Mudd Club

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The Mudd Club
Mudd Club facade NYC.jpg
Mudd Club building facade in NYC
Location 77 White Street, Manhattan, New York, USA
Coordinates Coordinates: 40°43′3.57″N 74°0′8.43″W / 40.7176583°N 74.0023417°W / 40.7176583; -74.0023417
Opened 1978
Closed 1983
Owner Steve Mass, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips
Mudd Club plaque on building in NYC

The Mudd Club was a TriBeCa nightclub opened in October 1978 by Steve Mass, art curator Diego Cortez and downtown punk scene figure Anya Phillips. Located at 77 White Street in downtown Manhattan, it quickly became a major fixture in the city's underground music and counterculture scene until its 1983 closing.


History[edit]

The Mudd Club was named after Samuel Alexander Mudd, a doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. It closed in New York in 1983.[1]

In order to secure the space for the Mudd Club (a loft owned by artist Ross Bleckner), Steve Mass described the future venue as cabaret. Mass claimed to have started the nightclub on a budget of only $15,000.

The club featured a bar, gender-neutral bathrooms, and a rotating gallery curated by Keith Haring on the fourth floor. Live performances included new wave, experimental music, literary icons Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and catwalk exhibitions for emerging fashion designers Anna Sui and Jasper Conran.

From the start it functioned as an “amazing antidote to the uptown glitz of Studio 54 in the '70s”.[2] As it became more frequented by downtown celebrities, a door policy was established and it acquired a chic, often elitist reputation.

The Mudd Club was frequented by many of Manhattan's up-and-coming cult celebrities. Individuals associated with the venue included musicians Lou Reed, Johnny Thunders, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Arto Lindsay, John Lurie, Nico with Jim Tisdall, Lydia Lunch, X, The Cramps, The B-52's and The Bongos; artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and his then-girlfriend Madonna[3] and (later) Keith Haring;[4] performers Klaus Nomi and John Sex; designers Betsey Johnson, Maripol and Marisol; and underground filmmakers Amos Poe; Vincent Gallo, Kathy Acker, and Glenn O'Brien.

Live music at the club featured New York "no wave" bands like DNA, The Contortions, and Basquiat's band Gray. In 1979, Talking Heads performed songs from their new album Fear of Music to a packed crowd of punk rockers. Tim Page produced several concerts at the Mudd Club in 1981, in an attempt to meld contemporary classical music with rock and pop. On the dance floor, DJs David Azarch, Anita Sarko and Johnny Dynell played a unique mixture of punk, funk, and curiosities.

Six months after it opened, the Mudd Club was cited in People Magazine: “New York’s fly-by-night crowd of punks, posers and the ultra-hip has discovered new turf on which to flaunt its manic chic. It is the Mudd Club.... For sheer kinkiness, there has been nothing like it since the cabaret scene in 1920s Berlin.”[5]

After its first few years, Studio 54 celebrities like Andy Warhol and David Bowie began to show up. In 1981, the Mudd Club's Steve Mass began showing up at the more informal Club 57 on St. Mark's Place, and began hiring Club 57 crowd (including Keith Haring[6]) to help acquire part of that downtown scene.[7]

The Mudd Club closed in 1983. Some regulars noted, "At the end, it was not much fun anymore. I mean, it had just become--kind of like the hangers-on to the hangers-on at the Mudd Club."[8]

The club is mentioned by Talking Heads in their 1979 song "Life During Wartime", by the Ramones in "The Return of Jackie and Judy", by Nina Hagen in her 1983 song "New York / N.Y." and by Elliott Murphy (who performed at the Mudd Club) in his 1983 song "Off the Shelf". Frank Zappa included a song named for the club on his album You Are What You Is.

Steve Mass later opened another Mudd Club in Berlin in 2001 (located at Grosse Hamburger Strasse 17); this Berlin club was considered an intimate venue for touring bands.

In 2007, the arts organization Creative Time placed a plaque on the NYC building to commemorate the club's existence.[9]

On October 28–29, 2010, a 30-year reunion of Mudd Club artists and regulars was held at The Delancey nightclub in Manhattan. Many bands and performers from the Mudd Club and Club 57 performed, including Bush Tetras, Three Teens Kill Four, Comateens, and Walter Steading. A crowd of now-middle-aged Mudd Club regulars were reacquainted for the first time in years.[10][11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blanks, Tim (February 25, 2001). "Mudd Quake". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  2. ^ Musto, Micheal. "Farewell, Queen of the Mudd Club," Village Voice Le Daily Musto Blog Aug. 17 2008.
  3. ^ Fretz, Eric. Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography, Greenwood Press, 2010. Chapter 3.
  4. ^ Gruen, John (ed). Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography, Prentice Hall Press, 1991.
  5. ^ People, July 16, 1979.
  6. ^ Haring, Keith. Keith Haring Journals. Penguin, 1997.
  7. ^ Hager, Steve. Art After Midnight: The East Village Scene. St. Martin. 1986.
  8. ^ O'Brien, Glenn. "A Dialogue with Diego Cortez," Jean-Michel Basuiat 1981: The Studio of the Street, Chrata, 2007.
  9. ^ Kennedy, Randy (April 29, 2007). "Touring Warhol's Space, and 32 Other Art-History Sites". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2010. 
  10. ^ Mudd Club / Club 57 / New Wave Vaudeville Reunion website
  11. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth. "Its Name Was Mudd," New York Post, October 23, 2010.
  • Musto, Michael. Downtown. Vintage Books, 1986.
  • Gendron, Bernard. Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde, University Of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • Reynolds, Simon: Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, Penguin Books, Feb. 2006, pgs. 266-267, 278-279.
  • Van Pee, Yasmine. Boredom is always counterrevolutionary : art in downtown New York nightclubs, 1978-1985 (M.A. thesis, Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, 2004).

External links[edit]