This week, Lower East Side legend Clayton Patterson invited me to the screening of Simon J. Heath's new film, Ten Men Talk New York. A tale about what New York means to ten of its natives, the film doesn't fall short of its title.
Clayton is one on the men in the film. He met Simon at the closing party for Motor City, a now-closed dive bar known for its grungy clientale, where Simon asked him to participate in his movie. “The questions [he asked] were more just words,” Clayton said. “Words that generations of brilliant poets, philosophers, writers, and artists have been struggling to define the meaning of.”
As a lover of art and the Lower East Side, I was dying to see Simon's movie and speak to the filmmaker himself. Luckily, I was able to catch up with Simon at a screening and interview him about his new movie, love for Manhattan, and the magical, poetic words that inspired the film.
Photo of Simon by the author.
VICE: Hi Simon, why did you decide to make a film about New York?
Simon J. Heath: I have loved New York since I was a kid. All my heroes, from Kerouac to Hendrix, Pollack to Gallo, lived and relished the culture that New York throws at you with everything she has. After watching a recent film about New York that painted the whole city like a giant Upper West Side yuppie paradise, I got pissed off. The Hollywood film showed a world far from the New York I skate through. So I decided to make my own film.
What was the thinking behind the film?
I wanted to keep Ten Men Talk New York bullshit-free and true to the men who I feature in it. I shot it clean in black and white, with the ten men simply speaking what they want on camera. There is no flashy host or cheesy voiceover in Ten Men Talk New York, because I did not want anyone telling the audience what to think. This movie allows ten real New Yorkers to speak. Its up to the audience to make their own decisions on what is said.
How did you choose ten New Yorkers out of million of men?
The ten men are all long-time New Yorkers—guys I already knew from bars, skating, parties, and just hanging out in New York. They gave me their trust, they spoke openly, without fear, favor, or trying to kiss ass.
How did you choose the topics?
The topics the ten men talk about are love, sex, death, race, the best, the worst, new, and old. These topics were chosen because we all have views on them—they’re universal. But here in New York—like everything—these things are amplified out of all proportion. That’s why we live here.
Why are there no women in the film?
There will be a Ten Women Talk New York once I get the cash to make it! So contact me and throw a fucking ATM at me and let the creativity roll on.