THIS THURSDAY, August 13, 2020
Swann Galleries to Auction
my personal LGBTQ+ Nightlife
and HIV/AIDS Collection
My personal LGBTQ+ Nightlife and HIV/AIDS Collection largely from my time at Studio 54, Palladium, AREA, Tunnel and The Saint will be auctioned THIS THURSDAY, August 13, 2020 by Swann Auction Galleries.
See the details below.
For almost ten years I have been curating and organizing what started off as 40 boxes in storage from my time when I worked (and played) at Studio 54, Palladium, AREA, Tunnel and The Saint. Then HIV/AIDS changed everything (as global Viral Pandemics tend to do).
The trauma of such loss and suffering turned me into an AIDS activist, hot-line volunteer, group facilitator and author of “Living Positively in a World with HIV/AIDS” published in 1995 by Avon/Hearst Book Group (now HarperCollins Publishers) and sent me on a twelve-city book tour.
In 2019 I thought I had found a Home at NYU’s Fales Special Collections at Bobst Library, (designed by Philip Johnson) but just as we finalized (but not signed) the contract, the curator, Marvin J. Taylor, suffered his second stroke just as the facility started a two year major renovation. The timing just wasn’t going to workout. And then Swann stepped in with an auction made-to-measure, originally schedule right before Pride 2020. COVID-19 changed everything (as global Viral Pandemics tend to) so now with new timing and new logistics:
THIS THURSDAY, August 13, 2020
at Noon EDT (UTC-04:00)
That is offered for sale as a single item, to preserve the historic integrity of the archive.
Etimate: $ 5,000 – $ 7,500
Archive of material relating primarily to gay nightlife and social experience in 1980s New York City.
Contents include marketing material and private statistical records for major New York City nightclubs and parties, along with a large collection of original club ephemera, such as VIP cards, drink, and entrance tickets. Other material includes industry magazines, books, pamphlets, mailers, and related material. 4 small bins plus some loose oversized and framed items.
A unique sociological document, this collection is a primary source of artifacts and ephemera from an era when the gay community was socially restricted by day and increasingly liberated by night. It spans the golden years of such legendary hot spots as Palladium, Studio 54, Area, Limelight, Octagon, The Roxy, and Tunnel in the decade before and after the AIDS crisis.
De Solla Price is a journalist, public speaker, and civil rights activist. He authored the bestselling book “Living Positively in a World with HIV/AIDS” (New York: Avon Books [now HarperCollins Publishers], 1995). In the 1970s and `80s he worked as an events promoter and producer for some of New York City’s most popular and exclusive gay and LGBTQ-friendly nightclubs and helped create many of their marketing materials.
Beginning in 1980 de Solla Price kept records over a ten-year period showing the residential distribution of gay nightclub goers. Working with famed promoter Steve Rubell, he developed a database of demographic profiles, which informed their marketing strategies. Some of those notes, mailing lists, and print-outs are in the archive. There are also scarce press kits for the Saint,Tunnel, Area, and others. One club proposal describes an unrealized nightclub that was intended to occupy the premises in the Ansonia Hotel that formerly housed the popular “Plato’s Retreat” swingers club. Many clubs like The Saint were careful to protect the privacy of several high-profile members who had not yet come out as gay.
A selection from the archive includes:
- Two pages of internal memoranda from Palladium, between Steve Rubell and Steve Cohn, advertising and expense budgets, guest lists, and ratings of attractiveness of club guests.
- A rare, possibly unique uncreased and framed poster commemorating of the famous closing party of The Saint. This exclusive nightclub closed on May 2, 1988 with a three-day extravaganza. The posters were folded and mailed to its members after the closing, but de Solla Price obtained an unfolded copy directly from the office.
- A binder containing dozens of VIP cards, drink tickets, matchbooks, and coupons from nearly every major and minor club, including short-lived and after-hours establishments. Drink tickets from Studio 54 include poker chips used in the first year, to the elaborate ones designed by Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf used in later years.
- A group of over fifty buttons, some from clubs, others addressing gay and other social issues, the AIDS crisis most prominently.
- A few small show props from The Saint.
- A nylon shopping bag and business card from the last purchase on the closing day of New York City’s famed LGBTQ Oscar Wilde Bookstore in 2009.
- Contracts and budget sheets for The Roxy, including the invitation to its first AIDS-related public event.
- A movie prop: the palimony contract between the characters played by Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in the film “The Birdcage.” (Acquired in 1995 through a benefit auction held by Friends Indeed.)
- A special mailer from Studio 54 featuring a poster of model Scott Madsen from the Soloflex advertising campaign.
- Numerous broadsides advertising “John Blair’s Thursdays” at AREA nightclub.
- Additional framed items: poster for the HBO documentary “Positively Naked”; the cover of the May 2004 10th Anniversary issue of “POZ” with an accompanying framed press photo of the models on the cover by Spencer Tunick.
- A group of fashion and gay magazines including “Confidential,” “Mandate,” “Blue Boy,” “GQ,” and “After Dark,” including the Arnold Schwarzenegger issue. Gay-leaning fashion magazines like “GQ,” Benetton Colors” and “Select.”
- Founding ephemera from ACT-Up, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, God’s Love we Deliver, events including Gay Pride marches and fundraisers at Fire Island, Stonewall, and other locations.
- A ticket to the first fundraiser for God’s Love We Deliver held on Fire Island, 1985, which de Solla Price helped organize.
- An early printing of “Health and Venereal Disease Guide for Gay Men” (New York: Gay Men’s Health Project, 1980), one of the first published guides focusing on gay men’s sexual health and medical care
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