Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Out and About in the East Village

In this weekly feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village.

By James Maher

Name: Jacquelyn Gallo
Occupation: Public Relations, Curator, Bartender
Location: Avenue A between 6th and 7th
Time: 8:15 on Friday, Feb. 17

I’ve been in New York for 10 years. I still fall in love with this city every single day. I’m from satanic, KKK, crazy-town Florida and every single day I see stuff here that I’ve never seen before.

I’m from Fort Myers, which is a big town now, but there was nothing to do, so I started listening to music. Escapism is very important when you’re young and that was how I got into music. I wasn’t a drug person and I wasn’t into that type of escape. I did what I could there. I ran a record shop for four years and held club nights and brought bands to town. I brought Iggy Pop and Flogging Molly and a bunch of cool groups.

I had wanted to move to the city since I was eight. I studied writing at the New School, which I loved and I’m probably going back next year. I worked in the photo industry as a post-production producer. I was also doing casting, production, and I did a lot of photo production for Barney’s and Sephora.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I joined this very strange, theatrical punk rock band called Jugger-nut. The band is 12 members. We have every caricature. There are five main dancers and some extras that come. I’m a dancer/performer and I do a nunchuck routine. We’re playing in the Mr. Lower East Side contest [tomorrow night] at Cake Shop. It’s Rev Jen. She has this annual male pageant where the men have to compete against each other. There’s talent and swimsuit. It’s hilarious and a really big honor to play there.

Something about joining the band. I was like, “I can’t live these two lives anymore.” Working in fashion and judging girls by how expensive they looked didn’t sit well with me. So I just started doing public relations and not taking the other jobs. I also wanted to get more involved in art curating, so I started doing shows. I prefer to use interesting spaces instead of traditional galleries to hold shows. The last show I co-curated was called CREEPERS!.

About six months ago, I was combing the streets of the Lower East Side and East Village looking for a cool place with a sense of humor and I thought of the Pyramid Club. I’ve been working here ever since. A very nice family runs it and we immediately had a good relationship. They asked if I wanted to bartend as well.

The Pyramid is an institution and a new forum now. RuPaul started here; Red Hot Chili Peppers played here; Nirvana played here. This place has such a great history. People still come in here and are like, “I haven’t been here in 25 years.” They tell these amazing stories and I’m like, well, guess what happened last week?

It’s still here, it just needs the young people to re-awaken it. It’s important to have a space where this stuff can happen. This space brings in a lot of interesting people from all over. We’re trying to do something very different. We have a monthly black light fantasy dance dance party called Last Unicorn down in the basement. We book two performers a month and we also try to get people who don’t normally perform to do something interesting.

I remember when I first moved here and everybody was like, “The East Village has changed so much.” It’s the normal gripe, which I understand, but am not a supporter of. Come in and do something here. We have an open forum. That’s the thing — it’s the people. There’s no building that’s haunted by the ghost of coolness. Yes, Mars Bar was great. I loved it and went almost every day. Amy who worked there now works across the street [at Sidewalk]. Plenty of the Mars Bar people go there. I mean, it’s not the same thing, you can’t get naked and light stuff on fire, unfortunately, but if you like that then create another space. Things change all of the time ... you can’t just kill the energy. You just have to keep blowing on the embers and eventually the fire will start again.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.


xootrman said...

Wow! James what a great shot of a really hot and obviously very interesting woman. Thanks for your column.

Bleh said...

Best in the series to date!

Anonymous said...

Great place great article

Anonymous said...

I'm heartened to read that not every younger person in the EV is only here for the brunch options and taking photos of their brunch options and contributing nothing to the neighborhood other than to be annoying to people with brains.

Scott said...

This makes me want to visit The Pyramid Club sometime. I've walked by it hundreds of times but never had a reason to go in. Sounds more interesting than I thought.

Anonymous said...

Great attitude and totally true. I heart Pyramid, and I agree that you can't stay hung up on the past; just keep on trying and make the present awesome!

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

A smart do-it-yourselfer. Especially like her last paragraph. Well said.

Anonymous said...

good for her for being so optimistic, but if she moved her 10 years ago it was already well into gentrification, and well into what I would call a kind of new segregation. I understand if you moved here from the burbs and have only been here 10 yrs, you might still find things you love, but I can't say I feel the same way. I was born here, what I see here today makes me nauseous, it's not about "cool" or art or anything like that it's just about real people.

chris flash said...

Jackie is an amazing person who doesn't just talk about doing things -- she MAKES them happen!

Scooby said...

Jackie - your last sentance is positively BRILLIANT. Thank you for those words - I will keep them with me.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like she has the right attitude: if you don't like what you see in the neighborhood, then create the world you want!

- East Villager