Lola Schnabel Once Woke Up With Grace Jones Outside Her Bedroom Window

By
Photo: Patrick McMullan

You're always bumping into people when you spend a lot of time at the Chelsea Hotel, Lola Schnabel, who's had a studio there for years, told us at last night's screening of Chelsea on the Rocks, Abel Ferrara’s documentary about the hotel. And not just ordinary people. People people. "My favorite memory is of waking up at five in the morning with him," she pointed to the director, "and Grace Jones knocking on my window from the roof to say good morning. Every day," she said, there are "just countless encounters." Which is why kids who grew up there, she said, like her friend Gaby Hoffman, have an "extraterrestrial sense from witnessing all types of people." "[Gaby] was a very grown-up little girl," Schnabel said. "I met her in Mexico and she was drinking a daiquiri at 10 years old and telling me how to stuff my dress."

But while she appreciates the bonhomie ("If you need to learn a word in French, you just ask somebody in the hallway"), Schnabel's not sure how many encounters of the bohemian kind she can take. "I can’t stay there too long," she said. "As a studio it's a perfect location. But as a living space, I don’t know how healthy it is. I remember the first week I lived there, I lit some sage and I spoke out loud to whoever was listening and just said, ‘Look, I’m just here to make some art. Please don’t bug me. I’ll be your friend.’ You sort have to surrender to the bigger forces."