Rites XI: The Black Party
New York: The Saint, 1988. Offset. 34 ¾ x 20 in. Lines from folding into eighths; else near fine. Item #6211
Poster for one of The Saint’s infamous black parties, advertising “Live Hot Stuff: porn stars, big men, strange acts, sordid videos.”
Located at 105 Second Avenue, the former premises of the Fillmore East, The Saint operated from 1980 to 1988. The first fully above-ground gay megaclub in New York, The Saint was at the confluence of several historical currents: the decadent maximalism of 1980s New York, the new gilded era wealth of the decade, and the shifting norms and discourses around gay sex and promiscuity caused by the AIDS crisis.
The club commanded higher door and membership prices catering to an emerging affluent gay social class. At the same time, the government-sanctioned mass death event of the AIDS crisis devastated the club’s membership through the 1980s and the club instituted and enforced safe sex rules. The club's perforated planetarium dome above the dancefloor and 500-speaker, 26,000 watt Graebar sound system additionally made it one of the most cataclysmic A/V situations in the history of New York nightlife. Its closure in 1988, a year after Studio 54 and Paradise Garage, marked the end of an era of huge maximalist clubs in New York, built with the heaps of excess capital sloshing around and transforming the city in the 1980s.
As the first fully above-ground, public gay and disco mega club, The Sainted attracted public and official scrutiny. The owner of The Saint, Bruce Mailman, also owned the New St. Marks Baths, which, at the urging of Larry Kramer and other conservative elements, was closed by the city Health Department in 1985. The Saint closed in 1988 and Mailman died of an AIDS-related illness in 1994; the club and its promoters continued throwing parties under the name “The Saint at Large” into the present day.