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Martin Scorsese Readies Documentary About New York Dolls’ David Johansen

The film will premiere at the New York Film Festival.

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David Johansen - Photo: Bobby Bank/Getty Images
David Johansen - Photo: Bobby Bank/Getty Images

The celebrated New York Film Festival has announced its 2022 lineup, and one of the headlining premieres will be Martin Scorsese’s Personality Crisis: One Night Only, his documentary focusing around a one-of-a-kind 2020 performance by New York Dolls frontman David Johansen.

Scorsese co-directed the feature with one of his go-to partners, David Tedeschi (The 50 Year Argument). The duo worked with cinematographer Ellen Kuras (American Utopia) to film Johansen’s January 2020 set at New York City’s Café Carlyle. The show was part of Johansen’s run under his, according to Consequence, “80s hepcat lounge lizard persona Buster Poindexter.” Besides the concert, the documentary features new and archival interviews.

“Then and now, David’s music captures the energy and excitement of New York City,” Scorsese said in a previous statement. “I often see him perform, and over the years I’ve gotten to know the depth of his musical inspirations. After seeing his show… at the Café Carlyle, I knew I had to film it because it was so extraordinary to see the evolution of his life and his musical talent in such an intimate setting. For me, the show captured the true emotional potential of a live musical experience.”

As a founding member of the New York Dolls, Johansen and his bandmates were among the godfathers of punk rock, who built on the dirty rock & roll of the Rolling Stones (and Mick Jagger’s androgyny), girl-group pop, the Stooges’ anarchic noise, and the glam rock of David Bowie and T. Rex, to create a sound that was utterly unique.

Their shambolic performances influenced a generation of musicians in New York and London, who all went on to form punk bands. And although their time together was short-lived, their first two albums remain among the most popular cult records in rock history.

Listen to the best of the New York Dolls on Apple Music and Spotify.

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