At 94 Zelda Kaplan remains one of New York’s most notorious Club Kids. With her trademark look, an African-style hat, African dress made in the same print, and giant circular sunglasses you will find Zelda out on the town three to five nights a week. Her drink of choice is champaign or chiraz. She Bounces from nightspot to nightspot rarely getting home until 4 a.m.
Zelda sleeps in until two in the afternoon and stays up all night, mostly because she has insomnia. She says she prefers the company of younger people because older people complain about illnesses.
Zelda has no problem getting through some of the toughest doors in the city. Bouncers never turn her away, and in return she gives the clubs her energy and warmth.
Thirty years ago Mrs. Kaplan started a one-woman organization, financed through an inheritance, to raise awareness among African women about everything from their own right to inheritance to clitoridectomies.
In 2004 Fanlight Productions released a documentary about her life called Her Name is Zelda.
Tricia Romano wrote a wonderful article about Zelda in the Village Voice that I did a bit of plagiarizing from. It was just such a good article I couldn’t help myself.
Photo copyright by Tricia Romano
Here is a wonderful video that offers a glimpse into Zelda’s world: