Reading Revamp: Penny Arcade Reinvents the Book Party


Most Monday night book parties usually don't involve DJs, guest readings by Debbie Harry and a slew of scantily clad dancers of all shapes, sizes and genders.

Then again, Penny Arcade -- a former Warhol Factory girl-turned-sexually-uninhibited and politically-charged performance artist -- isn't your average author, even if the book's title is "Bad Reputation."

"It's a perfect title because I do have a bad reputation ... but not with good people!" Arcade told a roaring audience, who sat around reserved tables crowding (Le) Poison Rouge's main dance floor.

Boldly bedecked in a sequined cocktail dress, the always amusing downtown dame held court from the stage -- relaying stories of young fans messaging her on Facebook, demonstrating how Barbie became the inspiration for centerfolds and inviting friends like Harry and 85-year-old poet Taylor Mead to read and perform excerpts from her body of written work.

"It's kind of like a memorial without me there," Arcade said backstage in the Green Room, taking a break between hosting duties and book signings.

Actually, it was more of a homecoming. (Le) Poison Rouge occupies the same space as former nightclub The Village Gate, a venue that showcased many of Arcade’s zeitgeist-y (if not controversial) performances.

"Being back here at the Village Gate is pretty amazing because in 1967, when I was 17-years old, I landed on the corner of Thompson and Bleeker and now there's a sign out there that says "Penny Arcade: Sex, Politics, Reality!" she said, referring to the marquis that still bears her name.

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