Goodnight Mr. Lewis: Death Mask Murderer Up For Parole, Clubdom Gasps

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Photo via Newsday

The parole hearing of the convicted murderer 31 years into his 25 years to life sentence went relatively unnoticed. On February 23, 1985 Bernard LeGeros tortured to death club goer, model and aspiring fashion designer Eigil Dag Vesti in what was sensationalized as the “Death Mask Murder.”

The leather S&M mask preserved the face of the burnt and animal eaten corpse, allowing for identification in a pre-DNA world. It was the murder of the decade until a year later when the murder of Jennifer Levin in Central Park by Robert Chambers, the so-called “Preppy Murder” eclipsed it. Bernard LeGeros was not alone, but he was the only person convicted of the crime. “One Percenter,” Andrew Crispo was accused of masterminding the crime. The investigation led police into the S&M clubs that thrived in the old Meatpacking District. It opened up their eyes to a culture and society thriving underground, sometimes literally. Places like the Mineshaft where Eigel was picked up, catered to patrons that put themselves at risk as a way of life. The death of Eigel was still a shock.

Limelight VIP host Fred Rothbell-Mista was a target for Andrew Crispo and his lapdog Bernard LeGeros. Fred recounted to me, many years ago, how they tried to seduce him into leaving with them that evening. Drugs and sex were the bait, but Fred said he just didn’t feel comfortable. His gut told him it wasn’t right and he decided to find his action elsewhere. He told me he came close. Rumors of the death chilled the hot crowd. Some said his heart was cut out while he was still alive, while others said a large sex toy was still lodged in the corpse. Andrew Crispo’s drug-fueled forays into S&M had become legendary and now there was a body. They couldn’t pin it on the art mogul, but over the years other charges stuck. There was a threat to his lawyer to kidnap her child, there were other beatings, a tax rap. He did go to jail, but not the 30 years prosecutors wanted. He got out many years ago, while Bernard stayed locked away.

Years after the crime, I was in a 7th Avenue restaurant featuring a Chelsea crowd. It was a scene place and the scene at the bar was loud and cruisey. I was in mid-sentence when a communal gasp followed by the loud whispers stopped me cold: “It’s Andrew Crispo.” Every head turned, every conversation stopped. Joy turned into stone, as the guy that got away was shown a table. It was that kind of impact the murder had on nightlife—hard to pick up someone at a bar having heard of Eigels fate.

But death was no stranger to nightlfe. It was a war with casualties counted just like any
war. It was measured in deaths, wounded or missing in action. Drugs, AIDS and a crime ridden NYC had taken a massive toll. A creative generation was wiped out. Where are the Haring’s, the Warhol’s, the Basquiat’s today? The mean streets of New York bubbled out that vibrant art scene, as well as new genres of music like punk, hip-hop and house that had only percolated in the deep underground.

Those who were there remember the early to mid ’80s as a sort of golden age for club life. It had a speedy numbness like a Cocaine rush. Looking back at that time, old school patrons talk of how mixed the clubs were with celebrities and Euro-trash hobnobbing with skateboard punks, artists and the fashion set. Clubs had become inclusive as even the most exclusive ones looked to curate a smorgasbord of tastes, styles and classes. Gays hung out with straights, rich with poor, Blacks with whites, all in the same room. Transgender people used any bathroom they wanted to and nobody complained. New drugs replaced, or at least cooperated, with old drugs. Looking back, it looks like heaven, but really wasn’t. Part of the problem was the party never ended and nobody was keeping track of the cost.

After hours clubs, some as big as today’s mega clubs, flourished on weekends. During the week, there were countless regular hours places to go to and smaller joints that went till noon. Mondays were great and Tuesdays amazing. Many went out every night. Many enjoyed sex, drugs, alcohol and sleepless nights that merged seamlessly with annoying days. Sunglasses were part of a night crawler’s ensemble, as much as dancing shoes and condoms. Clubs were often located in seedy neighborhoods where nobody would complain. The local entrepreneurs scored big time by selling whatever was wanted—drugs, women, late night sandwiches—to the stumbling masses. Bad decisions went with distractions. We all made them, but Eigel paid the price.

Bernard ultimately stopped the party. He was Jack the Ripper, a subconscious demon, a pause to think in that mindless moment when the drugs, music and urges didn’t want to. The parole hearing has been postponed until November. When I saw his face on my computer the other day, I sensed the breath of that demon once again and worried that he will soon walk among us.

