Monday 10th March 1997 – New York

If you’re following my 1986 diary you’ll know I’m currently obsessed with Desperately Seeking Susan. A twitter exchange with a fellow fan of the film reminded me of the pilgrimage I took to one of its locations when on a two month trip round America. I took the trip with Cathy (who was in my class back in 1986) and we kept a travel journal where I described what it was like to visit Battery Park:

Keep the Faith

Monday 10th March 1997 – New York
The forecast for today was rain, and although it had rained during the night it was lovely and sunny when we woke up – or rather when Cathy woke up and tried to revive me from my coma.

We decided to head down to Battery Park and to see the Statue of Liberty. Before we got there I bought a Polaroid camera. It cost $90 altogether including some films and tax – about £60. I’ve always wanted one – for years – and I’m glad I took the plunge. I justify it by it being my birthday in 10 days.

Polaroids
“I’ve always wanted one” (Madonna invented the selfie back in 1985)

When we arrived it Battery Park it was wonderful – maybe I should explain why. As we know Madonna is a passion of mine. One of my favourite films is ‘Desperately Seeking Susan. At an impressionable age I watched the movie over and over and over again. I love everything about it, everyone in it is fabulous, it’s funny, stylish and hip. It’s set in New York, much of it around Greenwich Village/China Town and one of the main scenes occurs in Battery Park. It’s the place where Susan and Jim always met through the personal ads. I’ve always wanted to go to Battery Park – Gangway One – and to see it today was incredible.

benches
“The benches are the same…”

It was just like it is in the film – although it was summer then. The benches are the same, the railings where Madonna stood, the gangway where Rosanna Arquette’s purse falls into the water. I was amazed. It was disappointing that we couldn’t actually get to Gangway One because they’re doing renovations. It gave me such a buzz to be there. If New York City, with its steaming grates, fire escapes and noise, is like a movie set, then Battery Park is Desperately Seeking Susan.

Me in Susan's footsteps
“the railings where Madonna stood…”

You probably don’t get it – but if there’s any film you’re really passionate about – imagine you get to visit the set. For example, if you love Star Wars, imagine you get to walk around the Millennium Falcon! It’s not unusual, people pay homage to Graceland in their millions every year as they do to the set of Coronation Street for God’s sake! As the naïve 12 year old who watched and lapped up every detail of the movie it’s incredible to be a 23 year old actually there.

Gangway One
Keep the faith. Tuesday, 10am. Battery Park Gangway 1.

Seeing and experiencing the places that seemed so unobtainable, so sophisticated and so far away is a true dream. I even think I found Gunner’s Coffee Shop on Centre Street where Dez and Roberta are thrown out. To find the Magic Club would be a true dream. I’d better shut up now as I know Cathy is being very polite when she smiles sweetly as I drone on, and on… and on.

Battery Park
Here I am using the famous binoculars…

 

I didn’t know back then that The Magic Club was film set and not a real place. It was pre-google and the internet was in its infancy so useful articles like this didn’t exist

set