Andrew W.K. Loves Midtown Steak and Relaxes in Train Stations | By Peggy Truong | VICE
Andrew WK moved to the city at 18 and bounced between Manhattan and Brooklyn for a few years before moving to Hell’s Kitchen and, later, Midtown. These days, Andrew, 36, lives mostly in hotels while touring (“I decided I like the feeling of hotels more and it costs about the same or less”), but still considers Midtown Manhattan home. He lives for the over-the-top part of town that most people would find simply exhausting. Midtown gives Andrew WK energy.
VICE: What’s your earliest memory of Midtown?
ANDREW W. K.: First time [I visited] I was 13. There was still a heavy adult industry presence in the heart of Times Square — I’d never seen anything like that. I was just sort of crushed by that. Having had very few experiences with pornography in general at that time, seeing sort of what seemed like real life versions of photos or even to see the idea of an adult world come to life and not just be in pictures or in thoughts in my head or as a vague concept but as a living, breathing, phenomenon… a lot of it was quite upsetting. But it was upsetting in a way that, that I liked. That would have been 1992.
Who’s your favorite neighborhood character?
A.W.K.: There’s one gentleman who comes to mind immediately. He was relatively understated, not particularly well dressed; you would probably mistake him for a tourist because he always had a small rolling suitcase with him. He was casually dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and maybe semi-dressed shoe. But he was always noticeable because he had his hair in sort of a pompadour with Elvis-style sunglasses that really contrasted with everything else he was wearing. I saw him a lot and always wondered what he was doing, but he was always on the move. I’ll remember him for the rest of my life and every time I’ve been in the neighborhood I usually have seen him one point or another.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you in the area?
A.W.K.: Scams. Taxi scams going on out front of the Port Authority or Penn Station, which were quite elaborate and in depth. I’ve always been fascinated with that. My dad and I were taken advantage of and scammed years ago on one of our trips. We were cheated out of around $170 for theater tickets. I was just really amazed by that. It was an intense life experience on all sides. My dad was very distraught, very humiliated. And I was very frightened but very intrigued and fascinated by the complexity of the scam, the con. We had tickets to see Miss Saigon.