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CBGB’s Remains


 CBGB’s Reincarnation: Take A Tour Of The Boutique In The Once-Great Punk Club’s Location

‘We wanted to marry history, rock and roll and fashion,’ designer John Varvatos says of his shop.

NEW YORK — From the outside, 315 Bowery — the former address of New York’s CBGB — looks nothing like its former self.

The stickered head at CBGB

There’s no Sharpie-inflicted graffiti praising the likes of the Dictators or Black Flag adorning the entrance. Instead, a security guard wearing a black tailored suit is manning the space’s humongous glass door, across which the words “John Varvatos” are stenciled in black. Through the glass, one notices an array of church candles flickering wildly and a 6-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Inside, the smell of fine Italian leather and $190 blue jeans has replaced the tang of a million stale cigarettes, rat poop, spilled beer and all manner of bodily fluids. Instead of aged gutter punks with protruding gray nose hairs, there are rail-thin models — including Daisy Lowe, daughter of Bush’s Gavin Rossdale — and other types of beautiful people here, splayed across antique chaise lounges, all as the final preparations for the store’s impending opening are being made.

This isn’t CBGB — the once-great punk club that helped launch the careers of the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Bad Brains and Sonic Youth. It’s now a John Varvatos boutique. Since the club’s sole owner, the late Hilly Kristal, had a moving company pack up all of CBGB’s contents — including the pee-stained, vomit-lined urinals — before the venue shut its doors for the last time, there isn’t much in the way of “artifacts” here. But there are a few relics left.

(Click here for photos of the store’s interior.)

And covering the walls on either side are concert posters for bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan, the Ramones, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Kiss and Social Distortion. There are rare and imported vinyl records and autographed Stratocasters, all from Varvatos’ personal collection. There’s also Ramones memorabilia on loan from Arturo Vega, who created the band’s logo.

CBGB’s dubious bar is gone too, packed up and lying in wait somewhere inside a storage truck in Connecticut. But as part of his vision to restore the space as much to its original design and layout, Varvatos had an old wooden bar shipped in from Pennsylvania that looks very similar to the original and is just as long. The bar serves as the store’s checkout area. Flanking the wall behind the bar is a set of four stained-glass windows, which were extracted from an old church.

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Posted on April 19, 2008 by Editor

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