New York City, 1988—2004. Bohemia’s last stand … Corporania™ taking over. The city you struggled to get to is slowly disappearing. First you hide out with the Danceteria crowd, at Pyramid and BoyBar while slugging your way through the great AIDS die-off. You ActUp on the youth outreach committee. Ultimately, you find yourself a producer of Squeezebox!, running an internet startup and manage the first NYC web concert starring Deborah Harry. Then comes an all-out culture war with NYC’s most hated mayor, a post-9/11 meltdown and relentless gentrification — a story which now resonates in urban centers around the world.
“They pimped-out Lady Gotham to the masses, instead of celebrating the fine call-girl she once was. Only problem is, we survived.”
Look back, don’t stare. If you could speak to your younger self, what would say? Can you handle the reply?
PRETTY BROKEN PUNKS: lipstick, leather jeans, a death of New York is Martin Belk’s literary memoir.
“A superb memoir about coming of age in the bright haze of NYC’s demimonde.”
“I enjoyed the book a lot … full of great memories … it brought it all back. Don’t change a word.”
–Michael Musto, Village Voice
Martin Belk is an expat New Yorker, author and playwright. After burning out as an art director & tech geek, he went back to night school at SUNY Empire State College and got his B.A. In 2004 he sold everything, including his rent-controlled lease, and left the Big Apple for Scotland, where he earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Edinburgh, and wrote the first draft of Pretty Broken Punks.
From 2007-2015, Belk ran a prison writing workshop for the young men at Polmont Young Offender’s Institution — recognized by Her Majesty the Queen and First Minister Alex Salmond. He also published One Magazine & developed new work as a protégé of John Calder – Samuel Beckett’s publisher, and co-hosted the Prague Writers’ Festival.
Belk recently became archivist for Jim Haynes – co-founder of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Traverse Theatre; and edited Paris with Consequence, an historical memoir by Varda Ducovny, ‘wicked stepmother’ of actor David Duchovny, 1950s opening singer for Bob Dylan, and young cohort of Allen Ginsberg & Charlie Van Doren.
Currently, Belk is co-writing the memoirs of Marcus Leatherdale, photographer and former partner of Robert Mappelthorpe; writing a doctorate at Napier University and completing the stage adaptation of Pretty Broken Punks for the forthcoming London stage premiere.
He spends his time between London, Paris and Edinburgh. This BGSQD Big Apple event is a long-overdue homecoming.