Even the Virtual Chelsea Hotel's in Trouble

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The real-life Chelsea Hotel always seemed a little threatened before it closed to renters last August, and apparently that's a universal Chelsea condition as a Second Life player who maintains a virtual version of the hotel has launched a fund-raising campaign to keep it open. Until it actually did close to renters, the Chelsea always seemed to be in danger of closing or changing and there always seemed to be a campaign in the works to save it. That the hotel's virtual version has its own "save the Chelsea" campaign makes it all the more true to the original.

The iconic West 23rd Street flophouse for artists, punks, poets, musicians, and bohemians featured fantastic artwork on the walls, a storied history, and a general air of grime and disrepair before it closed for redevelopment. The virtual space, created in 2009 by Pennsylvanian fanboy Michael Brown, and maintained by Brown's avatar, Mykal Skall, now also needs quite a bit of rebuilding, as Skall's been documenting on his Facebook page. On March 15, Skall announced he'd be closing the virtual hotel because it was costing him real money (to use the space in Second Life), and becoming a drain, personally: "I've tried to move things around, scale it down, etc. But I can't find a way that I can afford to continue to give the build what it needs. And quite frankly, I have enough stressers in RL, that something needs to give and unfortunately this is one of them."

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That's about where real life and Second Life collided. Skall's become friends with real life Chelsea residents and fans, including Ed Hamilton, who runs the Chelsea Hotel blog Living with Legends. On Monday, Hamilton announced a fund-raiser for Skall and the virtual Chelsea. He's asking for Paypal donations and offering some sponsorships:

  • If you donate at the $200 level you’ll get a virtual bronze plaque on the outside of the hotel!
  • If you donate at the $100 level we can place your name on one of the mailboxes!
  • If you donate $20 or more, you’ll get a virtual bronze sunflower placed on the stairwell railings!
  • You can always stop by the current build by joining SL to see the progress and donate to any of the spinning “Warhol Soup Cans” that you see.
  • We can make a virtual version of your business, gallery, etc. in SL near the Chelsea, or corporate sponsorships, (Chetrit, Krauss, et. al. excluded!), or advertising for a monthly fee.
  • You could sponsor a “special” virtual item that would remain in the hotel for guests and visitors to see, maybe the baby carriage, a famous author’s desk, or Sid’s bass?
  • We are also seeking partnerships from RL musical artists, indy labels, and gallery owners.  This gives your artists a live outlet from the comfort of their own home or studio, and gives us new talent in SL.

The future of the real life Chelsea is still unclear, so those looking to maintain a connection to the old school might find satisfaction in participating in the online campaign for an online historical landmark. Skall's already redone the lobby:


[Photos via Mykal Skall / Facebook]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.