Roberta Flack, the Grammy-winning singer of “Killing Me Softly,” had lived next door to Ms. Ono. In “Roberta,” a documentary about Ms. Flack, Sean Lennon said, “At first, you know, I didn’t even think of Roberta as this incredible artist and musician, she was just this really cool neighbor. We used to call her Aunt Roberta.”
“We’re very close to each other and our kitchen is connected,” Ms. Ono said in the documentary.
Erika Belle had heard the stories. So when Keith Haring, a friend of Ms. Belle’s, invited her to dinner at Ms. Ono’s apartment on a rainy Tuesday night in the 1980s, she let out a squeal. “I’d been obsessed with that building, like many lifelong New Yorkers, for years,” Ms. Belle, who is in her 60s, said in an interview. “It had so much old, ’50s Hollywood glamour.”
“To arrive at that building and to know that I was meeting Yoko, was like ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy birthday’ all rolled into one,” said Ms. Belle who co-owned the nightclub Lucky Strike and is a model. Ms. Belle was also a backup dancer for Madonna, who she said came to the Dakota with her that evening.
After taking off her shoes to enter, the first thing Ms. Belle noticed about Ms. Ono’s apartment was “how high the ceilings and how wide the hallways were. You could drive a car through those hallways.”
The dinner menu was simply takeout from a Chinese restaurant, but the highlight of the night was getting an apartment tour from Ms. Ono. “She held my hand — even saying it now, I get goose bumps — and asked, ‘Do you want to see the apartment?’”
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