Ira Cohen holding up a newspaper with the headline "TILL DEATH DO US PART" - copyright Romy Ashby

No. 1: Ira Cohen (1999)

Ira Cohen holding up a newspaper with the headline "TILL DEATH DO US PART" - copyright Romy Ashby

I met Ira Cohen in the mid 1980s through my friend Liza Stelle, who lived on Leroy Street in the Village. We met at a party at the Living Theatre one night, when it occupied a storefront in the East Village. Liza knew all of the most interesting people in New York, and she was very  generous with … Read more

No. 2: Edgar Oliver (1999)

Edgar Oliver next to a small castle - copyright Ludovic Fremaux

From my letter to the readers in Edgar’s Goodie: “One of the most intoxicating aspects of Edgar Oliver is his voice, which is quiet and whispery, and resonant as a viola da gamba. His manner of speaking, like his person, is elegance itself. Edgar is nocturnal, spooky, antique, very funny, and addictive. Unfortunately voices are … Read more

No. 3: Buffie Johnson (2000)

Buffie Johnson

The cover image for Buffie Johnson’s issue of Goodie is a photograph made by Liza Stelle, of a little sculpted person sitting in the window of a long-gone-away shop in the Village. I chose it for the cover image because it seemed like a nice thing to do, since Liza was the one who introduced … Read more

No. 4: Dr. Culp’s Library (2000)

Picture from a book from Dr Culp's medical library

This issue of Goodie is different from the rest, in that it is not simply one interview with one person, although I did interview the very sweet owner of the bookshop where I found the collection of books once owned by Dr. Culp. Even in 2000, secondhand bookshops were disappearing fast. In a way, Dr. … Read more

No. 5: Debbie Harry (2000)

Debbie Harry in her car zooming by down below on the street - copyright Romy Ashby

That’s Debbie’s car going by downstairs, the picture snapped from my window on 7th Avenue. Debbie needs no introduction, but we didn’t talk about Blondie at all for her Goodie. We talked a lot about childhood and the way New York used to be, and her issue is also about Jackie 60, the legendary nightspot created by Chi Chi Valenti and … Read more

No. 6: Marty Matz (2000)

Marty Matz with a lampshade over his head - copyright Ira Cohen

Marty Matz was an enormously likable guy, big and bewhiskered, a lover of animals and opiates, a great poet and a wonderful storyteller. Like most good artists he never had any dough to speak of by the end of his life, but if his stories and his poems were worth their weight in gold, he’d … Read more

No. 7: Penny Arcade (2000)

I met Penny for the first time in 1988, the night my friend Liza Stelle took me to St. Mark’s Church to see her perform along with the great Margo Howard-Howard, who Liza knew well. I loved what they did together, with Penny impersonating Margo while Margo impersonated someone else, and after that night I … Read more

No. 8: Mrs. Ching, or Ching Store (2000)

Back in 1989, when I worked at the Three Lives and Company bookshop on West 10th Street, I made friends with a boy who would come in a couple of times a week and buy several books and then stand and talk about all kinds of things. This was Billy Neil, who came from Hawaii … Read more

No. 9: Gregory Corso (2001)

Gregory Corso

Gregory Corso needs no introduction, but what is special about this issue is the interview with his daughter, Sheri. We met her and were able to do the Goodie interview thanks to the great Roger Richards (himself a subject of Goodie) who along with his wife Irvyne, looked after Gregory for the last dozen years … Read more

No. 10: Carole Ramer (2001)

Drawing of Carole Ramer by Ruben Toledo and the star & circle cover design is by Michele Burgevin.

Carole Ramer is the only friend I have who was actually given to me as a gift. We both knew Vali Myers, and Vali told us both that she wanted to make a gift of each to the other, and eventually we finally met because of that. Carole is one of the most exceptional and … Read more

No. 11: Yana Chupenko (2001)

Yana Chupenko - copyright Tim Carter

I first met Yana Chupenko in the early 1990s when I was introduced to her by our mutual friend Carla Olla, who was in a band called PMS (Pre Metal Syndrome) with Yana at the time. Like everyone, I think, I loved Yana right away. She’s one of the most magnificent creatures I’ve ever encountered; beautiful, smart, talented … Read more

No. 12: Al Carlin (2001)

Al Carlin and his mother

Al Carlin, may he rest in peace, was the father of my friend Marilou, who I met in 1988. While visiting her family on Long Island one day, I was struck by Al’s charm and his storytelling. When Goodie came into existence a decade or so later, his stories still rang in my head. So we went back out … Read more

No. 13: Baby Dee (2001)

