Lisa Jane Persky Meets Yoko Ono

Lisa Jane Persky Meets Yoko Ono

Lisa Jane Persky’s family bounced around several apartments downtown until, in 1965, she moved with her mother, stepfather, and three young siblings into 87 Christopher Street—a five-floor walkup tenement building where Harry Koutoukas lived for a half century. Located about four blocks south of Jane Jacobs’s residence, it was one of those areas that may very well have been razed to make room for a large housing development if Robert Moses had had his way. Yoko Ono was also living there with her husband, jazz musician Tony Cox. On the evening the family was supposed to move in, Persky stood on the old hexagonal subway tile in the building’s entrance, then walked up the stairs past the metal mailboxes. “We got there about 9:30,” recalled Jane Holley Wilson, Lisa’s mother, “but we couldn’t get into apartment number ten, which we were supposed to move in to, so we knocked and Tony Cox came to the door.” Cox served as the building’s superintendent, along with Ono, who had recently given birth to their daughter, Kyoko. Because they were already living in the apartment Lisa’s family had been promised, Tony put them downstairs, in apartment number one. “I’ll give you the key to your apartment,” Cox said, “but first I want to show you my wife and kid.” The eleven-year-old Persky followed her mother into the apartment, where she saw a pull-down bed with a woman lying facedown with black hair spread out across the white sheets. “It was quite a moment,” Persky recalled, “the baby lying in the bed, and Yoko, black hair spread out. But I didn’t know who Yoko Ono was. I certainly did not understand that as a kid, so I was like, ‘Okay, we saw that. Can we get in our apartment now?’”

From Chapter 8 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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