Nancy Spungen Pilgrimage

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Love Kills contributor and Facebook moderator Michele Montalvo has made a personal pilgrimage to all of the locations that were important throughout Nancy Spungen's life. Here, in her own words and pictures, she tells us of her twelve-year odyssey.

People have asked me why I went on this journey and all I can say is that I just had to be where Nancy was. I felt this need to see it and to make it real because her story is so unreal. But, you know, it's like Deb [Spungen] said. She always thought Nancy would die of an overdose and not a murder. I think that's what gets me because I have used drugs and been places where that could've been me. I was lucky though. I survived.

Me and my mom went to Nancy's grave in 1999 and I was the first person to post a photo of the grave on the internet. I took it for the website Find a Grave and "stole" a little dirt for the admin because he collects it. Some people collect the strangest things!

As you can see, I brought Nancy a gift - the biggest bag of dope I ever bopught! I didn't leave it there, though, just shared it with her. Fortunately, I have been clean since April 2005. It took me a long time to locate the grave and we were at King David's for hours looking for it. I assumed her parents would have gotten her a nice big stone, and here it was on the ground about twenty yards from my car. I was kinda disappointed when I did find it. I just thought it would've been prettier to look at.

In 2001, I needed to get out of town for a while so I booked a room at the Chelsea Hotel from January 31st until February 2nd. I chose to leave on the 2nd, as I wanted to visit Bank Street for the anniversary of Sid's death.

I lived in Trenton, New Jersey, at the time, so I thought I'd get a snap because Sid and Nancy took that train to Philly and back to NYC. I've stood at that station a million times and never knew they had too. I only found out from reading her mom's book. A couple of bums there asked me for money - they said I was taking pictures of their home!

Here's two shots of the hotel that I took. The arrow in the first one indicates the windows and fire escape to the old room 100.

This is me standing outside the Chelsea. I thought it would be good to get my picture out front with the sign. The room I stayed in was 222 or 223, I can never remember which.

I was able to figure out the room numbers by looking at the mailboxes in reception. Room 100 was the first hole in the second row.

Sid and Nancy used these telephone booths in the lobby because the porter, Jerome, told me they were the only phones in the building if you didn't have one in your room. I'm glad I took this because they were removed from the hotel sometime later.

The corridor where Sid was photographed on the day of Nancy's murder, all beaten up with blood on his shirt. I get a spooky feeling when I look at it now.

This is the exit to the hotel. Sid was led out through this entrance by those two detectives in the news footage.

This is the bathroom to room 222 (or 223). It's not the same decor but kind of gives you an idea of the distance between the doorway and the toilet.

We went exploring around the place and found the door to the remodeled room 100, which is now a linen closet. My boyfriend, who was with me at the time, worked in construction and said that it had to be the door because of the way it looked. He felt the walls around it and was convinced. They did a good job of trying to conceal it though.

On our final night there, I went out at two a.m. and started snapping random places. It was quiet and I can assure you no-one was around. I took the photo from the first floor stairway and it shows the double doors that led to the hallway where room 100 was located. It wasn't until I got the image processed that I noticed a figure standing behind the doors. If you look real close, you can see that the figure looks like a long-haired female. I couldn't believe it when I saw it!

You can definitely feel Sid and Nancy at the Chelsea Hotel. It is dark, dirty, and you get the feeling that something just isn't right there. I hear it is being turned into apartments or something now. Shame because I would've liked to have gone back one last time to get more photos.

On the morning of February 2nd, I went to 63 Bank Street; the apartment where Sid died. His ex-girlfriend, Michelle Robison, lived for many years after apparently. Right after I took these, I went to Washington Square Park, which was a well-known dealer hangout back in the day. The dealers are clearly still hanging out there because some guy tried to sell my mom dope!

I met a cop outside Mid-Town Police Station and asked him that if he arrested anyone at the Chelsea where would they be taken for questioning. He said, "Here."

I went back to Nancy's grave regularly and still go there to this day, usually on her birthday or date of death. When I came back from my visit in 2008, I was interviewed for the Bucks County Courier because they had seen the YouTube video I put up (which has got over 45,000 hits). I'm glad somebody was watching it!

That year, I decided to get this odyssey out of my system and planned my biggest trip yet. There were a number of places I hadn't visited until then, so I made sure I shot as many as possible.

This is Nancy's old house on Red Barn Lane, Lower Moreland. I always wanted to see the home that she loved so much. I did it early at ten a.m. so that everybody was at work. Folks don't like it when strangers stand outside their house with a camera!

Here's a photo of Murray Avenue School in Lower Moreland, the school Nancy attended as a kid. It's about five minutes from the house on Red Barn Lane. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find it but it was pretty easy.

"Choose a good attitude!" I wonder if they had the same slogan at Murray Ave. when Nancy was there?

STO Sound and Vision on York Road in Jenkintown. This is the site of Deb's old health food store. Nancy used to work there during her school holidays, and it is only a couple of blocks away from the school.

Just before she died, Nancy arranged some concert dates for Sid at one of her old haunts in Philadelphia called Artemis on Sansom Street. It's an office building now.

The last stop on the 2008 trip was Bethayres Station, where Sid and Nancy picked up her sister, Susan, in Deb's book. I truly believe she took Sid to all these places because she knew she would never see them again. I'm just glad I got the chance to see them.

When Nancy's father Franklin died in 2010, I had to go up there and see him and Nancy together. I was real surprised to see that he was some distance away, like almost a whole plot. At first, I thought maybe it was because her mom had intended to be buried between them, but I did some investigating and discovered that the three empty plots to the right of Frank are reserved for the surviving family members.

The final time I visited King David's was in August 2011, after Frank's headstone had been placed, which is done out of Jewish tradition. When me and my mother arrived, we noticed all the stones and junk were gone. The place was clean for the first time that I can remember!

I decided to get a couple of quick grave rubbings and some old guy, like sixty or seventy, comes running up to us all out of breath. I thought he was going to have a heart attack! He starts shouting at us and said what we were doing was illegal. Mom, bless her, was like, "We're family members and who the hell are you to tell us that we can't do this?" He stops running and started complaining about "darn internet people" taking photos, leaving needles and vandalizing the place. Mom told him with a straight face, "Well, we ain't them and we've been coming here for years. Every time we do we've always had to clean the headstone but this is the first time we haven't had to bother. You're doing a good job, so keep it up." The guy just turned and walked away! I never laughed so hard in my life.

I'm glad that guy was mad because people leaving needles and stuff is totally disrespectful. It ruins it for everybody else who wants to pay their respects, clean the headstone, leave flowers and say a prayer. I don't know if it will be the same the next time I go. Not everyone is bad though. Over the years, people leave all kinds of nice things, like notes, flowers, toys, stones, etc. A note I once saw said: "We love you, Nancy. Not because of Sid, but for just being you."

I was on the road to nowhere too. For most of my life I have felt misunderstood and it's only now that people are beginning to understand me. People don't like smart asses and I'm like Nancy in that way. I wish she had stuck around long enough because somebody would've taken notice eventually, like they did with me.

© 2011 Michele Montalvo/Love Kills