As New York as yellow cabs, bagels and shouting loudly, Cro-Mags’ frontman John Joseph, who was born in Queens and was a resident of downtown Manhattan since the days when it was still dangerous to walk south of 14th Street, is now conducting walking tours round the punk and harcore sites of the now gentrified area.
Joseph’s walking tour is called The History of Art, Crime, Drugs and Punk Rock on the Lower East Side. It’s an interesting career move for the hardcore vocalist whose autobiography and recent book on vegan fitness, ‘Meat Is For Pussies’, created a stir.
“Jake [Szufnarowski], the guy who runs the [tour] company doing it, is an old friend. He actually books the Cro-Mags and one of the only promoters in New York that makes sure that the bands get paid. He read my book, and in it I mention how I would love to give people a real tour of what NYC and our punk rock and rock ‘n’ roll history is all about. So when Jake asked me if I would be interested in doing this, I wasn’t hesitant at all.”
John Joseph is certainly well qualified for the job.
“I’ve been part of the scene here since the late ’70s, so you know I’ve seen it all. The tour gives the people a slice of that history from someone that was actually there, going to all of the clubs. I didn’t go on the Internet looking up ‘NYC punk rock history’ and then decided to do this tour. I was there in ’77 and knew all of the crazy drug dealers, gangs, and bands of the time.”
“The walk lasts about three hours and so far, everyone’s loved it. I let people ask questions and they seem to like that too. The crowds have been mixed and not just hardcore and punk people. I had a script writer come down the other day to take notes on everything. It’s just a great way to learn about the New York scene and its rich history.”