The first time I went to New York was in 1993.
The Twin Towers still stood, monolithic orientation points that allowed the visitor to tell uptown from downtown.
The city – pre the Giuliani and Bloomberg sandblasting of its gritty façade – was the ultimate grown-up, deviant playground.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal teemed with strays, thugs, and shysters; the Chelsea Meatpacking district displayed its tranny hookers like a duchess sporting paste diamonds on a decaying décolletage; and Times Square held up huge signs saying “LIVE GIRLS XXX.”
I supposed, at the time, there was likely to be more of a market for Live Girls as opposed to the obvious alternatives, but – in hindsight – this may not always have been the case.
The city was dusty, dirty, decaying and delicious, and I was hooked.
Hooked, not because of the filth and corruption, but despite it; for what is Corruption if not the natural effect of Living?
And New York was – and still, to my mind, is, the most alive city on the planet.
The light, on cloudless days, has a whiteness that is almost Baltic, and when the rain falls, hammering apocalyptically on suddenly silent sidewalks, the city – as has been noted – becomes a small town.
The inhabitants of this town are, for the most, a unique group of people.
I grew up in Dublin and London – both cities I love. But in those burgs, people are singular. They do one thing, have one aspect.
In New York, everyone is a hyphen. I’m an actress-model, dancer-waitress, banker-writer, lawyer-day trader.
The city is a hub of dreams, and the biggest dreamers of all are the people who flood in, in their multitudes to add to the soup, and to become part of New York City.
Because, in over twenty years of visiting, living and working in this most alive, most mammonesque, most spiritual of places, I have met not one person who was born and raised on Manhattan.
And, like all immigrants, the people of this city, whilst holding dear to their memories – whether of the African Savannah, the Shanty towns of Rio, the plains of the American Midwest or the cities of California – have a passion and a pride for their adoptive home. They want you to love it as much as they do, and you do. You do fall in love with it, because their pride and their passion is contagious.