Gabba Gabba Heyday! Filmmaker Mandy Stein Reflects on Hilly Kristal’s CB-Genius

“I don’t need any water!” exclaimed an exasperated Mandy Stein, nervously working the red carpet outside the AMC Loews Village 7 cinemas on Friday, April 24, while relatives and aides hassled her with questions, advice and refreshments.

Ms. Stein, daughter of the late Linda Stein, real estate agent to the stars and one-time manager of the iconic New York rock group the Ramones, directed the documentary film Burning Down The House: The Story of CBGB, which premiered at the East Village movie theater that night.

The Daily Transom asked whether the film was her own personal protest against the 2006 shuttering of the renowned rock club, which, in its heyday, helped launch the likes of the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads (whose 1983 hit “Burning Down the House” lends the film its title).

“I basically shot what happened,” said Ms. Stein, wearing heels and a deep blue frock. “When I arrived, there was this grass-rooted community of, you know, patrons that went to the club, loved the music and I just, you know, came in there with no angle, no direction. I just wanted to tell the story.”

Ms. Stein offered kind words for Hilly Kristal, the club’s legendary founder who passed away shortly after the club’s closure.

“Hilly’s genius, I think, was just letting what happened happen,” she said, “and that’s amazing, just to know that–I’m just gonna let it develop how it develops.”

“He wasn’t like these crazy club type guys,” added former Ramones drummer Marky Ramone, looking unmistakenly punk in a black t-shirt,  jeans and Converse sneakers.

“He was very generous,” Mr. Ramone went on. “And he was very fatherly-like and he was very–he really knew how to cater to the bands. I mean, the dressing rooms weren’t the greatest but he gave us the chance to perform, to hang out, and he gave us free drinks.”

Mere minutes before the movie started, Blondie’s Debbie Harry showed up in a leopard-print coat and shades. (Shattering our “Heart of Glass,” Ms. Harry didn’t stop for interviews.)

Rapper and Law & Order actor Ice-T arrived even later, alongside his buxom wife, Nicole “Coco” Austin. The couple got about halfway down the carpet before someone alerted them that the documentary was already rolling.

“The movie’s started?” Mr. T exclaimed. He turned to the still-beckoning reporters. “Am I dissing you ‘cause the movie’s started?” he asked rhetorically. “Bye, y’all!”

As everyone cleared out, the actor D.J. Qualls turned up and was immediately accosted by a reporter who recognized him, but couldn’t quite recall what film he was in. “You have to know,” Mr. Qualls teased. (The answer: director Todd Phillips‘ 2000 Tom Green vehicle Road Trip.)

“I’m here to promote a short that my friend directed,” Mr. Qualls told the Daily Transom.

Not hunting for Debbie Harry’s autograph then?

“Debbie Harry is here?!” he says, “Oh man…”

With mischievous glee, he added, “Maybe we should crash that party.”

Gabba Gabba Heyday! Filmmaker Mandy Stein Reflects on Hilly Kristal’s CB-Genius