Jennifer Gilson and Steve Rosenthal, Owners of the Living Room, Pick NYC’s Best Dive Bar, Psycho Street Clown


This week is the Voice‘s Best of NYC issue, our annual opportunity to bestow arbitrary awards like Best Rock Club and Best ’90s Musical Hero Holding Out Scruffily in Brooklyn. In turn, we asked a few of our favorite New Yorkers to name their favorite local things.

Jennifer Gilson and Steve Rosenthal run LES institution the Living Room and The Magic Shop Recording Studios. They have a funny story about the worst place to pass out in public.

Best dive bar?

Mars Bar on First and Second Avenue. I used to live right down the street and it usually has a good mix of artists, lost tourists, and homeless.

Most epic night in the history of the Living Room?

The Ollabelle CD release party for Sony Records. While the [band] was being interviewed upstairs by NPR, a pipe exploded in the floor above us, flooding the music space an hour before showtime. We barely got it cleaned up before the audience arrived, cameras started rolling, and the band hit the stage.

Worst public place to pass out?

After spending a long evening at the Living Room, one of my engineers passed out on the PATH Train and woke up the next morning in Philadelphia. He somehow switched to Amtrak. Way to go, Ted.

Best New York performer that should play at the Living Room?

We still haven’t seen Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Paul Simon or Carole King here.

Best street performer?

Aldo Perez (a/k/a Psycho the Clown) is part performance artist, part talented musician, and part psycho.

Best place to see the “real” New York?

Best to go to the Bronx or Queens to see the “real” New York. We all know Manhattan is being taken over by chain stores, and tourists, and Brooklyn was taken over by everyone who used to live in Manhattan. As for Staten Island, we love the Ferry!

Best way to get a drink on the house?

Buy the first three yourself.

Worst thing about the “new” Lower East Side?

It’s awful to see the high-rise buildings Mayor Bloomberg has allowed to ruin the profile and personality of our neighborhood.

Best thing you can only find in New York?

The possibility to reinvent your life on a daily basis.

Best hiding place in the city?

West Side jogging path by Trump Row in the 60s by the willow trees.

Biggest New York-related phobia?

Rudy Giuliani will run for office again. We live in Chelsea and have four great kids: Addie, Cole, Paige and Tracy. Our number one New York problem is public-school overcrowding. Instead of obsessing on traffic patterns, our Mayor should have been watching all the new families strolling on the sidewalk. Lots of folks stayed and had kids in the city, buildings were built, and we need more schools. Now.