Every year, for seventeen years, author Clifford Chase renewed his application for subsidized artists lodging on Bethune Street. Patience. Perseverance. The qualities of a savvy NYC apartment hunter are also those of genuine writer. Cliff’s new memoir, The Tooth Fairy—out tomorrow from The Overlook Press—required a decade to compose. Cliff invited us in to his finally-acquired Westbeth artist’s loft (!!!) to talk about his new digs, and his process.
Before harboring bohemians, Cliff’s building housed Bell Laboratories. The Highline ran right through the structure’s second floor. Iconic architect Richard Meier converted the labs into living spaces in 1970, back when, according to Cliff, “the neighborhood was nothing but tranny hookers and meatpacking plants.” Like the district, Cliff has come a long way, has come through struggle with his sexuality, his parents’ discord, and his brother’s early death from AIDS. With complete candor and insight Cliff maps the phases of his personal evolution throughout The Tooth Fairy, using fragmentary bursts of text, the format, he says, of rawest honesty.