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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Doors of BAM

by Louie Fleck, BAM Archives Coordinator

No, Jim Morrison is not alive, hiding in some secret room at BAM. But since “people are strange,” and since I am a person—one who enjoys exploring all the most obscure and hidden nooks of BAM—I thought it would be interesting to guide BAMblog readers through a tour of some of the stranger doors at BAM.

There are probably over 1000 doors contained in the Peter Jay Sharp building, otherwise known as the Opera House at BAM. Since opening in 1908, this building has undergone countless renovations and modifications. For example, long gone are the horse carriage entrances that flanked the foyer on Ashland Place and St. Felix Street. Also, while still visible from the outside, the center set of doors at 30 Lafayette are no longer used, as there is an escalator behind those doors in the lobby.

Thomas Paulucci, Crew Chief, and I took a little tour and now we’d like to share a few of the “hidden” places with you…

Perhaps after an artist talk in the Attic Studio on the 4th floor of BAM, you decided to use the stairway to exit. There you might have noticed the “Malkovich” door!

Of course we’re referring to the film Being John Malkovich, where the 7 1/2th floor is where things really starts getting strange! This is actually the access point to the area above the Opera House.

There are ancient catwalks, alternating with a maze of air-conditioning ducts, “Peace Frogs,” and 1908 vintage dust. There are several motorized rigging systems to which lighting trusses can be hung, which extend through holes to the inside of the grand theater. And yes, this is where the light bulbs are changed.

As you continue down that narrow stairway, you might notice a short offshoot that leads to a door that ominously states “Employees Only.” Above the Opera House balcony, this is the spotlight room which is also used to project surtitle translations for opera libretti. This room even has a door on the ceiling. Imagine the heat, noise, and fumes “At the End of the Night” after the carbon arc lights were going for an hour or two.

Have you been to the restrooms on the second floor of the BAM Rose Cinemas? Originally combined, this was the luxurious mens’ restroom and lounge. The equally splendid womens’ room and lounge was directly below. But now there’s a door in the current ladies’ room that leads into a secret room at BAM that contains various parts of BAM infrastructure including the “gold” elevator, so called because it’s surfaced in brass.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to go backstage, you might have noticed another “half” door right around the 3M level. If you had the key, you could climb in through the little door, but it is much easier to “Break on Through to the Other Side” and enter through the laundry room around the corner right next to one of the dressing rooms. Sometimes a costume storage area, it is also where you can find some very special pieces of vintage audio equipment.

Have we come to “The End”? Hardly—there are probably doors at BAM people have forgotten existed. And we haven’t even taken a look at the Fisher Building or the Harvey Theater… stay tuned.


  1. Love this post, Louie.

  2. "Show Me The Way to the next door at BAM. Oh, don't ask why. Oh, don't ask why" (SUNG TO THE TUNE OF YOU KNOW WHAT)


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