Showing posts with label Ella Funt & Club 82. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ella Funt & Club 82. Show all posts

Monday, September 19, 2022

Ella Funt & Club 82 looks to bring food, film and theater to storied 4th Street venue

An ambitious project is in the works for 78-82 E. Fourth St. that would bring together a restaurant, movie theater and cabaret under one roof while reviving some East Village nightlife history. 

The operators behind Ella Funt & Club 82 are on tonight's CB3 SLA & DCA Licensing Committee docket for a liquor license for the two-level space between Second Avenue and the Bowery. 

There are several elements to this proposed establishment — a French restaurant, movie theater and performance space. The questionnaire on file at the CB3 website (PDF here) provides more detail and renderings of the 150-person-capacity theater space, which already exists in the basement (see below for more history of this address).

There's also a mention of "screenings of independent and old films five days a week," The management team includes Harry Nicolaou. His family operates several indie theaters, including Cinema Village on 12th Street between University and Fifth Avenue.

On paper, the concept sounds like a good fit for a block with destinations such as La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, the Duo Multicultural Arts Center, the Kraine Theater and the New York Theatre Workshop.

Tonight's meeting starts at 6:30. You can tune in via Zoom.

And now some history of the space...
Here's background via the New-York Historical Society
If you were an adventurous visitor to New York City in the 1950s or 1960s, you might have found your way to Club 82. A basement nightclub at 82 East Fourth Street, it wasn't much to look at from the outside... 

But once you made it there, you'd descend the steep stairs into an elegant, transporting nightclub decked out in the height of mid-century kitsch: mirrored columns, plastic palm fronds, elaborate banquettes, and white tablecloths. On the tables would be souvenir knockers, a small wooden ball on the end of a stick emblazoned with the club's name, which patrons would tap on the table when they were pleased with a performance or wanted to call a waiter. Knockers had one benefit over clapping: You didn’t have to put down your drink to use them. 

Club 82 was a trendy place to be. If you were lucky, celebrities like Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, or Salvador Dalí might be in attendance on any given night. A club photographer would circulate among the tables, snapping keepsake photos for a $1.50 or $2 fee for audience members, who were decked out in suits and cocktail dresses and would get an 8″ by 10″ print to take home at the end of the night. There wasn't a cover to get in, but there was a drink minimum and an extensive cocktail menu to hit your required mark. 

And of course, there was the stage, which was the main reason you would've come to Club 82 in the first place. The club was known for its elaborate live shows that ran three times a night into the wee hours of the morning. 

What made Club 82 unique was that it was an early bastion of drag and gender impersonation: Almost all of the performers in the floor show where men dressed as women, and most of the wait staff were women dressed as dashing young men in tuxedos. 
In the early 1970s, Club 82 became a rock club, featuring bands like the New York Dolls, Teenage Lust, Suicide and Another Pretty Face.

   

The subsequent iterations of the space included a movie theater and an all-male strip club. Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones tried to make a go of it as a music club again in 1990 with Woody's. The basement space reopened as the Bijou Cinema around 1992, per Cinema Treasures, operating off and on through the years in different capacities until 2018. 

Stillwater Bar & Grill was a ground-floor tenant, shutting down in the spring of 2019 after 15 years in service.