Sense Of Place #6: Botanica, Mike Doughty

This is the back room at Botanica, on Houston Street, which used to be the first iteration of the Knitting Factory. I worked the door there from 1991 to 1993. This superfluous space was called the Knot Room—it would appear that this stage is the same stage—and it’s where the management threw acts that wouldn’t complain about playing a tiny brick box that converted all sound into metallic barking. There was a great Sunday-night performance-art series called the House of Ill Repute. Carol, the curator, had a rule: if the performers could conceivably beat up the audience, cancel the show.

I played here with Ani DiFranco to my ex-girlfriend, her manager, and an inexplicable elderly couple, and we didn’t cancel it; nor did we cancel the single performance of a band called Flame Cut Steel (named after a company on Bedford Avenue, in Williamsburg), though literally nobody showed up, and we just repeatedly played our one song, which was called “Flame Cut Steel”; nor did we cancel “Louie the Vee Eye Eye,” the absurdist monologue I wrote for Rachel Benbow Murdy (who would later do the ghostly answering-machine vocal on my song “Janine”), which was attended by exactly one person. He was apparently attracted by a notice in Cheap Thrills, which was the Village Voice’s compendium of shows under $5. He bolted, ten minutes in.