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Mayor as deus ex machina: Theatre 80 owners pray Adams will save iconic East Village venue

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | With a private online auction of Theatre 80 St. Mark’s set for less than one week from now, its current owners are pleading for the city to step in and acquire the building.

By using eminent domain, New York City could purchase the building, at 80 St. Mark’s Place, at fair-market value, an amount that would need to be determined.

The building’s current owners, Lorcan Otway and Genie Gilmore (the Otways), need to pay off more than $12 million in debt to a lender, Maverick Real Estate Partners — though they say they already have commitments for around $5 million of that.

A nonprofit foundation has been set up to accept donations. A GoFundMe for it had raised nearly $9,000 as of May 3.

But time is running out. The auction is set for the morning of Tues., May 9, and if the mayor is to intervene it reportedly has to be by the end of this week.

The Otways and their supporters are now desperately urging people to send e-mail messages to Mayor Adams and ask him to step in at the last minute — deus ex machina-style, in theater lingo — and save the building from the auction block.

Lorcan Otway says Laurie Cumbo, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, has been tremendously supportive of their effort to save the building, and that the Internal Revenue Service also was a huge help in fast-tracking their foundation’s setup.

Laurie Cumbo, the city’s Cultural Affairs commissioner, wrote a letter urging people “in a position to support Theatre 80 St. Mark’s to help stabilize this important, historic performing arts institution.” She called the place “an important part of the Off-Broadway community.”

Now, though, Lorcan says, it’s ultimately coming down to the mayor to save the day. He said that the hard deadline is actually this Fri., May 5, for the mayor to make a decision.

The Village Sun has been giving the Theatre 80 story ongoing, extensive coverage, including putting it on Page One of its current May print issue. As the Sun was distributing the newspaper Tuesday evening, we bumped into Paul Adam outside the Kraine Theater, at 85 E. Fourth St., downstairs from KGB bar. There’s a bench there, which he was sitting on, that’s a good spot to leave the paper.

As coincidence would have it, Adam, 28, actually happens to be in a photo on the Sun’s front page. The shot was taken at the end of March at a costumed rally outside City Hall to save Theatre 80. At the rally, Paul was dressed up (or maybe “dressed down” is the better term) as Oscar from “The Odd Couple” and, in the photo, was standing next to activist Kenny Toglia, who sported a Roman toga.

Paul Adam, right, at a City Hall rally in late March to save Theatre 80. The photo is on the front page of the May print issue of The Village Sun. (Photo by The Village Sun)

On Tuesday night, Adam, who is an actor and comedian, was scarfing down some pizza slices outside the Kraine Theater with his friend James Lorenzo as bargoers were tromping up and down the stairs to KGB. Earlier they had participated in the Naked Angel original play-reading series, which used to be held at Theatre 80 — until, that is, the Otways were evicted from the building on April 5 as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The play-reading series has since landed a new home at the Kraine Theater.

Earlier in the day, in fact, Adam actually had been at Theatre 80 — selling hot buttered cider on the sidewalk outside, trying to raise money to help save the place. It was his first day of cider sales. He did all right, but admits it could have gone better.

“I forgot how many people don’t use cash anymore,” he said, with a smile. “I have Cash App. I should have had Venmo. I’m the only one who uses Cash App.”

Paul Adam offers up some of the good stuff — a cup of Lorcan Otway’s family-recipe hot buttered cider. (Photo by The Village Sun)

He offered The Village Sun a paper cup of the hot beverage from his portable carafe. It was delicious.

“It’s Lorcan’s family recipe,” he noted. “It’s a secret recipe. … Hopefully, they will be able to keep serving it [at Theatre 80] for a long time.”

Adam is also a member of the Save Theatre 80 Task Force.

His grandparents lived in the neighborhood long ago, but today his family is in New Jersey.

“It’s haimisha, in a good way,” Paul said — using the Yiddish word for “homey” — of the St. Mark’s theater complex. The place also sported the William Barnacle Tavern and the Museum of the American Gangster, and the Otways lived upstairs. “It’s quaint,” he said. “It’s comfort. And I like that Lorcan has always supported free speech.”

“It’s a find,” his friend Lorenzo echoed of the at-risk theater. “There’s nothing like it in New York. The corporate stuff is so un-homey, un-human.”

In the 1980s during the clashes over the curfew and Tent City in Tompkins Square Park, radical activists used to say, “Tompkins Square Is Everywhere.” Theatre 80 St. Mark’s seems to be getting around, too.

4 Comments

  1. loomlightofoneness loomlightofoneness May 7, 2023

    Hi Lincoln, thanks for following this. I want to share that Robert Kennedy is running for President and one of his platforms is the small businesses that have been ruined due to COVID misconduct by the city. And if people can gather and call his office and ask for a group of lawyers who will help get a stay from the mayor or step in in any way, that would be great. Thank you.

  2. Paul Adam Paul Adam May 10, 2023

    I was born in New York, always been a native, while living in Jersey, and split my time between where my family lives and the family neighborhood

  3. Paul Adam Paul Adam May 10, 2023

    They’re a home in New York. I’m like the son they might have known if God had granted them a son

  4. Paul Adam Paul Adam May 10, 2023

    Thanks a million, Lincoln 🙏🏰💜

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