Baby Dee playing an accordian on her harpcycle - copyright Paul Coughlin

I can’t think of anyone who dressed up the streets of New York better than Baby Dee did once upon a time, as she rolled through the neighborhoods on her harpcycle playing her accordion.  My Dear Readers letter from her Goodie: “We were thinking, ‘Gee, what shall we send out for Christmas?’ It has to be something delightful … Read more

No. 14: Victor Bockris (2002)

Victor Bockris - copyright Shelley Corwin

Liza Stelle first introduced me to Victor Bockris on Sixth Avenue one day in 1985.  We had all stopped to look at some tiny paintings spread out for sale on a blanket. They were little landscapes, and I think they cost ten dollars each. I no longer remember if the painter was a man or … Read more

No. 15: Seaweed (2002)

Seaweed with his daughter, they're reading a book

This one is special to me, because Seaweed was my dad. He taught me to love books. He had a hard time in life, and some of that is in the Goodie, but he also had a miraculous innocence about him that made everything possible. If you don’t have any money but would like Seaweed’s … Read more

No. 16: Cathy Clarke (2002)

Cathy Clarke's grandfather, the Prospect Park shepherd.

I met Cathy Clarke in 1993 in the hospital room of a friend who had broken her back, and almost immediately Clarkie, as lots of people called her, became one of my favorite people. She still is, although it has been a long time since I’ve seen her. She always had the most wonderful stories to tell–and … Read more

No. 17: Captain Bob (2002)

Captain Bob - copyright Romy Ashby

I first met Captain Bob in 2001, after the terrible day of September 11th. He ran a little bar on a barge which sat on the river surrounded by old boats. I had seen him often there, but I hadn’t spoken to him. On September 11th I went over to sit on the lightship Frying … Read more

No. 18: Roger Richards of the Rare Book Room (2003)

Roger Richards and Gregory Corso - copyright Shiv Mirabito

As with quite a few of my Dear Readers letters for Goodie I said ‘we’ in this rather than ‘I’, although it was in fact I who bought the signed copy of Women, by Charles Bukowski, from Roger in 1991 or 1992. I still remember standing in the entry to my building, where I still live, … Read more

No. 19: Kasoundra Kasoundra (2003)

Kasoundra Kasoundra - copyright Hank O'Neal

I met Kasoundra through Liza Stelle, who spoke about Kasoundra over the years, usually laughing, but it was not until Liza was sick that I really got to know this great lady. Kasoundra was one of very few people that Liza would allow in to visit while she was dying. From my Dear Readers letter for Kasoundra’s … Read more

No. 20: Hijinx the Coney Island Sideshow Cat (2003)

Hijinx Cat on a desk - copyright Romy Ashby 2004

Hijinx was boss of the Coney Island Sideshow for many years and this collection of interviews, made with the great cast of sideshow characters about her, earned this issue of Goodie the distinction of being named her official biography by Sideshow founder Dick Zigun. Hijinx was without doubt one of the most beloved and infamous characters in … Read more

No. 21: Neke Carson (2003)

Neke Carson and Andy Warhol - copyright Anton Perich

Neke Carson became (in)famous for his painted portrait of Andy, which he made holding the brush in his behind. But there’s much more to Neke than his reputation as the Rectal Realist, a distinction memorialized in the movie Nine and a Half Weeks. (He had a cameo appearance in the movie and the ‘Rectal Realist’ … Read more

No. 22: Lionel Ziprin (2004)

portrait of Lionel Ziprin by Aishling Labat

This Rembrandt-like photo was taken near the end of Lionel’s life by his granddaughter, Aishling Labat (the daughter of Lionel’s beautiful daughter Zia), in early 2009. Lionel was an extraordinary person, an artist, a mystic, a scholar, a poet and the most extraordinary teller of stories. He grew up on East Broadway during the Depression, … Read more

No. 23: Indra Tamang (2004)

In 1972, Indra Tamang met Charles Henri Ford, considered the father of American Surrealism, in the dining room of the Kathmandu Hotel where he was a waiter. Soon, CHF hired Indra as a personal assistant and cook. In 1974 Charles brought Indra to New York, where he has lived ever since. For decades he worked … Read more

No. 24: Herbie Kearney

These accidentally double-exposed photos were taken in 1992 in the Valley of Il Porto and in Naples, Italy. That’s Vali Myers with the red hair and my head hanging  there in a shadow. Wearing the red shirt and walking along the street is Herbie Kearney, the Irishman with the golden voice for songs, poems and … Read more

No. 25: Michaeleen Maher (2005)

Mikki Maher by Liza Stelle

Mikki Maher is another old friend of Liza Stelle’s. They knew each other from the 1960s, and they were both in the movie Alice’s Restaurant. I always found Mikki to be endlessly interesting and utterly glamorous whenever I’d run into her, usually  with Liza and often with Ira Cohen. I remember being out in Montauk … Read more

No. 26: Jack Hirschman (2005)

