Nightlife Begins at 90

Meet Zelda, the inspiring and unstoppable nonagenarian club-hopper

Zelda's bubbly attitude and unique style turn velvet-rope guard dogs into puppies. When we arrived at the much mythologized celebrity haunt Bungalow 8, entrée was a breeze; a friend who showed up later was left standing outside. "She's so striking, most people fade in the background," says David Rabin, co-owner of Lotus and Double Seven. "As they say in our business—she's got juice."

"She's like a style icon," says Kenny Kenny, the legendary doorman and co-promoter of Happy Valley's Tuesday night. "Nobody looks like that anymore." Accordingly, Zelda has a soft spot for other people who make individuality a priority, like Amanda Lepore, whom we visited at Happy Valley. "I admire her so much," Zelda says of New York's iconic transsexual. "She's had such a hard life. It really takes courage to be who you are."

Zelda's presence in a club provides an instant jolt of energy, but you can tell some people don't appreciate her. To them she's just a funny prop, a "wacky" older lady in a funny hat (which one wasted patron at Cain tried to remove) there to spice up their night. But club owners who've known her for years know better. "I've always felt she's a true inspiration to all people," says Bungalow 8's Amy Sacco. "Instead of staying home and watching TV, she's out being productive, working with charity, visiting young people, out having a good time. It's just such a treat to have her."

Zelda (left) holds court with Amanda Lepore
photo: Tricia Romano
Zelda (left) holds court with Amanda Lepore


See also:
Zelda Kaplan Redefines Staying Alive
Fly Life Gallery by Tricia Romano

As we made our way around in cab after cab to club after club, Zelda chatted about all the people she'd seen throughout the evening. "I think some people come up to me, not because they know me, but because they know of me," she said, as our cab raced through the city. "I think I inspire them because I am out. I hope I inspire people to not be afraid of being old—really old. And not to feel empty about life, because life is worth living. Don't you think?" And she stepped back out into the night.

Research assistance: Elizabeth Thompson

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