In 1934, Sammy Fuchs opened a saloon at 267 Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Surrounded by flophouses and missions, Sammy’s Bowery Follies catered mainly to the homeless, the penniless, and the generally down and out.
That changed somewhat in the early ‘40s after a surprising customer passed through: a monocle-wearing gentleman who turned out to be a British lord tired of the fussy formality of the uptown clubs.
Sensing a new market, Sammy acquired a cabaret license, built a stage, hired some aging vaudevillians, and began advertising his bar as the “Stork Club of the Bowery,” a nod to the famed nightclub uptown.
The plan worked. Fancy folks, tourists and celebrities began seeking out Sammy’s, looking for a chance to loosen their ties and slum it a little bit in the Gay Nineties-themed dive. It was not uncommon to find a socialite in an opera gown wedged between a sailor on shore leave and a passed-out drunk.
Sammy recognized the importance of atmosphere, and served free food and drinks to some of his more colorful regulars (characters with names such as Prune Juice Jenny, Box Car Gussie and Tugboat Ethel, the “Queen of the Bowery”) to preserve the ambience.
The notable photographer Weegee made Sammy’s one of his regular shooting grounds and even held his book launch parties there.
By the end of World War II, Sammy’s was serving some 100,000 customers a year, as literal busloads of tourists were dropped off outside, eager to drink and sing along with hobos, dwarves and assorted misfits.
Sammy Fuchs died in 1969. A year later, the bar finally closed. The closing ceremony was attended by over 700 loyal patrons.
While I was there absorbing the atmosphere and drinks, a midget walked in… he was about three and a half feet. I invited him for a drink. He told me that he just arrived from Los Angeles, where he had been working for a Browns & Williams Tobacco Co’, walking the streets dressed as a penguin.
Five years ago LaMama theater presented this wonderful ‘Coffeehouse Chronicles’ examining the contemporary puppet theater from the 1970s to 2015.I thought it would bring some joy to those that missed this wonderful event and others to repost in these difficult times.
Since many shows have been CANCELLED in the past weeks I have decided to rerun some of the interviews I did that are with the performers/directors involved in these shows. Today is the funny man Joel Jeske who created with Parallel Exit director Mark Lonergan “The Artist Will Be With You In a Moment“. It was open for several performances BUT I didn’t get to see it! The reviews are ‘great’ so I am thinking it will be mounted again in the not-too-distant future! In the meantime here is Mr. Jeske talking about his show.
“The commanding performance artist Joel Jeske during his uproarious, clever and thoughtful self-created and self-written show, The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment. Relying on his dazzling clowning, his winning presence, and plentiful audience participation, it’s 70 delightful, breezy and theatrical minutes.”
Keep your eyes open for more information at Parallel Exit‘s website!
All together I posted 73 times in 2019! Over 1000 views per month. Pretty good for an ‘eccentric’ performing arts blog!
You can use the drop-down menu for Month to Month Archive viewing. I will list some of the highlights here.
Dec 2019 – Interview with Cirque Mechanics Chris Lashua ~ Interview with Coney Island’s own Dick Zigun – Sideshow Hall of Fame.
November 2019 – Corn Mo and The Love Show ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Hilary Chaplain ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue ~ Karen Gersch Portfolio ~ Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ Martin Ewen’s ‘Panto Damascus’.
October 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Kevin Venardos.
September 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Noah Diamond & Amanda Sisk ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Adrienne Truscott.
August 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Tammy Faye Starlite ~ Ernie Kovacs Centennial Panel Discussion ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Dick Zigun – ‘Bloody Brains in the Juke Box’ ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Sarah the Bird Girl ~ The Seashore Variety Hour
July 2019 – Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Benefit ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Amber Martin ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Tyler West.
June 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Trav SD ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Bill Bowers ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Mallory Catlett ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Ralph Lewis ~ Bindlestiff’s ‘brooklyn abridged’ show ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Kevin Augustine ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Everett Quinton. ‘Galas’.
May 2019 – A.J. Silver – A Cowboy from the Bronx ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Boxcutter Collective.
April 2019 – Congress of Curious People – James Taylor ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Greg Dubin ~ Vaudevisuals interview with A.J. Silver ~ Trav SD’s American Vaudeville Theatre.
March 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with John Jesurun & Nicky Paraiso ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Coney Island Ritual Cabaret Festival.
February 2019 – Coffeehouse Chronicles: Ethyl Eichelberger ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage at Big Apple Circus ~ Lord Buckley by Heathcote Williams.
January 2019 – Vaudevisuals Bookshelf: ‘Atomic Clown’ by Sara Moore ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage ~ Tribute To Rob Torres.
How: To join in, please leave me a comment on this post and let me know which Buster film or Buster-related topic you want to cover! (Or feel free to send me a message). Please add one of my banners to your blog (see the original post at Silent-ology.com) to help spread the word about this event. During the blogathon itself, when you publish your post leave me a comment with the post’s link, or send me a message, whichever you prefer. Please mention my blog and the name of the event in your blogathon post (such as “This post is part of Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silent-ology.”) Post whenever you have time during March 9 and 10th, no pressure! If you post before March 9 that’s fine too, just give me a head’s up.
What to write about: Anything and everything related to the brilliant Buster Keaton’s life and career. (Check out his filmography for some ideas.) Articles about his crew and the many wonderful actors who appeared in his films are welcome, too.
For ideas and inspiration, here’s the links to the First, Second,Third,Fourth and Fifth Buster Blogathons. Whew–we’ve got quite a library of Keaton essays going!
I’m also thrilled to share that this year the venerable International Buster Keaton Society is our blogathon’s official sponsor! Founded by Patricia Tobias in 1994, the Keaton Society (nicknamed the “Damfinos”) has worked tirelessly to help preserve Buster’s legacy and introduce him to new generations. From their website:
to foster and perpetuate appreciation and understanding of the life, career, and films of comedian/filmmaker Buster Keaton;
to advocate for historical accuracy about Keaton’s life and work;
to encourage dissemination of information about Keaton;
to endorse preservation and restoration of Keaton’s films and performances;
to do all of the above with a sense of humor that includes an ongoing awareness of the surreal and absurd joy with which Keaton made his films.
When you visit Coney Island USA you have an odd feeling you have stepped into another time. This ‘not-for-profit’ corporation is dedicated to ‘popular entertainment’ and like the rest of Coney Island, it means fun and excitement.
Dick Zigun is the founder of this wonderful oasis and has created a “Sideshow Hall of Fame” for all of us that are a ‘little different’.
Here he explains it all for you in this Vaudevisuals interview.