World Whisky Day: An Extravagant Guide to the Rarest Scottish Whiskies

Scottish Whisky Macallan image 2
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At a time when everything from hummus to hugs, moonshine to milkshakes, puppets to pancakes each gets its own special commemorative day, we would rather direct your attention to something of significantly greater substance.

And so it is that this Saturday, May 21, is World Whisky Day—certainly an excuse to be reminded of all those things we love so much aboot Scotland. After all, this is a nation whose signature fashion statement is men in plaid skirts. But there’s also the iconoclastic pop music (our latest crush is Olympic Swimmers), the contrarian lit and film (we’re counting the days until the  Trainspotting sequel arrives in cinemas in 2017) and, well, that life-altering view from Princes Street Gardens to Edinburgh Castle in the morning mist. 

But there are indeed few things we consider more sublime than an evening spent with a tipple or two of Scotland’s finest. And so in honor of World Whisky Day, this look at the very, very best.

Highland Park 40 Year Old

Striking masculine design of both box and bottle, the latter adorned with a silver amulet, to decidedly elegant effect. Smokey, fruity and rich, with prominent tasting notes of sherry, chocolate and anise and a distinctly oaky finish.
Estimated price: $2,750

Scotch Whisky highlandpark40yearold

Leidag 42 Year Old Dúsgadh

Tobacco, leather, coal on the nose—so it’s particularly, uniquely stimulating to the senses. Indeed, you’ll get cinnamon, honey and ginger on the palette, with a long, dry finish. Different.
Estmated price: $3,800

Scottish Whisky Ledaig

The Macallan M 1824 Series

You know that when a distiller describes the nose with words like “velvet sateen,” you’re about to experience something ethereally life-altering. A palette of rich wood spices, cedar and violets leads to a long, rapturous finish. The crystal decanter is a work of art—much like what it holds.
Estimated price: $3,900

Scottish Whisky Macallan M m_gallery_06

The Last Drop 50 Year Old

It won’t win any prizes for bottle design. But the long maturation in sherry casks produces an incredibly refined smoothness. Just 1,347 bottles were made; and it’s meant for an exceptionally proficient palette, with its unusual pomegranate and cilantro nose, and tasting notes of malt, molasses and, of course, sherry.
Estimated price: $4,000

Scottish Whisky Last Drop tld-50-year-old-whisky

The Balvenie 40 Year Old Single Malt

Smokey but sweet, it has hints of honey and spice. Aged in both bourbon and sherry casks. Complex and creamy, with tasting notes of vanilla oak, cinnamon and nutmeg. There are supposedly only 150 bottles in the world, so figure at least $1,500 of the pricetag is pure bragging rights.
Estimated price: $4,500

Scotch Whisky Balvenie 40 image

The Glenfarclas 60 Year Old (Cask 1672)

Considered a pinnacle, and priced quite accordingly. Notes of espresso, treacle and complex spices. Aged in a single sherry cask. For aesthetes, an absolutely stunning bottle design.
Estimated price: $17,000

Scotch Whisky Glenfarclas60YOCloseUp-big

Drinking Scotch in Edinburgh

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

For total immersion in the culture of Scottish whisky, this exclusive international club sources the finest and the rarest, which can be sipped in its elegant Members’ Rooms – as well as in one of its partner bars from Glasgow to London. Or just pop in to The Dining Room at 28 Queen Street, its highly regarded restaurant (open to non-members), where you can pair the best Scotch with lobster canneloni and twice baked Stilton soufflé.

The Balmoral Hotel

The veritable flagship of the incomparable Rocco Forte hotels group, The Balmoral has hosted everyone from The Stones to Sean Connery to J.K. Rowling. The best rooms have glorious views over Princes Street Gardens to the castle. But you’ll want to spend most of your time settled into a plush sofa in Scotch, the hotel’s classy, dedicated whisky bar with more than 500 on offer.




BlackBook Guide: Evripidis and his Tragedies Navigates Barcelona

Barcelona city image 1
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We’ve spent the winter doing the culture thing in London, eating our way through Madrid and glimpsing the future of Paris fashion. But when springtime arrives, we start making our Barcelona party plans. This year’s Sónar music festival, especially, is not to be missed with a lineup that includes New Order, Santigold, Four Tet, James Blake, A-Trak and Jean-Michel Jarre.

