PAGE WOOD, 51, currently creates posters for blockbusters such as The Aviator and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events at his studio in L.A. But in the ’80s he lived in a Chelsea loft and was the drummer, then art director, for Klaus Nomi’s high-concept new wave band. In THE NOMI SONG—Andrew Horn’s luminous documentary about the expat-German operatic diva, which includes rare concert footage, and dish by resilient scenesters Kristian Hoffman, Ann Magnuson, and Man Parrish, among others—Wood’s candor and warmth balance the bitchery and resounding sadness. Nomi (né Sperber, 1944) died of AIDS in 1983, on the brink of international acclaim.
1. Why did you start making music? I saw Captain Beefheart and knew I wanted to be in some really weird rock band. What appealed to me was the “weird” part. I knew Talking Heads from RISD [Rhode Island School of Design], and we all moved to New York at the same time. Then there was Devo and the B-52’s, and I thought all bands were going to be like that. I was wrong. But I’m very proud of having been in the weirdest rock band ever!
2. Nomi was a gay icon to us in the hinterlands. New York seemed so fabulous then. We were coming out of the hippie era. Hippies were anti-macho, and all the cool people were gay. I thought I’d never make it because I’m straight. It’s impossible to judge Klaus outside of his time, but I’ve always been curious how far the legend would go: Would Klaus only ever appeal to the urban elite, or would he be like Mickey Mouse—beloved by all?
3. How was he to work with? The hardest thing about a band is deciding whose band it is. With Klaus it was so obvious he was “the Man” that it was only natural we did what he wanted. But I always predicted that he would run afoul of a bad contract and then forget everyone who helped him get where he was.
4. And when that happened— I walked away. It was such a painful experience. But at the very end, he came back to us.
5. Why did you leave New York? I realized I had no friends left. Everyone had died. I just had to leave—there were too many ghosts. But as Tony Frere says in Andy’s film, Klaus’s death was the perfect tragic ending to a tragic opera.