Interesting People Live on Christopher Street

Interesting People Live on Christopher Street

The street scene on Christopher functioned like an extended family for those who had been rejected by their own relatives, an embracing place where social networks formed. “There was no internet,” Agosto Machado said, “so how do you find out what’s happening? You go out on the street and you can hang out in Sheridan Square, Washington Square Park, and you’d find out more or less what people were doing.” He likened it to street theater, with different people making an entrance—“Hi, girl! What are you doing?”—and putting on a show. Roller-Arena-Skates (also known as Rolla-Reena Skeets) glided around on cobblestone streets while wearing a soiled dress and holding a wand, looking like a shabby Glinda the Good Witch. Another street character named Bambi cruised Christopher Street with his little dog, day and night, until some queens found him frozen to death one winter evening. That night, Lisa Jane Persky huddled on the stoop with her neighbors Rosie and Ernestine as they watched the cops zip Bambi into the body bag. The next day, he was back in his spot sitting on the stoop across the street; it turned out Bambi had awakened in the morgue. “I don’t know who was more scared,” he told Lisa Jane Persky, “me or the guy who heard me scream.” Machado fondly remembered the vibrancy of Sheridan Square and Christopher Street, where people socialized and made connections. “Oh, I’m going to sing in the chorus at the Judson Church,” someone might tell him, “and why don’t you join?” Agosto added, “There was the Judson Church circle merging dance and Happenings, and Caffe Cino and La MaMa, plus other alternative groups, plus street theater. They were just hanging out, and you expressed yourself on the street, developed your own persona, and then figured out your own place in that world. You could reinvent yourself.”

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


87 Christopher Street
87 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014