Sundays at Café Tabac
Café Tabac was a sexy, artistic and incredibly necessary (gay and) lesbian club night in the East Village that started in the early 90s which celebrated lesbians in a sexy and chic way, attracting their gay male friends too.
When Café Tabac burst on the scene it gave hope to a group of disenfranchised gays that felt like whenever they went out the only common thread holding the whole party together was the fact that they were all gay. This party made people feel like they had found “their people” - it was cool magnified by 100 and it went far beyond anyone’s gender or orientation.
This party celebrated what it was to be gay. It was always a place where lesbians and gay men could feel at home together. The atmosphere was supportive and inclusive and not clique-y and pandering. At this time in our history AIDS had become a full blow epidemic, and hostility against gays was at a fever pitch, but Café Tabac was a place of true bonding between lesbians and gay men, where everyone could go for comfort, or to spend a fun night out of the shadow of all the negativity.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The early 90’s was a fierce time to be Gay-identified in NYC and lesbian were breaking rigid boundaries of past definitions of identity. Lesbian nightlife thrived like no other time in NY’s history.
Nowhere did this empowerment emerge with such elegance and style than at the top of the stairs every Sunday night at Café Tabac. The media defined this event as the “birthplace of lesbian chic,” and outside sources continue its attempts to define our community. This film aims to write our own history as we lived it.
Sundays at Café Tabac is a feature film documentary that examines not only the event, but also the larger cultural and political context that made this salon gain “legendary” status over time. Set in the context of the gritty years of downtown NYC in the early 90’s on the heels of ACT UP and the war on HIV/AIDS, and the huge presence of lesbians in the media, lesbians were mobilized and organizing, nursing our dying gay brothers; we were liberating and redefining notions of “femininity”and self empowerment for all women.
The film will juxtapose interviews with a vibrant collage of archival images along with stylized re-creations and animated illustrations that will translate the mood and aesthetics of those sultry nights. Café Tabac's unforgettable soundtrack and Me'Shell NdegeOcello's ORIGINAL score will further transport the viewer to the iconic salon.
Some of the captivating interviewees include...
Hilton Als (writer for the New Yorker), Eve Salvail (JP Gaultier muse and model), Patricia Field (Emmy-award winning Sex and the Citycostumer and downtown legend), Lea Delaria (Orange is the New Black), Rebecca Weinberg (Emmy-award winning Sex and the Citycostumer and downtown legend), Linda Villarosa (writer), Serge Becker (downtown nightlife visionary—Area, The Box, Joe's Pub, Bowery Bar, La Esquina, Miss Lily's etc), Michael Musto (columnist for the Village Voice and Entertainment TV Host), Carol Ramer(downtown legend), Jean-Marc Houmard (restaurateur, Indochine) and other wonderful voices from our community. The next leg of interviews we hope to include Sandra Bernhardt, KD Lang, Jean Paul Gautier, Melissa Etheridge, and of course Madonna.