Headpress Books Established 1991

Chelsea Hotel Manhattan

A raw eulogy to a New York icon.

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Staying in the Chelsea, you grow used to being part of a tourist attraction. People walk around the lobby, where there is actually very little to see, virtually swaying in awe of being in the presence of such iconography. I think they kind of expect Bob Dylan to walk around the corner any second now, guitar strapped on, writing the follow-up to Love and Theft right there in front of them.

Extreme living in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, from the beats through punk and into the present. Outlaw culture, outlaw life, outlaw death.

The Chelsea Hotel is part of New York’s cultural fabric. It has been witness to murders, drug overdoses, suicides and scandal. In its rooms famous movies have been conceived, hit songs written, and works of art created.

This blistering book is a snapshot based on diaries and notes that Joe Ambrose wrote when he stayed at the hotel. In it he meets Warhol superstar Gerard Malanga, sinister drug smuggler the Duchess, Chelsea Hotel proprietor Stanley Bard, and beat generation founding father Herbert Huncke. He visits, in pursuit of sex or drugs or rock’n’roll, the Andy Warhol Foundation, Coney Island, Harlem, and the Lower East Side. He has chance encounters with New York Dolls. Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Phil Lynott, Clancy Brothers and Richard Hell.

And Chelsea Hotel Manhattan tells, for the first time, the real story of what happened to Sid and Nancy when their turbulent relationship imploded in one hotel room.
One hotel, its superstars, bohemians, junkies, losers and outsiders.

Chelsea Hotel Manhattan has short, punchy chapters with titles like:

  • TEN GREAT BOOKS TO READ DURING A SEASON OF TAKING HEROIN
  • THE SUBWAY TALIBAN
  • JOHNNY THUNDERS’ APARTMENT
  • WHERE DYLAN WROTE BLOOD ON THE TRACKS
  • SURFIN’ IN HARLEM

Joe Ambrose

JOE AMBROSE works as a writer, filmmaker, and DJ. As a member of experimental hip hop group Islamic Diggers, he has performed live with Lydia Lunch, Anita Pallenberg, Richard Hell, and Howard Marks. He is the author of seven previous books including two novels – Too Much Too Soon and Serious Time – praised by the Guardian as being "unputdownable". His non-fiction includes Gimme Danger: The Iggy Pop Story, Moshpit Culture, and, with Frank Rynne, Hashishin. He co-produced with Rynne the 2CD 10% File Under Burroughs featuring tracks from William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, John Cale, Marianne Faithfull, and the Master Musicians of Joujouka. He is Literary Editor of outsideleft.com. A longtime activist on behalf of the Master Musicians of Joujouka, he co-directed the movies Destroy All Rational Thought and Joujouka.