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Broke-Ass Octophiles: Cheap and in Love with the ’80s

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What exactly is the correlation between being broke and being obsessed with/nostalgic for/stuck in the ’80s? I know it’s not just me.

Go to any hipster neighborhood (Williamsburg, etc.), try to picture everyone without their iPhones, and voila, you could very well be in 1984. Is it because hipsters are usually artists and bartenders and writers who squander their paychecks on pricey rent and alcohol, leaving them only enough money to buy some mom jeans at a thrift store, cut ’em into jorts, pair ‘em with a hand-me-down wolf shirt and call it cool? Or have the trust-fund babies who also live in these hip neighborhoods, and who want to be like aforementioned artists/bartenders/writers, just look like they belong in the Brat Pack because they shop solely at American Apparel?

No matter the case, if you’re an octophile (I thought I made that up, but it’s real) and you’re broke, you’re in luck. See, for someone who wants to channel her inner Teen Witch or his inner Teen Wolf – or, you know, whoever you’re ’80s persuasion may be – there is plenty to do and buy on the cheap.

Thrift stores

Now that Macklemore has declared thrift shopping cool again (just pumped up on some shit from the thrift shop … and shit), we can all come out of hiding and embrace the moth balls. Sometimes, to truly look like a John Hughes muse, you have to go to a thrift shop. Where else can you get faded, high-waisted Lee jeans that are pre-worn (no guessing how they’ll fit after the first wash!) and loud-patterned, shoulder-padded blazers? And when you’re low on cash, it doesn’t matter, because everything is usually around $5 a piece.

I’ve always had this dream of taking a big group of friends to a thrift store, having everyone partner up and choose ridiculous $20-max outfits for their mate, and then going on a bar crawl. That’ll have to be another post. But speaking of bars …


Bars love the ’80s, man. And not the classy, expensive ones. You Yelp-search “80s bars” near Manhattan and almost all the results are “dive bars.” By now, we all probably know about Joshua Tree – happy hour specials, beer pong, and ’80s music videos on the big screen. Point is, these bars ain’t pricey, and they’ll welcome your big hair and slouchy socks with open arms.


So you want to get physical? For someone who needs the motivation of a coach or a class, there’s nothing cheaper than a good ol’ instructional video. And while you can certainly find anything on the Internet or buy a DVD, VHS tapes are really where it’s at as far as ’80s-style workouts are concerned. I know this because Nat Geo has an entire series about how the ’80s is “The Decade That Made Us,” and, within that series, is an entire segment on how Jane Fonda’s workout videos basically launched the success of VHS tapes and the VCR (because before that, they were mainly just associated with porn). And lest we forget Richard Simmons. Best part is, these workout VHS tapes are alive and well in the second-hand market and typically cost less than a buck.

But then there’s also a little somethin’ somethin’ called Jazzercise. Ah yes, you may recall your mother reminiscing about how she danced away her post-pregnancy pudge from your birth in Jazzercise classes. Although Jazzercise originated in 1969, it really brings back images of Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” and is pretty iconic ’80s, don’tcha think? While membership may not be “cheap” for a typical broke-ass, there is a free weekends promotion going on through the month of June (you’ve got two more weekends to take advantage of this!) and a second New York City location just opened up in the neighborhood that screams “stuck in 1986.” However, this new Williamsburg location doesn’t currently offer weekend classes (not yet, anyway!) so you’ll have to slog your way to the Midtown location to utilize the free pass.

Wherever you get your ‘80s inspiration and ensembles – cheap or not – just make sure you don’t end up on this Tumblr. Or do make sure you end up there. Who doesn’t love Roseanne?

Photo credit: Hipsters who dress like Jackie from RoseanneAnd shout-out to my weird, yet lovely, roommate who found that gem of a tumblr. Thanks, Hezzer!

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.