New York by Night, 1990 - 1996

photographs by Joanne Chan

January 11th - March 30th 2019

Opening + Reception for the Artist January 11 5p - 7p.

To listen to Joanne’s interview with Matt Peiken on BPR go HERE.


About Joanne Chan

Joanne immigrated to Queens, New York from Hong Kong when she was 11 years old with her mother and sisters. Later Joanne attended
The High School of Music and Art and the Cooper Union for the Advance-ment in Science and Art in New York City. After college, Joanne pursued a career in photography. Her subjects included actress Rosario Dawson, Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon, Bernard Arnault CEO of LVMH, directors Julie Taymor of The Lion King and John Waters of Cry Baby. In 2010, along with her family, Ms Chan relocated to Asheville, NC. In a new environment, Joanne is discovering different mediums in arts and craft.

In the early nineties, I was living in the Lower East Side, in Manhattan, and attending Cooper Union, an art college in the heart of the East Village. I got a new roommate, Maria, who was studying to be a nurse at NYU. We got along well. Shortly after she moved in, she had a hard time covering her bills. She got a job as a karaoke hostess working late nights from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., in an unlicensed club that catered to Japanese businessmen. The role of the hostess was mainly to pour drinks, make small talk and entertain the customer, but often the customers would make propositions to the hostesses. Unfortunately, during her first payday, after working every night for two weeks, the owners closed the club and left without paying all the hostesses. After this incident, Maria was in a more urgent position to make rent. This is when she came up with the idea to do exotic dancing.

The first night dancing was mentally very difficult for her. She came home from Honey Buns, an exotic dancing club located in the East 40s, completely soaked in sweat with a high fever, and was sick for days. Eventually it got easier. I would sometimes hang out with her for a few hours until her shift ended so she didn’t have to go home alone.

At the time I was 21 years old and green. I was completely intrigued and fascinated with this world of exotic dancers. The dressing room of Honey Buns was located in a dark basement lit with one bare bulb. Visually, I was captivated by the textures, the grittiness and the surreal quality of the environment. My roommate suggested that I take some pictures. Once I took out the camera, many dancers were open to being photographed. That was how I began my night project.

I continued photographing different aspects of nightlife in the city off and on for the next few years. Some nights I would wander through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea until 4 a.m. with my child-size bicycle. Other nights I would venture to different exotic clubs in Manhattan and in Queens.

There were times that I put myself in compromising situations I shouldn’t have. Once, I found myself in a car with a pimp named Scotty, headed to middle-of-nowhere New Jersey. The only reason he agreed to let me go was that he suspected that I was an undercover cop. He dropped me off at a bus that took me to Port Authority.

Looking back, I simply jumped down the rabbit hole and put what I saw in photographs. This body of work was a diary of my exploration into a world that captivated me. Now with many years passed, revisiting the images again, I recognize stories of hardship, tenacity, endurance and humanity that my subjects were kind and open enough to share with me.


  •  A Full-bodied Discussion of the Sex Work Spectrum
    Thursday, February 7, 6pm -8pm

    Host: Heather Edwards, PT is a pelvic physical therapist and sexuality counselor. She is the founder of Vino & Vulvas, a local, monthly sex education panel discussion event. She is the author of Important Parts: A Coloring Book for the Crotch Enthusiast with a mission of getting people of all genders and experiences to love their genitals. She teaches transgender pelvic health nationally for Pelvic Guru. 

    Ella Minnope performs across the southeast, specializing in burlesque and aerial arts. Ella is a member of the Asheville-based burlesque troupe, The Girly Girl Revue, and the sponsorship coordinator for the long running Americana Burlesque & Sideshow Festival. Ella also volunteers for Asheville Humane Society as a foster for orphaned and injured cats and kittens and manages her own small horse farm in Asheville, NC. 

    Tuesday Feral, LPCA, NCC is an artist, mental health professional, and educator. Tuesday has also worked with Tranzmission for the past 10 years building resilient networks of support for transgender folx within western NC. Tuesday presents and trains locally and nationally with Tranzmission and Pelvic Guru.

    Jenny Shealy, LCSW is a sex positive, kink aware, and polyamory affirming therapist who has completed specialized training through the The Couples Institute, The Gottman Institute, Intensive Sex Therapy Training through Guelph University, and The EMDR Institute. She is currently in the Sex Therapy and Education Certification Program through California Institute of Integral Studies. 

  • Wiki Edit-a-thon with Art+Feminism
    Saturday, March 2nd, 11am – 5pm
    Join thousands of cis and trans women around the world to add or improve content about women on Wikipedia.  Less than 10% of current content is edited by or about women on the site. No Wiki editing required, resources and refreshments will be provided. All are welcome.

  • Reading Group - Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power by Audre Lorde
    March 16th 2 – 4pm
    We will meet and discuss the ideas in the essay Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power by feminist poet and activist Audre Lorde. Essay can be found online and in the book Sister Outsider. Refreshments will be served.

“The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.”


Check for added and updated programming