Iggy Pop takes us on a tour of New York City’s Lower East Side in 1993 | “It used to be a lot hairier”
In this rare footage from 1993, a semi-young Iggy Pop takes a rag-tag camera crew through a tour of the notorious Lower East Side of New York City. The Stooges frontman offers some inspirational commentary on the state of the area and the impending gentrification to come.
At the time, New York was just beginning to wake up from the bankruptcy of the seventies and find it’s commercial feet once again, coffee shops sprung up like weeds, the streets were cleaned, and the slow creep of glass and steel began to find its way inside the core of NYC’s creative hub. It cornered many artists into the Lower East Side.
We’re going back to the same setting that produced Sonic Youth, the street-art of Zephyr and became the bowels of creativity in the Big Apple. Surrounded by incredible local venues like the iconic CBGB’s and the lesser known Brownies the area positively brimmed with a bubbling menace of uncompromising imagination. As Iggy Pop, Alphabet City resident, says in the clip, “Around here nobody would think of shutting you up for making too much noise.”
The footage shot with Dutch filmmaker Bram van Splunteren, begins with a jovial introduction from the iconic forefather of punk, as he stands at the beginning of his tour, “It used to be a lot hairier down here. I used to come down here to score drugs all the time,” he says with the giddy mischief of a school kid, “Now, they’ve moved at least three blocks that way!”
As Iggy fawns over the crucible grandeur of the area. the pair make their way to Iggy’s favourite bodega where he proclaims he lives when his wife’s not in town. But before they get there Iggy purrs about the district, enjoying the local sounds of the street market, appreciating the rap that pours out of walking boomboxes, it’s clear he is at his most comfortable when surrounded by vibrancy.
Arriving at the bodega, as the New York sun shines in, Iggy makes his order and then forgets he has no cash, mocking himself he says, “I don’t carry cash, man”. He then divulges that he is left to his own devices he lives on a diet of “sandwiches, cake, and strong coffee, that’s what I live off” – note to all those searching for the Fountain of Youth, it may be at your nearest cafe.
The conversation pootles along as Iggy compares the other places he’s lived, like Berlin, London, and the “regrettable” time he lived in Los Angeles. They talk about the epic Jim Jarmusch short film that featured Pop and Americana crooner Tom Waits smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, titled Cigarettes & Coffee obviously. He details Pop’s only real foray into ‘rap’, his track ‘Death Car’, and then his strong fear of the police. Why, you ask? “Because I was always doing something illegal!”
In fact, when watching this rare footage, it’s clear that the pair enjoy the kind of day that would make any couple of folks happy. In truth, it’s the kind of day your mum would love to spend with you. Walk around your area, telling her about the neighbourhood eccentrics, pass a vibrant market, listen to some music, grab some lunch, and talk about your latest events and achievements.
Except this wasn’t a leisurely stroll around New York’s Lower East Side with your mum, it was with the Daddy of Punk, Iggy Pop. Watch below.