I guess a lot of people who remember CBGB‘s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, recall the intense hideousness of the bathrooms there. I think they’ve mostly been guys talking about it, but the Ladies Room there was no better.
And I use that word “Ladies” as loosely as you can possibly imagine, gang.
The bathrooms there were just wretched but that’s also part of what made CBGB’s so endearing, really. At least in the Ladies Room there were actual stalls. But none of the stalls had doors. And the Ladies Room itself didn’t have a door, so if you had to go in there and pee, you would definitely have a random male audience in there, watching you pee.
I, of course, am easily flattered. I recall one night when I was in there peeing, and some guy was drinking a beer and just standing right there in front of the stall staring at me.
ME: “Get the fuck outta here!”
HIM: “No way. You’re too pretty.”
ME (thinking): Well, okay, if you put it that way…
I’m bringing up CBGB’s today because it is an extraordinary day today. Blare N. Bitch turns 60!!! Can you believe it, gang? What I cannot believe is how fucking great she still looks!!
Here’s a couple of my favorite shots of her from something like 2015.
I also want to say right up front here that what I’m writing about today is a memory from a really long time ago. We’re just friends now and she’s been very happily in love with her soulmate for something like 25 years or more.
But when I first met her, in 1982, I fell absolutely totally 100% in love with her. OMG. Her eyes were so pretty. So dark. I felt like I was literally falling into centuries of past lives when I was looking at her face.
I was a long-haired, bisexual folk singer in those days. I wore black mini-skirts and cowboy boots. Played an acoustic guitar in clubs in the West Village. And she played bass in an all-girl punk band that played the clubs on the Lower East Side. She always wore black jeans and a motorcycle jacket. That kind of thing.
I saw her play at CBGB’s a number of times, but we knew a lot of the same musicians and once she and I were both at CBGB’s to watch somebody else’s band play.
What happened before we went into the bathroom is kind of hazy because I drank like a fucking fish back then. But I’m guessing I was telling her how crazy in love I was with her (we only knew each other casually at this point). I know, though, that going into the Ladies Room was her idea, and that making out there in the stall was her idea. But I also know it was the very best idea God ever gave to anyone on Earth, ever. Even though through some of it, we had that random male audience.
Mostly, we just kissed (a lot). But since she was the only person in the Universe that I wanted to kiss, it’s one of the very few kisses I still remember after nearly 59 years of being alive.
I could have spent the rest of my life kissing her, but it didn’t work out that way. We didn’t really mesh at first. Heroin was a big part of her life then, and I was heavily into speed when I wasn’t drinking like a fish (and most of the time, I did both at the same time). Even though I remained hopelessly in love with her, it was a couple of years before we finally meshed. For fleeting moments over several ensuing years, she was clean and I was sober.
Out of the blue, she showed up at one of my gigs. She was back in NYC after some gigs in Europe and I did not know she was back. Oddly enough, that was the night that I played “Where Do Dark Girls Go?” in my set for the first time. And it was a song I’d written for her, and I said as much from the stage, not having a clue that she was sitting out there.
She left before the gig was over. I only found out that she’d been there because other people told me she’d been there. But she called me on the phone a couple days later – a thing she never, ever did. And for a little while after that, it was Heaven on Earth time, you know?
We went to a movie together: Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Which had the most extraordinary soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Man. Making love with her was exactly like that soundtrack. Just too beautiful. Too haunting. Too extraordinary. And I felt like: Oh, so this is why I’m still alive; God wanted me to know about this.
And it happened in that wretched little apartment of mine on E. 12th Street, which just proves that you can be in the depths of Hell and not even notice it because God arrives anyway, with those breathtaking gifts.
We did stuff like hung out in bars together, we saw David Bowie together at Madison Square Garden. We did random stuff, but times that stand out most for me were those times alone with her in my bed on 12th Street where everything else in the world stopped and fell away and time stood still and God said something like, “Here you go. Enjoy this gift. But don’t get too used to it because life really isn’t like this. Nothing can sustain this kind of beauty forever.”
Life just keeps pushing forward. Just on and on, evolving forward, right? You can’t stop it. She eventually went to L.A. and never came back. And then, of course, my own life happened, too.
But nothing before her or since her resonated like that. You know, like celestial violins playing while atomic bombs are dropping everywhere. I don’t know quite how to describe it because the lives we were living at that point in the mid-80s were very painful in a lot of ways. We were both searching for things and running from things and surrendering to things and fighting off awfulness. And then suddenly in all of that, we’d be making love.
I once sent her a single translated stanza from Baudelaire’s poem, Femmes Damnees from his book Les fleurs du mal:
Ah, look not so, dear sister, look not so!
You whom I love, even though that love should be
A snare for my undoing, even though
Loving I am lost for all eternity.
I meant it totally back then, and in a ghostly sort of way, I still feel it now. In that way that haunting phantoms sort of linger.
Okay, well, I’m gonna leave you with your choice of 3 “soundtracks” from back then, each are equally part of how I felt for her. Each are songs I played on my record player nonstop back then, in that room on E.12th Street where so much heaven came home to roost, if only fleetingly.
Happy 60th Blare N. Bitch!