Marc Spitz 2.0: He’s as Productive as Ever, but He’s a Changed Man

The dream of the ’90s is alive in Manhattan

Mr. Spitz lives in a first-floor walk-up near the Spotted Pig. In his one-bedroom are mountains of records and books, a lot of voodoo stuff on the shelves, a biography of Candy Darling and a Charles Bukowski book with a dandelion in it from his gravesite, a taxidermy piece of a snake fighting a mongoose, Pezes with black skull heads, a coyote skull, a Norfin Troll, Steiff animals, monkey figurines, a fish tank with one fish in it and a rug the dogs have ruined. There are also pictures of Hank Williams, Frances Farmer and several of Jean Seberg, a boom box with some old cassettes (Nightclubbing by Grace Jones, Mingus, Dirty Mind by Prince), a 45 by Sal Mineo (Sal Sings), lots of vintage shoes and leather jackets, and a guitar he doesn’t know how to play with a Misfits sticker on it.

And there’s an old globe, a dead horseshoe crab, piles of Mojo magazines, a set list signed by all four Pixies when he went on tour with them in Europe for Spin—the same with Guided by Voices—a gold life mask of David Bowie, a framed poster of The Queen is Dead album, and another of Bob Gruen’s famous Clash photos when they played Bonds Casino. He may frame the promo poster for his cover story on Morrissey and put it over his bed next to the plastic angel there.

In the fridge: mustard, seltzer, soy sauce and a lemon. In the freezer: gin, an old ice pack for hangovers, coffee, Dunhill blues and usually a Cadbury fruit and nut bar. In his bathroom in the hall: a poster of Irish writers behind the toilet, angels mounted all around and music mags on the floor.

Mr. Spitz got up on the morning of our interview at 10:30 after dreaming about English playwright Sarah Kane, who committed suicide at 28 by hanging herself by her shoelaces in a hospital two days after overdosing on prescription drugs. He said he smokes pot every day and is prone to fits of depression. He Googles “famous deaths” and reads all of the details.

After drinks, we stopped at Katz’s for hot dogs to go and then went around the corner to Max Fish. Mr. Spitz hadn’t been there in a while, but, aside from no glassine bags of dope on the floor, it looked the same: The painting of Julio Iglesias’s melted face, the jukebox selections and the famous bathrooms where so much illicit behavior had taken place for nearly a quarter-century.

Did Mr. Spitz ever have sex in there?

“Yes, with men and women. Yeah, I was never, like, super about the cock, but I liked intimacy with people. I think fundamentally I’m heterosexual, but, you know, I’ll let someone suck my cock. He’d have to have talent.” I couldn’t tell if this was serious or a pose, the real Marc or the other one. We sat on a bench and watched four young guys playing pool and two girls ignoring them.

I asked him about a memorable scene in Poseur. On a Friday night in 1995, he was at Don Hill’s for the Soho bar’s rock ’n’ roll dance and drag party, “Squeezebox.” In line for the bathroom, he accidentally burned a girl with the cherry of his cigarette and immediately realized it was Chloe Sevigny but pretended not to recognize the mesmerizing beauty, then 19. They chatted, danced, went on a total of two dates. On the first, they drank Greyhounds at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge and kissed (“drunken and sloppy and sweet”). On their second, he took her to Max Fish. “It was like walking in with Derek Jeter into a sports bar,” he told me. “There was a hush, and everyone was like, What is he doing with her?” It turned out she was a huge Smiths fan. “She really loved How Soon Is Never. … She said it was, like, her favorite book.”

When he was first writing for Spin’s newly launched website, he got to know Courtney Love, first as pen pals after he wrote a very smart review of Hole’s third album, Celebrity Skin. Love became like a big sister/mentor. In Poseur, he calls her arguably “the very last real rock star.”

“Well, there’s two or three Courtney Loves,” he told me. “One is amazing, smart, knows all the fucking good records to own, knows everything about rock history, could have been a music journalist. [She] wanted to be an artist. She told me she wanted to go to Bennington. And then there was the Courtney who was like a total like Hollywood tragedy, a star-fucking fame whore who was actually ironically like a really powerful actress. And now I think I see a Courtney emerging that’s just going to be like an elder stateswoman rock star who’s going to go out and play her indie hits.”

Mr. Spitz always wanted to be a cult hero, never famous-famous: “I only ever wanted to be a writer that, like, a small amount of people, like, read and loved.”

We talked to the kids playing pool. They said Max Fish was closing in four days. “I’m 43 years old, and I still feel at home here,” Mr. Spitz said on the way out.

Marc Spitz 2.0: He’s as Productive as Ever, but He’s a Changed Man