The Pink House

So, there’s a brownstone.  It’s a three story building with a basement and a sub-basement, its outside painted pink.  As the only building so painted on its block, it is known as the pink house.

And there’s an actor who comes regularly to the cold reading series I co-manage on Tuesday evenings, who works in real estate.  On behalf of a group of investors, he recently required this building, with the plan to renovate it and sell it for a profit down the road.  New York being New York, the permits to initiate this renovation will take several months to finalize and implement.  And while the bureaucratic process proceeds at its customary glacial place, this actor friend of mine has access to a building that would otherwise be sitting empty and idle.

So one night in December, he threw a holiday party.  I was there.  It was a nice party – roaring fireplaces and everything.

Intellectually, I understand what happened next, even though the speed at which things developed made it hard to fully process everything that was going on.  Essentially, the party never stopped.  Actors and other creative types, along with various neighborhood, kept hanging out on the weekends.  Somebody grabbed a guitar and sang a song.  Nothing out o the ordinary.

Then somebody performed a twenty minute monologue and invited somebody to do the same.  We are a bunch of actors and writers, after all, and within a few weeks the ongoing party at the brownstone being prepped for renovation had become an alternate performance venue, with live bands playing epic sets in the third floor bedroom.

And with aspiring screenwriters and directors hanging out by the fireplace in the basement all the while, typing away through the night as the revelry unspooled around them.

So now, about half of the regular attendees of this reading series, self included, have started shooting a film – a professional short film on a SAG contract, mind you – in what is effectively our fraternity house.

You know those stories about the New York club scene in the 90s, with people like Harmony Korine grabbing the kids they found there and tuning them into indie film stars?  Or further back, the days of places of the Warhol Factory?  Stories that seem like they’re from a time so far removed from our economic reality, from the modern business of filmmaking, as to be more legend than anything else?

Well, we still live in a time of legend, it seems, because a number of us are poised to get our SAG cards and a professional filmmaking credit simply because we were at the right party at the right time.

I never thought I’d be relating a story like this.  (I’m an introvert!  When do we ever go to parties?) And as wondrous as the story is, I’m still not sure I should be relating it.  After all, what kind of professional advice is it to give a young actor?  Just go to a bunch of random parties in other people’s brownstones and hope for the best?  It’s a recipe for disaster!

But it’s also that weird dream of New York, as the place of endless opportunities and surprises around every corner.

And when you’re in the performing arts, I suppose, disaster and opportunity tend to go side by side.  At least when you’re navigating the winding narrow stairs of a pink brownstone.

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