Three-Bedroom Apartment in Century-Old Two-Story House


Location Astoria

Rent $1500 (market)

Square feet 1100

Occupants Abby Bender (dancer; choreographer, Kick/Standance; painter; receptionist, Author’s Guild); Autumn Anna Grace Luckey; (dancer; choreographer, Kick/Standance; teaching artist, the Multi Cultural Music Group); Brent Alberghini (proofreader; volunteer, AIDS Service Center of Lower Manhattan)

There are not just three of you living here in this mauve, asbestos-sided house near Crescent Video and the Crescent Coffee Shop. It is more like six because your three friends from downstairs are always visiting. When one person walks in a room, the rest of you follow. [Abby] Nobody wants to miss out on the action. Me, Anna, Alex—Alex lives downstairs—we all lived in the same dorm at Bard. Alex comes up to use the microwave or the bathroom. Sometimes I crawl into bed with Brent. He lives with Anna and me. We’re all very snuggly. Alex, Michael, and Lauren grew up together in South Carolina. We have names for all the rooms here. Brent’s is the Gentleman’s Club. Anna’s is the Nook. Mine is the Pad. [Anna] This is the Magnet Room. We spend most of our time here.

We’re sitting in the Magnet Room. It looks out on a big, fat sugar maple tree all covered with the sun. Prince is singing Chaka Khan. The walls are covered with blue-and-cream cut-velvet paper. [Abby] The wallpaper is what blew us away. We all share a big yard.

It’s a little muddy. [Anna] Last year we planted grass. Then we had a big cookout. The grass got totally trampled and torn up. We’re having another May Day cookout tonight, 100 people.

Brent has a red Lava lamp in his room. Abby has a photo of her father in dark glasses from the 1960s. Anna, you have baby moccasins hanging on the wall. I grew up in a commune near Boulder, later, Martha’s Vineyard. [Abby] We got this place through a broker. We looked every day for three weeks. It’s just a score. Anna and I are partial to houses, not apartments. Other areas like Williamsburg were a little too gentrified for our tastes. But we’ve had real big problems with leaking. Every time it rains, we have all these pots around because of the leaks. But then the roofing company came to fix the roof and somehow the roof caught on fire.

How terrible! A guy was walking with his cell phone down the street and saw the flames and called the fire department. [Anna] A roofer was arrested and taken off in handcuffs. The landlady wouldn’t press charges cause she’s really nice. I was asleep in bed when it happened. I woke up to hear sirens. My bedroom was all water-damaged, my mattress was destroyed. I had to camp out in the living room for months. We asked the roofing company for $1500, but we haven’t gotten anything. [Abby] It’s just injustice. [Anna] We’re a little bitter about this situation. We could sue the landlady but we wouldn’t, she’s so nice. [Abby] She brought us all this old liquor from her house, open bottles of pinot grigio from the ’80s and a box of old glasses with Disney logos on them. [Anna] A token of apology. [Abby] Then we thought the place might be haunted. We found this really funny picture of this guy with a meathead haircut, real ’70s. We put it up in the refrigerator. The landlady’s son was over. He was working on the bathroom ceiling. He looked at it and said the guy partied too hard one night and died in the house. Then last Saturday a cabinet fell on my head. It was like in slow motion. Our washing machine is like the one in Mr. Mom. It jumps around when it works. [Brent] You could write a three-volume book about this place.

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