Rooms: The Secret Life of Things Behind Closed Doors

The Dining Room of William F. Buckley’s Apartment on Park Avenue and 73rd Street, Where Buckley Entertained

The $30,000 a Night Bathroom at The Four Seasons Hotel Discreetly Deluxe Ty Warner Suite

Room 4, the Very Private Personal Shopping/Dressing Room at Bergdorf Goodman

The Backstage Quick-Change Room for Actors in “The Lion King” at the Minskoff Theater

The Clowns Private Room (Clown Alley), Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden

A House Halfway to Hades: A Cramped Flophouse in the Bronx

A Garment Business Sweatshop in New York City’s Garment District

Inside the Dancers’ Private Dressing Room at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club

The Pleasure Grottoes at a Brooklyn Swinger Sex Club, Where the Outré Meet the Ordinary

Rooms: The Secret Life of Things Behind Closed Doors

Photography by:  Fred R. Conrad, The New York Times

A traveling barfly finds himself in a small town near the border and entertains the locals at the tavern one night with amazing tales of his adventures.  This barfly has been everywhere, of course, and makes a great impression, especially on a young man of romantic nature who, alas, is rather poor.

Early the next morning, the young man turns up at the traveler’s room, eager to thank him for the words of inspiration he heard the night before.  But the barfly seems distracted and, as he pours himself the first drink of the day, he turns and says: “Please, sir. If you really want to help, tell me where I am, not what you learned.”-Alan Feuer, The New York Times

The Secret Life of Things Behind Closed Doors

New York City, as in other large cities like Los Angeles or Chicago, is a city of rooms, a city where  many secret things occur behind closed doors.  Who knows what mysteries are even now unfolding inside the apartment in that very ordinary-looking building on the corner of 38th Street and Seventh Avenue or, for that matter, who knows what’s happening in the apartment right next door to it?

The guiding concept of this series of photographs by Fred Conrad entitled Rooms, was to visit rooms inside of places about which you may never have thought, or even if you’ve imagined what they’re like, you’ve probably never actually been there.  The photographs capture a wide range of social and economic levels of life in New York City, including: scenes at a sweatshop, a sex club, the dressing-room in a stripper-club, a morgue in Harlem, New York City’s Office of the Mayor, the behind-the-scenes kitchen of a fancy-gourmet restaurant, super-elegant bathrooms and even a bowling alley in the basement of the Frick Museum of Art.

The framework of the project was fairly simple the whole time: to look at the interiors of rooms in the city and, from that very small perspective, to attempt an exploration of the rich fabric of New York.  And the year-long project confirmed that New York City-as is the case with other large urban centers-is a city of rooms in which the  really good stuff always tends to happen clandestinely behind closed doors.  Nevertheless, this little photographic project has merely scratched the surface of the city’s mysterious life behind closed doors.  One can imagine repeating a project like this in a few years when a large number of the rooms will have changed dramatically, which of course they will.

The Control Room of the “Today” Show, Where a Dozen Behind-the-Scenes Staff Members Keep the Show Afloat

Slide Show: Rooms/The Secret Life of Things Behind Closed Doors

(Please Click on Image to View Full-Screen Slide Show)

You can read more about the Rooms photographic project here.

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