in the new book “enter,” Journalist David Kennerley takes an electric visual tour of New York’s 1990s gay club scene. Not with photos, of course, but through fliers — more than 200 of them — featuring polychromatic drag queens and up-and-coming hunks, who found them at popular nightclubs like Twilo and Palladium and at parties like Jacky’s to Frankie Knuckles and Junior Vasquez remixes. tempted to dance. 60 And Lick It!
“People threw flyers on the ground,” Kennerley, 63, said in a recent interview at a Midtown cafe. “I thought, why would you throw this out? It’s going to be a memento.”
Kennerley assembled the book from his own collection of more than 1,200 fliers, which he acquired from a variety of sources – promoters outside clubs, now-closed gay shops and bars, club mailing lists – before social media. A self-described “slight hoarder”, Kennerley considers the book to be an act of strange music history preservation.
“At the time we weren’t photographing all the clubs, so we didn’t have any visual records,” he said. “These provide some sort of visual proof of what happened.”
Kennerley and other 90s club stalwarts recently shared some fliers and memories of the era. These are edited excerpts of the conversation.
Day Fight AIDS, Palladium (1992)
Lady Bunny, DJ and Club Kid In the 80s and 90s, we felt that we needed to come together as a community to fight AIDS. The AIDS scare forced us to party with greater sacrifice. For a whole generation of gay men, especially those in the club world, we weren’t saving money. We assumed that the odds were against us. lolitta holloway And lonnie gordon – This is quite a lineup in terms of songs packing the dance floor.
Michael Musto, nightlife chronicler We learned the power of graphic arts from ACT UP and Queer Nation. They knew how to use slogans and imagery to get their point across. Promoters used that technique to sell their parties.
david kennerly It feels like he is a superhero of sorts. This is what people should have been because of the stigma and persecution.
Purgatory, Sound Factory Bar (1992)
kennerly At first glance, these would appear to be chunky boys in short shorts. It is, but someone photoshopped the heads of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Note that this was about getting out to vote. Credit to photographers and promoters John McEwan and Jason McCarthy. He also beat up Dan Quayle along with George Bush.
Mark Allen, go-go boy and model It was taken during a session where I was photographed with this kid from Venezuela, Richard, whose body was Al Gore. Mine was Bill Clinton. And John says, I want to take a picture of you in cutoff shorts, which were popular on Fire Island at the time. It seemed like something Spy would do in the ’80s. He took three shots and we moved on to the next thing.
You saw t-shirts with this image on the cards. It was a good example of how something could go viral before the internet. I didn’t mind being anonymous. I thought it was art.
Susan Morabito, DJ I don’t remember that particular party but I do remember the flyer.
The Saint at Large, Tunnel (1992)
morabito At the time, the Flyers sometimes inspired conversation and controversy. When the Saint at Large party sent them in the mail, you couldn’t wait to get to it. You will talk to your friends on the phone and talk about it.
kennerly Marky Mark had a song called “Good Vibrations” that went to No. 1. He was a Calvin Klein model for a while, and he used to pull down his trousers and show off his tight whiteness.
The poster promises that he will flaunt his muscular physique. I paid a lot of money to go that night but I was very disappointed. He came on stage and started pacing around in a dark hoodie. Before you knew it, the song was over. I thought, wait, what about taking off your pants? I guess you could say it was deceptive advertising.
Chip Duckett, publicist and producer Susan [Bartsch, the club promoter and hostess] She has a deep love for all things party. It was the perfect mix inside the Copa. There’s a baroness here, a real baroness. Here’s a prostitute and here’s a fashion model and it’s actually lesbian but it’s also not lesbian. I don’t think Studio 54 did it the same way. She’s still hosting parties every week.
In those days I used to print 50,000 booklets per month. Some guys who ran a club in Queens opened a printing company called Nightlife Printing. He made flyers for everyone. When I think about the amount of paper delivered to my office…
Pork, The Lure (1994)
kennerly Lure was leather and Levi’s oriented and they had a dress code. The party on Wednesdays was geared towards a younger crowd, so that they could be included in the scene. He also had BDSM shows on occasion. It got furious.
Sure The way people went out created a sense of communal identity. It was very important to have specific parties, where you had the exact type of gay, like twink or bear. Everyone has sex through Grindr now, so if you go to a gay bar there is zero sexual urge in the air.
‘Big’ opening night party, The Roxy (1996)
Allen it was me that the photographer took hans fahrmeyer, I made some money on it. It was on greeting cards and posters. I remember I was in a cab and someone had pasted 50 or 100 posters on the scaffolding. I watched it for a few seconds. I thought, this is the closest thing to my picture in Times Square. I went back a week later and it was gone. It captured the transience of the entire scene.
lady bunny It was a time when record companies would send DJ records to see what our crowd liked. Gay interest in dance music is so great that there is no promotion and a cover that doesn’t even have a picture of the artist on it!
Allen I thought something incredible would come of it. It did not happen. But now it makes me think about my youth and the passage of time and how important memories are.