Penthouse Retrospective

by Deborah Spungen Originally Published: October, 1983

Nancy Spungen | BONUS Penthouse Legacy

We went inside to hear Sid play. He and Nancy sat close to each other on the sofa.

“Sid has something he wants to show you,” Nancy said. “Okay, Sid. Go ahead.”

Sid proceeded to bang out two chords, clumsily and with great difficulty. Then he stopped and looked up, grinning crookedly. That was it. That was what he wanted to show us. Our cat could have played it.

The four of us just stood there, staring at the two of them.

“Ain’t that great?” asked Nancy.

We agreed it was great.

Nancy looked to Sid for support, but he had begun to melt into the sofa, half asleep.

“Perhaps,” I suggested, “I should take you to the hotel.”

“Okay,” Nancy said. “No, wait. You haven’t seen my portfolio yet. You have to see my portfolio.”

She jumped up and went to the foyer to get it. Then she came back and cleared a spot on the coffee table. We gathered around the table to be shown her portfolio. Sid perked up, sort of.

Her portfolio was actually a scrapbook in which she had pasted newspaper photos and stories about herself and Sid as we1·1 as publicity shots of the two of them.

“Don’t I look beautiful in this one?” she asked.

In it, she was by Sid’s side, one fist clenched at the camera, teeth digging into her lip. Sid was shirtless and snarling.

“So beautiful,” Sid agreed, putting his arm around her proudly.

“It was taken at a press conference,” she said. “The photographer told me I could be a model if I wanted.”

She looked half dead in the picture. The statement was so pathetic I winced.

“I bought her those shoes,” Sid pointed out. “I bought her everything she ever had.”

She showed us the other pictures in her portfolio. Some of them predated Sid. There was the photograph of her with Debbie Harry, a picture of our cats, a picture of her friend Sable.

I again suggested taking them to the hotel. Sid said he’d like that. I drove them while Frank, Suzy, and David cleaned up.

Nancy positioned Sid in the backseat, where he immediately began to doze. Then she joined me up in front.

“Great to be back, Mum,” she said as I pulled out of the driveway.

“Nice to have you.”

“Hated the bloody weather in England. Damp. House looks nice.”

“Thank you.”

“How come you have sliding glass doors in the kitchen now?”

“It’s easier.”

We drove in silence for a while.

“So when are you going back to New York?” I asked.

“Sunday night. That okay?”


“We have to find a methadone clinic on Monday.”

We said nothing the rest of the way to the Holiday Inn. We really had nothing to say to each other.

Nancy and Sid were dependent on each other. They cared for each other. To them, what they had together was genuine love. It was the only time for Nancy. Sid was the one great love of her life. She was twenty years old, he a year older. They were basically the same age Frank and I had been when she’d been born. That was hard for me to imagine. They seemed like children to me, immature and incapable of taking care of themselves-much less another human being.

I tossed and turned the entire night.

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..