May 26, 1982

The Peppermint Lounge with Fayette [Hickox]. Pete Shelley (ex-Buzzcocks) plays.

There’s feisty Rene Ricard, Jim Fouratt, rockin’ Rob Duprey, and downtown’s Walter Winchell, Stephen Saban, who introduces me to a 22 year old beauty, Stacy Thorpe. I asked her if she was a movie star (the line Danny Fields used on me). Nice laugh.

When she got up to leave, she stooped and whispered in my ear, “Your friends got my number, steal it.” Aha! The game’s afoot! (212-431-3919)

May 27, 1982

Wound up at Stilwende, where the Lounge Lizards are playing their brand of angular private-eye jazz. I go in the dressing room, there’s Basquiat acting real friendly. He holds a teaspoon full of coke up to my nose, just like that.

“Hold on a second there,” I say. “That’s a little much. What are you trying to do, kill me?”

He shifts some of it back into a plastic baggy. “Okay, now,” he says. Vroom! Instant cardiac arrest.

“Jesus Christ! That stuff is strong!” I say, trying to focus.

A self-portrait by Hannah from the early 80s.

“Here try some of this, it’ll smooth it right down,” he says, holding a spliff to my lips.

“Wait! I don’t think I want that!” I say hurriedly, thinking just to be near this guy is to be higher than you’ve ever been before. He’s a highly toxic creature.

“No, no, this stuff is so mellow, just take one little hit, it’ll calm you right down.”

So, like a dope, I did, and the second retro-rocket went off, blasting me away. BOOM BOOM BOOM! Strongest weed on the planet! I mumbled something to Arto Lindsay and John Lurie, who’s got TWO redheads in tow, and then went outside to see if some fresh air would revive me.

And who should I see right in front of me, but last night’s blonde, Stacy, a sight for sore eyes, dressed up like a cowgirl with do-rags in her hair. I tell her I’m in bad shape, so she takes my hand and says let’s take a walk. Says she thought I’d be here tonight, said she’d had a crush on me since last night. Thinkin’ about me all day.

Hannah and his onetime girlfriend, the musician Anna Taylor, featured in a 1981 New York–magazine story by Anna Wintour and Henry Post on stylish New York couples.

So, we walk and walk, through the sultry, empty streets of Tribeca, and I apologize for being as stoned as I am. She says to not worry about it, we’ll have plenty of time for everything, she’s in no hurry, says she’ll keep telling me lies to keep me interested. “You know, you’re not exactly unpleasant to look at, even if you are about to have a heart attack.”

We sit on a stoop, and she scratches our initials in the concrete. Such an urban romantic thing to do. I’m impressed. She is a real buccaneer. She asks about my situation, I tell her I live with a tuxedo kitty named Kuku. She says she lives on Mott street with a cat named Mr. Milk. Is this love happening?

A couple of nights later Stacy shows up two hours late with a bottle of champagne. We go up on the roof of the Alamac (22 stories), and look out over the lights of the Upper West Side.

This used to be the site of the Congo Club, a niteclub frequented by Carl Van Vechten. All that life contained down below on this shimmering island. Many worlds suspended in the darkness, in the night. We pass the champagne back and forth and start to make out.… She says “Let’s go back down to your HQ.”

In the morning she’s wearing my navy blue swiss dot Brooks Brothers silk robe, which is hanging open. It’s never looked so good … I learn she’s back in New York after a stint in London where she was going out with someone in the Bow Wow Wow entourage. Pals with Malcolm McLaren.

“Jesus Christ! That stuff is strong!”

Stacy’s joint is very minimal, mattress on the floor, acoustic guitar lying around, some of her pseudo-Schiele sketches taped to the wall. Record player with summer hit “Shoot That Poison Arrow” by ABC spinning round. Nothing in the fridge. She was working at the Ritz until recently, but she sprained her ankle and took time off, with a loan from the owners. I’m astounded by her poise, her unflappable qualities. She’s always wearing that secret smile. Easily amused.

I tell her I live with a tuxedo kitty named Kuku. She says she lives on Mott street with a cat named Mr. Milk. Is this love happening?

Think I might have the clap so go down to the Health Clinic in Chelsea. The doctor sticks an instrument into my pee-hole. Says “Just relax.” Yah, sure. Turns out I’ve got non-specific urethritis. NSU, as immortalized by the Cream. Antibiotics will clear that up. Where did I get it? A few possibilities come to mind.

An untitled work by Hannah.

Stacy is a downtown queen, often to be seen in the party pictures in Details and the Soho Weekly News. Sleeps in the day, goes out at night. She drags me along. We see pretty blonde model Patti Hansen dancing in a fuschsia satin top at Studio 54. There’s creepy A & P heir Huntington Hartford on his endless quest for young pussy, a familiar sight.

We hear Marianne Faithfull sing the scathing “Broken English” at the Ritz. Bowie & Susan Sarandon are in her dressing room with the very beautiful Catherine Deneuve and Grace Jones, who looks like a scary 7 foot tall drag queen. The stars are out tonight.

We wound up at the Continental, doing coke off the hood of a car with Chris Spedding, the quiffed sideman of choice.

Bowie & Susan Sarandon are in Marianne Faithfull’s dressing room with the very beautiful Catherine Deneuve and Grace Jones, who looks like a scary 7 foot tall drag queen.

