Actress Gaby Hoffmann is at home with non-traditional families — as a child in the 1980s, she lived in Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel with her mother, an actress in Andy Warhol’s Factory.
On living in the Chelsea Hotel as a kid
What was — I hate this word — but “normal” for me is what most people consider marginal and extraordinary in their childhoods. So I didn’t think about these things as being anything other than what I encountered in my everyday life. …
Growing up in the Chelsea, was — it’s funny, because everybody thinks of it as this wild and probably inappropriate place to raise a child but it was actually, I imagine, the best place in all of the city to be coming of age as a kid, because it was almost like a little cul-du-sac.
It was a community in and of itself, it was like I lived in a little suburban neighborhood in the middle of New York City, because I could run around, barefoot or completely independently, from a very young age, in the safety of this building where I knew everybody and I had friends on every floor, and I knew the bellmen in the lobby, so there were other kids around and their apartments were extensions of mine, and the hallways were our playgrounds. I learned to rollerblade in the hallway and unicycle and I smoked my first pot. It was kind of an amazing place to grow up. …
I watched a lot of television as a kid and the suburbs to me — that was exotic! Like, a mom and dad who lived in the same house and had jobs and cooked breakfast at the same time every morning and did laundry in a washing machine and dryer? That was like, “Woah! Who are they? How do you get to be like that?”
Photos: The Chelsea Hotel, Hoffmann’s mother Viva and her as a child.