Video: Allen Ginsberg Shows Taylor Mead His 14th Street Digs, 1996

Good news! We’ve extended our contest deadline to July 1 and you can still win a tour of Allen Ginsberg’s former 12th Street apartment, led by his longtime assistant Bob Rosenthal, if you sign up for our newsletter. In the meantime, here’s a tour of the loft Ginsberg moved to after his 25 years on 12th Street, led by the bard himself. East Village photographer and filmmaker Sebastian Piras tells the story.

In 1996, I was working on an impromptu film about “post-bohemian” poet and Andy Warhol film star Taylor Mead, titled “Taylor Mead Unleashed.” The film consisted of Taylor reading his poetry as well as encounters, which I often improvised or arranged on short notice, between him and his acquaintances and collaborators.

After having lived for years on the fourth floor of a building on 12th Street, Allen Ginsberg had just moved into his new “digs” on 13th Street just off First Avenue. He had used proceeds of the sale of his library to Stanford University to buy a loft in a building owned by the artist Larry Rivers. It was a welcome move, a new spacious apartment with plenty of light coming in and an elevator, meaning no four-floor hike.

I had met Allen Ginsberg socially on several occasions around the city and at friends’ dinners. Around the time I made this video I had photographed him for a book of artists portraits. I mentioned the film to him and he warmly welcomed the idea of being filmed with Taylor.

In this clip, Taylor is actually the one welcoming Ginsberg into the loft. That’s because when we got there, Ginsberg wasn’t in yet; but his assistants, who were unpacking his belongings (hence the noise in the background during the shoot), kindly let us in. After a brief chat about past adventures, creative accomplishments and some mentions of what gives sexual satisfaction at an old age, Ginsberg offers to give Taylor a tour of his new home. The result is a candid and insightful look at the living quarters of one of America’s best known contemporary poets, and an intellectual version of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”