One-Bedroom Apartment in Tenement


Location Chelsea

Rent $539 (rent controlled)

Square feet 350

Occupant Rich Rickaby (studio manager, Wallace Church Inc.; filmmaker)

I thought we were going to talk about your Halloween decorations but there are nude men on your red walls. This place is always changing. I’m Richard Rowland Rickaby from Whippany, New Jersey. I was conceived in Atlantic City.

Did they gamble that one night? If you want to further the mystique, each name adds up to seven letters—seven, seven, seven, which is the jackpot on a one-armed bandit. Seven times three is 21. And add two plus one, and get three and I was born on the third of November. As a kid, all October it was “Halloween is coming. My birthday is coming.” The naked men on the walls were for an art opening I had, a random karaoke party. I’ve had a Halloween party here every year since 1988. This year the theme is going to be bats in the belfry. I’m going to take photos of my friend Sheri as if I’m a stalker. She’ll be doing her laundry . . .

Your bathroom’s all black. Now it smells like India because we had a perfume exhibit. The bathroom really seems to freak the girls out. Once we had a decaying mannequin in the tub. As soon as the girls saw the mannequin, they’d back up and scream. Then we had a stuffed dog staple-gunned to the ceiling.

You live like this all year round? Yes. Last year we had real sod up here in the bedroom. I had my friend Monte bring in it from New Jersey. This year I’ve switched to Astroturf. Sod is heavy. It makes Monte’s car dirty. The Maurice Sendak figures on the wall are from years before. I was Max. As Max, I would say, “Let the wild rumpus begin.” This is a good pointer for anyone having a Halloween party. Have a bunch of hollowed-out pumpkins with a knife stuck in each one so the guests can carve. Under this couch, I store the Halloween things.

Where do you keep your clothes? In this cabinet. First I threw out my refrigerator. Then I said, “This stove has got to go.” I had the gas turned off. Now I’m left with a sink, and that’s got to go too. I asked my landlord, “OK if I throw out my refrigerator?” He said, “OK, if you don’t ask for a new one.” So, now in the living room we’ll have cardboard hangings, skull or graveyard, a lot of cobwebs. This year I’ll probably have to get more cobwebs. I put the word out to friends. You’ve got to pull cobwebs real thin if you want it to look real. Most people don’t pull it thin enough. All kinds of people are showing up this year. One time these Nordic girls came in Nordic boots with rabbit skins across their chests. They just kept coming in. I said to my friend Bruce, “Hey?” Bruce said, “I invited them from the parade.” That year, this was a mad scientist lab. I was the mad scientist.

You always get to play the starring role. Well, yes. But the apartment is more my costume than the outfit.

You have two black cats. I went to the shelter when I was visiting my mom and saw two white cats and thought they’d go great with the furniture, but one had leukemia. I always thought it would be great if I could flood the apartment with dry ice and put kitty harnesses on the cats with shark fins. I feel like I’m getting a late start this year. Plenty of people have keys to my apartment. Mark, Monte, Monica. Here’s Monica. [Monica comes in from next door holding a glass of wine. She is wearing her slippers.] [Rich] When we’re home, we end up leaving our doors open. We flip-flop back and forth.

What costume are you going to wear, Monica? [Monica] I haven’t thought beyond this moment. Suddenly I’ve fallen off the Halloween bus. [Rich] Last year, I was evil disguised as a party favor. I had a red devil tail. You would only see it sticking out at times under my coat. Here’s a tip for your readers. For a costume, just be dead. Just be a dead businessman as opposed to living.