One gent who knows his way around the Barcelona scene is debonair DJ-singer Evripidis Sabatis, who was born in Athens, but now calls the Catalan capital home. His musical alter ego, Evripidis and his Tragedies, just released a new record, the thought-provokingly titled Futile Games In Space And Timea paradigmatic marriage of sultry, nouveau northern soul and breezy Euro-pop.

Here BlackBook premieres the artfully shot new video for album standout, “Bedrooms,” which suavely, sensually recalls the likes of Style Council and Serge Gainsbourg.

We also took the opportunity to have Evripidis to give us the inside track on where he can be found making the scene in his adopted home.

Ultra Local Records

Tiny record store, much loved by the local indie scene. Impromptu acoustic gigs happen here frequently.

Ultra Local Records Barcelona

Na Mindona

Serves typical dishes from Mallorca. Great food and authentic atmosphere.


Trendy restaurant with an excellent interior design and delicious, inventive food.



A favorite among locals, with traditional food from Pakistan. The pink, bubblegum-looking chicken is a must.

Bitter Cocktail Bar

Nice looking cocktail bar in the hip Sant Antoni neighborhood. The micheladas and the sandwiches are jaw dropping.

Bitter Cocktail Bar Barcelona 2

La Monroe

Large bar-restaurant behind the Filmotheque with a friendly staff, spacious terrace, fresh cocktails and tapas, and nice views of a lovely, busy square.

La Federica

Colorful gay bar with an alternative twist: tapas of cheese and cured meats from the north Catalan provinces. Occasional art exhibitions and a cute crowd, as well.

La Federica Barcelona

La Casa De La Pradera

Straight-friendly queer bar where anything goes and everyone can feel comfortable. Two rooms with different music that ranges from indie to electronic, with the occasional pop anthem dropped in the mix.

Sala Apolo

An old theatre converted into a two-story club. Its status is legendary amongst Barcelonians, whether they are club or indie kids, in their early 20s or in their late 30s. It’s open all week and hosts many different types of events.

Freedonia Barcelona


Multi-use space with an underground vibe and a varied schedule. You can watch the best upcoming local bands, dance to some of the most exquisite electronic music, sing along to covers performed on the piano or attend a feminist fanzine launch party, amongst other things.


A museum located inside a Modernist factory, with a diverse set of exhibitions running simultaneously. For example, you can see masterpieces of Impressionism, contemporary art, archeological finds and even an exhibit about pets in the history of art, all in the same visit.

G2_CaixaForum Barcelona

ET Hall

A charming and tiny gallery that specializes in the fine and delicate art of drawing.

La Capella

This chapel inside the medieval gothic complex of Sant Pau Hospital showcases emerging local artists throughout the year.

La Filmoteca

An imposing modern building with two theatres. It is exquisitely programmed, affordable, and located in the heart of the multicultural Raval district.


BlackBook Hotel Picks

Hotel Omm

An enduring member of the Design Hotels collection, and one of Barcelona’s great party hotels. Flaunts mod but warmly decorated rooms, a spa with anti-aging rituals, a buzzing lobby bar with an ongoing music series, and a DJ-manned roof terrace in clement weather.

Hotel Omm Barcelona

Neri Hotel

One of the sexiest hotels in Barcelona, exquisitely located on a quiet street in the centuries old Barri Gotic district. Its gorgeous, brick-walled namesake restaurant is great for romantic assignations, while rooms have elegant appointments like stone bathrooms and graceful murals. In summer, grab a terrace table amidst the area’s glorious 14th Century architecture.

Neri Hotel Barcelona

Kraftwerk Bringing Spectacular 3-D Stage Show to the US

KRAFTWERK 3D Der Katalog  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Kunstsammlung NRW Düsseldorf 2013
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Anyone who’s ever picked up a synthesizer and subsequently drew out all its most Teutonic possibilities, from Depeche Mode to Ladytron to Essaie Pas, owes an unpayable debt to Kraftwerk. And more than four decades after their advent, Dusseldorf’s robotic men of mystery continue to push us on to a cold, rational red, white and black future.

American disciples of Maschinenmusik should begin counting down the days until summer’s fade, as Ralf Hütter and his fellow automatons have announced that, after an eight show residency at Den Norske Opera in Olso in August, they will be returning to US soil this September 3 for a nine date presentation of the newest version of their perception altering, multimedia 3-D performance. It will take them from Bethesda to Atlanta to San Diego, then ending up at The Hollywood Bowl on September 18.

