Agosto Machado Discovers Caffe Cino

Agosto Machado Discovers Caffe Cino

Joe Cino’s appetite for a good time was equaled by his warmth and generosity. If one of his starving young artists was actually starving, he would offer them bread or pastries, even when he couldn’t pay rent himself. His café offered a warm refuge for the poor, tired, huddled gay masses who increasingly congregated in the Village—like a young Agosto Machado, who met Joe in 1959. “I was on Cornelia Street, around Bleecker,” he recalled, “and it was still heavily an Italian neighborhood, and there were these young men who were so attractive, carrying things like panels of wood. I thought I was being discreet, but I just got overwhelmed by their handsomeness and I followed them as they went up Cornelia Street.” When this group of men walked through Caffe Cino’s doorway, Agosto peered in. “May I help you?” Joe asked. “Oh no,” he replied, “I was just wandering about the neighborhood.” The friendly coffee shop owner ushered him in. “This is a café, and you’re welcome here. We don’t sell alcohol. We sometimes have poetry readings and little presentations. There’s hot cider, or espresso, or some cookies.”

From Chapter 1 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Caffe Cino
31 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014