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By John Holmstrom

PUNK Awards Show poster

Well, it was a pretty wild night…

October 13, 1978

Not only was it Friday the Thirteenth, but we even had the premonition to bill it as "A Titanic Evening!" right on the ticket – complete with a sinking ship and lifeboats.

Oh yeah. By then, we knew that PUNK magazine was going down for the third time, so we planned the whole thing to be our farewell. Disco was becoming really, really popular and everyone figured that PUNK WAS DEAD just because the Sex Pistols had broken up back in January. As if they had anything to do with punk rock in New York City, right?

But we needed to find some money to publish another issue or we would go out of business so we figured we'd put on a show, kind of like the benefit at CBGB's a year before. And if we flopped, at least we'd go out with a bang!

So I found this really tacky place – The Club Hollywood, a sleazepit on Second Avenue and 11th Street – that was as opposite to punk rock as possible. It had everything – mirrored walls, disco balls, glitz, glamour. I figured it was a perfect place to commit artistic suicide.

Then we made up a bunch of awards like "Best Song," "Most Obnoxious," "Best Dressed," and "Class Clown," and mailed out ballots to a bunch of media types and musicians and celebrities. To our surprise, most of 'em came back. For instance, John Belushi sent one in and voted for the Dead Boys and Stiv Bators in every category. Then we made up the awards, usually by finding some piece of trash we wanted to throw out and sticking a label on it.

Actual size

"Hollywood" Legs McNeil was long gone from PUNK magazine by then… Well, he was never the same after we sent him off to the looney bin. Anyway, we had our NEW Resident Punk, Jolly Prochnik, take the job as the Emcee. Jolly was a true punk – an obnoxious, loudmouthed 16-year-old who showed up at the office one day demanding the Resident Punk job because Legs was too old. (He had a point since Legs was over 21 by then.)

We had a drunken dress rehearsal that seemed to go just fine the night before the big show and figured we'd spend the next day setting up the fabulous Club Hollywood for the big night. Then the first thing went wrong… Sid killed Nancy… on October 12, 1978…

Like I said, it was Friday the 13th.

At first we didn't think this would be a big deal. Then we heard about cars filled with New Jersey jocks driving around New York throwing things at "you dirty punk rock murderers!" And suddenly, our event became THE PLACE TO BE in New York City that night. There were lines around the block waiting to get in. We heard from every TV station in town. The media wanted to talk to the "real punk rockers" and get their reaction to the killing! And since a lot of punks wanted to go somewhere and meet up, this seemed like the perfect excuse.

Everyone from our pathetic little scene was going to be there, all the Blondies and the Dead Boys and The Ramones – well, except for Johnny, since the Yankees were playing in the World Series that night… Anyhow everyone else was there but nobody and I mean NOBODY wanted to talk about Sid and Nancy. We were all in a state of shock, since almost everyone knew at least one of them. And of course, now that I read the story of what happened at the Chelsea Hotel that night, I think half of New York was in their room that night! Anyhow, people were begging and threatening me to keep the media away. So we did.

But the show had to go on! What a mess. Jolly was in way over his head. He was really hung over from the night before, he was nervous, he was star struck. He could barely speak into the microphone! He was like, "And now, we'd like to welcome everyone's favorite punk rock star…" He was basically paralyzed from stage fright. It wasn't long before the audience started heckling him mercilessly, which only made it even worse.

Only when Shrapnel performed a short set did it alleviate some of the tension. Hey – remember Shrapnel? Think about it, pretty good band: Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet, Daniel Rey who's produced just about everybody, Phil Caivano of Blitzspeer…

As the awards ceremony dragged on and on (and on), people started to get real drunk, and real rowdy. It wasn't long before they were throwing their drinks at Jolly. When that wasn't enough, it got so bad they found other things to throw. (It was a lot more entertaining than the unfunny "Awards" mess they were being forced to watch.) They started ripping the furniture into little pieces and throwing them at the stage. It was so bad that Lou Reed refused to step on stage to accept his award for Class Clown. And when Lester Bangs accepted his award for Best Dressed, he got in a violent shouting match with Joey Ramone. By the time the show ended, there was a mini-riot. Amazingly, only one person was so drunk and obnoxious that they had to be thrown out – Spacely, of course. He didn't work at PUNK yet, he was still an office supply salesman. After the Awards Show flopped, he convinced us to stay in business long enough to put out the last two issues.

Although we sold enough tickets to bring out another issue, we got screwed out of it. The owners of the Club Hollywood were so pissed off at the damage done to their club that they pulled a gun on PUNK Associate Publisher Elin Wilder when she tried to collect the money.

Most people had a good time at the show, believe it or not. Most people thought it was SUPPOSED to be so bad it was good. It was a great tension release. And there were a lot of famous people there we didn't even expect: Harvey Keitel, Peter Wolf, Malcolm McLaren, and WNEW DJs Vin Scelsa, Meg Griffin and Jane Hamburger. Even Jerry Nolan was there! So it did end up being a star-studded awards program.

But the best part of the night was the after-party. As bad as the PUNK Awards Show was bad, this was great! We had arranged for an open bar at a no name club that was set to open officially in a few weeks. Some friend of Brian Eno's owned it. This was the first time it ever opened to the public – in fact, the $500 I paid for the night stocked the club's bar.

Afterwards, the club's owner gave it all back to me because things had gone so well. And pretty soon, this place became pretty well known. You have probably heard of it. Maybe you remember the name? The Mudd Club? Owned by Steve Maas!

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