The DEGENERATE NYC Tee
Ok , I’ve said it over and over and I’m gonna definitely keep beating this dead horse to death – but New York City, more specifically, Times Square and the whole 8th & 9th Ave. district really had a huge influence on the creation of SMUTLIFE. So when I moved to the city in 93’ I was lucky enough to really get to experience the city and the neighborhoods that still housed the adult video stores and the peep shows, where the whores and freaks and the bottom feeders of life all kind of coexisted in this synchronized fashion on this rather bizarre parallel.
Now you gotta remember that 93’ was the year Giuliani was elected mayor. In 94' he quickly instituted this plan for gentrification that essentially, which in my opinion, was the beginning stages of the deconstruction of New York’s soul and character. Not gonna divulge into the politics of it all but it really changed the landscape of Manhattan on many levels.
I lived on 27th between 7th & 8th Ave. smack in between the west village, the meatpacking district and Times Square. For anyone familiar with that block, that’s the Fashion Institute of Technology campus.
I went there from 94’ til about late 97'. Dorm life on 27th street had a shit ton of perks – location was obviously one of them. I could easily venture out into the wild on any given day and still have a retreat that was somewhat of a safe haven to go back to. But being within arms reach of this playground of debauchery really made it a struggle to stay focused with any studies. Eventually I would drop out after finally realizing I couldn’t handle the studies and city life. But I didn't really give a fuck about the impersonal education. The façade of the city and its different characteristics that made it what it was for the previous 20-25+yrs was overwhelmingly irresistible and the schooling that I was looking for.
The street hustlers and the pimps, the hookers and the junkies that littered the blocks around campus, the peep shows that were all still in full-tilt all of that good shit, it never seemed to cease. It was 24.7.365 Raw & Uncut!!!
I’ve always had this deranged attraction with the nuances of 8th Ave that was basically the main artery that ran through Hell’s Kitchen. It was an odd love affair that slowly developed like some sore of malignant mental disease.
This is how the idea of the DEGENERATE NYC t-shirt came into play. It’s really nothing more than a photo rip. Not sure exactly when it was taken but probably sometime in the early-mid 80’s and I believe by photographer Matt Weber.
Weber was a cab driver that started to document the shit outta the city back in the late 70’s. And his ‘Paradise Alley’ photo was one that really captured that feeling of what a peep show represented. The gentlemen you see entering the establishment is the quintessential image of perversion. It’s a black and white photo so you don’t really know what time of the day it is. It could be in the morning, it could be lunchtime, it could be early evening, but regardless the suits that are coming and going represent a level of quiet anti-social perversion and is just so fucking cliché to me, that it screams DEGENERATE.