of the
Knitting Factory

Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, was the Chairman and CEO from 1987-2002.

He no longer has any operational or ownership ties to the organization.

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When the Wall Came Down

I was there the whole six weeks, and Bob came over to manage one bus for the last three hellish weeks. Not only was the tour losing money, but the schedule was burning everyone out. In a serious lapse of judgement, I trusted a first-time agent in Belgium to handle some of the contracting and logistics. He spoke German, French, Flemish, and English and was a very nice guy. However, by the time the tour was over, we were 30 grand in the hole. He made a number of deals that were reminiscent of Swamp Thing days-playing for the door in Helsingbourg, Sweden, was the craziest. Not only did the small pub hold only 30 people, but with three bands in the place each night, there wasn’t even room for the audience, if one had shown up in the firstplace. All the bands played great and had a fun time. Meanwhile, I was freaking out that we’d taken in no money and the hotels were costing us more than $800 a night. (Back to the Visa card.) That was just one of the 15 concerts this guy from Belgium booked. But not all my deals were so great, either. I had arranged to play in East Berlin just before the Wall came down. The concert was going to take place in a beautiful 500-seat cultural center in the heart of old Berlin; tickets would be sold in the West and the East. We would receive the West German Deutsche marks and the promoter the East German marks; I figured that if at least 200 people paid 25 deutche marks-about 15 bucks at the time-the $3,000 a night would be sufficient.

Well, Helmut Kohl, acting chancellor of West Germany, decided to start reuniting Germany by offering a future exchange rate of 3 East German marks for 1 Deutsche mark to pave the way for currency unification. The real market value, or black- market exchange rate, was more like 6 or 7 East German marks for a Deutsche mark. Furthermore, West Berliners could come and go in the East as they pleased, and East Berliners could go into West Berlin for the first time if they could afford it. On the night of our concert, only a handful of East Berliners came: They were saving their devalued East marks either to trade for Deutsche marks in the coming economic unification or so they could afford to see their first big concert in West Berlin-Prince, for instance, who was playing in a few weeks.