Jack Hirschman, photo by Romy Ashby

Jack Hirschman was named poet laureate of San Francisco by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2006, not long after this interview was done in 2005. At the time, Jack was living with his wife, the poet Agneta Falk, in a tiny room crammed with books up in the old Columbus Hotel, above the Caffe Trieste in … Read more

No. 27: Goody Cable (2005)

Shelly Kitty, photo by Romy Ashby

In the coastal town of Newport, Oregon, there hangs on a cliff over the ocean an old hotel. It’s run by a charming and eccentric lady named Goody Cable, who rescued the place from ruin and turned it into a hideout for book lovers called The Sylvia Beach Hotel. Every room is dedicated to a … Read more

No. 28: Terence Sellers (2005)

Portrait of Terence Sellers by Allan Lewis Kleinberg

When Terence Sellers left New York in 2005, the fading cultural fabric of our city lost a luminous filament. To any room Terence adds a dark sparkle of glamour. She is a scholar and bibliophile, a diarist, an aesthete, an active player in the rich theater of the underground, and for almost 30 years, she … Read more

No. 29: Armen Ra (2006)

Portrait Armen Ra by Adrian Buckmaster

Armen is a musical virtuoso. He taught himself to play the theremin, with which he can sing any great aria. His early years are reminiscent of Marcel Proust’s childhood, as they were spent very pleasantly in beautiful gardens under the influence of great ladies, but in Iran, not France. He grew up on picture galleries … Read more

No. 30: Sui Fong Wong (2006)

Sui Fong Wong, photo by Romy Ashby

Madame Sui Fong Wong passed away in November, 2014, one day before her 90th birthday. She was a great star of the Cantonese Opera, and many shades of New York color radiated from this lady. Her Goodie is one of my very favorite issues of all. An excerpt, from Sui Fong Wong: “When I was in … Read more

No. 31: Hank O’Neal (2006)

Hank O'Neal, photo by Romy Ashby

Perhaps most inspiring about Hank O’Neal is the way he’s made a life’s work out of all of his favorite things. He’s been recording music since 1966 and has a label (Chiaroscuro Records) full of stardust.Over the decades he’s been lucky to count among his friends such people as Eddie Condon, Lee Wiley, Djuna Barnes, … Read more

No. 32: Pete Eggers (2007)

A woman called Pete with a woolen hat on kneeling next to a big dog

Her Goodie is made of stories of the West, at once stately and rustic, and full of Pete’s humor and wonder. She never lost her wonder, even at the edge of 100. She was full of curiosity and amazement to the end. She was a published poet, but she downplayed her achievements.

No. 33: Barbara Maier (2007)

Barbara Maier

Barbara Maier is one of New York’s great treasures. An excerpt from my letter to the readers in her Goodie: “When she told us that she grew up in Indiana, we impulsively asked her if she knew Larry Camp, another friend who grew up in Indiana, a painter living down on Lower Broadway. The expected answer … Read more

No. 34: Larry Camp (2007)

Larry Camp working at a table - copyright Romy Ashby

I’ve known Larry Camp since the middle 1980s, and he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. In my Dear Readers letter for his Goodie, I used 3rd person rather than “I” for reasons I no longer remember. It reads like this: “In the 80s Romy worked a coffee wagon down by the Battery … Read more

No. 35: Randall Sharp (2007)

Randall Sharp holding a dog in front of Axis Theater

Sitting in the dark jewel of the Axis Theatre (once the Cafe Society, and later The Ridiculous Theatrical Company) the euphoria of its wonderful past is palpable. And Randall has utter reverence for that history—she kvells when telling about Zero Mostel performing right where she’s standing in the theatre, and she herself is a living … Read more

No. 36: Judith Malina (2008)

Judith Malina

Judith Malina, pictured here with Julian Beck in  1958: “It doesn’t take a lot of money to make good theater. You can do it on the street. But it does take money to keep a company that can develop together. Julian and I called our theater ‘Living’ because we wanted to keep exploring. And God … Read more

No. 37: Hattie Hathaway (2008)

Hattie Hathaway

I first remember being dazzled by Hattie at the Pyramid Club way back when–it must have been the late 1980s–and then there were the ’90s of Jackie 60, Click and Drag and Gray Gardens. Hattie Hathaway/aka Brian Butterick: One of the great minds still left in the city. My Dear Readers letter for Hattie’s Goodie: “Brian … Read more

No. 38: Charles Schick & Regina Bartkoff (2009)

Charles Schick and Regina Bartkoff have lived together for more than thirty years on the Lower East Side, where they raised their daughter Hannah in what was once a beautiful and rough & tumble block. They  live for painting and for theatre, sacrificing creature comforts in favor of another kind of richness. They’ve lived that … Read more