The Downtown Social Circuit

The Downtown Social Circuit

Along with Lenny’s Hideaway on West Tenth Street and Seventh Avenue, the San Remo was another regular stop on the downtown circuit—a traditional village tavern with pressed-tin ceilings and wooden walls that was further south, on MacDougal Street and Bleecker. There, playwrights Harry Koutoukas and Tom Eyen rubbed shoulders with eccentric characters like Ian Orlando MacBeth, who spoke in iambic pentameter, dressed in Shakespearean garb, and sometimes wore a live parrot on his shoulder. (He also dyed his beard pink.) MacBeth and others favored a drink called the Clinker, a powerful apricot brandy concoction served in a brass cup. “People would wind up on the floor drinking these things,” Robert Heide recalled. “They were really powerful.” Koutoukas appropriated MacBeth’s affectation and began wearing a stuffed parrot on his own shoulder. The bird perched on his black cape was as much tongue in cheek as it was a genuine attempt to cultivate himself as a memorable Village character. “Harry created this persona with his colorful clothing and dramatic flourishes,” Heide recalled, “and Andy Warhol as well. Andy created a whole persona that was kind of the opposite of Harry’s: affectless.” Whereas Koutoukas dramatically waltzed into the San Remo—with a cigarette held high, wearing his cape and stuffed parrot—Warhol was more likely to be barely seen and not heard, quietly sitting at a table, observing.

From Chapter 3 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


San Remo
93 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012