Like a B actor on a network TV drama, Noel Ashman basically wears the same outfit every working day—some sort of ugly pants, sneakers, and a white t-shirt. For his birthday this Thursday, I will stop at a Rite Aid (the nice one that was an old theater on Manhattan Avenue where my girlfriend buys her amazingly tacky fishnet fingernail coverings) and buy him a couple packs of new white Hanes. He will chuckle about it. I imagine some closet at Ashman Manor with 100 white t-shirts hung on hangers and a single black one for weddings and funerals. Noel is beloved by many and…disliked by others. There are no gray areas when Noel is concerned.
It’s t-shirt white or black like the night — you love him or hate him. The old expression goes, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs,” and I agree with that. I discount the rumors that Noel at one time aspired to be a short order cook. Some of those who love him hate him sometimes as well. For me personally, after about 20 minutes, I want to pummel him, but then he calls me “Buddy” and it’s all good again. I’m always “Buddy” to him and to others. I believe that’s because he’s always preoccupied with deep, deep thoughts and can’t remember mine or anyone else’s name.
Unless you are a complete asshole in nightlife, you gather enemies. I think it’s the nature of the game we play. Often the creepiest of the creeps and the most egotistical jerks are the most popular. The public just sees the smile or the smart suit of the megalomaniac who’s in charge of the hot spot, and they think he’s a great guy. But those who live in the dark are often not what they seem. Nightlife’s heroes are often the most despised. Noel is a really nice guy and I never get tired of defending him. Noel is always in a world of his own—a little off to the left of mainstream joints, owners, promoters, and goings on. He has owned and operated Veruka, Plumm and NA, to name a few, and has promoted a zillion parties at places like Eugenes and Adams Apple — and for me, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This birthday makes him officially old. Not “Steve Lewis old,” but old. I think he invented Spam, not just the e-mail thing but the canned food as well. He started doing this when he was too young to drive. I heard a rumor that he had his own apartment at 15 years-old because he drove everybody at home nuts. He went to all the right ivy league schools and he (and especially they) are very modest about it. He is always surrounded by a familiar family of celebs. Too often I’ve even seen him with sports heroes who should be sleeping (you know, resting up for the big game). Then I sort of came to understand that money and fame and conspicuous consumption is in itself a big game and Noel is their wonderful new coach. He is an enigma and a dilemma wrapped in a white Hanes t-shirt. He rarely lies except sometimes when he is talking. He is always ready to plunge into the fray and start a new club, lounge or party and alas I always go …and I always have a good time. He grabs you and brings you in and introduces you to his fabulous friends and, kind of refreshingly, he’s not like those other guys. You see, I’m a big fan of Noel Ashman. Underneath that rough exterior and the white t-shirt is a man who is…I’m sorry but I just found myself wondering what’s under the white t-shirt and got a little queasy and I must just stop right there.
I didn’t come to praise this Caesar of nightlife, or to even bury him but to talk about his birthday. This birthday has a cast of hosts that include all the usual and unusual suspects.
Patrick McMullan, The Sopranos muscle Federico Castelluccio, Damon Dash, Chris Simms, Michael Bregman, Ethane Browne, Heather Hunter, Anna Rothchild, Nick Raynes, and George Wayne are on the top of the invite list. Beverly Hills 90210 star Vincent Young will also be on hand celebrating his own birthday. The event is at Five, 21 7th Avenue South at Leroy Street. Five is the old Luke and Leroy space which became Le Royale which, of course, was for many years Crazy Nannies, to those who know about such places. I haven’t been to Five but I hear nice guy Redd Styles is involved. A club name like Redd Styles is like a tattoo I think. Once it’s there it’s hard to go back and change it, but he is a really nice guy so I won’t say anything about it, anymore. Grandmaster Melle Mel will perform and there are whispers of others as well. I will DJ, along with Boogie Dash, Ani Quinn, Reach, Liam McMullan and Ethane Browne. Noel is threatening to DJ as well but we have a plan to prevent this travesty of vinyl. Dave Delzio is hosting, whatever that means. I love Dave and when I see him Thursday I will ask him what exactly he does for a living. That and why it’s called Five and Redds real name and what Noel will be wearing (besides the white t-shirt) will keep me entertained for minutes. Oh and I can’t talk about what Noel is up to as I promised I wouldn’t but it is fabulous and soon I …I’ve said enough. If you get there after 10:30pm you will miss my DJ set and prove to all around how club savvy you really are. Happy Birthday Noel Ashman!