Jimmy Murray sits behind his desk at Envision with a big smile on his face as he shares pictures and highlights from his recent night at an opening at MOMA in NYC.
The Museum of Modern Art might seem an unlikely venue for a party to celebrate the opening of “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983.” but one night, just a few weeks ago, it looked like a class reunion of the 80’s Downtown Demimonde, when scenesters from the ’80s East Village gathered in the simulated rooms the museum’s curators had reimagined.
In homage to the club that Ann Magnuson, Susan Hannaford, and Tom Scully ran in the basement of a Polish church at 57 St. Marks Place, this exhibit was held below street level, in the museum’s Titus galleries. Featuring the work of Club 57’s most famous regulars, Keith Haring (a cartoon he painted onto the door of a cabinet owned by Joey Arias (Mudd Club), is being shown here for the first time) and Kenny Scharf among many others.
I was at the Envision Gallery, talking to Jimmy about NYC in the 80’s, because lately we’ve both found ourselves caught up in the swirl of the Wayback Machine; he with Club 57, me with the Mudd Club and visa versa because they did in fact cross over. Everything did.
Jimmy and I first met at the now defunct club, Ramona’s where we both worked for a time. and recognized one another immediately from the Downtown Scene. Although he hates the term, he was a precursor of the so-called Club Kids, denizens of New York’s night life, being just a teenager when he started making the rounds of the clubs. All these years later, it seems our often misspent youth perhaps counted for something.
Jimmy’s most certainly did! A fledgling filmmaker, “Doris and Inez Speak the Truth” became his Thesis film project at the School of Visual Arts in 1984, and during this time he also worked at Danceteria as a bartender to help finance the making of the film. The film starred Jackie Curtis, Dennis Dyke, Michael Santoro and Tom Noonan.
Candy, Holly, Jackie — the three Diva Queens of the Cult founded by Andy Warhol and Mickey Ruskin on Union Square and Park Avenue South, in the fabled New York City Factory days circa 1964.
Jackie Curtis has the role of Inez, in this, the film version of George Haas’ “Doris and Inez Speak the Truth,” which Haas wrote for himself and Tom Carey, the original Inez, to perform in cabaret theater at Danceteria and other late-night venues. When Haas met Jimmy the movie was born. It was the last film Jackie Curtis made.
Now everything old is new again. The world is fascinated with the 70’s and 80’s and it seems that those of us who witnessed and survived those dubious decades, are obligated to relive them in one way or another!
Jimmy’s trajectory to Taos started on the same streets as my own. And here we were, looking through the MOMA Book/Catalogue on Club 57, as if it were a high school year book!
“Remember him?” One of us would point.
Yes. I did, and although many are no longer with us – lost to drugs and AIDS, here we are in Taos far away from the everyday, yet still right in the center of it all!
During the 70’s, Jimmy attended the Quaker, Friends Seminary by day, and at night he frequented the Mudd Club, CBGBs, and Studio 54 dance clubs. From 1980 to 1984, he studied film at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, while working as a bartender at Danceteria. After graduating film school, Jimmy worked in the commercial film industry until moving to Taos in 1989.
Now, all these years later his graduate film, “Doris and Inez Speak the Truth,” starring Warhol Factory superstar Jackie Curtis and actor Tom Noonan, is part of this exhibit at MOMA.
“The coolest thing was being there (at the opening), with family and friends from here,” smiled Jimmy.
Clearly, he has much to smile about!
For much more on Jimmy Murray (and his Envision Gallery) please visit the sites linked below. The show at MOMA is also linked below.
Thanks to Jimmy Murray for all shots at MOMA and stills from the movie “Doris and Inez Speak the Truth”
Due to all this interest in the 80’s, MOMA recently included my friend Richard Boch’s best-selling book The Mudd Club, in their gift shop, alongside other books chronicling the Era.