If you're looking to see gorgeous cast iron architecture, Greene Street in SoHo is the place to go. Here's a Google street view.
1/100th at F2.8, ISO 3200 (40mm).
Name: The Baroness
Occupation: Latex Fashion Designer, The Baroness Fashions, 530 East 13th St.
Read the full interview on evgrieve.
"I’m English, from Banstead, which is slightly to the south of London, but I’ve been in New York forever. I first lived on the West Coast and then I came here in the ‘70s before the first blackout, when New York was scary. The rotten apple. I lived on the Upper East Side for awhile and people kept saying, ‘You live on the Lower East Side, right?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m a fashionable Upper East Sider.‘ And then finally I decided, fuck, I’m a Lower East Side kind of person.
I remember dining at a French restaurant that came into the neighborhood on Avenue C called Bernard’s. It was the only ‘restaurant’ in the East Village. I remember being there and just watching the building across the street go up in flames. And you’re eating fancy French food. You could really see the juxtaposition. I think it was really brave for Bernard to have a restaurant there because we were in the middle of nowhere, but that did add to the cache. ABC, where everybody was like, ‘oh god there’s this hip place where I can go.’ This was the time when women wore these long fur coats, and there were people out there yelling ‘Taxi,’ and it’s like, ‘hey, there’s none on Avenue C, you’re going to have to walk forever to get one, in your floor length coat.’ You’d have to walk through Tompkins Square Park to get a cab. And if by chance you made a wrong turn, you’re going to the projects.
Before latex, I was a costume designer in the film business — for movies, for film, for theatre. Even though I had worked on some great projects and traveling for work was great, I really liked New York and I didn’t like being away for 3-4 months on each job.
And then I got turned on to latex. One day a slave bought a dress for me to pick up. It was a little red dress, short, zip front, sleeveless, not my style. And even though it didn’t fit me, I started a business right then and there, 20 years ago. When I started this I just wanted to dress myself and then I wanted to dress myself for all occasions and then I wanted to dress the people around me. That was it. I had worked with latex before but in the same way that I had worked with clothing in general. I could see so many possibilities. It’s an amazing material. It’s the most sensual of all materials. Latex is bigger than clothing for me. It’s huge.
I started in my studio doing doing wholesale, off the Internet and custom appointments, although people were hesitant to come and try on latex in the studio. They were like, ‘Am I going to be sold into slavery?’ If that was going to happen, I would charge by the hour. I hadn’t thought that I could afford a store and was originally just looking for a workspace but eventually I found this place. The store has made a huge difference
When people think of fetish, they think of black and red, gas masks, full body enclosures and things like that, which is fine, but red and black latex are just too cliche for me. My whole concept for latex was that people could wear it, that they could wear it out on the street and be comfortable and feel attractive in it. I want people not to be scared of latex. When I want them to be scared of latex I will do that. We’ve got the body bags, the inflatable straight jackets, the sucky bed — we’ve got the weird stuff too. I have some clientele who are looking for that but that’s a really specific person and unfortunately there are not enough of them.
Our main clientele ranges from a lot of stylists, to stars, to people in the neighborhood. When Lady Gaga did the entrance to the Grammys in the big egg, we dressed all those people. Nicki Minaj has been wearing some of our stuff recently. You get people who come in and their first purchase is usually a black skirt. We get mostly women even though we have a men’s line. I’m really dressing men as opposed to the standard little gimp type person or the gay guy in the little pair or shorts or thong. We also do a lot of stuff for events. For the big fetish events we’ll get a lot of custom orders. A lot of my work is custom.
There’s just not enough of us; There are not enough perverts out there, I think..."
Read the full interview on evgrieve.
1/400th at F7.1, ISO 400 (28mm).
This one looks better large when you can see all the details.
It's been awhile since I put up any East Village interviews, so here are a few people who's stories were fascinating.
Kathy Von Hartz, Teacher (Click here for full interview.)
"My husband and I moved to the neighborhood 48 years ago after we were married. We lived on 6th Street between C and D for eight years. Affordability brought us here and once we had our first child, we found lots of room on East 6th Street...
