Location Hell’s Kitchen
Rent $501.75 (rent stabilized)
Square feet 375 (two rooms in tenement)
Occupants Bill Goeren (psychotherapist for people with HIV); Charles Farruggio (design director, Furnished Quarters)
This is the house of oxblood. Is it the color of your youth? [Charles] [Hand to his chest.] I think the real name of the color is Carnival Red. [Bill] Oh really, I didn’t know that. [Charles] So many people take a dark apartment and make it light. This apartment is clearly a night apartment so I said let’s make it into a loungy, romantic club. [Bill] Kind of old world. [Charles] I say, go with what it tells you it is. [Bill] Charles moved in in 1997. I told him, you have carte blanche. I’d already been living here 17 years. [We look around at the objects, the old radio.] [Charles] Bill has a passion for all things old. [Bill] This wing-back chair.
That you’re sitting in, with your hands dangling down. [Charles] Show the letter. [Bill] [Indicates a framed letter.] Signed, “from Katharine Hepburn.” She had a long, drawn-out death. At the time, I was working as a message therapist—I came to New York to be an actor, stopped acting, became a massage therapist. Katharine Hepburn had a very serious car accident in Connecticut in the 1980s. She almost lost her foot. Someone who I knew had her address. I said, I’m going to offer my services as a massage therapist. She wrote back: “Thank you but I already have a therapist.” It’s on her letterhead which makes it very special.
Trimmed in red. I trimmed it in red. Her name on the top is in red.
What is the music playing? [Charles] That CD! [Joan Crawford is on the cover and the type reads, “That damn Bill.”] Bill just had his 50th birthday. I said, Take a week off from work. Don’t ask me any questions. You only have one and a half hours to get ready. You have to surrender. [Bill] I only knew that we were going on a plane. [Charles] I wanted to push it as far as I could. The next morning, we’re in Miami, he thought, oh we’re going to spend the week here. [Bill] I said, How come we’re not going to brunch. [They tell the long story.] [Charles] He realized we were going on a cruise. We took his bags out of the car and he started crying. A friend was there and said, Here’s the CD of my favorite songs. It was so layered. I spent a year planning this thing. [Bill] A week ago he threw me a surprise party, 100 people, both our families. Again, I was told we were going out for dinner.
What is he plotting now? [Charles] People say I should be in production. [Bill] He’s a former ballet dancer. [Charles] It’s all about entering a space and seeing people’s reactions. For the party, I had light blue tissue paper globes. I changed some of the lightbulbs to blue. [Bill] Blue’s my favorite color. [Charles] It was all for Bill.
Your dog. [Bill] We rescued her. She was dying, leaning against the wall, emaciated. We just said, Come, follow us. We fed her and she stayed, seven years.
What is that painting of a chair? [Bill] A friend made it. If there were another fire, I would grab that. We had a fire in the building a year and a half ago. [Charles] Halloween night. [Bill] A neighbor died. We were sleeping. I heard smoke alarms going off. If you hear more than one, something’s wrong. The hall was full of smoke. I said, Wake up, we’ve got to go. [Charles] We were standing on the street for five hours. [Bill] They were trying to get into the apartment that the woman was in. She died two weeks later from smoke inhalation. [Phone rings.] [Bill] Hello? It’s your daddy. [He hands the phone to Charles.] [Charles] The kidney stones!