In 1986, I moved to my apartment on 90 St. Marks Place, in New York's East Village. It was above the St. Mark's Bar & Grill where the Rolling Stones had just filmed the video for "Waiting on a Friend". It was to be my home, and the backdrop for much of my photography, for the next 20 years.
In those days St. Marks was a rough place. It bustled with runaways and skate kids, with dealers and dime bag rappers and fabulously dressed low-lifes on their way to or from an after-hours club.
The East Village art scene was exploding. Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Futura 2000 were pasting up murals. And seemingly every other person walking by had a guitar case, was an actor, a model, an artist or a photographer.
My apartment became ‘home’ to a kaleidoscope of roommates, visitors, friends, lovers, total strangers and people that just needed a place to crash ... or party. It also became the place where I photographed – blurring the lines completely between my life and my art.
The kitchen was my darkroom and every other corner of my home became an impromptu studio. Nothing was planned. Everything was spontaneous. I just made sure I had a camera in my hand.
In the early 2000s, however, life at St Marks began to change. The local fleabag movie house became a Gap clothing store. The Korean delis were replaced by Starbucks. Whole blocks were renovated and gentrified. St Marks was becoming hip. Rents began to rise and the artists, inevitably, started moving out.
My turn came in 2006 when my landlady, with whom I had developed a very close friendship, died. Her daughter inherited the building. Being a businesswoman, in a city that was now all about business, she saw the chance of higher rents and a different breed of renter. She duly gave us a three-month notice of eviction.
I still dream of that apartment and the intense, beautiful, often riotous, times I had there.
These photographs are an honest, spontaneous record of what I have lived and of the lives and loves for which my home in St. Marks became the setting.
Limited Numbered Edition of 500 Books.
London: Claire de Rouen Books (WC2H OEW)
and St. Marks Book Shop (3rd avenue and 9th street)
Tokyo: Time Out Cafe & Diner (Liquidroom 2F, Ebisu), Utrecht (Aoyama) and On Sundays (Watarim BF, Jingu-mae)
Or you can order a book directly from me, firstname.lastname@example.org