Isiah Whitlock Jr., on Leaving Chelsea for Gramercy Park

Isiah Whitlock Jr., on Leaving Chelsea for Gramercy Park

Isiah Whitlock Jr. lived in Chelsea before Chelsea was trendy.

"I was looking for an apartment in New York and I had a choice between Chelsea or Harlem. I really couldn't see my girlfriend in Harlem," he said. "So we went with Chelsea, which was a little terrible at the time."

Mr. Whitlock, 66, stars in the new Showtime miniseries "Your Honor," but is perhaps best known for starring corrupt Senator Clay Davis on "The Wire." He has also appeared in films such as "Cedar Rapids", "BlacKkKlansman" and "Da 5 Bloods". Two decades ago, when his profile wasn't exactly high, he got a cute offer for a duplex a few blocks from the meat packing district, with two bedrooms and a working fireplace. After his girlfriend moved out, he put his own stamp on him – flokati rug and bean bags. A few years later the landlord suggested it was time for Mr. Whitlock to vacate the premises, but made the request more flattering.

"One day she said to me in passing," You know, I really don't want you to be famous because I don't want tour buses stopping in front of the house, "said Whitlock." I thought it was some kind of joke, but she didn't laugh. "

"I never got a solid reason," he added. “I suspected she wanted a lot more money. I could have paid more, but she wanted me to be gone. "

Occupation: actor

Home Sweet Home: "As an actor, you're out and about and meet all kinds of people. It's nice to come home and close the door and chill out a bit."

Mr. Whitlock retired to a somber stroll nearby. "It was so dark that sometimes I had to go outside and take a walk to wake up," he recalled. "I would say to myself," I can't do this anymore, "and then I would get a job and be gone for three months. And then I would get another job and be gone." Finally – maybe it was when intruders started stealing tenants' mail and parcels – he had had enough.

Last August, friends rented him their one-bedroom apartment in a cooperative in post-war Gramercy Park with a roof terrace and a coveted key to the park. "And if my friends are nice to me, they can come in with me," said Mr. Whitlock. This is his first concierge building and his first elevator building.

"I had a long conversation with myself and said," You know, it's time for you to grow up and not live the way you lived, "he said." When I was working so hard and barely home it was kind of out of sight and mind. But with Covid I really need to be in a place that I enjoy. "He said he intended to buy an apartment when the sublet expired – in fact he did Talks about the purchase on the Upper East Side last spring, but the pandemic has put everything on hold.

The company he hired to pack and move his worldly goods was doing a poor job, Whitlock said, requiring several pieces of furniture to be replaced. Fortunately, a number of treasures arrived unscathed, including a screen print by Robert Rauschenberg on mirror-coated Plexiglas, part of the "Star Quarters" series; the framed cover of the final issue of the Village Voice; a poster of Bill Pickett, known as the first African American cowboy star ("It's a beautiful poster, one of the best things I have in the house"); and a photo of a slightly younger, slightly trimmed Mr. Whitlock.

"This is my band. I used to be in a band," he explained the picture. "And believe it or not, the guy in the white overalls – that's me. I didn't play an instrument. I just sang and danced and made the girls wild. "

The movers were also aware of the cuckoo clock that Mr. Whitlock had bought in Germany. the wooden box containing the trinkets he had collected during his two trips to Burning Man; and the framed, signed sheet music of a song Arthur Miller composed for the Off Broadway production of Miller's 1997 play "The American Clock." (Mr. Whitlock was a member of the cast.)

He ordered a tufted, L-shaped teal cut online, but when it arrived the configuration was the opposite of what he expected. Over time, he saw the purchase as a lucky mistake. "That really opens up the space," said Whitlock, who lined the sofa with a series of pillows he had bought in Vietnam and Thailand when he was filming Da 5 Bloods. The television is on a new sideboard made of honey-colored wood. His beloved shaggy carpet pulls everything together.

As a serious cook, he hung a pot stand in the kitchen. But you will be forgiven that Mr. Whitlock may care a little more about drinks than food. He proudly displayed the half-dozen hand-painted coffee cups and saucers that he had specially made during a trip to Deruta, Italy.

Even more proud, he offered a tour of the 200-bottle wine cooler with a glass front. Harlan Estate, Chateau Montviel, Chateau Latour and Chateau d & # 39; Yquem are among the vineyards represented here. Dom Pérignon is ready to celebrate when the pandemic is finally over. There are also several bottles of Vintage Whitlock made by You-Know-Who in a fully stocked New Jersey location, made with Napa Valley grapes.

"You know, I think I'll just take this out and have it tonight," he said of a 2014 Cabernet Whitlock. "Trust me, I've got a lot of it."

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