Outtakes of Jean-Michel Basquait in “New York Beat”-“Downtown 81”
Jean-Michel Basquait tagging in Alphabet City during a shoot for the movie “New York Beat/Downtown 81”
Stumbled across this video today on one of my favorite websites. I was on these shoots on a cold, windy December day in Alphabet City in 1981. The shots look like 3rd generation copies of the 16mm workprint.
No sound, because most of the sound was lost during the 15 year post-production odyssey when the whole film was stolen and recovered several times.
In this video’s last scene, Basquait interacts with the film’s production manager, Steve Sabato, whose most difficult task was to get Basquait to show up on time, in the right place, with the right wardrobe and props. The scene is the ultimate insider irony, because Steve was in charge of the money, which Basquait was constantly wasting by not showing up. That he gives Steve a suitcase full of money, and Steve bolts from the scene with a triumphal grin is hysterical and typical of the wit of the director Edo Bertolio and writer Glenn O’Brien.
It sort of sums up whole Downtown 80s NYC art scene where art, of any sort, was pure and money was corrupt. This might be why it took 20 years to complete the film.