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Meet The Former and Present Residents of Manhattan Plaza: Kenny Kramer

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Kenny Kramer is a former American stand-up comedian and the inspiration for the character of Cosmo Kramer from the television sitcom Seinfeld. Seinfeld co-creator Larry David lived across the hall from Kenny for six years, just as the character of Jerry Seinfeld did from Cosmo Kramer in the show. The two lived in Manhattan Plaza, a federally assisted apartment complex for performing artists in Hell’s Kitchen. David said that Kramer was a little bit eccentric and would be a good character to have on the show. Many of the traits of Kenny Kramer, such as the obsessions with golf, fruit, hot tubs, taking things out of the refrigerator and coming up with strange ideas and inventions, were featured in the show.

Larry David, Kenny Kramer 

Kenny has been the host of Kramer’s Reality Tour and Kramer’s Reality Road Show since Seinfeld was on the air. He tells behind-the-scene stories to his audience and gives a bus tour of sites made famous by the show. A DVD version of his reality tour has also been produced. The “Reality Tours” were later parodied on Seinfeld in the episode “The Muffin Tops”.  J. Peterman used Kramer’s various stories in Peterman’s own biography. He develops a reality bus tour and touts himself as “The Real J. Peterman.” The relationship between Cosmo Kramer and Kenny Kramer is explored in the featurette “Kramer vs. Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo”, on the 3rd season Seinfeld DVD.

Kenny Kramer, Larry David

Kramer has also worked as a correspondent for Hard Copy, created and hosted “Kramer’s New York” for Fox affiliate WNYW’s Good Day New York, and appeared in the original New York company of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, playing himself.

In 1997, Kramer attempted to gain the Democratic Party nomination for New York Mayor; he did not get the nomination. In 2001, Kramer also ran for Mayor in the Libertarian Party. He finished seventh in the election, with 1,408 votes.

On June 6, 2013, Kramer became an ordained non-denominational minister with the Universal Life Church World Headquarters and was registered with the City Clerk in New York City.

T2C: When did you first move into Manhattan Plaza and how did you get into the building?

Kenny Kramer: I was a working comedian in Florida and a single parent. I had a gig in Philadelphia and I had left my daughter with my mom in New Jersey. I happened to read in the New York Times about a new government-subsidized residence in New York City for artists. I drove back to New Jersey to get my daughter. I went to see the building in July and I moved in that November. That was 1977.

T2C: Who were your friends in the building at that time?

Kenny Kramer: Jimmy Vallely, Larry David and Bobby Alan Brooks, who was there were so many friends, but only 10% of the original tenants are left. I met Larry when the building manager put on a cabaret featuring the talented residents. I was the MC. Everyone “was thrilled to do it except Larry, so I badgered him. He was such a hit. I told him “You were the hit of the night!” and he said “I was afraid of the manager seeing my act and kicking me out of the building!’”

T2C: What are your fondest memories of that time?

Kenny Kramer: Seeing my daughter grow up, mature and become a woman. There were like 50 children in the building and they were all friends. They were called the “plaza brats”. It was thrilling to watch these girls bond and remain friends. In the past 5 years they have all connected thanks to social media.

T2C: Do you still live in the building.

Kenny Kramer: Yes.

T2C: What do you do now?

Kenny Kramer: When Larry David created Kramer based on me, I created this little industry. I do tours and a stage show and I have been doing this for 24 years.

T2C: Once “Seinfeld” immortalized you how did your life change?

Kenny Kramer: There was a story about me by John Tierney on the front page of the New York Times Metro section announcing that there was a real Kramer. The story went out on the Times wire service and it appeared in thousands of newspapers all over the world. The story set off a media frenzy and within a week, I went from an obscure comedian to International icon.

T2C: Were you happy with being immortalized?

Kenny Kramer: Of course I was, it turned into a great thing. Larry’s writing is incredibly funny. I use to go and hang out with the cast.

Kramer and Michael Richards

T2C: What would you change from that time period?

Kenny Kramer: Nothing.

T2C: What is your fondest memory of New York?

Kenny Kramer: The sense of community, a safe environment to raise my child, though the neighborhood was a horror. My house was always full of kids and laughter.

T2C: What would you like us to know that we haven’t asked you?

Kenny Kramer: Not much. I am still here, right now on a course. I go to Florida to see my two twin grandchildren who are 15. Life is good.

Kramer is featured in the documentary Miracle on 42nd Street, which is available on Amazon and will soon be available to stream. 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Cabaret

Cabaret Loses The West Bank Cafe and Laurie Beechman Theatre

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The West Bank Cafe and the Laurie Beechman theatre are closing their doors in August.

The West Bank Cafe opened in 1978. The restaurant’s early clients even included the notorious Irish gang, the Westies. The neighborhood was rough. In 1980, The New York Times awarded West Bank two stars, which increased its visibility and attracted a wider range of diners. 
In this era, West Bank Cafe’s owner, Steve Olsen opened the Laurie Beechman Theatre downstairs from the Cafe, which staged plays and hosted events nightly. A young Lewis Black was named playwright-in-residence; Howard Stern aired his third-annual live birthday broadcast from the theater; and the restaurant’s regulars included Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Bruce Willis, among others.

