My earliest memory of Billy’s is of driving past it every morning on my way to elementary school. Whenever we got stopped at the light on Houston & Bowery, homeless men would bombard the car and before you could say otherwise, they were spraying the windshield with cloudy blue liquid, smearing a soiled rag across its surface, making it dirtier than it originally was. The streets were desolate, just empty lots full of debris and overgrown weeds. Not exactly the kind of place you would want to spend time, unless of course you were looking to score some drugs. As the neighborhood fell victim to gentrification over the past two decades, one place remarkably remained the same. Billy’s has become synonymous with what is fondly known as “The Old Bowery”. As multi-million dollar high rises and upscale retail chains began popping up on every corner, this run down circus tent full of fine antiquities, oddities and plain old junk, managed to stay in business. Now after being a stronghold in the old neighborhood for over 25 years, Billy’s officially shut its gates on the first of January and will be rebuilt as a brick and mortar structure. This past Friday night, Billy Leroy & his lovely wife Lorraine held a goodbye party for the store that was open to the public complete with live bands that rocked out til the wee hours of the morning. The following afternoon, a funeral service was held as the tent was taken down and placed into a beautiful mahogany coffin which will eventually be buried in the new buildings foundation. I attended both the party and the funeral and was struck with mixed emotions. For the past two years, Billy’s played a major role in my life as I worked there and was involved in a relationship with Mr. Leroy’s silent partner. I spent a great deal of time under the shelter of that tent, in the steamy summer heat and the bitter cold of winter. While they were not always the best of times, I met some wonderful people in the process. On the one hand, I am happy that it is closed and that I am moving on to a different chapter in my life. On the other hand, I am sad that like everything else I’ve come to know in my childhood in the L.E.S., another piece of it and its history are gone forever.
My outfit for the evening! It was freezing here in NYC on Friday night so I tried to dress as warmly as I could, particularly since I was going to be standing outside for hours.
Leopard Coat: Vintage, Wool Trousers: Anthropologie, Handbag: Betsey Johnson, Mink Scarf: Vintage, Rhinestone Brooches and Earrings: Vintage Shoes: Uggs (Fashionable? No. Warm? Yes!)
Off we go!
Full house! I could barely squeeze myself inside! lol
The highlight of the evening: Ms. Lorraine Leckie and her Demons! They played a great set! Love her 🙂
Carter the great and her magnificent camera!
The beautiful Ingrid of Customfad.com and her handsome friend Miggs stopped by to check out the action! Loved her vintage leopard beret 🙂
The funeral procession begins
Looking up through the ceiling, very surreal!
A small piece of what was left on the ground of the legendary tent.
Rest in peace Billy’s, The Bowery is gonna miss ‘ya!