EW Staff
June 25, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When Woody Allen needed a location for a hideout scene in his upcoming movie, Manhattan Murder Mystery, he went to Hotel 17, a cramped, shabby, luridly funky residential hotel on New York’s East Side that plays home to an underground community of artists, models, and the soon-to-be-famous. In fact, for those who seek a chic glimpse of welfare-hotel ambience, 17 has become the place to see-either in person or through a camera’s lens. The establishment has attracted singers Bob Dylan, David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, and Lenny Kravitz as guests. To maintain Hotel 17’s image of grubby glamour and eccentricity, doormen screen potential guests and turn away scores of people each day. A permanent ”No Vacancies” sign rests against the window of the front desk. According to hotel manager Billy Candis, the doormen act as social directors, encouraging beautiful and outrageous people to move in and sometimes reducing room rates (usually $140-$220 per week) for them. ”We have a sliding scale based on looks,” admits Candis. ”If it’s a really gorgeous model or a club promoter, we’ll adjust the rate so they can live here.” Late at night, a select group congregates on the upper floors for parties, where they express heady confidence about their future. ”Stars before they were stars lived here,” says resident Richie Rich, remembering a pre-fame stay by the rock group Skid Row. ”It’s like a dormitory at a prestigious prep school. Some of us have bright futures.”

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