kardashian Complex on Spring Street

Temporary Ricky’s Halloween stores are taking over downtown this autumnal season. Two have sprouted on the Lower East Side in as many weeks at 250 East Houston and 104 Delancey. Now another branded pop-up is slated for a high-profile corner property that’s been in the gossip rags recently. Stop by 63 Spring Street (at Lafayette) […]

mobil-condo-plywood
Mobil Gas Station on East Houston and Avenue C is Boxed Up; 9-Story Condo Development Coming Soon

Thanks to Boogie reader DC, we now see that the Mobil gas station at East Houston and Avenue C is now boxed up for the next phase of its life. In due course, the 6,000 square-foot parcel will yield a nine-story condoplex. You know, exactly what Loisaida needs. We learned ten days ago via EV […]

shi-eurasia-orchard
Reader Report: Shi Eurasia is Moving Around the Corner Due to High Rents

Fans of imported eats have been flocking to Shi Eurasia on Orchard Street for the three-plus years of its existence. Its shelves are perenially stocked with bounty from Asian and European countries, including snack foods, pastries, noodles, coffee, tea, etc. But Shi is now reportedly on the move, thanks to an exorbitant rent hike. According […]

  • http://www.facebook.com/LorraineLeckieAndHerDemons Lorraine Leckie

    Thank You BB ..You Rock !!