BY KAREN REMPEL | Caffè Reggio at 119 MacDougal St. has been a favorite haunt of beatniks and poets and beatnik poets since the Fifties, but its history stretches back to 1927, when its founder, Domenico Parisi, opened the cafe and served New Yorkers the first cappuccino in America.
But the place’s most haunting luminary, in my opinion, was Mr. David Bowie, who is reputed to have enjoyed hanging out at Caffè Reggio for his morning cappuccino. Shortly after he became a blackstar, I read that he used to come here and while away a few hours writing in the corner. If only I had known, I would have haunted the spot myself! Every day!
When you visit — if you’re not already a regular — be sure to check out the ancient, half-a-millennium-year-old bench from the Medici family. The 1902 espresso machine is still in situ, as is a ceiling fan that stirred the tension-saturated air in “Casablanca.” Yes, an actual prop from the famed flick.
So for this month’s column, photographer Phil and I decided to soak in the artistic history of the Reggio. But what to wear? A friend had recently given me this bead-and-crystal encrusted vest, and there was a black felt hat crouching in my closet. I decided to go full-on Liza Minelli and add these over-the-top, electric-blue booties from Hustler Hollywood, one of my favorite shops on W. Eighth Street. They make me feel 10 feet tall, though, in reality they only add 7 inches to my stature.
The vest has an interesting history. It belonged to another quirky New Yorker, my friend Pat’s mother-in-law, Luna Tarlo, whose son Andrew Cohen founded an enlightenment cult in the Eighties in India, and soon afterward brought his followers and teachings to America. His mom joined the cult, but eventually broke free from her son’s hypnotic spell and wrote a book, “The Mother of God,” about her harrowing experience.
Luna’s vest is a testament to her own quirky style. She loves colorful clothes and shoes, and her spirit is larger than life. She recently passed the nine-decade mark, and is still bringing joy to the folks around her. Blessings, Luna!
• Sparkly, handmade sequin and bead-adorned vest embellished with jewel-toned pastilles. Gift from a friend.
• Express black flared shorts. Gift from a friend.
• Electric-blue Pleaser Adore sparkly 7-inch platform booties. Hustler Hollywood, 41 W. Eighth St.
• Borsalino Alessandria 1857 black felt hat with wide black grosgrain ribbon trimmed with narrow string and tiny button. Judi Harvest private Chelsea studio sale.
• Sapphire drop earrings. Whole Bead Show NYC, Hotel Pennsylvania.
• Amethyst, leather and silver bead bracelet. UNOde50, The Oculus at World Trade Center, 185 Greenwich St.
• 1920s vintage chrome link choker. Pippin Vintage Jewelry, 104 W. 17th St.
• Steel-blue and plum lattice-patterned bead necklace. Artrageous, Vancouver.