Penthouse Retrospective

by Deborah Spungen Originally Published: October, 1983

Nancy Spungen | BONUS Penthouse Legacy

I went into Joe’s office, shut the door, and dialled Detective Brown in New York. My dialling finger shook. I was reacting with a bit more emotion than I’d expected, but I was in control.

“I’m sorry to tell you your daughter has been murdered, Mrs. Spungen,” Detective Brown said in a kind voice.


My baby. Murdered. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

According to Manhattan Chief of Detectives Martin Duffy, Sid had awakened at 10:50 AM, still feeling the effects of Tuinal, a depressant he had taken the night before.

Nancy was not in bed next to him. Rather, the bed was covered with blood. Her blood. A trail of it led from the bed to the bathroom. Nancy was on the bathroom floor, under the sink, clad only in her fancy black underwear, a stab wound in her stomach. She’d bled to death.

The Chelsea Hotel switchboard, the police spokesman advised, received an outside call at about this time asking that someone check room 100 because “someone is seriously injured.” It was not clear if the call had come from Sid.

Hotel employees went up to the room to find signs of a struggle, and Nancy’s body. Sid was not in the room. He returned a few minutes later, before the police got there.

Hotel neighbors reportedly heard Sid tell police, “You can’t arrest me. I’m a rock ‘n’ roll star.”

One of the arresting officers reportedly replied, “Oh, yeah? Well, I play lead handcuffs.”

An unidentified friend of the couple, the TV newsman reported, said he had been out with them that night until 4:00 AM, at which point Nancy had begged him to come back to the Chelsea with them because Sid was “acting strange.” Sid had, the friend said, pressed a hunting knife against Nancy’s throat. “He beats her with a guitar every so often,” the reporter quoted the friend as saying, “but I didn’t think he was going to kill her.”

After the funeral there was quite a lot of mail, much of it condolence notes. One letter was addressed to me personally in large, shaky handwriting with little circles over the i’s instead of dots. There was no return address. I feared it was an obscene letter. I took a deep breath and opened it.

It was from Sid.

“Dear Debbie,

Thank you for phoning me the other night. It was so comforting to hear your voice. You are the only person who really understands how much Nancy and I love each other. Every day without Nancy gets worse and worse. I just hope that when I die I go to the same place as her. Otherwise I will never find peace.

Frank said in the paper that Nancy was born in pain and lived in pain all her life. When I first met her, and for about six months after that, I spent practically the whole time in tears. Her pain was just too much to bear. Because, you see, I felt Nancy’s pain as though it were my own, worse even. But she said that I must be strong for her or otherwise she would have to leave me. So I became strong for her, and she began to stop having asthma attacks and seemed to be going through a lot less pain. [Nancy had had asthma since she was a child.]

I realized that she had never known love and was desperately searching for someone to love her. It was the only thing she really needed. I gave her the love that she needed so badly and it comforts me to know that I made her very happy during the time we were together, where she had only known unhappiness before.

Oh Debbie, I love her with such passion. Every day is agony without her. I know now that it is possible to die from a broken heart. Because when you love someone as much as we love each other, they become fundamental to your existence. So I will die soon, even if I don’t kill myself. I guess you could say that I’m pining for her. I would live without food or water longer than I’m going to survive without Nancy.

Thank you so much for understanding us, Debbie. It means so much to me, and I know it meant a lot to Nancy. She really loves you, and so do I. How did she know when she was going to die? I always prayed that she was wrong, but deep inside I knew she was right.

Nancy was a very special person, too beautiful for this world. I feel so privileged to have loved her, and been loved by her. Oh Debbie, it was such a beautiful love. I can’t go on without it. When we first met, we knew we were made for each other, and fell in love with each other immediately. We were totally inseparable and were never apart. We had certain telepathic abilities, too. I remember about nine months after we met, I left Nancy for a while. After a couple of weeks of being apart, I had a strange feeling that Nancy was dying. I went straight to the place she was staying and when I saw her, I knew it was true. I took her home with me and nursed her back to health, but I knew that if I hadn’t bothered she would have died.

Few can tell a tragic story as well as a mother, and the Nancy Spungen story qualifies as one of the most sad. Beware the dreams of the Punk Romantic..