Into the Groove
I don't know why I'd never been to Monkey Town, a cool little space in Williamsburg that's so far over, it's practically by the water. When you walk past the first half of the restaurant, through a starkly lit hallway, you enter a giant room lined with low white couches and projection screens, one for each of the four walls. But I finally went last night when my coworker, Zolton Zavos (whatta name, he's Australian) was hosting a movie party.
The movie of choice was Desperately Seeking Susan, starring none other than Madonna, along with Rosanna Arquette and Aidan Quinn, in a madcap set of coincidences and mistaken identity. The greatest thing about the movie, of course, is Madonna. Here's Madonna when she was still Madonna, before she glazed the cover of Redbook, and actually had star persona. Her grifter character steals every scene, always punctuated by her distinctive style and smug smile.
Clothing, too, plays a large role in this one. As Roberta (Arquette), the New Jersey housewife, covets the romantic life of Susan (Madonna), setting the plot into motion by coveting her denim, pyramid-bejewelled jacket, each scene centers around a different commodity or costume signifier. Finally, when the duo returns a priceless pair of Egyptian earrings, which Susan stole at the beginning of the film, they become heroes.
But you can't forget the city. Desperately Seeking Susan takes place in a pre-Giuliani New York, where Aidan Quinn works as a projectionist, yet manages to live in giant Chinatown loft; the parties in Chelsea still had edge, and the Lower East Side was actually dangerous. It scared the crap out of me when I was little, but now I appreciate it as a strange, welcoming fossil from 1985. And, I tell you, it's held up through the years.