KRAFTWERK Neue National Galerie Berlin ROBOTER

Kraftwerk – The Catalogue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tate Modern

Described as “Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art,” the show combines visual and aural futurism in a way that will have you surely questioning your position on the Spacetime Continuum. From 2012 to 2014, they had presented to universal astonishment varying versions at such venues as New York’s MoMA, the Sydney Opera House, the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, and Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the latter hailed by the Examiner as an “utterly mesmerizing visual spectacle that has to be experienced to be believed.”

Be there or be altmodisch.


7 Brilliant Reasons to be in London Now

Houses Of Parliament, River Thames and Westminster Bridge, London, England
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Photo via ‘The Guardian’ 

After both Britain’s sardonically scintillating debate about banning Donald Trump from their shores, and Obama’s total lovefest lunch with her majesty the Queen for her 90th (Cheers, luv!), what better time to emphasize to our allies in Blighty how much we appreciate their enduring friendship? And the capital’s controversial Mayor Boris Johnson has just kicked off an initiative appropriately titled Fans of London–amongst which we decisively count ourselves.

We did a recent recon mission, lured by Shakespearian drama, punk nostalgia, and, most of all, The Rolling Stones. We admit we even geeked out our inner Hogwart at the new Making of Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios. London is particularly electric in springtime. Here’s why to go.

1. Remember Bowie in Mayfair

Poshie Mayfair has been revived in recent years as a glamorous playground for Brit celebs and their bright-young-thing hangers on. But it also has a rocker cred history – which we learned about on a fabulous tour of Mayfair’s fashion and rock & roll landmarks, including the alley (22 Heddon Street) where the shoot for the mythical cover image for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust happened. To actually hang with rock’s royal offspring, make your way in the evening to Mayfair’s fashionable, Victorian themed Mr. Fogg’s, which attracts the likes of Jade Jagger and Pippa Middleton. Just in time for spring tippling, they’ve opened The Hendrick’s Botanical Garden out back. Lovely.

2. Eat, Drink, Rock

We followed appropriately with a foodie and music tour of SoHo. Eating London takes you through Soho’s dining and tippling scene, making on-trend stops at Enrique Tomas’ Spanish Deli & Wine Bar, the groovy Opium Dim Sum & Cocktail Parlor, Mexi-fabulous La Bodega Negra and The London Gin Club, amongst others. We also recommend hitting up brunch at the celeb-magnet Dean Street Townhouse, as well as making the nighttime scene at Bob Bob Ricard and Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House.
London Gin Club imageThe London Gin Club

3. Party with the Stones

Mick, Keith and the lads celebrate five-plus decades of troublemaking at The Saatchi Gallery’s spectacular Rolling Stones career retrospective Exhibitionism.

4. Peek at Another Type of Exhibitionism

The Tate Modern presents until June 12, Performing For The Camera, a photo exhibition exploring just why we act the way we do in front of the lens. The works of more than fifty seminal shutterbugs are on display, including Duchamp, Yves Klein and Cindy Sherman.
Tate Modern Amalia-Ulman-selfiePerforming For The Camera

5. Have a Trendy Afternoon Tea

Skip the posh hotels and have a rather groovy afternoon tea (caviar & quail’s egg, caramelized scented cardamom pears) at the ever surreal Sketch in Mayfair, still one of the most fabulous food, art and music venues in the capital. With five wildly themed rooms for eating, drinking and dancing, as well as bathrooms housing individual egg shaped commodes, and, well, really rather regular celeb sightings (Jaden Smith, Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss, Selena Gomez), you’ll never look at tea time the same way again.

6. Flit About in a Real English Garden

English idiosyncrasies are part of the DNA of every aspect of London life—especially when it comes to greenery amidst the skyscrapers. The lovely Roof Garden on the, erm, roof of the old Derry and Toms (and then Biba) building on High Street Kensington is a wonderful example of such quirky eccentricity. After a stroll around the lovely grounds, have lunch at the sumptuous onsite resto Babylon. The space turns into a nightclub in the evenings, for those with less contemplative intentions.
Kensginton Roof GardenRoof Garden

