We are three independent writers and filmmakers shooting an independent documentary about the Chelsea Hotel, El Quijote restaurant and, in general, the past, present and future of these two cultural institutions of NYC.
So far we have interviewed many personalities related to the hotel: past and present tenants, cultural analysts, writers, artists, etc. So in order to better illustrate all these testimonials, we are going to need all kind of images for the movie.
If you have photographs, videos, etc. of the hotel, whether professional or amateur, beautiful or ugly, ancient or modern, from the lobby, front desk, stairs, the art that was hanging on the walls, etc., etc., it would be fantastic if you want to share them with us.
Unfortunately our budget is ridiculous, and we cannot pay for them, but we assure you that your name will appear in the credits of the film as a collaborator and the pictures will be properly credited. And, needless to say, your generous help will be of great importance to this love letter that we are devoting to one the most iconic places for the literature, music, acting, etc.,of the last century.
As for the technical aspects, the ideal is that the photos are large (200-300 dpi and 2,500 px of size). However, in case they are smaller, we could consider them to be included. If you have the pictures in paper, we could work out how to scan them.
For any questions and also for sending images, videos, etc., you can write us to: [email protected]
The Chelsea Hotel community mourns the passing of one of its guiding lights, the poet, painter, art critic, and Warhol Superstar Rene Ricard, who died this past Saturday, Feb. 1. The cause of death was cancer.
Rene, who will always be remembered for his quick wit, sparkling intellect, and generosity, passed away at the hospital surrounded by some of his many close friends. Rene, who had lived at the Chelsea Hotel continuously since the early 90s and sporadically before that, was 68.
Rene was probably the most famous remaining member of the (now seriously depleted) Chelsea Hotel community. And no account of the history of the Chelsea Hotel, or of its famous creative energy, is complete without him. In fact, in these dark times when the city, including the Chelsea Hotel, is being carved up by developers, those of us fighting against gentrification, would do well to remember Rene as the very embodiment of the New York artistic bohemia that we seek to preserve. Rene was one of the last of a dying breed, someone for whom money was secondary, and who survived in the city by his wits and the force of his personality and his larger-than-life talent and artistic vision.
Poet, artist, actor, dancer, critic, jack-of-all-trades and all-around wild man, Rene Ricard was born in 1946 and grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He ran away to Boston at age sixteen, where he supported himself by working as an artist’s model, and by eighteen he was in New York City, becoming involved with Andy Warhol’s Factory scene. Warhol soon cast Rene in a movie, Kitchen, in which he spends most of his time with his back to the camera, washing dishes, while Edie Sedgwick sneezes and runs a malted machine to cover up the fact that she’s forgotten her lines. Rene had a better role in 1965’sChelsea Girls, in which he stars in the “Boys in Bed” episode, rolling around in his underwear with two other boys in a room at the Chelsea Hotel. In his (and Edie’s) last film for Warhol, The Andy Warhol Story, Rene embarks on a speed-fueled diatribe, rattling off every nasty thing he can think of to say about Andy. This is the kind of part Rene was born for, and surely it must have been his finest role, but sadly the film has been lost. An art critic in the eighties, in 1981 Rene published “The Radiant Child,” the first major article about Jean Michel Basquiat, in Artforum. Rene has published three books of his poetry: Rene Ricard (1979), God With Revolver (1989), and Trusty Sarcophagus Co. (1990), and was portrayed by the actor Michael Wincott in Julian Schnabel’s 1996 film Basquiat. Rene brought out a book of his art in a limited edition in 2003.
The King of the Chelsea Eccentrics, Rene gives one the sense of a being not of this world. He flits around the hotel, ethereal-like, on a cloud of his own creation. Tall and gaunt with a wispy goatee, a porkpie hat atop his head, he’s a bundle of nervous energy, unable to sit still. Rene is quite learned and knowledgeable about art and culture and many other subjects besides. When he speaks he’s agitated, restless, wringing his hands, almost frantic sometimes—though often he positively bubbles with good humor. His speech can best be described as a sort of off-the-cuff intellectual rant. Though what he says is never uninteresting, and you’ll always want to hear more, he speaks quickly and is gone. Blink and you might miss him. If you’re lucky enough to run into Rene on the elevator, he will sometimes share a poem, often an obscene or ribald one. He’s often seen with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and the mind immediately turns to thoughts of fire. (Source: Legends of the ChelseaHotel, DaCapo 2007; Photo: Wallpaper)
The fire, of course, was in Rene’s fevered and intensely creative imagination. Like all of us at the Chelsea Hotel, since the ouster of the Bard Family in June 2007, Rene had been engaged in the struggle to save his home and his way of life. And though he managed, for the most part, to keep himself above the fray, the stress—construction noise, poisonous dust, denial of services, and disrespect—and the uncertainty connected with the constant threat of eviction, no doubt took their toll on him as well. But Rene was not one to succumb to despair. At the time of his death Rene was experiencing a rebirth in the interest of his paintings, fueled by a successful Vito Schnable –curated show of his work.
