Bibbe Hansen’s residence

Bibbe Hansen’s residence

709 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009


Bibbe Hansen lived in several places throughout her childhood, including deep in the heart of the Lower East Side on 6th Street, between Avenues C and D, where dancer Freddie Herko and Factory custodian Billy Name lived nearby.


Beatlemania Reverberates Deep in the Downtown Underground


When Beatlemania shook the city in 1964, its reverberations could be felt deep in the downtown underground. “Even those of us on the Lower East Side without a television set had to notice that something called the Beatles had come to town,” Ed Sanders recalled. “It was the youth explosion,” Bibbe Hansen said. “So whatever vestiges of the old, we were gonna just blow right away because there were just too many of us, and we were all fairly enlightened. With the Beatles and all these things, these cultural explosions absolutely captivated the world and put my generation at the forefront.” The Beatles even inspired her to form a short-lived girl group, the Whippets—with Janet Kerouac (Jack Kerouac’s daughter) and another friend, Charlotte Rosenthal—which released one single. As with many boys their age, future Ramones frontman Joey Ramone (born Jeffrey Hyman) and his little brother Mickey Leigh (Mitchel Lee Hyman) wanted to join a band when Beatlemania erupted in the mid-1960s. “By the time I was twelve,” Leigh said, “I had a little guitar and a little amp and a microphone that I’d take around to like kids’ birthday parties—playing Beatles songs and Dave Clark Five with friends.” He continued to play in bands around Forest Hills, Queens, where he met two older teens who, with his older brother, later cofounded the Ramones. Before John Cummings and Tommy Erdelyi played guitar and drums as Johnny Ramone and Tommy Ramone, they performed in a 1960s garage band called the Tangerine Puppets. “Tommy was really nice, really intelligent. We were friends ever since that time,” Leigh said. “John never really changed. Even back then, people said, ‘Watch out for that guy. He gets a little nasty sometimes.’ He was just kind of grouchy and barking to the rest of the other guys. But he was cool.”

From Chapter 4 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore

Moving to the Lower East Side


When the Holy Modal Rounders’ Peter Stampfel arrived on the Lower East Side in 1959, the midwesterner was a bit leery of living in a slum. Is it dangerous? he wondered. Is there trouble? Yes, it could be a bit sketchy, but this was counterbalanced by the incredibly cheap rents. Bibbe Hansen—who lived at 609 East Sixth Street, between Avenues C and D—recalled that it was an extremely poor neighborhood. “It was more about poverty than anything else,” she said. “There were artists living around where I was living, but mostly because we were poor. There are so many important people that were part of the everyday landscape that are now these monumental, awesome giants of alternative culture and experimental art.” Agosto Machado had always found the West Village to be a little expensive, so he mostly lived on the East Side. “Now, we’re talking thirty-, forty-, fifty-, sixty-dollar-a-month apartments,” Agosto Machado said. “That allowed a generation of people to come to New York City and spend, like, three-quarters of their time being an artist and a quarter of their time doing some sort of pickup day work to pay for your rent.” By the mid-1960s, the social and economic dynamics in the neighborhood were shifting—as was the Lower East Side’s name. “The landlords changed the name to the East Village so they could make a little more rent,” recalled Peter Crowley. “That began in the early sixties, and by the mid to late sixties it was like a gold rush.” Richard Meyers was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and landed on the Lower East Side in late 1966; within a few years he had reinvented himself as Richard Hell. As a child, he and his mother had visited his grandmother in the West Village every three or four years, so he already had an impression of the city. “The West Village was—in terms of New York—deceptively quaint and peaceful and beautiful,” Hell said. “It wasn’t until I actually came here that I got exposed to Fourteenth Street and Forty-Second Street and the East Village—the real New York, which is much more squalid than this isolated Village where my grandmother lived.”

From Chapter 7 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore