Fashion Victim

Mike Gallagher claims NYU is threatening his famous vintage magazine empire. And he wants some payback.

Clearly, NYU isn't solely responsible for the changes in the neighborhood, though they deserve plenty of blame for knocking down historic buildings and putting up depressing high-rises. (My own personal contempt for them hit a high point when they demolished the Edgar Allan Poe house on West Third Street.) And it's not news that gentrification has taken a hideous toll on the landscape of the Village. Among innumerable horrors, three sad examples: the Equinox gym on Greenwich Avenue where the movie theater stood for years; the stars set in the pavement outside what was once the Second Avenue Deli, each of which contains the name of an actor from the golden age of the Yiddish stage, now decorating the sidewalk in front of a Chase bank; Ralph Lauren and other international labels colonizing Bleecker Street, where one of the last bits of dubious charm is provided by the faux-rural décor of the ridiculously popular Magnolia Bake Shop, with its long line of customers waiting for cupcakes.

In his lair: Michael Gallagher wants to sell you his Vogues.
photo: Tina Zimmer
In his lair: Michael Gallagher wants to sell you his Vogues.

But even if NYU doesn't fork over one penny, there will still be a basement where you can buy a 1974 Seventeen mag or an early New Yorker—Gallagher concedes he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. "I'm sticking it out either way," he says. In the meantime, he's keeping alive a tradition he started long ago: For years, Gallagher has been giving makeovers to local homeless men, two a day. "Mr. John up the street cuts their hair and they get new clothes from the Salvation Army." In fact, a recent recipient, who is at the shop when I arrive, looks so natty I mistake him for an employee. "Why do I do it?" Gallagher asks rhetorically, flicking a cigarette and looking around his empty shop. "I've always done it. It's the Village."

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