‘New York, New Music’ and Old ‘80s Stories from those Who Lived It

Posted on: July 15th, 2021 at 5:08 am by

Godlis, Joey Ramone, St. Marks Place, 1981. Courtesy of the artist.

David Godlis, photographer:

I have a photo in the exhibit of Joey Ramone, which I took in 1981. The Ramones were making a music video on the street, and I saw them from outside my window. I went downstairs and took some photos, including one of Joey, standing in front of a bunch of different band flyers, which were wheat-pasted on a wall.

I didn’t know why the curator wanted this photo for the exhibit because, by 1981, the Ramones were sort of like the old guard; they had been around for a while. When I saw my photo in the show, I realized that all of those flyers represented so many New York bands. Right across from the image of Joey was a work by Charlie Ahearn [of hip hop MC Dotarock] standing in front of a wall of hip hop flyers. So, that is the kind of diversity in music that was going on.

Charlie Ahearn’s artwork of MC Dotarock, 1981. Photo: Lori Greenberg.

We are going to end our series of New York New Music personal stories not with a quote, but with a list from the legendary performer Joey Arias, whose portrait is on display in the exhibit along with a suit from “Mermaids on Heroin” (a performance series at Danceteria, which was once described as “the first epic rock video soap opera”).

“Mermaids on Heroin” suit, worn by Joey Arias (right). Photo: Lori Greenberg.

Speaking with Joey reminded us of so many wildly creative people and places who were integral to the scene at the time that we decided to list them just as Joey breathlessly recited them. If you don’t know who these people are, please look them up. It will be worth your while.

Keith Haring
Klaus Nomi
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Andy Warhol
Dianne Brill
John Sex
Ann Magnuson
Wendy Wild
Katy K
Fred Schneider
Ruben Toledo
…we were the gang!

Harvey Wang, Klaus Nomi, Hurrah’s, New York City, 1980. Courtesy of the artist.

New York, New Music: 1980-1986 is ongoing at the Museum of the City of New York.


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