Altercation at Irving Plaza



Neighborhood: East Village

Klaus Nomi and Cookie Mueller.

November 3, 1978 – East Village – Journal Entry

Last night THE NEW WAVE VAUDEVILLE SHOW at Irving Plaza was a great success for the performers, but a debacle for me. Klaus Nomi was the headliner along with a horde of starry-eyed rockers and artists. My friends and I were asked to be the security. None of us were paid, but we were guaranteed free drinks.

The night started slow, but by midnight the auditorium on Irving Place was packed with new wave aficionados. Klaus killed the crowd. He was a star.

At the end of his performance the stage lights came up, signaling it was time to leave. I went from table to table telling the guests they didn’t have to go home, but that they couldn’t stay here. The rest of the security was guzzling liquor at the back bar.

My girlfriend Alice and her friends were flush with the excitement of achieving glory for an evening, and tomorrow night promised more as the B-52s would be headlining the show. Only one table remained. I approached the four rockers, telling them the same thing as everyone else. They didn’t like what they heard, and a thin-haired guy in glasses asked, “Do you know who I am?”

I had seen him someplace, but said, “No.”

“We’re Blondie and we’re not going anywhere.”

Blondie? I had seen them several times at CBGBs and liked them.

“It’s been a long night. Just do me a favor and finish your drinks,” I said.

I turned to walk away, but he grabbed my shoulder. I shucked off his grip and slapped the beer out of his hand.

“Just leave, you cu – ts. You guys suck.”

I was no music critic, and they attacked me as if one of them had said, “One two three four.”

I seized the forelock of the rocker in the glasses and whacked him in the face. He backed away and I found myself with a tuft of hair in my hand. After that I was buried underneath them and their roadies. Not a fair fight.

When I got to my feet, Alice wasn’t there. I had trouble breathing. Two of my ribs were broken. I returned to our apartment on East 10th Street and lay on the futon wheezing and coughing a little blood. Nothing serious.

Alice showed up at dawn.

She sat in the kitchen.

“A good night.”

“Yes, but you had to ruin it all. Blondie wants to play, but both them and the B-52s won’t perform if you’re there.”



“Well, the show must go on.”

That morning we slept in separate beds.

Alice left for the show before sunset without saying a word. I wandered north to Irving Plaza and drank in the Polish Bar beneath the club. The Poles toasted me. I toasted them back.

“Na Zdrowie!” I coughed with pain.

The next two days I spit up blood. I should have sued the band for a hundred-thousand bucks.
Sadly, I wasn’t that type of guy. Fighters never are. We win. We lose. But we never cry.


OPEN CITY declared Peter Nolan Smith an underground punk legend of the 1970s East Village. In the last century the New England native worked as a nightclub doorman at New York’s Hurrah and Milk Bar; Paris’ Les Bains-Douches and Balajo; London’s Cafe de Paris, and Hamburg’s Bsir.

Throughout the 1990s Peter Nolan Smith was employed as a diamond salesman on West 47th Street in Manhattan’s Diamond District.

The 2000s were spent in Thailand running an internet company and raising his family.

He is currently based in Fort Greene, New York and Thailand and putting the final touches on BACK AND FORTH his historical semi-fictional book about hitchhiking across the USA in 1974.

His website covers news and semi fiction from around the globe with over 5000 entries.

His motto: “All stories are true if interesting.

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§ One Response to “Altercation at Irving Plaza”

  • Dan Polowetzky says:

    Good for you!
    Many years ago my sister worked at the Hackney Empire theatre in the UK. Ralph Fiennes had finished a performance and it was her job to clean up and throw out the garbage.
    He wouldn’t get out of the way and had the same do you know who I am attitude as Mr. Blondie. So she jostled him with a bag of garbage.

§ Leave a Reply

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