Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Greenwich Thrillage


One of the last photo shoots I got to do while in New York was at La Lanterna Caffe, a gorgeous Italian restaurant located at 129 MacDougal Street, the same spot as one of the most well-known lesbian bars of the 1920s: Eve's Hangout.

Check out the shoot after the jump--





In the 1920s and 30s, Greenwich Village was the epicenter of the gay scene. Greenwich Village had a "live and let live" reputation, due in equal parts to its roots as a bohemian and immigrant neighborhood and its architecture of labyrinthine streets and quiet corners.  The intimacy of the Village afforded gay couples a remarkable amount of freedom to gather and be "out" together.  Gay and lesbian bars popped up throughout the area, and one of the best was run by Eve Addams, née Eve Kotchever.  



Eve's Hangout, which welcomed guests with a sign reading "Men Admitted but Not Welcome," ruled the lesbian scene from 1925-1926, and was described later by a wistful Villager as "one of the most delightful hang-outs the Village ever had."  



The advent of Prohibition made the Village a prime destination for a stiff drink, thanks to the homemade wine prevalent in its many Italian restaurants.  The flood of attention to the Village, fostered in part because of the discovery of its gay scene and increasing reputation for free-thinkers and alternative lifestyles, turned out to be a mixed bag for gay culture.  






Increased interest meant increased press, and after a fussy columnist described the Hangout as “Not very healthy for she-adolescents, nor comfortable for he-men,” the bar was raided and shut down by the police.  Eve was arrested for "obscenity" and "disorderly conduct," charges frequently leveled at proprietors of gay clubs, and as a Polish émigrée, Eve was deported. Though rumored to have opened a gay bar in Paris, she more likely lived in poverty.



For the year-plus it was open, though, Eve's Hangout provided a safe space for the queer community, so I was thrilled when the owners of La Lanterna happily agreed to let me shoot there.  The food is divine (and inexpensive!), the staff is gracious, the setting is beautifully romantic, and the downstairs bar preserves the Prohibition-era feel.  I highly, highly recommend paying it a visit if you find yourself in New York and in the mood for a little New York history.


Very special thanks to Vittorio Antonini and the staff at La Lanterna for the truly wonderful experience.


4 comments :

  1. thank you so much for sharing this little piece of new york history. ...the pictures are beautiful aswell. what a romantic place to have a pizza and a glass of wine!
    is the dress an original piece from this era?

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    1. Thanks so much, a photograoher friend took them for me! And it's absolutely romantic-- I plan on taking my girlfriend there next time we're in the city. The dress is actually an 80s number that emulated the 20s look. It originally had sleeves, which I removed (and have saved!) so I could bring out the 20s silhouette.

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  2. This shoot is phenomenal! I adore each and every photo! And your dress is just too amazing!

    How wonderful that the restaurant keeps the feel from the 20s, and what a unique and interesting history too! Thank you for sharing it!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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    1. Hey, thank you! It really is a gorgeous restaurant, I cant recommend it enough. And yeah I got super spoiled by having a real photographer!

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