7. Dine With the In Crowd

Camilla Al Fayed’s new plant based Notting Hill restaurant Farmacy is currently drawing the ideological epicures; super hot Chiltern Firehouse chef Nuno Mendes has opened Portuguese tapas hotspot Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields Market; cult wine zine Noble Rot now has an eponymous restaurant in Bloomsbury, setting local oenophiles all abuzz; and star chef Jason Atherton has gone minimalist Japanese at Sosharu in trendy Clerkenwell.
Sosharu LondonSosharu

Where to Stay:

Charlotte Street Hotel

One of our all time fave London stays, from those hospitality virtuosos at Firmdale. Rooms bear designer-proprietor Kit Kemp’s colorfully exotic stamp; there’s a private screening room on site for cultural enlightenment; and best of all for spring, the hotel’s groovy Oscar’s Restaurant & Bar has tables set up along buzzy Charlotte Street, for maximum people watching fun. It draws glittering clientele, the likes of James Franco, Ben Affleck, Kelly Brook and Eric Bana.
charlottestreetCharlotte Street Hotel (Photo: Simon Brown)



BlackBook Archives: In and Around LA With Uffie

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It took Uffie three years to finish her debut album. Now that it’s finally done, the Paris-based hip-hop MC takes a much-deserved break to revisit her West Coast hangs (May, 2010). 

“You can’t just pull an album out of your ass,” says Uffie, the 22-year-old rapper, by way of accounting for why it’s taken her three years to finish her first record, next month’s Sex Dreams & Denim Jeans. “The other stuff I’d done was just for fun. I had to find my style, musically, and my artistic confidence.”

Her 2006 EP Pop the Glock brought her to the attention of the international club scene and propelled three years of continuous touring. It was the birth of her daughter Henrietta last October (the father is Parisian graffitist and nightlife player André Saraiva) that finally pushed Uffie to get o the road and into the studio. Once there, she recorded the album’s lead single with Pharrell, her favorite hip-hop artist.

Although being a mother hasn’t tempered the Paris-based singer’s willingness to talk explicitly about sex—on “Pop the Glock,” for example, she calls herself a “badass bitch/ I’m rated X/ I’m gifted/ Ain’t gotta sell sex”—it has changed her entire perspective on life. “Your child is the only person in life you love more than yourself. I don’t want to spend as much time wasting my youth in the clubs. She’s a reason to get up in the morning.”

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Dim Mak Studio

4953 Hollywood Boulevard

This is the office of my friend Steve Aoki’s label, Dim Mak Records. It’s also a store where they sell their merchandise. We play poker here and it’s a general hangout a er shows, especially after this weekly gig on Tuesday nights at CineSpace [6356 Hollywood Boulevard]. The Dim Mak team is a great group and they’re involved in all of the festivals. I met Steve at one of my first gigs at the Winter Music Conference in Miami in 2007 and we’ve been best friends ever since.


Amoeba Music

6400 Sunset Boulevard

I came here for the first time in 2007. It’s the biggest record shop ever. It’s cool how they have both new and used stuff. It has every kind of music you could want under one roof. I got a Joy Division album here and I like to browse through the hip-hop.


Skylight Books

1818 North Vermont Avenue

If you’re out shopping at the vintage clothing stores in Los Feliz, you can get a little brainwork in here at the same time. Skylight is my favorite independent bookstore in L.A. It’s intimate and well laid out. Two of my favorite writers are Bret Easton Ellis and Michel Houellebecq. I like contentious, dark stuff.


Fred 62

1850 North Vermont Avenue

They have a front patio, which is key for me. You can people-watch without being too close to the street. The bright colors and retro-kitsch décor inside are fun. This place has great comfort food, like my favorite, mac ’n’ cheese. I left the U.S. for Hong Kong when I was 4, so I didn’t get to spend ample time in diners as a teenager. I still regret missing out on prom and the whole American college experience.

Photography by Zoey Grossman, Styling by Brett Bailey Makeup: Tsipporah using MAC cosmetics, Hair: Judd Minter using Bumble and Bumble, Stylist Assistant: Danielle Defoe. Second image: Coat by Jeremy Scott, Third image: Jacket by Marni, Fourth Image: Jacket by KTZ, Catsuit by Betsey Johnson, Shoes by Doego Bolcini

Exclusive: Moog Music and Ace Hotels Record Store Day Limited Edition Giveaway

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In the face of inexorably declining album sales and the corresponding fadeout of brick and mortar record shops, Record Store Day has arisen as an eminent annual celebration of the glories of the physical music experience.

