Last night we went to a “Living Room” show at someone’s house in the Village and saw our friend Tammy Faye Starlight cannel Marianne Faithful. She had Barry Reynolds, who wrote a lot of songs for Marianne Faithful on guitar, so it was a double treat.
On our way down to the show, we were talking about movies, and somehow I remembered how we saw a movie at The Sunshine on Houston Street a few years ago and sat two rows behind Michael Musto, the New York writer of note.
I was sure it was he; I’ve seen him around at other events and who can mistake those eyebrows and distinctive glasses. This was a couple of years ago, in 2012, I think, and we were watching either Magic Mike or Django Unchained, but I think Magic Mike would have been more apropos.
That got me off on a tangent about other famous people I’ve seen movies with.
The earliest famous person I remember watching a movie with was Ed Koch. I was with my 16-year-old son Javier, on our regular weekly visiting day. We almost always went to the movies on visiting day, and we’d gone to the Union Square Theater to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It was an early show and the theatre was pretty empty. We’d taken seats near the front when an elderly man in a white shirt, sports jacket and suspenders peaking out from under the lapels came in, escorted by a younger man (middle aged) who made sure the older man was seated and then left. The old gentleman was Ed Koch. The suspenders were a dead giveaway.
I nudged my then 15-year old son and said, “There’s Ed Koch.”
“Who’s Ed Koch?” Was his reply.
“He was the mayor of this city once. Oh, never mind.”
After the show I made sure to follow him down to the street, and there was the other man waiting by a big black car illegally parked on 13th Street. He opened the door for Mayor Koch, who got in the back seat by himself. The guy closed the door, and got in the driver’s seat and drove away. A unique New York moment no one else seemed to notice.
The next time I saw a movie with someone famous was also with Javier and it was at the Village East Cinema on 2nd Ave. This was in 2009. Again it was the first show, we were seeing the last Indiana Jones movie, the one with Shia LaBeouf in it. There was a woman I instantly recognized buying a ticket in front of us.
When she spoke my recognition was confirmed, there’s only one person in the world that sounds like Brigid Polk.
I would never have known it was she if it weren’t for a documentary I’d seen on channel 13, coincidentally not two weeks before. I knew about Brigid from my Max’s Kansas City days, she was one of the Warhol Stars and she famously recorded the last Velvet Underground gigs at Max’s on a little cassette recorder.
Back then she was pretty hefty, and in the documentary she spoke more about going to Weight Watchers and Key Lime pie than about Warhol and the whole underground scene. The woman in front of us was considerably lighter by 70 pounds or so, and I would never have recognized her if I hadn’t seen the documentary.
She bought a ticket for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull too. If Javier had no idea who Ed Koch was it wasn’t even worth mentioning Brigid Polk to him, but I did tell Danusia when I got home.
Danusia was with me in 2009 when we sat next to Garrison Keillor at the IFC Center on 6th Avenue. The three of us were the only ones occupying the second row for a showing of one of the Red Riding movies. Danusia recognized him first; he looked familiar as I stood to let him into our row (we like to sit on the aisle) but Danusia made the positive ID. He munched on some candy during the movie.
Those are the movie famous people, but I’ve encountered others.
When I was 20 I was working for the Audio-Visual department at Pratt Institute, and one day I had the job of setting up a sound system for a dance troupe that was giving a performance in the new multi-million dollar gym, the ARC building. The dance troupe was called the Chuck Davis dance troupe and it was African dance.
After setting up the equipment in my socks, you were not allowed to wear shoes on the new gym floor; I sat next to a very pretty middle aged woman who looked vaguely familiar. She smiled at me when I sat down, and we watched the performance together. I couldn’t stop looking at her out of the corner of my eye; I felt I knew her from somewhere.
At the end of the performance Mr. Davis thanked the audience, thanked Pratt, but gave special thanks to “Miss Joanne Woodward,” who happened to be the woman I was sitting next to. She too was shoeless, her nyloned legs tucked demurely beneath her skirt the whole time we’d sat on the floor. My mouth dropped open when he identified her, I was truly in awe.
I wasn’t so much awed a few years later when I stood next to David Bowie at CBGB’s watching either the Ramones or Patti Smith, I was pretty much in a daze all the time back then and don’t remember which, but I do remember David Bowie. Nobody else looks like him.
Which brings me back to last night, Tammy Faye is a great tribute artist, I’ve seen her do a spot on imitation of Nico, and last night it was Marianne Faithful. And she always stays in character during the performance. We had a great time and it’s good to have great memories.