There’s a party at Kitty & Sarah’s dressmaking studio. Rene Ricard & Patti Astor are swanning around like a couple of movie stars. They’ve just done two films with Eric Mitchell.

Hannah, smoking a cigarette in the early 80s.

We go to a joint called Heartbreak at 179 Varick for a Semiotext(e) event featuring French editor Sylvère Lotringer. His legs are messed up from a mountain climbing accident. He publishes Kathy Acker. Stacy handles herself well, quick on her feet, charming everyone we meet. Where does she get it?

We wound up at the Continental, doing coke off the hood of a car with Chris Spedding, the quiffed sideman of choice.

Stacy and I go out for a walk. Heading East on my block we spy Warren Beatty exiting the front door of a brownstone. He’s holding an overnight bag, probably just climbed out of bed with some young beauty. His radar must’ve gone off, because as he was about to descend the front steps to the sidewalk, he fixed his gaze on Stacy.

He froze, and shot her with an unwavering stare, like a laser beam. Like a bird of prey that had just spotted a juicy mouse. She smiled up at him. I glared at him. Poaching! Right in front of me! Good God man, give it a rest! Can’t you see the lady has an escort?!? We pass him, and Stacy said she felt his gaze all the way to her undies.

June 19, 1982

Stacy and I have been together about a month now. There seems to be something on her mind. I don’t dare ask. It’s a hot steamy Saturday night so we go down to crowded Lincoln Plaza Cinema, and get seats in the front row to see the new Fassbinder film, Lola.

Hannah with one of his paintings in the early 80s.

It’s a take on The Blue Angel, where an older guy is in love with a prostitute, and the whole town knows except him. The audience was laughing at this poor idiot’s misfortune, but not me or Stacy (who ordinarily would have been enjoying it). I realized that idiot on screen was me.

Stacy kept slinking lower in her seat, and my heart was racing with the bitter facts of us. When it was over, we wordlessly got up, filed out, got the escalator to the noisy street level, happy people going by in all directions on Broadway. We lit up cigarettes under the arcades. She looked devastated.

“What’s the matter,” I said solemnly. No reply.

“It’s your job, isn’t it.” Silence.

“What exactly is it that you do,” I said, braced for the worst.

Finally she looked at me, and said, “Do you really want to know?”

Boom! There went my world. My worst suspicions confirmed with those six words. I felt like I was in an elevator whose cable just snapped.

“You might as well tell me, I have a pretty good hunch.”

Pause as she smoked. “I guess you could say I’m some kind of glorified version of a call girl.”

“Mmm hmmm. That’s more or less what I figured.”

Flames, painted by Hannah in 1980.

We started heading up the avenue, while she explained her double life to me. She’d borrowed money from the hip mobsters at the rock club she worked at, thinking there were no strings attached. There were, though. They wanted their money back soon, and said just work for our service for a bit, everyone does it, there’s no shame, you’ll have paid us back in no time.

“But what must you think of yourself?” I asked.

“It’s not like you think … most of my customers are European, they treat me with respect, we have a nice dinner in an expensive restaurant, they talk and talk, and then we go to their fancy hotel. The sex is a small part of it. It’s not like what we do.”

“Well, it’s still cocks and cunts, isn’t it?”

She rolled her eyes. “I knew you wouldn’t understand. That’s why I didn’t tell you. I wasn’t doing it when I met you, and then they put the squeeze on me, and I had to go back to work. I never meant to fall in love with you, but I did. I saw you were looking for an angel, and I really wanted to be that angel, but, I’m no angel.”

Even in my moment of heartbreak, I could still recognize that as a good line.

Now we were back in my stifling bedroom, sitting hunched over on the side of the bed, smoking Gauloise filters. (It occurred to me that this was just like a French movie. I’d always wanted my life to be like a French movie, and now it was. I hated it. Let me out!)

June 20, 1982

Sleepless night. Nightmares. It wouldn’t be so bad but for the fact that I’m in love with her. And she’s a call-girl! How did it come to this? It’s like a book by David Goodis or Cornell Woolrich. I can’t keep this all bottled up, so I call Amos Poe in the morning, usually a calming influence. I tell him my dilemma.

“Mmm hmm … so what’s the problem exactly?” he says.

“C’mon man! How would you like it?”

Hannah, looking like a young Sid Vicious.

“I wouldn’t mind. In fact, I’ve got a girlfriend in Italy who’s a pro, it’s no big deal. She’s even an aristocrat! It’s different over there, there’s not the stigma attached to it that there is here. Plus, I’m a little surprised at you, you’re not exactly an angel yourself.”

“I know, but at least I don’t sell my body to strangers for money!”

“Don’t be such a prude”.

“Oh, cut it with this libertine bull-shit! ”

“Okay, how ’bout this. How often do you make it with her?”

“I dunno, usually 3 times a day I spose. Why?”

“Well, at $200 an hour, that’s at least $600 bucks a day you’re saving, and at 6 weeks, you just saved $27,000. You’ve got it all out of proportion. These things happen. It’s bohemia!”

Duncan Hannah, who died earlier this year, was an artist and the author of Twentieth-Century Boy, a collection of his 1970sNew York diaries. His 1980s diaries, from which this story is excerpted, are as of yet unpublished