And so in honor of this year’s Record Store Day (Saturday, April 16), as well as the debut of the retro-futuristic Moog Mother 32 Analog Synthesizer, Moog Music introduces Music For Intention & Growth, a Purpose-Driven Sound Series, in collaboration with cassette-only label Twin Spring Tapes and Ace Hotels.

For the project, avant-garde composers Inner Travels, Kyle Landstra and TALsounds have created an exclusive auditory journey that explores the musical scope of Moog’s newest and genuinely fascinating machine. You can stream the music here (TALsounds, Kyle Landstra, Inner Travels), but even better, pop into one of the partner Ace Hotels—New York, LA, Palm Springs, Seattle, Portland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and London—to pick up free, limited-edition cassettes of each, where they’ll be hosting special listening sessions.

Ace Hotel New Orleans lobby

Ace Hotel NOLA

Ace Hotels Partner Kelly Sawdon enthuses, “There are so many things that make this cassette release truly special: everything from the musicians and minds that came together to produce it, to the analog sound, to the intersectional collaboration between these unique spaces. We’re humbled to take part in this collective, shared experience.”

The cassettes, surely destined to become collectors’ items, will also be available at several North Carolina record stores (Carolina Soul, All Day Records, Schoolkids Records, Bull City, Harvest Records, Static Age Records and, of course, Moog Music). Ten out of the full run of cassettes will contain a message gifting the holder with a pair of tickets to May’s Moogfest in Durham, featuring Grimes, GZA, Gary Numan, Blood Orange, Miike Snow, Explosions in the Sky and dozens more.

Oh, and of course, do support Record Store Day in every way possible.



Jen Schiffer, Co-Owner of Troubled Club Verboten, Has Been Arrested

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Photo via Yelp

Jen Schiffer, co-owner of troubled Williamsburg club Verboten, has been arrested, according to sources. The gossip frenzy has her down for everything from not showing her books to a court, writing $31,000 worth of bad checks, withholding taxes from foreign DJs and tax fraud.

I haven’t seen an indictment actually defining the charges, but I heard all these and many more from voices in the know. I spoke to Jen a couple of days ago, as she asked me to write her side of the story believing me “to be a fair voice.” She pitched me the “there’s two sides to every story,” story and I was ready to ask her first how all these tales could be false.

Sexual harassment accusations were also in the mix and not just a couple isolated cases, but what seemed to be an institutionalized problem. The last time we spoke was Sunday afternoon. She’d managed to get a judge to open the shuttered club Saturday night and had to postpone our scheduled sit down. She offered, “Steven I really want to do this story, but today I need to sleep, It’s been too much. Can we pick another day soon?” I said yes, but now she will surely lawyer up and hopefully let the lawyer do all the talking.

She needs to learn real fast how to play by the rules. Get to know Jen Schiffer, below:


Goodnight Mr. Lewis: When a Club Closes, We All Suffer

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Photo via Verboten

The closing of Brooklyn dance club Verboten has many in an “I told you” mode. The place was shuttered, according to a sign on the door, for failure to pay taxes, but allegations that run the gamut from fraud to sexual harassment have been leveled. Although legal eagles got the place open last Saturday night, it isn’t clear whether Verboten will soon be closed for good, reopened under new management or miraculously weather this storm.

Some seemed happy to see this joint go, but I felt bad for the staff who may be forced to look for work. A nightclub supports many people: bartenders, waitrons, managers, busboys, security, coat checkers, receptionists, door folk, public relations and promotional persons, DJs and cleaning crews all trying to pay rent, buy food, support boutiques and other businesses. There are also suppliers of booze, lemons and limes, soda and mixers. There are glassware purveyors and garbage picker uppers who now make less money. Then there are cab drivers, local deli’s supplying Altoids and before and after snacks and beers, diners, people who put up posters, graphic designers, uber drivers all suffering—the list is endless. A large nightclub like Verboten is a shot in the arm of the local economy. Oh, I forgot the government collects taxes on everything above, although some people are saying Verboten wasn’t paying those. (Update: Verboten Co-owner Jen Schiffer has been arrested).

Working in nightlife can be a double-edged sword. There is cash money, a stimulating environment and night hours that allow artists, actors and such to have day jobs. The club gigs pay the bills, while castings, rehearsals and all sorts of real world stuff occupy the days. In a perfect world, a thespian or student can work a Friday and Saturday night shift, maybe another during the week and pay their way to a bright future. The list of famous people who had bar, restaurant or nightlife gigs is long. Everyone from Dustin Hoffman to Bruce Willis, Debbie Harry to Keith Haring have served food or swill with a smile. Vin Deisel was a bouncer.

