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New York was New York.

Mills planned a reception and press conference at Limelight to announce our “new relationship” and told us to invite whomever we wanted. I got the number for the Pool Bar from directory assistance and left a message on Jeremy’s answering machine telling him to show up.

There wasn’t anyone else I could think of to call. You’d think I hadn’t grown up driving distance from here. Bart invited his parents (who had a house in Greenwich, Connecticut) knowing that they wouldn’t come.

The BNC publicity department also set up a bunch of other interviews and things for the following day at their offices, and we had the photo shoot and the video shoot to do. With all the hoopla to come, playing the show seemed like a mere prelude.

Which, in a way, I suppose it was. Backstage was crawling with all kinds of hangers on, just like LA. Press, agents, photographers, managers, executives, radio station personnel…

I wished for one minute that I could sit down somewhere quiet, undisturbed and have a talk with Ziggy. I didn’t know what I’d say, exactly. But he’d slept most of the way from Pittsburgh to the city and had snapped at me when he was awake. I kept thinking about the last time we were in a pressure situation like this, was it less than a month ago? In Los Angeles. Broken mirrors and hysterics we didn’t need. What was I going to tell him, Behave? Be a good boy? That’d do more harm than good.

So, we arrived, we signed the contracts that afternoon in the BNC offices, we went to soundcheck, we played the show (another manic crazed set), we went to an after party for MNB, I spent another night alone. The next day a tall, black woman named Belle whose title at BNC I didn’t catch took us to a studio to record station IDs for a long list of radio stations we’d never heard of (“to help get you out of the college radio ghetto” she explained) and insisted that I buy a new coat before I froze to death. It was around sixty and sunny that day, warm for October, but nonetheless warm. We shot publicity stills in Washington Square Park. The press conference was scheduled for eight. Mills sent us out to dinner with Belle and another VP of A&R, to an Italian restaurant around the corner from Radio City Music Hall. I don’t remember what I ate. And then it was time to go to the Limelight.

Belle got in the cab with me and Bart. “Don’t be nervous when they start throwing questions at you,” she said as soon as the car was moving. “People will be yelling out things. If you don’t hear a question, don’t answer. If you don’t want to answer, pretend you didn’t hear it. Remember to say what you want to say and not what they want you to say.”

Bart laughed. “But what do you want us to say?”

Belle pursed her lips. “Do what your mama told you: say something nice or don’t say anything at all.” I began to think she looked like Anita Baker.

We were ushered into the club through a back door. Belle led us through a maze of stairs and narrow corridors to an echoey room with a vaulted ceiling. The place was already full of people, eating the hors d’ouvres and drinking. Cash bar. The other VP came up behind us with Ziggy and Christian in tow and I wondered if they’d gotten the same spiel from him. Mills came over and talked to Belle while we stood around them and listened.

“We’ll give them twenty minutes at nine. The table’s all set up. MTV News is setting up their cameras right now.” He looked at his watch and grinned fiercely. “Rolling Stone is furious that Spin is scooping them on this!”

Belle took our coats and sent us into the crowd.

Limelight used to be a huge, old cathedral. Well, it still is, only now it’s a nightclub, not a church. The main dance floor is where the big masses used to be held, complete with stained glass windows and arched roof. We were in some other part of the place, like the choir loft or the rectory or something, a smaller wing with a separate entrance, milling around with about a hundred people. I wondered how many of them were actually reporters and how many of them were just hangers on of various kinds. I didn’t see Jeremy–he was probably tending bar and helping some band with their gear and all those things tonight. Now I saw what Mills meant by table being set up. There was a long banquet-type table against a backdrop of the BNC logo, with four chairs and four microphones. A couple of TV cameramen were standing next to it, talking, their cameras at their feet. I made out the logos of MTV and Entertainment Tonight. Jeezus.

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