CBGB On Screen, Disgusting Toilets And All

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CBGB -- the legendary club on the Bowery that closed its doors for good in 2006 -- is finding new life on the silver screen. A new movie simply called “CBGB” paints a grimy-yet-humorous portrait of the club's opening in the 1970s, as well as the concurrent advent of the punk scene in New York. The club's founder, Hilly Kristal, is played by Alan Rickman, and other key figures from the club's heyday -- from Blondie to Sting to Joey Ramone -- are represented as well. 

We talk with the film's director, Randall Miller, as well as Cheetah Chrome -- guitarist for the punk band The Dead Boys, who often played at CBGB and were managed by the club's owner, Hilly Kristal.


Randall Miller, on why he wanted to make a movie about CBGB:
There's a generation of kids who don't know how it started, and where it started. The Dead Boys, Television, Ramones, Blondie -- all those great bands. You want to give them due, see how they started. That was important to us. 
Cheetah Chrome on capturing the ethos of punk:
I think a sense of humor was something the definitely got missed at the time [in the '70s]. Everybody thought it was all nihilism and violence and all that -- it was mostly about humor. It was about ridiculing society and what was going on. We didn't have a whole lot of tact, or good taste, but... 
Miller, on building the "CBGB" set: 
We got to know the folks who are putting on the CBGB Festival, and they had in storage in Williamsburg, they had the bar, the doors, the toilets, everything. So when we built our set we had that all shipped to us in a storage container. And I remember opening up the bar, and it was there.