Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The story behind one of the original CBGB awnings that's now up for auction
[Photo by Rainer Turim last winter outside the John Varvatos store on the Bowery]
According to research by Gothamist, there were three awnings during the life of CBGB at 315 Bowery. One was up from 1973 to 1987, another from 1987 to 2000 and the last until the club closed in 2006.
And where are they now? The most recent awning is at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Museum in Cleveland. The original awning was allegedly in the possession of JFA (Jodie Foster's Army), who may have borrowed it after a show in the mid 1980s. And the third awning has been with East Village resident Drew Bushong since 2004.
Now Bushong is selling the awning at an auction at Sotheby's on Dec. 10, where it could potentially fetch between $25,000 and $35,000.
I asked Bushong, a former CBGB employee, about the awning and how it came to live in a box under his bed... and why he's selling it now.
How did you come into possession of the awning?
Totally randomly. I was walking home from Mars Bar on a sweaty night in 2004 and saw a cardboard box that was very familiar. It had sat above my desk for a year. I heard later it was just waiting for postage stamps to get to Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but was tossed out with a bunch of other crap in a cleaning rage.
So I saw it sticking half out of the trash in front of the club, and just threw it over my shoulder. I didn't really lose my shit about it until the next day when I woke up in bed next to it, torn open with the awning peeking out of it. Was quite an exciting hangover.
How do you know that it’s the real deal?
There's no doubt it's real. In my research, it's one of only three awnings that hung there. It went up as a replacement after punk rockers JFA are rumored to have stolen the first one.
It's a bit of a mess with paint splotches over some tags and it stinks a bit. It's been under my bed mostly since I found it.
Why are you selling it?
I had a beautiful baby girl, Thorn, 3-and-a-half-weeks ago and could use the space and money in better ways now. Dad ways now. Life's pretty exciting.
How long did you work at CBGB?
I worked as a door guy/security starting in late 2000 and was just working a couple shifts a week here and there. I had been there a few months and was getting pretty good at it. One boring night I ended up stopping a fight from happening and got stabbed in the neck in the process. I held the knifer down, under this awning actually, and called [owner] Hilly [Kristal] before calling the cops. I guess I handled the fight pretty well as I was promoted to management pretty soon after.
I have to say it was the best job I'll ever have. Best crew of people and employees and some of the most exciting shows I'll ever see in my life. Really got to be a part of something real special by working there.
[The middle awning is the one up for auction on Dec. 10]