Bob Coulter’s Time At The Carlton Arms
Art is fucking
This is one of those difficult to categorize posts. Like many of these, it started off as one thing and morphed into another.
For years my regular jaunts between Philly & NYC have placed me in one place and one place only- the Chelsea Hotel. I moved to the East Coast at the height of the Giuliani cleanup/homogenization of New York. What I hoped to find when I finally entered was my Lou Reed/Taxi Driver romantic fantasies. What I found was Applebees in Time Square. Staying at the Chelsea, with it’s rock n’ roll superstar history gave me some solace for the grit and grime I craved, albeit perhaps cliched solace. Then in May the Chelsea closed to the public, left only to permanent residents an vague promises to open someday after extensive renovations.
Where was I to go stay now to get that historic fantasy fix. Enter the Carlton Arms. I pride myself in being in the know, but when it comes to New York’s urban wilderness, there is always something you missed, always something you haven’t discovered yet. The Carlton is an even better throwback. The “Artbreak Hotel” has each room decorated by a different artist, it’s to gouache and dirty for most present day visitors and it still has a flop/boarding house feel with shared bathrooms. Now if only there were some hookers in platform shoes outside the window.
But wait. I’m clearly not the only one out there missing the vice charged dark ages of NYC. When I was sniffing around about the Carlton, I came across Bob Coulter’s Bad Girl Hotel photo series. He spent a year room hopping in the Carlton Arms, shooting cocktail waitresses, bartenders, fetish models, escorts and porn stars in the rooms. The result is a powerfully gritty, erotic photo experience that will stay with you for a very long time.