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Village Award Winner Trash & Vaudeville: The Legacy of the Iconic Punk Rock Boutique

Village Preservation is very proud to honor Trash & Vaudeville as a 2024 Village Awardee! Join us in recognizing T&V and five other remarkable awardees at Village Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Village Awards on Wednesday, June 12th at the historic Great Hall at Cooper Union. The awards ceremony will be emceed by legendary musician, writer, producer, and music historian Lenny Kaye, with registration free and open to all. Click here to register.

The vibrant and ever-evolving fashion scene of the East Village is home to some of the most iconic stores that have shaped global fashion trends. Among these, Trash & Vaudeville stands out not just as a store, but as a cultural institution that has defined punk rock fashion for decades. This legendary boutique has been the go-to destination for rock stars, punk enthusiasts, and fashion rebels alike. For its enormous contributions to the sartorial scene of the punk and rock & roll zeitgeist (and beyond), Trash & Vaudeville is a 2024 Village Award winner.

Trash & Vaudeville in its original home at 4 St. Mark’s Place in the historic Hamilton-Holly House, owned at one time by Col. Alexander Hamilton (son of Alexander Hamilton)

Trash & Vaudeville first opened its doors in 1975, during a time when punk was just emerging as a subculture and aesthetic in this neighborhood. Founded by Ray Goodman, a man whose name became synonymous with the store itself, Trash & Vaudeville quickly became more than just a retail space—it was a sanctuary for those who lived and breathed rock ‘n’ roll.

Ray grew up in Jersey City. His Mom brought him to the East Village for the first time when he was thirteen years old, and it was love at first sight. He was enthralled by the energy and vibe of the neighborhood and started to visit regularly. He had a strong entrepreneurial spirit so he began buying East Village paraphernalia such as rock and roll t-shirts, posters, buttons, etc., which he took back to Jersey City and sold to his high school classmates.

Ray and Daang Goodman

He soon met Martin Freedman, owner of a well-known vintage clothing store called Limbo at 4 St. Mark’s Place. Limbo at that time had four stores in the New York area, so Mr. Freedman, recognizing Ray’s ambition and love of all things East Village, offered him the opportunity to manage their Roslyn, Long Island store. Less than a year later, Ray was offered the opportunity to buy the flagship store on St. Marks Place. He borrowed money from his parents, bought the store in 1975, and has been successfully in business ever since.

Because of Ray’s intimate knowledge of the rock and punk scenes, he had an innate sense of what his customers wanted. When people started asking for black jeans, he found a small company in Brooklyn to produce them. Nobody else had black jeans at that time. He was also one of the first retailers in the U.S. to carry Doc Martin’s boots.

Famous musicians including Carlos Santana, The Clash, The Dead Boys, Slash, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen started coming to Trash & Vaudeville for clothes and accessories. Word quickly spread that this was the place where popular musicians came to shop. One day Bruce Springsteen came in and admired a tattered, pink and black flannel shirt that Ray was wearing and offered to buy it. Ray told him it wasn’t for sale but “The Boss” persisted and Ray ended up giving it to him as a gift. A photo of Bruce wearing that shirt was featured on the cover of the album “Badlands.”

“The Boss” in “the shirt”

Trash & Vaudeville eventually lost their lease at 4 St. Marks, so Ray relocated just around the corner to 96 East 7th Street in 2016, maintaining its gritty charm and eclectic vibe. The store’s layout, with its walls plastered with band posters and memorabilia, is a nostalgic journey through rock history. From the Ramones to Debbie Harry, the influence of rock legends is palpable in every corner of the store.

New digs on East 7th

Trash & Vaudeville is celebrated for its distinct aesthetic—a mix of punk rock, glam, and goth. The store’s inventory reads like a punk rocker’s dream wardrobe. Think ripped jeans, leather jackets, band tees, studded belts, and an array of boots that would make any rock star swoon. Brands like Tripp NYC, Doc Martens, and Lip Service are still staples here, each piece echoing the rebellious spirit that the store champions.

The boutique’s appeal lies not just in its clothing, but in the attitude it exudes. It’s a place where self-expression is paramount, and fashion is seen as a statement of individuality and defiance. Whether you’re looking for a pair of skinny jeans that scream ’70s punk or a leather jacket that channels your inner Sid Vicious, Trash & Vaudeville has got you covered.

Trash and Vaudeville’s impact on fashion and culture extends far beyond its physical location. Over the years, it has dressed countless rock icons and celebrities, solidifying its status as a cornerstone of punk fashion. The store has been featured in numerous fashion editorials and documentaries, highlighting its role in the evolution of alternative fashion.

More than just a retail space, Trash and Vaudeville has always been a community hub. It’s a place where like-minded individuals gather, share stories, and celebrate their love for music and fashion. The store has hosted countless events, from album release parties to meet-and-greets with rock legends, fostering a sense of camaraderie among its patrons.

For many, a visit to Trash and Vaudeville is a rite of passage. It’s a place where the past and present of punk rock collide, creating an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and forward-looking. The store’s enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to evolve while staying true to its roots.

Join us on June 12th at the historic Great Hall at Cooper Union to celebrate the incomparable Trash & Vaudeville! Registration is free and open to all. Click here to register.

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