Welcome to the East Village Eye Website
This website has been created to tell the story of the East Village Eye magazine and present as much archival material as possible. We continue to present a variety of facets from the Eye's extensive coverage of downtown New York's creative life. Just released for online reading in February 2023 is the complete run of the Eye, all 73 issues. Go here for a better look at most centerfolds and back-page artworks. These centerfolds were displayed in reproductions as part of the "East Village: Vulnerable and Extreme" show at the Seoul Museum of Art in 2019. Watch this space for news on upcoming shows involving materials from the East Village Eye.
What was the East Village Eye?
From May 1979 to January of 1987, the East Village Eye, a monthly magazine of popular and avant garde culture, exerted a profound influence that eventually reached across the entire world. Coverage in the Eye resulted in development of several key "scenes" that eventually evolved into movements felt all over the planet. Some credit the Eye with creating the East Village art scene, which nurtured legendary talents such as Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz, while the Eye's coverage of other emerging New York artists such as Sue Coe, Barbara Kruger and Kiki Smith helped illuminate the psychosocial conflicts running through the contemporary brain. Many such artists made work specifically for publication in the Eye.
When hip hop started to emerge from the ghettoes of New York, the Eye was there with early stories on historical figures like Afrikaa Bambaataa, Fab Five Freddy, Futura 2000, Run DMC, the Rock Steady Crew and many others. How early? East Village Eye was the first publication ever to define the term "hip hop," in our January 1982 issue, though our coverage of graffiti and other elements of hip hop actually started a year earlier.
Seminal avant garde writers including Richard Hell, whose "Slum Journal" explained the New York origins of punk; Cookie Mueller, who dished out bold and often hilarious health advice; Glenn O'Brien, the leading avant-pop writer and media figure who chose the Eye to expound on the New York Yankees and other essential sports matters; and the aforementioned David Wojnarowicz, who wrote about his harrowing past and present as a street hustler and later as an artist living with HIV.
Groundbreaking small clubs and performance spaces like 8BC, ABC No Rio and Darinka, which developed such artists as Karen Finlay and Ethyl Eichelberger, advertised and were written about in the Eye and often nowhere else. Many such artists actually moved to New York because of what they read in the Eye, which in this pre-Internet age was one of the few sources of news on independent culture during one of the most important decades for the arts in New York.
The cutting edge of fashion, the only art form we display every day of our lives, took form in the pages of the Eye with the active participation of couturiers Animal X, Betsy Johnson, Manic Panic, Natasha, Patricia Field, Trash & Vaudeville and many others, including the naturally stylish on the streets of New York, from the South Bronx to the Lower East Side.
This was the New York of such pop music pioneers as the Lounge Lizards, the Beastie Boys, Nina Hagen, Billy Idol, Richard Butler and Iggy Pop; filmmakers David Lynch, Nick Zedd and Jim Jarmusch; photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Helmut Newton, and other cultural pioneers who found early recognition in the East Village Eye.
Ultimately, The East Village Eye was the monthly record of a time and place in which the radical shifts of the post-Vietnam era produced a reckless thirst for experience and expression that redefined the world we live in today.
To find out more about Leonard Abrams, you can read pieces in EV Grieve, in Clayton Books' "Jews: A People's History Of The Lower East Side," and in Hyperallergic's recent feature.