The corporate bloggers over at Living with Legends must be getting desperate for material. The latest profile interview published is with your humble editor.
I feel invigoratingly validated being written up in a real blog.
Except for the occasional party that lasted until dawn he was a great neighbor! We're fairly certain he'll pass through the Chelsea's doors again. If he's lucky, he'll be in time for the reoccurance of that god awful stench.
This week, we are honoured to bring to you the work of a Hotel Chelsea enthusiast, Randi Marx. Randi lives and works in Memphis (or as Elvis says--"Me'phis") and first visited Hotel Chelsea in June of 1981. Amongst her artistic endeavours, Randi has produced a beautiful sequence of art cards in which she depicts the Grande Dame of West 23rd.
The works resonate with an air of mystery, a certain other-worldliness that, I think you will agree, captures something that the photographers lens never could. To my eye, Marx’s pictures are very much about absence. They are the drawings of someone who lives in exile from their spiritual home, Hotel Chelsea.
Randi's drawings are unpopulated but they don’t lack for life. Just below the surface is that un-nameable glue that holds the corroding building together. The contradictory play of light and gloom, art and neglect, endeavour and failure all rise to prominence here. Randi draws the ‘Chelsea magic’ that has enchanted thinkers and creators for at least a century now.
We have added a permanent link to Randi's pictures in our sidebar links so that you can go back and look over and again. We did.
23rd & 7th decided to put some hard questions to Randi in our never-ending quest to understand.
What attracted you to the Chelsea Hotel?
It began very simply. I loved the Sex Pistols in the late 70's. I was one of the few people who also loved Nancy Spungen. Oh yes, I also love Dee Dee Ramone. All the music at the time seemed to center around this amazing hotel. I'm also very-much into the art movement surrounding Warhol. I've loved Edie (Sedgwick, here. I also love Edie Massey of the John Waters' films. But that's for another time.) But to sum it all up, since Nancy was murdered in that hotel, I just had to visit it and see what it felt like in there. I finally got there a few years after Sid had died. After being in there awhile--coming down a certain set of stairs, actually-- I recognized it as a place I'd dreamed about all my life. All those years before, I thought the building in my dream was a big old house. It turned out to be the first floor of the Chelsea Hotel. There was magick and whispers all in that place. There still is. After that, I knew that the place was not just for "them," but it had something to say to me, too.
What was you first impression of the Hotel on arriving?
At the time, it was much more run down than it is now. The lobby door was propped open and there were large fans set up in the lobby. The people in the lobby seemed homeless, yet they were at their home--the hotel. It seemed like some old hotel from a classic film. I had to sneak up to the first floor. At the time, you couldn't go up without a key. There was a guard at the elevator. The halls seemed darker, more foreboding than they are now. The doors in the center hallway (where the elevators and stairs are) had that heavy feeling and were painted black--just like they are now. I don't remember if they creaked like they do now. Because of that metaphysical realization, I had some kind of spiritual overload, and spent many hours crying. But I always had to go back.
Now the obsession is much calmer, but still as strong. I think about the place so much. I love it so dearly. And I always want to..no, need to...go back. I will go back. I want to live there.
Back then. Rm 100. The door was open. I went in there several times. Last October, 721. But this last time, I discovered some mysterious connection with the 10th floor, which is odd, since I know nothing about that floor. I have no physical or spiritual connection to that floor, not that I know of anyway.
Your favourite Chelsea memory?
This last visit I was in my room by myself. The balcony door was open and the rain was pouring down, splashing on the wrought iron and on the concrete balcony. I could see the bright red of the Chelsea sign right outside my balcony door. The lights of New York were muted inside the mist and low clouds. I was sitting in this worn chair beside the balcony, writing in my journal. It was more quiet than I can even describe, yet it was as if I could hear all kinds of whispers. I got a message from someone--a message I wasn't expecting, and I wrote it in my journal. Then I stepped out onto the balcony in the rain and noticed how the lights were reflecting all in the streets, as if some amazing neon paint had bled into the street water. I felt as if the Hotel embraced me at that moment.
Who are the Chelsea residents / faces who interest you most?
Sid and Nancy, and Dee Dee Ramone. After them, Edie and Janis.
Is The Chelsea Haunted?
I do believe there are all kinds of essences still there. Not sure I'd call it "haunted." It's benevolently inhabited. I think the whispers come and go of their own will and are heard by the few who need to hear them at that moment. I think if you go there with an intent, it won't happen the way you want it to. It will happen the way it needs to. I don't know how to explain it. The Hotel doesn't speak to everyone, though. And the ones she doesn't want to speak to end up not loving her at all and wanting to leave as fast as they came. That's fine.