Jon Stewart Was Literally Left Holding the Gun at an X Gig

'The Daily Show' host talks about bartending at City Gardens in the '80s

Jon Stewart City Gardens Bartender New Jersey X
Jon Stewart remembers the good times (and the vomit-y ones) Photo by Getty Images
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

America's most trusted newsman spent four years tending bar at one of the grungiest and most inspired punk clubs in the nation, and now he's talking about it. In an interview with Vulture, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart fondly recalls some of his grittier memories from his stint (1984 to 1987) serving booze at Trenton, New Jersey's City Gardens, a revered shithole that played host to the Ramones and Nirvana, and which will soon be immortalized in a book and a film.

It's hard to pick the single greatest anecdote from the conversation, but the time he wound up holding someone else's gun during a brawl at an X show is a strong contender: "There was an off-duty cop there [and] there was a bit of a disagreement between this gentleman and two other people who felt that his face should be hit by their fists. So I think maybe he disagreed with that, and within that a gun was pulled, and I think someone got hit with a bottle and things went flying and I ended up with the gun behind the bar."

He also recalled performances by Agnostic Front, Joan Jett, GBH, Black Flag, and GWAR, amongst others ("Bad Brains was like the house band"), and recalled an infamous incident where Butthole Surfers nearly burned City Gardens down:

"Gibby had brought on a topless lady. I think [the club] said, 'Don't do that,' and so they shut them down. And Gibby just started, like, lighting shit on fire. If you remember that place, it was basically, like, a box filled with wall insulation. Like, that's what its inside was: wall insulation ... probably painted black with Napalm. It was the most flammable place you could possibly light. It ended up catching the wall a little bit. Somebody got a fire extinguisher and ran onstage. You know one of the bouncers that night was the guy from LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy?"

And last but hardly least:

"Lords of the New Church were playing, and there's [MTV VJ] Martha Quinn, this pixie-ish sort of girl. And you remember [Lords singer] Stiv Bators? He was a fucking maniac. So he's on stage, and he is, as Stiv is wont to do, is vomiting, during his set. I remember that because I had to clean it. After the show, there was a little green room that was up the stairs [...] and so I went up there with some beers to load the band up. And there, post-stage-vomit, is Martha Quinn on Stiv Bator's lap, basically Zamboni-ing the inside of his mouth."

Woof. Read the entire talk at Vulture.

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