Nelson Sullivan’s Death, What Happened

Born March 5 1948, Nelson Sullivan was a videographer of New York life in the 1980’s. He recorded 1900 hours of video over a 7 year span, documenting the likes of Rupaul, Lipsynca, The Club kids and some of the members of the former Warhol crowd, like Sylvia Myles and singer Joey Arias.

Although Sullivan’s dream was to peruse a cable television show, his day job was working at the Joseph Patelson Music House, which was located behind Carnegie Hall. He worked there until July of 1989, when he quit to finally peruse his dream of having a cable TV show.

In the early evening of July 3 1989, Nelson and his old friend from college Bill Moye took his dog Blackout for one final walk down to the pier, before dinner. Sullivan asks Moye to take Blackout “since he’s going to pull me all around If I try and walk him.” Bill obliges; on the way to the pier, Sullivan stops briefly at the restaurant Florent, commenting how how busy it looked that day.

When they arrived at the pier, Bill and Blackout take off running to the end of the pier. Nelson says to his camera, “I don’t feel like running today. It’s July the 3rd and it’s the last day I’m gonna have… not to be running.” When Moye returns with Blackout, they sit on the edge of the pier for a while. Nelson talks about his friend Christina, who had just passed away and how much he was going to miss her.

They return home from the walk to a cookout with friends awaiting them. In attendance at Nelsons last supper was Lady Bunny and Rupaul. Sullivan says “It’s a beautiful day Blackout, aren’t we happy!”

Three days after quitting his job to pursue his dreams; In the early hours of July 4 1989, Nelson Sullivan died of a heart attack. Effectively ending an era in New York, at least as far as history will be concerned.

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