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Queens Chronicle

Looking back at a beloved Flushing pub

Area man makes documentary about Nobody’s, a former live music spot

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Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2018 10:30 am

When he is discussing his almost-done documentary about the former Nobody’s Pub on Northern Boulevard by 147th Street, Charles Caracciolo does not pretend to be unbiased. The live music spot was a part of his life.

Caracciolo was the drummer for power pop trio Third Eye Butterfly, who often played the Flushing pub that was open from the mid-1980s to early 1990s. His then-girlfriend and now-wife played bass. “The guy who was the guitar player was the best man at our wedding,” the east Flushing resident said.

For years a neighborhood spot for northeast Queens residents, going to Nobody’s meant not having to trek all the way to Manhattan at night in a high-crime era.

“We played at CBGBs, a bunch of clubs in the city, renowned places,” Caracciolo said. “But there was never a feeling that they ever gave a crap you were there.”

But they did at Nobody’s.

When Caracciolo wasn’t onstage at the joint, he loved to check out other bands playing there.

“It had a real Queens feel to it,” Caracciolo, who is nearly finished with a documentary about the pub, told the Chronicle. “Diverse like the borough is.”

Funk, death metal, rockabilly — someone catching shows there could see bands play all types of different music.

A band that frequently played there, White Trash from Fresh Meadows, put out an album on Elektra Records. One of their songs, “Apple Pie,” caught a lot of airtime on MTV’s Buzz Bin and another one called “The Crawl” was used as the theme song for The Jon Stewart Show.

Before the pub was called Nobody’s, it existed as P.O.E.T.S. under different ownership.

Caracciolo’s nostalgic documentary about the pub is called “We Were All Nobody’s.”

Caracciolo, who works professionally as a video editor for a company in Huntington, LI, interviewed around 45 people for his film. By the middle of September, he hopes to have the movie ready to be premiered. As far as where it would debut, the Queens Theatre and the AMC Loews Bay Terrace 6 are possibilities.

Nobody’s closed in 1992 or 1993, with business having gone down before its lease expired, according to Rennie Xosa. He worked as a promoter, booker and live sound engineer at the club and is interviewed in Caracciolo’s documentary.

The pub could get wild in its heyday. Xosa remembers the antics of some Nobody’s acts, which included mosh pits, “cheeseburgers flying across the room and guys wearing tutus.”

Jay Stone of Whitestone, who worked with Xosa as a live sound engineer and is also in the movie, recalls one particular incident with a death metal band. On the singer’s microphone stand was an inverted cross, a sign often used to symbolize Satan.

The singer set the sign on fire.

Stone recalled Xosa and he being flabbergasted by the fire.

“We didn’t stop them, we didn’t stop the show,” he said, laughing. “Somehow, we both looked at each other and I’m like, ‘It’s not gasoline. Maybe it will go out eventually.’”

It did, to great relief.

Upside down cross burnings may not have been a regular activity at the pub, but pushing the limits wasn’t necessarily rare. In one of the trailers for “We Were All Nobody’s,” a woman recalls the spot “being one of the few clubs that would allow us to bring our full-size coffin onstage.”

Queens is known for having produced a great deal of famous musicians. To Caracciolo, Nobody’s is part of “the long history of a musical tradition in our borough” that includes famous acts like The Ramones, Simon and Garfunkel and Louis Armstrong.

And to people on a personal level, the pub was a major component of their social lives.

“It’s a time in your life and a place,” the East Flushing resident said.

The experience of making the Nobody’s documentary has been very nostalgic, Caracciolo said.

“The reunion-ness of it all was really amazing,” he explained.

One challenge of making the documentary, he explained, was if and how to bring up an infamous 1992 incident associated with Nobody’s.

Milagros Johnson, an NYPD officer from the 109th Precinct in Flushing, went to the bar — then a popular spot for cops, according to Caracciolo — and hung out with colleagues after her shift wrapped up at 9 p.m.

Hours later on the same night, she was killed in St. Albans. Her naked body was dumped in a Rosedale marsh and her car turned up in East New York, Brooklyn.

Nobody’s had nothing to do with the case beyond simply being a place where the victim was hours before she was killed.

Nonetheless, Caracciolo said, the brutal murder led some in northeast Queens to get some ideas about the bar.

“Local civic groups said, ‘Hey listen what kind of an operation are you running there were a cop goes in and ends up dead?’” he explained.

Caracciolo wrestled with the question of whether to mention the crime in the film. He ultimately opted to include it.

“It was a hard decision, but I think it needs to be in there for the totality of the story. If anything signals the end of an era with a crashing thud, that detail is it,” he said in an email. “I know the audience will probably be squirming in their seats during that part, but it does set up a rebound that leads into the crescendo of the last act where people reminisce wistfully about how incredible an experience their Nobody’s years were for them.”

You can see the trailers for “We Were All Nobody’s” at tinyurl.com/ya2uehs6 and tinyurl.com/y7nlgqgu.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • MarkO45 posted at 2:07 pm on Mon, Aug 12, 2019.

    MarkO45 Posts: 1

    I Loved Nobody's I used to hang out there. I even worked there as a bartender for a while. I had girlfriends which i met there, Good friends which i still have today that i met there.

    Nobody's had a strong impact on my life back in those days. I used to love going there. This was a bar that i just felt at home at. The beauty on most nights is you didnt know what kind of music you were going to get. But i do remember Remy being in charge of the sound even if the bands couldn't play their instruments they sounded great playing terribly. but that was hardly the case, They booked so many good young up coming bands there. I remember "Irie Irie" i remember another really good funk band that sounded a lot like "Living Color" that was really good. I am drawing a blank on their name, but so many more. to many to choose from. It was just a great local bar which had a huge place in my heart!!!