Velvet Underground: Max’s Kansas City

New York Dolls at Max's Kansas City, ca. 1970. Courtesy Anton Perich/Steven Kasher Gallery, New York Since legendary music venue Max's Kansas City and its storied backroom closed in November of 1981, the cool...


Since legendary music venue Max’s Kansas City and its storied backroom closed in November of 1981, the cool that used to hang thick around the place — around William Burrough’s table, Andy Warhol’s backroom, and Debbie Harry’s backstage — has dissipated and gone on to as many scenes as its former habitués.

Today, Max’s Kansas City, or 213 Park Avenue South, is a deli and not even an especially interesting one — a detail Andy Warhol would no doubt relish. Now, getting into the space that once housed the 1970’s most exclusive music scene is as easy as buying a bag of chips. Not that the mystique of Max’s Kansas City was ever dependent on its location. Lou Reed, Robert Rauschenberg, Willem de Koonig, the New York Dolls and tastemakers Mickey Ruskin and Peter Crowley made Max’s.

Earlier this week, Max’s cool descended upon the Steven Kasher Gallery for the opening of an exhibition accompanying the launch of a new book from Abrams Image entitled Max’s Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll. Lou Reed and Danny Fields were among the Max’s regulars who came out to look back and remember the original downtown scene. For your chance to slip past the velvet ropes, see the show before it closes on October 9th.

Photos by: Christos Katsiaouni