The People Who Built The Pyramid

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Gerry Visco takes a look at an exhibit honoring the infamous Alphabet City nightlclub

THERE´S NOTHING LIKE bumping into space aliens, Goths, suburban housewives, Jackie Gleason, veterans and Asian dwarves all in the same place. Like CBGBs and The Mudd Club, The Pyramid Club was that kind of place. Hell, on some nights it still is.

The club, open since 1979 at 101 Avenue A, was a phenomenon where you could see the best bands or cabaret shows, meet the strangest people around, all in fantabulous costumes, and end up dancing together through the night. The club’s heyday was during the 1980s, which is when Clayton Patterson, the Lower East Side photographer, started going to Whispers, a drag night on Sundays parodying suburban gay discos. Patterson took portraits in the dressing room of the club and they’re now on display for the very first time in a show called Pyramid Portraits up now at Esopus Space—here are some of his favorites.

Tabboo (Stephen Tashjian) is a performer, puppeteer and artist, who continues to perform in New York.

Lypsinka (John Epperson) with a friend. One of the successful acts spawned from the Pyramid Club, Lyspsinka created an outrageous stage character fashioned from a mélange of divas. He created two large-scale full cast productions for the Pyramid, Ballet of the Dolls and Dial M for Model.

Sister Ectoplasm was a female drag performer who was always in character but didn’t perform per se, though she still made quite an impact—she was name-dropped in the 1991 Hole song “Mrs. Jones.”

Red Ed (Edward Braddock III) came regularly to the Pyramid Club in drag but wasn’t a performer. Patterson labels him one of the characters who was an integral part of the scene.

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