New York: Club Inferno, 1977. 1) Fold-open flyer announcing the opening of Club Inferno. Offset. 14 x 8 1⁄2 in. (2) Club Inferno Membership card. Offset. 3 1⁄2 x 2 1⁄4 in. (3) Inferno Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1. Xerox. 8 1⁄2 x 11 in. (4) Inferno Membership application and original mailing envelope. Application 8 1⁄2 x 3 3⁄4 in.; envelope 9 1⁄4 x 4 1⁄4 in. All very good to near fine. Item #5741
Collection of materials from Club Inferno, a disco club that also organized heretofore unrecorded gay sex parties.
A club where gay male promiscuity mingled with late-70s disco culture, Inferno was one of pioneering DJ Walter Gibbons’ regular performance spots and where Kenny Carpenter–who went on to become the Saturday night resident DJ at Studio 54–did the lights. Additionally, Inferno hosted Betsey Johnson’s S/S 1979 fashion show.
Besides the club’s status as a hub in New York’s disco scene, these materials reveal its clandestine and sleazy side, which is unmentioned in all records and disco histories we’ve located: the member’ newsletter advertises an upcoming “sun & fun” trip to Fire Island, a weekend of “hundreds of men roughing it in pup tents and sleeping bags,” and Inferno’s “wide array of devilish entertainment.”
Important artifacts from a neglected history in the popular narrative of New York disco, from a moment of sexual freedom and promiscuity before the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic.