Good Night Mr. Lewis: Arthur Weinstein Roast and Toast

One of the largest gatherings of Clubdom Royalty and Dinosaurs paid their respects to the memory of Arthur Weinstein in a tribute on Greg Brier’s fabulous Highbar roof. It rained all day, but Greg, citing all sorts of meteorological sources (like the Farmer’s Almanac and NY1) guaranteed sunshine for the 5PM ceremony. I had the honor of MCing the event, which meant keeping the speakers from getting too teary-eyed or longwinded. Jen Gatien spoke of respect and sound advice. Peter Frank remembered buying two nightclubs from Arthur and finding out Art actually owned only one of them. Stanley Bard spoke of Art’s photos and artwork, which to this day cover some of the storied walls of the Chelsea Hotel where Arthur lived for many years. I spoke to Stanley, and we agreed we had almost the same job back when I ran clubs.

We had this…obligation…for lack of a better word to take care of the artists, actors, singers and dancers trying to make it in NYC. I gave them jobs to pay their rent, and Stanley put them up for virtually nothing when they spent their rent money on other things. Perri Lister–Billy Idol’s ex–came in from California with their son Willem, who got visibly upset by all the wonderful stories told about my departed pal; Willem was sad he hadn’t had the chance to meet Art. Anthony Haden Guest told of coming to New York and not really finding it anything special until he met Arthur: “Now this is New York,” Anthony recalled. I sat before the event with Anthony, Johnny Dynell, Chi Chi Valenti and Anita Sarko. I was asked what the economic downturn would mean to the world of clubs.

One of the positives is that the term “VIP” will be redefined. The yuppie with no money to buy bottles will be relegated to pre-boom status: he won’t get in, or at least he won’t be treated like he’s actually important. The artists and actors are always living in lean times until they break out, so they’re used to it. Style will come back, and not the type of style that involves dropping down the black card to buy the Marc Jacobs dress and Christian Louboutin shoes, but real style, the kind the old-school clubbers were good at.

A bit from a thrift store, a bit from a sale, something borrowed, something shortened or cut with scissors, or something sewn by one’s own hand. Anthony thought it wonderful that out of the ashes of Wall Street may come a creative era yielding a rebirth of style and substance, as a criteria for club status. The silver lining in the current crises might be, as Anthony might say, a return to form. Others in attendance included Thierry Mugler, Muse Larissa, ex-Limelight VIP room host and cabaret star Fred Rothbell Mista, artist Neke Carson, fashion designer Michael Savoia, artist Rene Ricard, ex-Kid Creole Coconut Adriana Kaegi, Matty Silver, and Left Coast DJ/fashionista Kelly Cole. As I was working the Crowd, gathering the names of those who would speak, someone turned to me: “I’m surprised that Steve Lewis is still alive.” I replied: “I’m Steve Lewis…” “No, you’re not,” she insisted. “Well, I used to be” I compromised.

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