‘Trick’ by Chris Kraus
In the late seventies and early eighties, I worked in the topless hustle bars owned by “the Jewish Mafia.” The clubs thrived for a while, and then closed at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, when the New York City Department of Health shut down most of the bars, and all the gay baths.
I can’t really separate the clubs from my sense of that time in my life and that of the city. There was a feeling that the club world would always be there and go on, but then it ended abruptly. What stopped it for me wasn’t AIDS—I got out before that—but the installation of a large restaurant exhaust system outside one of the two windows in my small East Village tenement. Prior to that, the apartment—backing onto an airshaft—had been kind of a refuge for me. Through the tiny crack between buildings, I observed the changing of weather and seasons. How quickly we adapt to our prisons. A slab of vertical sky, one or two trees, nesting sparrows.