Soon the redevelopment of 42nd Street spread further west, bringing new businesses and residents to the area. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the restaurant was a leader in the growing Theater District and Hell’s Kitchen dining scenes. As new theaters opened in the area, the restaurant’s connection to stage and screen remained strong as well. The Laurie Beechman Theatre continued to regularly stage the work of emerging writers, actors, and singers (many of whom later became stars) as well as established acts: The Who even gave four live performances at the restaurant while their musical Tommy was running on Broadway.

After 45 years, the restaurant’s surrounding neighborhood and America’s culinary tastes have changed dramatically. West Bank Cafe has evolved along with the neighborhood and maintained a commitment to serving high-quality food in a unpretentious setting where both theater-goers and theatre stars feel at home.

In 2020 the West Bank was likely to close imminently as it faced mounting debts and a steep drop-off in customers due to COVID. By Tuesday, though, there was an online fundraiser had raised more than $330,000, shooting past its initial goal of $250,000. Donations came pouring in thanks to Tom D’Angora, a Broadway producer and longtime customer. But things took off on Christmas Day, thanks to a star-studded, nine-hour telethon, featuring speeches and performances by Sean Penn, Nathan Lane, Pete Townshend, Debra Messing, Andre De Shields and dozens more performers who have called themselves West Bank regulars during its 42-year history.

The money raised allowed Olsen to pay off the cafe’s debts and save some cash for the future. Sadly it seems 2024 might be the end.

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Art

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Allison Eden

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week is Allison Eden. Allison is the visionary artist who is creating the look at Serendipity 3, which will be opening this year on 47th Street, in Times Square 

A stained glass and mirror mural at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino in Connecticut

Originally from San Diego she moved to New York. Soon after, she got a call for her first commercial job—creating a Brazilian Wave mosaic on the floor of a Burger King in Times Square as well as other New York establishments.

ESPN zone- Times Square

Burger King 46th Street

Margaritaville in Times Square

Sugar and Plumm- candy and ice cream mosaic tile
Manhattan, NY

ESPN zone- Times Square

Allison Eden has her own studios, founded in 1993 by this talented artist. She pushes the boundaries of mosaic artistry, bringing a touch of magic to every project. Allison is a visionary glass mosaicist renowned for her breathtaking creations. Her journey into the world of mosaic art began in 1993 when she fell in love with the medium while studying fashion design at The Fashion Institute of Design in NYC. Inspired by her passion for art and design, Allison embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, starting her own company while still in college. Today, she stands as a pioneer in the design world, captivating audiences worldwide with her innovative glass and stone mosaic masterpieces. 

Baha Mar- Custom Linear Mirror Mosaic Tiles
Nassau, Bahamas

www. AllisonEden.com

Instagram: @AllisonEdenStudios

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, Podcasts.

Host Suzanna Bowling was also just named Most Engaging Hosts on TV, Radio and Podcasts on “The Daily Geek Report.” We are so grateful.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here, 18th here, 19th here, 20th here, 21st here and 22nd here.

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Art

Serendipity 3 is Opening In Times Square

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Just in time to beat the heat, the iconic place for Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, as well as oversized and outrageous sundaes with names like Forbidden Broadway and Unicorn Bliss, foot-long hotdogs and self-proclaimed Infamous Truffle Burger are arriving to the center of the universe, Times Square. The location will be on West 47th Street as part of the OYO Times Square hotel, but will have its own entrance. It’s the first time the world-famous brand, has established itself anywhere in New York City beyond Manhattan’s East Side, since it opened in 1954 — first on East 58th Street, before moving a few years later to its larger and present-day space on East 60th Street. Though Serendipity 3 has been licensed in Las Vegas, Japan and Dubai, they have all closed. The “3” in the name refers to the restaurant’s three original partners, not the number of locations in the city or elsewhere.

The roughly 3,100-foot Times Square space, currently under construction, will seat 110 and will be similar in size to the East 60th Street location, which holds 140. The design of the new restaurant glass artist Allison Eden and installed by D&E Tile and Stone, a company with roots in Italy. I meet Eden surprisingly enough last night at the Bay Street Gala.

Look for our interview on “Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents” with Allison Eden

Serendipity 3 is beloved by celebrities such as Warhol, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Jimmy Fallon, Marilyn Monroe, Cher and Gloria Vanderbilt (plus Vanderbilt’s son, Anderson Cooper). Kim Kardashian reportedly flew to New York earlier this year with her daughter North and celebrated the preteen’s 11th birthday at Serendipity 3.

 

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Entertainment

Midnight Moment Our Islands 11°16’58.4 N 123°45’07.0 E

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From July 1–31st starting at 11:57pm – 12am Martha Atienza reimagines a yearly local parade from her native Philippines by staging it on the floor of the Visayan Sea. The film’s performers are underwater compressor divers from Bantayan Island, who specialize in a dangerous form of fishing necessitated by the devastating impact of illegal and commercial fishing, industrialization, and climate change in the archipelago. The exact coordinates for the dreamlike underwater procession were chosen by the divers themselves according to the tide, current, and time of day. As they trudge across the seabed, Atienza’s cast of characters and choice of setting not only present a critical and humorous take on society and culture in the Philippines, but also allude to the threat of climate collapse to which Southeast Asia is increasingly exposed.

