Tricia Brouk is a jack of all trades: dancer, choreographer, writer, director of stage and screen. She was the at the helm of our Sublets ship, keeping us honest and precise and challenging us to push ourselves. When we asked her for her "worst NYC apartment or roommate" story, she gave us this gem:
"In August of 1991, when I was preparing to start my new life as performing artist in New York City, I thought I had it made. My best friend from college had graduated a year ahead of me and was already living in the city. That meant he could find us an apartment, so all I had to do was send him half of the deposit, half the rent and move in as soon as I graduated. Everything was falling into place. He found a two-bedroom apartment on 3rd street between Avenue's B and C for seven hundred and fifty dollars. It was not only two bedrooms, which we were adamant about, but it was in my price range. Three-twenty-five a month for my new life in New York City. I was moving from Missouri, so I flew to Laguardia with one big-ass suitcase and shipped everything else UPS to the address of my new home.
I arrive at Laguardia and he picked me up from the airport. That's back when people could meet you at the gate. I was so excited I could have cried and thrown up simultaneously. In the taxi going over the bridge, I thought, here I am. I have a home, a dream, and five hundred bucks in my pocket. Anything can happen.
We pull up to the front of the building and on the left is a Bodega, where I soon learn they only sell Cola, and not Coca-Cola. And on the right an abandoned satellite U.S. post office. Across the street was a lot where they park the garbage trucks when they are off duty. I figured we could keep the windows closed, no big deal. My roommate grabs my big-ass suitcase and we begin the climb up to the sixth floor. Five floors is the top height a building can have without an elevator, but I didn't know any better, and I was a young strong dancer, so it didn't phase me. On the way up, I met our first neighbor. It was super exciting. He had bright orange hair. The kind of orange that Bozo The Clown has, unnatural, but fabulous. It made sense to me, because he was so friendly as he passed us. He was also wearing vinyl short shorts. I think vinyl shorts can be worn very well and he certainly rocked them. The vinyl was clear, however, so I could see that he also had Bozo The Clown pubic hair. I thought to myself, we must have moved into an artists’ building, how awesome!
We get to the top floor, my heart racing at the thought of my new bedroom or maybe it was the six floors. My roommate showed me to my room. Now when I say room, I don’t mean bedroom. I mean closet. This was the walk in closet in his one-bedroom apartment that he wanted me to pay half the rent for. There was no window. There was enough room for me to put my single futon onto the floor and stand next to it. There was no place to put my clothes, my shoes or my big-ass suitcase. I could still feel my heart racing. At the time I thought it was out of excitement and pending adjustment, but then later understood that this was my instincts telling me to get the fuck out of there. Because I had never lived in New York City before and he assured me that this apartment was wonderful and that this neighborhood was safe. I tried to settle my stomach and tried to settle in.
The next day we went to ballet class at 890 Broadway. On the way back I stopped at a pay phone to track my UPS packages that should be arriving soon. If you know me, you know that I go all the way in everything I do. So I shipped my entire life here. I was moving here, which meant, I shipped ten big-ass boxes. What I didn’t consider was what it means to live in a six-floor walk up without a door-man in Alphabet City in the early 90’s when doing crack and squatting was the thing. UPS had no idea where my packages were and had no signature for them. They were essentially lost. My roommate assured me that they weren’t lost so we walked home together talking about the class and an upcoming audition. As we made the left onto Third Street from Avenue B, I saw ten mangled cardboard boxes sitting outside the Bodega unattended. The UPS driver unloaded them onto the street for anyone to steal, pee on or set fire too. At what point do you listen to the voice in your head saying “get the fuck out of there?” I stayed. My roommate helped me up the six flights and I tried to figure out where I would put all my stuff.
The next day, a mentor and one of my teachers from college, who also lived in New York, but on the Upper West Side, asked me to come over for lunch. What I didn’t know is that she had a bedroom she was looking to sublet. This bedroom was in a two-bedroom, two bathroom pre-war building with a doorman. There was no way I could afford it. I told her about my closet and my neighbor whose pubic hair took careful grooming attention. She immediately said, “Do you know how many robberies have happened to young women in that neighborhood? It’s all over the news.” At that moment I realized that my stomach was even more unsettled. How could I do that to my best friend? He found the apartment. We had a dream of pursuing our dreams together. How could I do that? Well, my mentor said I could pay $325 and live with her. Boom. That’s how I could do that. I already paid him for all of September, so I figured he had plenty of time to find a roommate. I wasn’t screwing him over, he got the deposit and a month paid for that he could enjoy alone. My roommate did not take the news well. He locked me out of the apartment and held my big-ass boxes and big-ass suitcase ransom. He wanted two more month’s rent. That was seven hundred and fifty dollars and I only had five hundred bucks in my pocket.
My mentor and new roommate and I took the very long subway ride down to my old roommate’s apartment to get my stuff. He wouldn’t let us in. He actually barricaded the door and threatened to call the cops. I was not on the lease, so he was saying that I was trying to break in. It did look like that, in reality. And I had no idea what was right at that point. I just wanted my big-ass boxes and to move on. I had the cash on me in five one hundred dollar bills. My mentor had withdrawn the balance, in case we needed it, which we did, so we slid the cash under the door. He counted it, unlocked the dead-bolt and we began gathering my crap. One flight at a time down the stairs with broken cardboard boxes, we made our way to the street. Once on the street, we waited for a taxi. None. In the early 90’s in Alphabet City, there were no taxis. It wasn’t safe. I stayed with my crap, and my mentor walked several avenues over to hail a taxi, circle back around and pick me up. Thank God all the big-ass boxes and one big-ass suitcase fit in the taxi. We drove away. I never talked to my first roommate again. And I owed my new roommate rent, and two hundred fifty dollars, for bailing me out of a mess. Welcome to New York." -TB
TRICIA BROUK Direction/Choreography/Writing: Committed (West End Theater), 50 Shades of F****D Up (Stage 72), Dancing Through It (Cherry Lane). Direction/Choreography: Carson the Musical (Broadway Workshop), Eve’s Turn (Broadway Workshop), I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change!, The Taffettas, Bingo, The Winning Musical, Popesical, Broadway Varietease, Erotic Broadway; Vintage Variety and Frankie and Debbie Live at the Martini Lounge. Choreography: Zombies:A Musical (Playwrights Horizons) and Tokio Confidential (Atlantic Stage 2), Television/Choreography: The Affair on Showtime, Black Box on ABC, Rescue Me on Fox. Film/Choreography: John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes, Lasse Hallstrom’s The Hoax, Rolling In The Ring Of Fire. Webseries Direction: Sublets (coming soon). www.TriciaBrouk.com