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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kevin Scott Hall Brings Back the West Village's Golden Days with Poetry at the Bar

The only thing missing from Kevin Hall's reviving the Village's bohemian days at the Duplex on Christopher Street were the bongo drums, babies! Maybe next time.

Seated at the bar in the packed room (thankfully an early arriver), I coincidentally sat next to a man who was a long-time Leave It to Beaverhausen lover! Wonderful to meet an actual fan at a club! Michael Dionne worked the upstairs Duplex bar diligently and gracefully. He and Kevin had worked together as bartenders at the old Rose's Turn which added a nice touch of comaraderie to the event. Happy Hour, a modern invention since the Village's beatnik days, added a pleasant remodeled feel to the event which was not presented in the cabaret room but at the bar room as in the iconoclastic days of yore. We were fellow rebels.

Kevin's Annual Pride Writers show brought together six talented scribes: her nibs, the clever lesbian comic writer Sissy Van Dyke (who said hers is "not just a name, it's a lifestyle"), poets Ricardo Hernandez who added 2015 flair by reading poems off his cell phone; Lee Leong Koh -- a Korean-born poet now a NYC boy; the very entertaining Kate Walter, reading from her memoir, all took turns at the mike.

Biographer James Gavin -- of Peggy Lee: Is That All There Is, which I reviewed last November -- was there and I got to meet him at last. I was very flattered to hear he'd read it when I published it and he said it gave him confidence in the book's success critically and commercially.

Kevin opened the show by reading a tragi-comic passage from his own novel, A Quarter Inch from My Heart.

All the writers assembled were amazingly dynamic in their recitals. Nothing wan; all were wonderful dramaturges. I encourage you to seek these artists out on the Internet.

So, thank you Kevin and The Duplex for bringing art and culture back to a Village bistro. Sipping wine and hearing writers and poets at the second-floor bar was a wonderful throwback experience, but one I hope will carry on. The show was a benefit for New Alternatives Advocates for LGBT Youth.

The Duplex is on the corner of 7th Avenue and Christopher Street, just two doors away from the historic Stonewall bar. What a fabulous experience for Gay Pride week in NYC! And what a retro-progressive new tradition in restoring literature as a lively art in this great city of ours!

Michael Dionne and Kevin Hall

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