RIVINGTON WAS OURS by Brendan Jay Sullivan


Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives
Email this review


Lady Gaga’s former DJ reveals the highs and lows of his musical career in the mid-2000s, also unveiling an intimate portrait of the pop singer’s rise to fame.

From Piano’s to Welcome to the Johnsons to Motor City, New Yorkers will instantly recognize the Lower East Side bar scene in Sullivan’s gossipy tell-all. However, it seems as if the author couldn’t decide on whether this is a memoir about his bartending, dating and DJing experiences, or a name-dropping unauthorized biography of Stefani Germanotta as she evolved from backup go-go dancer to her stage persona, Lady Gaga. Sullivan’s relationship with his friend-turned-boss wavers between respect and adoration (“Above all else she knew that she would tread a thin line between artistic greatness and cheesy pop. It all depended on the people around her”). While he does manage to create a visceral setting of the New York scene where Misshapes and Don Hill parties were all the rage, his use of character nicknames (“The Devil” as a drug dealer; “Angel” for a new girlfriend) seems both unnecessary and confusing. Sullivan’s constant switching between past and present tense may seem like he is trying to convey a conversational tone within an inner monologue, but it reads as sloppy, distracting writing. The last two sections of the book (based in Miami and Los Angeles) are the most interesting: Sullivan goes behind the scenes at Gaga’s Winter Music Conference appearance and the making of her “Just Dance” video. The author claims that he was well-aware that Gaga would ultimately replace him, but readers can’t help but wonder if, beneath the idolatry, there isn’t a little bit of resentment on his end.

This love letter to the Lower East Side will make a great stocking stuffer for hard-core Lady Gaga fans and tourists who idolize the Big Apple. Note: not for the bridge-and-tunnel crowd.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-212558-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2013


NonfictionJUST KIDS by Patti Smith
by Patti Smith
FictionLOW RENT by Kurt Hollander
by Kurt Hollander
NonfictionKAFKA WAS THE RAGE by Anatole Broyard
by Anatole Broyard