Rene’s close friend Rita Barros says, “Rene died on his own terms and surrounded by his close friends. We will all miss him dearly. New York will never be the same without him.” Whatever happens to Rene’s earthly shell, and to the shell of this old Hotel, Rene’s creative fire, and the spirit of the Chelsea Hotel that he embodied will live on.
A simple gathering with a blessing to send Rene off in peace, will be held this Thursday, February 6, 2014, from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker Street, NY NY 10012
By the way, Chetrit also snatched dozens of paintings—donated or loaned by resident artists over the years—from the walls of the lobby and stairwell of the hotel. Who knows what has become of these artworks, some worth big money, but most of them valuable only for their connection to the Hotel Chelsea.
Hard Rock Hell: Destruction and Renovation of the Hotel Chelsea
By 2007, Stanley had just completed a modest, historically sensitive, 10-year renovation project on the common areas of the hotel. He was also in the process of slowly renovating some of the rooms. When Krauss took over, she attempted to fast-track the destruction/renovation, but the Department of Buildings quickly put an end to this ill-conceived effort. Chetrit, however, didn’t mess around: he brought in a non-union demolition crew that tore down walls and ripped out original fixtures and woodwork, gutting historical rooms such as the ones where Thomas Wolfe and Arthur Miller lived and created. Besides that, Chetrit partially installed new electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning systems—none of which, however, is yet working.
Despite all the sound and fury, Chetrit completed renovation on only a couple of model units on one wing of the hotel, the 7th floor east. The offending architect, Gene Kaufman, is famous mainly for designing Holiday Inns, and the result, as you can see from the photo, is predictably chintzy. Though Scheetz’s resume as manager of the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel may raise some eyebrows in chi-chi design circles, he reportedly realizes that the 7th floor east is a disaster, and intends to redo it. For this he has retained several new vendors including David Belt (DBI Construction Consultants) and Marvel Architects.
Goodbye Redbrick Road: Evictions
Since Krauss took over in 2007, approximately 66 residents in 55 rooms have been evicted. Most of these tenants were artists, writers, actors, or others in the arts, and some of them were unable to find affordable housing in Manhattan, thus contributing to the ongoing cultural impoverishment of New York. Though evictions have slowed down recently, Scheetz still has a number of tenants in housing court (most of them originally sued by Krauss or Chetrit). The good news is that approximately 87 of us in 57 rooms still remain, and we aren’t giving up easily.
Chelsea Hotel at the End of the Universe: The Future
If there’s a Rock-n-Roll Heaven, it will have to put its stars up in some other hotel for the foreseeable future. In other words, don’t look for this place to open back up anytime soon. The last I heard was that Scheetz was telling people that the Hotel Chelsea will reopen in Summer 2015, but, even if he’s willing to commit tens of millions of dollars to buy rent stabilized tenants out of their apartments, that date seems unrealistic. The hotel is an absolute wreck: bricks and masonry exposed, metal frames lining the halls, wires and pipes hanging from the ceiling, gutted rooms boarded up with plywood, sidewalk sheds clogging the hallways, plastic over everyone’s doors in an effort to keep out the dust. And since Scheetz has taken over, “construction” (deliberately slow and disruptive under Chetrit, and often amounting to little more than harassment) has almost ceased entirely.
The plan, of course, is to turn the Hotel Chelsea into a boutique hotel with a trendy club on the roof and a lounge in the lobby, but don’t call for reservations yet. The situation could change at any time, however, so stay tuned. -- Ed Hamilton
…. He takes me on a
tour of the Hotel from the luggage storage area behind the front desk (“imagine the
potential for this as a hotel
bar”) to the roof area dotted with random flower beds and mismatched patio
furniture (“Look at that
view—I’d love a rooftop bar here”)…
The Chelsea Hotel community,
together with music fans from around the world, mourn the recent passing of
South African jazz singer Sathima Bea Benjamin (Oct. 17, 1936 – Aug. 20, 2013). She was 76.
longtime resident of the Chelsea, Sathima moved into the hotel in 1977
with her husband, the celebrated jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar
Brand). She remained at the Chelsea
until 2012, when she and her family moved back to Cape Town.
In her long
career, Sathima and her husband worked with jazz artists as diverse as Dexter
Gordan, Ben Webster, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk. Sathima recorded ten albums over her long
career, including Morning in Paris
with Duke Ellington, and Dedications,
which was nominated for a Grammy in 1982.
