Friday, February 8, 2013

Can you tame your inner hoarder?

BRADLEY DARRYL WONG is finally settling into his apartment. Not that the place, a ground-floor loft with a subterranean bedroom on East Fourth Street, is new, exactly. Mr. Wong, otherwise known as B. D., bought it in 2005 and moved in, sort of, four years ago.
EAST FOURTH STREET is Mr. Wong’s third project with Mr. Wettling. The first, a loft on West 55th Street where Mr. Wong lived with his longtime partner, Richie Jackson, a television producer, was also filled with found objects: pieces of Andy Warhol’s Factory, including office doors stenciled with Warhol’s aphorisms, as well as family treasures like a floor border made from his mother’s mah-jongg tiles. The second apartment was a larger loft in Chelsea, bought and renovated for the family Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wong were planning to have. But the settling-in part — the purging, the decorating, the home-making — well, these things take time, particularly if you’re a hardworking actor and single father constantly battling entropy or rather fixedly engaged in “the struggle to control my surroundings as opposed to my surroundings controlling me,” as Mr. Wong, 51, puts it.
“Because of the accumulation of objects,” he continued, “things are never quite the way I want them to be. There has always been a lack of, well, clarity.”
 On a recent August morning, Mr. Wong opened his front doors (century-old bronze, from a bank in Philadelphia by way of the Demolition Depot) to two visitors, this reporter and Mr. Wong’s architect, Jack Wettling, and showed off a few victories: 70-odd pairs of shoes corralled into 32 wire baskets in a locker-room storage unit in the front hall; three spit-spot closets arrayed with armfuls of colored yarn in clear plastic bags, tidy rows of hats and suit coats lined up like soldiers, all behind doors stenciled with the ghosts of long-defunct businesses harvested from the basement of the Puck Building nearby.
Finally, in a back room, there was a vast and curious piece of furniture made from old sewing drawers, yardsticks and reclaimed wood, built by a friend to replace the massive rolling wire bookshelf filled with DVDs, photos and books that had been Mr. Wong’s nemesis for the last few years.
 Mr. Wong, whose off-screen presence is closer to that of Dr. George Huang, the soothing forensic psychiatrist he played for 11 seasons on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” than Song Liling, his stunning Broadway debut as the gender-ambiguous love interest in David Henry Hwang’s 1988 play, “M. Butterfly,” professes “a profound discomfort with throwing things away.”
He saves leather shoelaces, buttons and the thread and fabric swatches you get when you buy new sweaters and suit coats. He also collects yarn, vintage grease cans, 19th-century chiming clocks, yardsticks and old sewing drawers, which he accrues during episodic eBay forays (see “curious piece of furniture,” above). He likes old plumbing valves and fixtures, vintage hardware and a good deal. He drags furniture in off the street. Things do pile up, he said.
 Mr. Wong extracted an aluminum stovetop percolator from a cupboard and rifled around for the coffee to fill it for some time before giving up and phoning his boyfriend, Richert Schnorr, for help. “He’s the coffee maker,” Mr. Wong said later.
This reporter suggested that perhaps Mr. Wong had cleaned up too much, and anyway she was fully caffeinated, if Mr. Wong wanted to forgo the coffee making. “But you won’t see how this apartment is made for entertaining if I don’t actually entertain you,” he said, bustling about his bright red Aga stove. Mr. Wettling grinned and stuffed a chocolate croissant into his mouth.
Read more of the article in The New York Times

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