Part of her continuing series to establish art as an open source for ideas, Atienza’s moving diorama under the sea is a collaboration with the local community, with whom she creates work to empower and amplify seldom-heard voices. In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

The original version of Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2017 and acquired by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2021, with previous screenings across Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Martha Atienza is a Philippines-based artist whose video work documents issues of the environment, community, and development within her island home. Her observational lens takes on both ecological and sociological concerns as she studies the intricate interplay between local traditions, human subjectivity, and the natural world. By deeply examining the patterns within her immediate surroundings, Atienza explores the potential that the video medium holds as a catalyst for societal transformation. She was twice awarded the Ateneo Art Awards in Manila (2012/2016) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Award (2015). Recent biennials and triennials include the 2nd Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Riyadh (2024); 17th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2022); Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok (2020); Honolulu Biennial, Oahu, Hawaii (2019); and the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2018).

In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology utilized to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

Silverlens is an international gallery with locations in Manila and New York. Through its artist representation, institutional partnerships, art consultancy, and exhibition programming including art fairs and gallery collaborations, Silverlens aims to place its artists within the broader framework of the contemporary art dialogue. Its continuing efforts to transcend borders across art communities in Asia have earned it recognition as one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Southeast Asia.

Silverlens was founded in Manila by Isa Lorenzo in 2004, and in 2007 she was joined by co-director Rachel Rillo. In September 2022, the gallery opened its doors in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, broadening its international scope and bringing its diverse roster of artists to a new global audience. In 2024, Silverlens commemorates its 20th anniversary, marking a significant milestone for the global gallery and its dedication to championing diasporic artists.

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Broadway

Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth

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The Broadway League’s Black to Broadway initiative announces the performers for this year’s Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth concert taking place in Times Square on Wednesday, June 19th from 11:00am – 12:30pm (rain or shine).

Michael James Scott

Michael James Scott will host. Flagstar Bank will be this year’s presenting sponsor.

Phylicia Rashad

The 2024 Juneteenth Legacy Award will be presented to two-time Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, a versatile performer, director, educator, and humanitarian who has delighted generations of audiences through her work in beloved roles both in theatre and on screen. As an actress, Ms. Rashad has won two Tony Awards, for A Raisin in the Sun (2004 Best Actress in a Play) and Skeleton Crew (2022 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play). She was also a 2005 Best Actress in a Play nominee for Gem of the Ocean. As a producer, Ms. Rashad recently received a Best Revival of a Play nomination for Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.

The fourth annual Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth concert features more than 35 performers from the following 17 Broadway shows: Aladdin; & Juliet; Back to the Future: The Musical; Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club; Chicago; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; The Heart of Rock and Roll; Hell’s Kitchen; Illinoise; The Lion King; MJ; Moulin Rouge! The Musical;The Notebook; Suffs; Water for Elephants; The Who’s Tommy; The Wiz; and the return of the kids of Young Gifted and Broadway. All performances will be accompanied by live music thanks to The Music Performance Trust Fund and the Film Funds. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.

The exciting line-up of Broadway stars set to perform includes: Blu Allen, Donovan Louis Bazemore, Jace Bentley, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Maya Boyd, Tsilala Brock, Max Chambers, Taylor Colleton, Jay Copeland, Lorna Courtney, Charity Angél Dawson, Mariama Diop, Desmond Sean Ellington, Will Ervin Jr., Jerome Hermann-Hardeman, Dorian Harewood, Jackson Hayes, Najah Hetsberger, Afra Hines, Manny Houston, Jaylen Lyndon Hunter, Bre Jackson, Polanco Jones Jr., John-Michael Lyles, Mehret Marsh, Deja McNair, Alex Newell, Veronica Otim, Cristina Rae, Jelani Remy, William Rhem Jr., Albert Rhodes Jr., Walter Russell III, Antoine L. Smith, Nia Thompson, Lamont Walker II, Rachel Webb, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Hailee Kaleem Wright.

Joining The Broadway League in partnership for Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth are Black Theatre United (BTU), Black Theatre Coalition (BTC), The New York Times, and the Times Square Alliance. Black Theatre United has curated a selection of Black-owned restaurants to take part in the celebration by selling food and treats to attendees. Kokomo, LaMode BK, and Brooklyn Sweet Spot will be on-site with a selection of delicious options to add to the festivity.

Flagstar Bank is the 2024 presenting sponsor of Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth. Other sponsors include: The Music Performance Trust Fund and Film Funds; the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Audience Rewards; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; Broadway.com; M·A·C Cosmetics; TodayTix; Playbill; The Araca Group; and Open Jar Studios.

The creative and production teams of Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth include Director and Writer Steve H. Broadnax III, Music Director Rashad McPherson, Executive Producers Brian Anthony Moreland and Aaliytha Stevens, Stage Manager Monet Thibou, and General Manager Devon Miller of Foresight Theatrical.

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