The Doorman at the Mudd Club Tells All


As Mr. Boch describes in short, vivid, diarylike entries, the clubgoers danced, drank, snorted coke, watched live rock bands and held theme parties like the Puberty Ball in an anything-goes environment that seems impossible to recreate today.

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David Bowie, left, and Dee Dee Ramone at the Mudd Club in 1979.

Credit
Bobby Grossman

Amos Poe, a filmmaker and a regular from the beginning, said of the place: “It was a dysfunctional circus that functioned. When Ronnie Cutrone said, ‘I want to put a cage in there and put women in the cage,’ there wasn’t a question about insurance problems. Steve would say, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’”

Mr. Boch took his job as the gatekeeper to the show seriously. He described his process for assessing the crowd bunched out front on a Saturday night: “If you started saying, ‘How long do we have to wait?’ that was a strike against you. If you said, ‘Is there a line?’ that was a strike against you. If you said to me, God forbid, ‘Studio 54 lets us in,’ that was the kiss of death.”

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From left, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg and Victor Bockris at the Mudd Club in 1980.

Credit
Kate Simon

In his book, Mr. Boch recounts how Mr. Mass told him to not let in limousine-riding hotshots like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Rejecting the world’s most famous rock stars was a task the 25-year-old doorman was unable to do, he said, giving both men wide berth when they showed up. In atonement, he recalled how one night he turned away Meat Loaf.

Mr. Boch elevated the doorman role to a performance. He exuded a “nervous energy of authority” and deployed “acid humor,” Mr. Poe said, to critique the crowd and play social experiments. Mr. Poe recalled watching one night as Mr. Boch told a pretty young woman she could come in, but her Wall Street-looking boyfriend had to stay outside: a merciless test of her loyalties.

In 1980, two and a half years before it closed, Mr. Boch quit the Mudd Club, partly out of self-preservation. “I was using a lot of drugs,” he said. “My next job was the Peppermint Lounge, where I lasted six months. I was fired. I was out of control.” He cleaned up and went on to work as a manager for various restaurants and clubs in the city. In 2004, he sold his loft in TriBeCa for a bundle and relocated upstate (he keeps an apartment on the Upper West Side).

Unlike some of his friends, Mr. Boch didn’t emerge from the scene a famous artist. His career got sidetracked after he became Richard from the Mudd Club. But Mr. Boch’s tenure as doorman may have been a creative endeavor itself. “Richard’s job was to collect stories,” Mr. Poe said. “He was a sponge soaking in that stuff, but eventually, you’re going to have to squeeze that sponge out.”

Mr. Boch agreed.

“When people would talk to me back then, I would always say, ‘Identify me as an artist first, who works the door of the Mudd Club.’ Because just being the Mudd Club doorman, I bristled at that,” he said. “Now I’ve written this book. Everything I’m doing, I’m identifying myself as ‘Mudd Club doorman.’ In retrospect, I’m incredibly proud of having that job.”



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