Until just a few years past the limelight was the place for the gay to play when the lights went out in Manhattan, in it’s hey day anyone who was anyone was seen there. It drew the newly out,the twinks who wanted to rub shoulders with glitterati sadly it went down hill and the shine fell off the stars and it closed.
Well it’s latest incarnation would never have bowie hanging with Warhol, especially at the disabled entrance. As I rolled up-to the iconic landmark today with an itch to scratch to see what had become the former flagship of all that was out loud and proud in the nineties, I saw a very neat, very legal sign showing me the way to the rear garden where what was once the rectory door to the church had a sign saying DISABLED ENTRANCE. The only thing dichotomous and definitely confusing was the shiny sign hanging on the rusty barely hanging on by it’s hinges wrought iron door through which one supposes we of the wheeled world are meant to pass?
I banged on the wrought on grate which made a sound hailing back to the inquisition raiding a castle and noone answered, I sat for ten minutes before finally rolling around led not by breadcrumbs but the cloud of camel non filtered smoke. After parting the strata cumulus nicotine filled cloud I discovered a more than middle aged blonde who probably the last time anyone believed she was blond or attractive was in the dim disco lights of the limelight in its prime. “Excuse me I Asked, can someone open the disabled entrance?” “nope not my job on a break “ came the heavily bridge and tunnel laden accent proclaimed. “Well is there someone who’s job it is?” the over the hill, over made up bottle blonde opened the glass door just an inch and screamed “someone open the bloody back entrance” suddenly a equally blonde ,equally bridge and tunnel voice said”roll around it’ll take a while.
Ten minutes later the mote like gate didn’t let me down, a creaking noise so shrill dogs in canarsie were howling heralded the doors opening. The younger B&T yelled “follow me watch where you go” Well the warning came only just in time, as I rolled into two layers of curtains that wrapped my head my wheels and stopped Zeus in his tracks.
After two minutes of untangling we turned right and boxes fell on top of us, we were it seems in a stockroom the size of a church hall (which in original church form is probably what it was) After yelling to get the bloody boxes off me, another five minutes stuck there and I was lead through a maze of flammable dangerous pathways of crushed boxes, through more curtains into a tacky excuse of a market more at home in canal street.
After all their trouble of posting the disabled entrance directions, once in I could only roll about twenty feet and then was told the bathrooms were on the third floor, and so was everything else. Basically if you’re disabled, unless you want high end knock offs and cheap copies of ladies foot wear or supposedly high end, mens apparel that pee wee Herman would turn down even during the height of his weirdest days it took longer to manouevre the dangers and life threatening fire hazard that passed for disabled entrance than it did to see all available. No restaurant entrance, no dozen shops, no high end clothing that alas was it seemed reserved for those upright walking abelists that I see around me on the streettime to time. Manhattan it seems would rather we dress from walmart so we don’t put them to the bother of actually complying to OH, I don’t know maybe those pesky federal laws like the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, THE FIRES SAFETY LAWS , THE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION CODE? But Whats a few hundred violations between friends?
photo of the original limelight courtesy of catherine mcgann photography