For over a hundred years, New York‘s Hotel Chelsea has been famed for the many prominent artists, writers, and other creative people of the twentieth century who stayed or lived there. The very long list includes Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, Leonard Cohen, Dylan Thomas, Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while staying there), and Jean-Paul Sartre. The Chelsea played a starring role in Andy Warhol‘s film Chelsea Girls about regulars at his "Factory".
Today the Chelsea is embroiled in a bitter battle between supporters of 72 year old Stanley Bard, a member of the family that managed the Chelsea from 1945 until 2007, and David Elder, a descendant of the Chelsea’s original owners and current manager after Bard’s ouster.
The Chelsea now also exists in Second Life, offering virtual world rooms for rent, live events, and sporting "Bring back the Bards" signs. On one recent evening, three hours of scheduled live music was followed by another unscheduled performance.
Nearly every wall, staircase, and even the occasional ceiling is adorned with artwork in Second Life’s Hotel Chelsea. It’s a pleasure just to wander the hallways and climb the stairs. Most of the rooms are rented, but some are still available.
The door to Room 100 is blocked off with yellow police tape. This is the room where in 1978, Sid Vicious’ girl friend Nancy Spungen was found stabbed to death while Sid Vicious wandered the halls crying that he had killed her and couldn’t live without her. He was arrested for the killing but died of a heroin overdose while out on bail. When you enter the room, you see signs of Sid and Nancy’s tumultuous life, hypodermic needles, grimy bathroom with a smashed mirror, and blood from Nancy’s painful death, stabbed by a knife she had given to Sid just hours earlier.
Room 211 is evokes more pleasant memories. Bob Dylan lived in that room, which has become controversial with the hotel’s current management recently gutting the room. You can see photographs of the gutting on the Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog.
You can learn about up coming performances at Second Life’s Hotel Chelsea by joining the group Hotel Chelsea Manhattan NYC, which is dedicated to "bringing the famous bohemia of the Chelsea Hotel to Second Life." Live events include poetry readings and music. Live music generally is on Wednesday evenings starting at 5pm and Saturday evenings starting at 4pm. Second Life members can teleport to the virtual Hotel Chelsea at slurl.com/secondlife/Lanestris/53/153/99.