When I would hang out with my friends in the city, I would often notice the Chelsea Hotel and say to myself, “Man, that place is so beautiful and mysterious. It looks like a great place for something awful and dramatic to happen.” Well, I guess I was right, but not just for the Chelsea Hotel. Hotels in general just seem to be a magnet for the strange, disturbing, mysterious, and interesting.
In Just Kids, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe end up at the Hotel Allerton after fleeing their house following a shooting in front of it. The hotel was known for it’s “very cheap rooms” and ends up being a haven for the creepy. The imagery was somewhat gruesome, the place was described as “a terrible place, dark and neglected,” the wallpaper was described as “peeling like dead skin in summer,” and Patti compared the atmosphere to the shower scene from the movie Psycho. The rooms were filled with junkies, who were “half-naked guys trying to find a vein in limbs infested with sores” and there was a morphine-addicted ballet dancer mystically dancing in his room. The place had an unnerving characterization, and the unstable state Patti and Robert were in did not help to alleviate this disturbing air. The imagery made me a bit uneasy, and I was relieved when they finally got out of there and took a cab to the Chelsea Hotel, but it seems that the Chelsea Hotel is also a place where strange things happen.
The Chelsea Hotel is a New York Landmark and has housed the likes of Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Janis Joplin, and countless other famous artists at one time or another. However, it turns out that this storied hotel also has an intriguing, mysterious, and unnerving story: the story of Sid and Nancy. Sid Vicious was the bassist of the famous punk band Sex Pistols and in 1977 he began a relationship with a woman named Nancy Spungen. Over 23 months, the two indulged in heavy drug use, specifically heroin, and when the Sex Pistols broke up (largely because of Sid’s addiction and subsequent behavior), the couple moved to the Chelsea Hotel. After living with domestic abuse and increasingly worse drug abuse, Nancy was found dead in her hotel room on October 12, 1978. The killer was never found, and the suspects range from Sid Vicious to two drug dealers who visited the hotel that night. Sid pleaded not guilty to the murder and was put on bail, but died of a drug overdose before the trial could take place.
Therefore, it seems that no matter where you go, hotels are a haven for mysterious happenings, especially in New York. I’m sure most people have stayed in a hotel at least once in their lives, never giving it much thought. After reading about these two occurrences, however, I think I’m going to think twice about staying in one from now on.