The players, below, balance their creative careers with nightlife jobs. Without clubs to pay their bills many would not be able to blossom in the arts. Could a Broadway or a New York film industry flourish without the talent pool working elsewhere? Here are four nightlife legends trying to become legendary performers.


Wass Stevens

Strategic Group Partner Wass Stevens, the bon vivant doorman at such ultra exclusive clubs like Avenue, Marquee and many more says, “Working in nightlife is the perfect job for those pursuing a career in the arts. It keeps your days free to audition, take classes, and rehearse. It’s generally ‘freelance,’ so if you book a gig, you can take the time off without too much of a hassle. For me as an actor, working the door is like one long improvisation. And because you interact with people from all walks of life—in the span of 15 minutes tonight, for example, I talked to my favorite homeless guy Julio, an Oscar winner (with whom I’ve worked several times) several gazillionaires, two of my students, several of NY’s finest, my pal who plays for the New York Rangers, and other assorted nightcrawler—it takes any intimidation factor out of the acting equation.  Seeing huge stars, directors [and] producers staggering out intoxicated, or chasing hotties that I see on a daily basis and barely notice, levels the playing field really fast. And, if you take [it] seriously [and] treat it as a job, it can. Nightlife gives you a degree of financial security most ‘part-time’ jobs cannot give. And let’s not forget, for the most part its pretty fucking fun.”

Wass still hangs onto his door gig despite big and small screen success with increasingly larger roles in vehicles like The Wrestler, Brooklyn’s Finest, The Family Man, Public Morals, World Trade Center and more.

Michael Cavadias is a DJ, actor, writer and a director. He juggles his nightlife career amid credits for Wonder Boys, Girls, Difficult People and the upcoming Katie Holmes short, All We Had. For what seems like 500 Million Years he has performed Claywoman about a 500 Million Year old extra terrestrial. Recently he combined his day job with his night job by performing Claywoman at Bushwick’s House of Yes, where Girls star Jemima Kirke interviewed his character. He also wrote and directed The Joanne Holiday Show. By all accounts his career has been successful, but he makes ends meet with his DJ gigs at The Ace Hotel, Metropolitan Bar and his really fun new party HUMP at Rumpus Room every other Wednesday, which was created by Shoshana Fisher and Paul Iacono, who’s also an actor.

“Working in nightlife has allowed me the flexibility to take acting jobs, go on auditions, make my own work and survive in the city at the same time while also being able to DJ as another creative outlet,” Cavadias said. “It’s a balance between the sometimes unpredictable nature of both nightlife and film, TV [and] performance work, and the flexibility to be able to pursue the things I’m passionate about. “


Heather Litteer

Heather Litteer has and continues to pursue her life as a performer with money she makes in the nightlife industry. She told me she has done about every job you can think of, from barkeep to dancer. Many know her as Jessica Rabbit, a persona I once described in BlackBook:  “She comes off as a girl who can do anything—and might, if you ask right.” Others will recall her as the “ass to ass girl” in Darren Aronofsky’s  Requiem for a Dream. Typecast as a woman of ill repute or a druggie, she took advice from her mother, who said, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” This led to her first solo show, “Lemonade,” which will premiere at La Mama April 15.

Without nightlife to support her, Heather may not be able to pursue her dreams in NYC.


Fabrizio Brienza

Fabrizio Brienza is a rather tall, handsome, impeccably dressed presence at chic spots around town. He says he stumbled into nightlife while pursing a career as a model and actor. He can be seen in catalogs, commercials and campaigns, such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label. His acting has him rubbing elbows with superstars in flicks like Adjustment Bureau, Duplicity, A Walk Among the Tombstones, as well as television, like Law and Order SVU and Days of Our Lives. He has been here for 11 years, “longer than he has been in any one place before.” He opens that velvet rope as he seeks “meatier roles” that will take him to the next level.

Nightlife is a dream job for many, as you make money and hang with the wonderful, the rich, the famous, the it persons, the next wave. You listen to great music and can often sleep in. These are some of the thousands of faces trying to make it in this impossible, but possible town. When a club closes the consequences ripple through our culture.