Though she often worked in the shadow of her more famous husband,
Sathima’s incredible career is the subject of a 2010 documentary film, Sathima’s Windsong, directed by Daniel
Yon (below is the trailer).
Sathima was an important part of
the Chelsea community, and many residents attended her 70th birthday
party at the New York jazz club Sweet Rhythm.
But the last time we heard Sathima sing was at an event at a Village
club honoring longtime friend and fellow jazz performer Stormé Delarverie. Early in the evening, standing in the
restless crowd as disco music throbbed through Henrietta Hudson’s, Sathima
expressed some reservations about singing: “I think we’re at the wrong
place. I don’t think these people want
to hear me sing. I think they want to
dance.” We assured her that they would
love her singing. “For Stormé,” she
said, “I’ll sing.” And in the end, she
had them eating out of her hand. In the
cab ride home, satisfied with her performance, she said, “I came, I did my
thing for Stormé, and it wasn’t hard work for me!”
The Green-Wood Historic Fund in association with
Variations Theater Group is producing The Spoon River Project outside in Brooklyn’s
grand Green-Wood Cemetery. The shows take place after-dark and deep in the
heart of Green-Wood’s 478 acres. On Saturday’s there are two shows, the second
is at midnight! Arrive at 11:30pm under the cloak of darkness for this
special performance. And before it begins, you'll
travel deep into the heart of Green-Wood for a tour of the Catacombs,
an historic in-ground vault usually off-limits to the public. Buy tickets and learn more here!
The Chelsea community is united this week in mourning the passing of one of its own, artist Lloyd M. Rucker. Although the exact circumstances of Lloyd’s death are still under investigation, on the 18th of this month his body was discovered by a hotel staff member in his small room on the first floor.
Lloyd was born on March 24, 1957, and grew up in Virginia. At the age of 16 he left home and moved to New York City, living where ever he could find a place to stay for the night, and learning to scrape by as best he could. In the early eighties he moved into the Chelsea Hotel, and knew at once he’d found a home. Lloyd lived in the Chelsea for (approximately) the next 28 years. For many years, Lloyd lived on the fifth floor in a room facing 23rd St. At some point, however, he moved to a smaller room on the first floor, where he lived for several years with his then wife YenWen Chen. Lloyd, who was quite distraught at the recent destruction of the Chelsea, had recently been fighting eviction in housing court.
Lloyd worked primarily as a painter. He loved color, both in his manner of dress and his art. Several of Lloyd’s paintings were, until the Chetrits’ recent anti-beautification campaign, on display throughout the hotel. Lloyd’s style was eclectic, his canvases alternately abstract and realistic. (You may remember the two that hung in the stairwell: one depicted a man in a hat riding a bird; the other was a swirling yellow and orange abstract.) A true Renaissance Man, Lloyd was also a collagist, a musician (he played the guitar and sang), a songwriter, a poet, and an artist’s model.
Graceful and poised, as one would expect of a model, Lloyd was also very strong physically and very body-conscious, a gentle giant. He was a true gentleman, his ex-wife, Yen, told us, an extraordinarily kind and caring individual. He didn’t care for money, and would share what little he had with others, frequently buying food for the homeless. Though he loved people, Lloyd was a private individual and typically didn’t complain about anything. He was someone who could always get by on his own, and he taught Yen, too, how to survive in the city.
Though Lloyd loved life, he wasn’t afraid of death. He would say he had just graduated to another plane of existence. All he asked was that he be allowed to live and die at his beloved Chelsea Hotel. And while he may not have wanted to go so soon, in the end he got his wish. Lloyd believed that if he was to return to this Earth he would come back as a flower—that’s what he called himself, in fact, the Iron Flower, because he was beautiful but also strong.
Lloyd is survived by his ex-wife, YenWen Chen, and by several family members from Virginia, including his mother and father. Our thoughts go out to Lloyd’s family and friends in their time of bereavement. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time but we will update the blog as more details become available.
Daniel, who owned Daniel Reich Gallery, on West 23rd St., moved out of the Chelsea Hotel sometime around late 2011 or early 2012. After battling eviction in Housing Court, he reportedly took a small amount of money from the Chetrits in exchange for vacating his apartment.
The Utrecht Art Supplies store across the street from the Chelsea Hotel is being gutted! I guess with the artists being evicted from the Chelsea, there's no one left to buy art supplies. Actually, not to worry, the sign on the art store's door says they'll be reopening on August 18. Maybe they're going to start selling mold test kits and HEPA filters in their new incarnation, as that's what the artists need now more than paint brushes.