This Is the Way 1990s New York Club Kids Actually Dressed

Written by | Books, Entertainment

NYC Club Kids

If Jake Shears’ memoir Boys Keep Swinging was a love letter to the glory days of Manhattan night life at the turn of the century, New York: Club Kids by former club kid and artist Waltpaper — also known as Walter Cassidy — is an equally ardent homage to the earlier part of that heady decade.

What Is a Club Kid?

The term “club kid” arrived in the ‘80s, but the movement made a more lasting impression on the decade that followed. It consisted primarily of fashion-conscious youths who came to be known publicly through daytime talk shows, magazine editorials, fashion campaigns and music videos. Some credit them with planting the seeds for reality TV, self-branding, the rise of influencers and the gender revolution.

NYC Club Kids

Photo credits: 1. Adolfo Gallela, Lil Keni and Waltpaper at Webster Hall, 1995. Copyright Adolfo Gallela. All Rights Reserved. 2. Michael Lavine for Details, 1992. (Left to right) Reign Voltaire, Julie Jewels, Waltpaper, DJ Keoki, Sacred Boy, Bjork, Keda, Lil Keni. Copyright Michael Lavine. All Rights Reserved. 3. Misa Martin, Lil Keni in Times Square, 1995. Copyright Misa Martin. All Rights Reserved.

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Costumed Movers and Shakers

New York: Club Kids’ chapters are largely organized by the clubs of the time (Limelight, Tunnel, Roxy, etc.). That was before they were padlocked out of existence by then-mayor Rudy Giuliani. Now, this photo book and memoir captures the heavily made-up and costumed movers and shakers of the era. Names like a newly celebrated RuPaul, eternal club kid Björk, and actor Chloe Sevigny decorate these pages vibrantly — even when the images are black and white.

NYC Club Kids

Photo credits: 1. Misa Martin, Sushi in Patricia Field’s apartment, 1994. Copyright Misa Martin. All Rights Reserved. 2. Michael Fazakerley, Keda, Kabuki Starshine, and Sacred Boy, 1992. Copyright Michael Fazakerley. All Rights Reserved. 3. Adolfo Gallela, Candis Cayne, 1995. Copyright Adolfo Gallela. All Rights Reserved.

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Reclaiming the Moment

What motivated Waltpaper to commit his reverie to book form? He cites the quintessential club kid, Michael Alig of Party Monster fame. “After the years of media coverage of the Alig story,” Waltpaper realized,“this is not my story.” So he decided to reclaim that moment in time for all the kids who partied alongside him back then — monsters or otherwise.

NYC Club Kids

Photo credits: 1. Catherine McGann, Techno boys at Limelight, 1992. Copyright Catherine McGann. All Rights Reserved. 2. Joseph Cultice, Waltpaper in High Times, 1994. Copyright Joseph Cultice. All Rights Reserved. 3. Stephan Lupino, Michael Alig and friends at The World, 1988. Copyright Stephan Lupino. All Rights Reserved.

New York: Club Kids

By Waltpaper; Damiani; $55

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Last modified: October 14, 2019