June 27 2016

The Independence of Miss Libby Siano

New York-Le Bain
Paul Raffaele of Love Injection sat down with legendary DJ Nicky Siano (and his alter ego, Libby) of seminal NYC club The Gallery before he plays Le Bain on Sunday, July 3rd.
PAUL RAFFAELE: I’d love to hear the story about your alter ego, Miss Libby...
NICKY SIANO: Well, The Gallery was from 1972 to 1977. In 1976, it was the [United States] Bicentennial celebration and it was a big, big deal. We decided to have this very special Fourth of July party and I dressed up as the Statue of Liberty. My brother had built a crown that lit up and I had a dimmer in my hand. My mother fashioned a flag from The Gallery logo and my cousin Gary wrote this thing based on the Constitution. "All men were created to dance equally"—that sort of crap. 
Nicky Siano live at The Gallery (1976)
How did it go?
I’m on stage mugging while he’s saying all these things, and then we unfolded The Gallery flag. People are screaming and yelling, and then all the lights go out, and then I slowly brought up the dimmer on my crown. One of my best friends who was tripping her brains out started yelling, “They’re electrocuting him! They’re electrocuting him!” I’ll never forget it. The year after that, we did it again. It became a yearly thing and people started calling me Libby. Someone brought me a T-shirt that said “Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label,” which was a campaign by Libby’s, the fruit company.

Does Miss Libby still make appearances?
I’ve rebuilt the crown that we used, so that will appear at this Fourth of July party. We’ve gone from the age of little Christmas lights that barely worked on a dimmer to LEDs that flash in seventeen different patterns. We’ve kept up with the times!
"You look fabulous, fabulous, darling!"
Was Libby your only alter ego?
No, no. I was the transvestite from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That was, like, 1975. 1974, New Year’s Eve, I dressed up as Judy Garland, but this is a much younger me. I dressed up as Diana Ross. I did Barbra Streisand. I covered all the icons of the time.

I read you dressed up as Diana Ross the same night Grace Jones performed?
Diana Ross was Halloween and it was the same night Grace Jones performed for the first time at the club. Yes. I was coming off and she said, “I didn’t know you did stuff like that! You look fabulous, fabulous, darling!” This was when no one knew who she was. She was captivating, but people didn’t know her music yet or who she was.


Grace Jones' "Private Life" (1980)

She was signed to Island Records at The Gallery, right?
That week! The guy from Island was at The Gallery that week. The records that I broke…I mean, it’s such a long list! Back then, it was such a tight community, so if I got a record first and started playing it, within the next two weeks, everybody would be playing it. The Gallery was like a DJ watering hole; at four in the morning, almost every DJ in Manhattan would end up at The Gallery. This was before the Paradise Garage, before Studio 54. We really set the trend for a lot of stuff.
On Sunday, July 3rd, Le Bain presents
Nouveau York Fourth Of July featuring Nicky Siano, 10pm
Read Nicky's "Declaration of The Gallery's Independence"
and the rest of this interview in Love Injection Issue #17 
dropping June 30, 2016. Pre-order here. Subscribe here