Eventually we bought the building behind me. We could afford it on our teacher’s salary because nobody wanted to buy anything here. The building had been for sale for five years and nobody wanted it. It cost $64,000 for 10 one-bedroom apartments. But everybody still thought we were crazy. We could just make the mortgage payments and we renovated each apartment as it slowly turned over. We made do...
Then the drug situation became intolerable. We didn’t notice it when we first moved in, in 1973, but after a few years we did. They used to make their escape through the park. They’d line up for the drugs along 2nd Street in two phases. The money would be passed in one line and then you could go in another line and when the drugs came you got out of there. There would be someone on the corner with a whistle and when they whistled the guys with the drugs would just disappear through the park and get away from the police.
My husband would confront the dealers in a very respectful way and they would actually listen to him and move off the street. He would go up and tell them, “Please move; there are children on this block; there are old people on this block; we can’t have this.” They would say, “Yeah man, I understand” and go away.
So they moved down between Avenue A and B. But then we noticed this pattern where people with New Jersey plates would find parking on this nice wide street and then they’d walk down to Avenue A to get their drugs. We’d see it out the window from our house, so I had these stickers that stuck like crazy ... we’d write on them, “We know why you’re here. No drugs on this block. Keep away” and put it across their windshield.
They would come back to their car and we’d pull the shades down in our living room and with a bullhorn we’d say, “We know why you’re here. Stay away from this block. This is a drug free block.” And they’d take off, first trying to get this sticker off, but they couldn’t get it off. We did that for a couple months and eventually it pretty much went away.
Now the Housing Authority is short on cash and they want to get rid of the whole park and all 31 enormous trees. They want to put a 12-story building in its place. It’s called the Infill Plan." Read full interview.
Angel “Petroleum” Luis Roman, Security, Construction. (Click here for full interview.)
"I’ve been here since 1952. I was 12 years old when I came to the neighborhood from Puerto Rico with just my mother. It was a big change. Rent used to be $17 a month.
I graduated from Seward Park High School in 1958. I retired last year from security. I used to work in construction for awhile. I worked as a security guard and I worked in the stock market from 1986 till 1994. I used to be what you call a messenger.
One of the oldest places around here is Katz's Delicatessen. I worked for them for awhile. I used to wash dishes for them — making a living, you know. I also occasionally work at Moishe’s for the Jewish holidays sometimes. Sometimes they need me to work for one week. I like working with people.
I saw this neighborhood grow up. It was a poor neighborhood. Years ago people used to play dominoes in the streets, getting fresh with the ladies, throwing beer bottles on the street. Now you don’t see that. To tell you the truth, there were a lot of gangs, a lot of racketeering, but it was better than it was now — 100% percent better. Give me the old neighborhood and I would take it anytime. I liked the Dominican places, the Puerto Rican places, but I don’t eat in restaurants so I’d go there to drink my beer and that’s it.
For fun, I’ll have a few drinks with my friends — enjoy myself. You can ask anybody around here, you know Petroleum? They will know me. They call me that because I can outdrink them. I also used to go to the skating rink. I used to be a good ice skater. I’d go up to 57th Street.
The old people that used to live here, the Puerto Rican, the Jewish, whatever it is, they moved to New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Miami. A lot of people moved to Florida. I like to live right here. I’ll tell you one thing, I love New York, but I don’t recommend nobody to come here. It’s tough. The good thing about New York is that it is one of the safest places to live now. You go to Puerto Rico, Miami — it’s much more dangerous. Here I am not afraid. New York is one of the safest places.
I have my wife and my daughters. They are doing good. One is 41 and one is 37. They’re doing better than I did. They have houses with pools in New Jersey." Read full interview.
1/320th at F13, ISO 800 (28mm).
Is there a larger shopping mall in the world?
While the cast-iron architecture in SoHo may seem grand and elegant, the reality about them is much darker. Here is some history from Blue Guide NY.
"During the decade between 1860 and 1890, most of the cast-iron architecture so admired today was constructed, the buildings serving as factories or warehouses, often with shopfronts on the ground floor. Appealing as they may seem now with their Corinthian columns, Palladian windows, or French Second Empire dormers, many functioned as sweatshops where immigrants from southern and eastern Europe endured 12 or more hours a day of tedious labor."