It’s Magic Time!

It’s Magic Time!

“We were raised in an America that hated art, sex, and intellect,” Robert Patrick recalled, “and sex was not the worst offense.” He was beaten up in grade school, junior high school, and high school not for being gay—which he was—but for carrying too many books. “Once we all left the small town to hit the big city, we were ready to explode. There were people at the Cino who were versed in every aspect of history, arts, science. Nobody beat you up for it there.” Patrick surrounded himself with creative, forward-looking people who were smart, friendly, and supportive. “Most of us had never been part of a group where we came from, so it was rather intoxicating to be in one.” Sitting around having coffee, they shared their frustrations and aspirations with each other, so it wasn’t much of a stretch for them to say, “Hey, let’s act this out—let’s put on a show!” Every night at Caffe Cino, Joe Cino walked from the espresso machine to his makeshift stage, rang chimes, and announced, “Welcome ladies and gentlemen, it’s magic time!” When the lights went down, a different reality materialized: “It was the magic and ingenuity of Off-Off-Broadway,” Agosto Machado said. “You had to suspend belief, because you wanted to, and you’re enjoying it. If you didn’t have money, you used your ingenuity. It was so magical, so special. It was a playhouse for yourself and the selective group of people who were seeing this.”

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